Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our daughter's jiejie

Through the good offices of the splendid and always-helpful people at Holt, we learned a bit more about somebody important to our daughter.

In her files, there is frequent mention that she enjoys playing with her older sister.  In photos, we can sometimes catch just a glimpse of another little girl: a hand, part of a dress, etc.  We were curious: is the jiějie* the biological child of the foster parents?  Another foster child?  We thought that the latter was likely and it occured to us that, if such a thing could be done, we would adopt both little girls so as to keep "sisters" together.

Within a few days, Holt had tracked down the required information and put us into contact with the other little girl's adoptive parents.  I'm sorry to say that they don't live very close to us, but I very much hope that our daughters will keep in touch as they grow older.  My wife and I are also so happy to know that Caroline's jiějie will soon have a "forever family"** of her own.


(*) Jiějie (姐) means "older sister" in Mandarin.  This language is very detailed with regards to relations, with different words for relatives on the father's or the mother's sides of the families as well as birth order.  In the old Charlie Chan movies, it was a running joke that he would refer to his (usually bumbling though courageous) sons as "Number Three son" or "Number Five son".  This is actually rather close to how Chinese families DO refer to their children.

(**) I have read various objections to this term, mostly stemming from the concept that nothing is "forever".  Meh.  It seems to me a reasonably accurate phrase that, more importantly, is pleasing and describes the feeling that adoptive parents have towards their children.  Caroline will not be our daughter pro tempore: she will be ours until the day we die and (assuming I don't wind up in the Bad Place) in the life of the world to come.

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