What I remember: Well, at this point, I remember most of it, since there are less than four months of the Q in our lives to recall.
Q was born in the city of Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, China. According to local police records, she was found at the age of 3 days, on the steps of a local hospital in the early hours of the morning, wrapped in a small pink quilt. She was born with a cleft lip and palate, which is most likely the reason for her abandonment, since many people in China are unable to sustain the medical costs of the various surgeries and speech therapies required to repair a cleft. She is also, of course, a girl, which could also have been the reason for her abandonment. Thanks to the one-child policy enforced in many Chinese provinces, many people would prefer to have a boy than a girl as their only child, since in China the boys are the ones who support their families into their old age.
Whatever the reason for her abandonment, we feel profoundly fortunate to have the opportunity to raise this amazing child.
I remember that she was placed in my arms, sound asleep, flushed and sweaty after a five-hour journey in the summer heat from her orphanage to the adoption office in Nanjing, where we met her for the first time.
I remember her resilience, her fortitude and her cheerful attitude during those first hectic days. I remember how many layers of history and culture we were privy to during our stay in China, how fortunate we felt for the opportunity, and how very, very ill we both were at certain points during the trip. I remember our first weeks home, sick as a dog and weak as a puppy with the parasites I picked up overseas, trying to come to terms with new motherhood, and this tiny, forceful individual with whom we had been entrusted.
And, of course, I remember the weeks since we have been together as a family. Quite possibly the most amazing weeks of my life. The astonishing fact of being parents to this unique, comical, brilliant, fiercely independent miniature human being. I remember her wacky sense of humor, evident since the start...her Marx Brothers eyebrow waggles, her giggles and face-squinches and belly laughs. She is so much more than we ever anticipated when we first dreamed of becoming parents. These days, we never tire of saying, "Can you believe....?"
p.s. - Do you not love the craquelure on the second Polaroid? She did that herself, with her own tiny fingers. At first, she was intrigued by the Polaroid, when I pulled it out of its dusty nook. But after she really studied it, noticed the photo paper emerging creakily from the slot after the flash went off, saw the image developing gradually from the chemical mist as she held the paper, she decided that Polaroids are an instrument of the devil - highly unnatural, and not to be trusted! Now, she runs to me and sobs against my chest every time the black machine noisily disgorges another piece of preternatural paper. And then she grabs the picture from me and crumples it. Sigh. On the bright side, she is now a part of my creative process.