How I'm celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Posted on May 2, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

I haven’t always celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month). For those that don’t know, it is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States.

That may seem surprising as someone who is on the Education Committee of Avanade’s Asian Employee network (AEN). Growing up as an adoptee from China was a unique experience to say the least. I’d always felt American, but I wondered if my peers saw me differently. I also struggled with a sense of identity confusion, not feeling like 100% belonged to either cultures: American or Chinese. My mom and dad tried their best to make sure I learned about Chinese traditions, but it took years and one life-changing discovery in 2021 for me to truly embrace my full identity as a Chinese-American adoptee.

Back in 2017, I took a 23AndMe DNA Test purely out of curiosity. On January 30, 2021, I had a new DNA Relative who shared 49.87% DNA with me. That relative turned out to be my birth father. Thanks to a nonprofit, DNAConnect.org, who provides DNA kits for families in China who are searching for their children who were adopted, my birth family and I were able to reconnect after 25 years.  I was adopted a few days before my second birthday, and I was 27 when the match was made. All those years, my birth family had been searching for me in China thinking another Chinese family adopted me.

Since reconnecting with my birth family, which includes my parents and two sisters (I grew up as an only child, so this was a major moment for me to find out I have two sisters and that I’m a middle child), we continue to video chat and text through WeChat, despite a strong language barrier. The pandemic has kept my husband and I from traveling to China to visit them and reunite in person, but we hope that someday that will happen.

Celebrating AAPI Month takes on a whole new meaning for me because of the newfound connection I have to my birth country and my birth family. It’s how I’m able to honor them and our culture and make sure I continue traditions and keep them alive within my own family. It’s a month of sharing stories that many of us relate to all too well, for the better and worse. It’s a time where a light shines down and illuminates all the beautiful ethnic and culture groups that make up Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a group that is more than just a monolith.

I plan to celebrate all month long by supporting my local Asian-owned businesses, hosting and attending AEN events and sharing photos with my birth family. The AEN can’t wait to see how you celebrate AAPI Month and we encourage you to share photos and videos with us.

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