US woman seeks her roots in Yunnan

Updated: 2011-12-07 07:47

By Guo Anfei and Wang Xiaodong (China Daily)

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US woman seeks her roots in Yunnan

Zhou Yunlong (left) stands recently with Ming Foxweldon outside his home in Jiucheng village, Luxi county, the Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province. Zhou is the son of Zhou Laohong, who is thought to be Foxweldon's biological father. Family members note a strong resemblance between the two. Chang Enhao / for China Daily

KUNMING / BEIJING - After six months of searching, a 21-year-old woman from the United States is now awaiting the results of DNA tests that could prove she has found her biological parents.

Ming Foxweldon, a student at the University of Vermont, came to Yunnan University in Southwest China's Yunnan province in June to study Chinese and look for her birth parents. She had been abandoned by them at birth in 1990 because her feet were slightly deformed, and she was adopted by a US couple as a 3-year-old at Kunming Orphanage.

"According to my orphanage records, I was born on Feb 4, 1990. But my presumed parents in Yunnan province told me I was born on Oct 19, 1990. Who is right? I don't know," She told China Daily.

Foxweldon said she was unable to walk until a Dutch man financed corrective foot surgery in a hospital in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. After that, the US couple adopted her, and she has lived in the US with them ever since.

"I have always wanted to know my past, my history, why I was given up, and how my parents are now," she said.

In June, she decided to come back to the land of her birth. Through a partnership between the University of Vermont and Yunnan University, she came to China, with the support of her US parents.

At first, she had difficulty getting information about her life in Yunnan. Kunming Orphanage could not give her any useful information about her life before she was adopted because of the lapse of time. She had nothing but some childhood photos and certificates of abandonment. And language also posed a barrier.

After a few months of fruitless effort, things took a turn in November when her teacher at Yunnan University told her story to Yunnan TV Station. Foxweldon was interviewed on Nov 23, and after the program was broadcast, villagers where she was supposedly born called the TV station, she said.

In late November, she went to Jiucheng village, Luxi county and met a couple who are likely to be her birth parents.

He Jinneng, Zhou Laohong's brother-in-law, said at first sight that Foxweldon must be the child of Zhou Laohong and Bo Lianzhi. "She is so like Zhou's other children," He said in the television program.

"That day around 20 years ago, we put the baby (Foxweldon) into a paper box on the side of the road that links Luxi to Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, and we hid at a distance. We didn't leave until we saw a vehicle with a plate registered in Kunming stop, a man get out, notice the baby in the box, and take it into the vehicle," He told the TV station. "We all prayed that the baby would have a good future."

Zhou Cuimei, Zhou Laohong's daughter, told the TV station: "Foxweldon looks so like my little brother (Zhou Yunlong). They looked almost the same if you compare their baby pictures."

To make certain, Foxweldon suggested they take a DNA test. Zhou Laohong and Bo Lianzhi also favored the idea. "After all, so many years have passed, and there is no evidence to prove it. If the test proves Foxweldon is my daughter, she is welcome to visit her home, and we would like her to stay with us for a few days if she would like to," Zhou said in the TV program.

Zhou, the presumed father, submitted a DNA sample with Foxweldon on Friday, and Bo did so on Monday at the Yunnan Dingfeng Legal Certification Center, Foxweldon said.

"I'm excited. They told me the results may come out this week, but I hope they can speed up the process, because I'm leaving China on Monday," she said.

A female staff member at the Yunnan Dingfeng Legal Certification Center declined to comment on when the results would be ready, saying it involves the client's privacy.

"The search has been very long and complicated," Foxweldon said. "I've suffered psychologically. Because of language barriers caused by the local dialect, communication has been a problem."

"Anyway, a lot of Chinese friends have given me help, and I'm still very confident that the results will come out soon," she said.

Foxweldon said a Chinese food company gave her 5,000 yuan ($790) for the DNA test.

"After I meet my biological parents, I hope I can keep in touch with them using QQ (a popular Chinese instant messenger) or mobile."

Since China enacted the Adoption Act in late 1991, a number of foreign families have successfully adopted children from China. About 110,000 Chinese children have been adopted by foreign families, according to Zhou Hong, an official with the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council.

Foxweldon is hoping she has reconnected with her roots and found her birth family.

"I want to say to them, I love you very much, I hope you are happy. Whatever the reason you gave me up, I totally understand, and please, feel no regret," she said.