Friday, July 11, 2008

"Mei guan xi" (It's Okay")

The night before last my youngest daughter asked if she could watch the DVD of 'Aladdin'. I hesitated at first and then proceeded to the cabinet where the DVDs are stored. Whilst there, I came across one that I had ordered from the US some time ago, but never got to view it as the player was incompatible. I had forgotten that it was there and it never dawned on me since to try it on the PC.

So, I began to play it and I told my daughter that I would put on 'Alladin' when I had finished having a quick look at this forgotten one. The musical introduction attracted her attention and she wanted to take a look also. I was dubious about this as I was unsure about the content and whether it was suitable for her young eyes and ears. I told her to come back in in five minutes and maybe we would watch it together, if it was okay.

Two minutes later she is back (she is too young to tell the time) and recognises the people on the screen as being from China, a place that she has heard alot about. There were some references to abortion, abandonment and killing/infanticide at the beginning and I knew that if they came up again she would not ask the meanings. If she did, she knows that some stuff is not for kids and would accept the “I will tell you when you are a little older” answer. Her sister, who is 27 months older, would push it a bit further.

The National Geographic documentary follows a group of Americans as they embark on a journey to China to meet the newest members of their families. One of the couples are bringing their daughter with them, and the camera gives them alot of attention. For us, this is very significant.

We watch it in relative silence until we come to what's referred to as 'Gotcha Day!'. The building that they are entering is very familiar to me, not the room that they are in, but some other room nearby. This is the building where these folks will meet the newest additions to their families.

The meetings are very emotional as foster mothers place their cares in the arms of the new Moms and Dads. My daughter can feel that I am holding back the tears and decides that a dialogue is in order, “It's okay” she said and rubbed my face, she's 5 in a couple of months. “Did my sister hug me like that when she met me in China?”, she sees the reaction of the little girl that is back in China for the first time since she was adopted (her sisters story is identical). “Yes she did, and you were crying like those babies too.” “Are those the 'Nannys' holding the babies?” “Yes.”

These are some more of the little pieces of her life jig-saw. She knows where we all first met and who was there. She knows that she was very scared but still loves to hear the finer details of the meeting and about what her new Mom, Dad and sister did and said. We never got to say thanks to her 'Nanny' who looked after her for the first 11 months of her life. All we know at this stage is that she has a Claddagh ring and a picture of where her foster child was going to live.

I am sure that when the girls are older we will travel back and try to fill in some more pieces that are missing from their past. We are unsure as to how difficult this may be, especially in relation to the biological Moms and Dads. I can only guess that it may be both moving and painful to retrace those early months.

Not flesh of my flesh,
nor bone of my bone,
but still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single
minute, you didn't grow
under my heart - but in it.
*Fleur Heylinger


Darragh said...

Hi Gerard

A beautiful story - really captured me. I've often wondered what the story behind the stories were particularly in terms of foreign adoptions and I think you've given me a bigger insight into something I know very little about. So thanks.


Gerard said...

Hi Darragh,

This cyber world is indeed small.

A friend of mine, who is also an adoptive father, sent me a link to your post ‘The First Time’ the day after watching the DVD with my daughter. So, in a roundabout way, you prompted me to write it up and can take some of the credit in helping me tell the story.I needed the push.

Pat said...

Great post Ger, isn't it amazing how our kids can sense we are about to cry, and tell us that it is ok. I have to say that I am the softie in our house also, but I have seen that as they get older, they learn to cry at the same things as we do! The videos of the adoption process for all our kids get pulled out regularly, by them(!) for a look (and a laugh) at how they looked, where they came from etc. In their minds they can remember it all. BTW, it is a small cyber world.

Gerard said...

Hi Pat,

I do sometimes wonder what they can 'remember' and how it effects them. For now, it shall remain a question of "I wonder if ...?"