Sunday, March 30, 2014

Life is Subject to Change

It rained all morning five years ago today in Nanning. To pass the final few hours of anxious waiting, I walked around the people's park. I had an appointment at 3 pm to meet my new daughter. For years walking in places such as this park, where families and children congregate, would trigger a quiet sadness in me. I had gotten quite accustomed to silencing it trying to focus my attention on other things such as my work, my relationships, and creativity.

People's Park, Nanning, Guangxi, China
There are moments in my life I will never forget-- the day my therapist asked me, why  couldn't I talk to my husband again about having a family. Kevin had already raised a family and I had accepted that he wanted us to have the freedom to travel and focus on us. My therapist said to me then his trademark line, a gift to me that I now tell my own clients; "Life is subject to change." It was such a freeing moment to understand that I could honor my own feelings and make requests on their behalf. I realized that I didn't have to ignore that part of me that had been grieving the belief that I was never going to be a mother. I decided that I would talk to Kevin that weekend. I remember we were driving past the high school as I was finishing up my speech. My presentation had included the idea of adopting an older child and concluded with the request that he take time to think about things for a few days before giving me an answer.  I was relieved beyond belief to learn that Kevin could be flexible with his own vision of his future. At this point in time, multiple sclerosis had not yet robbed him of his mobility and he had a very different future in mind for himself. It turns out Kevin needed Jingju just as much as I did. We just didn't know it then.

Jingju has now been with us almost as many years as she lived in an orphanage in China. Her memories of the time leading up to her adoption are sketchy, but they are like mine, hinged on pivotal moments.  She told me that one day someone walked into her classroom and asked the group of children, "Who wants a family, raise your hand." I picture this scene and imagine her little hand going up cautiously. How could she understand what she was saying yes to? What did she really think it meant to have a family? Did she understand it meant leaving her nanny and her friends and China altogether?
Jingju and her nanny on adoption day 3/30/2009

Jingju tells me that on the day of her leaving her orphanage, she was told to get dressed in the clothes we had sent to her. She says she rode on a bus to Nanning and didn't really know where she was going until they were underway. Her memory of this day has gotten hazy, and like most of her past life in China, we will only know what we can glean from the pictures and progress notes from Half the Sky. But I will never forget the moment she walked in with her nanny to the room where I was waiting for her. I can only guess her nanny told her to walk over to me, which she did. She took my hand and let me hug her. The qualities I saw in Jingju on that first day ranged from a yin yang of cautious bravery and bold restraint. She was so sweet and loving with her nanny, and quietly cried with such heartbreaking sadness when her nanny left. Over the next few days Jingju gradually opened herself up to me and became playful with me. It was clear what a resilient, bright, and curious child she was and that one of her greatest strengths is her ability to roll with and accept change. I am so privileged and thankful  to be Jingju's mother. My journey to Jingju began with the moment I gave myself permission to honor my need to be a mother. Kevin and Jingju both said yes in turn, and we became a family.

Jingju today

1 comment:

  1. Jingju grows more beautiful everyday. I remember meeting both of you on the bus coming back from the consulate. I can hardly believe it has been 5 years already.