Monday, May 2, 2011

A Little Encouragement

I've been back to New York a few times in the past few weeks to gather and compile documents for our adoption.  I had thought that I'd be able to sit around and wait for these documents to come to me, but realized this wasn't the case when I found there was no record of my marriage in the vital-records computer system for New York City (I was told that they have all kinds of glitches in the system -- that, for instance, if your father was born in Ireland, the computer system changes your birthplace to Ireland too, which causes people all kinds of unanticipated problems).  Luckily, the Department of Vital Records keeps everything on microfilm in an off-site storage site, so, by going to New York City, I was able to get what I needed -- and I got to be at the Marriage Bureau on a typical weekday, which is a happy experience, on this occasion bustling with brides of many nations in skirt suits and hats, twirling their modest bouquets and twittering excitedly. (I also saw a pudgy newlywed couple with teenaged sons from one marriage or another producing their Italian passports for inspection, and then, as I was leaving, a hugely pregnant middle-aged bride-to-be yelling at her harried-looking groom as he stepped off the curb into traffic in beautiful New Yorkese, "Great, you're gonna getchaself killed the day before our wedding!" which made me inexplicably happy -- well, not happy that he was being careless in traffic, but happy that God had created this particular man and woman.)

With all my documents in order on the New York side, the next step was to bring them to the Chinese Consulate.  I assumed this place would be on the East Side of Manhattan near the United Nations, where all the other consular offices are, but it turned out to be as far west as you can go -- i.e., as far away from the United Nations as geographically possible -- on 42nd Street at the corner of the West Side Highway, in a warehouse district (as Otepoti observed, this location was undoubtedly intended to discourage protests, and, though I saw at least two protests going on during the two days I spent there, they were in fact mostly obscured from public view, on the other side of the West Side Highway).  The consulate itself, a little piece of the People's Republic of China in America, was everything I imagined it would be:  drab, gray, airless and windowless, harshly lit and crammed with hundreds of people, waiting for hours in ten snaking lines, seeking to have documents of various kinds authenticated.

As I waited, a Chinese woman struck up a conversation with me, wondering me what I was there for.  I showed her pictures of Jude, and had started to tell her about special-needs Chinese adoptions when I was called to the window.  I was couriering a friend's adoption dossier as well as my own, and the friend had given me money to have her documents processed the fastest way possible, by which I would be able to pick them up the next day (I was having our documents processed the usual way, by which I will have to return to New York to pick them up tomorrow), so the next day I was back again on Chinese soil, and waited for two more hours in two separate lines to collect my friend's documents.

While waiting, I saw someone waving to me from one of the lines, and recognized my friend from the day before.  She motioned to me to come to join her in her line, which was not far from the window, for which she was roundly scolded by a young Chinese woman who we simply waved on ahead of us.  My friend, whose name was Weijin, told me that she had been thinking about our conversation from the day before.  She had one daughter, she told me, who was born in China.  When she was born, it was evident that she was cognitively disabled, and the doctors told Weijin that it would be better if she allowed her daughter to die.  But Weijin and her husband moved to America (they are naturalized citizens) and raised their daughter.

Weijin took out pictures, and I saw a round-faced girl with shining black hair, smiling broadly out of a school picture.  The girl, who Weijin and her husband named Ying -- which, she said, means "a little encouragement" -- is now twenty-four, and attends a sheltered workshop during the day.  Weijin said that for years she had asked God why He'd given her such a painfully disabled daughter, one so demanding, one in need of so much more than just a little encouragement.  Now, however, she realizes that her beautiful daughter is a great gift, and she told me that, since our conversation of the previous day, she had decided that she, too, wanted to adopt a special-needs child from China.  We cried and hugged each other as we stood there, causing some bemusement in the line behind us.

It's often (though not always) been my experience that, in the midst of the most annoying, trying, and harassing errands, something will happen that shifts my focus away from my annoyance and opens, as it were, a small door onto eternity.  I hope, as I always do, that I might have been able to convey an inkling of Christ's mercy, or at least a little encouragement, to Weijin, and I pray for her family and her adoption plans.

(Above: The ensemble "Gambei!" from the Metropolitan Opera's 2011 revival of John Adam's Nixon in China.)


Kimberlie said...

This is so very cool! How wonderful for God to open this little window of encouragement to you. And, congratulations on getting ever so close to the coveted "DTC!"

PS - I am "the Dumplings Mama" that you wrote to with questions so many months ago. I am so happy you are moving right along.

Pentimento said...

Thank you, Kimberlie! I will keep you posted. God bless.

Melanie B said...

What a beautiful story. Such a gift to know how your encounter encouraged Weijin. Prayers continuing for your adoption.

Pentimento said...

Thank you, Melanie.

Peter and Nancy said...

Beautiful! What a joy for you to play a part in a story God is orchestrating. Many lives will be changed forever because of these two conversations. The law of unintended consequences is a great thing where adoption is concerned -- we know that our lives and our child's life will be changed, but there are many more effects than we could ever know.
(mom to two home-grown sons, one daughter born in India, and waiting for another)

Anne-Marie said...

That brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely post to read after my Lenten fast from blogs! Happy Easter!
Praying for Jude and your whole family, and your mother, too.

Pentimento said...

Welcome back, Anne-Marie, and Happy Easter. Thank you so much for your prayers.

priest's wife said...

lovely to have a little brightness in the midst of all that red tape

Pentimento said...

It really was encouraging!