When we leave China with our newly adopted children, we leave part of their history behind. Oftentimes, it’s a black hole and we will never know the details about their lives before we met them. Any tidbit of information from another adopting family, a picture, a single moment they may remember, is a treasured gift.
Questions linger in my mind…
What is my child’s story?
When were they really abandoned and why? (because many files are not accurate)
What was their life like before they joined our family?
In December 2016 we were blessed to get a portion of our daughter’s story.
After meeting our two newest family members, Grace (from Beijing) and Jake (from Jilin Province), our family journeyed to Guangzhou. It was the last leg of the adoption process. This is where we would go to the American Consulate and get their visas so they could enter the USA.
We brought two (previously adopted) kids with us for this adoption trip. Both girls remembered their Mandarin and we knew it would be so helpful for us as well as our two new kiddos.
It was a warm and humid December day in Guangzhou, so we all sat down to enjoy a cool beverage. One of our girls asked why didn’t we visit Jake’s orphanage? When we first began adopting (2007), orphanage visits were unheard of, but as the years went by, families have been invited to see where their child has been cared for, attended school or preschool and even the spot they were found.
We explained that December in Jilin Province was very cold, snowy and icy. Jakes orphanage was next to North Korea and the only way to get to it was in a very old train through the mountains. It was a 7 hour train ride each way, which made it impossible for us to do.
It was at that moment that one of our girls, who has been home for almost 6 years, said…
“Mom, Mom, I just remembered when I was left in China.”
And then time stopped and everything happened in slow motion.
Hubby and I popped up from what we were doing and looked at each other, wondering, “What did she just say?”
“Did we just hear what we thought we heard?”
Think, Jean, think, and respond carefully. I looked at our daughter’s face wondering what was coming next. She looked confidant and clear eyed. No sign of tears.
Is that good or bad, I wondered?
“What did you say honey? You remember when you were left? Where? Do you mean in China?”
“Yes!” she answered, “I just remembered everything about when I was left in China. It just came to me?” She continued, “I don’t know why? Maybe it’s because we are here in China and it just made me remember. It just came to me!”
I wanted so badly to hear everything, the whole story. I wanted to know all of the the missing pieces in our daughter’s life but I did not want to traumatize her in any way or have her share something she was not ready to share, so I proceeded slowly and watched for cues.
“I bet being in China did help you to remember,” I said.
I watched her closely as her mood was light and unburdened. She seemed to be handling her new revelation without a hitch. She was smiling and quite happy with herself. There were no visible tears and no sign of confusion.
“Do you want to tell us what you remember?” I asked.
“Ya, I do!” she replied.
And then our amazing daughter proceeded to tell us everything she remembered about being abandoned in China at 4 1/2 years old.
It took everything I had to fight back the tears, so many emotions flooded my mind. As she spoke, my eyes welled with tears. She lovingly patted me on the knee as if to say, “It’s okay, Mom.” I quickly glanced at hubby; he wasn’t doing any better than I was.
She continued, “I was at a train station with my Aunt and Uncle. We were going to their home in the mountains. I was hungry so they gave me crackers to eat. I was sitting with them and we were waiting for the train to come but I got tired and fell asleep. When I woke up they weren’t there.”
Her eyes darted around and we could tell she was deep in thought and trying her hardest to remember more.
I asked if she was sure they were her Aunt and Uncle or if maybe, could they be her parents? She was certain they were her Aunt and Uncle.
I asked her if she remembered her parents and she said, “No, I don’t, I just remember my Aunt and Uncle.”
I asked her if they were nice to her? And she smiled and said, “Yes, they were nice to me. I liked them.”
Our daughter was happy to remember this piece to her life’s puzzle. Her face was peaceful and content. From the information that we have in her referral, her memories make sense.
Her last comment was, “I didn’t even know it was in my brain!”
We have adopted 16 children from China and each child has a different story, a different circumstance. Oftentimes, a child will not remember their past because they were too young or because of the trauma they felt at the time. Some of our children have shared stories about their life in the orphanage while others have completely forgotten.
Many of our children were well loved while others were not…
We are thankful that all of the parents of our adopted children chose life for their child. We cannot begin to understand how they felt or what the circumstances were that lead them to abandon their child; but our hearts go out to each and every one of them.
We believe that whether their story was simple or complicated each birth parent wanted the best for their child. We are, after all, only human, and sometimes situations are more than we, as humans, can handle.
Adoption is beautiful and broken. We see that everyday in our lives. The joy and the hurt go hand in hand.
Somehow, God perfectly knit our stories together and our children are home with their forever family.
We are grateful to our Lord for allowing us the opportunity to bring our children home! All praise and glory to you Lord Jesus Christ!