I was born on the first of October, 1997, give or take a few weeks. My exact birth date is not known, because neither are the circumstances of my birth.
As far as I am informed, my story started on a dusty street corner in rural China, in the province of Jiangxi. Much like many famous characters to enter the world before me– Moses, Harry Potter, and Dumbo to name a few– I was found in a basket wrapped in cloths like baby Jesus himself- the last part isn’t verified, that’s just how I picture it. So you know a conspicuous person has entered the world. Believe it or not it is actually common to find babies left on the sides of roads in China, and the common practice is for the person who found the baby to deliver it to the nearest orphanage. And so my known story really begins at Holt International orphanage, my first home, where I lived for 6 months. I was named Cao Fu, Cao after the director of the orphanage, and Fu meaning favored grace. I was a happy baby, I am told, and a bald one.
Then, two excited Americans came and flew me across the ocean, taking me to the upper left corner of the United States. They named me Hannah Grace, Hannah because my mom had always wanted a daughter named Hannah, and Grace because my dad liked the name Grace, after the famous actress Grace Kelly.
The first couple years of my life were spent in a small house in Tualatin, Oregon, and those years are epitomized in one picture that is framed and sitting on our bookshelf to this day. I am in the backyard in one of those spinny chairs that keeps babies entertained (but more importantly locked in one spot) and panting beside me is a faithful yellow lab, my best friend in my infancy.
Bucket hats and pink overalls, bangs and a sea otter Oregon Zoo t-shirt, these were the staples of my unfortunate younger self’s wardrobe. I spent my days at daycare with our family friends and having tea parties at my grandma’s windmill house. (I’m still paranoid of contracting secondhand smoke from those days at her house).
Endless thought could be devoted to speculation about my origin of origins- my birth family, the why of my surrender for adoption, the who, and even what my life would look like if I were not adopted. A lot of adopted children do question this, I am told. But me? Not as much. I guess I just accepted the whole thing from the start, the fact that there’s some things I’ll never know about myself. I do know that I am very blessed to be in the exact position I am right now- sitting in my dorm at a private Christian university in arguably the best state in the United States, with a healthy body and a family to call when I need support. When I look at the variables in my life, how things lined up, I see the hand of God. These events were not coincidences orchestrated by chance. I don’t see how anyone could deny the existence of God when you look at where I am today, where I could have been. This life he built for me to be in the exact position I am right now- one of incredible opportunity. And that by itself, the present, is enough to think about for me.