Friday, January 19, 2007

In The Throws Of Birthdaymania

Yesterday Ava turned 5. I've known her for 4 years and 4 months. She is an amazing person. She is smart and confident and beautiful on the inside and out. She tells me that she loves me more than snakes or some other insignificant thing in our lives, I in turn tell her that love her more than polar bears or toys or oranges. It is a game we play to keep in touch emotionally. She started it.

Individual birthdays are not important in China, where she was born. Everyone turns another year as Chinese New Year approaches. Big deal birthdays are something she was adopted into, and she's not complaining. The party is tomorrow. Miss Extrovert 2007 is relishing every moment of the planning and preparations.

Every year on January 18th I look at her a little bit differently. I can't help it. She seems foreign to me. Forgive the pun, it is not meant to be flip. Most other days I just see her as my kid. I forget where she was born, I forget her silky black hair and quick mind came from people I don't know. I forget January 18th was given to her by someone working in an orphanage as her day several weeks after her birth. But on January 18th I remember all those things. Sometimes it makes me want to cry. I know it shouldn't matter. I know it's not even my story, but it is someone's I love and I can't help it. I know most of all it is a gift that I have the time and means to spend precious time pondering this phenomenon.

I know Chinese children who are adopted sometimes get estimated birthdays due to the circumstances their birth parents have upon relinquishment. I knew this when I signed up. But I knew it in my head, no one told me it might feel different in my heart. No one told me it still might still sting 4 years and 4 months later.

It is at this general time of year I think of a woman I don't know, in China. She gave me Ava. Sort of. I'd like to think she gave me Ava. But really, she didn't. It is something I sometimes pretend to make myself think that everyone wins in adoption. I hope she is ok. I have nothing witty or intelligent to make it seem like everyone got the outcome they wanted. I just don't have that information.

But she is 5. And she is amazing. And I love her. I hope that is enough for today.


Johnny said...

I feel the same way you do when birthday time rolls around.

It's a day you focus on because of the festivities, and yet when you focus deeper, it has all these multi-layered implications and meanings.

Good post. I think of these exact things also.

And it's weird to be melancholy on a birthday, no?

atomic mama said...

Happy birthday to Ava, and thanks for sharing these thoughts. It's complicated, yes?

nikki said...

Yep, I also have layers upon layers of things going on in my head and my heart around Lily's birthday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Happy, Happy 5th Birthday Ava!!!

Susan said...

I think it's a great post and I had the same thoughts last week when Olivia turned 2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Happy Birthday Ava!

redmaryjanes said...

Your site feels warm and fuzzy. I do want to grab a cup of coffee and stay a while.
Your girls are beautiful too.
Have a great day!

Colleen said...

Happy Birthday Ava! 5 is a magical age.

Ani said...

Happy 5th birthday Ava!

I don't know if the bittersweet feeling around birthdays ever fades, but thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Hope the party rocks!

Stephanie V said...

Five? Wow, she's growing up so fast.

This was a beautiful post, made me tear up a bit. It all changes when you have them doesn't it? All those abstract thoughts out there you think you've absorbed become more personal and more real than you ever thought they could. There's a sensitivity when they're safely with you that you can't prepare for, it's like an open wound or exposed nerves. I think that's what they mean when they say "it's difficult" because loving them, wanting them to be happy and safe and warm, that takes work and strength, sometimes strength you didn't even know you had.

I really liked this post. Tell Big A Happy Birthday! for me.

Kristin said...

I know what you are talking about... the other day Eva and I had a conversation that somehow segued into my saying, "You know, somewhere in China, someone thinks about you everyday."

And I thought, wow, no matter the circustances, someone does think about her... about the baby they left at the gates of the SWI... I mean, even if you were a total stranger, you would never forget such an event...


Damn. Probably, it never gets easier.

But, on a lighter note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AVA!

Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful post Perrin. Thank you for your honesty. Happy birthday to your little angel.


Mortimer said...

Happy Birthday Ava !!!!!
You are five years very special.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Ava!
take care, Lin

jaj said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Ava!