For many weeks I have been wanting to write this post but for the most part I feel inadequate and unprepared to tell you this story. A story of an orphan child and her Kai-Ma (Cantonese for Godmother).
As I mentioned in the previous post, Esther misses many things about Hong Kong but what she misses the most is her Kai-Ma and after you learn about this remarkable lady you too will understand why she grieves for her often. In the months leading up to our trip to Hong Kong we only knew of Kai-Ma as a volunteer at Mother’s Choice. We knew that Esther was very fond of her because Kai-Ma took her to all her doctor’s appointments… but there is so much more to the story.
Kai-Ma is a volunteer at Mother’s Choice but she was involved in Esther’s before Esther was placed there. Kai-Ma has know Esther longer than anyone else and was probably closer to her than anyone else. I’m not going to go into details of Esther’s birth story because that is her story to share if and when she chooses. We aren’t completely sure if it was medically necessary or if she was just waiting to be assigned to an institution but Esther was hospitatlized until she was eight months old. When Esther was two months old Kai-Ma started visiting her in the hospital. Her first connection to the outside world. A person who was willing to invest time and love into this little life. Kai-Ma began to visit Esther five days a week for four hours. I have to admit that when I first read this I was blown away and immediately began crying. During the time that she visited her Kai-Ma taught Esther how to roll over, sit up, and everything else that developing babies learn. Most importantly though Kai-Ma taught Esther how to love and how to accept love. Until you understand the importance of physical touch and comfort, the importance of meeting a child’s need that so often is missed out on with orphaned children it’s hard to really appreciate what this women did for Esther. She deserves a huge piece of credit for who Esther is today… especially Esther’s capability to learn to love Michael Luke and me as parents.
Eventually, Esther was placed under the care of Mother’s Choice where Kai-Ma was a volunteer. Kai-Ma continued to spend time with our little girl and accompanied her to all her doctor appointments, visited her every time she was in the hospital, and eventually accompanied her to preschool two days a week. On a few occasions Esther got to go to Kai-Ma’s house and eat “jelly” (Jell-O in America)! Over the years these two formed a pretty tight bond and made lots of memories together. Kai-Ma truly did live up to her name.
Last Summer when Mother’s Choice and Hong Kong granted us matching approval Kai-Ma and Mother’s Choice knew that they would have to begin preparing Esther for her new family. Preparing her to leave Kai-Ma. During this time we received word of Esther’s hesitation but couldn’t truly understand the full scope of it because a) we didn’t know about Kai-Ma and b) we didn’t know that Esther is very good at understanding and reasoning things out. She is a very smart girl… and I’m not just saying this because she is my girl because I can assure you Noah will not be thinking at her level in eight months. Noah probably won’t even come close… but she has her own areas she is gifted in. Anyway, back to the story at hand. Kai-Ma had one of her own daughters that lives in the U.S. take pictures of her trip home at Christmas. Esther was then shown pictures of an airplane, luggage, the airport all in preparation for her trip to her new home. I can’t imagine what this might have been like for Kai-Ma. We are talking about someone who was basically like a grandmother to Esther, preparing to say good bye to her… possibly forever.
Forever? Why? Because Kai-Ma said goodbye to Esther not really knowing if she would ever have contact with her again. How did this happen? Michael Luke and I have actually spent very little tim
e with Kai-Ma. I really can’t tell you much about her. I mainly only saw her in passing at Mother’s Choice and at one small introduction. At the time they did introduce her as the volunteer who took her to her doctor’s appointments and someone that was special to Esther but I certainly didn’t understand how special. I hugged her, told her thank you, and like most days while I was at Mother’s Choice I shed a few tears. Kai-Ma didn’t speak at Esther’s going away party (I still haven’t shared that tear jerker story with you) because she herself was too emotional but we did manage to get a family picture with her as we were heading out the door of Mother’s Choice forever. It was taken with a Polaroid camera and by the time we reached the taxi was already placed in the back of Esther’s Life Book.
So how do I know so much about Esther and Kai-Ma? I know their story because Kai-Ma (whose real name I am choosing not to share) wrote us a five page letter. It’s a beautiful letter that I have read many times over. The first time I read it was the afternoon of Gotcha Day, during one of the quiet periods when Michael Luke was holding Esther… comforting her the best that we could.
The letter was given to us in a “Confidential” envelope by Esther’s social worker after we left Mother’s choice. Out of curiosity I opened the envelope and began to read. I barely made it two paragraphs in that afternoon before uncontrollably sobbing at the love this woman had for our daughter. After finally making it through the letter I gave it to Michael Luke to read.. he sobbed too as he read it.
She signed the end of the letter with her English name and included her e-mail, Skype address and Facebook info. Like Esther I am eagerly waiting for the adoption to be finalized so that we can have contact with Kai-Ma. So that I can tell her how much I truly appreciate what she did for our daughter, and so that she can see her precious Esther. I can’t imagine what it’s like for her not knowing if she will get the chance to see Esther develop into a beautiful girl. Not knowing if we will hold true to the word we gave the social worker that we would indeed like to keep in touch. I can’t imagine keeping Kai-Ma from Esther or Esther from Kai-Ma.
P.S. Included with the letter was a flash drive that contains hundreds of photos and video of Esther. All categorized by date… some as far back as when Esther was only two months old. These are the earliest pictures we have of Esther and I am truly grateful for these.
In addition to Esther’s piece of luggage that Mother’s Choice gave her Kai-Ma also gave her one. A Trunki packed with toys, stickers, and dolls. Most of the time we were in Hong Kong Esther didn’t want to open her Trunki. Near the end of the trip she was finally willing to open it and look at all her gifts from Kai-Ma. Now nearly three months later these are beloved treasures given to her by her dear Kai-Ma.
P.P.S. Esther’s pink Trunki was so cute that ML went on a late night shopping spree our last night in Hong Kong to find one for Noah. Before he left Noah requested blue… several blocks, shops, and trys later he found Noah her blue Trunki for the trip home. Both of the girls had a blast rolling around on them in the airport and love taking them on other trips now.
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I cannot wait for the adoption to be finalized either! Just reading this, I’m tearing up! What a special blessing to not only Esther, but to y’all also! When I read about the flash drive with videos and pictures, the flood gates opened! How precious!!! 🙂
Wow! What a blessing. As I sit here in my office surrounded by books on attachment, trauma, and healing, I understand just a smidge of the incredible blessing Kai-Ma was to Esther.
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