In China there is an ancient belief that “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.”
I like that idea. In fact, I imagine these red threads winding through our lives longer and stronger than we can comprehend. It is the thread that connects the people and events in our lives, across a timeline that begins prior to our birth and stretches on infinitely. Although tangled enough that it can seem lost, with the benefit of time and distance, the thread shimmers with a simple elegance and strength.
When I was young, my family home was filled with teakwood furniture, a round-bellied Buddha, and stories of my parents’ time in Taiwan during my father’s career as an officer in the Navy. Living in a small farming community in Ohio at the time, I was proud of those Asian influences that seemed so exotic and mysterious. A favorite memory is of my mother getting out rice paper and brushes and showing me Chinese watercolor techniques. The experience of living in Taiwan was not my own. It happened before I was even born. Nevertheless, it became part of the threads of my life.
Later, in my twenties, I struggled to find a healthy romantic relationship. My mother had suggestions, of course, mostly involving excruciating exercises such as church singles groups. She even sent me an article about single women who decide to adopt babies from China instead of waiting for a man. That was a source of great amusement for me – that Mom was so convinced I’d never find a man that she was looking in China for babies. I brushed it aside.
I survived the bad relationships, and they prepared me for the easiest choice I ever made – marrying my husband, Jim. That thread brought us together across the US/Canadian border. Then came pregnancy struggles – a miscarriage, infertility fears. During the midst of that confusion, I realized that I had been preparing for adoption for years, and that thought eased my anxiety. We got lucky, and I became pregnant with my son, Liam. During that pregnancy, Jim made a business trip to Hong Kong. Never a willing traveler, he despised the long plane ride and was not thrilled with the local food. Despite that, the most amazing thing happened on that trip. The flight home, delayed for hours on the tarmac in Hong Kong, was full of babies and their adoptive families coming home. A brutally long flight full of babies with new parents should have been Jim’s worst nightmare. But when I met him at the airport, he had a look of wonder as he told me about the babies on that plane. He came directly home and began to research adoption from China.
It made no logical sense that Jim would want to adopt, much less adopt from China. Yet there it was, and it was something that we both agreed on without question. The thread was already tied. Miraculously, it stayed there through a second pregnancy with our daughter, Natalie, and the months after her birth when we struggled to deal with a colicky baby and a toddler.
The red thread is still pulling us along, albeit slowly. Wait time for adoptions from China are stretching out to painfully long lengths. Our baby in China is most likely not even born yet. And yet I feel our threads are already in place, making the connection that she won’t realize exists for years to come. I hope that perhaps someday our daughter will look back and see the signs of our connection in her early months or years, and feel the same sense of comfort that I feel, that our lives did indeed end up exactly where they were meant to be.
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