Pete adopted a baby boy. Congratulations Pete. I've never met Mrs. Shmula, but congratulations there too.
Adoption is curious. My daughter Madison and I met when she was five. I very clearly remember the first time I saw her. She's thirteen now. Although she's not really adopted, (her other family is in Salt Lake), there is really no difference. :... when you hold your precious jewel for the first time, no one cares if none of those chromosomes came from you."
When I saw the image Pete posted of his new son I immediately thought of my niece Gigi. The following is from my brother in laws blog, Meet Gigi, the story of a little girl from China who now lives in San Francisco and is very loved. And even though I know the players, It's one of the sweetest and most touching things I've ever read.
This is a post drafted long ago, and worked over a few times, in an effort to get the tone and details right. Here's our best effort with the delicate subject.
So, why was Gigi abandoned? It's a complicated mix of cultural and political factors that caused Gigi's birth family to "abandon" or, as we've taken to saying, "anonymously place" her with authorities. Gigi was likely given up by parents who loved her, who wanted a child throughout the pregnancy, but who desired--or were pressured to want--a boy. As in other patriarchal cultures, in Chinese tradition boys are favored over girls. In addition to contributing to a family’s livelihood during their parents' working years, particularly for the farming families that fill China's inland, they also play the role of caring for their parents when retired.
Whatever the cause, many Chinese girls end up unwanted--aborted (when a physician can be bribed into illegally disclosing the results of an ultrasound), abandoned, or worse. How many? If you view the Lost Girls documentary referenced below, you’ll learn about the troubling trends in Chinese demographics. The boy-to-girl gap is already noticeable in a typical elementary school classroom, where boys are in a clear majority. Demographers predict it may reach as many as 100 million unmarriageable men by 2040.
Which brings us back to Gigi: Where does she fit in this complex socio-political situation? What led to her parents’ decision? Here’s what we know: She came from a rural part of southern China and is therefore likely to be among the girls displaced for economic reasons. That she is apparently healthy and had good nutrition readings upon arrival at the orphanage indicates that she was cared for prenatally.
But here is the clincher: Days after being united with Gigi, we received a copy of the solitary trace she will ever have of her birth parents. When found, Gigi had this note attached, indicating her birth day, March 26, 2004, but also on the Chinese lunar calendar, February 6, 2004.
While this is not uncommon with such children anonymously placed with authorities, it indicates that Gigi’s birth parents or mother wanted these two key elements of her otherwise blank identity to be known. In other words, she was loved. And it was hoped by people who surely carry a sense of loss and regret that she would benefit from the life they chose not to provide--or couldn't. Abandoned? No. Anonymously placed.
Happily for the girls yet unborn in China, and those at risk of suffering from the side effects of the one-child policy, things are changing. The government has awoken to the crisis of the gender gap and, among other measures, has launched a public education campaign to shift the perception of girls in Chinese society. Headlong into industrialization, social change in the developing part of China is also well underway, with the attendant realignment of lifestyles, gender roles, and family sizes. So, as much as we will cherish Gigi, we can hope that fewer of China’s girls like her will have to be taken so far from their birthplace to join a loving family to which they're entitled.
You can read the rest of Gigi's story here.