by Linda Zou Imark
In 2000, when my husband and I told my aged Chinese parents that we had filed the application to adopt an orphaned girl from China, their responses were less than enthusiastic. Adoption in China carries a heavy stigma. The main concerns are not only about carrying on the family bloodline, but also the deeply rooted fear one might not love a child not of their own flesh and blood.
We got our little girl Anna, from Chongqing, China when she was seven-and-a-half months old. She was a pretty and feisty little thing. As we began our lives together, we started to form a bond so deep and love so palpable that we were often overwhelmed for words. Love does transcend blood. Our experience with Anna was evidence of that, but would it be enough to convince my parents?
In 2004, when Anna was two and half, we took her to China to visit my parents for the first time.
When Anna saw my parents at the doorway in the light of the setting afternoon sun, she ran towards them and called out ¡°grandpa and grandma¡± in Chinese. My father hunched down and picked her up and my mother touched her tender cheeks. Faint smiles spread over their faces. I held my tears and breath.
We spent an exciting month in Beijing. Although too young to really appreciate these places, we took Anna to visit Tiananman Square, the Great Wall, and the Summer Palace anyway. She had great fun, especially at the Summer Palace where we rented a boat. Anna insisted on pedaling it herself and nearly tipped the boat over. When she was not out touring the city, she stayed home, playing hide and seek with her cousins and watching Chinese cartoons with fascination. She also helped my parents make dumplings and noodles, making progress with her fine motor skills and in the meantime making a complete mess. During the second week of our stay, she caught the flu and had a high fever. During her one day bed rest, my parents took turns taking care of her, feeding her boiled ginger soup, touching her forehead every so often to assure her that her fever was receding by the minute. When Anna felt better, she wanted to go out with my father to the nearby local market. My mother insisted that Anna should not go out since she had just got better while my father insisted that she should. They had a serious argument which resulted in both of them taking Anna to the market, bundling her up in layers of clothing in the scorching Beijing August weather.
The concern that my parents might not accept Anna vanished as the days went by. The day before we were to leave China, as my mother, with Anna¡?s help, counted her vitamins, she looked at me and said, ¡° What difference does it make if you gave birth to Anna or not? We were all wrong. You can love a child not related by blood as though you gave birth yourself.¡±
Coming from my mother, this was not a small statement. She represents a generation of Chinese parents whose idea of love is deeply entrenched in the Chinese ancient belief in family ties and bloodlines.
My father who was sitting nearby reading the paper added, ¡°When you miscarried, your mother asked Heaven what we did wrong for you to deserve this fate. Now she asks Heaven what we did right for you to deserve Anna!¡±
I held Anna in my arms, making her spill the vitamins on the floor. I let go of my breath and tears. I feel indeed very blessed that we became a family this way.
Now we are waiting for our next daughter from China. I called my mother last weekend and she told me she was nearly finished with the many things she was making for her next granddaughter. She also asked me why it was taking so long for her to be united with us.
We do not know for sure why we must wait so long but we know it will be worth the wait no matter how long it takes.