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Mom 'stole' her daughter back from adoption center after she was misdiagnosed with brain damage

Born misdiagnosed with brain damage and put up for adoption, her mother courageously climbed over the walls of the adoption facility to 'steal' her back.

Mom 'stole' her daughter back from adoption center after she was misdiagnosed with brain damage
Cover Image Courtesy: Dr. Zed Zha

Mothers, the unsung heroes, embody selflessness and make countless sacrifices for their children. From sleepless nights to boundless love, they dedicate themselves wholeheartedly, to shaping lives and nurturing the future with unwavering devotion. Dr. Mengyi "Zed" Zha's story is a beautiful example of these selfless sacrifices of our mothers.

Dr. Zha, a board-certified family physician, is telling a story that doesn't deserve to go unheard. She recently went viral on Twitter, after sharing the tale of how her mother managed to save her life. She wrote, "I was misdiagnosed with brain damage at birth and put up for adoption. My mother climbed over the walls of the facility and stole me out. 'Your only child will be stupid.' They said when they caught her. She signed the papers. My mother gave me life twice. I give her everything I am."

Image Source: Courtesy of Dr. Zed Zha
Image Courtesy: Dr. Zed Zha

Through her blog "My Mother Was A Thief" which she published on May 14 she goes into details of how her mother "stole" her back from an adoption center in China and gave her a second chance to live. Her Chinese name, Mengyi, means "the offspring of our dreams."

When she was misdiagnosed with brain damage at birth, her mother didn't quite fathom what that denoted. "That means she will be stupid." The doctor told her mother. Zha didn't really know what this diagnosis of "stupidity" meant to her family but she goes into detail about how her brave mother dealt with it.

Image Source: Courtesy of Dr. Zed Zha
Image Courtesy: Dr. Zed Zha

Dr. Zha spoke exclusively to Upworthy, "As a newly postpartum woman in the late 1980s in China, she was kept in the dark about many family decisions. And the decision to have her baby given up for adoption certainly didn’t require her consent." Due to the one-child policy, Zha imagined two responses her family could have had. "'We only have one chance of rising above poverty. If this child can't live up to our dreams, we have no choice but to give her up.' In another version, everyone just waved their hands and said: 'Meh, will try again later.'"

Just a few weeks old, she was put up in the adoption unit, "among many other brain-damaged, 'stupid' babies. Hopeless. Unworthy. Given up on." She goes on to describe how her mother bravely handled the situation, caring about nothing but the well-being of her child.


"If the night when my mother stole me out of the adoption unit would be made into a movie, her character would be played by Michelle Yeoh. She would dress in ancient Chinese heroine style and enter the scene as a sword-carrying boss woman. And with a tap of her toes, she would fly over the walls and land on the enemy's side of the evil castle without making a sound. And yes, she would be ready to fight, how's that for a Mother's Day blockbuster?" 

When she climbed over the walls of the adoption facility to get her baby, Dr. Zha told Upworthy that she was "probably bleeding from both her womb and her heart. It had to be clumsy, messy and not glorified. She was probably terrified, fighting back tears (or crying), and unsure of what she was doing or where her life was going" from there.


Her mother told her that it was dark and once Zha heard her footsteps, she started crying as if she "called" for her mother who instantly recognized her cry. However, her mother’s brave ordeal did not just end there. "When the police caught her trying to steal a baby, she told them I was hers, so it wasn't stealing," Dr. Zha explained. The police asked her mother, "Ma'am, why are you doing this? Your daughter is going to be stupid." The mother, fighting back tears, replied, "My baby is not stupid."


Dr. Zha shared, "To her, it was as if they asked her 'Why do you even love her?' Is there anything more absurd than a mother having to explain why she loved her child?”

Her mother's resolve strengthened as she embraced her daughter tightly, standing tall. She told the police, "Well. Out of all the babies laying there, only 梦裔  (Zha) recognized my footsteps and cried. A baby will always recognize her mother's footsteps. Now, give me those papers."

With a defiant gesture, she boldly signed the Against Medical Advice form and flung it in their direction, asserting, "She is not stupid. And she is mine." Despite being inundated with discouraging remarks about her daughter's future prospects—statements like "She will never understand mathematics," "She will never make it to college," and "She will never be able to take care of you"—the mother's resilience prevailed.

Image Courtesy: Dr. Zed Zha
Image Courtesy: Dr. Zed Zha

To defy the odds, growing up, Dr. Zha devoted after-school time to countless extra lessons, and eventually received a letter of acceptance from Peking University. She then traveled to the United States and graduated from the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine and postdoctoral training at the La Crosse – Mayo Clinic Family Medicine residency. After practicing full-scope family medicine for three years, currently, she is completing a dermatology fellowship.


In triumphant defiance against those who doubted, she goes on to say, "With each milestone we accomplished, we proved the world wrong. But more importantly, we rewrote the story of our lives — a story that was told by so many other people but us, before it even began. From now on, only we get to define who we are."

On this Mother's Day, when her mother was arriving to meet her, Dr. Zha knew it was her without even reaching for the door knob. "How the heck did you know I was just going to open the door?" The mother asked. "Well. I recognized your footsteps," she replied.

You can follow Dr. Zha's courageous and beautiful journey on her Twitter account, @DrZedZha.


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