Lily Klaasen doesn’t let her uniqueness define her

Sophomore Lily Klaasen grew up learning that it’s okay to be different.

“I was adopted from YueYang China when I was eleven-months-old,” Lily said. “Being adopted affected me growing up because I knew I was different. Through elementary school, it wasn’t so obvious to me how I wasn’t like the other kids. It really hit me when I was in Central Woodlands, and my friends had this whole different background. They are both Asian, but they weren’t adopted.”

Lily felt confused because she didn’t know how to speak Chinese or use chopsticks, and for a period of time she began to doubt who she really was.

She even got to a point where she wasn’t sure if she truly was Asian.

“I had a period where I felt like I wasn’t truly Asian,” Lily said. “I couldn’t use chopsticks, and I didn’t speak Chinese. It was hard, but I soon learned that I didn’t need to be able to do these things to be Chinese. My friends still loved me for me.”

Being adopted is a major part of what makes Lily so unique, but there are many other aspects of life here that have helped to shape her into the person she is today.

For example, she is the only child of a single mom.

“I do not have any siblings,” Lily said. “Being adopted, siblings didn’t really cross my mind until I was eleven or twelve years old. I brought it up to my mother before, but nothing came of it. I know that if I really wanted another sibling, my mother would have adopted another child, but in the end we decided not to adopt another child because, to be completely honest, I didn’t like the idea of sharing my room.”

Even though Lily and her mother made a conscious decision to not adopt another child, Lily sometimes wonders what it would be like to have another person running around the house.

“I know that I’ve missed out on not having an older sibling to look up to or a younger sibling who looks up to me,” Lily said, “but I’ve learned how to be independent by being an only child. And I have a closer, better relationship with my mother because of it.”

She and her mother’s relationship only continued to grow from there.

It is just the two of them in the house, and although they have their fights, Lily knows that she could not live without her mom because they only have each other.

“My mother being single hasn’t really affected me in a negative way,” Lily said. “I feel like we have such a close bond, and that’s because of us just having each other in the house. I confide in my mother about all my problems, and she listens. We have our fights like normal mothers and daughters, but since we have no one else in the house, if we want to have social interactions then we have to apologize to each other and talk it out.”

Lily and her mother have formed a bond like no other, and all of the little things they do together have made Lily’s childhood full of new and beautiful experiences that she will always remember.

“Ever since I was young she took me to musicals and plays whenever they were showing, and now we go whenever we have the chance,” Lily said. “I kind of go everywhere with her from grocery shopping to running through a drive-thru.”

I have just learned that being adopted doesn’t define me.”

Even though their relationship has been full of an abundant amount of good memories. They have still run into a couple of bumps along the way.

“When I was around five-years-old and it was Christmas Eve, my mom was already in bed reading, and I was out in the living room. I had one of those hair ties that have little bells on it,” Lily said. “I took one of the bells off and thought it would be a good idea to make my nose jingle too. I pushed it up my nose and my mom had to take tweezers for a few hours trying to get it out.”

There have been many more times over the years like this one, but, at the end of the day, her and her mother’s bond is strong enough to uphold even through the craziest of times.

Even with the insane life that Lily has led, it’s not the fact that she’s adopted or that she has a single mom that makes her unique, it’s the fact that she took these situations and made them the best that they could be.

“I have just learned that being adopted doesn’t define me. Having one parent doesn’t either,” Lily said. “Those two factors have helped me become who I am, but that’s not all there is to me. From a young age, I just needed to realize that my family life is different, but I can’t do anything to change that. And I wouldn’t want to.”