Saturday, May 26, 2007

Who's on first

Okay, because I can't always figure out how to respond to comments in private when there’s no gmail account associated with a comment entry, I'll do it in public, because I've already blown any hope for anonymity with this blog. And here’s why if many of you were wondering how I could be so irresponsible as to spread my children all over the web without cute aliases or more care to protect their privacy (which I’ll have to move on soon, password protect or something.)

When I adopted YuYu in 2004, I used a Yahoo egroup* and could approve/deny requests to join the group and guarantee that I was sharing all my personal laundry with people to whom I was already acquainted. So, when I geared up the travel machine to go retrieve Nora in 2006, technology had advanced so rapidly that any fool could create a blog and that’s what this fool did. When I created this blog, it was with the intent to treat it as a travel log and share the address only with people who could give a hoot about my particular madness and me. However, a week into the trip while we were still in Nanning, Stefani, the China coordinator for my adoption agency, prevailed upon me to post the address to the agency egroup (a very large and busy busy group) as a precautionary tale. When you adopt an older child fresh out of an institution, the transition is not always rainbows and salt water taffy. Stefani, bless her, thought it would be good for prospective parents who were considering the adoption of an older child to see the spectacle unfold live and in full color. Kind of a gut check for the uninitiated.

So with not much consideration and in the spirit of public service, I opened this blog, that was never intended to be public, to the inspection of many, and found that I liked writing more than I had admitted to myself and here it is, too much disclosure and not enough privacy. But this gal lives in the same hood and from what I can tell, has not been stalked by wackos, so it may not be that urgent, but I will have to deal with the privacy issues soon. But this gal is taking all the good ideas and I don’t want to be a copy cat (and, no, I’m not that delusional to make any comparison between my weak musings and this gal who is making a GOOD living with her blog (her house is on the non-ghetto side of Foothill) and it's just my lame attempt to be hip and facetious). I’m almost prostrate with frustration because I can’t find the courage to fight the crowds at the new IKEA that opened up down the interstate this week, prostrate I tell you, but she already beat me to the blog and she grows bad body art too and tells the story much better. If I ever run into her at the Dan’s, I’ll just have to snub her.

So, to Abby in MA and Carrie, here’s the roster:

Ellie is really Elizabeth Arlene Fu Yan. She was matched to me in early December 1997 just before she turned one. But we didn’t travel to China (bad agency, bad, I think they could have easily avoided the delay) until end of February 1998. She was meant to be Eleanor, but my mother, with whom she shares the name Arlene, did not approve of Eleanor and me, with no spine, knuckled under and agreed to use Elizabeth with the same nickname I had in mind if she had been named Eleanor. But it wasn’t that much of a sacrifice. I love the name Elizabeth and had/have two great and good friends who share her namesake rights. Mrs. Siska, alive, kicking and kicky and worried about her salvation (very devout former nun) and my dear Liz, taken by bone cancer too soon. Ellie is ten, in fourth grade and being her mom is as easy as falling off a log into marshmallow fluff.

Next came Mimi, who is really Meredith Jean Fuling. When I started the paperwork for Ellie, the social worker who completed my homestudy had adopted two as a single and recommended that I consider someday bringing a sibling for Ellie into the family. Since I had just come to terms with the idea that I was going to be a mother and solely responsible for a child, my reaction to this advice, was, I’m sure, under whelming: I stared blankly, then snorted derisively. No way no how. But after a few years, I got the hang of parenting, Ellie who was the. most. low. maintenance. child. ever and I went for it. I had no name in mind except for Jean, after my funny wonderful maternal grandmother. I was reading Charles Schultz’ obituary and his daughter Mimi (Meredith) was mentioned and I thought: Mimi Mei Mei, Mimi Mei Mei, perfect for little sister. Mimi came home a week before the Trade Tower attack in 2001.

Then came YuYu, who is really Kathryn Marta Rui Yu. Kathryn was my Aunt Fay’s second daughter who died in an auto accident a week before her high school graduation. It looked like Aunt Fay would never have a grand daughter to use the name and my mom suggested that I consider it for YuYu. I love the name, but I’m not too excited about any of the common nicknames: Kitty, Kathy and there were like four Katies in Mimi’s preschool class, so that wasn’t an option either. Luckily, YuYu has clung to her Chinese nickname and doesn’t even remember her given name from time to time. Marta is my maternal great grandmother who was strong, resourceful and courageous. If she ever wants to use either name, I’m all for it, but she’ll always be YuYu (treasure treasure) to me. YuYu was in foster care (with a warm and adoring family) until I adopted her at 4.5 years old in November 2004. She will be seven years old next month, is three months older than Mimi, adopted out of birth order with no apparent issues, yet.

And then came Nora. I finally got my Eleanor. She is Eleanor Elaine Xiao Ye. Elaine is my maternal aunt who has successfully raised 11 children and is what I like to call a Shiite Mormon (in full friend shipping armor all the time) and I love her to bits despite and because of it. Nora’s Chinese name is beautiful: morning leaf, isn’t that lovely? But she dropped it like a dirt clod within a week of coming home, insisting: “No Xiao Ye, NO rah!” She was exactly the same age as YuYu was on adoption day, 4.5 years old, but had only been in foster care (with a family that couldn’t control her) for 4-5 months prior to adoption. Being institutionalized has taken a big toll on my girl. She will be six years old in July and is ten months younger, chronologically, than Mimi, but years behind emotionally.

My own name is a contraction for Margaret or Marjorie, neither of which I was lucky enough to be given. Because I was cheated out of a real name, it was very important to me to choose solid, traditional, real names for my girls. They all have easy, fun nicknames they can use until the nicknames don’t suit them anymore, if ever. I also incorporated their orphanage names (except for Mimi, her orphanage name had negative baggage, so I used her home town) and they can use those names if they want to get in touch with their cultural roots some day. But, if the circumstance requires, they can assert their fully loaded names when the weight and heft I hope they symbolize may come in useful.

*After we had been home for over a year, I remembered that the egroup was still hanging out there. I sat at my desk and carefully copied each post of my heartfelt sentiments, my excited utterances as we say in the legal biz. The posts printed out to my little printer on the credenza behind me. I heard them, the little printer whirred its reassuring whir and I knew I had captured my thoughts in hard copy for time and eternity, as we like to say in Mormon culture central. So when Yahoo sternly and with much gravity questioned my willingness to delete the group, I was convinced of my actions and pulled the trigger with confidence. Only after the cursor clicked did I turn around and look at the printouts to discover, to my horror, that all I had printed was the advertisements and page format surrounding the posts: no content. Nothing, not a single word is left of my first impressions of my treasure treasure, sob.


Heza Hekele said...

I've enjoyed your blog for a year or so now and enjoy your writing. (Please include me if you password protect:) While my adoption days are still several years away, it is a journey I look forward to taking (hopefully more than once).

Yes, Minister... said...

Hey there ~ if you go Password protect ~ PLEASE send me an invite! I would miss you so much if I made my weekly "leap" and didn't find you :D I have really grown to love you and the girls ~

I LOVE the name Marta. It was my grandmother’s middle name and it was the middle name I wanted for LiLi. Her name was going to be Isobel Marta but the testosterone factor hated it. We agreed on Isobel Maura or Isobel Mia. When I looked into those little eyes, and knew that LiLi meant beautiful, lovely to look at ~ how could she ever be anything else. The other name we threw around before coming to Isobel was Eleanor, after one of my favorite Jane Austin character, Eleanor Dashwood :-) Maybe that is why Nora makes me smile! One last thing, my middle name is Elizabeth! Very Good name choices for all the girls :-) Thanks for sharing that!

Abby in MA said...

Thank you so much for sharing!! =) Your girls have the most beautiful names and nicknames! I'm just old was Mimi when you adopted her?

My mom absolutely hates nicknames of almost any sort (minus the fact that she still calls me "snookie" in front of MY STUDENTS), so needless to say, she severely dislikes that I haven't gone by Abigail since I was 12. hehehe.

Anyways, I look forward to reading more about your girls/life (as always)...especially as Ellie gets into her teen years!

Abby said...

PS- sorry for writing a book here! =)

And dooce is one of my favorite blogs EVER.

Sister Carrie said...

Ah, thanks so much for clearing that up. I think I have the cast of characters straight now. I love all your girls' names. Great choices.