Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the author and are not necessarily reflective of Live Action or Live Action News.

I was born on October 28th, 2002, in China. I was immediately abandoned, and was found the next day at a train station in China with my umbilical cord still attached. While I obviously don’t remember these events, this is significant trauma for anyone to experience. The police sent me to an orphanage where I spent almost the first full year of my life in a crib, resulting in a flat head and impaired brain development. When I was about 10 months old, my amazing adoptive parents flew halfway around the world to get me.

Photo courtesy of Ayden Lincoln

They were beyond excited, as were my two older brothers. My parents had begun the painstaking yet amazing process of adoption in 2001, with home visits, interviews, etc. They knew we were meant to be a family, and I feel the same way. Today, I live in Pennsylvania with them.

The early years are the most important for brain development, and my early years were difficult. I struggle every day with anxiety and ADHD, and have had to overcome so much more both mentally and physically.

Photo courtesy of Ayden Lincoln

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with my mental health, and have been subjected to bullying. I have struggled to make friends and to be understood, most notably in school. Thankfully, my mom is an educator and was able to understand me. My parents took me to various doctors until they found the right one and the right combination of medications to help me, which was not an easy process for any of us.

READ: ‘You have to go get her’: With a single photo, a blind girl from China stole one family’s hearts

When I was old enough to attend school, it was traumatic. I had temper tantrums with screaming and crying every day, leading me to lash out at everyone around me. My teachers responded to my attitude with harsh discipline — sometimes yelling, isolating, and physical restraint to keep me from hurting myself and others. But instead of “learning” from this discipline, I only became more anxious. I distinctly remember one of my worst days in first grade when I told a girl that I wanted to kill her, and at that moment the world froze; I knew I had made a huge mistake. I was sent to the principal’s office, which spiked my anxiety and brought on a panic attack. Instead, the guidance counselor spoke with me because the principal was not there at that time, which was a bit of a relief.

Ten years later, I still think about that and never got a chance to apologize in person, as the girl had moved away. I sent her a message one day on Instagram, and as it turns out, she didn’t even remember. This was a weight lifted off my shoulders, but I’ll never forget it.

My third grade teacher forever changed my life for the better. She saw me for who I was and where I need to be. She showed me love, compassion, and patience. I’m forever grateful for her, and today we are very good friends. My determination to rise above my challenges was ultimately what drove me to start a successful jewelry business as a young teen, to become a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and to get a job at age 14. I’ll graduate high school next year and I’m excited, but also nervous for a new chapter of my life. 

Photo courtesy of Ayden Lincoln

I really hope my story can teach someone like me that they aren’t alone. Everyone has their own unique struggles — some worse than others. Reaching out to someone, even if it’s a crisis hotline, really does make a difference. There will always be people who tell you “just get over it” and “it’s all in your head.” But you have to find your own techniques to cope and your own support system.

READ: Humans of New York shares beautiful adoption story of a ‘long awaited little darling’

I don’t necessarily think about being adopted, even when people stare and are afraid to ask questions because I don’t look like my family. But nearly every day I think about my birth parents, and my mind races thinking about the “what if’s.” I wish I could go back to China to just hug them and to see someone who looks like me — if they are even still alive, given the coronavirus pandemic. I wonder if I have any siblings. In my heart, I feel that I may have at least one, who I hope to someday meet.

I think with technology advancing, all the questions I have may one day be answered. But sometimes I think maybe maybe it’s all better left unanswered. The struggles I’ve gone through in the past do not define me. They shaped me into the person I am today, and I would not change anything.

Editor’s Note: This submission was altered from its original form for publication.

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