Star needs to return to China. I have sensed this for some time, but during this past year I have learned that it is essential to her well being. She needs to feel, touch, taste, smell and hear HER China. China needs to be more real to her, not just a place in her imagination, a magical place where she was born.
This trip will be shorter than it should be, will contain many emotional highs and lows, but, it will be a starting place, and launching pad for our voyage of discovery. Some of the things we hope that Star will learn are easy, and some are hard.
~~Taste “real” Chinese food! (I guess this could be hard, depending on how willing she is to try things!)
~~Smell! Yes, this is so important! Everyplace has a smell, and China’s is uniquely its own. There are wonderful smells of foods, countryside, and spices and then there are the not so great smells of smog, smoke and pollution, but they are all important to Star and her sense of where she comes from!
~~Historical Sights! In a very short period of time we’ll be visiting The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, The Ming Tombs, The Temple of Heaven and The Summer Palace. I don’t know what sense of history she’ll take away from this, except maybe that there is SO MUCH to learn about China. Hopefully, just being able to say, “I have been there” will spark her desire to know more!
~~That we won’t be able to find her birth parents. Star has been expressing a desire to know her birth parents since she was three years of age. She has a profound sense of loss about them. As an adoptee myself, I know that loss, and hope that I can help her find her way through it. Our “mother/daughter” story is further complicated by the fact that I know who my birth parents are (I found them in 1993) but know deep in my heart that this is probably an impossibility for Star. The laws of China make it nearly impossible for birth parents to come forward, even if they have the opportunity to do so. (Just so you know, if they ever did, I would be the first to welcome them with open arms!)
~~What exactly the orphanage is to her. On her last birthday, age 6, she cried and cried before bed. When I asked her what was wrong she said, “I miss the orphanage.” I did not know how to respond to that. Does she think her life would have been better there than here? Does she even remember it? How can she? So many questions, no easy answers. These answers may be something we have to work on for years to come, but for now, she’ll be able to see the orphanage and get a better sense of its existence.
~~Her short history, as we know it! We will be visiting the city where Da and I first met her (hopefully staying in the same room) and spent our first days with her as a family. Then, we’ll venture to AnQing, which is, as best as we know, her “home town.” We will visit the orphanage where she spent her first 10.5 months, hopefully meet her caregivers, and then spend some time getting to know the area. At the end of our journey, we’ll end up in Guangzhou, where the US Consulate is and where we processed her VISA to come to the United States.
I’m sure there are many more issues that we will touch on and explore, but those will have to come to us with passage of time and actual experience. I know that some of you think I’m silly to explore this with my daughter at such a young age, but I feel that she has already started her work, and this is the only way I know how to help her continue on the long but necessary path. I pray that she knows that I’m doing the best I can with the knowledge I have and that I have confidence that we’ll both come out the other end stronger and more confident than when we started.
Our group will consist of Marmee, Star, Xuxu and Mouse. Mouse isn’t ready for Mama to be gone for three weeks, and so she is coming along and Xuxu is coming along because she is my wonderful helper, and because I want her to also have a sense of where Star and Mouse came from. She is a fabulous big sister and I know she will be a great help to me on this adventure. Stay tuned as we journal our experiences and thank you for joining us for this journey of discovery.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.