Monday, August 10, 2009

Nine Months

Nine months ago today, we picked up a scared little girl on a street corner in Xi'An, China. I've written about this a couple times before, but what I have not written about so far was what happened immediately after we received Abigail at the Civil Affairs Office in Xi'An. It was nothing big or momentous, but it was an indication of how this whole adoption process goes.

In a nutshell, the way ahead is dark, and you never know what is going to happen next.

After we left the Civil Affairs Office, we needed to have a picture taken for the adoption certificate. Our guide, Jane, finally coaxed a very reluctant Abigail to hold my hand, so with Abigail walking very stiffly and sullenly beside me, we set off towards our hotel.

It was past dusk by this time, and the place where the picture was to be taken was on the way back to the hotel, according to Jane. I have no idea if this was actually true, because of all the twists and turns we took during the journey.

Jane led us down a few very dark and very narrow streets. Many times we had to walk on the street itself because the sidewalk was still crowded with vendors packing up their wares, parked cars, and other things we couldn't identify. When the occasional car went by, we almost had to flatten ourselves against a building to make room.

The gloom, the dark buildings towering over the narrow streets, the occasional brackish water standing in the low spots, and our unknown destination all combined to give me the feeling that I was playing a part in some B-rate gumshoe detective movie, only I had no idea of the plot or the outcome.

That feeling was reinforced by our destination, a nondescript door in a building that opened to a dimly lit stairway. The stairs were only wide enough for two abreast, and Abigail balked that Jane was not able to walk beside her up the stairs. We finally convinced her to hold my hand up the stairs, and we arrived in a tiny room that really didn't look like a photography studio.

The only thing missing from my detective picture was the skinny guy with his feet up on the big wooden desk smoking a cigar, and the ceiling fan spinning slowly overhead. Instead, there was an older Chinese man, who ushered us through the cluttered room into the next room, equally tiny and cluttered. This room had a camera, a few chairs, and a big white box, and we were arranged on the box and our picture was taken.

It was a bit of a test of wills to get everyone arranged to actually take the picture. Abigail, who was quite scared and very tired, just wanted to cling to Jane, but Jane was not supposed to be in the picture. Abigail did manage some semblance of a smile and we even managed some semblance of a smile despite the stress of the day, and we were heading back down the stairs in about ten minutes. Back in our hotel, the next test of wills was getting Abigail to brush her teeth.

The whole thing seems a bit surreal now, like some half-remembered dream.

In the nine months since then we've been asked many times how it's going. The easy answer is "fine". Abigail is a generally happy ten-year-old, usually eager to help out. She loves her friends, loves her family, and is particularly interested in how the family all fits together. We've had several family get-togethers since she has been home and she wants to know just how each person is related. She will ask about each person multiple times, which can get a little tiring when the get-together consists of over 60 people. Family is important to her, so it was fitting that she was able to be in the extended family picture from our family reunion in May.

She sleeps well, eats well; her English is coming amazingly well, and she likes to learn. Most of the time, she will have a smile on her face, and she loves to tease.

The undercurrents are a little harder to describe. I don't wish to publish lots of detail on the Internet, but suffice it to say that family relationships have been and continue to be buffeted strongly by these undercurrents. In engineering terms, if a disturbance is introduced into a stable system, the system will oscillate for a while before becoming stable again. We're very much in the oscillation stage. We're working towards stability again, but we're not there yet. We can only take things one day at a time, and plant our feet firmly on the Solid Rock, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

By casting our cares on his mercy each day, we will soldier on, knowing that He will carry us through. We look forward to what He will do in the next three months and beyond...

1 comment:

Chris and Celeste said...

cute picture. Thanks for the info.