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May 04, 2010

Percolating to the Surface

Rachel and panda Things are starting to percolate in our ten-year-old's head since coming back a month ago from our trip to visit her birth country, China.  It was such a whirlwind while we were there -- only a few days in each place we visited -- so most of the discussion we had while we were traveling was about climbing the Great Wall, holding the baby pandas, and seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors.  But we knew that at some point, there would be a lot of emotions to deal with about visiting the country where she was born, spending time at the orphanage where she lived for the first 12 months of her life, and meeting one of the nannies who cared for her.

Things were still pretty much on an even keel when we spent some time talking with her classmates about the trip and showing many of the photos we took.  (Needless to say, the ones with the pandas were the biggest hit!)  PunditGirl was pretty stoic in talking about visiting the place where she was found before being taken to her orphanage.  But we knew it was only a matter of time until other feelings about her story started to percolate to the surface.

Things are now percolating.

We've always been honest with PunditGirl about her story and have shared with her what few facts we had about the first year of her life.  But it's one thing to hear a story when you're a pre-schooler and an entirely different matter when you're old enough to start asking the really hard questions, like 'Why does China have such mean rules?', 'Why didn't my China parents try harder to keep me?' and 'Why can't I try to meet them?'

And you know what.  It doesn't matter to her at this point what the answers are, because she's grieving now in a way she's never been able to before.  Having seen China, rather than wondering what real life in a country so big would be like, has been life-changing for her.  No matter how much we love her and wouldn't trade her for the world, the first people in her life were forced to make a decision driven by draconian public policy and ingrained cultural preferences. And in a way, she faced that for the first time by seeing China as a real place, and not just something in books and in her imagination. 

She's been pretty weepy the last few nights.  When she's tucked into bed and it's dark and her head isn't filled with soccer or math homework or The Lightning Thief, her thoughts are starting to wander more to trying to make sense of why she was the baby that wasn't kept, whether her birth parents are still alive and whether she might have biological siblings. That's when I feel a little lost as I stroke her hair and wipe her eyes, because I don't have anything to tell her that will make that hurt feel better.

When Joanne isn't also still thinking about their trip to China, you can find her at her blog, PunditMom where she writes about mothers, politics and how moms are changing the world!

Original 50-something moms post.

Photo by PunditMom, All rights reserved

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