Monday, August 4, 2008

Chinese Good Fortune

We have been home from China a week eating pizza and chicken nuggets and tonight it just wasn't cutting it. We were craving Chinese food.

Before we moved to Missouri we ate Chinese takeout at least once a week. Our neighborhood in Tennessee was lucky enough to have a small Chinese restaurant and they knew us well there. Let me rephrase that: They knew Jenna well there.

We started going there when they first opened and Jenna was only 2 1/2, Ryan's age now that I think of it. I have found that most Asian people love seeing Asian children and our restaurant was no exception. On our first visit they wanted to know where Jenna was from. I told them Hubei and the 2 women working there looked at each other, repeated "Hubei" and shook their heads. Wow! I wondered what that meant. I knew they were from Shanghai so I wondered if they looked down on Hubei because its mostly a rural province.

We ordered our food to eat there and while we were eating one of the women came out and said that girls from Hubei were usually short. I told them thank you, it was good to know that. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Jenna that she was destined to be short. She's not tall but she's not the shortest in her class either. But nevertheless, they seemed to forgive her for coming from Hubei and her destiny with a small stature and loved her. Every time we went in I coached her to say "Ni Hao" and she would run in and run behind the counter where they promptly picked her up and took her back into the kitchen. Then back she came where she was presented with chop sticks, a fortune cookie and more often than not, candy.

So tonight we were craving Chinese food and needed to search out a new restaurant. Ross remembered one that my brother Kevin had taken him to last winter and I loaded Jenna and Ryan into the van and we headed off.

I freely admit I had higher hopes than just good Chinese food at the restaurant. I was hoping that the people in the restaurant could talk to Ryan. More importantly, I was hoping he would talk to them.

I have come to realize that Ryan is a very fearful child. He cries over many things, although less now than he did the first 2 weeks. He's terrified of many situations: our small dog, the swimming pool, and especially strangers. In public places that he is unfamiliar with he insists on being carried, not in a "I want my way" but a "I'm terrified and I need you to hold me and protect me" kind of way. I was hoping to maybe get some insight to what he was thinking and feeling.

We entered the restaurant and the staff instantly wanted to know how long they had been in the US and where they were from. Jenna was a little quieter than usual but loved the attention, especially when they told her what a pretty girl she was. I think they were surprised to learn that Ryan was a boy. His cleft lip scar is very faint and not obvious at all. They were even more surprised and excited to learn he had only been here one week. They tried to talk to him in both English and Chinese but he got his "deer in the headlights" look and turned his head and refused to look at them. He gets this look of utter fear and seems to shut down. They were very sweet to him but he wanted no part of it.

I ordered our food and they told me we could wait in a room next to the entrance. While we were in there I held Ryan on my lap and with just the 3 of us he relaxed and we started a kissing game. All 3 of us were kissing each others cheeks, noses, hands. Ryan thought this was so funny and he would giggle and giggle, until one of the women came in and sat down. She tried to talk to him in English and he shut down again. What she told me next was what I have been wondering about the last few days. She told me she thought he had been mistreated before I got him. She thought he seemed extremely frightened and she wondered if it was because the people who took care of him before had been unkind to him. Then she told him in English that he was safe now that he had a mother who loved him very much and would take good care of him.

There has been a thread on the Yahoo list Loving Chinese Children about the new book that just came out, Silent Tears:A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt. Kay volunteered in Chinese orphanage and she talks about the horrors that she and the children there experienced. The discussion on LCC has been about the treatment that our children received before their adoptions and it has made me wonder if Ryan's behaviour was only from the trauma of his adoption or something even larger. Honestly, I had hoped he would speak to the Chinese staff at our new restaurant. I wanted them to ask him if he was happy with his new family and if he had been treated well by his old foster family. I just wanted some insight to his past experience.

But instead he clung desperately to me and buried his head in my neck. Perhaps words weren't necessary after all.

We took our food home and dug in. I found it interesting that the little boy who used chopsticks with great skill when I first got him refused to use chopsticks tonight and insisted on a fork while the rest of us used chopsticks.

But the best surprise was after we all finished and the kids opened their fortune cookies. Trace helped Ryan open his and he handed me Ryan's fortune to me with a smile. It said:

You have a strong desire for a home and your family comes first.

Actually the fortune only got it part right: He had a strong desire for a home and his family has made him first.


Traci said...

Nice....very nice.

wingepr said...

Oh my heart aches for him. My Gracie has been home almost 4 months.


Kristin said...

Oh Denise, you made me cry once again. My thoughts are always with you all. I hope little Ryan is able to begin to grow in trust and love for his new family.

Mom2Three said...

My Emily Rose was surely mistreated to the point of neglect. At 16 months she was like a 6-month-old, couldn't crawl, lift her head when on her belly on the bed, didn't let go of me for the next two years and feared every Chinese person we ever met... but the mind works past these things apparently, because now (at 5) she loves China, loves being Chinese and knowing that she was adopted by us and that we love China, too. She is glad to be going back for a brother this time!
Her sister Mary Pearl came home SPOILED ROTTEN, but that is different story!
Waiting for our Little Emperor,

The Sharp Family said...

Oh Denise, I miss your family so badly. Everyone that knows about Norah knows about your beautiful family as well. I can't wait to see all of you again!!! Please tell the kids we said hello and give them big hugs and kisses for us!!! XOXO Pen