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July 31, 2009

A day of celebration and tears


Exactly five years ago, as the hot summer sun was about to make it's daily debut, a 4 pound Chinese baby girl was born and screamed her first protest at the world. 

And the world totally deserved it.

Her family was probably worried about the baby's obvious prematurity.  In China, it's a common belief that premature babies are likely to die in early childhood even if they beat the odds and survive infancy.  This little baby was just barely 4 pounds and her future was uncertain.  She also had a very minor cleft palate -- something her family might not have noticed because it was very VERY minor. 

Or, perhaps, their concern was the fact that this infant was female and the family already had a little girl and really needed a boy to guarantee their security in old age? 

Whatever the reason, someone bundled up the tiny infant and carried her down this dirt road towards the gate of the local High School. 

It was a Saturday on the last day of July and it was HOT.  But we know for certain that most of the teachers lived on campus and someone would probably find her right away.   Her family probably knew this too.

They quickly scribbled a note on a torn scrap of paper that stated her birth date and time.  She was only a few hours old when they set the newborn girl down on the ground.  Then they turned around and walked away. 

From this heartbreaking act of desperation, our family was completed. 

That little girl was Madeline and Maddy is five years old today.  Today, I'm certain her birth family will think about her and wonder what happened to the baby they left alone at the gate of that school five years earlier. 

As a mother, I'm sure they can't find any peace with what they did.  It's just the nature of moms to fear the worst and that's probably the case with mothers in China too.  How can they possibly expect that their baby is a thriving, robust, little fireball living with her virtual twin sister in a lovely house in Silicon Valley, California.  They can't know that she's got a Mommy and Daddy and Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even a kitty who love her to pieces.  They would probably love to know that she's an artist and her favorite food is cantelope, cheddar cheese and chocolate pancakes.   

Someday, this little girl - who we've affectionately nicknamed "Our Scientist" - will attend Stanford University.  We're absolutely sure of it.  And we'll celebrate birthday after birthday with her and watch her grow up and fall in and out of love and marry and have babies of her own. But her birth family will probably weep each year as they remember the little baby they left at this gate -- the baby they gave back to The World. 

And, every year, we'll remember them and be gratful that their difficult choice put their baby on a path to us.  And we'll quietly hope that this will be the year they find peace with their choice.


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