This is the true story of a girl called Amy and the English “mother” who adopted her from an institute in China when she was just a baby.
It’s a story about love, family and identity; and the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter.
When Amy came to be adopted in 1999, China’s then notorious one-child policy had given rise to a generation of missing girls. Amy was one of them, destined to life in an orphanage if she was lucky enough to survive. That is, until she was adopted by a loving British couple who were desperate to give her the home she deserved; Elaine and Lee.
In this moving autobiography, Amy and Elaine chart their own personal experiences of their shared adoption story. Theirs is not a political account, but one which is open about the challenges of adopting a child from a foreign country and the long journey that follows; from China to the UK and from infancy through to adolescence, as Amy and her new family learn and grow together.
Now a bright and ambitious young woman on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Amy is braced for an exciting journey into adulthood, one which her proud mother is delighted to be able to share.
Two Voices, One Story is a frank but uplifting account of the complex adoption process and the profound relationship between a mother and her adopted child.
And Now a Little Word from Elaine & Amy on Amy’s Adoption:
Elaine: Amy’s English Dad, Lee (my ex-husband) and I were always honest and open about the fact that she was adopted from almost the first moment we got her.
We always believed that we had no other option and that it would be best for her to grow up always having been aware of it, so to speak.
The most obvious reason for this was quite simply because she didn’t look like either of us, which we thought might cause her to wonder before she was very old at all and perhaps to get distressed.
There was also (inevitably) a certain amount of speculation over how we were came to be the parents of a Chinese child and we considered that being direct would minimise this.
When Amy was little, we used to play a game with her called “Amy is Adopted by her Loving Parents,” where she would lie on the couch pretending to be asleep in a cot at the Welfare Centre in China. Lee and I would pretend we were on the aeroplane on the way to get her and we would be chatting about how excited we were and how we couldn’t wait to meet her.
We would then pretend to be at the rendezvous in China and Lee would pick Amy up, carry her to me, saying “here’s your baby now,” (the exact words spoken when we first met her), and putting her in my arms. I would hug her, exclaiming how delighted I was to have such a beautiful daughter.
We played this game until Amy was too big for me to hold in my arms any longer.
We thought the enactment would give her sense of what happened and would also reassure her about how much we wanted to be her parents.
Despite this, Amy didn’t seem to realise what being adopted meant until she had been at school for about a year and some of the other girls had talked to her about it. I truly think that this was the first time she had realized that it meant that she had “other” parents somewhere out there and this made her “different” from her schoolmates.
She would come home in tears each afternoon for a few weeks, wanting us to find her Chinese parents so that they could come to the UK to live next door to us, so we could all be together. Amy never once said, interestingly, that she wanted to go back to China herself to live with her Chinese parents there, leaving her life in the UK behind.
She also went through a phase of telling me that I couldn’t tell her what to do as I wasn’t “even her real mother.”
We tried to explain how difficult things had been in the part of China she had been born in during the Spring of 1998 and that her parents had had no choice, that they had not been able to care for her, that they were needed to help regenerate the area and that China was their home.
We have always tried to bring Amy Tong Fang up to have respect for herself and others and particularly to have respect for her Chinese parents
Amy: I remember being sad and crying because my Chinese parents couldn’t come to live next door to us and because I never saw them.
I really missed them and although I didn’t remember either of them at all, I felt like there was a great big hole somewhere in my heart.
I told my English mum that it would make me feel better if she bought me expensive presents or let me ride my bike all around the house.
If I felt annoyed with her, I also used to tell her that I was going to go back to China to find them, but I never got further than the bottom of the garden, before I came back.
We used to talk about my Chinese parents sometimes and about what might have happened to them and why they hadn’t been able to care for me.
Both: I think if we did it all over again, it would be better if Elaine could manage never to cry when Amy did and if she hadn’t told people quite so readily that Amy was adopted in order to stop speculation about her as sometimes it made her feel that her adoption was a more important thing about her than it really was.
About the Authors:
Elaine Rizzo (Elaine Masters) works in finance as a licensed insolvency practitioner for ClearDebt a company based in Manchester. Her daughter Amy Masters is now eighteen and at college. She enjoys art and design and her ambition is to become a photographer when she graduates. Both now live near Cardigan in West Wales.
It was an honour to have Elaine & Amy on my blog today.
This book will be published by Clink Street Publishing on March 21, 2017.
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