It felt strange to finally put a concrete date on my dad's 2nd marriage (I never really wondered), but it was the agreement on the prior divorce certificate that broke my heart. It's a small booklet with a printed form, filled by an unknown clerk's tiny handwriting. The largest section of the small, simple form was the agreements for the divorce.
The year was 1992. China was, and in some sense still is, a male-dominated economy, even though women usually work too. Women typically get paid less and enjoy a significantly reduced amount of benefits, especially when it comes to housing. During a divorce, which was a lot rarer back then, it was expected that the couple would split their money evenly, and the man would pay child support till the child reaches adulthood. However, mom did not request any sort of even split despite of her hard work and devotion supporting my dad as he went to graduate school. Even knowing that dad was beginning to do fairly well in the capital city, mom agreed to just settle with keeping the small, simple apartment they used to share in a poor neighborhood in Dalian and let dad keep the apartment and other properties he had in Beijing. My child-support fee was set at a fixed rate of 200 yuan ($30) per month, which was probably reasonable for an 8-year-old but would become a fairly meaningless amount within a few years. A third agreement granted mom the 5000 yuan ($700) they had in their shared account, which my father made mom accept.
To Father's credit, he kept on sending more money our way than the tiny amount of money on the agreement and always helped when we were in dire need. Still, seeing the written agreement in its full-form sent tears to my eyes. I had always understood that I got my stubbornness from mom, but I cannot imagine the pain she must have suffered at that time. I admire her pride and determination, and can only hope I managed to inherit some of that strength.