Mei Hua Steenwinkel
Hefei, Anhui to The Netherlands
Age at Adoption: 3 years
Interests: I really like to hang out with friends. Other things I like is photography, traveling and doing spontaneous impulsive activities.
When did you realize your story is different?
I was never really interested in my adoption. My environment was very open to me and I didn't felt different from anybody else. The curiosity about my adoption started when I got older and people kept asking me what I thought of my adoption, but adoption is very normal for me, because I don't know any better. As I got older and went to big cities with friends to meet up, I experienced racism. Things were shouted to me, while I thought "I am not Chinese, I am Dutch". Huge conflicts in my head, because who am I actually? Am I Chinese or Dutch... Or am I Chinese with Dutch thoughts?
One other moments when I realized my story is different is when I walk with my dad. People were sometimes looking at us or asking him if I am his wife or girlfriend. I can't describe how that felt, but the only word I have for it now is awkward.
How was your experience growing up?
I grew up happy. As I said, my environment was always safe and people accepted me for who I am. People didn't think it was strange that my adoptive parents looked different from the child they were raising.
The older I got, the more I became curious about my roots and past. especially at times when friends sometimes said to each other "you really look like your father / mother" Because... from whom do I have my eyes, nose, mouth etc. At the age of 23, I decided to go look or my roots and trying to find my birth parents to try to get answers on my questions.
How does your community view adoption?
In the city I grew up, adoption was not really a discussed topic. People accepted me for the way I am and I experience a happy life. Only in the bigger cities I would experience stares or comments, but most of the time I ignored it.
What have you learned from your experience? How has it affected you?
I learned that each adoptee processes their adoption in their own way. It is nice to be able to talk to fellow adoptees about how you feel, these people often understand you better.
It is a sad to turn your back from your roots because you do not know how the culture works. I am glad that I have fellow Asians around me, because of this I learn from the culture and it feels like I can bear my roots with pride despite the fact that I grew up as a Dutch person.
How do you want your story to impact others?
I want to inspire other adoptees and people to never be ashamed of who they are and their experiences. Everyone brings different backgrounds and perspectives to the table which can result in incredibly meaningful and impactful conversations. I want my story to show the beauty in every life and upbringing while still honoring the not-so-amazing aspects of it.