Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Have My Grandmother's Knees

...and my mother's long, skinny fingers.

And, heaven help me, my dad's sense of humor.

My face looks a little bit like my mom's, and a lot like my sister's. And a whole lot like Harper's.

I have a scar on my right eye from a pair of forceps and an obstetrician posed with the task of delivering a 9 pound baby from my 115 pound mother.

I was almost named Amy.

I took Emerson to the Social Security office today to apply for her card. As I was going through her paperwork from China, I stumbled on a notarized group of papers that we were given that I honestly had not looked at before this morning. It was a certificate of abandonment. It formally states that Emerson was found on June 9, 2007, on the "side board" of one of the police stations in Shenzhen City, China.

She was four days old.

Her biological mother spent four days with her, then made the heartbreaking decision to abandon her. We will never know for sure "why". Was she scared because of Emerson's cleft lip and palate? Was she pressured by her extended family to give her up? Did she think her daughter would receive better medical care if she was in the care of the government? Did her baby have a name? Did she leave her by the police station and then stand off and watch to make sure that someone found her baby? Did she ever imagine that Emerson would be adopted by an American family, and go home to Texas to live with her parents and three siblings?

It hit me as I stared at this piece of paper that I only have scraps of information about the first 40 months of Emerson's life.

The name of the orphanage.

A handful of pictures.

A couple of hospital reports.

I have no idea, and will never know, who her biological parents were. Based on where she was abandoned, I can make a guess as to what part of town her mother was from, but that's as close as we will ever get.

Who did Emerson get her big eyes from? Her thick hair? Her knock-knees? Her double-jointedness? Her sweet round cheeks?

I hate that I don't know. I hate that someday my little girl will have a thousand questions that I won't be able to answer. I hate that she will forever wonder. I hate not knowing, as a parent, how much information to give her and when. I hate knowing that we missed our opportunity, while in China, to visit that police station. To take a picture of it for when she is older. I hate knowing only tidbits of my daughter's first three years. I hate knowing that there are millions of orphans who will never know answers. I hate the dichotomy of being angry that she was abandoned, yet also knowing that these decisions eventually brought Emerson home to us.

Because I love this girl.

Her facial expressions.

And her spunky attitude.

The way she shovels rice and beans into her mouth at Mexican restaurants as if she has never had a delicacy quite so delicious.

And her precious little knock-knees.


Megan said...

I love your blog Mandy. That post seriously made me cry. She is lucky to have you as you are lucky to have her!

Amber Smith said...

I have been following your blog for weeks wondering if I should comment, or if you would even remember me :) Today made it clear! This post hit home for us. I read an article in Tulsa Kids, just this morning, regarding "Life, Adopted". We have been fostering since March 2009 and closer than ever to adopting forever children. It pains me to think that they might feel un-whole in any way or have questions I can't answer. This article had a sour, depressing tone but her webpage is supposed to have adoption support information. alisonlarkin.com

What you have done for Emerson is beyond amazing. It is life changing. What a wonderful family she has become a part of. We love keeping up with your hilarious life via blog. Thanks for sharing!

Adrienne said...

Great post, Mandy. So much to think about...such a complex thing. Love you guys-- and SO GLAD Emerson is part of God's plan for our family!!

Ang Stoltzfus said...

o girl!
we are on this journey together you & i....i have been feeling EXACTLY the same!!
the sad-empty-ness & void of details of the first parts of their lives, just pops up at random times...
like today when addalie was looking thru photo albums of last year (pre-jyla) & for some unexplained reason jyla was on the floor kicking & screaming....??????
or last week when addalie had a MILLION questions about "when i was a baby in your belly"...& i had to think of my sweet jyla...& how many unanswered questions she will have....
i think it's ok to grieve for the lost parts of their history...because someday they will have to grieve too & us as parents will hopefully be able to walk thru it with them.
i am comforted knowing that there is a distinct parrallel to our adopting these precious "china dolls" & Christ & His adoption of us!!!
That & the fact that HE called both of us & our families to do this...& HE will provide. He will provide peace & comfort to our girls & HE will provide us with wisdom exactly when we need it.
i love you girl.
thanks for posting this...
i am still waiting for the "un-interuppted-perfect time" to email you back. it will probably never come...so i should probably just end this comment (more like book) & plan on emailing you in the next few days! =)