This letter was first published in the agency’s newsletter in 2000. During all these years many parents suggested that I say something on our website to specify the agency’s mission and philosophy. I thought long and hard but still feel I have said it all in this letter. I hope all families who have children from China and who will have children from China also learn from this letter that we are all very thankful to you too! Thank you for your great parenting! Thank you for your enthusiasm and involvement after adoption! ~Lillian, Director of China Adoption with Love, Inc.
When Chris Gigure, mother of Lena, told the audience at our Chinese New Year Party:" Thank you, our children!" I was in tears.
A few weeks later, Maya’s mother Melissa Ludtke, the newsletter’s editor, met with me to learn more about the agency’s philosophy. Ours was a soul searching conversation and from it merged the name we are giving this newsletter – Meant to Be Together. In Chinese, one character in Buddhism concept captures this meaning, just as the four-word phase in English captured all that Melissa and I talked about that day.
Our children, you are here with your families not because there are adoption agencies and not because there is a mission to help you. You are here because you and your families are meant to be together. The Chinese call it YUAN. There is a quotation to explain this concept: Chinese wisdom tells that certain people are destined to come together in this lifetime. When people are so destined, nothing, no geography, no age, and no circumstances – will change that destiny.
I would like to add to this concept a little bit of American Flavor. Your parents wanted you so badly that nothing – no geography, no age, and no circumstance – could stop them from finding you and making you part of their families. Some parents did FBI fingerprints four times! Some parents called and cried to us many times! One parent traveled the day her father passed away. One parent traveled with her leg still in a brace.
I looked around my office at the poster-sized photographs on the walls and see your beautiful faces shining and your parents’ beaming and adoring smiles. Behind these smiles, each family has a beautiful adoption story. I could look at you for hours with all details of your families’ stories coming back in my memory like ocean waves. My heart fills with love.
Our children, you are very cherished by many people since your birth. I hear many stories about the birth parents, of how they hide nearby to make sure somebody picked you up. One of the many notes left on you reads: "I feel sorry and ashamed that I could not afford to support her. Please take care of her." In albums in our office, there are many pictures showing you as you struggled to get back into the comforting arms of your nannies or foster mothers who are in tears as they pulled away from you.
Our children, you have brought so much joy and happiness into our lives. I have traveled with many parents to China. During your difficult transition, while you are so weak, scared and emotional, you responded to your parents kisses with smiles. With your parents’ help, you started to walk almost right away. I saw you give your hand to your new parents with unconditional trust! As adults, so many of us have lost our sense of what was truly important in our lives. In being your parents, we begin again to appreciate simple and small moments. We love every expression on your face: the wonder, curiosity, joking, imitating. Many parents tell me that with you in the family, "Life has never been better!"
Our children, you help your parents discover themselves: Their strong capability for unconditional love, their longing for the intimacy of bonding, their dedication to the all-consuming job of parenting. I am often panicked when I watch first time parents, some of them also lifetime professionals, change your diapers for the first time with your soft little body in their hands. I am amused to listen to their discussion about how you insisted on sleeping with Mama and how you bargain for ice cream.
We have many single adoptive mothers. They manage their work and your care with all the efforts of wonderful parents. One mother told me about the first day she took you to your day care: "Julia waved good-bye to me. I went to my car crying. I love her so much."
Some of you come with delays or medical conditions. Your parents always brag about what amazing fighters you are. Any time I talk to them I hear them using all these medical terms that they have learned so they can understand your challenges. Your parents become experts on many things: ear infections and hearing loss, language delays and developmental landmarks.
Life is about love. Life is about meaningful relationships. Being adopted is special and beautiful. When you grow up, the high tech world you are living in will bring you many new amazing things. However, our needs as humans will remain very basic: we need the unconditional love and support that our families would provide us. This value and tradition will be carried on through you to future generations.
Many countries now are coming together to support international adoption. The 1993 Hague Convention on International Adoption stated that family is the best setting for children to grow up. In 1992 I began to visit the orphanages in China. Every time I went there I found it so hard to leave. So I became involved in reforming the China 1992 adoption several years later. I truly believe these children should be with families, Chinese or American.
Melissa and I also talked about the sense of "Rescue" in public. Yes, after the negative media exposure of the Chinese orphanages in mid-1990s, many people developed a strong sense that adoption is a rescue mission. Combined with the pride in the freedom and opportunities here, many people also believe that the children will be better off in this country. I have a mixed feeling about this. Adoption has been a human phenomenon for thousands of years in all societies. Children lose their families to war, to famines, to earthquakes, and to natural disasters. They also lose their families because of social changes and policies. On the other hand, families look for children to love. Adoption has developed with the level of civilization: in family, in community, in country. International and inter-racial adoption becomes possible because people from all countries become more understanding and more accepting to each other. .
In my work at China Adoption With Love, I do not feel I am on a mission. We all work to help make possible what is meant to be.
To be honest, adoption work is not easy. Many times we feel as though we are in labor every day. At the same time, we are all very happy for what is so beautiful and holy is supposed to be difficult. For us, it is a labor of love. All of us at China Adoption With Love feel very humbled and honored by the trust our parents have in us and by the opportunity to be involved this way in your lives.
We are all meant to be together.
Thank you, our children.
Lillian with Mary, Katie, Ashley, Jillian and Lily at a party in Pennsylvania in 2006