Finding My Lifetime Story

Portia Pliam, 1st Place
3rd Grade
Los Altos

When you’re Asian American, you look different from other American kids. But I look different even from my own family, even though my mom and sister are both Asian American, because none of us are biologically related. This is because one of the first things I lost in my life is the person who gave birth to me in China. She couldn’t keep me so she gave me to an orphanage, where I spent my first year. But one of the first things I found was my new family, because when I was one year old, I was adopted. So my life has always been full of important things lost and found.

I met my parents for the first time when they flew from the US to China to adopt me. That day, I also met my mom’s parents, my GongGong and PoPo, who also went on the trip to China to meet me. Like me, GongGong and PoPo were also born in China, and I guess like me they also lost their Chinese life a long time ago and found their new life in the US. But they traveled back to China to find their first grandchild – me.

We flew together from China to my new home in New York and Connecticut, where I met the rest of my new family, my dog Elsa and cat Elvis. When I was 3 years old, my parents and I moved with Elsa and Elvis to California where I live now. I found many new friends and a nice school, but lost all that I had before then.

When I was 4 years old, I flew back to China with my parents to adopt my baby sister. She was one year old when we got her. She was crying when I first saw her. I think she was sad because she probably missed the a-yi who used to take care of her in the orphanage. I don’t know if I felt that way when I was her age because I don’t remember. We stayed in China for two weeks, and then brought my sister back to California. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I had biological siblings, and if I did then I lost them forever. But I found my little sister that day. When she started growing up, she became more annoying, but we are still sisters forever.

Now I am in third grade and my sister is in Kindergarten, and we go to the same school. We both go to after-school Chinese school with lots of my friends. At Chinese school, we learn Chinese language and writing. I know how to speak Chinese. Sometimes it’s a useful thing because I can say something private to my mom in front of other people without whispering. But I couldn’t get away with doing that in China!

So my life has been like a big Lost and Found. I lost my home in China, but I found the family I have now. Sometimes I lose things and sometimes I find things. Sometimes the only way I could have found what I found was by losing something else. But being Chinese was something I always had and won’t ever lose.