So anyone who knows us knows we don’t actually have any children but our dream is to adopt a baby here in China during our stay. However, if you follow our blog or FB posts, we also often talk about “our daughter, Zoe.” So what is going on? Just to clear up the confusion this has caused, here is the story of Zoe.
Zoe was a student in Seth’s Business English class at LanJiang ZhiZhong. Her English was good and she was eager to get better. She worked hard in class and went out of her way to talk to Seth outside of class. Her and her BFFs Arlene and Jack became regulars at our home.
By the time Chinese New Year rolled around, Zoe was spending more time with us, helping me shop, watching Vash for us, stuff like that. When you come to China, students will be very eager to help you. They like to be helpful and they get to practice their English. Some students you then will grow close to and become good friends with. She called us up on Lantern Festival and asked us to go to the park with her to light lanterns. It was so much fun, the only holiday that it didn’t rain, and we really started to grow closer.
When we decided to take our trip to Zhangjiajie, we knew we had to take Zoe and Arlene with us. And it was a great trip.
Zoe has a mom and dad. But her father is a migrant worker who lives in GuangZhou 11 months out of the year (like the majority of fathers in China). Her mother lives in LiXian, but works at a restraunt about 12 hours a day. Her family is very poor, they (at the time) lived in a single room (not a single bedroom home, but literally only 1 room was their home) with no TV or computer or internet. Any free time Zoe had she spent either out with Arlene and Jack or on her own in her very boring house. Jack’s family is from Hebei way up north and Arlene is from the countryside. So any holiday breaks, neither one is around. So she was spedning more time with us. Since jack and Arlene would both be gone for the summer, we started making plans for Zoe to work as a summer teaching assistant for Seth at his school. While the students were counting down the days to summer vacation this spring, word suddenly came that all the students had to go to Shanghai to work in a factory for the summer. We didn’t want to lose her, so we made arrangements with the school for Zoe to stay in LiXian and still work with Seth. The new school (and our new apartment) was on the other side of town from LanJiang and Zoe’s house, so the time between classes and after school until about 8 at night, Zoe spent with us. So, we all grew very close, almost like family. We had a routine where Seth and Zoe would go to work and I would cook dinner and Zoe and I would clean up together and do the shopping. We played games and watched movies together. It was great. Eventually we started just calling Zoe our daughter and she called us mom and dad. I thought that her mother might get offended, but it turned out that she was very greatful for Zoe to have us to hang out with, for us to watch over her, and knows that we can help give her more advantages in life. Her mother even jokes that Zoe needs to get a very good job because she now has 4 parents to care for in their old age. We were very sad to leave LiXian mainly because we didn’t want to leave her behind. But she still texts me almost every night. It is very common in China for foreigners to be “adopted” by a Chinese family – people who will share the holidays with you, help you shop or rent an apartment, teach you about the language and culture, help you find work, and generaly make you feel loved and looked after. Being so far from home and family, forging these new ties are very important and natural for people who plan to stay in a foreign country for any length of time. So, Zoe is our family. We love her very much and have an interest in her well-being and her future. She stayed with us over the holiday weekend, and will spend next summer with us too. We are planning on bringing her home with us for about 2 weeks in February 2013, and we are going to help her apply to work at Epcot for her 2014 summer break. We are hoping she will start college here in Changsha in Fall of 2013 and that she can live here with us on weekends.
So, there you go. Now when we say “our daughter” you will know who we mean…unless we are talking about Vash.