In Grown Up Child: A Memoir, we learn how Chiufang Hwang came to the United States from Taiwan when she was a toddler so her father could pursue a PhD. But his academic American dream stalled, forcing the family into a transient lifestyle as he chased one PhD program after another, from Texas to South Carolina and back. Always the new kid on the block, Chiufang grew up shy and watchful but hungrily absorbed the culture of her adopted country through TV, music, food, and the families of her babysitters. She found these families affectionate, chaotic, and exhilarating—everything her own family wasn’t.
At home, overt affection was rare and obeying without question was demanded. As the eldest child, Chiufang was expected to run the household from paying the bills to filling out new school forms for herself and her siblings every time they moved. As a teenager she was forbidden to attend school dances and never got to see a high school football game.
”From the time I was six, my job was to care for both parents. I was at their beck and call, never free to come and go. It was a stress-filled childhood.”
But through it all, Chiufang found a way to forge her identity as a Taiwanese-American and pursue her own dreams, which led to med school and a career as a psychiatrist.
Grown-Up Child chronicles Chiufang’s occasionally poignant, often funny, and always insightful experiences as the daughter of immigrants, straddling two cultures. Her story, told with wry wit and brutal honesty, is especially resonant now as the place and value of immigrants in American society has come under question.
About the Author
Chiufang Hwang, M.D., received her doctor of medicine degree from the university of Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine in San Antonio, Texas. She completed her residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and two sons, and is working on her next book project about the political tumult in Taiwan that ultimately prompted her family and many others to flee for the United States.