Wednesday, February 21, 2007
In the beginning, there were no electronic transmissions from the Middle Kingdom. It was the rare adoptive family on the vanguard that could stay connected to the mother ship once they set down on the surface in China. Sending an email home proclaiming your joy and amazement from the White Swan business center was a technical super achievement. We could not have dreamed of a day when we would get more than one referral photo, or more remarkable, that we could get a digi-pic of our waiting child sent from a complimentary computer in the Chinese hotel room of a volunteer working at her orphanage or another adoptive family you "met" on your Yahoo orphanage egroup who traveled ahead of you and snapped pictures or your child when they visited the SWI. Making those kinds of predictions in 1996, when I started this process, would have been severe crazy talk, would have set you up for ridicule, would have marked you as a wing-nut: families allowed to visit an orphanage?!? that's crazy talk.
So, when I traveled to adopt Ellie, back in those early days of China adoption, one 2-inch by 2-inch fuzzy photo, of what may or may not be a Chinese infant or just a life-like replica, was all you were going to get before you took the big leap and flew to the other side of the earth to make your family grow and to bring your tiny photo home. And once you were handed your tiny photo, all you received to fill in the gaps of your child's first months or years was a completely and utterly fabricated immunization record (to comply with INS immigrant visa requirements, see, I'm talking way back in the day, it was still the INS). And yet, somehow, in the absence of advanced technology and reliable information, the face in the tiny photo with the fake shot record, turned out to be the right child. The child you longed for, dreamed about, and in whom you invested your whole heart before you met her all on the basis of a fuzzy 2x2 photo. She was the one, and you knew it without hesitation, only immense gratitude to the hands of fate that brought her to you. And it was everything you imagined it would be times a bajillion. And you loved her. You held that baby and had the world by the tail and the confidence that you could do this right, you could make this right, you could be the parent that she needed. You promised her that you could and you had no doubt that you would deliver. You have never in your life felt stronger or more determined; and it shows, it's written all over your face.
Nine years ago today, my own little fuzzy photo was placed in my arms and became love incarnate. I don't always keep the promises I made to her. Sometimes I fail, I'm too tired, distracted, or impatient, but she always shows me the way to do better, she leads by example. She keeps the silent promise she made to me from that fuzzy photo: she is my child. For now, she thinks that I am the best mother in the world, and that's more than I ever asked for.