Tiger Lily is an Asian species of lily, native to China, Japan, Korea, and the Russian Far East. It has become naturalized in numerous scattered locations in eastern North America. Naturalized plants are those that have become established as a part of the plant life of a region other than their place of origin. But other people may come to a very different conclusion about such plants, seeing them as nuisances (or worse).
What are you? Yellow fever. Ching Chong. You were unwanted. You were given up for a better life.
These are just a few examples of things that we adoptees have been confronted with throughout our lives. Sometimes these words comes from places of hurt or of ignorance. Sometimes they come from simply not understanding the complexities and intricacies that come with being an Asian adoptee. Without the proper language and knowledge, some people are even too afraid to ask - treating adoptees and adoption as somewhat of an anomaly and enigma. But we are more than the labels of "adoptee" or "Asian." We are people who are learning more about ourselves every day, who are balancing all the identities that makes us us.
I was told that I started my life with just a few written words and that is what I will believe. And that is how I want to tell my story. How I want to tell our stories. As it is not just me or the small group of girls I was grouped with in my orphanage who have dealt with this shared history. My reflections are only the reflections of one. I contain only the voice of one. There are thousands of us who are evolving daily and I want this to serve as a way for us to learn from each other, to find a piece of ourselves in what has already been said or never spoken at all.
I want my birth parents to know that I understand the history that led them to relinquish me. I want them to know that whoever’s hand wrote my name on a piece of paper, that wrapped me in a blanket, that may or may not have left me at that post office, created my voice. That many similar hands created thousands of voices that transform this shared past into art, science, music, writing. We choose the stories we want to tell, not the stories many were subsequently written out of because of the One Child Policy. Together yet individual. Collective yet apart. We all have roots. We all have the voice of tiger lilies.
- Natalie Pappas