Early in the preparation for our trip to Asia, I suggested to my wife that we could bring back a little five-year-old orphan from Tibet. My wife heard this suggestion of mine so often that she stopped me one day with an uncertain question: "You are just kidding about this, aren't you?" I reassured her that I was and continued to kid about a possible adoption. I even named our Tibetan child; her name was Sara.

Then came that fateful day after one of my little Sara comments. My wife sat me down for a little talk. It was a facts-of-life talk given to her foolish fifty-eight-year-old husband who was seemingly oblivious to reality. With the demeanor of a prosecuting attorney, she began. "Fact one: you are not as young as you think; this isn't any time to begin another family. Fact two: you would be seventy-five when she got out of college. Fact three: we aren't in the financial situation that we could take on the responsibility of raising a little one." My wife was on a roll and wasn't about to drop her big fact of life: "I don't want to spend the rest of my life sharing you with a third person-not even 'little Sara.' I want to go when we want to go and do what we want to do without being tied down like a person half my age."

Well, I guess that she got her cards out on the table, and I told her that she was absolutely correct in all that she had said. I understood completely her position. Then I added, "Yes, but does all that mean that we can't bring back our little Sara?" When she rolled her big blue eyes back into her head, I thought that she might have stroked out. Then she muttered something about not listening to a word she had said. I countered with an affirmation that I had listened but wasn't sure that she really meant "no." She then said that she had to do some vacuuming-that is also a hint to me that she is upset with something. Sensing her ill mood, I attempted to pinpoint what I had done to upset her. Was it that I hadn't trimmed the grass to her liking, or was I in the doghouse for not wiping my feet when I came in?

She was quiet for several days. Finally, she said that she recognized that I had a very strong nurturing desire, but at her place in life, her children had met her maternal desire. In addition, if she ever had a burning need to parent a young child, she could spend more time with our granddaughter. Being a trained listener, I replied that I was getting the point that she didn't want any more kids in diapers running around the house. To wit she replied, "Bravo. I think that you have gotten my drift."

Psychologists tell us that men at a certain age not only change physically like graying, but they also become more of a mentor than they had been earlier in life. It is a fact of life for both sexes. The hormone levels in both sexes change over time. These hormonal changes result in men becoming more driven to nurture and women become more assertive and independent. Sure sounds like what is happening with us. On the other hand, perhaps my flight into absurdity is due to my childhood. Maybe, my early years could have been better and more nurturing. For example, I can't recall a day that my mother wasn't terribly ill. I guess she hadn't nurtured me enough. Lastly, the whole "Sara thing," as it is referred to around the house, is because I wish that I had done more nurturing of my children when they were young. Perhaps, Sara is a way to atone for not spending enough time with my children in those early years. One might argue that truth probably rests in the midst of all three possibilities.

One year ago, I interviewed the brother of the Dalai Lama on the condition that when I went to Tibet and visited the Tibetan refugee camps in India and Nepal, that I would tell their story to the world. It is a promise that I mean to fulfill to the letter. From the camp in Kathmandu, Nepal to the camp in Dharmsala, India, I have found hundreds of Saras and little brothers of those little Saras. Since I can't rescue my little Sara, I will help all little ones and the rest of the oppressed Tibetan people by keeping up the pressure on China to let them live in peace and freedom in their land. Perhaps, with articles like this one, there will mount up a wave of social pressure on the Chinese government to allow a peaceful and gentle people their freedom-a basic freedom that we in the West take for granted. "Take care, little Sara, the times are changing. Your people will overcome and find peace and harmony in your native land."

This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 10/2/01.