Saturday, April 26, 2014

Why are we going to China?

This week I posted on Facebook looking for help on how to make international reservations to China. Thank goodness I have friends in the travel industry and even more that travel often and they were able to help. Some are wondering about our trip so I thought I would explain.

Recently I walked with my daughters and my nieces to a store in the neighborhood. As we walked, it dawned on me that I was probably walking on the exact same sidewalk in front of the store that has been there since we walked to the exact same location as kids. The store has changed but it is the same route we knew by heart from a very early age.

That started me thinking - I work each day at the hospital I was born in. I drive the streets that my parents did from before I was born. I visit the house I grew up in. I live next door to that house! The schools I went to are still in the neighborhood. I look in daily on my classmates lives on Facebook. My church is still standing in the same place.

But it is more than that.

I could drive the route to my grandparents' home in my sleep if needed. I can show you the houses they lived in. I can show you the place where my parents met.

Of course I know my siblings and their children. Beyond that I know my cousins, my aunts, my uncles. Thanks to Facebook, I know my 2nd and 3rd cousins as if we still got to go to Grandmommy's house for visits.

I know my history from before I was born. I know the doctor's name that delivered me, my pediatrician's name, my dentist's name.

My whole life story can be remembered.

But for my children, we know none of that.

We don't know where they were born or who was there, because we do not know their birth families. We don't know if they have siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or grandparents. We don't know if they were born at home, in a hospital, in the city or in a village in the country. We don't know any of the circumstances of their birth and some
thing that still makes me cry is the space on their birth certificates that asks for parents' name and it says "unknown".

Both my daughters were older when I adopted them, Grace was 6 and Annabel was 11. They have a history in China. They had streets they walked to go to the store, friends in the neighborhood, classmates. But because they were children, they don't know where these people or these neighborhoods are. They come from a city of four times as many as Dallas. How is a 6 year old or an 11 year old supposed to know where those places are?

But they need to look, they need to explore, they need to talk to people. They need to see familiar sights, smell the smells, taste the food. They need to reconnect with the foster families that loved them.

Will we even find any of those people from their past? I don't know because I'm not sure they want to find them.

What I do know is they need this connection with the past to face the future and that's all I know for sure.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A special request for a special life

My heart is heavy and my thoughts are a mish mash of emotions today thinking about a dear family who has gone through a loss that is difficult to rationalize.
I live in a unique spot, next door to the house I grew up in, on the block where I spent my youth, my teen years, and returned to often. Our neighborhood has gone through the same cycles that so many urban neighborhoods have, as people fled to the suburbs for more? better? I'm not sure, but my parents were very satisfied where they were and did not leave. With all the younger families leaving, the homes with the older residents began to decline with the aging of their residents. As the neighborhood became more transient, regardless of how many people had bought or sold the houses, we still called the house by the names of the original owners who lived there.
That was until Zac and Heather moved in on the other side of my parents. They brought with them the same spirit of neighborliness that had once made our block such a special place to live. They brought with them chickens, and gardening, and bike riding, dumpster swimming, and sharing, and caring, and love. A path is now evident in my parent's grass as we made our way back and forth to each other's homes.
When it was announced that they were expecting their first baby, we were thrilled for them.
When little Roger William was born, he quickly acquired an extra set of great grandparents, aunts, and cousins from our family. His life was filled with love and adventure and the wonderment that only babies can possess. His smiles melted our hearts and we would feel blessed by them. At 7 months, he was beginning to realize that he could reach things for himself, to sit up and stand, and we were excited about the next steps he would reach.
But then the unthinkable happened and he did not wake up from his nap and his beautiful life ended too quickly.
The news was met with shock and disbelief, as I was sure I had misunderstood and the realization that it was true was met with such sadness for all the lives he had touched.
People ask, how? why? and for now those remain unknown. Instead the family wants to focus on the blessings received from such a beautiful life, no matter how short and they want others to focus on those things as well. They have asked others to focus on what they do know, that all of us benefit from kindness.
I'm borrowing the following from one of their good friends as she explains, "Being the altruistic people they are, Zac and Heather have asked that this be a day of kindness in memory of baby Roger. So, even if you don't know the Lytles, do a good deed today or perform some act of kindness in honor of Roger Lytle today. If you'd like, email to let Zac and Heather know what you did. They will read the messages to cheer themselves up when they are blue."
It's not about sandwiches! It's about my life!