How old was Jaclyn when you adopted her?
She was four years old when we first got her. That first meeting was dramatically different from what we thought it was going to be. When it came time to put her in the car, she just planted her feet and screamed. We were prepared for her to be frightened, but what we didn't understand was the true source of her distress, that she was leaving behind this child who she believed was her baby.
She had nicknamed him "Xiao Xiao," which means "very little"-and he was definitely very little.
How did you find out about her baby?
The first couple of days she was in shock. She literally didn't speak. But on that third day when the shock began to fade and she found her voice again, that's when she told us she had a baby.
How did you understand what she was saying?
We were still in China, we had a guide [who translated], and you can imagine the surprise when a four-year-old tells you something like that .it was hard to believe there was a world where children mothered other children. But from the very beginning her words rang with such truth.
|Jaclyn visits Xiao Xiao at the orphanage in China|
It was the thing I worried about the most, but it was actually the smallest of all the problems we had. She realized from the very beginning that we didn't understand her. So we pantomimed things with her, and she'd point. Within six weeks she could convey pretty complex thoughts and almost complete sentences. When I had her 6 weeks she crawled in bed with me one morning and said, "Jaclyn has two mamas." And my heart just stopped, and I said yes. It was the first inkling that she had some memory of her birth family. She said, "Jaclyn has one go-away mama and one this-a mama." And she pointed to me and said "I no want go-away mama, I want this-a mama." And I said "Oh Jaclyn, I'm so glad because I want you too." Then she said, "Jaclyn scared." And I said, "What are you scared of?" And she said "I scared this-a mama go away."
When did she started talking about Xiao Xiao?
She talked of him constantly-if you understand love to be a state where you can't be happy unless the person that you love is happy, this was literally how she lived her life. All of her joys were somewhat diminished because he wasn't there to partake of them. Like the first time I took her to McDonald's-she was so excited that here in America you not only got food, you got a little toy. And every time I took her after that I noticed she would take the toy out of the bag and hide it in this little suitcase in her closet. Finally I asked her what she was doing, and she said, "Xiao Xiao never got a little toy." She was saving all the toys for when she saw him again.
When his birthday came around she just sat on the floor and sobbed because now she knew what it was like to have a cake with your name on it and presents and streamers and balloons and a celebration of your life. And she knew he didn't have any of those things.
When did she start her campaign to get him adopted?
Immediately. The third day that we had her when she found her voice again-it was on that day that she first asked for help in finding a mama for him. What I didn't know then was that it would continue every day after that. Jaclyn asked every adult person that she knew every day to help her bring her baby here. She always believed it would happen, and for her it was a matter of when.