Recently, I spoke about Superkids to a group of children adopted from China. They were part Families of China Children (FCC) Westchester County, New York. I had an hour or so to talk and another hour for the kids to try out my therapy toys and then we did an arts and crafts project together. During my talk, I mentioned waiting children and got a great question from one of the kids. A sweet little girl said to me, "what are they waiting for?". “Hmm and umm”, were my articulate responses. Then I took a breath and said, "their forever families!". This really made me think about waiting children, how the term came to be used for orphan children and what it means. Those of us who travel in country are the ones chronicling the journey of these children. We meet them, and see them once or twice before they go home with a Mom and Dad. Until “gotcha” day we refer to them as waiting children.
A few thoughts on this: they wait for everything. Wait for a caregiver to tell them it's time to get up, wait for breakfast, wait for a diaper to be changed. They wait to be fed, wait for a drink, wait to get washed up, wait for a turn to play with a toy; waiting in every aspect of their life. Responses are not immediate for the children in orphanages. They get used to needs not being met immediately. Most of all they wait for Love; that one Mom and Dad that belongs to them. The people that will Love them unconditionally, forever – a family! All of this is beyond comprehension as they wait in the orphanage. They do not know what it feels like to be in a family. Their lives are a succession of caregivers and different rooms as they grow.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a family waits. A child is growing in their heart. They wait too.
So, who is good at waiting? No one! Do we show patience in any aspect of our lives? Personally, I am a most impatient person. “Do it now, get it done, just keep at it” are my mantras. While I persevere, I keep hope alive that all my efforts will make a change. I think in many ways that is what waiting children do. Once while visiting with a child in foster care outside of Shanghai, a child who was six going on seven asked me, why did it take so long and why wasn't her family coming to China to get her yet? “Hmmm, umm”, I told her that it would be soon and took a picture for her waiting family. Both waiting for each other, both hopeful. Every child I meet in China is hopeful, as is every family in the process of adopting. It is a quality of the human spirit, to strive forward into the unknown, to wish for what we may not even understand.