Wednesday, December 14, 2016
“Not a day goes by when the world doesn’t cry out for us, signal us with sounds and signs, calling us home.” – Phil Cousineau
The word ‘home’ contains a definition I have been seeking for the past eighteen years. Aside from the cliché phrase “Home is where the heart is”, many view home as a place where one resides. Some say home is where one grows up or is raised in. Others believe home is where one was born in. I will continue to wrap my head around this word that is so simple yet in a way, defines who we are.
My five-month year old self would tell you home is in Chongqing, China. My orphanage believes I was born there in the Sichuan province on July 17 in the year of 1998. For the first five months of my life, I lived in Chongqing. I was an unlucky orphan, but I was lucky to have a nanny, Peng Qirong, to care for me. She called me Shi Hua, fed me formula, and took me on strolls in the smog-filled and highly populated city when no one else did. I became even luckier when a family in the United States decided their family was not complete. In order to complete it, they would fly halfway across the world and adopt a baby girl on December 14, 1998. December 14, 1998 was the day when I, Emma Hua LeMay, was no longer an orphan. It was also the day I could no longer call Chongqing my home.
It’s hard to believe December 14, 1998 was eighteen years ago from today. Every year my family celebrates my adoption day by reminiscing about this special day when Peng Qirong handed me over to my parents and when I met my grandparents for the first time at Albany International Airport. Nana tells me I flashed her the biggest smile. A part of me wishes I could remember this day, but a big part of me is glad I cannot, for it would be extremely painful. Every day I think about the orphans in China and all over the world who weren’t or aren’t as lucky as I was and am. It’s simply heart breaking to think about babies and children who do not have a loving home or family. It seems as though those two things should be basic human rights. Unfortunately, they aren’t.
There are days when I try to imagine my life in China had I not been so lucky. It’s hard to picture my life there since it is so foreign to me when it could’ve been so native to me. Would I still receive a college education? Would I be able to speak English? Would I have friends or other close relationships? Would I still follow my passions? Would I be married this young? Would I be working in a factory? These questions are very overwhelming, and I try not to think about them often. Instead, I think about how blessed I am to have the family that I do.
This is the first adoption day that I am an official adult. My parents aren’t legally obligated to take care of me as an eighteen-year-old. But they still do. They’re funding my college education, continuously encouraging me to achieve my goals, and are the ultimate best friends anyone would be lucky to have. Although I am going to continue to grow up, I hope they know that I will always be their little girl, and they will always be my biggest superheroes. Celebrating my adoption day 4,000 miles away for them has me feeling a different type of homesick. Good thing January 3 is nearly here.
Today I thought a lot about my trip to China in June last summer. I am so happy I got to see the country where I was born with my mom and grandma. China will always hold a special place in my heart, and I still want to go back and volunteer at an orphanage in the future. It’s the least I can do in addition to promoting adoption, even though it can be a sensitive topic.
My parents introduced me to their family members who have naturally played a tremendous role in my life. I’ve spent as much time at Nana & Pop’s house as I have at my own, and I always look forward to visits with Granny, the younger Dauenheimers, the Rosses, Leslie & Howard, Elita & Roger, and all of our extended family members. Words can’t explain how grateful I am to be part of such an incredible close-knit family; it’s certainly not perfect, but no family is.
December 14 will always be a special date to my family and me. I can’t fully express my love and gratitude for the family I have and the support, memories, and opportunities they have generously and selflessly provided. I love you all, more than you will ever know (I know I don’t say it enough). And I miss you very, very much. xo ~e.