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On Adopting China and Loving Someone You Don’t Know

8 January 2018

I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that China itself is starting to set roots in our hearts, along with the son I know it’s keeping for me.

Writing China into a 5-Year-Old’s Story

It probably started when I began to notice and appreciate how the Man Cub has been slowly recognizing “China” and adding it to our family identity.

I think the first time he made the connection for himself was at the Kung Fu Panda movie night last month. We were sitting on a rug together—sharing popcorn and trying to open little Chinese hard candies—when Po called Master Shifu, “the greatest kung fu master in all of China.”

My Man Cub stopped what he was doing, looked up with that expression of epiphany, pointed at the screen, and said, “Oh! This is China?!” So simple, but it was so sweet. Because he’s seen Kung Fu Panda before, but “China” never meant anything to him. Now it not only means something, it means us. It’s part of our family, and he recognizes it that way.

Last week we went to the library to play/work one afternoon, and he made a friend in another small boy who was there. When the kid’s little sister tried to play along, the boy made a comment about sisters and asked Man Cub if he has brothers or sisters. “Not yet. But I’m gettin’ one soon … from CHINA!” The kid mirrored his excitement, but in that awkward way that screams, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

And when our new, small set of unpaper towels came from Marley’s Monsters, my sweet boy pulled out the panda bear print that I’d specifically requested, and told me we needed to save that one for Brother. Because pandas.

He tells me all the time that he loves our family (and lately he’s been singing about it at random intervals as well). It’s amazing to, first, watch him internalize that part of our family is in China, and then to see those little 5-year-old expressions of love for a brother he hasn’t met yet. I love that he doesn’t need to meet the kid to decide, and he is in no way reserving judgment (because he’s five and he can’t). This kid is one of us, and we are awesome, so he is awesome, and we love him.

The Only Thing I Know About My Son

Imagine being in love with someone and only knowing one thing about him or her. 

We’re adopting a toddler. That means that even if this takes another 18 to 24 months, he’s (most likely) already out there somewhere. But the only thing I know about him, is that he’s ethnically Chinese. (And that he’s most likely not having the kind of first year that I would want for him, but I try not to dwell on that.)

So, in a way, getting to know China feels like getting to know him.

Or it’s just the closest I can get.

Because we’re probably going to take him away from China before any of it becomes too ingrained in him.

But still … it’s the closest I can get.

So if I start reading and talking about Chinese history, or learning to make Chinese-style noodle soups, or wearing hoodies and t-shirts with pandas on them, it’s not just because I have a kind of obsessive personality (although I definitely do). It’s mostly because I’m thinking about him, but I don’t have anything definite to think about except … China.

But Also … it’s China

So that’s a new kind of struggle too. Because part of me wants to just love China like family—and I do, in a way—but then I remember how China, in general, treats my real family—the Church—and I’m not even close to ironing out that mess in my heart yet.

China has a long, dramatic, amazing history, but much of it is stained by the violent persecution of Christians. It’s a much bigger topic than we have room for now, of course, and it’s as painful a tension in this weird relationship that’s forming. Separating cuisine and ecology from politics is easy, but culture is more of a gray area … I’m working on it.

What’s Next?

Our home study report is almost done! I got to review/fact check the report Friday, so hopefully it can get finalized this week! That means we’re ready for USCIS paperwork and grant applications!

We’re also hosting a Lunar New Year fundraising event on February 15. RSVP and invite friends on Facebook. Come party with us! And, again, if you or your small business wants to sponsor a raffle basket, let me know. They were so great last time, we’re doing some more.

Current prayer requests:

  • A speedy conclusion to the home study report
  • Favor on our grant applications
  • Favor on our USCIS paperwork

Thanks for all the prayers, support, and love!

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