It's been an interesting few days on the China Mama front.....
XiXi was with a foster family in China for about 8 months. In the life of a three year-old, that's a long time. Being the charmer that he is, I have no doubt that his foster mother was completely wrapped around his chubby little finger. Xixi was taken back to the orphanage a week before we met him in China. I was told that he was deeply bonded to his foster mother and that the parting was very traumatic.
XiXi's orphanage does not allow any contact with foster families. They refuse to give names or permit visitors to the village. The only exception to this was a heritage tour that took place 2 years ago. At the time, XiXi was still in the orphanage. Two women on that tour took pictures and video during their visit and posted them on blogs. I've sat with XiXi on my lap, scrolling through all of those pictures, hoping that he would spot his foster mother, but he didn't. He'd point out his house, the chickens and goats he cared for, and the garden he helped tend, but never the woman he called Mama. A couple of weeks ago, one of the women who was on the tour asked me if I'd seen her videos, which were posted at the bottom of her webpage. I hadn't, so I tried playing the videos for XiXi. For whatever reason, our computer wouldn't let them load completely. One particular video had him very upset and when it continually stopped about three seconds into it, he threw himself on the floor in a tantrum. He was tired, so I put him down for a nap.
Two days ago I tried the videos again and saw that they were working. I put XiXi on my lap and began the video that had previously put him into such a fit. It showed four women, dressed in the clothes of the Yi minority, singing a song and pouring drinks for the visitors. It's not even quite one minute long. As it neared the end, I noticed that XiXi was crying--not sobbing, just quiet tears. I asked him in Mandarin if he knew those women and he nodded. Then he stood on my lap, pointed to one of them, and said, "That's my Mama." He put his face close to the screen and asked me to play the video again. We played it probably ten times. Then he sat back on my lap and hugged me and cried.
That day, we went to the home of our Mandarin-speaking friend. I felt like there were some important things for XiXi to hear and I wanted him to hear it while he still understands Mandarin. Our friend told him: You were a very good boy in China and did nothing wrong. Your foster mother knew you were coming to a new home in the United States and she was excited for you. We love your foster mother and are so happy that she took such good care of you. We are your family forever now and you don't have to worry about leaving ever again.
He didn't respond, but he sat quietly and listened. What a dear boy.
Last night for story, Cholita picked the book, "Here's a Penny". It's an older book, written by Carolyn Haywood, the author of the Betsy books. In the first chapter, Penny, who was adopted, was told by the girl next door that he wasn't his mother and father's "really, truly" little boy. Cholita thought that was a mean thing for the girl to say and also that it was completely wrong. She said that she knew she was our really, truly girl. Then she broached a subject that she hasn't touched in a long time. She asked how long China Mama had kept her before she took her to the orphanage. I told her that it was about one day. "One day?!" she asked, shocked. We've discussed this before, but maybe that particular point never sunk in. "Only one day?" I told her that she was still a brand new baby when she was found, only about 4 1/2 pounds. "So China Mama doesn't even know what I look like, since she only saw me when I was a baby?" I told her that was right. "Oh, I wish she could see me now and that I could see her." I told her that I was sure her China Mama would think she was very pretty and that she'd be so happy to hear that she's such a healthy and kind little girl. I asked her if there were things she wanted to talk to her China Mama about, but she shook her head no. "I would just want to go to China and give her hugs.....but I wouldn't want to stay very long, because I'd miss everyone at home."
What a dear girl.
Cholita doesn't know it, but this past week we've begun the process to dig a little deeper into her past. Most likely, nothing will come of it, but as she grows older and her questions continue, we can tell her that we did our best to make her wish come true: to see her China Mama.
We are so blessed with these children and are forever grateful to their dear mothers, foster and biological. They will always have a place in our hearts.