[Opinion] The Time I Found Out I was Adopted

By Emma Wilson

When people say they’re a mistake they’re usually joking.

I am not joking when I say I was a mistake.

Okay so yes, I am adopted. It isn’t a secret, and I am proud of it.

At sixteen months old, I was adopted from China by the lovely woman whom I call my mother. She is the only parent I have ever known, and the catch is I’ve never had a dad. I have only ever lived in a female household. Yep! Even my pets have all been female. Oh, my sister, Susan, is also adopted.

My adoption has never been kept a secret from me. I don’t remember the day I was told I was adopted. It has always just been something I have known. My mom never saw a point in hiding it from me.

My Chinese name is 易秒长 (Yì Miào Cháng).

One year old Emma

I was born in the Jiangsu province, in a city called Changzhou (常州). I was abandoned in front of a small convenience store, and I do not have any recollection of that. Come to think of it, I have no recollection of China. No memories. I will admit it sucks that I don’t know who my birth parents are. It isn’t great not knowing who brought you into this Earth. So yes, I do wish I knew who my birth parents were, but I am also grateful to have my “forever family”. It’s kind of scary because I was abandoned, and I often daydream on harder days what my life (if I even had one) would be like.

There are a handful of reasons I could have been left. China’s one-child policy wasn’t as prominent at the time, but that could have been a reason; the disappointment that I was a girl, instead of a boy, because boys are preferred in China, or it could have simply been that my mother knew she wouldn’t be able to provide for me. I would like it to be the last option knowing she did want me.

Some days it sucks being put in the uncomfortable but common situation of kids talking about their parents. I mean, I relate, because I do have a family, but sometimes I hear kids talk and can’t help to feel awkward explaining that I am adopted. It isn’t anything bad, but my adoption isn’t something I randomly tell someone because I know what they’re thinking.

“Oh, you weren’t wanted.”

Many adoptees, such as myself, have experienced people telling us bluntly that we were not wanted. However, their commentary on my life has never mattered because, to me, it is cool that I am adopted. It makes me feel good knowing I was wanted and chosen.

Because I have grown up here, in suburban Colorado, where education is free and the weed is fresh, I have grown up fairly privileged.

I do consider myself Chinese-American, though most of my friends will argue I am very “Americanized,” and am on the far more “basic” side. I live a very American lifestyle. I have grown up in a white house, I have never had to assimilate because I am “white.” I go to public school, have more freedom than a lot of kids do, and don’t have to strive for A’s on every quiz.

I would also like to think I have an interesting culture, and I take pride in that. I am thankfully still tied to my roots of Chinese culture, loosely tied, but tied nonetheless. I mean, I can’t say I am apart of my culture as much as I would like to be. I'm still learning Mandarin, I only celebrate the traditional Chinese holiday, Chinese New Year, and I do the bare minimum by eating at a restaurant. However, I know and am learning a bit every day about it, which matters most to me.

I might have been a mistake, but I was a wanted mistake.



  1. Anon 25 April, 2019 at 10:52 Reply

    That’s pretty neat it’s been a while since I enjoyed reading something on here. I don’t think the commonly held opinion is that adopted kids are unwanted, given, I don’t know the popular culture but I am of the belief that adopted children are wanted and chosen in the same manner that you expressed in the article. The weed joke was extremely well placed ngl

  2. another adoptee 25 April, 2019 at 14:32 Reply

    Personally I don’t really believe that “mistake” is the best way to think about it, whether you ended up being wanted or not. Just because you, me, and the thousands of other Chinese-American adoptees did not end up staying with our biological families, that doesn’t necessarily mean that our existence was a mistake. It definitely sucks at times, I am fully aware, and even though you’re perfectly content how you are now, but the whole “I was an unwanted mistake” feels like a not that great way to think of it. I’m not telling you how to live your life and people are allowed to have differing opinions, but I believe a huge part of accepting yourself and your situation entirely and being able to feel comfortable with it is to move away from the usual stigma of “you were a mistake”/”you were unwanted by your real family”/etc. when it comes to child abandonment and adoption.

  3. Just another Indian 27 April, 2019 at 17:06 Reply

    Still laughing at “in suburban Colorado, where education is free and the weed is fresh”- (para. 12, Wilson). Great comedy relief but deters away from the overall mood.

    • Lain Iwakura 1 May, 2019 at 12:32 Reply

      Agreed on both fronts but why the in-text citation on a literal Grandview Chronicle comment?

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