Another One Is Leaving the Nest

WenYu and I had a great time on the south shore this past Saturday, finishing up the last bit of shopping that needed to be done before she leaves for college next week. We had a fun time together, and enjoyed our lunch stop at Puka Dogs in Poipu.

This will be WenYu’s last week of work for the summer; Saturday is her final day. She’s been starting to get her things organized, and packing will begin in earnest next weekend. We’ll finish that up on Monday, and on Tuesday morning she and I will leave to take her back to Massachusetts.

WenYu's referral picture, the only one we had before we met her

WenYu’s referral picture, the only one we had before we met her

Although she’s not our youngest child, WenYu was our last baby, the last child whose diapers we changed, watched take her first step and all those other milestones. Brett and I had requested to adopt an older child, a toddler between the ages of two and four because we were getting older, and had also gotten rid of almost all of the baby things we had borrowed for Meiling’s arrival. When we got “the call” from our social worker two months earlier than expected, letting us know that we had been matched with a 10-month old baby, we were told we could turn down the referral because she was so much younger than we had requested. However, Brett and I both felt there must have been a good reason this baby was matched to us, and we accepted the referral without hesitation.

In Beijing, age seven

In Beijing, age seven. WenYu thanked us for taking her when we got home, and told us “I left a piece of my heart there.”

WenYu was and continues to be the easiest baby/toddler/child/teenager/young woman to raise. There were no “terrible” years, ever. No scenes, no tantrums, no talking back, no demands, no sulking. We could have sent her to have tea with the Queen at age three and not worried about her manners or ability to make conversation. She’s always been a good listener, and able to see what’s under the surface in almost every situation . . . an old soul. She has always provided a calm, serene presence in our family. She is the child that eats anything without complaint; the one that when you ask for an opinion gives a thoughtful one, and with kindness; the student who gives a little bit more than what is asked for.

She’s never been a pushover though. She knows how to assert herself, both subtly and otherwise, and you know if she asks you stop, or says no, that she means it. One of my favorite memories was when I took her to swim lessons when she was three years old. Meiling was also learning to swim and took to it like a fish to water, moving up to the next level after each six-week session. WenYu, on the other hand, happily went along to the pool, put on her swimsuit without complaint, got into the pool with her classmates, and then did nothing. She ended the year at the same level she started because she was just not interested in learning to swim at age three and this was how she chose to assert herself. But the next year? She decided she was ready, and after that she was the one moving up after each session, and ended up surpassing everyone else. We’ve learned that she may do things on her own schedule, but she always gets done what she needs to, and always on time.

Is she perfect? Most definitely not. Her spirit animal is the sloth, and her pace can sometimes leave the rest of us feeling very frustrated. She’s a packrat and her room is always a mess, and I genuinely feel for her upcoming roommate. We’ve made her promise that she at least keeps her mess to her side of the room.

High school senior

WenYu wrote the following when she was 16:

Sometimes as an adoptee, I feel like my mosaic is flipped over, so all my pieces are undetected, mounted on a foreign substance — material that is familiar to me, but completely bizarre to some. People want to inspect me. They want to know my “dramatic” life story. They want to know about my “real” parents. Am I related to my sisters? Would I change anything? In return, I smile and shake or nod my head respectfully, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder, “Why does it matter?”

I don’t mind being asked these questions. I believe curiosity isn’t something that should be held in contempt, but sometimes I am confronted by people who believe that because I’m adopted, I’m missing a crucial part of who I am. They look at me as though my picture can never be complete. My personal experiences have actually had the opposite effect. I am confident in this growing montage of myself. I know what I like, what I believe in, what I want to do with my life. I don’t think anyone can control these things. Of course our parents will influence us, but it is my own decision whether I find their opinions to be true or not.

As I’ve grown, more pieces have been added to my “big picture,” slowly covering that unknown material that is my foundation. I was born a clean slate, but it was me who found these fragments that made my mosaic strong. After 15 years of being an adoptee, I realize that everyone is defined by more than where or who they come from. I am more than blood and DNA. I am more than a pair of brown eyes. I am a mind, and a voice. I am somebody’s daughter. Someone’s sister, whether we came from the same people or not. I am—in the simplest, most true way of describing it—Me.

We are going to miss WenYu so very, very much, but at the same time we are so excited for her that we can barely stand it. She is ready to fly away as her own person, and we want to yell, “Look out world! Here she comes!”

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14 thoughts on “Another One Is Leaving the Nest

  1. Julie says:

    I love your objectivity in this assessment. She will fly high….and perhaps touch the sun….in the end though, she knows what will warm her and burn through her…she is now a “bird in flight.” Good luck to her.

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  2. JJ says:

    What a powerful and emotional post. WenYu has a good head on her shoulders and is mature beyond her years. She is ready for this next chapter in her life and I’m sure she will do fine in college. Kudos to you and Brett for you did a wonderful job raising her and gave her all the tools she needs to succeed. Congrats!

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    • Laura says:

      Thank you! WenYu always has been mature beyond her years – it’s been an amazing experience to watch her grow over the years. We can’t even begin to imagine now where she’ll end up, but are pretty sure wherever it is will be fantastic.

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    • Laura says:

      It was her fourth grade teacher who first told us she was an “old soul.” He said he’d never had anyone like her before, and got her interested into writing.

      People have often told us that our girls are “lucky” because we adopted them. Brett and I believe it’s the opposite, that we are the lucky ones for being given the privilege to parent these girls. Our son is pretty terrific too – another case where we were the lucky ones. We’ve always seen our job as making sure that when the time comes our children are ready to fly and soar with their own wings.

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    • Laura says:

      Thanks! Yes, her sisters provide a bit more drama, but not all that much. One of our joys in raising our daughters has been how well they get along with each other. I love having them all together, and am already looking forward to Christmas break when they’ll all be here.

      And yes, WenYu is beautiful, both inside and out. Her looks though are something my husband and I had absolutely nothing to do with (except for the years of braces we paid for 😉 ). We have always wished the girls’ birth parents could see how beautiful and accomplished their daughters have become.

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