Passport Pictures–Then and Now

December 18, 2009 Eileen 5 Comments

I could have also titled this post, Where did my baby go?
Cholita (yes, I’ve changed her name–not legally, just on-line!) needs a U.S. passport, that was made abundantly clear to us at the Canadian border, but I’ll admit that I’ve been reluctant to get it done, reluctant to file away the last tangible reminder of Cholita’s life as Jin Qiu Ju.
The picture for her Chinese passport was taken before we met her, probably when she was moved from the foster home where she’d lived for a few weeks and put back in the orphanage. It breaks my heart. And those eyes. It’s the shell-shocked look she sometimes got during our first few weeks together, when she felt overwhelmed and would simply shut down. Enough of the English. Enough of the Caucasian faces. Enough of the changes.
We were in the food court at the mall yesterday and she pointed to a man behind a counter. He was cooking at a wok, speaking Mandarin to his co-worker.
“I think he’s Chinese,” she said.
“I think you’re right,” I told her.
“I used to be Chinese,” she said.
“You’ll always be Chinese.”
“Hmmm.” She smiled and crinkled her nose. “Kind of.”
So it’s time for her U.S. passport. She’ll always kind of be Chinese. Always kind of be Jin Qiu Ju. But that baby with the scared eyes is not the sassy little girl who sauntered up to the white screen at the Costco photo center. She’s her own unique blend–a little China, a lot United States. A little Qiu Ju, a whole lot Cholita.

5 responses to “Passport Pictures–Then and Now”

  1. Kris says:

    that left me feeling incredibly sad… those words, her words.

  2. Eileen says:

    Don't feel sad–or at least not incredibly sad! Yes, she's lost a culture and language, but she's also lost those scared, sad eyes, which is a triumph!

  3. Eileen says:

    I just re-read my comment and should add that I definitely did get choked up when I heard her say that she "used to be Chinese", and I know that her loss of that language and culture is huge. I don't want to minimize that, BUT, her overall transformation from sad baby to exuberant little girl is what fills me with happiness.

  4. Stefanie says:

    Sweet, sweet Cholita! I find the way she is verbalizing the process of being both American and Chinese to be representative of all the strides she's made to express herself and to feel comfortable in her own skin! And yes, she'll always be Chinese, it's her ethnicity, her homeland. For adopted children it's always a harder road to come to terms with 'who' they are. But your little sprite seems like she's on her way 🙂

  5. RACHEL says:

    I loved this! She is so beautiful! Then AND now!

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