Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 16 June 2004
Yesterday afternoon I received the call from our adoption agency in Texas (Great Wall Adoption Agency) announcing the official "referral" from the Chinese government agency that oversees all foreign adoptions. That referral revealed the identity of the baby girl our family is adopting as our fourth child, following in the footsteps of our three biological children, Emily, Kevin and Jerome. That phone call was the official tipping point in a bureaucratic process stretching back 15 months, and it was a latest, most-amazing moment in our lives led togetheróVonne and I.
Our fourth child was born Yong Ling Zhou, but she will be known to us as Vonne Mei Ling Barnett. Her original name meant something along the lines of "the gift of harmonious chimes," and we will keep the "chimes" part as a legacy from her origins.
Her new name is designed to bond her deeply with our family.
Vonne Mei, her two-part first name, will link her to her new mother (first name Vonne), her new older sister Emily (middle name Vonne), and her new maternal grandmother (middle name Vonne, used as her first name). Thus Vonne becomes our daughter's firm link to our extended Meussling family's legacy of Vonnes.
Mei, the second part of her first name, links our new daughter to my side of the family, as Mae was my maternal grandmother (never met). We use the Chinese spelling of this name because we want that connection as well, and because Mei means "beautiful" in Chinese.
Ling, our daughter's middle name, will preserve her original Chinese first name as her legacy to her biological family. As this point, we do not know if this first name was chosen by her original parents (occasionally true) or given to her by her orphanage in Jiangxi Province (more typically the case). Either way, that name is a huge and very important link to her past, something we seek to respect deeply over the course of her life in our now-enlarged family. Ling means "chimes" in Chinese.
By preserving her original first name and using the Chinese spelling Mei, our new daughter is linked culturally to her cousin, adopted from Guangdong Province by my older sister Maggie approximately three years ago.
And finally, by legally adopting her in the United States under the surname Barnett, our Vonne Mei will be permanently joined to that extended family on my side.
Vonne Mei Ling Barnett was born on 4 November 2003, to a woman or couple that decided she would not be able to thrive in China, and so made the difficult choice to grant her a different pathway somewhere outside of China. That incalculable gift establishes a very strong link between our family and the civilization that is China.
In one phone call, we have become a Chinese-American family, and a new connection is born between China and the United States.
Here's today's catch:
"Redefining Torture: Did the U.S. go too far in changing the rules, or did it apply the new rules to the wrong people?" by Amanda Ripley, Time, 21 June, p. 49Oh, the farmer and the cowboy should be friends . . .
"Where the Land Is a Tinderbox, the Killing Is a Frenzy: Across Africa's midsection, man and nature conspire to set off murderous outbursts," by Somini Sengupta, New York Times, 16 June, p. A4.The latest sign of Mugabe's complete madness
"Zimbabwe Stocks Up On Jets, Arms," by Tom Carter, Washington Times, 15 June, p. 1.Generating the right business rule sets in Russia and China
"Russian Trial Opens Messy Chapter: Yukos Case Could Influence Course of Commercial Law And Business Under Putin," by Guy Chazan, Wall Street Journal, 16 June, p. A12.One hopes Saudi Arabia is paying attention to Iraq
"Investors Worry About China: D'Long's Plight Suggests Problems With Nation's Stock Markets," by Kathy Chen, WSJ, 16 June, p. C14.
"China's Growing Clout Alarms Smaller Neighbors," by Michael Vatikiotis, WSJ, 16 June, p. A12.
"Foreign Buying of Securities Is Strong," by Dow Jones Newswires, WSJ, 16 June, p. B9.
"Attacks on Iraqi Pipelines Halt Most of Country's Oil Exports," by Hassan Hafidh, WSJ, 16 June, p. A3.Lockerbie families say, "We want our $, so let Qaddafi have his!"
"Bloc of Lockerbie Families Urges End to Libya Penalties: Deep divisions over whether even to talk with Qaddafi," by Matthew L. Wald, NYT, 16 June, p. A12.Border, smorder! Another example of US and Mexico merging politically
"Fox Seeks to Allow Mexicans Living Abroad to Vote in 2006," by Tim Weiner, NYT, 16 June, p. A6.