Adoption activist Champnella describes how her four-year-old daughter persuaded her new family to help the little boy she left behind in China.
The author is frank about the stresses and dilemmas she and husband Rick faced after they adopted Lou Jiao in 1999 and renamed her Jaclyn. Though sympathetic to the efforts scantily funded Chinese orphanages are making to take care of the thousands of abandoned children like Lou Jiao, she is also disturbed by some of their practices. While most employees are loving caregivers, such amenities as toilets, beds, and clothing are grossly inadequate, corporal punishment is common, and bullying goes unpunished. These conditions haunted Jaclyn’s dreams during her first year in America and made her difficult to handle, especially around bedtime. Cindy and Rick already had six-year-old Kate, and three-year-old Chinese adoptee Christy, but from the moment she became their daughter, Jaclyn was obviously different. Energetic and high-spirited, with an excellent sense of humor, she also talked obsessively about her “baby,” worrying that he was being bullied and not taken care of. As she learned more English, Jaclyn campaigned to get that baby, Xiao Mei Mei, adopted. She prayed each night and constantly badgered her mother. In late 1999, Champnella took Jaclyn to China, met Xiao Mei Mei, and was immediately smitten. She and Rick decided to adopt the tiny boy, even though their finances were stretched thin and she could barely juggle her job as a school administrator with her family responsibilities. A happy solution to their dilemma was provided when the author’s sister Laura, another adoptive parent who had met Xiao Mei Mei on the same visit, declared that she wanted to adopt him. Champnella affectingly details how Jaclyn accepted this option for Xiao Mei Mei (newly christened Lee), finding joy in having him close and peace in no longer having to worry about his plight.
Sensitively pitched, moving, and refreshingly unsentimental.