What would make a mother and father abandon their newborn baby? Are there any reasons that would really justify a decision like this? This is a question I live with and wonder about. This is my story.

I was born in 2004 in Guangzhou, China. Why did my parents abandon me? It may have been that they already had a son or because I was born with a cleft palate and lip. Maybe they didn’t have the money needed to pay for future surgeries I was going to need to repair my cleft. Or, it is possible they just wanted me to have a better life than the one they could provide. Though I wrestle with these thoughts and questions, what I do know is that they risked being caught and faced punishment by placing me, merely a couple of days old, behind a police station. They knew I would be found and be taken to a place that could help me.

Thankfully, I was found and taken to an orphanage that was much nicer than most in China. Between the ages of one and two years old, I received two surgeries I needed to help mend my cleft palate and lip. After four-and-a-half long years living in an orphanage, I was placed in a foster home. The orphanage put me in foster care because I was going to be available for adoption soon and this would help in the transition process. Some things I remember from that time are having a foster brother, riding on motorcycles, and spending time with my best friend from the orphanage. She and I are still best friends and support each other through life’s challenges. These were not easy times and were very challenging for me.

In 2010, my life changed forever when I was adopted by a family in Michigan. My new family chose me because I had a cleft palate and lip and were wanting to support me through every step of the journey ahead. It was scary and hard to understand everything because I was still very young. After only a few weeks of settling in and adjusting to life in America with my new family, I began kindergarten. I remember sitting in class and struggling to communicate with my classmates and teachers due to the language barrier and feeling very alone. Those next few years were very challenging as I balanced learning the English language, attended many doctors’ appointments, and adapted to a new way of life.

Since being adopted, I have had seven surgeries, seven years of braces and many years of speech therapy and academic tutoring due to learning challenges I faced. This year has had many more big challenges as my dad got a job transfer and we moved to a new state and I started a new school for my senior year. I have overcome much and worked very hard to do well in school and in this transition to a new school.

Through all the challenges I have faced, I have been very blessed to have talented doctors, dentists, orthodontists, and a great craniofacial team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to support me. Experiencing all the effort, teamwork and wonderful care I received has inspired me to help others in the field of dental care. I am eager to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree.

Sometimes the biggest challenges in life can lead us to our greatest successes. A dream of mine that would bring my journey full circle would be to work in third-world countries helping children with cleft lips and palates. I hope that my journey of abandonment, adoption, and many surgeries will translate into a career that will enable me to provide many people with great care just like I experienced.

It has been an exciting year of exploring the Dental Hygiene programs at various colleges. I have been accepted at each college I’ve applied to. I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life and pursuing my goal of being a dental hygienist.” 


Congratulations to Abigail! As the Vocational recipient of the Randall LaRossa College Scholarship, she will receive $5,000 toward her education. Learn more about ACPA’s college scholarships. Donate to the Randall LaRossa College Scholarship fund and make a difference for students like Abigail.