Growing up in the States
Jeff and Maxine Miller adopted Alexandra from the Quzhou Social Welfare Institute in China at 10 ½ months old. Alexandra grew up in the rural countryside of Garrett County, MD. Throughout high school, Alexandra was a proud and active member of the FIRST Robotics program. Alexandra received the FIRST Dean’s List Award and accepted into Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) summer “Frontiers” program. “These events perfectly aligned, and thanks to a full-tuition scholarship, WPI became my home, a scenario otherwise financially infeasible,” said Alexandra.
Interactive Qualifying Project
One of the highlights of WPI’s curriculum is the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP), an interdisciplinary social science project. WPI has 60 locations where Alexandra could choose to go complete her IQP, including one location in her birth country. At first, Alexandra did not have an interest in completing her IQP in China because she wanted “to gain varied experiences.”
However, while exploring the 60 potential locations WPI offers, she remembers learning about the project site in Hangzhou. Suddenly Alexandra started to reconsider completing her IQP in China. “I felt the same intuition as I did when I first visited WPI, and I knew this was where I was meant to go,” said Alexandra. Alexandra was excited for the opportunity to immerse herself in the culture and contribute to the betterment of the city. “I did not go with the intention of searching for my birth family,” said Alexandra.
Upon request from the project sponsor, her team conducted an additional interview with professors from the local university. One interview was in the city of Quzhou, the city where her professor was from. Alexandra particularly had a great connection with that city because that is the same town as the orphanage that took care of her before she was placed for adoption. Little did Alexandra know that what would happen next would be complete fate. “Through a wild, fortuitous sequence of events due to my newfound connection with this professor, I was reunited with my birth family. I am unable to articulate fully the extent to which this has impacted my life. Upon reflection of the series of seemingly unrelated life events that led me to FIRST, to WPI, to Hangzhou, and ultimately to my birth family, I realize they were all part of His plan for me,” said Alexandra.
Upon reuniting with her birth family, she learned added information about her road to adoption. Her birth parents disclosed to her that they originally connected with another family in China who agreed to care for Alexandra and adopt her. This meant the world to Alexandra’s birth parents that she would be cared for by a family in China because this way they could stay connected with their little girl. Unfortunately, Alexandra would not be able to live with this family. This family consisted of a single man and his mother, and due to an age restriction, the man was not able to adopt her.
More to Her Story
Alexandra believes that the Chinese government intervened shortly after the first adoption fell through. Unbeknownst to her parents, the government brought her to the orphanage. “Because communication was not good then, my parents didn’t know where I went, so I have been lost for 20 years,” said Alexandra.
Alexandra was excited and anxious about meeting her birth parents at the DNA testing location. Alexandra was waiting patiently in a room when suddenly the double doors within the room opened. Her birth father was the first person to enter the room, followed by a slew of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Alexandra notes that her birth family reunion felt like a scene straight out on the hit movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” The reunion was overwhelming but in the best way possible. “Now I have two loving families, my family of three in the US and my family of 30+ in China!” said Alexandra.
Amongst all the important relatives she met that day, meeting her sister is a moment she cherishes every day. Alexandra’s birth parents had been together for a long time before she was born, in fact, she was not their first daughter. Her birth parents raised her older sister who was born eight years before her. When Alexandra was born there were many factors that made it impossible to raise her and be a family of four. Aside from being financially unstable, Alexandra was also born within the era that the One Child Law policy was in place.
It was an emotional day for Alexandra’s older sister as it was for Alexandra. For years, her older sister has missed the opportunity to form a friendship and create memories with her sibling. Her older sister naturally broke into tears the first time she laid her eyes on Alexandra. The sisterly bond was instant. “We have an unspoken understanding and similar demeanor,” said Alexandra.
Why Alex Decided to Share Her Story
There is a reason Alexandra wants to share her story with the world, “my story is relatively unscathed, and I want to share that adoption is simply another way families are made,” said Alexandra. It is natural for adoptees to want to learn more about their origin. The fact of the matter is there is no telling what adoptees will find out about their history. Alexandra reminds adoptees to keep the faith and be “open and prepared for anything under the sun” about their story.
Birth parents and adoptees may feel awkward during their reunion. It is important for adoptees to think about the birth parent’s perspective as well. Alexandra notes that the birth family could feel a level of shame and guilt about the adoption. “I tried my best to assure them [birth family] that I loved them and what happened was simply my story, our story. I approached it as, ‘come as you are,’” said Alexandra.
Today Alexandra, her birth parents, and birth sister faithfully send video messages to one another through WeChat. This summer Alexandra plans to not only visit but stay with her birth family for a few months. The college student has no regrets of how she and her birth family reconnected with one another. “I think it was God’s plan in that I would find them [birth family] this way and I needn’t search beforehand,” said Alexandra.
For everyone that has taken the time to read Alexandra’s (Alex) story, she would be more than happy to connect with you and answer more questions about her time in China, birth family reunion, and more!