[Edited for clarity]
I was born in China. Papa’s family was born here. Just me from China. My Chinese name is Mei Lin. Mei Lin Quan. That’s not my real name. I changed my name when I got American citizenship. I changed my name to Tammy Lin Quan.
Before, in China, they didn’t let people leave. They only let one person out. My father was in Hong Kong. He had a business in Hong Kong. I was the first one to go with him. I was the first to go to Hong Kong. I stayed with my uncle on my mother's side. He had a business with my father in Hong Kong.
My mother, my grandma, and the other children lived in China in the village. They lived in my great-grandmother’s house. My mother's mother. And then Papa’s older sister, his father, and his brother came to Hong Kong to visit their family. They told Papa to come to Hong Kong and marry me.
I was 14 years old when I went to Hong Kong and then, I think, I was 21 or 22 when we married. It was January when Papa married me. We came back to America together after we had stayed 5 months in Hong Kong. When we married, my father was in Hong Kong, but my mother, my sister, and brothers were still in China. I wanted to see my family one more time before I went to America. But they didn’t give them papers to come.
So after we married, my mother was still in China. It was just my father in Hong Kong. I waited to see if my mother could come to Hong Kong. I didn’t know if it was the last time I would see them or when I would see them again after I went to America. After 5 months, Papa’s parents—Great-grandma—wrote and told us, “Hurry up! Come here. You’ll lose your job if you wait for a long time. It’s been five months and jobs are going away.” We couldn’t wait any longer and I came to America.
Three years after I came here, I became a citizen. I was able to bring my whole family. There were four kids: me; the oldest one, the second one; Paky, the third one, my sister; and my little one brother who died in China. I had just gotten papers for him. They said it was OK to come to America, and I sent the paper to him, but then he died in China.
After he died, my parents adopted a son for him to carry on the family name. They came to the family and we took care of everything. They got the house and all the things they need to live. They couldn’t come to America because they were not blood family. Every year, for Chinese New Year, me, my brother, and sister send him money.