“Can you imagine that someone just threw her away?” The someone they were referring to was my daughter's birthmother.
Seven years later, these words are still as sharp and wrong as the day they were innocently uttered. Carrying our youngest daughter into church that day I did not turn around to see who said them. It did not matter.
Though I have been known to set a few folks straight about China’s one-child policy and its subsequent boom in international adoption, this time I chose to let it pass. It was Easter Vigil and our daughter’s day – she was being marked by baptism as Christ’s own forever. And she was ours forever.
If the time had been better, the speaker younger, my mood less forgiving I would have gathered my skirts, slipped off my shoes, whipped out my soap box and stomped to the top educating as I climbed:
“I don’t look it at that way. She was not ‘just thrown away’. In a country where families can be fined one year’s salary for an ‘overquota’ child perhaps they had no other choice. Indeed, in a country where a male heir often is his parents' only ‘social security’ - daughters marry and leave but sons are bound by filial piety to stay on and care for the aged and infirm – what is a family to do?
Moreover, in a country where gender-determining-ultrasound and abortion clinics sit side by side on backstreets, though both illegal, the fact that our daughter was carried to term says something. In a country in which infanticide is often seen as a better choice than being prosecuted for abandonment, a life saved, albeit later left to be found, says even more.”
Calmer now, skirts rearranged and soap box tucked politely to the side I will admit - we do not know the circumstances of our youngest daughter’s birth. (Because of China’s system of anonymous abandonment and adoption we do not even know who her birth family is.) And given mounting media reports surrounding child trafficking among orphanages, I am increasingly afraid to know.
But I do know that a woman conceived this child, carried her to term, and has been forever separated from her. That woman is my daughter’s first mother, her birth mother, a woman my daughter has grieved for and still thinks about, and that woman deserves a place of recognition in my heart. For without her I would not be so blessed.