This is the story of when I returned to my Found Site. What I saw made me realize how lucky I am.
The roads were made of dirt, the building timeworn, and I stood in front of it – my Found Site. It wasn’t the first time I had been to the building, but this time I would remember it. My mom and I stood before the once-great building in silence. We were thinking, imagining, and being thankful that the Red Thread had brought us together. I am adopted from China, and in June 2013 I returned.
The Heritage Tour lasted two weeks, and I saw things that amazed me at every turn. I climbed the Great Wall of China, where the saying is “One is not a hero until he has climbed the Great Wall.” I glimpsed the terracotta army designed to protect the Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di in death. I held baby pandas, visited parks, and ate fantastic food in every location. I admired the mountains along the Li River and rode nine miles along the wall around Xi’an. The Heritage Tour Program was sponsored by my adoption agency, the Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI), with the Chinese Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) in China.
This post will be focusing on the trip back to my birth city, Anhe in Hunan Province, China. After visiting the other cities, I rode the bullet train to Chenzhou where my orphanage is located. I stayed in the Chenzhou Huatian Hotel in the city, and Anhe is located 30 minutes outside of Chenzhou.
My story began in September of 2000 when I was abandoned and left to be found at the doorstep of a once-bustling government building. This is the building I now stood before. The windows appeared broken and plants sprung from the overhang. Since people were living there, faded towels and blankets hung from the windows as makeshift curtains. Stray chickens pecked in the dirt and scurried in and out of the courtyard.
What stood out to me was seeing two teenage girls in modern clothes. They looked like other teenage girls I saw in the big cities, but they were here, in Anhe. A second thought came to me: that could have been me. This simple, middle-of-nowhere town was where I was born, but if things had turned out different, I would have called this home.
I didn’t go into the courtyard of the old government building, just standing in front of it was extremely overwhelming for my mom and me. We stayed in Anhe for an hour, and I picked up a few stones from the front entrance of my Found Site to remind me of my roots here in Anhe. To hold the stones, our guide bought me a lucky red envelope from the store across from my Found Site. The store was made up of wooden walls and a corrugated plastic roof. It looked more like a stall at an open-air market. If things had turned out differently, this would have been normal.
My mom and I still speculate and wonder why and what brought us together. Perhaps we will never know, but this amazing journey opened my eyes to what a wonderful life I have. The whole Heritage Tour made me realize how fortunate I am to live in the US. Even though I have roots in China, my home is in America with my family and friends.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.