Two years ago today, we officially and legally adopted our daughter, half-way around the world in a foreign city. It is amazing how our biological clocks know when a life-changing event took place even years later! Images of our trip have been flooding my mind-foods, feelings, colors, sounds, the people.
I was sick for most of the 16 days we spent in China, and I was feeling so miserable until we got home that I swore I would never go back! It is true what they say-as you move away from traumatic events, you can begin to let go of the bad memories and hold on to the good. Perhaps that is why each generation can look back on their past, nostalgically, as "the best years". It makes moving forward-easier. I keep in touch with several other families who traveled with us and adopted their children. Three of those families are starting the paperwork to go back to adopt again-in fact, one family is there right now. People have asked over the last two years if I would adopt again, and I said no, one child is enough. But if I was younger and had another $30,000-I would! (Although I cannot speak for my dear husband, however.)
There are moments-very fleeting moments-where I wonder if we did the right thing for Natalie. Should we have taken her away from her native country? We gave her a family and love and-we hope-opportunities she would not have gotten in China. We had expected to save her life, but she had the first heart surgery in China. Would she have gotten the second one or would she have died at a young age? She's a fighter, but how long would her heart have held out? But, we also brought her to a place where no one else looks like her. We took her away from a country which is booming, growing and changing, to one which is in economic crisis and stagnate. Someday, would her chinese parents try to find her-only to discover she was gone? And then, the worst feeling of all, would she have been safer in China? (I don't think China has mass shootings in elementary schools!) As a nation we have paid and continue to pay a terrible price for our freedoms-but it is those very freedoms that make our Nation so desirable among other nations. The one thing I discovered about the Chinese people-they are a complex people. They love their country-but they secretly want to be just like America. They are fascinated with us! (Whenever Brad and I got into the car, our chinese guide would put on American music from the 70's and 80's and sing along-Barry Manilow and Richard Marx, for example. Brad and I would secretly look at each other, smile and snicker-music we hadn't heard since high school!)
While we were in China, Brad and I were terribly self conscious! It's very disconcerting to visit another country where everyone is of the same race, except for yourself. We take our country and it's diverse peoples for granted! We are so use to seeing all different races, nationalities, and ethnic groups on a daily basis-where we work, go to church, in our neighborhood, and on TV. We were so uncomfortable in China-standing out everywhere we went. But, looking back on our time there-(our guides wouldn't let us stay hidden in our hotels; they constantly had things for us to do and places to see)-I see now that the people were not only fascinated with us, but very pleasant and kind. I wish I could have spoken the language- we could have had many, many interesting conversations. Infact, I was beginning to feel comfortable in Nanjing by the end of our week stay, and I look forward to returning, someday.
We had to promise the Chinese Government that we would teach our daughter about her chinese heritage. During our first year and a half home our priority was to limit stimulation and to bond with and help her to learn the English language. Natalie was 22 months old, but in terms of her physical, social, emotional, psycological growth, and language she was really only 12 month old. In 2 years her growth has been astronomical! She has developed her own unique personality and spirit. She has become my inspiration! She has taught me to make boundaries and stand up for myself and my family. She has shown me how to have compassion and understanding for others. And she has given me strength and grace to accept the things I cannot change and the hope and faith to believe that God is in control and works everything for my good as He sees it, not as I see it or want it to be. Natalie brings out the best in me! One morning shortly before Christmas Natalie said to me, "Mama I belong here. You will be my Mama forever and Dada will be my Dada forever." And just as Jesus' mother Mary, I will treasure all these things and ponder them in my heart always.
I don't know what the future holds. I don't know if Natalie will want to know anything about her heritage. I don't know if she will be angry at us for taking her away from China. I don't want her to be "grateful" to us for "saving" her life, because only God can do that. But I do hope she will always know deep in her heart and soul that we love her for who she is and who she will become-thru all the good and the bad, the sad and happy. She is loved by us UNCONDITIONALLY. She was given to us by God and is a blessing to us each and every day! I will keep my promise to China-I am searching for and reading anything and everything I can on China and it's people. I will make sure she knows her heritage and it's traditions, and I will support her in any way I can if she decides to return home one day. She is both American and Chinese!We love you Natalie-please never doubt that!!!!