I remember the joy that I felt when I first learned that I would have a little sister.
I remember the excited jitters as we met the social worker for the first time. “How do you feel about having a little sister?” she asked. It wasn’t a hard question to answer.
I remember the long drives into the city to get papers signed and processed. The time we spent in the dull waiting rooms felt like hours, but they always felt so productive and important.
I remember going to the meeting where they gave my parents her picture. Everybody cried.
I remember gazing up at her referral picture, tacked up on our refrigerator. It was a sacred piece of paper – the only picture we had of her. I didn’t like to touch it too much, for fear that it would be damaged.
I remember the family discussions around the dinner table. What would her name be? It took us too long to decide, but when we knew, we knew.
I remember packing to go to China. I felt so special that I, as the oldest, got to go. I couldn’t wait to fly, tour, and meet my sister for the first time.
I remember the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City… and being the pale foreigner girl in everyone’s picture.
And then I remember that day, the afternoon we sat in our hotel room, trying and failing to occupy our minds. There was a murmur, and then elation pulsed throughout all of the rooms occupied by our travel group. They were here.
I remember trying to capture the moment on the video camera. I remember helping my mom reach for a tissue as she held a little child in her arms.
I remember seeing that child’s face for the first time and wanting to cry as well. I remember how she didn’t make a sound, how little her strength was and how empty her eyes were. I’ll never forget the day she cried for the first time, and the next where she smiled, and the next when she vocalized happily to a stuffed penguin.
I didn’t realize then just how significant those moments were. I didn’t understand how heartbreaking it was that, until the morning in a Guangzhou hotel, she had never babbled. But now I think that I see it all, or at least much more of it. It breaks my heart, and persuades me to love my little sister with everything that I have.
And not 2 years after that first, beautiful meeting with my very own little sister, I got to meet another. It hasn’t always been easy to be nice to them, because sometimes they’re not perfect, but they’ve always been easy to love.
When Hannah traveled to China in 2002 with her parents to adopt her sister Elisabeth, she fell in love with the country and people. In 2004, when her other sister Naomi was adopted, she started dreaming of going back. It took 5 years for that dream to come true. She now serves in a foster home for special needs orphans in China. Hannah spends her days studying, writing for the foster home and on her personal blog, Loving Dangerously, and most importantly, holding babies. Hannah loves the adventure of living overseas with her family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.