By Jourdan Rodrigue, Digital Communications Intern
Gilly Hogue stood with her toes flexed and her arms as taut as her pulled-back hair on a smooth, four-inch wide balance beam. Her balance had just been disrupted; the fall on the event dropped the freshman to a 9.150 in her first collegiate beam routine.
Hogue’s life has been in a state of unbalance before, though she doesn’t remember it. She was a product of the controversial “One Child Rule” in China, and was abandoned by her birth parents on the steps of a Chinese government building when she was less than a year old.
“It could have been one of two things,” Hogue said. “It could’ve been that (my birth family) already had another child, but I think it was that I was the first child and they wanted a boy.”
Prior to 2013, each partner had to have been an only child themselves to raise more than one child, up to two. The law was recently eased to give couples the ability to raise up to two children if only one partner was an only child.
The original law, which had been in practice for 35 years, was created to avert more than 400 million births and “accelerated modernization” according to Chinese officials. Less publicized by these officials were the millions of mothers that underwent involuntary sterilization or late-term abortion procedures, and the hundreds of thousands of babies that have been given up over the last few decades.
It’s no accident that the majority of these orphans—placed in orphanages that statistically recorded mortality rates of 90% in the child’s first few months—are girls. In the 1980s, the word “girl” was synonymous within the law to “disabled”.
So, due to either her birth status or her gender, Gilly was left on those government building steps—an infant with the statistics stacked against her and without a voice to argue.
But someone else stepped in to fight for baby Gilly. Bonnie Hogue, Gilly’s adoptive mother. Bonnie brought the baby back to American after only three months in the orphanage. A sister, Marci, who was also a product of the “One Child Rule”, later joined her.
“I was really lucky,” Gilly said. “Most of those children don’t get a home.”
And when given the opportunity to actually grow and prosper in a loving family, Hogue has developed into an amazing individual. She graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA and was a five-time AA State Champion and Regional Floor Champion in 2012. Now an integral member of the Gym Devil line-up on both vault and beam for Arizona State, she cherishes her journey and often reflects on her fortunate escape from the situation in which she was born.
“I’m lucky to have been brought here,” she said. “If I were still in China I don’t think I would be doing gymnastics. I might not even be alive.”
A week after her wobble, Hogue stood on the four-inch-wide beam once more. Her ASU leotard sparkling under the arena lights, she leaped and flipped her way to an impressive 9.800, adding to her strong 9.850 vault performance. True to the nature of her life, she had overcome her former struggle to achieve something incredible.
As she stuck her landing, the girl who had once been rescued from the steps of a government building straightened and grinned triumphantly at the judges. She had become everything the statistical evidence would have disproved: A woman full of strength, resilience, and intelligence; A young woman of whom any parent would be proud, especially the only parent she has known: Bonnie Hogue.