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October 11, 2005

"How much did they sell her for?"


I went to Walmart yesterday and found $200 worth of things I didn't even know I needed. However, there was no charge for the amusing conversation I had with the cashier who noticed right away that Gwen was Chinese.

I had a bit of trouble understanding her because of her very heavy (Hispanic) accent but she was chatty and seemed proud that she was able to guess that Gwen wasn't my daughter.

I explained that she *is* my daughter and she was adopted from China. She stopped scanning my stuff momentarily and looked me dead in the eye and asked me with great curiosity how much the Chinese people sold her to me for.

I should point out that she wasn't hostile with her questions. Even so, I was a little bit taken aback. Maybe she just assumed there was a market for Chinese babies and, somehow, the birth mothers of these children benefited financially from the transaction. She probably couldn't imagine any other motive for a mother to give up her baby. It's not unusual that she thougth this so I (nicely) set her straight.

Truth is, Gwendolyn cost less than the hospital bill for Michael's birth 17 years ago! I said this and the people in line behind me leaned forward on their carts to listen too.

I explained that most of the adoption expense was for fees here in the United States and airfare and government fees in China. The orphanage got some of the money (which helps improve the quality of life for the other orphans) but the birth mother would never be identified and she gets nothing. I spoke, briefly, of the one child policy and the difficult choice the birth mother faced.

Everyone in line behind me was interested in our discussion. They all thought Gwen was adorable and they were shocked that she's only been in our family for 5 weeks since she looks so comfortable with me. I enjoyed this opportunity to be an Ambassador to China-Adoption and clear up some pretty big misconceptions!

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