Geena Denny admits she has heard the occasional insensitive comment about her adoption over the years.
“Mostly when I was younger a few people said, ‘They aren’t your real parents,’” Denny said. “I’d look at them and say, ‘Yes they are real. They aren’t ghosts.’ My mom always said, when I get sad just turn it into a joke.”
The rare misguided statement from a child aside, life has been happy for Denny, who was adopted from China when she was six months old.
On Sunday, the Andover High senior will be at Harvard University to cheer on her Golden Warrior swim team, which will go for its 13th Division 1 state title in the last 14 years.
“I’d say she is a perfectly normal 17-year-old girl,” said her father, Patrick Denny. “We go through the same problems as any family. We experience the same joys and jubilations. We have not run into problems that other families do not.”
Born in the Chinese province of Jiangxi, Denny was put up for adoption when she was just two days old.
“I don’t know why,” said Denny. “I looked up the town I was born in, and it is a very poor place (lowest wages in China). So there is a good chance they could not afford to take care of me. China also has the one-child policy, so they often keep boys. But the area I am from is very poor, so I think that is probably why they gave me up.”
Denny spend the first six months of her life in an orphanage, where she had to share a crib with another baby.
“My crib mate and I actually still send Christmas cards to each other every year,” said Denny.
Meanwhile, Patrick and Pam Denny were looking to add to their family.