It has been a year since we went to China. And what a year it has been. I never did get a chance to update posts or reflect on the trip in this forum as life events took over.
A year later, as I look back on the trip, I’m so thankful that we took it. And I’m also very grateful that I had the opportunity to create this blog. Several days after we got home, my father died suddenly. He was on his way home from the American Southwest and died on the road. This was a terrible loss. It was so heartbreaking not to have a chance to say goodbye nor tell him about the trip which he was very excited for us to take. However, since we were going so far away to China, we ended up saying a big goodbye, good trip, and I love you prior to leaving. Also, I found out that he checked the blog when possible during his trip so he did actually get to hear about it. These facts were comforting during such grief.
The other reason that I have not updated this blog is that about 8 months after the trip, we had an addition to our family. I gave birth to a wonderfully happy and healthy baby girl. Since I found out the day before we left that I was expecting, I was able to be very careful about eating and drinking in China.
So this trip marks a turning point in my life for those reasons, but I also hoped to reflect on what it contributed to Xinya’s life story. It was incredibly moving and profound. I can’t imagine not having taken the trip. It answered some questions and gave a context to the mysteries of her story.
I believe she was too young to deal with the overwhelming emotions and events, and to be able to make use of the information. Also, likely too young to have a complete recollection of it later in life. However, China changes so much, as do people, that we could not have had such a rich experience if we had waited much longer. For example, Xinya spent the first eight months of her life in foster care. Although we were lucky enough to meet her foster father, her foster mother had died a year earlier. The house where she stayed during that time, had been recently left by her foster father for a more modern house in the tiny village. However, his furniture and effects were still there for us to see. His plan is to soon move into the city with his son and leave both houses behind. The old ladies in the foster village remembered Xinya and were very happy to see her. (Although Xinya wasn’t at all thrilled that they expected her to understand them and wouldn’t take their hands off her!) When we stopped in the village where Xinya was found on the steps of the Social Welfare Institute, and old lady peered into the van to see Xinya and comment on her beauty. Our guide said that it was fortunate that she came. For she will know everyone and recall events and be able to tell Xinya’s biological parents that she is fine. Things and people would have changed if we waited another 5 or 6 years when she actually could have taken full advantage of them.
Xinya cultivated a love for China on this trip. She was very overwhelmed by the visit to her hometown and does not want to return there but she is anxious to go back to China. We did not go to Beijing because of the weather there in March (I did not want to back a winter coat!) and she would like to go see the Great Wall and Temple of Heaven. So we will go back soon. My desire to have Xinya think of China as a fun place which is accessible was fulfilled. To walk around, take the subway, eat the food and talk to people made China real to her in a way that internet, books and tv cannot. Before this trip, she had no desire to go, now she is looking forward to it. I am very happy that she now shares my love for China.
As we all adjust to life with the addition and loss of loved ones, we reflect often on this trip. The experience of China and friendship of our companions has added a rich and profound thread to our family’s tapestry. So many thanks to Ma Rui at Journey Home Tours for help with internal travel and for your patience in some of our unconventional choices. Also to my friend Lianne for updating the blog when we were prohibited by China’s internet limitations. And to our adventurous and fun travel companions.