Sunday, September 26, 2010

Unique opportunities!

What an incredible week of unique and rare opportunities that culminated into a very special celebration!

This week included the anniversary of Grace and I becoming mother and daughter, the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, which is very important in China, meeting an important top person with Medicare, dining with the top officials from China, and celebrating our family with a luxurious meal atop the ball at the Hyatt Regency.

I've talked some about adopting Grace. I wish there had been blogs six years ago because so many of the details are already lost from memory. Neither of us are good historians, except for random details.

Mid Autumn Moon Festival was on Wednesday and somehow I completely missed it. It is a family focused celebration in China with family members traveling great distances to be with their loved ones. The first time I had heard of it was soon after Jana had adopted Darcey and for the celebration had bought this beautiful box of pastries called moon cakes. I looked at them envisioning the delicate pastries being filled with apples or apricots, maybe even pecans, but instead they contained white lotus seed paste and red bean paste and sometimes if you are very lucky, an egg yolk in the middle. Obviously tastes that you acquire.

The next time was in China during the process of adopting Grace. Grace's foster mother had sent a big box of these Chinese delicacies, moon cakes, with her and we sat in the floor of our hotel room at the White Swan in Guangzhou sampling each one. Later I learned how expensive that box was and know what a sacrifice, financially, much less emotionally, it must have been for her foster mother.

Other years I have bought moon cakes for the girls at the Chinese market and last year I even made my own version using my dream filling with apples in the center.

But it feels like so much has been happening, especially at work, that I got distracted and missed helping my daughters remember their heritage.

Part of what had distracted me was the big event we were hosting on Thursday. This week was the 6 month anniversary of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which included numerous new benefits for Medicare recipients and since my job is primarily working with Medicare recipients, I was contacted about hosting a very important representative from Medicare to make the announcements of the changes. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and we pulled off coordinating a sizable audience, press coverage, and all the other details in record time, making it appear effortless with no sign of the sleepless nights and worry that preceded it.

BUT I realized just how much my life has changed me.

When given this kind of opportunity in the past, I was all over it to meet the individuals, provide any of the extras to help make sure it was stellar for them, but this time I was much more focused on it ending on time so I could get the girls and be on time for our dinner in Fort Worth. Gladney, our adoption agency, was hosting THE top ranking officials from China who handle all the adoptions. I wanted these people to see that their trust in us was valid, that the adoption of the older children worked, and in some ways that a single person can be a good choice.

We made it to the Fort Worth Stockyards, to the Mexican restaurant, to meet the top officials from the CCAA, The China Center of Adoption Affairs, http://www.china-ccaa.org/frames/index_unlogin_en.jsp. When you apply to adopt, you fill out tomes of paperwork. All of this goes to these very people, who pore over every detail in every document you send to ensure you are an appropriate parent.

If you are adopting a baby, it is rumored they look at your pictures and find a baby that seems to be a great match for you. I don't know how they do it, but I think God has a hand in it much more than just human decision making.

You have to remember that my girls are teenagers, or at least pre-teens, so you can know just how accepting they are of me and used to my actions.

Also, language is never a barrier or a deterrent when I am determined to accomplish something, especially when it has to do with my girls and all the other girls who need families.

So, of course, I found the top man, grabbed a translator, and proceeded to tell him how very important my daughters were to me. How having them had made my life. How the older child adoptions were such a success. How I grieved that I could not adopt again just because I am single, but would love to find a way to help those who "age out", who become 14 and for as many reasons as there are girls, have few if any resources once they reach that age, and how I would love to find a way to help. This stopped the conversation. Initially he said there are foster parents for these children. I explained that this would be foster care here, with the family providing home, food, and education, preparing for a career, but returning to China at the end. I'm not sure, but I think he understood and said he would take it back as a consideration. At least I have planted the seed. I'm not sure I could give up a child who lives with me for 4 years to return to the unknown that China would hold, but I know they would be better prepared. The laws seem arbitrary and for someone who likes to find solutions, it is really easy for me to say the laws just need to be changed.

My girls were the oldest children there and Annabel was one of the few who could still understand Chinese and much to her chagrin, I brought her over to talk to the executive director. I'm not sure what he asked her but know he got typical teenager's answers, including a shrug of the shoulders, "I don't know", and "I guess"!

The whole scenario bordered on bizarre, being in the Stock Yards, eating Mexican food, speaking to the people who hold so many other's futures in their hands while they sipped on margaritas and tried to understand the corn husks wrapped around a tamale. I don't think nachos, tamales, tacos, or taquitos translate into Chinese.

Before I adopted Annabel, Grace and I went to the restaurant atop the Reunion Tower each year to celebrate our "gotcha" day. The year we came home with Annabel, I knew I could not translate to her why and where we were going and besides, at that point, we could barely afford a glass of water there. Thankfully it was closed due to renovations.

Last year, rather than try to figure out two separate events, we decided a trip to Mexico was our "family" anniversary celebration of becoming a family.

This year our focus financially has been on the "extras" like tutoring and piano and art, so we opted not to take a trip, and found ourselves needing something though to mark our celebrations.

The view from on top of the ball was just too irresistible and since the renovations were complete, we made our reservations, got dressed up, and went for the most scrumptious of meals.

The surprising change was the menu was now Asian and the menu was full of dishes that the girls LOVED and very reminiscent of China. Tiny dumplings were followed by duck for Grace and quail for Annabel, each accompanied by noodles. We got there while it was light and watched our view change as the sun began to provide a beautiful sunset, and stayed until the lights of the city came on. It was a perfect way to celebrate. When the dessert menu came, my very practical minded girls opted to end the meal with a McDonald's sundae for $1, rather than $12 cookies!

Life is good.

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