In April 2016, I decided to reflect back on the life I have been living in a wide range of places, such as Pennsylvania, Turkey, and China. My 18-year-old self would not have the strong beliefs and morals I have today, had I not been so fortunate as to be adopted and raised by my family. The relationships I have seen around the world, including my own, have impacted me in a number of ways.
In 1998, in Guangdong Province, six of seven Chinese babies interacted on a couch for one of the first times.
In July 2011, two soft, furry kittens curled up against one another on a Turkish carpet in Istanbul, Turkey.
In July 2011, in the city of Istanbul, a female feline washed her tabby kitten. A little extra work had to be done on Mom’s part, as her young hadn’t learned personal boundaries!
In July 2011, an iguana sank his little body into the sandy beach beside some green plants. Everyone needs a rest before continuing on the journey up the staircase of life; even iguanas deserve to recuperate on the beach in St. Thomas.
In August 2011, in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, seven Chinese-American girls wore smiles at their 13th annual “family” gathering as they huddled in together for their group picture. The photo was complete with some of the girls’ best gifts: their non-adopted siblings. One common, simple act of kindness provided by seven couples had an impact on at least 42 lives, some of which have not yet begun.
In November 2011, a Ragdoll cat walked up a tree branch towards the white, blistery clouds. This focused cat took no notice of the wind blowing the green leaves around him, and his destination beyond the tree branch was unpredictable.
In December 2011, the Ragdoll cat peeked out from underneath a plastic bag. This plastic bag housed the Christmas wreath that acts as a bed. This cat will always be his owners’ beloved “Christmas kitty,” both arriving and leaving around Christmas.
In March 2012, the beloved seal mitted Ragdoll, named Gunner, hung on to the armchair for dear life. He swung on his very own jungle gym, not much to the liking of his adult owners. However, this sweet moment needed to be captured, because you never know when you’ll find a wise cat repeating his actions. Apparently, it’s okay to occasionally live on the edge.
In July 2012, in my room covered with cat posters, I took a selfie with my fur brother. Before six in the morning, I said goodbye to one of my best friends. My family and I were heading to China for a few weeks. Never liking to leave my cat behind and always worrying for his safety out in the woods, I gave him the biggest hug and kiss possible. (He immediately returned my kiss.)
In July 2012, the protruding gold statue of the well-respected Chinese dragon enhanced a red column. In this country, both the color red and the dragon bring luck to the Chinese. Although this may not be realistic, to this day, I still hold the color red in a special place.
In July 2012, fourteen years after being born, I stood with my lovely parents in my birth country. (Take note of the red background!)
In July 2012, with the sun shining, two Chinese farmers worked in a field with the help of a water buffalo. The Chinese farmer was actually led across the field by this brown water buffalo. No tractor was in sight; only the endless rows of dirt were visible.
In July 2012, a cat laid in a damp wooden box. Leashed in the middle of a sidewalk, this white cat looked content.
In July 2012, an eight-legged spider made her intricate, but disturbing, home. Sitting high above the walking path my family and I were on, this spider home constantly had humid air running through it.
In July 2012, half of the Chinese Reunion sisters and brothers posed for a typical, but unique, Great Wall picture. Their shadows were cast beside them on the hot day.
In June 2013, I, the little sister whose fate it was to believe in and look up to my older brother, proudly grinned after watching him obtain his Bachelor of Science degree, specifically in Emergency Medicine. My brother is the one person that never doubts me, as I cannot doubt his abilities, either.
In September 2013, the sweetest, now loved, kitten explored his new home that was complete with flowers blooming from angular beds. After being abandoned with a broken leg, this small baby looked on. He was “killed with curiosity.”
In November 2013, Kiki, the newest addition to our family, made the porcelain sink his bed.
In December 2013, I joined Kiki in simply smiling over the edge of a wooden chair.
In June 2014, a mother deer accompanied her two fawns, which were still spotted, as they grazed in our warm backyard.
In June 2015, we met a Calico female cat on the patio outside our hotel in Germany. With her pink tongue out, she backed away from the stranger photographing her.
In June 2015, “Small Gray” appeared outside of my Turkish grandparents’ summerhouse in Cesme. The mangy, long-haired cat showed up a few times. After being received and pet by my family, this cat tried to sneak his way inside. With evidence of a cold and yellow eyes, the small cat curled into a ball outside of the curtained door.
On his third visit, his fur seemed different. It was mysteriously much shorter than before. After a few more nights, Small Gray was settled on the concrete beyond the iron gate. A man of the neighborhood stopped by the gate and with a relieved smile, he explained why the cat’s fur had become much shorter.
In July 2015, one of the Chinese girls visited me at my home for the first time ever. Surrounded by the green Pennsylvania woods, we did a personal photo shoot together.
In August 2015, the Chinese Reunion’s very own triangle came together…sort of. Despite the unfinished product, laughs were heard and grins stayed on the group members’ faces.