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.
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.