Monday, December 18

Celebrating Three Years...Part Three

I can’t believe that it will be Christmas Day a week from today! It has been obscenely warm – in the mid- to high-seventies – for the past week and it does nothing to get me in the holiday spirit. As much as I love living in this southern climate, I would like a chill in the air at this time of the year. So, I’m going to turn up the air conditioner and the volume on the radio that is playing non-stop Christmas music that will sadly and abruptly end early the morning of December 26th.

Here is the last section of what I wrote in December of 2004, on the anniversary of our first year with Emily. If you’ve missed parts one and two you can read them here and here.

Being an American in China with a Chinese Baby

Long before we submitted our dossier to China, someone told me that once we came home with our daughter, we would lose all anonymity. Being an American in China with a Chinese baby certainly doesn’t give you any opportunity to blend in. We quickly got used to being stared at while we toured and shopped with our daughters. We were often stopped by groups of people who wanted to look at the babies and touch them for good luck. As we expected, we got the thumbs up several times and older women made sure that the girls were sufficiently bundled.

One of my favorite interactions was while we were shopping at the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Mall in Guangzhou. A young girl, probably a college student, came up to me and said, “Your baby looks Chinese.” I told her that my baby is Chinese. I explained that my husband and I adopted her in Hunan province so now she is our daughter and that we are taking her to the United States. The young student’s eyes grew wide; she reached out to touch Emily and said very slowly, “She is such a lucky girl.” Her simple words were so powerful and held so much meaning beneath the surface.

I learned from our guide that it is very difficult for young Chinese women to get a visa to come to the United States. She explained that the government is worried that the young women will get married when they are in the United States and not return to China. I was dumbstruck that most young people in China would not have the opportunity to come to the United States or a European country to study or simply take a vacation. We witnessed hundreds of Chinese waiting for visa appointments when we went to the American Consulate in Guangzhou. Our guide told us that the people that we saw standing in line at 10:00 in the morning had probably been waiting for several hours since the early morning and only a small fraction would be granted a visa.

Coming Home

I was surprised by the rush of emotions I felt when the plane lifted off from Tokyo. I wiped tears from my eyes when we said good-bye to our two guides at the security check point in Guangzhou on our way to Hong Kong. I wiped tears from my eyes again as we said our good-byes to our travel mates when we went our separate ways at the airport in Hong Kong. But, when that plane lifted off from Tokyo, I sobbed. It’s difficult to put the variety of emotions that I had at that moment into words. I wept for Emily’s birth parents who will never know that the tiny baby who was left at the gates of an orphanage is on her way to America. I wept for the babies who would never have someone to call Mommy and Daddy. I wept with joy for the gift of the beautiful child sitting on my lap who looked at me and everything new around her with wonder. I was happy and I was sad all at once. I was happy to be going home, but I wasn’t sure when I would be able to go back to China and experience more of my daughter’s birth country. I was happy for all the new friends that we made during our trip, but uncertain when and if we would ever see them again. I was relieved that everything had gone smoothly while we were in China, but scared about what daily life would be like once we got home. Going to China to adopt our daughter Emily certainly wasn’t a vacation, but it was an unbelievably amazing and fulfilling experience.

Our story certainly doesn’t end here. In fact, it’s just beginning.