Wednesday, July 11, 2007

1-1/2 years old! Thank you, neighbors.

Today Wynn is 18 months old. Here she is attempting to play with everything in her room, all at once.

Tonight we joined our neighbors for our annual cookout and get-together. One of the reasons why we felt that adoption was the right thing to do is because we live on a street where people do routinely chat with their neighbors, that we all know each others' dogs and stop to pet them and give them treats, and that the kids who live here are genuinely welcome to play in each others' yards, go swimming and fishing, ride their bikes and such, knowing that all the adults here care about them and are watching out for them.

Whether at work or on the road, when we tell other people about the place we live, inevitably we hear, "that's the way it was when I was a kid." But often said with a sense of loss. And to be sure, we've both lived in places where we didn't know our next-door neighbors and probably just as well... mega apartment complexes as well as typical suburban plats. But those weren't places where we would have wanted to raise a child. Nor, live, for any extended amount of time.

As I looked at the apartment towers in China I wondered what kind of social atmosphere could exist there. Would the sense of community break down? But Wynn and her foster mother lived in such a place, and our little girl has consistently shown empathy toward other people, and has no problem joining other kids in play. So that gives me hope.

As far as our neighborhood, it is this way because we collectively want it to be this way, and we make the effort. It is pleasant work. And while I could certainly see our family in the future spending an extended period in China living the expat experience, I know I could never leave our home - we love this place too much.

What we didn't expect tonight at the cookout was that everyone came explicitly to see Wynn. She was the star of the party, got to meet all the neighbors she hadn't seen since arriving here, including a couple of boys her age - one adopted from Guatemala, the other from Ethiopia. She even got presents! She also got to steal most of the dinner from my plate (and after we fed her full of mac'n'cheese before coming over...)

Thank you, Bald Eagle neighbors. Not just for the gifts tonight, but for the bigger gift of creating and maintaining this wonderful, nurturing, and supportive place where Wynn can grow strong and confident and loved.


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