|Our greatest glory is not in never falling, |
but in rising every time we fall.
I've needed several days--apparently a week--to write this post. While I knew I needed to let anyone following us know how we were doing and what happened, I couldn't find the right frame of mind to write about something we still don't understand. Dazed. Betrayed. Confused. Fractured. Angry. Sad. I think I'm coming around to the acceptance part of things. The part where I look at the ground, and once again start moving my feet one in front of the other. More often I look up.
I also didn't want to write a post that would make someone turn away from the idea of international adoption. I don't think things like this happen very often.
I'll try to make this very complicated thing simple. But please understand there is more. There is always more.
Overnight, XinQin changed her mind. On Facebook I kept it brief, saying she'd been told horrible things about America and refused to sign the papers. But the things she'd been told about America were only a springboard, launching us into a day-long nightmare. The more we tried to figure out what her fears were, with our interpreter and the staff at the Civil Affairs office, the more we tried to ease her mind and answer her questions, the darker things became. It was a very quick descent. She was no longer the excited 12-year-old/acting 9 or 10-year-old. Her words, her tone, her demeanor were that of a 15-16-year-old, angry, hateful, commanding, determined. It was a startling transformation.
And yet, we knew. We had read, we had studied, we had prepared. This was typical for girls this age, especially as reality set in of what was happening to life as they knew it. We were determined, as well. With the stories we'd read, the child always comes to a crossroads. A concession. An admittance that this was a show, and she really did like the parents, and she signed the papers, and the real work as a family began.
That never happened. With her possible ADD and bipolar issues, she was unreasonable, not listening, insisting her friends at the orphanage knew what they were talking about, talking over people, shouting, "I don't WANT IT," over and over again as the adults in the room scrambled to pull up pictures, emails, letters from other children who were happy in America. She would not let us touch her, would not make eye contact. Made faces, rolled eyes. At one point she unpacked every item we'd brought her and set them in neat and orderly piles, even re-dressing the Barbies as they were when we gave them to her, telling our guide that she would not have these things if it meant she had to come with us. She maintained throughout that she knew we'd be good parents to somebody else. If we were staying in China, she would go with us. That didn't really help. When she gave back the camera, to me directly, that's when I lost it. Sadness, failure, sorrow for this confused girl, and my own confusion hit me hard.
I'm going to say the situation escalated. I've never seen Brandon fight so hard for something, ever. CCCWA (China Center for Childrens Welfare and Adoption) and our American agency were on the phone. In the midst of this, she loudly threw out very serious threats. And everything stilled. Then everything in that office sped up, and we were told that because of these threats made by an older child, the adoption was being dissolved and would continue no further. We were stunned. We were in tears. But China would not allow us to put ourselves in the position of a 24-hour watch, guarding the doors and windows, chancing taking her in public where she could shout anything in her language and we wouldn't know how to defend ourselves from false accusations. If she were to be lost or come to harm while we were still in China, the penalties for us would be harsh, and they considered the danger to us and herself real. They took over, and ended it. She showed no remorse. No compassion. She laughed and made faces as we cried. We cried because we still wanted to give her love. To give her family. Because it was so clear that she didn't have any idea what those things were.
We were told that she would go to a different orphanage. She needs help that I don't think she will get. The rest of that night, each of us hardly slept, and my own voice in my head kept telling me, "We were too late. We were too late." Then I would hear her voice yelling, "I don't want it!" And then I would think of Maren, waiting at home. Not much sleep.
The entire staff at that office, who had at first been distant, had tears in their eyes, were dazed. "I'm sorry," they said in English, taking our hands. "I'm so sorry."
And during that day, our guide, Jin, became a cushion for us. That's just the best way to describe it. She cushioned us. She got us out of our old room to an upgraded king size. She listened to us, discussed with us, comforted us. When we made the decision to go home as soon as possible, she was on the phone, handling the arrangements. She made sure we had what we needed, which wasn't much because we couldn't eat and we were totally exhausted.
The next morning, Jin called and offered us a tour of a Confucius temple just a block from our hotel. She promised it would be peaceful, but no pressure. We decided to get out of the room and walk with her. We were grateful we did. While we were very subdued compared to our trips to Forbidden City and the Great Wall, the small temple and grounds were beautiful, and her telling of the history was soothing. Confucius established the education system in all of China, and Nanjing was home to one of the national "colleges" and testing centers. Again, 600 year old history and art surrounding us. She took us into an ancient market and we were finally able to buy some gifts for our family--something we were saving to do with Sara. Then Jin led us to a divey little restaurant she knew was clean and safe for visitors. She offered to order a few local favorites for us to try and we let her, as we were beyond decisions like that. It was a delicious meal, and the first I'd eaten in 24 hours. Jin left us at the restaurant with a promise to pick us up for the airport at 6am the next morning. As she left she paused and said, "I know you are good people. You are good parents. Very good."
That meant so much.
We went back to the hotel and crashed. When we woke, Brandon suggested we go for one last walk. It was night, and the river was lit with lanterns and boats. He suggested we could buy some snacks to bring back for the kids. So we did that. Walking is good. Walking in China, even when something horrible has happened, is good. So below are the pictures of that "cushion" day.
We are home, now. We've been home almost a week and Chelsea and our grandbaby, Carly, are here to help soften the blow. My parents were the ones to tell the kids and then comfort them. We spent some warm hours at my sister's cabin with them on Thanksgiving evening. I'm counting my blessings. A couple of days ago the anger came. It may come again. I don't like it.
We haven't addressed whether or not we may try this again. Neither of us are ready to talk about that.
But today I felt somewhat at rest about things. We've decorated for Christmas. Lots of hugs are being shared in the house. There is still a tightness in my chest. A need to ask what it was all for. But then I remember that I've never been in charge of that. I'm not being petty or glib when I say that I've been through worse. I have, and I've been okay. I hope that XinQin will be okay. Most of all, I love my family. I'm thankful for family. I'm thankful that I opened my heart up to love like that. I'm thankful that Brandon followed me.
|Ginkgo trees are everywhere in Nanjing. The species is so ancient they are referred to as "living fossils."|
|The ribbons or tablets are prayers or wishes. Often they are academic.|
|A relief on the roof of the building above.|
|Jiangsu province is famous for Salty Duck. It's cured like ham and delicious.|
|Our sweet Jin. This is Wild Herb with Bean Curd, Peppers, and Ginkgo Berries. The greens were like young, crisp asparagus, but tasted sweet like grass or green wheat. It was really tasty the way it was prepared.|
|Jiangsu is also the birthplace of fried rice. By far, the best fried rice I'd ever tasted. Fresh and light.|
|We were glad they didn't serve Salty Duck presented like this in the restaurant.|
|This store was beautiful but we had no idea what anything was.|
|Soft-shell crabs on a stick.. Lots of things on a stick.|
|Gelato on a stick.|
|These women were doing a little jazzercise.|
|Early flight at the airport from Nanjing to Beijing. 6 hour layover. 12 hours from Beijing to Seattle. No sleep.|
|2 hours from Seattle, there were loving people waiting at this cabin for us.|
Thank you to our loved ones and your offerings of love and encouragement. Thank you.