“My children, I miss you.
How much, you can’t know.
I laughed with you, I cried with you.
Helped each of you grow.
I kissed you every bedtime.
Your laughter woke me every dawn.
Then one day I woke and you’d grown and gone.
And fathers of fathers, fathers of mothers,
Strange how kids measure your worth.
They’re here and then they scatter,
but in some way they make it matter
That I walked the face of this earth.” — Richard Maltby, Jr. from Closer Than Ever (a musical revue in two acts)
I had just gotten off of a conference call with Rosetta Stone. I had been speaking with one of my Rosetta Stone Studio Coaches, a native Vietnamese speaker and one of the nicest people ever, also a Rosetta Stone employee. We had been trying to get on a conference call with my daughter’s birth parents in Vietnam to tell them Rosetta Stone wants to give them some language learning software. But it wasn’t quite working so we had just hung up when our home phone rang. It looked like a strange number.
I don’t usually pick up when the number isn’t one I recognize. Sales people….
When I picked up, I heard “Allo?” and the sounds of the street from the other side of the world. It was Vietnam calling! And suddenly I had a real reason to say, “Chào anh. Có khỏe không?” And I must have been understood because the speaking on the other end of the phone was pretty fast and I couldn’t understand it then. And I must say I was both intimidated and wishing I was through Vietnamese Level 3! My daughter was sitting next to me and a phrase popped into my head from my Rosetta learning. It was a phrase for my daughter to say, “Đây là bốem”. “This is my father.”
I quickly put her on the phone to say “Chào bố,” or “Hi father.” She pronounced it pretty well! It released a torrent a Vietnamese from him and she looked at me helplessly.
McKenna has two fathers.
One she lives with and one we knew nothing about until last summer.
When we left for Vietnam and China last summer, we knew we wouldn’t get to meet Sheridan’s birth family. We had no names and no contacts. But for years, I had wondered if we would ever meet McKenna’s birthmother. When I read through the adoption papers, including the letter explaining why she had given McKenna up, there it was…..because the father would not marry her.
As a woman, I could not help but side with her. All my thoughts and sympathies were with her. My fantasies revolved around a beautiful reunion between birth mother, grandmother and daughter some day. What kind of man, in that culture especially, would get a woman pregnant and then leave her? And after that, I barely gave him another thought.
So there we were in Thai Nguyen getting ready for dinner at our TWO star hotel. Mr. Long and our driver had gone out to look for McKenna’s grandmother. When he returned, we sat in the 110 degree hotel lobby and he told me that McKenna’s birth mother had NOT moved away. That she had a store right near the entrance to the community where she had grown up.
At least he was pretty sure she was the birth mother. The name was right and he told me, she looked just like McKenna. The same nose and the same wavy hair. The same wavy hair.
She wanted to meet McKenna………….
I went numb. It feels like you must feel when you get your biggest wish ever. And then I got nervous. What about her husband?? How would he feel about her having had a child from before. I didn’t want to jeopardize her current situation in any way. He must have seen that on my face.
Because Mr. Long said, “It will be okay. McKenna’s birth father married her mother afterall. They have two other children together.”
………….I temporarily lost my hearing…………..
“….want to come to the hotel tonight.” I walked back to the restaurant where we had been eating. McKenna had a brother and sister………
And a birth father. He stayed. Came back. He didn’t abandon her.
I sat down at the table and looked at my husband. He had no idea what was going on. I took a deep breath and turned to McKenna and asked her if she wanted to meet her birth mother and father and she looked at me over the top of her glasses and slowly said yes and we went upstairs to get ready for the meeting of a lifetime.
Đây là bốem, đây là mẹ em.
“Các con tôi, tôi nhớ em.
Bao nhiêu, bạn không thể biết.
Tôi cười với bạn, tôi đã khóc với bạn.
Giúp mỗi người phát triển.
Tôi hôn người bạn mỗi khi đi ngủ.
Tiếng cười của bạn đánh thức tôi mỗi bình minh.
Sau đó một ngày tôi tỉnh dậy và bạn sẽ trưởng thành và biến mất.
Và cha cha, cha của bà mẹ,
Lạ như thế nào đo lường giá trị của bạn trẻ.
Họ đang ở đây và sau đó họ phân tán,
nhưng một cách nào đó họ làm cho nó có vấn đề
Điều đó tôi bước đi trên mặt đất này. “
Part Two of this three part series will be posted on Rosetta Stone’s Blog site: http://blog.rosettastone.com/ in a week or so.
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