Monday, February 4th, marked the two-year anniversary of Julia’s homecoming. I hadn’t plan any sort of celebration, only to get through my busy day, my piles of writing work, return home and make our dinner. Halfway through the turkey stew with mashed potatoes (served on Julia’s lepoard shaped plate) she started to chortle in an interesting way, taking me through her big life events of the last few days, “ I saw Aunt Carla,” and “ And I fall down.”
I glanced at her over my bowl of rigatoni. ” Yes, Aunt Carla came to stay with you while mommy went to a party Sunday night. And yes, on Friday, the wind knocked you down, such a mean wind. But you needed to be in your stroller, like Angie asked you…”
When she repeated the phrases, I decided to record this moment for posterity.
I retrieved my flip cam from my desk and clicked it on. And out came a spontaneous anniversary party, for the two.
Video images of Julia’s first wobbly steps across our red, blue and emerald patterned Turkish carpet, more shaky moves across the sand colored wall-to-wall variety found in Redford, Michigan.
“Grandma! Grandma! ”Julia said, her eyes focused on the tiny screen, she the audience and the star of her show in Grandma’s home. And in her life.
I studied her miniature hand set upon mine, just over my right thumb, her long fingers curved around my knuckle, less an act of intimacy, more to the point, to ensure mommy did not move the video camera away from her view. That’s how my right lobe saw the moment; my left witnessed our rich connection, how we walked together, hand in metaphorical hand, and continued to do so, into new lands.
I’ve heard it asked at weddings of a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man, entering into formal union, do you “take this person, in sickness and in health…until death do you part?”
So far, I’ve never had the privilege of saying those words to a man, before my family and friends, before God.
A few week back The New York Times reported U.S. adoptions had “plunged to its lowest level in more than a decade” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/world/us-adoptions-from-abroad-decline-sharply.html? _r=0
The reasons are varied, from orphans used as political pawns, to countries tightening rules, an act that delayed my adoption by nearly two months, four days before my brother and I were set to travel to bring Julia home. Now, it seems the delays are permanent.
“At some point the countries become ashamed that they can’t take care of their own,” my local adoption social worker told me a few years back. Or, regretfully, maybe the reason is less shamed filled. “Why should these orphan children have a chance our own kids don’t have?” another adoptive mom told me an Ethiopian representative had declared to her.
Watching Julia, watching our lives together brighten, shape, and come into sharper focus, I thought of the lost boys, the forgotten girls, gifts allowed to fall to the ground, like loose oranges, once vibrant and juicy,now fading with each new day. Steve Jobs, Edward Albee, Andrew Jackson. Alexander Hamilton. George Washington Carver, Herbert Hoover, Oracles’ Larry Ellison, Bach, Tolstoy, Byron, and Dave Thomas, the creator of the fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s—were all orphaned children. Who is left in orphanages surrounded by dull walls and row after row of metal cribs who could change the world?