“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms.
But once you do, everything changes”
Her name is similar to a hundred other names. Almost anonymous. Her surname is the orphanage where she has spent her entire life with the only family she has known. For 13 years she has watched brothers and sisters walk out the doors of her orphanage for the last time to join their forever families. Always left behind, I wonder if she gave up hope. I wonder if her hope started dying two days after she entered this world, when she was left at the gate of the orphanage.
Her face looked vaguely familiar, one of thousands on the ‘waiting child’ photolisting. At first, it faded easily into anonymity. But slowly, persistently, the whispering started. Her story. First it took root in my mind. Then, my heart heard it. She became real. She became my daughter.
When we started the process to bring Xiaotong home, we thought we had enough to cover this adoption based on the information given us. Unfortunately, bureaucratic red tape and cost have escalated significantly this last year alone. The money we had budgeted for the adoption is almost gone but travel expense to and within China, adoption and government fees remain- about $15,000.
We will not give up on Xiao. We are pursuing every avenue we can to cover the remaining expenses. Unfortunately, we have already drained our retirement dry to fund this adoption. We hoped to find funds in a home equity loan, but plummeting property values have left us with no equity after paying into a mortgage for 12 years.
Time is running out for all of us. Our paperwork expires in less than three months. For us, it is over. China will not allow Xiao to be adopted once she reaches her 14th birthday, five months from now. For her, it is over. Because her orphanage is extremely poor, there is a strong possibility she will end up homeless. On the streets or worse.
She has our pictures and letters. I told her, she has a mommy and daddy, and two sisters that will be hers alone, forever. For us, even though we haven’t held her in our arms, everything has changed.