Monday, May 10, 2010

For the Mother in China

I had the most pleasant Mother's Day. I received beautiful cards and yummy chocolates. To end my day, China Doll treated me to an ice cream treat at our local dairy bar. Only my teen daughter and me.....we had an hour or so to ourselves. Talking about girl stuff. About life. About her "mother".

Before my Mother's Day even started- I woke up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee- grabbed a shower and found myself staring in the mirror....wondering about a woman in China. Tears came to my eyes. Out of China Dolls 14 years with me, I have "thanked" the woman who gave her life- so I was able to be China Dolls Mommy. At times I would think back to this woman....who she was...what she looked like....and if there were siblings. But for the most part I have always rode the selfish train. The proud train that only went one way. My way. I was the mommy....I may not have given China Doll life, but I certainly gave her a forever home, a family who loves her, a good life here in the states. Something that was usually discussed at our Families with Children from Asia group in Hanover was the biological parents. But the conversations were very brief, and normally we would talk about where our children came from, what province, orphanage or if they had any health issues and where they are growing - becoming young adults or for some toddlers today in our lives. The biological parent was never the main focus of our discussions. And why would it? After all, the children were placed in orphanages or foster homes....waiting for their forever families to come and sweep them into their arms.....and onto airplanes where their new cozy bedrooms are filled with stuffed animals and warm colorful blankets & quilts. Soft music and story books.

When I look back at my adoption process I remember our coordinator- counseling us on what we will be in store for while traveling through China. I studied , read, networked with other families who recently adopted a child from China. I knew in my mind and my heart what to expect. I knew that some young mothers whether they were unwed or married "abandoned" their babies- which I will not get into - but for what ever the reason, there were many, plenty of baby girls waiting adoption by the USA and other foreign countries. All I knew is that I wanted to be "her" mommy. As I mentioned in an earlier post- I bonded with a photo of my daughter before I held her in my arms.
She....was mine. And I thanked a woman, possibly a very young woman that gave my daughter life- period.

Now on Mother's Day I thought back on the very cold and dreary day in the province of Jaingxi- when a 12 month old baby girl was delivered on a bicycle by her foster mother. In the hallway of a beautifully decorated hotel, a baby was handed to me bundled in 7 layers of clothing, crying while looking at me, her split pants were open and a little cold bum was exposed. I laughed and cried. And noticed at that exact moment of my excitement- another person standing only inches from me crying- but her back was turned to us. It was China Dolls foster mother. I knew my baby had the best care. I knew then she was loved. This foster mothers face would come back from time to time. But I also knew that this foster mother worked for the orphanage and had her own biological children. She just happened to bond emotionally with my daughter.
It's the biological mother- a woman I never gave any real thought to until now.

Why the tears? Because I felt a sadness for this mother. Most likely, and I'm going back now 14 years China Dolls "life mother" was not wealthy. Perhaps she was a rural farmer or factory worker. I'm neither. Perhaps she and her family were like many of the rural farmers of the 1990's China and made $500 a year. A huge guess here The translator who was assigned to our adoption group lived in Beijing- her husband who was a doctor, their total income for one year was $8,000. Again, I do not live in a household that only earns $500 a year.
I never felt the pain and or shame of having to surrender a child. I wonder if it was the husband or another family member who waited until dark to take China Doll to a safe place in order to be found- and saved. Or was it a young mother who waited until dark, in order not to be seen, so she could place her young baby girl in a safe place - to be saved. I have no right to judge this mother. I have no right to say what kind of woman would do that?!
I've seen horrible cruelty here in my own country by young mothers and older woman who claim to be mothers.
I've seen child abuse in ways that would make your stomach turn. And yet, we here in the good ol' USA want to point fingers and place blame on other women in other countries because of what they have done- in order to save their children.
I knew while China Doll was in the orphanage she had "crib mates". Possibly 3 or 4 to a crib. I knew she was also "potty trained" by the time she was 8 months old. I totally reversed that with pampers the first day!
I knew she was not bathed every day. Possibly a good warm bath every 5- 6 months. Her pretty black hair was shaved- she looked like the Dali Lama. Her skin was less golden yellow, and more tan. She had scabs on her cheeks and two deep scars on the bottom of her bum. Was she abused- I doubt that. Was she dirty- yes. Did she smell like Johnson& Johnson- not until I got ahold of her! But was she loved? I must say yes. She was given the love and care to the best of the caregivers ability. After all, this is not KinderCare where there is one caregiver to 2 infants- it's one caregiver to 30 or more.
China Doll was placed in a foster home to prepare her for adoption. She spent approximately 3 months with a family who owned a farm. She spent each day on the back of the foster mothers 12 year old son as he worked on the farm.
One smell I'll never forget is the lingering odor of firewood. When China Doll was placed in my arms- and I kissed her red chapped cheeks with the crusty scab- I smelled firewood. Another indication of how "wealthy" the foster family was.

So in China Dolls first year in China.....her first year of life.....she was held by two other women that loved her.
I know that.....I feel that. The first woman gave this beautiful girl life....the second woman gave this beautiful girl a different view.... as for me, this woman, well, I hope to give her a life with a view into who she will become- as a woman.

So to the Mother in China- you will always be in my heart.


  1. I love this post. Right now, I have friends in China bringing back their third child from China. Your heart for both of these women is evident. Adoption, foster care, abuse...all of it not so simple, as I'm reminded as I work with kids in foster care. But you have made the difference for one child, and have left an impact on two women, and many around you who watch and know you have made a difference. This post will even touch those who are contemplating adoption.

    Thanks so much for your honest thoughts from your heart!

    (I also have to smile b/c your last post on my blog was while I was revising it...just minutes away from final proofing! Thanks for reading, and sharing this part of your life with me!)

  2. What a beautiful post - I'm tearing up. Thank you for sharing this part of your story.

  3. I find myself reading your intimate description of your experience--of placing yourself in China Doll's biological mother's position to view the event--and I am feeling overwhelmed with a range of emotions: thankfulness, sadness, joy, respect, adoration of a God who can bring goodness out of shame and brokenness. I wonder what China Doll's mother's circumstances are today? Thank you for sharing your heart, and for sharing your gift of bringing life "to life" through writing for all of us who follow your blog.