Today at our house we are celebrating Chinese New Year. For one, its is just a fun holiday to celebrate. Chinese food and fire crackers? Count me in!
But there is actually a much bigger reason that we celebrate Chinese New Year.
That little pumpkin right there. In this moment she is captured celebrating her second anniversary of adoption by taking a trip to the Atlanta Zoo to see the Pandas (and the flamingos). This girl born in the year of the Ram has brought us more joy than we could ever imagine.
I remember back a decade ago when we first started thinking about adoption. As we threw in the towel with fertility treatments and started trying to understand the complex world of adoption, we could scarcely imagine where we would be today. We began bit by bit trying to comprehend what it would be like to raise up a child that was born halfway around the world in a land we’ve never known. When we settled on a Chinese adoption agency, we began preparing in the best ways we knew how. We went out and bought a nice Chinese dinnerware set with double happiness characters on them. We bought a ton of books on Chinese culture and the socio-economic situation that influenced the adoption landscape there. And early on we were invited to attend a Chinese New Year celebration hosted by the Families with Children from China (FCC) chapter in our town.
As we ate from bowls filled with noodles, I watched a horde of toddlers in red dresses and squeaky shoes wander around. Watching them, I tried to take in the idea that in a little over a year’s time I would have a black haired daughter of my own. As we got to know the other adoptive families, they shared many stories and legends with us. My favorite was the legend of the Red Thread.
Chinese legend tells that when two lovers are born there is a red thread that connects them. No matter how far the lovers go from each other, no matter what happens in their life, the red thread always connects the lovers and brings them back together again. Families who’ve adopted from China have adapted this legend to reflect their own story. Whenever an adoptive child is born there is a red thread that connects him/her to their forever family. No matter how long or complicated or difficult the adoption journey may be for the child and the new parents, this red thread stays strong, bringing the child and family together at last. This legend comforted me on many occasions during the months that we rode the international adoption roller coaster. I could feel that our daughter was out there and that one day we would hold her in our arms.
We were very blessed in that not only did our red thread to our daughter hold tight, but that she got very creative and wrapped the thread around a little monkey boy on her way to us. Five weeks after I gave birth to our son, my husband boarded a jet plane to China to bring our 13 month old ram girl home. The moment I watched him walk up to me in the airport with our daughter perched shyly on his arm remains one of the most poignant moments in my life.
So forgive me for feeling a little tender this Chinese New Year. I welcome in the Year of the Horse with tremendous gratitude for our daughter and the country that saw fit to let us to raise her. I still am trying to process what it means to raise a child born halfway around the world in a land I’ve never seen.
But one thing we do know.
We want our daughter to feel love and pride for her birthland. For her birthplace is as much as part of her as her silky dark hair and almond eyes.
China is a complex place, much like adoption is complex. There are many parts of its story and her story while living there that she is still trying to unpack. But this land of red dragons and green jade is a gift to her. And it allowed her to be a gift to us. And for that we forever grateful.
So tonight we break out the noodles and red envelopes and celebrate our daugher and her homeland. Feel free to set off some fireworks in her honor.