Monday, May 11, 2009


A year ago on April 15th I received & accepted the referral for my second daughter who was living in an orphanage in Chengdu, China. A few weeks later, on May 12th, the devastating earthquake hit Sichuan Province and horror at the loss of life and anxiety for my two year old daughter whom I had not yet met consumed me. It was three days later that I received news via a kind stranger in Beijing who personally called the orphanage for me at her own expense, that my new daughter and all others at the orphanage were safe but living in tents outside the buildings worried about frightening aftershocks.

In September of 2008, four short months after the earthquake, I and my eldest daughter along with my best friend traveled to Chengdu to finally meet & I adopt my second daughter from China. Though we saw no obvious evidence of the earthquake in the city, it was not far from my mind as I know it will live always in the minds and hearts of all of China. There were bill boards with words of thanks for the relief efforts and signs of remembrance, not just in Chengdu, but in the other areas of China to which we traveled as well. I am so grateful that my daughter, the other children and kind caregivers remained safe and strong through all the months that they spent in tents. But my heart still breaks for those families that lost their children, parents, siblings and friends. Due to the one child policy in force since the 1980s, probably in most cases families had lost their only child. I look at the faces of my children, who are mine in part due to this very same policy, and bless their birth parents and grieve with those who lost the most precious of gifts.

While in Chengdu I wished desperately to know how the people were recovering, but didn’t want to cause more grief by asking. Our guides seemed surprised that we were so well informed about the disaster and that we cared so much. I explained how well it had been covered in our media and about NPR having had reporters already in Chengdu during the quake and their amazing reporting efforts. Still they seemed surprised at our knowledge.

I remain so very impressed with the people of China; their strength at pulling together to help each other and their resilience. Their persistence in trying to find out why so many school buildings collapsed causing the death of 10,000 children. Their willingness to both help each other recover and accept help from the outside.

Those who have survived this tragedy will hopefully someday recover, if not fully, at least enough to again find joy in life. My own little one, having endured the initial quake as well as weeks of strong after shocks remains frightened of loud rumbling noises, but fortunately, that seems to be the only lasting anxiety for her. But back in her place of birth there remain thousands of children left injured, physically and emotional, I encourage you to visit for more information on how they are helping the children work through the grief & fear brought on by this tragedy.

With the anniversary of the earthquake comes media coverage, I was watching a documentary on Sunday night about the children killed while they were in their classrooms at school and the efforts their parents made to bring to justice those responsible for the inadequate construction of the school buildings. As the tears ran down my face my eldest who is eight came into the room and seeing me crying asked why. I tried to explain to her that I felt so sorry for the parents of the hurt children because I could imagine the pain that they felt, I could imagine it because I had children too and would feel such pain if anything were to happen to them. “But Mama, we’re fine, we’re okay, don’t cry.” “I know baby, this is also why I am crying, because I am grateful that you are okay.” I reached to take the tissue that she had just pulled from the box but she insisted on carefully wiping away my tears herself. How very scary loving someone this much is. The Dali Lama has said that ‘great love involves great risk.’ And I think that this statement is especially true when it is applied to one’s children; to love a child is to risk one’s own life, heart and soul, but also to be so enriched that the risk seems as nothing to the gain. With the recent addition of my second child I have doubled that risk, but I’ll take it willingly and gratefully every moment of our lives.

©KKW 2009


Wilma said...

I love your blog! In fact, it is my favorite! I wish we could meet in person! My daughter, age 5, from China, and I live in the mountains of south-central PA...lots of history. We love guests and would love to have you and the girls!

Sherry Mc said...

Haven't been on line recently and missed this post. The earthquake is a horror I will never forget. I lived by the tv and my computer watching for miracles and mourning the losses. To this day I pray for those lost and those who remained. We recently lost a granddaughter at 32 days and that pain is a reminded of our I felt then. I was so totally impressed about how quickly the country and world rallied to help, something I feel was not demonstrated after Katrina. Thanks for your post. Sherry Mc Va