After over sixteen hours in the air and an equal amount of time waiting in airports in Delhi and Amsterdam, we finally had returned to Chicago. After breezing through US Customs, the next thing we noticed was a crowd of people with video and still cameras pointing our way. My first thought was that they were here to celebrate our triumphant return from our twenty thousand mile advanture to Asia. However, I didn't recognize any of them. It soon dawned on me that they weren't waiting for us.
We didn't have to wait long to realize that the crowd had gathered to welcome three adopted Chinese babies for three American adoptive parents. My wife, who wouldn't allow me to bring home "our little Sara from Tibet," was crying tears of joy for three new and very proud couples and their six-month-old bundles of joy. I said, "See, we could be doing that." Amid her tears, she replied, "Yes, we could-if we were the age of those new parents."
As I watched the joy of the three new families and all their relatives and friends, I too fought back tears of joy. Those three families with their newly acquired babies were overjoyed by their good fortune of a beautiful baby to take home. I, on the other hand, was overjoyed for the three profoundly fortunate babies.
As I grabbed my camera and took a couple of pictures, I thought about how truly fortunate those three babies were. I went over to one of the new fathers and told him that I was a writer and if they wanted to be interviewed, they could call me. In addition, I told the father that I had just returned home from Tibet, presently controlled by the Chinese, and that he had no idea how fortunate his child was. Those three babies had just cashed in on the biggest lottery in their lives. They could have stayed in China and faced poverty, disease, oppression--if not infanticide. In this case, ignorance was bliss.
The welcome for these new American children formerly from China lasted some time and others, not related to the three families, also got into the joy of the moment. It is one of the things that we Americans do well. We can celebrate the sheer joy of welcoming those tired and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Chicago's O'Hare was turned into a 21st century Ellis Island. There is much about America that needs attention, but we have perfected the welcoming of strangers. There was hardly a dry eye there at this homecoming.
I watched the expressions of the babies as their new parents clutched them unwilling to let their treasures go to the arms of other relatives. One youngster grabbed at his new father's face and patted his cheeks with sheer joy as if that baby knew that it had been delivered from hell to heaven. The baby learned its first lesson well-the child's new father loves that child. In the years to come, that child will learn much, much more, but this was a necessary first step. The baby discovered parental love even if the DNA didn't quite match. The child didn't see that racially, politically, and religiously that the father came from a world vastly different from the world into which the child had so recently been born.
Standing there, I also wondered about what that child's Chinese father was doing or thinking half a world away. Did he know about the adoption? Did he care? All that I knew for sure was that those three little babies were granted by unimaginable good fortune to be home in America for the first time. I thought again about what life would be like here and what they could have been exposed to back there. Talk about winning the lotto! Those three babies were winners-big-time winners.
I then started getting angry. What kind of country sends its children to another country so freely? In the wake of the Hainan Island episode, the Chinese insisted on getting respect from America in the form of an apology. China wouldn't have to demand respect if they treated their people and those that they invaded like Tibet the way they would want to be respected. However, China has a long road to travel before they legitimately become a part of the family of nations. In the meantime, we will continue to adopt children from China. We will also cry tears of joy for the fortunate little ones that wind up here in America as we cry tears of sadness for the millions of less fortunate babies who are either killed at birth or must live under Chinese oppression.
In the meantime, you three families: go home with your treasures, hug them, and care for them. And may God bless you for rescuing three little Saras.
This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 10/25/01.
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