The morning news announced the date--it's August 4th! I met my precious daughter Arielle ten years ago today. How can I show her how thankful we are that she is part of our family? Here she is with my new granddaughter, Laci Bo. Arielle just adores her, and it appears Laci feels the same.
My dad was an amateur rock collector and jeweler. On my tenth birthday he made me a necklace with my birthstone--an opal. It was an extraordinary, beautiful blue opal. I was thinking of that when I decided to give Arielle the topaz necklace that Fred gave me several years ago. Topaz is her birthstone. I told her this was a very special anniversary for her--ten years in America and ten years my daughter.
We decided to surprise Arielle with lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. Our favorite place was closed, so we went to one not so familiar to us. The owner, after watching her go back and forth to the buffet several times, asked if she was Chinese. Then he asked if she spoke Mandarin, but unfortunately, no. He seemed to understand, motioning that she must have come here as a little girl. Then he smiled and told Arielle she was beautiful. We sat back down and in a few minutes he came to our table with gifts for the girls--little red Chinese ornaments. Arielle and Liana were delighted.
As we ate lunch I thought of another restaurant so long ago. On August 4, 1998 I was dining with my mother and several other American families at a hotel in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. It was our first day in China. We were excited and chatted nervously, wondering when we might meet our babies. Then we heard someone say, "The babies are here!" We were told to go to our rooms and we immediately left the tables and ran for the elevators. One woman cried in the elevator at the thought she would soon become a mother for the first time. Too full of emotion to wait quietly in our hotel rooms, we congregated in the hall of the 17th floor and soon a parade of women came, each carrying a baby. A boy of about 10 or 11 was hoisting my Arielle on his hip. Our facilitator called our names and then my baby was in my arms. Joy unspeakable! I get teary-eyed every time I re-play that wonderful moment in my mind.
A little bit of China came to us last weekend. The director of the orphanage from Yangchun, Guangdong Province arrived in the U.S. for a visit. Yangchun families were invited to come to a picnic to meet her before she and her boss headed on to Oregon for a huge reunion. Liana is a Yangchun girl, so we decided this was a once in a lifetime chance for her to meet one of the caregivers who knew her so long ago.
We arrived in the middle of a nasty thunderstorm and Mrs. Yu and several other families were crowded under a covered porch watching the rain. Someone motioned for me to take Liana to meet her, even though I considered waiting until we went inside. It was so dark and dreary. I brought a picture of Liana, one Mrs. Yu herself had taken at the orphanage and given to me many years ago. I had taped the characters of Liana's Chinese name on the back to jog Mrs. Yu's memory. After all, she has seen many, many babies since then. We walked over and I set Liana before her. I handed Mrs. Yu the picture and she did not turn it over to read the name, but instantly exclaimed, "Yang Chun Cun!" How did she know? Then she embraced Liana and kissed her face. Just to know Liana was recognized meant a lot to me. She was a real person to Mrs. Yu, not just another little face in a sea of children. Hopefully Liana will realize this too someday when she is searching to answer the hard questions.