A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Tue, August 21, 2007


Well, maybe a thousand miles is a bit of an exaggeration, but today, I’m taking the first step on a journey I’ve been wanting to make for some time — the path to piece together, as much as possible, the first year of PunditGirl’s life.

We know she was born in Hunan Province in China in December of 1999. And we know she lived in Changsha First Social Welfare Institute for most of the time before we adopted her on January 7, 2001. We know a few details of what her life was probably like, thanks to this book — Kids Like Me in China, a book that was written by an eight-year-old girl adopted from CFSWI, just like PunditGirl.

For a variety of reasons, both professional and personal, I’ve developed an E-mail relationship with the author’s mom, a woman who is, herself, very involved in the international adoption community. So PunditGirl and I are off today on an interesting trip — to sit down and talk with this family who has maintained connections with the baby home and the caregivers, a family who may be able to shed a little light for us on some facts, not just educated guesses, about life in China and inside the baby home during the year PunditGirl was there.

We both are a little nervous — PunditGirl not sure she wants to hear any of this, and me, not sure I can put it together for her in a way that will be helpful to her when she’s older.

It’s probably not the best way to think of it, but I decided that if it was me, I would want to have as much information as possible about what my life was like then.

For most of us, our memories are provided by parents, birth or otherwise, who have been there for us since the moment of birth — baby pictures, first locks of hair, notations made of various ‘firsts.’

We have those, but they don’t start until PunditGirl was 12 months old.

So an opportunity has presented itself where many people who have access to information might be able to help us put the puzzle called ‘PunditGirl’s First Year’ together.

Right now the jigsaw puzzle of her infant days is a mere border — the border you first put together when trying to complete the 1,000 piecer on the kitchen table. If I can find a way to fill in the vast blank space in the middle, maybe that will give her something to hold on to about who she was before she became PunditGirl.

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24 Responses to “A Journey of a Thousand Miles”

  1. AmandaD Says:

    This is at once fascinating, inspiring and the tiniest bit heartbreaking. I cannot fathom what this is liek for either of you, but through your post today, I crave knowing and wish that I could somehow shine light on the shadowed path ahead. I wish you luck and sweet memories of the shared joureny upon which you are set to embark.

  2. Lawyer Mama Says:

    Good luck, Joanne. I hope you’re both able to find what you’re looking for. And you’re right, it may make Rachel uncomfortable right now but I bet she’ll be happy for the knowledge later on.

  3. Busy Mom Says:

    Good luck on your journey, I’ll be reading with special interest as I’m adopted, too.

  4. Heather.PNR Says:

    What a unique opportunity. You touched on something I’ve found to be so true as an adoptive parent: the more we open ourselves to information, the more we open ourselves to heartache. But it is worth it in the end. I do hope you’ll share with us how it goes.

  5. mayberry Says:

    This is so exciting, although I understand why it’s nervewracking too. Best of luck to you both. And I love the new design! (Just catching up on posts after our weekend in NEPA.)

  6. Selfmademom Says:

    That’s so amazing, and inspirational. I’m sure she’ll be so so greatful for this!

  7. Queen of the Mayhem Says:

    Good luck! I hope you find the information you seek!

    I cannot even imagine the feelings you both must be having…….how interesting…and a little scary! :)

  8. jen Says:

    this is so, so, beautiful. and important.

    this great gift you will keep giving her that will mean so much.

  9. painted maypole Says:

    What a lovely gift for your daughter

  10. QT Says:

    I can understand her being scared or reluctant now, but ultimately, I think she will thank you.

    How exciting for both of you!

  11. Ruth Dynamite Says:

    Wow. I wish you both an amazing journey.

  12. Lisa Says:

    Wow. How facinating. I hope all goes well. WIll be thinking of you alot.

    Your post gave me goosebumps the whole way through…

  13. Julie Pippert Says:

    I think in the end this will be so enriching and rich, but these things can be tough to navigate while getting to the gain part. But you’ll manage…you will. Good luck. And much support. I believe in this. :)

  14. David Says:

    Wow Joanne – best of luck to you and to PunditGirl. No matter what you find, I hope you value the time you spend doing something important together.

    Actually, I know you will. And thanks for chronicling it and sharing.

  15. Jenn Says:

    I hope the puzzle comes together with ease.

    It helps when you have more than one set of eyes.

  16. Shannon Says:

    Good luck. I hope you both find what you are looking for. It’s great you can take the journey together.

  17. Karen Says:

    Safe trip home and back again. Children always see things as they are.

  18. radical mama Says:

    That sort of journey seems very brave to me. Good luck to you both. I hope it provides some peace for PunditGirl, even if she doesn’t need it just yet. She has a great mama to help her along!

  19. Damselfly Says:

    I think that’s beautiful.

  20. Moobs Says:

    P and I are just strating to look into adoption from abraod. The more we read the more dizzying it all seems. I am lost in admiration for what you are doing.

  21. PunditMom Says:

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments. We are just back and I am still digesting all the information.

  22. SouthernBell Says:

    This really touches my heart. You’re right, we adopted kids want to know where we came from — what happened. Mostly so we can go on and not have to wonder — not so we can leave our parents for our “real family.” (That’s what some parents fear.)

  23. Pickel Says:

    I think I would have a hard time now going back to my son’s birthplace…know now what I know about him and the troubles I “think” he went through.

    We struggled for so long to show him and make him feel like he was a part of us that I think it would be too heartbreaking for him.

    I wish you luck on your journey and keep us all posted, especially us Chicago, DC, and SV moms.

  24. Elizabeth Says:


    My daughter lived there as well, about a year earlier than yours. We went back to China in early 2007 to visit, and were allowed in both CFSWIs (the old one and the new one). Please email me if you would like to talk more.

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