but first…

A pic hat trick:

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His Beginning

But we don’t know his beginning, do we? We weren’t there.

Once upon a time, a beautiful, healthy baby boy was born to (no reason to think otherwise) loving parents in China. On that very same day, on the other side of the world, my first niece was celebrating her second birthday. The wildest of imaginations could not have concocted the storyline that would someday bring that boy to join the grandkid lineup she started. She was my parents’ grandchild #1. He will be #18, though he’s older than most of his future cousins, and older than all his own future siblings but one.

It is possible he wasn’t healthy on that day he was born. We haven’t heard when the first signs of epilepsy appeared. But it was his own mother who weaned him. It was his own Dad who held his hand when he learned to walk. He left for his first day of school saying good-bye to his own parents.

Then Dad died. Grandfather had passed, too.

And Mom left.

Her six-year old son had no idea she would never come home.

Eventually, desperation––or hunger––drove the panicked boy to the streets. A policeman found him, wandering and crying.

We ourselves were only a few provinces away on that day, at a time when we had not long been matched with Lily. We didn’t yet fear she might not come home. While one baby girl struggled to get out of one orphanage, one little boy was dropped off at another.

And he’s lived there ever since.

“Mom,” we heard that our new son asked his foster mother just the other day, “Why have all the other kids been adopted and I haven’t? They’ve left, and they’re all younger than me. I’m the oldest; it’s my turn for a family!”

He’s as old as you can be and still get adopted. No one gets adopted out any older. The abandoned six-year old turns fourteen next spring. Fourteen marks the end of hope. In province after province, fourteen-year old orphans know that their destiny now lies with the infirm. They’ll be scraped out of sight and the key will be thrown away. They’ll be warehoused with the old, or perhaps the insane, more likely everyone and anyone in between. Lifers, sharing just one thing in common: forgotten.

Unless they run away. If the boys escape, almost without fail, from what little I understand, they turn to crime. If the girls do, they turn to…well, what else could they turn to? Together they form nameless, hopeless clans. No families, no advantageous relationships, no education possibilities, no job prospects.

Won’t it be a difficult thing for a 13-year old to be adopted by foreigners after living his whole life in China?”

Good question, really. I understand it.

Yes, at times it will.

He will be deported from all he has known for 13 years and plopped in a foreign land (though this will happen later for him than it does for most, as we still live here in China). He will have parents with big noses, bug-like eyes, and hair that isn’t the color hair is supposed to be. He’ll have to answer questions on occasion about why he doesn’t look like them. And they won’t even understand what it’s like to be him, or what it’s like to go through what he goes through. He’ll have a Mom who never nurtured him through his childhood years and memories of other women who did. He’ll have a Dad who’s supposed to teach him to be a man, yet he’s almost there already.

Sure he’ll have difficulties.

And I would love nothing better than to see Chinese families, and Chinese society, step up and adopt more and more Chinese kids. Especially thirteen-year olds who have been passed over year after year. There are more, you know; we’re not stealing this one from anyone. His time was running out. He needs a family––from anywhere. Because The Adams Family would be better than what waits in store otherwise.

 

Without further ado…

We’ll share his English name as soon as we’ve chosen one.

Enoch made that video six weeks ago. It was part of a batch of videos he did for kids’ files we were helping to update.

But that’s getting ahead of things…to Our Beginning.

That’s next.

 

 

It Begins

Before today, I’d only ever kept an adoption blog.

Which this isn’t.

Adopting twice (7, then 3 years ago) was one more time than we’d planned on.

This blog is a “regular.”

Whatever regular ends up meaning. Its themes are unformed, in spite of having been mulled over for months. Some of you know what that’s like, don’t you? You can introspect so long that, if not for your stomach or your bladder or your kids, an actual crater might start forming beneath your body. You can ponder for such lengths that by the time you’re ready to give your opinion, everyone else has forgotten what the question was. The world moves on to the next thing before we knew what the old thing was.

Social tardiness ain’t the Grey Poupon touch you’re lookin’ for to add class to your hot blog. “Extra! extra! Check it out, homies! Slammin’ fresh blog entry on the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. Along with two unused tickets from the opening night of Titanic, to be awarded to the 4th person to like me on Friendster.”

Current events? That’s a laugh; I’ve lived under a large rock called western China for a dozen years. I probably did seem hip and fresh when I left the States…compared to me now. Somewhat recently (how embarrassing), I discovered that there are actually a lot of blogs out there (I told you––it’s a large rock), and they changed my life forever. I will not read internet comment sections. I will not read internet comment sections. I will not read internet comment sections.

I like writing, but blogging’s siren call never called to me. I desired no soapbox. I had no need to sound off. I couldn’t even think of ideas I had to share. I had only one idea when it came to blogging: how do you handle the relentless pressure of ceaseless content creation? But you have to have ideas––you can’t blog about the agony of blogging (one wouldn’t think, though I’m doing it now) or only write about the agony of writing––who wants to read that drivel? It’s probably not even called blogging. It’s probably called whining.

So I wrote a book instead. Memoir. As the project snowballed, I found the story pretty much writing itself, and my biggest surprise along the way was how deeply in love I fell with the book-writing process. After I’d finished, some months ago now, I stumbled upon a door marked “publishing” and peeked through, only to find everyone within sniggering. “Do you not know, O Greenhorn, that everyone who is someone could have told you that anyone who is no one can do nothing to get their book noticed…without an author platform?” Then they told me that “platform” starts with––though I’d always thought it was “p” myself––”blog.”

Yet that’s not why I’ve begun.

As recently as three days ago, I was “still thinking it over.” For one, I had trouble with the feeling I got from contemplating blogging only so I could sell something. It seemed a loathsomeness barely above the glop of internet comment sections. Second, and more significant, the furthest I’d gotten with my months of sitting around on my brains all day was only (though granted, it’s sock-knockin’) a title: aboutadozenyearsago.com (don’t bother, googling’s pointless). The prevailing logic: If my opinions and grasp of current events were in arrears, shouldn’t I have the blog to match?

It wasn’t as lame as it sounds. It would have been a blog about looking within. Looking back at the person we were X number of years ago, and how we’re different now. A chance to take a break from “Look here!” and share this and link that, to take a breather from checking-in and “liking” everything in sight except the pace of our own life. A time to analyze the business (careful, that decidedly does not say “busyness”) of what it takes to become a better person. Who doesn’t like the idea of becoming a better person? Who doesn’t look back with satisfaction on their unselfish choices? And with different feelings on many lesser choices? Don’t we all hope that, at the very least, growth came from all the times we got it wrong?

We dream of becoming better people, only to have such a hard time keeping our heads above water or our attention off the internet. (Is not internet-based internet bashing such choice modern mirth?) How many important-but-not-urgent opportunities come into focus only as they’re slipping through our fingers?

My imaginary blog title might have been original, but the idea isn’t. I read a blog with a similarly-themed entry just the other day. My wife reads another all the time. But just because it’s not original doesn’t mean it’s not great. Cause we all need to step back in order to go forward. We all need help. From others, from God. I’ve had tons. So have you, so has everyone. It was only as I began to read more blogs that my cynicism began to fall away. Good blogs, written by quality, growing, others-centered human beings with readers who engaged with their hearts, not to mention their (still-connected) heads, people who spoke sense with civility. (How has that combo become so rare?) Thus I disconnected my own blog (the one that didn’t exist, you say? yes, that’s the one) from the shame of soapboxes, sounding off, and simply selling.

I began to cull the stories of my life from about a dozen years ago. I picked twelve because ten seemed too recent, fifteen too distant, and mostly because of how cool it is that we have a number in English that has its own nickname. In my wife’s and my life a dozen years ago, we were preparing to leave the American culture we’d spent our lives in and move our young family to China.

But there weren’t enough. As momentous a time as that was, there just wasn’t enough material. Not enough journals. Even if I borrowed from stories that happened eleven years ago, and thirteen years ago, there wasn’t going to be enough content to actually support an entire blog called aboutadozenyearsago.com. Plus I was coming to my senses, incredulous I’d imagined people would enjoy reading twelve-year-stale minutiae about my life in the first place. So I reverted to what every self-respecting introspective type would revert to: declaring my need for more think time. I needed a dozen more good “crater-sits,” I said, and the dodecahedral perspective that only they could bring me.

Yet here we are. Days later, and I’ve started.

How is it that you, friend, are here reading this and not searching youtube for “guy’s body forms crater”? Well, I’ll tell you. But you should know that the mere operation of typing it out is not easy for me. Because I wasn’t looking for this. Wasn’t expecting it. Or wanting it. In fact, I was explicitly against it.

Unmistakably (= “it’s not possible we mistook him”), God just told us to adopt again.

I’m unsure what this blog will evolve to become. I imagine I WILL write some entries about who I was a dozen years ago…IF I can write them in such a way I think God can use them to help you become a better person, too. And…I am sure I’ll shout from the rooftops, “My book is here!” when that day comes. But for the moment…this blog will be the place where I tell the story of how God took the story we thought he was writing and instead started a whole new chapter we never saw coming.

For the first time (in our adoptive lives): It’s a boy!

He’s already a teenager.

But I’d better start at the beginning…