Jeff and Maxine Miller adopted their 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 was 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.
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 Quzhou, the same town as her orphanage. 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 new 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 keep in contact with their little girl. Unfortunately, Alexandra would not be able to live with this particular 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.
Alexandra believes that the Chinese government intervened shortly after the initial 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, and they went looking for me,” said Alexandra. They would never give up their search for Alexandra.
Alexandra was excited and anxious about meeting her birth parents at the location they agreed on. 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 birth mother and then 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 stayed together after they placed her for adoption. Eventually, her birth parents married and had another daughter nine years later. The little sister had no idea she had an older sister until right before Alexandra reached out to the family. Her little sister naturally broke into tears the very first time she laid her eyes on her big sister. The sisterly bond was instant. “We have an unspoken understanding and similar demeanor,” says Alexandra in describing her relationship with her sister.
There is a reason why 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 in regards to 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 regarding 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.