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Friday, 08 January 2010

An Unforgettable Conversation

By Judy Watten

Stories like this one, from a conversation with a stranger, linger in my mind for years and years.

Ray and I were waiting to fly back to California from Shanghai in 1995. After we’d been in the departure area for a few minutes, we were aware that we were among about twenty “new” mothers and their Chinese baby girls, all so beautiful.

But who was that over there, a “new” American father with a Chinese boy — not a baby boy either, but a boy of three or four years old. That China would part with a boy was so out of the ordinary that I just had to ask the dad about it.

The new father was clearly of Native American descent and his hair was in a waist-length ponytail. I felt very shy about approaching him. However, he didn’t mind at all and even encouraged me to talk to the boy in Mandarin which made the boy smile as his new dad didn’t know a word of Chinese. But even though they couldn’t talk with each other, it was clear they had bonded and love was flowing back and forth between them.

The new dad told me that during his childhood, he had a recurring dream in which he was traveling above something he could not name but he saw it many many times. When he was in high school, studying world history, he could finally identify the image in his dream. It was the Great Wall of China. He said he knew at that time his fate was tied to China’s but he had no idea how that would occur.

He grew up, got married and had a son. Sadly, his son fell ill and died before he was three years old. He and his wife mourned and longed for another son but had no more children. They decided to adopt a baby from China. They knew it would be a girl but, by then, any baby would fill that empty space in their hearts.

Fast-forward to his arrival at an orphanage in China. Miraculously, he was offered this older boy who had a long story of his own. His parents had been killed in a roadside accident when he was a baby. He was placed in an orphanage and adopted almost immediately by a desperate childless couple who needed a son to carry on their name and take care of them in their old age. In China, a son is the sole Social Security system. Girls marry outside of the family and care for their husband’s aging parents.

A couple of years went by and the boy’s adoptive mother found herself pregnant. This was at a time when the one-child-per-family policy was very strictly administered. She gave her adopted son back to the orphanage as she would have been forced by the government to have an abortion. So there he waited, no longer a cute little baby, but a Chinese-speaking boy, overlooked by most foreign adopting parents.

During the adoption process, my new acquaintance was stunned to learn that the Chinese boy had the same birth date as his own son who had died. Now the dad was here in Shanghai, a new son in his arms, waiting to fly home to New Mexico to his wife and family.

My lasting impression is of two people, incandescent with affection, who were destined to be together.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a lovely heartwarming story. Thank you. Dee

Well told story of real life and how it can be absolutely amazing and full of grace..thanks for sharing it...Mary Follett

What a lovely heartwarming story. It seemed that this father and son were destined to be together. Just beautiful!

One more well done glimpse of how gracefully you've enjoyed and enhanced whatever place you've lived through out our world, Judy. Thank you. Keep them coming.
A Berger

Unbelievable!! A perfect example of good karma in action.

What a wonderful story! The healing power of love and dreams and the courage to follow through to make them real. Thank you for sharing this insightful snapshot of your travels.

What a beautiful story. How prescient the father!

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