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Adoptee spotlight: Abby, 杨寒君

Hefei, Anhui, China --> Atlanta, Georgia

Hello! My name is Abby, but my orphanage name was 杨寒君 (Yánghánjūn). In 2001, a translator told my mom "Yang Hanjun" meant, “Lady of the Cold Wintery Mist,” a reference to the cold, December morning I was found in front of a school gate in Hefei, Anhui province in 1999. I spent the first 15 months of my life in the Hefei Welfare Orphanage. In March 2001, I was adopted and brought to Atlanta, Georgia, where I have lived ever since.


Growing up, I struggled with my identity as a Chinese adoptee. While I had a supportive family and community of Chinese adoptees surrounding me, I fell into the trap of wishing I was different. My education experience made me painfully aware of the disparity between my peers and I. In preschool, one child frequently teased me about my race. In one instance, after notifying my teacher of his behavior, I was put in timeout alongside him for being a “tattletale.” Experiences of racially charged harassment continued to follow me throughout my educational career.


After years of bullying and injustice, I detested my Asian appearance and envied the Western features of my peers: fair skin, large eyes and light hair. These experiences affected how I perceived myself and made me increasingly conscious of how other people saw me. As I continued through my educational career, I started to accept my differences and background as an adoptee, but this was not an overnight process.

"As I continued through my educational career, I started to accept my differences and background as an adoptee, but this was not an overnight process."

While at university, I began to unpack my Chinese adoptee identity. My English classes helped me communicate my emotions surrounding my background and past with discrimination. In research communication classes, I focused my research on AAPI representation in film and television and how that affects how audiences perceive AAPI people in real life. Finally, my media classes helped me tell stories about my Chinese adoptee identity utilizing film. My "About Me" video covered my conflicting relationship with my middle name, which was heavily influenced by my Chinese name. This opened up the door for me to communicate to outsiders my perspective as a Chinese adoptee and relate to other Chinese adoptees about our shared experiences.


Post-grad, I am developing a documentary that will cover my return to China for the first time since my adoption. My documentary, "Year of the Rabbit," will be one of the few Chinese adoptee documentaries told by an adoptee. I feel extremely blessed for the support and the ability to embark on this trip. Thank you for reading!

 

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[Description: Light gray background with a large photo of Abby. She's outside with a sunset. To the right are small photos of Abby: one of her tossing her graduation cap, one of her as a baby in a stroller with her parents, and one of her as a baby in a crib. Large text says, "Abby." Small text under her name says "杨寒君" in characters. Small text to the right says, "Anhui, China --> Atlanta, Georgia."]

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