Monday, February 5, 2007

What If They Forget the Baby?

Friends welcomed their first daughter and third child under the age of 5 into the world late last week. This little beauty is one-quarter Chinese; her paternal grandfather is from China. My friend was raised with very little exposure to his Chinese heritage, beyond being given a Chinese name by the eldest member of his family and having oranges at Chinese New Year. My friend's children are being raised to embrace Chinese culture, and for the second year in a row, he and his wife will join me in doing a Chinese New Year program at preschool. Their oldest son is in Tootle's class.

Tootle is fascinated by babies and can't wait to meet baby Audrey; she loves looking at the Flicker album of the baby's first few days. At bedtime I told Tootle that the baby would come home tomorrow. With a concerned look on her face, Tootle asked, "But what if they forget to take the baby with them?" I don't think Tootle was thinking about her own life (she wasn't upset) but the question has nonetheless haunted me.

While Tootle was about to turn three when she joined our family, she has told us very little about what she remembers about life in China. When she talks about China, she mostly talks about the day that her sister and I arrived and we bought her new pink shoes, and other adventures of our trip. I sometimes feel like I'm trying to put a puzzle together, and I only have a few of the pieces. We have a treasured video of Tootle with her foster mother, and she says that she remembers her, and she and baba were nice, but she likes our house better. When we made dumplings a few weeks ago, Tootle said that she done it before, and I believe her, but when I encouraged her to tell me more, she didn't have anything to add. I have a series of pictures from the orphanage in which Tootle is always stylishly dressed so I assume that her foster family was either well off or the mother was a talented seamstress; I just don't know and I probably never will because the orphanage doesn't provide any information about the foster families. I covet more puzzle pieces; I want to know more about the first three years of my daughter's life. I don't yearn for information about Doodle's early life in China nearly as much because she was only seven months when she became my daughter. What leads a child to even ask if a baby will be left behind?

No comments: