Adopted from China at five months old, Independence resident Lori Scoby always knew how her adoptive parents brought her to the United States from the Jiangxi province, but while growing up, didn’t have many individuals in her life to connect her to her Asian heritage. Recently, after transitioning from college graduate into adulthood, she is also reaching into her past to find who she is in the present.
“I don’t really have a lot of Asian friends to talk to about it,” she said, “So a lot of it has been on my own.”
As a child, Scoby explained she and her parents joined a group of families who had also adopted young children from China. However most of them, according to her, were adopted by Asian parents. Scoby said this was a dividing factor.
“I have really no idea about that other world other than my physical features. My culture is American, but what I look like is not,” she said. “I have no idea and no way of knowing unless I look for it myself.”
Scoby said the journey to discover more of her heritage stemmed from wanting to know more about the way her body works, as she learned while growing up that she reacted differently to different products, food and drinks than her friends.
“All my life I’ve been asking white people what I should do with my hair, with my skin, what should I do about me? I shouldn’t be asking them. I should be asking Asian women, but I don’t have that,” she said.
One example Scoby gave was of a gene anomaly that causes her to process certain foods differently than her peers, resulting in blemishes and an increased heart rate. Through her research, she discovered this gene can be traced back 10,000 years, making it a deep genetic history connecting her with her Asian heritage.
This past spring, Scoby and her family made good on a resolution to visit the country of her birth, marking the first time Scoby touched Asian soil since her adoption.
“I’ve always wanted to go back, but I wanted to go back with my parents. They brought me here, and I wanted to go back with them,” she said. “Just being there and knowing that’s where I was born, with the land and seeing everything. I definitely felt connected there.”
There, Scoby said she connected with her tour guide, whom she still regularly chats with. Upon returning home, she said she sees the world “a little different.”
“The world just seems a little bit smaller when you leave the United States, go to a different country and come back. It made me want to learn more,” she said.
As she discovers more about her heritage, and the science behind it, Scoby said she is still happy with her American culture, and sees herself as a blend between the two.
“When people ask me, they usually ask ‘where are you from?’ I know what they’re referring to, and I do say Chinese, because I know what they’re asking,” she said. “When I was younger, I strictly embraced that because that’s what I knew people want the answer to be. But it’s both. It cannot be just one thing for me; It’s two very big things about my life.”