Bowser, Lucy. Personal Interview, 11, Mar. 2015
Name: I’m Lucy Bowser
Age: I’m 18
I am a gymnast, well was we just finished our season. I also like to hike when I travel and traveling.
Who's in your family?
I have a younger sister. She’s a freshman, Gracie. She’s also adopted from China. And I have a mom and a dad and my dog pepper.
Tell me about yourself?
Alright so I don’t know, I think my high school experience has been pretty good. I have a really good group of friends and I’m really looking forward to college. I’m going out west coast. I don’t nowhere yet, I haven’t committed, which is very exciting. I really love traveling like I said earlier; it’s one of my passions. I think that’s from my family because we or my parents took us on a bunch of road trip when we were kids. So I kind of fell in love with that. I don’t know I just, I also feel in love with animals. Another hobbies is that I horseback ride.
How had gymnastics impacted your life?
Gymnastics is a really tough sport and through the process of just doing it, I’ve been doing it before high school. It’s just like, it’s really hard. So it teaches you motivation and commitment and just like drive I guess. Which are important things later in life too?
Date you were adopted?
February 17th, 1998
Where were you adopted?
I’m from Xinyi, China
How old were you when you were adopted?
I was 13 months
Can you tell me about the day you were adopted?
When our parents went to adopt us it was in a group and so they never went into the orphanage. They went to this big conference room or something. They had to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork and the caretakers brought all the babies in and gave them to the families. I think that was the day that I was adopted and that pretty much what happened I think...what did they do with you the first day?...I don’t know, I guess I haven’t really asked them. I’m assuming that they were very happy because I’m their oldest. Their first child and my mom loves babies. I’m pretty sure she just died that day. But I think it was a very emotional process that day, just because the whole adoption process is very extensive and long. So they had a lot of waiting to do. So I think they were finally happy to have their baby.
When did you know that you were adopted? When did your parents tell you?
I have a really bad memory, so I don’t know when they told me or when I found out. I just know that I was always okay with it, if that makes sense. People who are adopted, especially from other countries, you look different; your family looks different from the people around you. I don’t know so the adoptees handle it differently. I was kind of always okay with it.
Did you have a transitional object? What was it? How did it make you feel?
My grandmother was very excited when my mom, when my parents adopted me and so she gave me this necklace. It’s a little jade heart. I’ve had that forever and that was just something that reminded me China because I don’t know, it was something special that I have
Do you talk openly about adoption?
When I’m asked. Yeah so that’s the thing I’m not going to just spill right away. But if ask me, I’ll tell them too. I think everybody who has asked me had been sort of fascinated.
Do you think it can be hard to form relationships?
I don’t think so… I don’t think it’s hard with just personal relationships with people. I don’t know how to explain why it just how.
Do you have any adoptive friends? How do your adoptive friends help you?
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 think that has been a very positive thing and just because if it have like a day where I’m just kind of feeling like off and stuff. I can talk to you guys about adoption and that stuff and I can. You can understand that stuff. I think that’s such a powerful thing to have that support group. I think it’s crazy that Linwan and Meryl… I’ve known them longer than my adoptive like, parents. I think that’s like insane. I don’t know, we’ve known each other for 18 years and I, I don’t know. It’s going to be weird next year losing that, going our different ways and I’m going to miss that.
Do you feel a part of the adoption community? Do you feel part of the community as an adoptee?
I do feel a part of the adoptive community, more so with the Chinese adoptees. I don’t know too many other Asian or from other countries or even domestic. But Chinese adoptees are very inclusive and very strong. But I think it’s good that you’re expanding with the Beat. So I think that it is important that every adoptee just be like know each other, I don’t know, be there together. I feel pretty included in the Evanston community. I mean Evanston’s pretty diverse. You have the Northwestern campus that brings in a lot of Asians. So it’s not like I kind of stick out too much. I mean it’s just, there’s just so many different levels in Evanston. Because, I’ve said I travel, so I’ve been places where it’s majority white or something like that. It’s still, I don’t know, it’s just like different vibe in Evanston; I think that’s what makes Evanston special.
Are there any differences between your non adopted and adopted friends?
I think it depends on the non-adoptive friend that you’re asking. I have non-adoptive friends who I’ve known for a long time too. They understand where we come from. They are completely accepting and stuff like that. Not like other people aren’t, they just know more about us. Just I think with my adoptive friends, I’m a lot more close with. It’s just kind of; it’s hard to compare the two.
What is your definition of identity in your own words?
I would say identity is one’s personal characteristic kind of and how that person see themselves.
What is identity to you? (The importance)
I think identity is something that you need to be comfortable with and just because it’s you. It’s how you are. It’s what you do. It’s everything like that. People sometimes have a really hard time excepting themselves.
What do you identify as?
I identify as Asian American. It’s because I live in America. I’m American; I’ve got all the paperwork and stuff. But I’m also Asian, Chinese. Chinese America, to be more specific, because that’s where I was born. So it’s still part of who I am.
What is your religion?
Not particularly. My parents are Christian and they try to get me to go to church. I mean I did go to church when I was little, as being little, just I don’t know, maybe later in life. But right now religion isn’t really something that connects with me.
What is your adoptive family’s heritage?
They are Christian, white Americans.
How does adoption play into your identity?
Yeah. There’s a, my dad has a saying C.B.A, Chinese Born American. I think that’s what I am basically Chinese born American. So in that it’s just adopted. So yeah, it’s a big thing… and there’s ABC, American Born Chinese.
How does the environment around you play into your identity?
So I mean environment, there is a big thing like nature and nurture right? So growing up here in Evanston Illinois that effect that affects completely how I act with others. Mostly how I see myself with others and just so, how I think about others to, right? I just think I had grown up in China I might have been a completely different person. So the environment that you live in has a huge impact on how you grow up into the person that you are.
How does your family influence your identity?
Families I think adopted, adoptee’s parents right? I think can have a big influence on who their child grows up to be and of how much of the child’s culture they accept themselves. So I think that since we live in like, our community we have that, like my adopt, my adoptee group most of us are still around in the area. So our parents got us all together for like our adoption day celebration and like Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, that’s not a thing… I just repeated myself. I was going to say Autumn Moon but then I said Lunar New Year, but for that, for both of those too. So, they brought me back to China three times. So I think their accept, they fully accept the Chinese culture and so because of that I, it still a big part of my identity and who I am. So I have to thank them a lot too because also I think on the flip side if parents don’t acknowledge where their child came from then the child kind of loses that part of themselves.
How did your family integrate your culture into your life?
When I was, so when I was maybe in middle school or something, my parents put me actually in a group with a couple other adoptees from China to learn our language. It didn’t, it lasted for maybe a year or so. But I mean, so that was one thing that they did to just kind of help me be interested in it too. Also like I’ve said they’ve taken me back to China so that I could experience it for myself where I came from. See all; they have so many cultural aspects that are different from ours, completely different. They have just taught me so much about it so I can appreciate it too.
Do you like learning about your heritage?
I do. It’s, I think it’s very interesting that their history is just, there’s so much in it. It’s, I don't know. I think, I do think history is fascinating too, so there’s that. When I was in China too, my dad gave, my dad had this woman he worked with who was able to take my sister and I and give us language lessons. She would also take us around Shanghai too. So I think going with her was a little bit different than going with my dad because obviously my dad is white and so when people see, yeah when people see my sister and myself with my dad, it’s a little strange. Because they’re like “why are you with this white man?” But then, but going with her, she grew up there. She’s both, she speaks English and Chinese. So it looks different to the public eye. I think that impacts how we experience China. What was I say, language, I think, I would love it if I could Mandarin but I didn’t take it in high school just cause I was like “I’m going to continue with French.” But it’s a very hard language to learn. I’m not sure if I’ll ever really master it or anything like that. I’ve tried and know a couple characters and stuff like that. I think learning about history, to me, is more interesting than trying to learn the language.
Why did you choose to continue French than Chinese?
My mom actually she is, she can speak French. So I did that in middle school because like “oh you can help me,” and stuff like that. But actually it was kind of like a big, kind of like debate in my family whether or not I was going to take Chinese or French. Because my dad really wanted me to take Chinese and my mom really, she wanted me to take French. But I think I chose French because it was familiar to me. Even though I had tried to learn Chinese previously it really, I don’t know wasn’t really into it. So I opted for French.
Does your family accept you as an adoptee?
Yeah they do. Like I mean like I said earlier my grandma she, she actually named me when I was a baby. So she was very happy that my parents adopted myself and my sister. Then my closest cousins, who live over in Wilmette, are younger than us. So my sister and I were there before they were. They know we’re adopted and they’re, I don’t know, they just, it’s not, I don’t know, I guess we don’t really talk about that with them that much. We don’t see them all that often, we see them at big holiday event or whatever. But yeah they accept us.
Did you struggle with any identity issues?
I don’t know, I don’t, I feel like I don’t but I’m sure that they’re incidents where I have. So for myself it’s not kind of, it’s not an obvious thing identity struggles. I don’t know, I’m sure there’s likeI think there’s also this kind of thing like ignorance is bliss. So maybe, I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of like racial cues or stuff that I’ve missed throughout growing up that could have affected my insecurities or whatever about being adopted. But I think if I had noticed them, they were something that I just decided to ignore because they weren’t worth it for me.
What stereotypes have you faced? How have you dealt with them?
One um stereotype, well actually it was, so one incident that I remember when I was walking my dog. When I was walking my dog and then these two girls passed me. Then we probably got about 5 feet away from each otherafter we passed each other and then one of the girls turns around and folds her hands and says “konnichiwa”. Then I was like I didn’t say anything back. I was just like in my head “you’re dumb,” and I kept walking. But I was, but I think that’s one of the biggest things with Asians is that “all the same.” You know so it’s like it’s not, there’s not the separate countries and there’s not different cultures within. It’s just Asia. So people, so that's what I got from that is that you um you can just throw anything Asian to an Asian and it’s going to work. It’s like, konnichiwa is Japanese and like I’m not Japanese. She didn’t under; she didn’t get that from looking, from just looking at me. She was just like “Asian”. So I think that’s one of the big, biggest ones. It’s like. We’re just, it’s just other people just compile us all into one group when we’re not.
Do you have a need to want to fit in need if that means changing yourself?
I think there is always pressure to fit in society through just social media and stuff like that. Even just people at school, possibly, but I think like having that my friend group and having them being in the same situation I’m in has helped me stay true to who I am because they know me so well. It’s not, they not, you guys aren’t people who would let me become something that I’m not to fit in. So without you guys there I, I don’t know, I probably would’ve made decisions that would have been um just not who, not who I am.
What changes have you dealt with transitioning from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school?
Funny thing actually something that my mom said yesterday night, um she was like “you, every transition that you had, that I’ve gone through I was ready for it.” You know so; I hated preschool I don’t know why. I just didn’t like it, so I was ready for kindergarten when it started. Then at the end of 5th grade I was ready to go to 6th grade. Then at the end of 8th grade I was ready to go into high school. So I think those transitions for me were pretty easy because I’m… um I’m someone who can accept that change easily and eagerly too. So they were pretty easy for me.
Do you have any role models who look like or come from the same background as you?
You know I really, um I kind of only really have one big role model in my life and that’s actually my dad. So I really, I haven’t really thought of any other, someone from the same background as me as someone I look up to. Well my dad, we share a lot of similarities. I just, I don’t know, I just love spending time with him and he’s taught me a lot about life and stuff like that. I, I don’t know, he’s just, he’s also taught me about my culture too, which is something I really appreciate. I don’t know he’s just a great person.
What are your feelings about the way Asians are portrayed in the media?
I don’t know, it’s, the way Asian’s are portrayed in the media is basically either, it’s either an Asian nerd, right? So like a techy math geek, something likes that, or it’s an Asian being dumb because it’s like they’re in a surrounding or something where they are completely clueless. Then, it’s very; it’s very limited on how Asian’s are portrayed in media. I don't know I think, it’s is changing. There are Asians where there's not those background stereotypes on them too when I think it can expand some more. I’ve noticed in China at least women are mostly portrayed for beauty. So like they are like the models for like different companies or like they’re endorsing like different beauty projects or stuff like that. They’re just like; they’re basically the stereotypical perfect women. I think that America has started to expand it’s very on what a beautiful woman is. I think China could probably do that too, just because there is very strictly stereotypical in that sense.
What do you know about adoption from your country? What are your thoughts? One Child Policy? Process & Beliefs
I’m, so I’m basically here because of the One Child Policy. I mean that basically, that’s kind of like an assumption still but I think it’s very um, what do I want to say? It’s very legitimate. So in a way, in a very, very kind of, very extended broad way it’s I’m almost thankful in a way. Just because I know from where I came from it’s very, very rural. I wouldn’t have gotten an education that I would have gotten today, or the health care benefits or anything like that as I do here. But I think it was very tough for China. Just because population control like that is so difficult to maintain and you have to be strict with that. So I think China was realizing that how that One Child Policy effected their country. So they’ve kind of relaxed the rule a little bit. They don’t do the um, what are they called? Lack of a better word kill the babies that they, that weren’t supposed to be born scenically. I mean, I don’t know it’s just something that happened in China’s history. But I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t.
Have you done a homeland trip? (Paint a picture) When? How was it?
So when I went back I was in 4th grade, 5th grade elementary, oh 4th grade. So and I think I mean you said that was about the time when adoptees are supposed to go back to where they came from to just know about it. So what we did is, let me think... yeah right trip, we went to China. We went to Beijing and we were in a tour group full of other adoptees girls from all over the place with their parents too. So what we did was that we toured China. So when we went to Beijing we went to the Forbidden City and we went to the Great Wall. We went to a bunch of different touristy places that China’s known for. We also went to Chengdu; we saw some pandas, who were really cute. We went to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors. Then so, we started up north and we kind of made our way south. Then so I don’t know what the last city we were was, we were in all together. But then was split up. So the different families went to the areas where their daughters were adopted. So we went to Xinyi and there was, I remember we went to the White Swan hotel. Which is one of the more luxurious hotels down in that area, and it’s a beautiful hotel too. The trip we, especially for my parents, we got to go to the orphanage I was from. My parents had never seen it either. So um I remember we drove from, it was maybe about an hour or two away from where we were staying and we drove down and along the roads we saw a bunch of farmers with their animals. I remember I counted how many like water buffalo I saw and there as some big potbelly pigs walking on the road and some other domesticated animals like that. So and we were with a guild obviously because otherwise we wouldn’t have known where to go. But we were driving in this big white van and then we got to the orphanage. The, immediately when the doors opened the women that took care of me, when I was 13 months old picked me out of the van and gave me the biggest hug. I was kind of like “I don’t remember you.” But so for them it was a lot more, I think emotional through that connection wise for them just because they remembered me. So I was little so I didn’t really remember I knew who they were but I didn’t really remember everything they did for me. But like they were so happy to see me. So after that moment we got out and we went to, we only went to one room. We went to the room where the babies, all the babies that were there were girls pretty much and they were all pretty healthy too, which was which was good, minus a few cleft lips and stuff like that. But we just, they have, they have a big play room for them. There was maybe about 15 babies around I think so there were quite a few. So that was basically what we did for the day. Then they also, my parents had donated a washing and dryer machine to the orphanage. So we went to see that, it said “in donations of the Bowser family” or whatever. I think that was very generous of my parents to do because they didn’t have the disposable diapers. So they had to clean those cloth ones and that just made life a whole lot simpler for them. Then I remember Meryl had a pen pal right in the orphanage? Or something likes that. But that girl who she talked to is older and so there’s like, there’s like a, like an age or baby age where you have the highest chance of being adopted. So she was a lot older so her chances for adoption were a lot lower. But I saw kind of girls like here that were maybe about 13 or something like that around that age and they would help take care of the babies too. So I don’t, I just thought, like I just kind of thought that they, I wasn’t sorry for them but I kind of just remember thinking that they could be having an education or something like that than doing more at the orphanage. But they weren’t, so that just made me feel even more lucky that I was adopted. Oh yeah so, we were or after our visit there well the orphanage itself wasn’t spectacular or anything since it was a very rural town. The orphanage was just kind of, it had what it needed. But it wasn’t anything that was, it was very clean or anything like that and it was very crowded with the babies especially. Then there was just like it seemed like there wasn't enough people to take care of them for the amount of babies that they have. So but I mean now more probably today there or even since people have visited that orphanage it’s gotten, it’s kind of becoming a bit more modernized and a little bit more improved and stuff like that. So that was the orphanage. So the town on that trip too I also visited the spot where I was left and where I was found, where I was left and found. That was, I think that I was lucky in that regard too, because I was left in front of an important building in the town so there was, it was like in the city and it was in front of like an executive building something like that. So I’m assuming that someone found me relatively quickly. I know that like other adoptees have been left in places where their chances of being found are a lot lower. So I took, I like stood in that spot and then we took a picture there. But then even after that we were driving around the town and it was, it looked very poor. There were, everyone had strung their clothes on lines just across between the buildings and then there were dogs running around too. Little kids, who were like half naked and then the streets were dirt and dust. It, it, when I saw that I was again very thankful from, for being able to go and be growing up more privileged. Then I remember the one building in the town that looked like more modern was the school. So they had maybe an elementary school it was, there was green grass around it and the building just looked nicer. So they were, so that was just something to say that “we do care about education for the kids.” So this is where we are going and so I haven’t been back since. So I’m assuming that it’s made a lot more improvements too. Which is very good, big trip.
Have you thought about searching for your birth family?
You know I have and people have asked me: are you ever going to try to search for your parent?” So I think that’s, if I do that it’s something that I’ll do later in life. I know there are ways to do it too is like DNA testing and stuff like that. But I think right now it’s not of uttermost importance to me.
If you had the chance, would you meet your birth family? What would you do? (Paint a picture) What would you tell them?
I would probably say to them thank you for giving me a good life. You know that’s something really hard to say just because they are the ones who gave me up. But I think it’s true especially from where I came from it’s, I would not have had the opportunities that I have now if I had stayed there. Even for them if it was unintentional so something likes that, I would still thank them for that. Then I’d go in and ask just like, I would ask if they had any other kids because one of my assumptions is that they already had an older child and I also think that the old child was a boy too. It’s possible that that I could have blood related siblings. So I would ask them about that too. Whether or not they gave them up too or live with them.
How do you feel about adoptees that know or find their birth family?
I think that that’s great for them. It’s that they have that, especially if they have that good, if they are on good terms with both their adoptive parents and their birth parents that’s a great link just to be able to have that. I think that’s something that they can, I don’t know, it’s just it’s something nice to know. You know and like you’re also linking two families together too. So I don’t know those families could extend beyond to two parents but it’s just a way to connect.
Do you consider you birth parents are dead or fictional characters in your mind? Why?
Oh fictional characters? I don’t think they’re dead. I don’t like I mean, of course that’s a possibility they would. But I do feel like they’re still alive somewhere probably, maybe they’re still there, something like that. I don’t know, I don’t really think that they’re fictional characters though in my mind. Which now that you say that it kind of, it could make sense. You know I’m keeping them alive in my brain just to like maybe bring peace of mind or something like that. But I do, I do think there’s a good chance that they’re still alive.
Do you think you were abandoned or place for adoption? Why?
I think I was abandoned because, just because of that One Child Policy. It’s, the parents weren’t able to give their child directly to an orphanage for adoption because they considered that illegal. So in where I was found. It’s just a really easy place to leave a baby. So I’m pretty sure I was abandoned and they were just hoping someone would find me.
Do you remember the day that Gracie came home?
I do and so my parents got me they waited three years and then they went to go get my little sister, who’s from a different area in China. But they left me with my grandparents and I was really sad that they were gone; I remember that I was very, very sad that they were gone. But when they came back, we meet them at the airport and so I think, I think my parents has a stroller or something. They rolled her in and I was pretty happy to have a little sister. I was um; she was just someone I’ve taken care of ever since she came home. I think, you’ll have to ask my parents, I think I was kind of like I was already a big sister, you know what I mean? It was very exciting for my family that they brought her home.
Have you and sister talked about adoption and identity?
Um, kind of. It’s, I don’t really talk to her about my feelings but I try to comfort her about her about hers. Because as I’ve said before adoptees deal with these issues differently. So I was more okay with it and she was more on the flip side and she did have identity issues growing up. So I think whenever she got upset or anything it was always something underlining. So I think I tried my best just too kind of comfort her about that stuff. But I think what helps kind of the most is time. Just to, just too kind of get that in her mind. So when we do talk or when we did, it was more so when she was younger, that was basically what I’d do. I was just trying to comfort her and just tell her this is the situation we are in now and this is something that you can’t avoid. Then so you’re just going to have to learn how to incorporate it into your life and just try to kind of make it manageable.
What is your opinion on adoption?
Overall? I think adoption can be great depending on the situation the birth parents are in. So basically, so basically if adoption gives the child a better life essentially. If like the parents are like, if the baby is born into a really bad situation or something like that and dangerous or whatever. It’s like the parents can give the child up for adoption as an option just so they, so the child doesn’t have to be born into that. You know they don’t have to grow up into any pain or anything like that. But I also think that adoption can be to open, or lose in the sense that it could be misused, maybe. So I don’t know like, if parents give up a child just because they don’t want it. You know there’s not certain situation that kind of provokes them to give the child up. Then I think that adoption isn’t really necessary in cases like that. You also can’t predict how the child will react to either situation too. So it’s kind of a gamble. You know also an option can be negative for the child too depending on who the person it how adopted the child or something like that.
What are positive effects of adoption?
So positive effects is again the child is given opportunities that they would have with their birth parents. So like again for me, like going to college, getting an education, going and getting a job in the future, things or stuff like that. I wouldn’t have most likely had in if I had grown up in China. So I think that’s one of the biggest benefits of adoption.
What are negative effects on adoption?
I think one of the negatives is that if the; if the adoptee’s parents don’t acknowledge that the child’s adopted. They don’t acknowledge where the child has come from, that can have a really big impact how the child he or she grows up. So I think adoption is almost kind of dangerous in the way that the adoptee can kind of lose his or her kind of identity.
What is your advice to other adoptees?
I would say ask questions if you are unclear about anything or just uncertain, specifically pertaining to your background as an adoptee. I think it’s really important to bring that up with your parents. They can, they can also help settle your mind. So I also think that can be the scariest thing too. If you just, not even if you just have a more distant relationship with your parents, it’s just, it, you’re just making yourself vulnerable. But I think it’s something that is important to do. Even I have a hard time with it too. Just get the courage to ask questions.