Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Special Gift

A few months after returning home from China, my aunt and uncle came to visit from New Jersey. When they got into town, my aunt called and told me they had a little gift for Vivian.  I was expecting maybe a new outfit or a doll, so I was very surprised when I was given this

This is a cradle that my aunt and my mom played with when they were young.  As you can see, it has suffered some "wear and tear" over the years.  You can't get the rail on one side to pull up all the way and there are dents and scratches on it.

I love it.  For so many reasons.  She called it a "little gift".

 I call it a "treasure".

My mom and my aunt are as close as two sisters can be.  I love watching my two girls play with this cradle and when I watch them I try to imagine my mom and my aunt doing the same.  

I often wonder what Kate and Vivian's relationship will be like as they grow up.  I wonder what kind of sisters they will be.  I can only hope they will be there for each other like the two sisters that played with this many, many years ago.

When my other kids were born, they all ended up with things that had been "passed down" in the family.  Baby clothes, baptism outfits, cribs, furniture, recipes, etc.  They all have things that, at some point, belonged to a grandparent or aunt or uncle.  That is part of being in a family.  You pass things around.  It ties you to each other and to generations past and generations to come.

For Vivian, the day she entered her orphanage she lost all ties to her birth family.  For orphans in China, this is the reality.  It is such a HUGE loss.

That is why it was so special to me that my aunt gave this gift to Vivian. The day my aunt gave this to me, we loaded it into my car and I thanked and hugged her.  And then I got in and drove away and I was suddenly overcome with emotion and I just cried.  I cried at the reminder of all Vivian has lost. But mostly,  I cried because it hit me that my child had just been given a family heirloom, so to speak.  A symbol of the fact that she is a part of our family now, our entire family.  She has a place to belong.

I by no means see myself, or my family as "better" than her birth family.  That is not what I am saying.  I do, however, think our family is a "better" option than life in a orphanage.  

The girls, at this age, don't really get the significance of this gift.  To them, the cradle is just another toy they play with for a little while and then move on.

But one day I think they will appreciate its' significance.

The other really cool thing about this cradle is that it carries reminders of my grandpa on it.  Tape and wire that he fastened on with his own hands years ago still remain.  Marks and reminders of him.

Signs of love, in my opinion.  I can relate to the joy it must have brought him to watch his daughters playing together with this.  

I wish my grandpa could have known my children.  I wish they could have known him.  I have to laugh when I think about what his reaction would have been to the news that he was getting a Chinese great granddaughter.  He wasn't exactly the most politically correct person, if you know what I mean, so I can only imagine some of the comments he may have had!

I don't know what he would've thought at first, but I do know that if he had been able to meet Vivian, he would have adored her (and all of his great grandchildren).  

Vivian and her great grandfather, they actually have some things in common. They both had to leave their birth country at a young age to find their life in America.  

Being the only Chinese-American in our family (at this point), I am sure there will be times Vivian will feel alone with that. But I hope in those times she can remember that she is not the first person in our family history that was not born in America.  Rob and I's roots trace back to several different countries.  We are here today because of distant relatives who were immigrants to this country.

I think she could learn a good lesson from my grandpa.  My grandpa came to America from Ireland when he was 11 years old.  Although he physically left Ireland behind, it never left his heart.  He was so proud to be an Irishman.  He was able to hold on to that part of who he was while also feeling so proud and grateful to be an American.  

I want Vivian to be proud to be an American citizen.  But, I also want her to be proud of being Chinese.  She comes from an amazing culture full of amazing people and I so hope she has many chances in her life to go back.  I hope she always holds it in her heart.  

The other thing they have in common, my grandpa and my daughter:  America is a better place with them in it. It is a better place because of Vivian and my grandpa and so many others who have journeyed from far away to live in the land of the free.  

Thanks Aunt Ro, for giving Vivian a special tie to our family.  It means so much to me.

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”  
― Franklin D. Roosevelt


  1. great post! Vivian is looking so grown up

  2. What a thoughtful gift for Vivian. Your heartfelt post was very special, too. I always love reading your blog.
    I saw Vivian's beautiful face on the announcement of a new web page that will highlight special needs adoption.
    I think it was from LWB.

  3. Wonderful family story and yes, our families are a much better choice than an orphanage. Our little ones will assuredly struggle with identity and roots, but look at the love and support they will have! Your post was very meaningful for us too, so thank you.

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

  4. Adorable blog and adorable pictures. We adopted first little boy from China and he spent his first year in an orphanage. We're working adopting a second from China. Thanks for sharing!

  5. love the story what a precious gift

  6. Recently, we had Avery's blessing gown cleaned at the dry cleaners. When it came back it was ruined. He had burnt the fabric and their was a hole in it. He gave me the money back, but it did not make up for the loss. I told the cleaner that the dress was precious as it was made from my wedding gown. Thankfully, I have enough fabric that my mom can replace the section that is ruined, but I cried a few good tears that night as I wasn't so much sad over the dress, but what it meant for Avery. Something that was passes down to her! She has nothing that she can say, "that belong to my mom or grandmother." I totally get the crib.
    I think my crib as a baby had that decal of the bear on it. Sweat memories.