About "About Me"

You can learn a lot about a child's inner life by reading the "About Me" assignments all kids complete throughout their school years. That's certainly true for MomSpeaker Kelly Raudenbush, who watched her daughter Lydia — who was adopted from China — fill out the form in her Chinese-language preschool class.

There’s a new picture hanging in my kitchen today, a new masterpiece to our mixed-media gallery, hanging between Olaf magnets and a flyer from school.

At my daughter's last Chinese class of the year, little dark-haired people skitted around the room while soft-spoken teacher Lao Shi tried to shepherd their bodies with seemingly swelling energy. Typically, a parent sits in the class and tries to read, despite the reason why we’re there. But with the senioritis that suspiciously attacked even these preschoolers, I was needed.

Lao Shi had brought photocopies for the children to complete and staple together as memory books of the year. Way over the heads of children who can barely write their own names, most of them were scribbling and distracted and alternating between singing "Liang Zhi Lao Hu" and "Let it Go." Lydia clutched a red pen in her little fingers, firmly held it motionless over the ABOUT ME page before her and swung her feet with gusto below her. As the teacher tried to help other kids, I pulled up to her desk to help her, filling in the blanks with the words she supplied to me.

My age: 5

Where I was born: China

My parents: Mommy and Daddy

Brothers & sisters: Ashlyn, Drew and Evan

Pets: Mojo and Bebo

My picture:

"OK, Lydia. Go ahead. You draw a picture of yourself there."

Pressing hard on the page, she drew her typical person — a round circle for a head, an oval torso, stick arms and legs, eyes and a smile, and some hair around the head. But then she started intensely working on that torso. I thought she was intent on giving herself a dress that matched the one she was wearing. I watched until she put the pen down with contentment.

    "That’s a big belly and inside that is a baby that was beautiful called Yue Yue that became Lydia."

It was not a dress she was intensely drawing, it was herself in the womb of her first mother. I smiled and waited for her and for the lump in my throat to dissipate a little. While I waited, she picked up the pen again and went back to her drawing, this time drawing a little body on the chest of the stick figure that was her China mommy.

    "A doctor helped me to come out of her belly because that’s what doctors do."

"Is that your China mommy holding you?"

    "Yup . . . I don’t know her name."

"I know. I’m sorry. I don’t know her name either. I wish we did . . . "

No one stopped to listen. No one there sat with me and marveled at all this little 5-year-old girl is processing when she is told to complete a picture appropriate for the title ABOUT ME. This little moment just blended into the energy of the room and class went on without a notice of another step in the journey of a little girl and the woman who is her second mother.

Kelly Raudenbush is a mother to four children and cofounder of The Sparrow Fund, a nonprofit committed to encouraging and equipping adoptive families. Learn more about her family's adoption story, how she's been changed by it and what life for as a parent to four children with all sorts of unique needs and gifts at My Overthinking.

Categories: MomSpeak