Abi’s Story: Must Love Kids

When Chris and I were in our late twenties, we were going to a megachurch in Denver called Cherry Hills Community Church. It had a lot going for the late twenties and early thirties crowd, and we made a lot of friends there.

One Sunday we were sitting in the auditorium before the service started, idly paging through the bulletin. Our eyes landed on this squib, at almost exactly the same moment.

Adopt A Child from China

Do you have a heart for children? Come and learn about foreign adoption in China. We will meet in Room 208 next Wednesday evening at 7 pm. 

     We just looked at each other. Instantly, we both knew what to do. Wednesday evening couldn’t come fast enough! We rolled up our sleeves and plunged into the application. The process was long and complicated, and we discovered that the vast majority of people who participate in international adoptions do so in part because of fertility issues. As this was not the case with Chris and me, we often floated on the outskirts of group discussions.

     We had our homestudy, answered all kinds of questions, and broke open every piggy bank and source of cash we could find to pay the exorbitant fees. Chris used to refer to them as ‘ransom for our daughter.’


When our application was completed, China closed. NBC had done a series about Chinese orphanages called, “The Dying Rooms.” The gist of it involved hidden cameras, and footage of sick little girls deemed to be too needy to take care of. Should one of the babies be found in this condition, they would be placed in these rooms, and an attendant would come back when the crying was over. It was horrible, true, and irrelevant. American journalists cost the Chinese government ‘face’, and China would make us pay, somehow.Well. The cessation of Chinese adoptions was supposed to last 30 days. It stretched to 60, then 90, than ‘an indefinite period of time’. Who knew when China would open up again? So we decided to wade in the water again. 10 weeks into my pregnancy with Faith, I got a phone call after particularly vigorous bout of vomiting.  China had just opened again, and our application would be processed shortly.  Yep, I thought it was pretty funny too.

We boarded the plane with the rest of our group when Faith was six months old. China in 1994 was quite a place to be. Chinese at the time had a thinly veiled antagonism toward foreigners adopting ‘their’ children.We would travel around with our new children, and draw quite a crowd.  Abi didn’t look anything like the gorgeous creature you see here. In fact, it’s a family joke that Abi was the scrubbiest, weirdest looking little kid you’d ever want to see! Chicken pox had raced through her orphanage, leaving scars on this kid’s face. The back of her head had flattened, as she spent most of her first nine months on her back. Lice and bedbugs were rampant in her orphanage, so her head was shaved.

To top it off, she showed her native intelligence by bellowing her objections to the two strangers who were now showing her all sorts of attention. Who were these people, anyway? Where is my cribmate? Restore my world, such as it was, right now!

It was such fun getting to know this kid! In a lot of ways, she was the most challenging  to parent. Often times friends ask me, “Well, she was only 9 months old when you got her, how hard can it be?”

It’s amazing to me how often people underestimate children.I usually don’t answer that question anymore. Some folks ask that and they already have children. I just (inwardly) shake my head and wonder just when they’ll start to pay attention.

Baby Miao Zhu (Abi’s given name) missed her biological family terribly. She had a very difficult time bonding with Chris or me,  and simply couldn’t deal with transitions of any sort. I remember one October going to Vail to spend a few days with my parents. She wailed in the room for nearly four hours.

Fortunately for us, we had several good attachment therapists in the area. After working with Abi for about a year, amazing things started to happen. She sprouted six teeth in a month. She grew and inch in two months. In the midst of all this, she started to walk. The therapist explained that it was as if her brain was giving her body permission to grow. Really, it would bring tears to watch. 

At seventeen, Abi decided to completely freak me out by wanting to go to art school in Brooklyn.

Born in China, raised in the mountains of Colorado, now wanting to spend a month at the Pratt Institute? I’d better sit down.

Abi makes friends easily!

Abi took to Pratt like a rocket to space. I couldn’t believe it! She mastered the subway easily, and actually listened to all of my cautions about city navigation. She poured herself into her artwork. Often, when she would call me, it would be with only a few hours sleep. She was so tired, she would speak in fragments.
“Mom…I really like drafting….vellum is cool…..we had nudes in class today….”When the month was over, her artwork was judged by a professor. It was a rigorous procedure, but then Abi got Chris’ work ethic ages ago. She works her little tail off. Her focus was interior design. Here her professor is critiquing some of her models. She drew, modelled, painted, collaged, and charcoaled her way through six hours of college credit, and came home with a remarkable portfolio and A’s. What a great kid.
In a way, I think that the loss of Chris was the hardest for Abi. If you think about it from the body count perspective, that makes a lot of sense. Abi, the knowledgeable baby, was perfectly aware that her biological mother, father, grandparents, and any other Chinese relatives were lost to her forever.  After she was adopted by us, she was very much her father’s daughter. She had Chris’ wry sense of humor and witty tongue. She has his sense of productivity and hard work, and his sense of making the most of his talents. She also has a mirror of his relationship to God. Chris was always just a bit suspect of God the Father, as his own father was such a criminal.
Abi has a similar mistrust, and who can blame her? She’s lost two fathers here on earth, and doesn’t yet have the perspective that this grieves her Heavenly Father immensely.
But what a gift for me. Psalms says that “Children are a Gift from the Lord.” In spite of all the work, and all the trials, and all the energy spent, I have found this to be true.
I have been quite gifted. Again, I think that God must love me after all. But could another man love me? Only if he loves kids like Abi.
Victoria’s List of What Makes a Real Man
1. Someone who treasures me more than himself. One might almost think that’s Biblical.
2. Courage. Take heart. Never, never give up.
3. Must Love Kids.  The greatest strength is shown through gentleness. Jesus himself had a special place in his heart for children.

2 thoughts on “Abi’s Story: Must Love Kids

  1. Victoria- Thanks for letting us know more about Abi. All your kids are amazing. And your relationship with them is precious.
    Years ago we met a couple who had adopted a child from Asia. The man went off to work each day and the woman was left with the child. From day one it was a huge battle. I’d love to know how it goes today. You were blessed and smart to find a good counseling situation.
    I am enjoying A Course in Miracles which is not a religion, but a theory of how we relate to one another and God and the world. Amazing stuff. It explains a LOT. It brings me a lot of peace, although it can shake up all the stuff I learned as a kid in church. We have a teacher who sits there and does free-thinking with our lessons. Then takes feedback. It’s amazing! I never knew such a thought pattern was possible. There are some movies that illustrate it. Discovering the Gift is one.
    Keep writing. I will keep reading! Love, Nancy in Hot Old Phoenix!


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