*I wrote this post about 6 weeks before the bottom fell out of the world as we know it. I wasn’t sure if I would ever share it but I wanted to remember this monumental and precious conversation. With his permission I have decided to share it to provide even more perspective on how hard it must be to be a child adopted from China during a time that China has been made out to be a villain in our global crisis.
Tonight I had a conversation that up until now I had only imagined in my head as a conversation for “some day.”
Kai had a major melt down after dropping his sandwich on the floor. As I was talking to him about it, I realized that he had had multiple melt downs over the last couple of days. I asked him if there was anything else that was bothering him that he wanted to talk about. He immediately melted down and said yes, but he wanted to lay down in his bed to do it.
I was a bit nervous at this point, but we went into his room so we could talk. He immediately had tears streaming down his face.
As a bit of background, Kai goes to a language immersion school, where he does 1/2 of his schooling in English and 1/2 of his schooling in Mandarin. His teachers are Chinese, and they learn so much about Chinese traditions and culture and about China itself.
Kai blurted out, “On my Mandarin days at school I feel so sad because we talk so much about China, and it makes me miss it so much!” As I continued asking him questions about what he remembered and what he was missing he first told me that he was so sad when he thought about his foster family and everything that they did for him. He seemed to pause for a moment and then said, “and I really wonder about my ACTUAL mom”.
It would be disingenuous if I said that sentence didn’t sting just a tiny bit, but the bigger part of me was just thinking, “Okay, we are here now. Let’s do this!”
I let Kai lead the conversation in any direction he wished. We had an in-depth conversation about the reasons why parents give up children in China, particularly children who have major medical needs, like Kai. We talked about how sad it is that children have to leave their birth parents because parents have no other way to care for them if they do not have the finances to pay for necessary surgeries and hospital care.
Kai was hungry for all of the information. He wanted to know every detail about how infants are abandoned, why it happens, and what happens to the birth families after they leave the babies. He wanted to know where he was found and if he had been safe where he was. He wanted to know if the person who found him took him immediately to the hospital and how they knew he needed surgery. I answered everything that I could to the best of my ability, but also stressed that there are some things that we can never truly know and it is okay to feel sad about that.
We talked about his time at Little Flower, the medical care home that cared for him for most of the first two years of his life, and all of the people that cared for him and loved him.
We talked about our journey to get to him and where he was and what he was doing during the time that we were frantically trying to get there.
We made a plan for the coming days. He is going to keep a notebook where he can write down all of the questions about his life in China. Then we will do everything we can to find out the answer. Luckily we can still reach out to several of the people who knew him and loved him during his first two years who can most likely provide him with some of the answers.
But I had to be honest with him that some of his questions we might never be able to know the answer to. He wondered about what his birth mom (we agreed to call him his China mom or his first mom) looked like, and what she did for a living. It was clear to me that he was only scratching the surface of the things that he was wondering about her, and I know that his questions will continue to grow as he does.
For now, he said that he would like to draw pictures of the things that he is wondering about. I thought that was a pretty good solution.
Sometimes things just happen like this. I didn’t know that tonight was the night that I needed to be ready for. That tonight was the night he was going to begin expressing the deep emotions that come from the loss of adoption (and adoption out of his home country and culture at that). I know that I am inadequate to fill the holes that he will naturally have. But I am deeply grateful that I get to walk beside him on this journey. My heart is full of love for this deep thinking and feeling child.