Here's what I posted on June 9, 2007, 15 months ago, just before our trip to Guangxi Province, where they were born:
Zoe and Maya are big-time into playacting these days. I’m always hearing one say to the other, “Pretend that I’m . . . ,” and then the game is off and running. Well, we had a surreal game of pretend this evening. I was on the computer reading one of my favorite adoption poems – I bet you can guess why:
I didn’t realize that Zoe was reading over my shoulder until I heard her say, “That’s a pretty poem. Why a box?” (It’s hard having a reader – you can’t spell things over her head any more and she can freely snoop into things she shouldn’t!).
Your Chinese Mama
I kiss your pudgy cheek every night when you sleep.
I smell you and breathe you.
My heart and soul ache for her.
I know I am not as courageous as she.
So much love and hope for you,
she swaddled you and placed you in a box.
A manger to me.
I talk to her every night when I kiss your cheek.
I breathe your smell, and her soul.
-- Lynne Curran
I figured this was my opening to talk more about going to Guiping SWI, and going to her finding place. (I know most people advise that you consider going alone and not taking the child since you’re not quite sure what the finding place will look like. I don’t have that option since we’re not traveling with anyone I can leave the kids with. And from what I do know about their finding places it should be OK.)
We talked about the one child policy (which she’s heard me talk about before), and I told her a little bit more about the “grown-up rules,” including the fact that birthparents can’t just take the baby to the orphanage and hand her to Mr. Gan (all orphanage directors are Mr. Gan to Zoe) because they might get in trouble. So most birthparents try to put the baby somewhere where she will be found quickly and taken to the police station. (Zoe really likes police officers these days, and waves at the guards at the university gate each time we pass. And I wanted to mention the police station in case we get a chance to go there in Guiping.) The police officer then takes the baby to the orphanage, where the nannies take care of her until her forever family comes for her.
Now, we’ve talked about parts of this many times before, but I hadn’t really emphasized the finding part. I wondered what Zoe’s reaction would be, and then she said spritely, “I know, pretend I’m the birthmother . . .” and she was off and running to wrap one of her baby dolls in three layers of clothing and a little hat (this is part of her story we know) and put her in a cardboard shoebox. Maya got to play the part of the finder AND the police officer, and Zoe was also Mr. Gan, who took the baby and said, in a solemn voice, “I will name you Jin Yi Ling.” They were also the nannies who took care of the baby. I was instructed to write a letter to China, so I wrote, “Dear China, May I please adopt one of the babies who lives in the baby room? I promise to love her and take care of her forever.” Zoe, a.k.a. Mr. Gan, then answered the letter (we haven’t covered the CCAA part of this yet!), “OK, only if you take good care of her.” Then Mr. Gan knocked on my hotel room door (Maya was the door!) and handed me the baby. Big-girl Zoe then acted out the part of baby Zoe, by climbing in my lap and putting her head on my chest and falling asleep, as she knows she did on Gotcha Day.
And then we had to do it all over again, with each of us assigned different roles this time. I got to be the birthmother. Zoe was Mr. Gan again (I really hope we get to see him in Guiping, I think Zoe will be very disappointed if we don’t). Maya refused to be the door because she didn’t like being knocked on!
I’ve found that the hardest thing about being a parent is always questioning whether you’re doing the right things. I never expected to be so uncertain – I feel completely competent in my professional life, so why would I feel like such a dope when it came to child-rearing?! Well, this was definitely one of those moments. I’ve probably scarred them both for life. But it felt right, especially since Zoe was directing all of the action. But who knows. . . .
So after all this theatre, I asked Zoe what she thought about going back to Guiping. She answered, “It’ll be like going back to the very beginning.” Indeed.
How very much like scaffolding is "adoption talk." We lay a foundation, we build one story, we put up another layer, more solid than the first, always going higher, stronger.