Name: Lia Stewart
Age: I’m 18 years old
Hobbies: I cheer-lead and babysit…. actually I’m a cheerleader.
Who's in your family? Tell me about them.
I have a mom and a dad and three step brothers. My mom… I’m really close with my mom and dad. We do a lot of family things like Sunday night dinners with extended family too. We travel a lot together. My three step brothers are a lot older than I am. So we don’t hang out like normal siblings would.
Tell me about yourself?
I’m very outgoing but I’m shy at first. I like to try new things and travel.
How has gymnastics impacted your life?
Because I did it as a kid in summer camp and I liked it. So I did it in high school… It’s just a hobby that I do for fun.
Why did you start cheer-leading? How has that impacted your life?
Because I wanted to try something new I’ve done gymnastics my sophomore and junior year and I just wanted to try something new.
Date you were adopted?
Where were you adopted?
How old were you when you were adopted?
Yeah I was adopted at about 9 months
Can you tell me about the day you were adopted?
There was a picture of me resting on my foster mother’s hip because that’s how she always carried me. So then my mom said I’d always want to be held on her side rather than like in the middle so something like yeah.
When did you know that you were adopted? When did your parents tell you?
It was always known that I was adopted. So there was never a sit down talk like “you’re adopted.”
Did you have a transitional object? What was it? How did it make you feel?
It was like a little blanket, towel, and thing, so like a blanky. It just made me feel comfortable. I didn't bring it everywhere I don’t think but I did like have it when I was sleeping.
Do you talk openly about adoption?
Yeah for the most part, it’s not like um a topic of everyday discussion for me. So I don’t talk about it a lot but I don’t have an issue talking it.
Do you have any adoptive friends?
How do your adoptive friends help you?
I personal don’t really think about being adopted because I was adopted at such a young age. So I don’t think I have any insecurities or issues with it. Like I said before it’s not really talked about, but I don’t have an issue with it.
What are the effects of having your adoption group live near you?
What do you value by being in school with so many Chinese adoptees?
I guess a benefit would be that there are other people adopted around me. It helps to have others that are adopted around me because it makes it like a little community. But I personally don’t have meetings with other people who are adopted to kind of cherish that day. Like I said I don’t really think about it. But it’s nice to know other people are adopted too.
Do you feel a part of the adoption community?
Do you feel part of the community as an adoptee?
Not really because I don’t really go out of my way to make it known or… I don’t really feel part of the adoptee community because some people are really involved with staying in touch with their parents or being adopted. But I never knew my parents, so and it was also in another country so it’s kind of harder to stay in touch… (Do you feel part of the community as an adoptee?) No not really. I don’t really talk about being adopted you know. So, I don’t know how to phrase it… It’s not really spoken about, it’s not bad, I don’t really talk about it.
Are there any differences between your non adopted and adopted friends?
I don’t see a difference in people that are adopted or aren’t because I don’t think it’s an everyday topic of discussion or brought up a lot or at all. I don’t know a lot of peers, my peers, were adopted. But I think it’s really cool that people are able to talk about it with others if they want to.
What is your definition of identity in your own words?
My definition of identity is who you are and the characteristic that make up your self.
What is identity to you? (The importance)
It’s kind of your own way to express yourself and show who you are. So then you don’t have to be like her or be like him. You can be whoever you want and do what you want to do.
What do you identify as?
I identify as being an Asian American because I do things like take Chinese and celebrate Chinese New Year with my family. But I was raised mostly as an American
Does religion play a part in your life?
No my family is not really religious but we celebrate Christmas and sometimes we pray at dinner around like Thanksgiving and big events like that.
What is your adoptive family’s heritage?
They are... my family is Christian. So we’re not super religious, so we don’t go to church or anything like that. But I did as a child. But we are not really religious as a whole.
How does adoption play into your identity?
It does in the fact that I wouldn’t probably be the same as I am today if I stayed in China. Like my life in America is definitely different than an average female’s life in China.
How does the environment around you play into your identity?
I think being from Evanston it’s a really diverse place. So a lot of people are open minded especially about race, whereas some other areas might be racist or be, have closed minded.
How does your family influence your identity?
Yeah there’s like the, there’s the general morals that I was brought up with like don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal. Those and to really value the people around and to be respectful.
How did your family integrate your culture into your life?
Yeah they actually went out of their way to get me, so they actually went out of their way to get a Chinese babysitter. She spoke all Chinese and very little English. So I grew up speaking Chinese around her but English with my family…. (Until what age did she take of you?) probably around middle school, where I would see her sometimes like maybe if my parents went out of town. But now that I’m older we celebrate Chinese New Year together and we see each other every so often, but not a lot.
Do you like learning about your heritage?
I don’t want to say no, but it’s been forced upon me kind of. I think Chinese culture is interesting. I personally don’t think I would go out of my way to learn about it because I am not really interested in it as culture and religion but I do think it’s pretty interesting.
Does your family accept you as an adoptee?
Yeah my cousin’s also adopted and he’s biracial so there are two adoptees in the family.
Did you struggle with any identity issues?
Not really. Just when I was younger our family friends were all white so it wasn’t very different being of color but I just knew I didn’t have blond hair and blue eyes kind thing.
What stereotypes have you faced? How have you dealt with them?
Just that Asian’s have squinted eyes really and I just kind of brush it off. I just don’t really like continue the jokes.
Do you have a need to want to fit in need if that means changing yourself?
No, not really. Because I think Evanston is very accepting and you know you can walk around with neon blue hair and still have friends and get along just fine.
What changes have you dealt with transitioning from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school?
My elementary school was very small. I went to Orrington, so then Haven was a lot bigger and I was able to meet more people, whereas my elementary school was really small. Then high school is like totally different. It’s huge; there is so many more activities to-do, so many more ways to be how you want to be.
Do you have any role models who look like or come from the same background as you?
No I don’t have any role models that are adopted or Asian. I really look up to my mom. I wouldn’t say that she’s a role model, I guess she is right? Yeah I look up to my mom as a role model not saying that I want to be exactly like her. But we share a lot of the same morals and she’s a great person. So I wouldn’t mind being like her.
What are your feelings about the way Asians are portrayed in the media?
I actually have not seen a lot of Asians in the media. I think it’s just seen as a lot of Asians are adopted. Whereas, I don’t know I really don’t see any Asians in the Media ever. I don’t know I haven’t really thought about it. I think it would be nice to have more Asians prevalent in our society because the only one I can think of is Brenda Song on Zack and Cody. But that’s the only Asian I’ve ever seen in our society that’s well known. Unless there’s Chinese movies but.
Do you celebrate holidays from your home country besides Chinese New Year? Which ones?
Have you studied Chinese? When did you start? Why did you start? Why are you taking Mandarin in high school?
I started taking Chinese when I was younger. Like I said my nanny was Chinese, so I spoke Chinese with her. Freshman year I wanted to try a new language. But my parents thought it would be more beneficial for me to continue in Chinese and try to build the language further… (Learning Chinese as a child help?)... Knowing Chinese definitely helped taking Chinese at the high school especially with speaking. I was never really good with characters and like writing it out. So I’ve always struggled with that. Then your Chinese teacher for the first three years was really bad. So I don’t think I furthered my education that much in Chinese but I think I’ll take it in college…. (Fluent as a kid?)... In a way fluent like I could get around. Like where’s the bathroom, how do I get here but I couldn’t use, I could talk in depth.
What do you know about adoption from your country? What are your thoughts? Thoughts about the One Child Policy?
I know that at one point they are only allowed to have one kid. So they wanted to have a male because when they are older males are stronger so they are perceived to be able to take better care of you. I guess…. I don’t know…. I get that it’s over populated but I don’t think it’s fair to be able to say you can only have one child because I know in America there are a lot of issues where there are children in poverty. But yet people are still having children. So I don’t think it’s fair that in China they said that you can only have one child. But maybe it’s better. But I mean people are still having children but they go up for adoption so maybe it is beneficial in the way that someone else can provide a better life for them.
Have you done a homeland trip? Why not?
I did not go back to China. When I was younger I didn’t want to go back, I don’t know why. I just didn’t have the need to but now as I’m getting older I’d like to back and see it. But I don’t think there is a rush… (Why change of mind?) Maybe just to see it and really know where I’m from.
Have you thought about searching for your birth family?
Not really, I’ve thought about it hypothetically because you know there are books on people that try to find their birth parents. But it’s so far-fetched because they are in another country and there’s not a lot of information on them.
If you had the chance, would you meet your birth family? What would you do? (Paint a picture) What would you tell them? What are the biggest questions you would like to ask them?
I don’t know because I know that I was probably put up for adoption because of the One Child Policy. So there’s not really a question on why did you give me up? I would just want to see if I look like them.
Do you consider you birth parents are dead or fictional characters in your mind? Why? How has it affected you?
I really have not thought about these questions really because like I said when I was brought up I was brought up as “your adopted” kind of. I was very accepting of my family. So I never really thought about this. But I think of them as real people just thriving in China.
Do you think you were abandoned or place for adoption? Why? How has it affected you?
I think I was placed for adoption, because I was in a foster center. I don’t know. I think I was placed in a foster center because they went through the process to have me so why not just give me up for adoption than just leave me somewhere.
What is your opinion on adoption?
I think it’s great. It’s allowing to give children better lives than maybe their birth could give them.
Would you adopt?
Yes, I don’t know I don’t really want kids. I haven’t really thought about my future as to what kids or how many kids or… I have not yet thought about having kids, whether that’s how many or where they are from or biological.
What are positive effects of adoption?
I think the positive effects of adoption are that they can get a better life with the adoptee’s parents.
What are negative effects on adoption?
The negatives, maybe that they are insecure or want to know their parents or have the blood relationship.
What is your advice to other adoptees?
I think just be yourself and if you struggle with being adopted there is definitely a lot of people that you can talk to and try to work through your feelings.
Stewart, Lia. Personal interview. 5 Mar. 2015.