1 in 85,000

Sophomore Catie Miller shares her experience as a Chinese adoptee

Finnegan+%28blonde+woman%29+holds+Miller+for+the+first+time
Finnegan (blonde woman) holds Miller for the first time

Finnegan (blonde woman) holds Miller for the first time

Finnegan (blonde woman) holds Miller for the first time

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Since 1992, when China opened international adoption, 85,000 children have been adopted and raised in America. This is the story of one.

 

Catie Miller ’20 was born in Tuanfeng, Hubei Province, China. At 13 months, Miller was adopted and moved to Iowa City. Her mom, Eileen Finnegan, remembers it as an overcast early-September day. After two years of lots of paperwork, Finnegan, her mother and then husband Charlie Miller traveled the 7,000 miles to the eastern city of Tuanfeng. Nervous anticipation filled the room as Miller’s new parents waited with nine other families.

“[The room] was pretty quiet before the babies came. After [they] came, it was very noisy, with everyone talking and laughing and crying. There was so much emotion,” Finnegan recalls.

 

Since it can be traumatizing for a child to find out that they’re adopted after thinking they were the biological child of their adoptive parents, Finnegan made sure that Miller knew she was adopted from a young age. In fact, Miller doesn’t remember the first time she was told, it was seemingly something she always knew. From an early age, Finnegan would often tell Miller the story of when she traveled to China to bring her home to Iowa.

 

While there may be a stigma in pop culture about being adopted, it doesn’t necessarily bother Miller. “I haven’t really thought about [my adoption. If it hadn’t happened], I wouldn’t have met people I know now.” Miller also explained how she wouldn’t have gotten the privilege of higher education or have been fortunate as to have a less physically-laborious life.

 

In Chinese adoptions, it isn’t common for the adoptive family to be given any contact with the biological parents. Although there are certain organizations and resources that help to connect and test possible biological family for DNA matches, Miller doesn’t really know whether she wants to find or get to know her biological family. But if she had the chance? “I probably would, if i [were] older.”


Today, Miller leads a very typical teenage American life: she spends her time running, reading, participating in Theatre West, and spending time with her friends at the movies or football games. Finnegan describes her as, “A people-person with a good heart and a lot of common sense.”

“Friends are the people who shape you into who you are”

Catie Miller
Finnegan and Miller today

Miller greatly values her friends and family, “Friends are the people who shape you into who you are… I wouldn’t be here without [my family]”. Miller may not live in the country she was born in, but nevertheless, she has found a happy life with a loving family. Her mother’s last comment: “[When I look at Catie I see] a beautiful smile and a kind heart… I am very proud of her and grateful that she is in my life.”

 

 

 

 

 

Vivien Ho
Miller sitting in front of West High

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