Open Letters from Chinese Adoptees from Across the World to Birth Parents and Chinese Leaders
Since the 1990s, over 100,000 Chinese children have been adopted to the United States. They grow up in love and happiness, but there is always a void in their heart that is the connection with the birth parents, and by extension the identification with Chinese culture and people. Some have been writing letters but couldn’t mail to anyone. In recent years, many adult adoptees and adoptive parents have begun to search for their children’s birth families in China.
Although the ultimate goal of birth parent searching is reunification, many adoptees / adoptive families have found that searching has led them to new friendships and connections in China, as well as a better understanding of Chinese culture. Finding the birth parents is important for their self identity and even mental health. Some non-profit organizations such as Nanchang Project, Chine BP, and Baobeihuijia have been trying to help, with limited success.
During the last UCA Convention in Washington DC, a break-out session was devoted to topics in the Chinese American adoption community, with a special screening of the documentary “Meet Me on the Bridge”, directed by Changfu Chang. Several activists were also invited to give speeches, such as Ellen Lamb, Faith Winstead, William Chen, Joshua Zhong (see below for a detailed list and bio). After the conference, the representatives for Chinese adoptees prepared two open letters, one to the birth parents of the children, another to the top leaders in China. The letters have gathered over a thousand signatures. Here we publish these letters in English and please also refer to the Chinese version in our WeChat account (ID: UCA-BMXSJ). UCA wishes the best for the adoptees and families that are bonded in love and connection.
Open Letter to Top Leaders of China
Joey Beyer and Cassidy Sack, Adoptees
September 16, 2018
To Jingping Xi
President of People’s Republic of China
To Zhanshu Li
Chairman of Standing Committee of National People’s Congress
To Yang Wang
Chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
To Keqiang Li
Prime Minister of People’s Republic of China
A famous Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Today, we the international Chinese adoptee community have taken that very first step by respectfully asking you, the top leaders of China, to help and journey with us in reuniting with our biological parents, our siblings and our heritage. It is with the deepest longings and heartfelt desires that we approach you for help.
Imagine with us for a moment—those precious few scenes in a Chinese city or countryside, when a Chinese adoptee raised in a different country and culture, surrounded by cameras, media, friends, and family begins to slowly open their shaking arms, with held-back tears, to expectant and emotionally hopeful parents. It is a moment to never forget. A moment of profound humanity.
It is in that moment of confusion, loss, love, and a myriad of other emotions that two questions are answered. For the adoptee, it’s, “What do my parents or siblings look like?” and for biological parents, it’s, “Will I ever see my daughter or son again?” It is in these moments where the weight of years and longings melt like snowflakes on a spring day. Would you do us the honour of making these moments commonplace? Would you do us the honor of reuniting people from which fate has not yet joined?
We ask because we know that you care about the welfare and health of Chinese both in China and overseas. We ask because you have the capacity to impact lives, to repair the hearts of many, and promote goodwill and humanity around the world. It is in your hands from which dreams we often dreamed of can become reality and lifetime longings can become fulfilled.
Not only do we seek to be reunited with our first families, but also to China itself. Our blood flows from these ancient lands, our ancestors formed generations of families here, and our heritage is your heritage. Yes, in a deeper sense, we are still the children of China, wherever we are today. In the end, only one fact remains: we come from China and it is to China that we hope to reconnect.
Whether it is through DNA testing (the technology is more than ready today), facilitating reconnections, or encouraging families to come forward without fear or shame, or through international cooperation, we believe it is a deeply worthy endeavour for us, for our parents and siblings, and for you. Can you please help us, your lost children
With sincere hope,
Chinese Adoptees from Across the World
Joey Beyer is a young twenty-something-millennial who currently lives in San Jose, California USA. Joey took part in an adoptee panel for the California Adoption Conference in March 2018 and is currently a board member of a local bay area grassroots adoptee organization called PACER, an adoption alliance. He also wrote a lengthy piece for the website Dear Adoption, an adoptee and foster care platform. Joey also shared his personal journey here at ICAV in the past. Joey was born in Xi’an, China and was in both a state run orphanage and a Christian missionary orphanage until about the age of 3 when he was adopted by a Caucasian family from the Midwest state of Wisconsin.
Cassidy Sack is a 22-year-old adoptee from Banan District, Chongqing. She was found in 1997 at approximately one year of age, and was adopted by a single mother in 1998. Growing up as an only child with little exposure to Chinese customs and culture, Cassidy is grateful for the newfound Chinese adoptee community. Cassidy holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, and works in the field of secondary education. Her favorite pastimes include nature photography, creative writing, and vegan cooking. Cassidy feels honored to have co-written the open letter on behalf of adoptees, and hopes it will result in many biological families coming forward to DNA test.
Erin Valentino is a Graphic Designer who runs a small company with her husband Chris. In 2016, she completed the adoption of her youngest daughter in Nanchang, Jiangxi. Since returning home, she has spent much of her time further educating herself on Chinese culture, on social issues affecting greater China, and the complex topics surrounding transracial adoption. After a failed birth parent search in January 2018, she formed The Nanchang Project along with fellow adoptive mom, Faith Winstead. Their initiative is to build a bridge between adoptees from Jiangxi province and their birth culture.
Changfu Chang is a U.S.-based writer and an award-winning filmmaker. Over the past two decades, he has produced and co-produced a dozen acclaimed documentary films including The Gate of Fujian, Love Without Boundaries, Golden Venture, Illicit: The Dark Trade, The Willow Trees, Long Wait For Home, Peer In The Distance, The Invisible Red Thread, Daughters’ Return, Sofia’s Journey, Ricki’s Promise, and Meet Me On The Bridge. His decade-long film series on international adoption that explores a wide range of issues surrounding Chinese culture, politics, and international transracial adoption, has been screened extensively throughout Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia.
Open Letter to Chinese Birth Parents
Cassidy Sack and Joey Beyer, Adoptees
September 8, 2018
To Our Mothers, Fathers and Siblings in China,
The years have separated us. They have changed us. We are your children living in an increasingly multicultural and diverse world in places like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. For the most part, we have been given opportunities like a home, education and travel. But, there is something that cannot be replaced.
And that is you. Our hearts yearn for a connection related to blood. We want to see ourselves mirrored, for we are a part of you, and you are a part of us. We want to know you. We want to know whether you share our same quirks, gestures, eye shape and color, favorite food and music, and our same passions and interests. We cannot imagine the immense pain and heartache that you all have gone through. We honor your courage and struggles in the face of increasing difficulty. On a deeper level, we want to know your hearts. We want to know your stories no matter how heartbreaking. And we want you to know ours: to know our lives, our struggles and our stories. We dream of that fateful hour that might one day bring us into each other’s arms once more. We are submitting our DNA to BaoBeiHuiJia, and we urge you to add yours there too.
At night, sometimes we stare at the moon hoping that somewhere in the vast world that you are there, watching that same moon also. Would you make our Chinese fairytale come true? We are actively searching, waiting and longing for you. We have not forgotten you and we hope you have not forgotten us. Whatever our emotions might be, know that they come from a deep sense of loss and yearning for that which cannot ever be replaced. We only hope you feel the same. What fate has torn apart, let destiny make whole. For in the end, we all want the same thing. To know that we were and are, and always will be, loved.
From our hearts,
Your Daughters, Sons and Siblings around the World
Bill Chen came to the United States in 1992 from Fuzhou,Fujian. Bill worked in the restaurant industry full time while completing high school, and graduated with advanced skills in computer sciences. Those two years were extremely important in shaping Bill’s future life here in the U.S.. After a few years, he opened a restaurant of his own and now owns three restaurants in Connecticut. Bill looks forward to forming a non-profit in order to formalize existing operations.
Kelly Greenhawk is a senior GIS Analyst for the State of Maryland and has a dual degree in Computer Science and Sociology. As a 28 year veteran of the agency she works for, she has trained to perform highly in technical fields such as computer programming, spatial analysis, and database management. She works at a scientific laboratory on the east coast that specializes in shellfish and finfish diseases and has co-authored numerous scientific papers related to remote sensing in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
Ellen Lamb is an adoptive mother of two daughters adopted from China, and mother of two biological sons. She has been married to her husband, Steve Lamb for 24 years. She is a Navy veteran, a stay at home mom, former foster parent, and advocate for disabled veterans with PTSD. Ellen wanted to adopt a daughter from China since the 1980s when she heard that baby girls were abandoned because of preferences for boys.
Faith Winstead is a death penalty lawyer, and mom to two boys adopted from Nanchang, Jiangxi, and Changzhou, Jiangsu. Along with Erin Valentino, Faith is co-founder of the Nanchang Project, an adoptive parent/ adoptee led initiative to connect adoptees from Jiangxi back to their roots in China. This project has been featured on Beijing News, Nanchang TV, and the Jiangxi Morning Press, and Faith and her team anticipate upcoming features on multiple media outlets.