We are so quick to fill in the blanks, aren’t we? We get one part of a story, and we use our imagination to complete the rest.
But it’s too simplistic to do that with the care of orphaned children halfway around the world… to see an image and create a tragic narrative, hear a testimony and judge an entire community, read an account of a single incident and make assumptions about an entire system.
We want to have eyes to see the good.
And there is most definitely good to be found. So this month we are sharing stories that exemplify the good. The lovely. The things that remind us that there is always hope.
Join us this month as we share stories of love in the unlikeliest of places.
Less than two months ago, I was in China to bring home our new son, Sonny. Our forever family day took an interesting turn when we were approached by who I thought was a stranger.
My husband, two youngest daughters and I had just coaxed Sonny from the hallway of the Henan Adoption Center to the family room. I had barely sat down and put him on my lap when a woman approached us.
She pointed to my daughter Reagan and asked, “Dang Qing Qing?” (Reagan’s Chinese name)
I responded, “Yes, this is Qing Qing. Do you know her?”
The woman smiled and answered, “I am from Luoyang (Sonny and Reagan’s orphanage) and I remember her.”
I had my new son in my arms and I was so caught off guard that I just sat there for a moment thinking, What exactly is happening here? Reagan has been home with us for over five years, is this the same Qing Qing she’s thinking of?
I regained my composure and told Reagan to come over so that I could take a picture of her and this woman. We did what small talk we could with our broken Chinese and her limited English but honestly I can’t remember what we talked about. I had my new son on my lap and was completely engrossed with all things Sonny. The woman left and I didn’t think anything more of it.
About twenty minutes later, our guide and this woman came back over to us. Our guide was there to help us ask any questions we had about Sonny. We asked a few but I could see the woman would not stop staring and smiling at Reagan. I could tell she had questions and wanted to talk more about Reagan than Sonny. I told our guide about my earlier conversation with her. I asked the guide to ask her if she had any questions about Reagan.
The woman pointed to Reagan’s hearing aide and we discussed her hearing loss. She pointed to Reagan’s glasses and then hers and gave a thumbs up. She asked how her heart was doing and we told her that her heart is both emotionally and physically very good.
I forget that Reagan was nonverbal until she was six years old, a good year after being home with us, which meant this woman was hearing Reagan speak for the first time. Her face lit up when she saw Reagan talking to Sonny. “Qing Qing is talking!” Oh, if she only knew Qing Qing never stops talking.
She just kept smiling at Reagan and finally said, “I am so happy to see Qing Qing so happy. It makes me so happy to know she has a family.” She gave Reagan a quick hug, we said goodbye and that was it.
The thing that blew my mind is that this woman needed no reminders of who Reagan was. Before I could give our guide some background on Reagan this woman had already told her that Reagan was transferred to a private foster home in Beijing. She remembered that Reagan left to receive heart surgery. Reagan left Luoyang in 2009 and yet she was remembered. This woman clearly remembered her despite having hundreds of children come and go over the last eight years. I never got her name or what her position with the orphanage was.
This is Luoyang CWI.
image by Kim Rase McCray
Those walls and floors hold many children. Those same floors and walls also hold many nannies, staff and officials. Nannies, staff and officials who love on our children long before they become ours. They provide all the care and love they can give.
They act as advocates in many quiet ways… getting a child’s file ready so their family can find them, locating a facility or private organization that will help with a quality of life procedure or life saving surgery, just as they did for our Reagan.
They allow their hearts to invest.
I was recently scrolling through pictures of our trip and I came across the picture I took of Reagan and the woman.
It hit me what an amazing moment that was. As I stared at the picture, I found myself getting more and more irritated with myself for not taking advantage of it. A missed opportunity to get a fuller picture of Reagan’s life. So much is unknown about Reagan’s life prior to Beijing, I wished I would have been more clearheaded to ask questions about Reagan’s time at Luoyang.
But maybe that moment wasn’t supposed to be about me and what I wondered. Maybe it was for this woman and all the others like her that wonder what the rest of a child’s story is. The child that imprinted their heart. Whatever happened to their Qing Qing? Was her heart repaired? Did she learn to speak? Is she still waiting?
And maybe in a way I too got answers.
Reagan was cared for.
Reagan was advocated for.
Reagan was not forgotten.
Reagan left an imprint.
Reagan is remembered.