Va — Wha?

From The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans:

“We heard about you in China and flew all the way there to get you,” Mark was saying to Kelly at bedtime. “We love you, sweetie.” Then, he looked troubled. “I don’t know what else to tell her,” he said. “What can we say?”

Kelly’s life story begins, by necessity, a bit later than “On the night you were born…” But one flaw in its telling — “we went to China to find you” — is that adopted children, hearing how they were “chosen” or “found,” may assume they came into this world in a different manner than other children. As Betty Jean Lifton writes in Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience: “Where do you connect with the human condition when you were chosen and everyone else is born?”

To point out some minor possibilities for confusion: One of Kelly’s playmates, another adopted daughter from China, just past her second birthday, was sitting in the bathtub one day, exploring her body. “What’s this?” she asked her mother, and her mother decided it was time for the preliminary facts of life. “That’s your vagina,” she said. The little girl looked expectant, so her mother went on. “Someday,” she said, “A baby may come from there.”

The little girl looked down, and then looked up, trying hard to grasp the information. “Va China?” she asked.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.