I chose to get sterilized after listening to an interview on NPR with Andrew Solomon with Peter Lanza, whose son Adam Lanza, shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, before shooting his mother and himself.
It was March 2014, my boyfriend and I were driving back to Upstate New York from spring break in Miami. It was a long road trip, we were on the road for about 20 hours for the last two days, and the news coverage had been completely over the disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight 370. So when the interview with Mr. Solomon came up on the car radio, we were craving for something different, so we stayed and listened.
Mr. Solomon talked about his own experience as gay growing up in a strict family, his new book ‘Far From The Tree’ on raising non average children, and this article in the New Yorker of the interview. I remember that he mentioned, at the end of the interview Peter Lanza told him, that he wished that his son Adam had never been born. On hearing that, I immediately made up my mind on sterilization, because I don’t want the same regret.
I have contemplated sterilization before (at 17, in high school when I thought I was pregnant, then again at the age of 22, and went to the college hospital asking to be sterilized), but never too seriously, and also too young at the time, everyone around me told me that I would eventually change my mind. I knew I wouldn’t but decided to wait.
From the interview, I learned that Peter Lanza got a divorce from his wife after exhausted from raising a difficult son, and exited the family. He hadn’t seen Adam for years and didn’t know what his son had become. Where I grew up in China, divorce was still uncommon, and children from single parent families usually received more attentions and gossips behind their backs in schools. And yet still there were fathers and mothers ran away, or went on never ending business trips. I have grown up knowing several children from single parent families, and because of differences in cultural and social acceptance in China and the U.S., some of those kids didn’t end up with a good life. Where did all their parents go? Did they ever think about their children afterwards? And why escaping the life with their children is so essential that made them left?
I wanted to ask my parents why they didn’t leave.
To my parents, family is something you always choose without a doubt. I remember one time about 2 years ago, my dad told me that he had planned to bike along the Beijing – Hangzhou Grand Canal after graduating from college. However it never happened and you know why — because he got married and I was born. Then he and mom just worked and worked for many years to support me, all my schools, language classes, extracurricular activities and even the plane tickets after I got a scholarship to study in America.
I cannot be like them. I love freedom too much that I always want to do something new with my life. Either that or I’ll kill myself.
Perhaps this is made possible by the fact that I haven’t attached myself to things, that I am loose and free enough to walk away from anything at anytime. But what am I being child free for?
I want to have my life for the unexpected.