Raising Yu Zheng / Raising Eli

Collage by Lindsey Price

A section from my (unpublished) memoir is out on Nailed magazine. Here’s an excerpt from Editor’s Choice: Raising Yu Zheng / Raising Eli

At four years old, my son Eli amused himself by muttering nonsense words. He walked down the street of our Portland, Oregon, neighborhood with a stick, banging on trees or scraping it on the sidewalk. “Chink, chink, chink,” he said. His eyes so dark you couldn’t see his irises.

I didn’t say anything. It was a nonsense word to him—for now. I didn’t think anyone we passed noticed him speaking, but I did. He was Chinese to the core. Chinese blood, Chinese skin, Chinese everything, but given an American passport with no choice of his own. Assigned the name Yu Zheng at his orphanage, Yu for the rivers that crossed his homeland and Zheng for strength, he was renamed when we adopted him at ten months old: Eli Zheng. His birth name is a secret, maybe whispered to him by his mother in Chongqing’s local dialect. Those brief days she held him before he was left at the orphanage by someone. Maybe her. No one knows or will tell us the truth.