Wednesday, November 21, 2012

she calls it, "her world"


"Mama, I love Phebe from China to Ottawa!
Can we go back to China and show Phebe my world?
Because I got to see her world. And I want her to see my world now.
I forget what my world looks like."


Lilah said this to me last night, just after her and Phebe's evening bath. It's not the first time, since we came back from China two months ago, that she's asked me if we can go back to China and see "her world"... I love that she calls her orphanage (in Guangdong, China), her world! It makes me smile and I don't even try to correct her on her terminology, because I feel it's the most precious thing that she considers her orphanage, her world. And rightly so, it was her world, the only world she ever knew, for the first 18 months of her life.

When we were in China, getting our Phebe girl 2 months ago, Lilah knew China was the country she was born in, but she knew she wasn't born in Changsha or Beijing, the two cities we travelled to this time. And we had made it clear (from the start) that this time we wouldn't be visiting her city or orphanage... so she'd know what to anticipate. But we had told her that she would look like a lot of the people that lived in China and that the people there might even think she could talk to them, simply because she looked like them. During our time there, when we mentioned anything about it being 'her country', she would *sigh* and correct us, saying: "This is not my world, this is Bejing/Changsha and I wasn't born here!" In fact, for the first few days we were in China, when we were out in public, Lilah would say to me, "Let's talk quietly, because I don't want them to know I don't speak Chinese!"

The girl is just too smart for her own good!

Anyway, our visit to China and specifically to Phebe's orphanage has brought up a lot of questions in the past few months. And that makes me thankful. I really appreciate the moments when she opens up about her adoption and where she came from. It gives us great opportunities to chat together. She is always asking me to tell her stories about her time in the orphanage, specifically what she did every day. I'm thankful I can share some little stories with her, because we were there, right in her room and the staff (through an interpreter) told us stories about Lilah: Like how she helped the caregivers, how she slept beside Georgia, how she helped pick out the clothes for the babies to wear, how she would pull up a stool beside the nannies and help them. Unfortunately that's all I know.

But what I think she really REALLY wants, is to experience and see her orphanage and the staff there... just like we did for Phebe. She wnats to see her nannies, her crib, her room, she wants to remember it all. She really wants to go back to China and see "her world" - her orphanage. And we've told her we will definitely go back and see her world, all being well... maybe when she's seven or eight.

She's happy that we're going to take her back some day, for a visit. But for now, she's enjoying the pictures I've shared with her and the little bits of her life that I know are fact. Unfortunately it isn't much, but it's all we have right now.


  1. Sweet! We are just starting this process of adoption and my biggest concern like I am sure other parents is how do you navigate these questions and how do you help them to feel like they belong. I pray we do a good job!

  2. Lilah is one smart little cookie.......

  3. She seems so tall on this picture. It's great that she talks about it with you and that you can "retell" her what you know even if it's very little. I'd like to go back to with my oldest because we didn't have the chance to visit her orphanage but we found a precious note for her caregiver so it would be wonderful to have the chance to meet her.

    Have a great week-end (we're almost there!)

    1. Aww, that would be nice for your daughter to go back Isa, to meet the caregiver. Maybe we'll be in China next time together too! And maybe we'll even meet up next time! :) Hope your wee man is doing well.

      And yes, Lilah has grown a lot lately! Her legs always take the growth spurt first and then her torso catches up later!

  4. What a sweet shot of your Lilah. How wonderful that you have these stories to tell Lilah about her beginnings and "her world". Kerry really doesn't ask questions about her time in China..even if I try to open up a conversation about it. And I wish I had more information for her for when she does decide she's interested. Lilah is one smart cookie and you are a fabulous Mama.

    Gin =)

  5. She sure is a thinker... Love her quote, it is very powerful.

  6. This is so interesting, Jill. I'm fascinated to learn how our children view their birth country and their early months or years there.

    We have booked a trip to China for late March / early April. It's a hometown visit! On our adoption trips, we only visited Beijing and the capital city of my kids' respective provinces. This time, we are actually going to stay in their hometowns (complete with a driver and a guide).We will visit Ren's orphanage and also visit with Claire's foster mother. (We are not going to visit Claire's orphanage as she was only there for about five days.) A visit to their home towns would not be complete without also visiting their finding locations.

    Claire and Ren are very excited but I expect more complex emotions from them as the trip approaches and of course during the trip itself. I think it is very important for them to see "their world" again and for us to see it as well. I'll be sure to keep you posted about how it goes!