Cate hadn’t even entered the U.S. when Tess informed us “I have a sister in China, another sister, and her name is Gigi.” This was a name that no one had ever spoken of before. I laughed, but sweet Tess, she insisted. She was 3 years old at the time, I just assumed this phase would end as soon as the reality of Cate set in, because while the idea of Cate was beautiful, the reality is rough.
Yet, Tess and Cate have forged this bond that I have so much trouble explaining. It’s almost as if in all Cate’s wildness, she can sense that Tess is fragile. Cate is careful with Tess, kind with her, loving to her, and rough with the rest of the world. And, if ever she forgets, Tess reminds her “It’s okay, you’re only a baby. You’re learning, and I will teach you.” These girls, I tell you.
As they forged this bond, Tess simply became more insistent. We tried to give her dolls with the same name that her supposed sister had. We named a stuffed giraffe Gigi. No dice. We gave her an Asian-American doll for Christmas. We put a note with her that said “My name is Gigi.” She was insistent. Her sister was REAL. She was in CHINA. And, she was waiting.
A few times a month, I will see files of children in China who wait, kids who need advocates to shine a spotlight on them to help their parents find them. One day, the file of a nearly 3-year-old popped up in a Waiting Child Group. Tess was sitting next to me as I looked at her info. She watched the pictures pop up on my screen and, without missing a beat, she said to me, “I love her. There’s my sister.”
My heart skipped a beat.
“Why do you think SHE is your sister?” We see so many children every month. Why this little girl?
Her answer was simple. “She needs me.”
The little girl’s diagnosis. A heart defect, like Tess. An eye deformity of her left eye, like Cate. But, added on to that is congenital deafness.
“I’m so sorry, sweets. Her needs are too much. We need to find her a family that can afford to adopt her and that can take really good care of her.”
Then, came the largest, most determined voice that this tiny body can muster. “She is my sister, and WE are her family.”
Whatever. She’s 3-years-old. I’m the adult. I’m out of money, and I am scared. I spoke to WACAP, our amazing adoption agency. We joked about this being Tess’ Gigi. They asked if this was the advocacy name they could choose for her. Sure. Go ahead. Maybe this cute little anecdote would help her family hear about her, her family that isn’t ours. I would advocate for that.
I advocated. I advocated the heck out of this child. I spoke to SO many families. No one could do it, and during the times that anyone considered it, I felt my heart strings pull. One day, the pull became so bad, that I realized I didn’t want her to find a family. I wanted US to be her family.
Enter two full months of discussion between FPD and I. Could we do this? She’s deaf. Deaf. As in, she cannot hear. And, she has a heart defect. Ugh. A heart defect. We were already consumed with Tess’s heart and trying to find a way to help her. Could we take on another child that might need heart intervention? And, her eye. How much could she see? Is it possible she would be deaf AND blind? Maybe. I don’t think so, but we won’t know until she’s ours.
This seems insane. We told ourselves that OVER and OVER. This is insane. You are insane.
But, there is a little 26 lb dynamo, named Tess, in our world who thinks this isn’t insane at all. This tiny advocate is sure that this is what life is all about, stepping out and being rewarded for being brave enough to choose to hold on to hope. I have to think she might be onto something. She knows things that I will never know. She teaches me so much every day about life, and love.
So, we decided to move forward with hope, because we only get one life.
And in that moment, a tiny trio was born, a tri-ette if you will. Three tiny sisters who will move through life together, forever united because one of them was brave enough to say “there she is, mom, there she is. Please. GO GET HER!”
–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to see three sisters TOGETHER.