This November, J and I are embarking on a new journey. My BFF moved to China in the Fall of 2008 and it is expected that she will be coming home (or, at least, moving away from China) at the end of the current school year. Furthermore, it is rumoured that the Orphanage Director where J spent her first 6 months (followed by 7 months in foster care) will be retiring at the end of this year. This combined with a stellar opportunity from a private benefactor made it such that on November 7th, J and I leave on a 12 day expedition to her homeland.
Let's be clear on this... I have dreamed of going back to China since the day we landed in Canada. I am absolutely, positively, unabashedly in love with China and all (well, most!) things Chinese... I used to joke that if I had been to China as often as I'd planned to go, I'd be very well traveled by now. So we are embarking on this trip, which will take us from home to Chicago, to Narita/Tokyo for a 20 hour stopover, to Guangzhou, to Guigang, and back.
When I sit and think of the fact that in less than a month and a half, I'll be in China once again, my heart flutters and I feel warm inside. I get very emotional and I feel like it's a dream. My only fear is that when I'm there I will feel anxiety instead of joy. This scares me a bit but those feelings are quickly replaced by anticipation and a peacefulness that reminds me that I will soon be in a place that is so important to me.
A work colleague asked me today why I love China so much. My best answer was twofold. Firstly, China is a significant part of who my daughter is. She may not remember China, but it is where she was born. It is where the people to whom she was born lived at the time of her conception and birth, and where they may very well still reside. It is the country and culture which has allowed us to become a family. It is where my daughter got her beautiful skin, small frame, dark brown hair and gorgeous almond shaped eyes.
The second reason, which is more of a by-product of the first than an intentional act, is that if I love China, it is my (perhaps foolishly naïve) hope that my daughter will maintain an interest in it as long as possible. If her interest resulting from her quest for knowledge about her birth culture is not sufficient to keep her interested, I hope that the fact that it is mommy's interest will prolong it, much like a parent's interest in hockey or music motivates their children in the development of their interests. I don't know whether this will happen, and in fairness, we'll never know. I have no doubt that someday, J will, at least temporarily, cease to be interested in her Chinese history and culture. At that time, it will be impossible for us to tell what led to her (hopefully) prolonged interest: her personal quest for knowledge about who she is and where she comes from, or her mimicking of her mom's interest and passion for a country that her Mom loves so much. But one thing is for sure, J will always know that her Mom is interested in facilitating her relationship with her birth culture.
I hope to include as many details about our adventure here. I hope you’ll follow along with us!