The one-child policy is gone, now what?

This morning, I woke up to 3 news alerts from the AP, Guardian, and Reuters saying that China had ended its one child policy. I read it, and got quiet. I didn’t really know what to think, but I knew that it had a tremendous affect on me. And that feeling stuck with me for the rest of the day.

It’s not like I was perpetually sad the rest of the day, but I kept seeing the story shared around on Facebook — I even shared it myself — but every time I saw it I just got quiet. I just kind of mentally shut down for a second, not thinking or feeling, just quiet. I saw from my one adoptee Facebook group that other people had thoughts and opinions. Some were hurt, some thought it was too late, some were thinking the “what if?” questions, but most didn’t really know what to think. Like me.

I read a lot of articles about the policy. How it was never really effective, the consequences it caused China, and so on. But nothing I saw today really gave me any sort of feeling about it. I didn’t have any solid opinions, which is new for me. I just know that I needed to fully process what this meant, and I needed to talk to someone who understood.

All I know is that the one-child policy is one of the biggest reasons I’m here. Right? I don’t even know. When I was younger, and as I’ve been doing my reading and research on China, the policy is one of the main things I point to to justify and explain why I’m here. One child and that child had to be a boy. That’s what I always believed. And now that this one policy, one of the biggest factors in my life, is just gone, I don’t have any answers. Was I even looking for answers?

Now that the one child policy is gone, it has no immediate affect on my life now or my future. It played a major role in my past, but that’s as far as it goes. But now that it’s just — poof! — gone, I want some sort of reaction. I don’t know what I want, if it’s answers, or satisfaction, or a sudden rush of families posting ads trying to find their children. Do I even want to find my birth parents? I always assumed they were dead. It just made it easier.

I think not having answers, and never having them, makes my situation so much more complicated. No matter what happens in the future, no matter what policies China makes or strikes down, I will never have any answers to anything… And because of that I’ve convinced myself I don’t want them. There’s no point in wanting something that I’ll never have. And not just “never have” like the idea of a great job or living in some city. I mean actually never having ever in my lifetime because it’s truly impossible.

That’s what I’m most upset about, I guess. The fact that this major factor of my life is gone and I have nothing to show for it now. Now when I say I’m a result of the one-child policy, I’ll sound antiquated and from some “other” time in China’s history. Is being a part of the policy a part of my identity? I think it is. It’s a part of my adoptee identity for sure. And now I just have… what?

It’s not that I’m unhappy with my life now. I’ve never felt like I’ve had a bad adoption experience or family life or childhood. I’m always grateful for my life and everything that’s happened to me. I’m always grateful that I wasn’t aborted. And really, I never started thinking about my adoption until very recently. But for some reason I feel like something’s unfair. The one child policy is gone, and I got the short end of the stick somehow.

I don’t know. I really don’t. This is a major thing that just happened and I’m…. quiet. I can’t explain it, I wish I could.

Bookseller, sometimes blogger. Book thoughts at