We receive newsletters from Dillon leading up to camp every year. The latest has an article in it that I just have to share. The sweet lady who penned it has been teaching Chinese cooking to the kids every year since I've been there. She is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent. This article gave me a whole new perspective. Hope it does the same for you.and
Reflection of a China Camp mother and why I volunteer
Come second day of Camp and it is picture day! Yeah!
Our adorable, beautiful children from China come together as a body of campers to smile into flashing cameras, becoming celebrities for a day. All around me proud fathers and mothers click away with love swelling in their hearts at how beautiful & special each and every one of their sons and/or daughters are. There is a certain euphoria in the air, a certain kind of organized chaos masked by smiles and "cheeses" and excitement that 'my picture is being taken'.
This is the same day when I am overwhelmed. I catch myself heavy in heart. I look at 200 smiling children, 200 loved children, 200 joyous children, 200 innocent and hopeful children. I also see 200 faces of children that will deal with all the emotions that come with loss. 200 beautiful faces who left their birth country to form families and come to camp here in Tulsa OK., 200 faces that one day may ask or have asked "why'?
My heart never fails to tighten and a blanket of sorrow enfolds me. Each year, on picture day, I dread this feeling. I am totally overcome by how 200 elated children, living life to their fullest, could be the child who may feel the pain that "for this joy, I had to somehow lose a part of me".
To say I detest picture day is too harsh. But I do detest the feelings that overwhelm me, that to be here I had to become apart from someone who gave me life. I am apart from the smells, sounds, taste, language and more, a place where "little me" yearns to be.
Picture day, I am in turmoil, because it contradicts all I have come to learn, believe in my Faith. Especially to be thankful for the Grace and life I can partake.
The recurring thoughts are "look how perfect each and every child is. Look how confident they all are, look how happy they all are." But my heart also sees hearts and minds that could hunger for the unknown pieces of history.
I am totally aware that this heavy heart comes solely from my very own adoption mystery. I had often fallen deep into the water of loss and pain I feel for my unknown birth family. To say I do not miss them, mixed into this wonderfully blessed life I have, is a lie. I too have wondered who they are, who do I look like, are they still alive? Most of all, Why?
Now, a mom of 3 little miracles, I have often looked into my children's eyes and wondered who they could have become if they had not joined our family. What could have become of them?
No choice of theirs, I have taken them out of their homeland, out of their culture, selflessly they have accepted.
China camp is my only small way to return to them their history, their culture, their identity. One of many ways, I can thank my children for forming this family.
I love my Chinese culture, I love the children, I love our Chinese children. I love food, I love cooking, I love sharing the most awkward, bizarre and exotic Chinese taste with the children. I watch with amazement as their eyes open wide at strange vegetable and animal parts and see their noses wince from an unusual smell. I love to see their face cringe at that attack of their tongue when tasting something totally unlike anything they have ever tasted. Their excitement when they discovered that strange smell can be so delicious.
Most of all, I feel a deep unfathomable obligation to take the children on a journey, returning to the land of their birth. I cannot replicate the exact attacks of all 5 senses when we are in China, but if, in a tiny minute way, I can bring parts of their homeland to them I feel I may have repaid them for their unselfish hearts to make my family.
To volunteer and teach at China camp is not merely about 2½ days of being part of classes to make a chinese mythical dragon, nor use a calligraphy brush to write, nor to make yummy dumplings nor to sway and dance like a Chinese fairy nor to defend like the Kung Fu Panda.
No it is not. It emcompasses so much more. It signifies and symbolizes where words are too weak to explain.
To volunteer is to travel back in time with my children. Back to the land of their ancestors, to be able to replicate what they could have eaten, smelled, and touch; what their forefathers created, played games centuries old and create lifetime friendships.
Come second day of camp I see my past, my present and my future.
I can't wait to see Tian this year and thank her personally.~Martha