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Journey to a Thousand Tomorrows

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“Nine years ago today, in a far away land, to someone whom I have never met, my little girl was born.”

 Over and over this thought reverberates through my head. I cannot eat. I cannot laugh. I match the smile on my birthday girl’s face because I do not want her to worry. I do not want her to misunderstand.

I am thinking.

I am remembering.

She is living. She is growing. She is dancing because she is turning nine today.

I search back. I look into the past. I didn’t always love this child. I didn’t always laugh when she laughed. I didn’t watch the sun glint off her hair and laughter shimmer in her eyes. It wasn’t always this way. I find it hard to remember a time without her yet it has only been ten months since the day I first saw her…

I looked into the eyes of the child standing before me. I saw fear. I saw distrust. She stiffened when I touched her arm but I wasn’t sure what else to do with my hands. I shifted uncomfortably under the realization that I wasn’t qualified for this. I wasn’t prepared. I could say nothing to her- for she did not speak my language and I did not speak hers. Hadn’t I made a vow to learn enough Chinese to greet her? Where had the time gone? Why hadn’t I taken the time to do that? All questions all crying out for attention from me as I searched the eyes of the child before me.

The night before, I could not sleep under the heavy weight of the unknown in this foreign land. I had traveled over half the globe, lost twelve hours and rested very little. I felt groggy and disoriented. Yet, this was the moment I had been waiting for. Hours of work, miles of travel and multitudes of prayers had gone into making this moment happen. That realization snapped me out of my hazy state. I wanted to remember every second- every detail. I wanted to remember what she looked like as she came out of the orphanage gate. The face of the person whose hand she held tightly as she trembled at the unknown. Anything...I wanted to remember it all.

It was a sunny day. The rays of the sun spun pictures through the trees as I waited outside of the gates of this orphanage. I was supposed to go in. I was supposed to be given a seat and see the place where my daughter had lived much of her life. Yet, when the vehicle pulled through the wrought iron gate, a guard rushed out. He motioned quickly and spoke in a manner of urgency to our driver and guide. At that, our driver backed out of the same gates he had just entered and parked beside a nearby curb.

The sunshine that danced through the trees warmed the vehicle to stifling as I waited and watched- intently staring at the wrought iron gate that I had been through twice. It held the key. The reason I was in this foreign land to begin with. “Is this how it is done? Is this how everyone is treated?” I thought to myself but aloud I said nothing.

I was surrounded by people whose language differed so greatly from my own. They wouldn’t understand.

The wait could have been hours. It could have been minutes. I didn’t keep track. I was trying to remember if I had brought everything. Had I forgotten the markers that I had picked especially for her when I read that she enjoyed drawing? I fumbled with my bag. It became my focus, if only for a second. My eyes darted back to the gate. Then down to my bag. My hand fell onto the markers and paper. I had brought them.

“Whew…” I breathed.

I was relieved. I held them and flipped nervously through the blank pages of the tablet. I wondered what she liked to draw. I wondered if she was any good. I wondered if she would grow up to be a famous artist. Those were all cover thoughts for my real questions. Why she wasn’t out to the side of that hot curb yet? Was there a problem? Could they have seen how nervous and unprepared I felt and change their minds?

My eyes flipped nervously to the gate when the corner of them caught sight of a flash of black. I waited. I knew that it was time. She was coming.

“Her limp is worse than I thought,” I said softly, almost reverently.

Yet, I knew that no one was listening. I did not expect them to.

She did hold the hand of a woman. She smiled and talked with her as they walked toward the van parked on the side of the road. She was wearing a little black and white dress. It fluttered in the slight breeze that blew. On her back was strapped the pink backpack I had sent her for Christmas. She had on little black sandals. There was nothing else. She had no bags. No toys- nothing. I had known that she would come with nothing. Yet, I wasn’t prepared for it. Pain stabbed through my heart.

She stood before me now clutching the hand of another woman. I wanted to reach out. I wanted to place her little hand into mine but I did not have the courage. So I simply looked into her eyes. I saw fear. I saw distrust. She flinched when I reached out and touched her arm but only for a second.

Slowly.

Carefully.

She removed her hand from the orphanage worker’s and placed it into mine. It felt warm against my skin. I smiled at her. She returned my smile with a slow steady look. It was there, on a dusty curbside in the outskirts of a foreign land that we- she and I began our journey to a thousand tomorrows.

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Article by Angie King

They Kings adopted their daughter Jacie from China SN Program in 2010. You can read more at www.chinaforasister.blogspot.com




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