Mandarin Lessons

An unexpected part of my life in the adoption process: networking.

When Scott was looking for a job earlier this year, he was networking like crazy, and I pitied him. Attending meet and greets, happy hours, alumni events, emailing people he hadn’t talked to in years – “Hey, you might have a contact for me, can I buy you coffee and chat?” As an introvert, it sounded terrible.

But now that we’re launching into this crazy new adventure? Sign me up! I am an information gatherer, and since this is a whole new thing that I am learning from scratch, the possibilities of what I can gain insight into are seemingly endless. (Which I find mostly delightful.) So yes, I’ll talk to all the people, the more the merrier!

BUT, before I get too far down that rabbit trail, the point here: Mandarin lessons. Around the time that we submitted our initial application to CCAI, I was messaging with a friend, Rebecca, who lives halfway around the world and is in process to adopt from China with her husband, and she recommended that I meet up with one of her good friends, Jessica, who happens to live a half mile from me and is also in process on her first adoption. (Like I said: networking!) One of Jessica’s local friends, Heidi, grew up in China as a missionary kid and thus speaks fluent Mandarin, so when Jessica suggested that we pool our resources and hire Heidi for a handful of adoption-focused Mandarin lessons, I jumped at the chance! We’ve spent a few happy fall mornings sitting at my kitchen table sipping green tea out of a sweet Chinese tea set, scribbling notes on how to say things like, “Do you like noodles?” and, “It’s bath time.” and, “I’m your mom.” (!!!)

And then, Jessica suggested that we do a field trip to a nearby Asian market! If you know anything about me, I hope you know how deeply I love food, and thinking about food and planning food and cooking food.  Her suggestion launched a brilliant brainstorm that culminated in last night’s festivities: Friday night legit Chinese dinner! Heidi provided the favorite recipes, we stocked up on groceries at H Mart on Wednesday, and last night Jessica and Heidi and I spent a fun hour and a half talking and chopping and filling and stir-frying in my kitchen while Jessica’s husband and Scott played with the kids in the back yard. I laid out our good chopsticks, and we had a veritable feast! Pork and cabbage dumplings, “Three Fresh Things from the Earth” (eggplant, potato, and bell pepper stir fry), scrambled egg with tomato, and them some rice cookies for dessert.

Pfeff and I filling dumplings
Heidi manning the stove
Our Chinese Dinner! (Heidi, then Jessica and her family in the back and my crew in the front. Oh, Cub!)

I picked up some trainer chopsticks for the kids at the Asian market, and they were beyond thrilled to give them a try for dinner. (And then again for pancakes this morning, naturally!)

Jessica and her husband have been matched with a precious little girl during this month that we’ve been meeting up for language/culture lessons, and it has been so fun getting to celebrate with them, see their excitement for their new daughter, and hear all the ways that God has answered prayer within the process for them. They will likely be traveling to China by Thanksgiving to meet their daughter! I’m excited to see what the God has in store for them over the next few months, to see up close what that attachment transition looks like … and down the road it’ll be fun to know a family who looks a bit like ours.

All-in-all, this has been such a big and fun step toward making adoption feel more real and tangible. While we’ll be pulling our child away from his whole country and culture in order to give him a family and a future, and the little bits of language and food and attending our city’s annual Dragon Boat Festival can only touch at the very tips of ethnic identity for an Asian kid living in a white family … I can at least make him some homemade dumplings.

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