I dismissed her cries at first, thinking the language barrier confused her. I’d scoop her up and reassure her, “Honey, you ARE home. This IS your home!” She’d shake her head and squeal, “NO! I GO HOME!” Her cries grew louder and more insistent by the day as my patience wore thin. My husband thought she meant she wanted to go to his parents’ home. But one day I was working on her adoption scrapbook and photos we took in China popped up on my computer screen..of the kids in her orphanage, eating her favorite tomato-egg dish, wandering the streets of Zhengzhou…and Hadley squealed, “I GOOOO HOOOOME!!!”
Her grief slammed into my heart like a tidal wave. When we adopt our children, we like to think their stories start with us–with the “point of rescue” so to speak. They were in an orphanage without a family to love them and adequate food to eat…and then voila! God gave us the heart to welcome them into our homes and now they’re good as gold. From our vantage point, it’s a lovely story of redemption. And that’s certainly a piece of the picture. But it’s not the full story. These kids lose so much when they’re ripped away from their cultural heritage, the only home they’ve ever known, and taken to a new land where they have to quickly learn to adapt to new ways of being in the world. I feel this loss most acutely for my daughter. We picked her up just a month after her third birthday. Even at this young age, she embodies the abrupt (some would say bossy!) mannerisms of an old Chinese woman, the intonations of her speech are distinctly Chinese and she eats everything in sight–except for typical American kid food like mac n’cheese, pb&j and pizza. She’s petite but tenacious; tender but tough; feisty yet soft. She reflects so much of what makes her birth country so beautiful.
So today we celebrated our daughter’s motherland–American-style, of course! Chinese food from Costco (it truly was delicious, Michelle!), fortune cookies (did you know they were actually invented in Japan?), and chocolate cake & strawberries (because who in their right mind would eat Chinese ‘treats’ for dessert?)!
In China, hundreds of millions of people are traveling home to welcome the Year of the Sheep in what’s considered the world’s biggest annual human migration. And in our home today, we are giving thanks that this beautiful country allowed us the privilege of adopting one of their own…and making her our own for good. I hope in the years to come, we seek wisdom to incorporate her heritage into her precious life. Gong xi fa cai!