The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Wed. Oct 19, 2005

A Girl Named Caroli

There’s an old Chinese belief that says “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” One of those red threads, which I had no idea even existed not so long ago, is getting a lot shorter in the next week or two.

In eastern China, there’s a town by the name of Qingliu, “located in the mountainous area of western Fujian Province. Qingliu is a small town, and most of the local population speak the Hakka dialect. This mountainous area is within the range of the endangered South China Tiger.

Somewhere near Qingliu, on February 26 of this year, a young mother gave birth to a child. A healthy baby girl. We can’t know the exact circumstances, but it is likely she was one of millions of mothers in China who give birth to a girl … and cannot keep it. Not because they don’t innately love her, or wouldn’t raise her with the best care they could give. But because they live in an area where married couples face restrictive and unevenly enforced population controls, and are limited to one child, or maybe two (see The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans for more)

And they live in a culture where sons are traditionally given precedent, especially in rural areas, due to the needs of the family. So when a couple is suddenly faced with a newborn girl, and no allowed shot at the son they’d wanted/needed, the father and mother are faced with a heart wrenching dilemma.

Days may pass. A week of torment. A week and a day.

And then … “This child was found on March 5, 2005 at about 10:30pm in front of the Qingliu Welfare Institute by our staff Gui, Wei Xou, who was on night shift. After she had reported, civilian police from the local precinct investigated yet could not find the child’s relatives.

It’s a story that is repeated uncountable times daily across China. Infants are found in markets, at roadside stands, or simply not found at all. Almost all of them girls. But some are left right on the steps of the nearest orphanage. Because the mother knows, that child may now have a chance.

It’s indicative that so many of these orphanages even exist, scattered throughout a huge authoritarian state. It’s a massive social issue, and no one can really even put an accurate number on it. But in a country of over a billion people, whatever that number is, it’s huge.

I can tell you this. Each month, over 500 adopted babies from China fly back across the Pacific Ocean to the US with their new parents. Almost all of them girls. They’ve left a world where they may have been loved, very dearly, but could not be kept. And they are entering a world where they are simply loved, so much that their new parents flew to the other side of the globe to get them.

And to me, each and every one of those infants represents a great tragedy, but one that’s robbed at the very last by the happiest of endings.

Caroli Louise Doyle
And this time, I get to play a small part in that happy ending. Because this Friday I’m taking my sister LeeAnn, and my brother-in-law Danny to the airport, and they will wing their way around the globe to bring back this angel, Caroli Louise Doyle. And I’ll probably be telling you about their trip, as they update their little travel/baby blog.

There’s a red thread running from me to that little girl, who was left at the steps of the orphanage last March 5. Because LeeAnn and I have somehow conspired to keep our parents grandchild-less until now, so she’s the first, and it’s a big deal for all of us. I know she’ll be loved dearly, and when she needs unique spoiling or someone to tell her those special things that parents won’t, well, her Uncle Pooter will be right there.

It’s a truly joyous time. It really is. But still … I am simply haunted by the mental image of that mother leaving her girl on the steps on the night of March 5, what she must have gone through, and the millions more like her in China.

Peanut Gallery

1  Susan wrote:

And can we all guess where “Uncle Pooter” will be when she goes on her first date? He and Dad will be staking them out; Pooter with camera – Dad with shotgun – staying just in the shadows to make sure she gets home safely.

If it just has to be “Uncle Pooter” Aunt Pooter is just excited and it has warmed my heart to see the love, anticipation and planning that this has taken.

She is going to be a wonderful addition to the Christmas tree this year. 2 new eyes to see the magic we’ve all forgoten that only a child can remind ous of.

Susan (reluctantly respecting the Pooter thing) will simply be Aunt Susan.

2  Reid wrote:

I’ve been on this planet 47 years, and someday people may realize that I sometimes do and say things just to get a rise out of them. What will I do for fun then?

But, I tell ya, Aunt Pooter has a nice ring to it. Yes, that should work nicely.

3  edudude wrote:

How about Uncle Pooter and Aunt Pootie?

Either way, this kid will have great relatives.

Thanksgiving and Christmas will be very special this year.

4  ntn wrote:

With Uncle Pooter as an influence, I wonder how long before she’ll need a little bitty tee shirt?

Comment by ntn · 10/20/2005 01:01 AM
5  Reid wrote:

Uncle Pooter will not soon be teaching her those special words and attitudes that earn the “AssHole” t-shirt you so kindly gave me.

I’ll wait until she’s at least 7 or 8.

6  LadyNiniane wrote:

Uncle Pooter will not soon be teaching her those special words and attitudes that earn the “AssHole� t-shirt you so kindly gave me.

Never fear – she’ll earn one of her own, especially if she’s the first grandchild/niece.

This is not a negative, by the way (so speaks the mother of a teenage daugher). It’s the girls who learn to talk back at an early age that generally go on to do great things.

What you will be doing is teaching her when to talk back and when to shut up and move on. Your status as Uncle Pooter and Aunt Pootie give you a unique opportunity to do just that. Children will accept far more constructive criticism from beloved aunts and uncles than they will from their equally loving parents.

(I’m ‘just a mom’ even though there are plenty of things I can – and do – warn my child about.)

Enjoy your new status!

7  ntn wrote:

It’s the girls who learn to talk back at an early age that generally go on to do great things.

Oh dear Lord. My daughter is going to be Empress of the Known Universe.

Comment by ntn · 10/20/2005 04:52 PM
8  LadyNiniane wrote:

Oh dear Lord. My daughter is going to be Empress of the Known Universe.

S’okay. Mine will be in charge of the Alternate Universes.

I’m suffering from the Mother Curse: “Some day you’ll have a daughter just like you.” Gads…if only I’d known.

9  Reid wrote:

My daughter is going to be Empress of the Known Universe

That was my big guffaw of the day. And Susan’s motto is that “well behaved women rarely make history.”

For some reason, Squeaky Fromme comes to mind.

10  Todd H. wrote:

Great news, Reid! As you and I have discussed before, adoption is a subject near and dear to my heart. I have two adopted daughters, one is Korean and one is Vietnamese. They are both extremely special kids.

Lately my life has been busy because we’re deeply involved in another adoption, this one a boy from right here in Georgia. He’s been visiting on weekends, the schedule has him moving in with us in November. It’s a happy time for all- this process is incredibly difficult, yet rewarding beyond description.

I’ll take my opportunity to plug something photographic, too- the ‘Heart Gallery’ movement. This is something that’s getting started all over- it’s photographers donating their skills to take great photos of kids waiting for homes, and using those photos in a gallery setting to raise awareness of the need for foster and adoptive homes. In just a few days, the National Heart Gallery will open in Washington. We really don’t have one for Georgia yet, but I’ve heard rumors it’s getting started somewhere. I’ll let you know if I hear anything concrete.

Congratulate the new parents for me, and be prepared for a very happy and emotional day today.

11  Reid wrote:

be prepared for a very happy and emotional day today

Oh, if only it were that simple. Friday I took them to the airport, and they were indeed happy, but have much ahead of them. Right now, they are probably about 2/3 of the way across the Pacific. On Monday, they will first see Caroli. And after another week in China, they’ll get to return. As you well know, it’s a complex process, and this trip is the result of many many months or planning and preparation.

And congratulations on the new addition to your family!

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