Building a family, whether through birth or adoption, is always a joyful experience. When couples who already have children adopt, that experience is shared not only by Mom and Dad, but by older brothers and sisters too.  The first peek at that tiny referral photo, received in the mail from the adoption agency, creates a moment of wonder and love for the entire family.  13-year-old Carter wrote a school assignment about his family’s experience adopting his sister Anya, and about how the bond they share as brother and sister began long before Anya even arrived home. 

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I believe in the power of the red thread. This belief is rooted in an ancient Chinese legend. The red thread describes a relationship that cannot be explained by science. The story goes that Yue Xia Lao, the god of marriage and matchmaking, tied a red thread around the ankles of a man and a woman who were destined to fall in love. This myth illustrates the belief that everyone is interconnected, and as each year goes by the string that connects one person to another draws them closer together. While this story may be most commonly used in reference to romantic love and marriage, it has also been used by families who have adopted from China. It describes the connection between the adopting families and the children becoming part of their forever family.

My personal experience with the red thread occurred when I was four. My parents had just told me that I was going to have a sister from China. At that moment I felt the invisible thread begin to tug. Waiting to be matched with a child, we received the news that the referral was being delivered to our house while visiting my grandparents in Virginia. We raced home to find a package on our doorstep. Inside the package was a picture of a tightly bundled, hairless baby. My parents told me her name was Hong Zi Chang. Hong was the name each child was given in the orphanage, but soon she would share our last name. Anya is what she goes by today. I learned that I can love someone without ever meeting them. My belief in the existence of the red thread was growing.

Having an adopted sister means she is not biologically related to me. Last month Anya had a homework assignment asking her to determine from which parent she received a trait. The data she collected was not aligned with her own genes, making it impossible to complete the test. My parents asked her if she wanted to explore her ancestry through a genetic test. Anya will discover the ethnic groups from which her ancestors originated. She hopes to be related to a Chinese princess. While this test will tell her where her ancestors came from, she already knows what family she is a part of. The red thread will always connect Anya and me. I believe in the power of the red thread.

By Carter, age 13