When I was in university, a blind fortune teller described how I looked, which awed me. Then he said that I was adopted at either age eight months or eight years. Wow! I was shocked! He told me that I was a girl with tremendous courage and brain power. Well, I needed these qualities, and have kept them on my wish list ever since. He predicted that I would become very famous after age thirty-nine.
After age forty, I realized that his prediction had no valid due date! I'd better live long enough to accommodate his indefinite prediction, just in case it may come true someday.
Now let me tell you briefly my past and present, and leave my future for you to guess.
• Teaching is considered a very secure job. Even though I love teaching, I still left it after ten years, because I wanted some change, to do something I had never done before. I got into business. Another ten years have passed. I started writing and publishing. Writing is my love, and publishing is a game of business. My first book was released before Christmas, 2006, and I was overwhelmed by people’s positive feedback, which was very encouraging. A few months later four more books were released. Four of my twelve books submitted to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre were selected in The Best Books for Kids and Teens. Two others have been rated five stars by Midwest Book Reviews on Amazon.com.
This was what she told my father: “Ruowen speaks the first thing that occurs to her without thinking, and she does not bend. She cannot fit into this society. Either you let me take her out and give her a brilliant future, or someday, you will have to watch her get executed by the government.” My father was both sad and grateful. “You take her,” he agreed. After I left China, my father missed me dearly and lost thirty pounds in six months. Three years later, we brought my father to Canada to live with us.
The next day, my father saw us off at the train station. Just before the train took off, he handed me a brown paper bag. When I opened it, my eyes filled up with tears: Inside the paper bag was the very pair of shorts. My father’s love for me overrides everything.
I followed in Anne's footsteps and became a teacher. Over the years, I learned integrity, honesty, respect, fairness, forgiveness and, most of all, love for all from her. I feel in my heart that Anne is my mother. Sometimes she is very “Chinese”, and exercises her mother’s authority.
My adoptive father, Dong Chen Wang, was an artist whose thinking was unconventional. He raised me single-handedly, and devoted his life to me and his son who is seventeen years older than I am. Father called me “son” and brought me up as a boy. I played with boys, fought with boys, and did not fully realize I was a girl. My father kept me out of domestic chores. Neighbours and relatives criticized him for not raising me properly. "Look at your daughter. She cannot cook, and she cannot clean." "How can you marry her off?” My father's reply was: “I’m not raising my daughter to be anyone’s housewife. So what if she cannot cook? When she finishes university she can always marry a cook.” That, back then, offended both men and women in our society.
• I was born in Tianjin, China in 1962. My birth family has seven children in total, two girls and five boys. I was child number six, and was raised, from eight months on, by my first auntie’s family. I called my auntie Mom and her husband Dad. I did not know I was adopted until I attended my birth mother’s funeral, which was one month after my adoptive mother’s death. I was only ten years old when I lost both mothers.
(With my birth mother and my adoptive mother)
My father had never said “no” to me in his life. Once I bought a pair of shorts the day before my Canadian foster mother, Anne Smith, and I traveled to the south part of China in the summer. Shorts were only for men back then. My father saw the shorts, and hesitated. “Maybe you can wear them inside our house,” he suggested. I knew that it must have bothered him a great deal. So I did not pack them.
• In 1984 China was still a strict Communist country. Politically-inappropriate behaviour or speech could lead to jail terms or even execution. My Canadian foster mother, Anne Smith, went to China to teach. She was my English teacher in Tianjin Foreign Languages Institute. According to her, I was some kind of spoiled brat who had no fear and no respect for Communist authorities and social rules. Anne decided to take me out of China as quickly as she could. “I cannot believe that I have found a girl like you in Chinese society," she exclaimed. "You remind me of my own daughters. You were made for me.”
Here is a scene: I told my Anne that for my 26th birthday, I would like to get new queen-sized bed sheets because Mike and I had planned to get married in May. Two months later, I told her that we had a problem and were not getting married after all. “What?" Anne, who loved Mike dearly, stood in the middle of the living-room, arms akimbo. "I have spent $250 on a set of queen-sized sheets and now you are telling me you are not getting married? No way!” So Mike and I got married. Anne was happy and told me. “You've got a good deal. Mike is an awfully nice person. Otherwise, who else would marry you?”
To me, life is a book of many chapters. We have to flip the pages. I’m curious to find out what the next page holds for me. Do I believe in fortune telling? What do you think?
In June, 2011, CCTV (Chinese Central TV) came to Canada to interview me, and aired my life story in a two-part documentary around the globe. Since then many Chinese publishers have knocked on my door. I chose to work with 21st Century Publishing House, one of the largest publishers in China. My ten Little Wen books were published in China before June, 2012. It was a hit!
（Photo: Toronto, Queen's Park, 1985)
My father lived with me until age eighty-seven. Even though he did not speak English and could not always figure out what I did, but he was always proud of me for whatever I was doing.
(Ruowen and Father)
(CCTV4, June, 2011, Toronto)