Love beyond blood: One-child policy brings junior from China as an infant

April 2, 2014 — by Michelle Leung
abby foss

The Foss family

She was found on the steps of a factory in China one morning, almost 17 years ago, one of 23 million abandoned or killed baby girl victims of China’s one-child policy. 

She was found on the steps of a factory in China one morning, almost 17 years ago, one of 23 million abandoned or killed baby girl victims of China’s one-child policy. 
Her name became Abby when the Foss family adopted her and brought her to America. The girl who was found on the steps is now a vibrant junior at Saratoga High School. 
Here, among the children of immigrants, she is a living reminder of one of China’s most notorious policies. Meant to slow population growth, the one-child policy also resulted in forced abortions, hefty fines and abandoned baby girls — Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times even called it “gendercide.” 
Abby was one of the more fortunate victims; the unfortunate ones were killed by their own parents or aborted as fetuses. 
“I understand the need to try and control the population,” said Cathy Foss, Abby’s adopted mom. “The issue at hand is that China's culture puts a great emphasis on having a son.”
Mrs. Foss is English, French and German, with brown hair and green eyes. She's confident and cheerful and likes to socialize. She said Abby is one of the best things to ever happen to the Foss family.
“[Abby is] awesome, strong, resilient, beautiful, loving, happy, the best daughter I could ever ask for,” Mrs. Foss said.
Mrs. Foss decided to adopt one evening, flipping through a magazine. It wasn’t a simple decision. She had been going through “intrusive, exhausting and mentally taxing” infertility treatments. After hours of research and counsel with adoption agencies, she and her husband dropped out of infertility treatments and decided to adopt a girl from China. 
“Infertility treatments were time consuming, physically painful, stressful and, of course, not guaranteed,” Mrs. Foss said. “When the option of adopting a daughter from China became a very real possibility, it was a relief to change focus [onto] something more concrete and positive.” 
In adopting Abby, the Foss family went through a strenuous 9-month process. They had to submit references, write essays and fill out paperwork. They also had to check carefully for corruption in the agencies they used. The Fosses, along with 14 other couples, travelled to China with gifts for officials in order to work out the adoption. 
“Abby was left at the steps of a factory in town in the wee hours one morning at the age of about nine days old,” Mrs. Foss said. “This tells us that it was a very difficult decision for her biological parents. I can't imagine making that decision, but they did what they thought was best for them.”
Mrs. Foss concluded that Abby’s biological parents had been reluctant to give her up because they took so long to give her up — most girls are found at one or two days old — and because they left her in a public spot, knowing that she would be in safe hands soon. 
Abby, of course, has memories of only the Foss family, which consists of her adopted mom, dad and older brother. And although she has always known she was adopted, she feels complete in her family. 
“My parents are just that — my parents, Mom and Dad,” Abby said. “They've been my parents since I was one, so there really isn't any difference between my relationship with my own parents and ‘regular families.’ We only look different and don't share the same genetics.”
Abby doesn’t care much for her origins and feels no obligation to learn more about either her biological parents or her ethnicity. Finding a person in China is like “finding a needle in a haystack,”  she said. And, she said, she fears consequences to her biological parents because it’s illegal to abandon a child. 
Abby also does not identify herself as Asian. Although her parents offered her the chance to immerse herself into her ethnicity, Abby chose neither to learn the language nor to go the weekend Chinese schools. 
“I really can't consider myself Asian,” Abby said. “I'm not having an identity crisis in believing I'm white. I know what I look like, but my whole family is white and I was brought up [in white culture].”
The contrast between Abby’s appearance and her family’s appearance has caused no end of confusion among her friends. According to Abby, reactions generally follow the same pattern.
“The usual response is something along the lines of ‘Really? What's [being adopted] like?’” Abby said. “Most think it's interesting or something like that, but I've definitely been called a liar before. Not just a ‘You're serious?’ type of reaction, but flat out ‘Stop lying, what's the truth?’” 
Abby likes to have fun with reactions to her adoption. She occasionally throws out vague information such as “My parents are white,” while simultaneously combing through her black hair.
“I mean just saying ‘I'm adopted’ all the time gets old fast;  [it’s] really boring,” Abby said.
It wasn’t until 2013 that the Chinese government finally changed policies so that couples in which one parent had no siblings could have a second child of their own. Abby believes that this policy may help prevent many cases of abandonment and infanticides. But at the same time, she is satisfied with where her life has brought her. 
“When I was younger, I didn’t know all the facts, so there was a lot more open room for stuff to dream about,” Abby said. “I don’t really care anymore. I just want to go on with my life. I don't remember a thing about China, and living here in Saratoga is pretty dang fortunate.”
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