Tuesday, January 26, 2010

State of the Union

A dear friend from our dental school days adopted a little girl from China this past summer, and I just had the chance to read their adoption story. It's fascinating and heartbreaking with a happy ending, and I had to post a small part of it here to remind myself how incredibly lucky I am to be a woman and a mother raising daughters in this country.

One day in mainland China, I had an opportunity to sit down with a young Mother who happened to be fluent in English. Her husband was with us and spoke to Dan while I spoke with her. She began asking me what it was like to be a Mother in America. I explained to her that when unless the woman is young and unprepared or unsupported, a pregnancy is joyful. She looked at me in disbelief when I told her that we have baby showers to celebrate a pregnancy and that gifts are often given to new parents and new babies. She asked many questions, mostly because she couldn’t believe that we see birth as a celebration instead of a stressor. Then she began to talk.

The things that this young Mother told me were shocking. I have read many books about China, and have been reading countless internet articles and blogs for the 42 months we’ve been waiting for Nina. Perhaps I should not have been shocked at what I heard, yet I was. This Mother told me about all of the women who run away and hide in the country when they become pregnant, fearing that the government will force an abortion if she is found. She told me of a Mother who was hours away from giving birth to her second child, only to have the government literally kidnap her (with her husband driving behind the ambulance) and forcing her to have an abortion. She heard the baby cry once and then it was killed. She said that babies will be killed up until the moment of their birth; they are not considered alive until they leave the Mother’s body, but even full-term babies who are “aborted” will not be kept alive. The woman’s own brother is hiding one of his girls from the government by not registering her. They live in the mountains so that they do not have to give her up and the wife’s family puts constant pressure on them to abandon her. My new friend spoke for an hour about tragedies such as this.

This Mother has one son. She says that the government comes into the shop where she works to see if she is pregnant. They shake their finger and warn her not to become pregnant or they must prove that they can pay a huge fine to the government. If she becomes pregnant and they do not have the money, she will have to run away and hide, and they will lose everything.

In social work school we talked about experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder through our clients. I felt traumatized after speaking with this woman. I couldn’t help but cry when we left our meeting place and I couldn’t stop looking at Nina and thanking God that I had her - and that I was taking her home.

I am well aware that it is a problem of Chinese history and tradition. Communism requires that families pass their land to their sons and give their daughters to the family she marries into. Naturally, this poses a huge problem for a Chinese family. They love all of their children, but they can only keep their boys if they want to hand their possessions down. Boys become men and men provide for three generations of families when they are grown. This poses yet another significant hurdle.

Dan and I have a beautiful product of this problem sleeping upstairs in our home. How we are grateful that we found her and that she has completed our family. I am happy that she will grow up in America and that she will be free to have, or not have, children. I am so grateful for the way women and girls are appreciated in the United States. I am also grateful to China for giving me my beautiful daughter. I am hopeful they can find solutions to some of these issues so that so many Chinese families and children do not need to suffer.

Thank you for listening.


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