Saturday, July 14, 2007
Are you sure she only spoke Mandarin a month and a half ago?
Every day this little munch-kin surprises me more and more. Just under 2 months ago, her exposure to English was most likely, I'm sure, limited to the random volunteers through China Care she interacted with in the small amounts of time she was in their Children's Homes. So here we're handed this extremely vocal and strong-willed two year old who speaks nothing BUT Chinese, and we, of our own accord, of course, have to care for this same child when we speak little Chinese...or at least relevant Chinese, in my case. I had no reason to ask her who all was in her family. I knew more than she did in that area, I was her family. I had no reason to ask her what her parents did for a living. I knew, because they're my parents too. And the ones I would really like to know about, she knows about as much as I do. Nothing except that they gave us this gift.
Now, it's like she was never not here. I don't see a child who mourns what she has lost. I may do that more for her than she does, did, or will. That some times makes me wonder if she'd already mourned the foster family she really cared for, the one in Beijing, the one she left in about September of 2006. And I'm probably being far too sentimental or thinking too much, and I know I'm vearing way off of what I intended to write this post for, but I have to wonder, if after she was handed to us, and stayed with us for a few days, if it really sunk in in that incredibly bright little mind of her's...that she wasn't going back to her foster mother she loved so much. I'm sure she thought, with the way we doted on her, that she had it made, and quite possibly that was the best she'd had in her life, for all China Care provides.
I have to wonder if, even now, 10 months or so after she left Beijing, she still thinks of her foster mother from Beijing. Or has all the changes over the last few months-leaving that foster home, going to Taiyuan Children's Home, getting a new foster family, leaving them to go to the orphanage to wait for us, then finally being given to us, not to mention the medical procedures she may have had since then- has that taken up the space of what she would have mourned? When she came to us, she was distraught because she thought she was going back to her foster mother from Beijing...I can still remember hearing her when they brought her in, green sucker in hand, crying, asking, as she has asked me so many times, some thing approximately along the lines of "wo de chi de mama chue?". Honestly, I have no idea what it really means, but I've always mentally translated it to something like "where's my mama?" or "what is mama doing?". That translation has always proved sufficient. But the many times I've heard it, and known it, it's been asking about our mama. This poor little two year old girl, so very bright and cunning and clever, was told nothing about what was about to happen to her. Whether she could have grasped that or not, for all my faith in her intelligence, I don't know. Maybe telling her before hand would've been pointless. I don't know.
That's the most saddening, distressing thing about most international adoptions:
You don't know. You can't know. You won't know.
You'll never know if that grin came from Mom or Dad. If those dimples run in the family or if they're something specially her. Where her great intelligence and cleverness came from, and if it was never used to its full potential because Shanxi is mostly miners and farmers. If her parents know she's safe now, and loved.
A lot of those I can't answer, will never be able to answer. But I do believe her mother and her father know that she is loved and cared for forever now. While we were in China, at the Civil Affairs Office in Taiyuan, an old woman approached us as we were leaving after completing the paperwork that made her ours. She was very insistent and forceful, asking questions about Kai Jin: what was going on, where we were taking her, what was happening... It was almost scary actually. No one in China, the entire time we were there, was that insistent. But we didn't really think much of it. Until, on Thursday, 2 days later, when I was sick, Mom went out with Kai Jin alone to the free market so I could get some rest. And she spotted that same old lady. There were very few people in Taiyuan that we could've possibly recognized, and, to be honest, I some what remember what the old woman looked like myself. But the Civil Affairs Office is a good 20 minutes away from our hotel by van, and here was this woman at the bank right next door to our hotel. Some how, I'm almost sure that that woman was some how related to Reese KaiJin. Her grandmother, maybe, I don't know. I can't know. But I remember, when we were flying away from Taiyuan, some how feeling relief that, down there, some where, there was a woman, maybe a man too, who knew their little girl that they couldn't keep, mostly likely because of her birthmark, which is considered bad luck in China, and her glaucoma, had found a new family. One who would keep her, could keep her, could provide for her and would. And that she would be loved and be seen for the beautiful creature I'm sure they saw in her. That she would have everything they could not offer, outside of her own biological family.
I hope to study Chinese and become fluent in it. I hope to take Reese KaiJin back to China one day. Back to Taiyuan. I know so many who find the place grungy, dirty, even the locals I managed to talk to thought of it that way. But some how, in everything that is Taiyuan, there's a simple beauty. Or maybe it's just me. Or maybe it's just that that is Kai Jin's home town. Where her life began. Most likely where any biological family she may have is. And that makes it special.
But on to the original reason for me even beginning this post and getting so very sidetracked. We could quite easily call Reese KaiJin, Reese KaiJin the Parrot. She talks up a storm. We've not even had her for 6 weeks, and she knows a lot of English. She understands most anything said to her. She still understands (and speaks) as much Chinese as she did when we were in China, I believe. There's just English randomly mixed in at times. And English and Chinese words for the same thing get used inter-changeably.
Here's some of the awesome things she can do/say already (I hope to do a post like this at least once a month with updates about new things):
she can sing her ABC's, and almost every letter is clear, especially when you sing with her.
"Kennies", the two year old variant of "kitties"
NOTE: from here on, I'm just going to write the word she's going for that it's obvious what she's saying, because she's 2...pronounciation isn't that great in a lot of 2 year olds.
good morning (at all hours of the day or night)
have a good day
Chen Le (my oldest cat, who isn't really fond of KaiJin)
Rita (my aunt and grandma's cat)
She picks up on a tune in no time flat. She's a little performer. She loves to dance and sing.
no way (she sings to Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend "hey hey you you, hey hey you you! no way no way!)
popo (random phrase, I believe slang for 'police' off of the remix version of Girlfriend)
she knows the tune to 'Once Upon A December' off of Anastasia, because that's what I sing her when I have to sing to her at night
she can count 1-10 in Chinese with the hand signs
double wide (courtesy of my aunt telling her the people in a picture we have of me, Dad, Mom, Grandma Debbie, and former Governor Huckabee. She said "can you say 'former governor who lives in a double wide?" and Kai Jin honored that by saying "Double wide!")
the two year old variant of "squirrel"
And right now, animals are divided into 2 groups: mao (cats) and gou gou's (dogs, either da (large) or xiao (small))
Mao's include: cats, foxes...and that's about it. Things that look cattish.
Gou Gou's include: dogs and everything else. Horses are Da Gou Gou, squirrels are xiao gou gou.
And there's probably more I'm just blanking on.