In a serious tone, she asked “how long did y’all wait for me?” my heart skipped. Well it was more than just a skip, it was a jump, a somersault, and a cart-wheel all at once. Quickly praying for guidance and for words that as an adult I could not fully wrap my mind around yet now hoped that a 7-year-old would somehow be able to comprehend. Taking the longest inhale, holding her hands, I launched into ‘the conversation’…
“pretty much waited and prepared for you my whole life. Ever since desiring to be a mom I would pray for a child that I could lovingly guide and whose life I could be a vital part of. To be honest, I secretly and sometimes not so secretly hoped for a daughter. And in all those years that I longed for, waited for, and prayed for this child, even with all the hurdles that were placed in front of, somehow, I felt at the deepest part of my being, that when the time was right it would happen. And while, I never anticipated that we would go half way around the world to become parents…for YOU, baby girl, I would have willingly waited for as long as necessary and would have gladly traveled to the ends of the earth. You were always meant to be ours. And we were always meant to be yours.”
Exhaling the breath I didn’t realize I was holding, I stood there waiting and wondering what she is thinking? Had what I said sufficiently answered her question? Did it sound to her little ear like a silly cliché even though every word was sincere and deeply heart-felt? Would the next question be why did they give me up?, or did they not want me?, or could they not care for me? Or any of the other million and seventeen questions I might have asked if in her place. Being honest with every action and word since the moment we met, my mind quickly went to was I truly ready to answer any and all questions she might need answers to?
My mind a flurry with questions I’d presumed would come my way, when she looked up at me with her gorgeous brown Asian eyes, smiling she said “I know all that. No, what I was wondering how long did you and daddy sit on the black sofa in China and wait for the nanny to bring me out to meet you?”
“only about 10 minutes”
and just that quickly her curiosity was settled and off she went back to what she was doing before.
My daughter and I share a completely open line of communication. Absolutely nothing is off-limits. From time to time she has asked things that have answers that are far beyond her grasp. Yet I will still answer each to the best of my ability. Sharing what I believe she can take in given her level of maturity and understanding at the time of the questions. Sheltering her from time to time when she is not fully ready for the entirety of it. It has consistently been this way. For this and so much more I am thankful for the relationship we have created.
The conversation that took place when she was seven was not the first we spoke about her adoption. In fact, how we became a family, is a treasure to us. One that is fully embraced, highly cherished, and proudly shared. We adore that she became ours through such a loving process. We have talked openly about the history of China, with their one child policy. We have looked at pictures of the orphanage where she spent her first 13 months. We’ve discussed the possibilities of her having unknown siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins… As she got older and began to understand why families in China were not willing/able to keep their daughters, she felt sorrow for the insufficient value placed on girls and the lack of worth she feels is granted to women in her birth country. One of her heart-felt desires is to see this eradicated in her lifetime.
Fortunately she has never once felt unwanted, unloved, or abandoned. She has only known an abundance of love, unconditional acceptance, and complete embracing from her entire crazy family (her description). She is ours. We are hers. She is, and loves in return, enormously.
The only other time my gal has come to me with a question in a somewhat serious manner about her adoption was in regards to her birth mother. She asked if I knew what she looked like. Even though I believe she knew the answer prior to asking. Since she knows that her story, and our limited knowledge of her history, began on the steps of an orphanage in Nanjing China. Once again taking her hands and looking deeply into her eyes I answered with the utmost sincerity… “I do not, but she must be breathtaking to have had a daughter as lovely as you.” I went on to say, still with a resolute knowing “she loved you very much, of this I am certain, for she took a huge risk to leave you on those steps, out in the open, allowing you to be discovered and quickly cared for”. Once again satisfied with the answer she hugged me tightly.
Today it is rare for us to think about or discuss how we became a family. Just as I imagine folks who have kids the natural old fashion way don’t spend their days sitting around thinking and talking about their child’s birth. We just live each day in love, with a great deal of laughter, and an unfathomable amount of homework.
But every once in awhile and particularly on days like today…my gal’s 14th birthday, I will think about the breathtaking woman in China and say a prayer of gratitude for her courage and her precious gift.