One Child, One Policy, One Life Forever Changed

At the end of October 2015, the Chinese government announced major changes to their one child-policy. Now, all married couples living in China will be allowed to have two children, which is great news for children and families in China. You can read more about how this change will affect Holt’s work here. In this blog, adoptee Lillian Schmaltz reflects on these changes and what they mean for the future of children in China.


With the abolishment of China’s one-child policy, I have found myself to have very mixed emotions about it.

This policy is what has defined who I am today and what has led me to the life I have now. Without it, I would not have the loving family I do now, I would not have the loyal friends I can laugh with every day, I would not be where I am now. I could not be more thankful for the fortunes it has given me.

However, I cannot move past my confusion. Everyone’s adoption story is different. It’s an odd coincidence to me that the abolishment of the policy has happened so close to my birthday. Nearly 21 years ago, my courageous birth mother placed me on the steps of a police station. Because abandoning your child is illegal, she hid and watched until I was found by an officer and brought safely inside. Soon after, I was one of the lucky girls to be picked from the orphanage and brought to a foster family by an adoption agency, Mother’s Love. I was placed in my adoptive parents’ loving arms by the time I was just 6 months old and by the time I was 2, my adopted sister, Leah, joined our family.


China’s one-child policy has allowed me to be given the love of my biological parents, foster parents and adoptive parents. It’s overwhelming when I think about it. Birthdays are always bittersweet because it is also a reminder that I only had a few short days with my biological family before they made the agonizing decision to give me a better life. For me, it’s amazing that on the 21st anniversary of these events, the policy that catalyzed them is over.

Most adoptees live their lives constantly thinking, “What if I was still with my biological family?” and now that this is a possibility, I know we are all thinking it a lot more.

I feel for all of my fellow adoptees, the parents who have adopted children, and the brave mothers who chose to give their children up in hopes of better lives for their babies. The confusion I feel might not ever leave me. I have gratitude for this law that has brought me to where I am today, but also hatred for the law that denied me the opportunity to live a life with the parents who brought me into this world.

While, for many of us, this abolishment has come too late, I am hopeful for the future. I am hopeful that parents and children can remain together. I am hopeful for families who continue to search for each other and be reunited. Last, but certainly not least, I am hopeful that my biological parents, wherever they are, still think about me, believe I am in a better place, and know how thankful I am for the sacrifice they gave for me.

Lillian Schmaltz | Holt Adoptee

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