Suzhou's Missing Baby

December 5, 2008
By Marianna O'Brien, Niskayuna, NY

It was a drizzly and warm summer night. I was a baby of three months old on the steps of Pagoda Tiger Hill temple, in Suzhou, China. All I wanted was my family, but they never came. I was alone in a strange world with no family. I was abandoned for unknown reasons. I remember a couple who had heard my cries when they came to pray in the temple. They were kind enough to bring me to the local orphanage. I stayed in the orphanage until nine months of age. This is my story, the story from an orphan off the streets to a child with a loving family.

It’s a foggy memory, but I can still remember some details. It’s the memory of my birth. It was 9:23 am, November 26, 1995. It was a sunny morning. When I came to America, the doctors were able to track my birth date and time and year. I wasn’t able to remember the exact time or day. I don’t know why I can remember this memory, but it’s the only memory of my real family that I have. It was in Suzhou’s hospital, it was big and bright on my room. There were wires and cords everywhere. I remember opening my eyes to see my family around me. My mom had long, layered, brown-black hair. She had sweat on her forehead, and she was beautiful. She had dark brown eyes, so dark that some would say they looked black. I have her eyes exactly. She looked happy and proud. My father had jet black hair. It was blacker than mine hair. He had a lighter shade of brown for his eyes. He wore glasses. I remember he kept taking off his glasses to clean them, while I tried to take them away. His face showed fear and concerned, yet he looked a little happy. I also remember one last family member, my brother. He looked about four years old. He didn’t know why I was there. He looked confused. He had the same eyes as my father, he too wore glasses. I can’t remember what they called me, but I wish I did. I often wish that I knew more about my family, but they could be dead for all I know. The government could have found out that they broke the law by having me. When I was in China it was against the law to have more than one child.

The orphanage was my main home in China. It always smelled of baby powder and noodles. To this day I still can’t stand the smell of it. Each smell by its self is fine, but both together it makes me sick. I get a flashback of the orphanage and it makes me sad. The care I got there was wonderful though. I spent about six months there. It was called Suzhou’s Home for Abandoned Children in English. I remember my caretaker in particular. She was from America and she spoke Chinese very fluently. She had light brown hair with golden blond highlights and green eyes. She always smelled of strawberries and cream, and she was the only one that I trusted in the orphanage. If anyone else in the orphanage tried to hold me I would cry until she came. It took me awhile to tolerate the smell of strawberries and cream when I moved to America. I would always cry when I smelled or tasted strawberries. I can tolerate the smell and taste now, but I choose not to eat strawberries. I think that at one point she wanted to adopt me, but she didn’t. My memories are starting to fade, but I remember that she was very nice.

I remember my trip to America very clearly. My mom was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. I was happy, but I was also confused. There was a Chinese man sitting in the seat in front of us, I remember that I kept pulling his hair. Eventually he ended up yelling at my mom, she just laughed even harder than she already was. It was a great trip, a very memorable one too. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

My family greeting was very chaotic. I remember being confused and frightened because my mom kept giving me to strangers. I remember an elderly couple in particular. They were nice, but I was a little scared that my mom would give me away to them at first. They were my grandparents. Markey and Pop were their names. They were so nice, and I loved them instantly, and they loved me.

Overall, my life experience as a baby was very extraordinary. I love being in America and it’s a great place. I love my family and friends. I don’t regret being adopted, but sometimes I wonder why I was abandoned. When that happens I remember that I have a great life, and if I didn’t come here I wouldn’t know any of my family or friends. My life is great, and I love being in America.

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