Saturday, June 9, 2007


Zoe and Maya are big-time into playacting these days. I’m always hearing one say to the other, “Pretend that I’m . . . ,” and then the game is off and running.

Well, we had a surreal game of pretend this evening. I was on the computer reading one of my favorite adoption poems – I bet you can guess why:

Your Chinese Mama

I kiss your pudgy cheek every night when
you sleep.

I smell you and breathe you.

My heart and soul ache for her.
I know I am not as courageous as she.
So much love and hope for you,
she swaddled you and placed you in a box.

A manger to me.

I talk to her every night when I kiss your cheek.
I breathe your smell, and her soul.

Lynne Curran

I didn’t realize that Zoe was reading over my shoulder until I heard her say, “That’s a pretty poem. Why a box?” (It’s hard having a reader – you can’t spell things over her head any more and she can freely snoop into things she shouldn’t!).

I figured this was my opening to talk more about going to Guiping SWI, and going to her finding place. (I know most people advise that you consider going alone and not taking the child since you’re not quite sure what the finding place will look like. I don’t have that option since we’re not traveling with anyone I can leave the kids with. And from what I do know about their finding places it should be OK.)

We talked about the one child policy (which she’s heard me talk about before), and I told her a little bit more about the “grown-up rules,” including the fact that birthparents can’t just take the baby to the orphanage and hand her to Mr. Gan (all orphanage directors are Mr. Gan to Zoe) because they might get in trouble. So most birthparents try to put the baby somewhere where she will be found quickly and taken to the police station. (Zoe really likes police officers these days, and waves at the guards at the university gate each time we pass. And I wanted to mention the police station in case we get a chance to go there in Guiping.) The police officer then takes the baby to the orphanage, where the nannies take care of her until her forever family comes for her.

Now, we’ve talked about parts of this many times before, but I hadn’t really emphasized the finding part. I wondered what Zoe’s reaction would be, and then she said spritely, “I know, pretend I’m the birthmother . . .” and she was off and running to wrap one of her baby dolls in three layers of clothing and a little hat (this is part of her story we know) and put her in a cardboard shoebox. Maya got to play the part of the finder AND the police officer, and Zoe was also Mr. Gan, who took the baby and said, in a solemn voice, “I will name you Jin Yi Ling.” They were also the nannies who took care of the baby. I was instructed to write a letter to China, so I wrote, “Dear China, May I please adopt one of the babies who lives in the baby room? I promise to love her and take care of her forever.” Zoe, a.k.a. Mr. Gan, then answered the letter (we haven’t covered the CCAA part of this yet!), “OK, only if you take good care of her.” Then Mr. Gan knocked on my hotel room door (Maya was the door!) and handed me the baby. Big-girl Zoe then acted out the part of baby Zoe, by climbing in my lap and putting her head on my chest and falling asleep, as she knows she did on Gotcha Day.

And then we had to do it all over again, with each of us assigned different roles this time. I got to be the birthmother. Zoe was Mr. Gan again (I really hope we get to see him in Guiping, I think Zoe will be very disappointed if we don’t). Maya refused to be the door because she didn’t like being knocked on!

I’ve found that the hardest thing about being a parent is always questioning whether you’re doing the right things. I never expected to be so uncertain – I feel completely competent in my professional life, so why would I feel like such a dope when it came to child-rearing?! Well, this was definitely one of those moments. I’ve probably scarred them both for life. But it felt right, especially since Zoe was directing all of the action. But who knows. . . .

So after all this theatre, I asked Zoe what she thought about going back to Guiping. She answered, “It’ll be like going back to the very beginning.” Indeed.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful play session you and the girls had! And all because you now have a reader who can read over your shoulder. ;-) This seems like the kind of opportunity to work out "adoption issues" that adoptive parents like us can only hope for. I think you handled it perfectly. Can't wait to read about your upcoming trip.

--from another Guangxi mom

Anonymous said...

I love the poem"Chinese Mama".
May I share it with my yahoo
group and others? Elizabeth

Wendy said...

I think the acting was great. Madeline, not three, is really into hearing and playing this all out right now as well. She plays with her Little People and her Little People airport--we have to fly home and everything.
I go with it, like you. I think they need to work through these things in whatever manner helps them to understand; I add more as I think she can handle it.

Anonymous said...

I think the playacting is very healthy and good prep for your trip. And thanks for the story! I have not discussed abandonment with my younger daughter and knew I needed to do that before we go to her hometown in July. I used the story of your upcoming trip as an opener to discuss it. I told my girls that Zoe and Maya were going to Guiping and that they would visit the orphanage and the places where they were found. And then we talked about the places where my girls were found. Fortunately, I have photos of both places and even video of one of the places. So, I showed my younger daughter the video tonight, for the first time. And she was not upset at all, but just asked whether she was alone. I said I hoped it was for a short time and maybe the people who took her there hid and watched to make sure she was safe. Have a great trip! Sue

Anonymous said...

I think many if not most parents, regardless of how one becomes a parent, have moments of wondering if they are "doing it" right. Heaven knows when I was working full time, going to school at night and parenting by phone, I pondered how insane I was. The one piece of advice I have given my friends as they have had children is to trust their intincts (despite the fact that I second guess myself all of the time). My sister-in-law had the best results trusting her instincts when their son was not getting over his virus. Too late to make this short, if it felt right to you, it probably was a beneficial exercise for your girls.

I'm so glad that you are sharing your experiences with us. What a fantastic opportunity.


Joanne said...

What a great post - so helpful to those of us who haven't yet reached that point. I also think you handled it wonderfully and I will remember it for the future!
Have a wonderful trip - I pray you will see my "Mia" there :)

Anonymous said...

It seems like you handled it perfectly, just like you handle everything, Mindy. Stop second-guessing yourself, I think you're a fantastic parent!
your sister, Kim.

Anonymous said...

What a VERY wise Zoe you have!! Indeed! She must get it from her mother. The role playing brought goosebumps to my arms. Good job, Mom!