When most people hear that someone was abandoned, they shake their heads in sorrow, pity, and shame, clucking their tongues. Abandon has become a dirty word: something that means that nobody cared, that someone was left unwanted, hurting and alone. My story contradicts that by every stretch of the imagination, in an unthinkable way that only God can be given thanks for.
Almost sixteen years ago, my mother abandoned me. She left me, a three-day-old infant, on the steps of a women’s police barracks in Nanning, China. She did it because she loved me.
She wrapped me carefully, with a generous sum of yuan (in America, it would have amounted to $1.50), snuck me onto the steps, and vanished into the background.
My adopted mother—a tall, blonde, beautiful Dutch woman—tells me that Chinese mothers will watch patiently in the background to see that their babies are found and taken care of. In China, abandoning babies is illegal. Most of the time, there are two reasons for this: either the family doesn’t want a baby girl, or the baby is a second child: one that they can’t afford to keep.
I have no doubt that my mother loved me. I cannot fathom how she felt, knowing for three days that she would have to give her child up to the unknown, but one thing I know is that she had courage—courage to keep me hidden for nine months as she waited, anxious and determined that I would live. She loved me so much that she abandoned me.
She abandoned me because she had hope for the future: hope that I would be found, loved, and taken care of, hope that I would be able to grow up.
I wonder if she ever could have imagined where God would take my life in the span of the next thirteen months. I wonder if she’ll ever know that months before I was even born, a family from Michigan was praying and deciding to pursue adopting a Chinese baby girl. I wonder if she’ll ever know that as I write this, I am healthy, sound, and full of life—if she’ll ever know that two months after my first birthday, I was in the United States of America: loved, chubby, happy, and rapidly picking up the English language.
Sometimes abandon isn’t a dirty word. Sometimes abandon can mean hope for the future, love, and unfathomable courage.
Thank you, Mom.
Guest post written anonymously.
Photo by Melissa Nelson.