WenYu and I had a great time on the south shore this past Saturday, finishing up the last bit of shopping that needed to be done before she leaves for college next week. We had a fun time together, and enjoyed our lunch stop at Puka Dogs in Poipu.
This will be WenYu’s last week of work for the summer; Saturday is her final day. She’s been starting to get her things organized, and packing will begin in earnest next weekend. We’ll finish that up on Monday, and on Tuesday morning she and I will leave to take her back to Massachusetts.
Although she’s not our youngest child, WenYu was our last baby, the last child whose diapers we changed, watched take her first step and all those other milestones. Brett and I had requested to adopt an older child, a toddler between the ages of two and four because we were getting older, and had also gotten rid of almost all of the baby things we had borrowed for Meiling’s arrival. When we got “the call” from our social worker two months earlier than expected, letting us know that we had been matched with a 10-month old baby, we were told we could turn down the referral because she was so much younger than we had requested. However, Brett and I both felt there must have been a good reason this baby was matched to us, and we accepted the referral without hesitation.
WenYu was and continues to be the easiest baby/toddler/child/teenager/young woman to raise. There were no “terrible” years, ever. No scenes, no tantrums, no talking back, no demands, no sulking. We could have sent her to have tea with the Queen at age three and not worried about her manners or ability to make conversation. She’s always been a good listener, and able to see what’s under the surface in almost every situation . . . an old soul. She has always provided a calm, serene presence in our family. She is the child that eats anything without complaint; the one that when you ask for an opinion gives a thoughtful one, and with kindness; the student who gives a little bit more than what is asked for.
She’s never been a pushover though. She knows how to assert herself, both subtly and otherwise, and you know if she asks you stop, or says no, that she means it. One of my favorite memories was when I took her to swim lessons when she was three years old. Meiling was also learning to swim and took to it like a fish to water, moving up to the next level after each six-week session. WenYu, on the other hand, happily went along to the pool, put on her swimsuit without complaint, got into the pool with her classmates, and then did nothing. She ended the year at the same level she started because she was just not interested in learning to swim at age three and this was how she chose to assert herself. But the next year? She decided she was ready, and after that she was the one moving up after each session, and ended up surpassing everyone else. We’ve learned that she may do things on her own schedule, but she always gets done what she needs to, and always on time.
Is she perfect? Most definitely not. Her spirit animal is the sloth, and her pace can sometimes leave the rest of us feeling very frustrated. She’s a packrat and her room is always a mess, and I genuinely feel for her upcoming roommate. We’ve made her promise that she at least keeps her mess to her side of the room.
WenYu wrote the following when she was 16:
Sometimes as an adoptee, I feel like my mosaic is flipped over, so all my pieces are undetected, mounted on a foreign substance — material that is familiar to me, but completely bizarre to some. People want to inspect me. They want to know my “dramatic” life story. They want to know about my “real” parents. Am I related to my sisters? Would I change anything? In return, I smile and shake or nod my head respectfully, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder, “Why does it matter?”
I don’t mind being asked these questions. I believe curiosity isn’t something that should be held in contempt, but sometimes I am confronted by people who believe that because I’m adopted, I’m missing a crucial part of who I am. They look at me as though my picture can never be complete. My personal experiences have actually had the opposite effect. I am confident in this growing montage of myself. I know what I like, what I believe in, what I want to do with my life. I don’t think anyone can control these things. Of course our parents will influence us, but it is my own decision whether I find their opinions to be true or not.
As I’ve grown, more pieces have been added to my “big picture,” slowly covering that unknown material that is my foundation. I was born a clean slate, but it was me who found these fragments that made my mosaic strong. After 15 years of being an adoptee, I realize that everyone is defined by more than where or who they come from. I am more than blood and DNA. I am more than a pair of brown eyes. I am a mind, and a voice. I am somebody’s daughter. Someone’s sister, whether we came from the same people or not. I am—in the simplest, most true way of describing it—Me.
We are going to miss WenYu so very, very much, but at the same time we are so excited for her that we can barely stand it. She is ready to fly away as her own person, and we want to yell, “Look out world! Here she comes!”