“What’s her name?” Mia asked the director as she moved closer to the child.
“Xinxin. It means heart to heart; she was named this because she has a defective heart.” The director gave the information in a mechanical, unemotional response.
Mia moved around an ayi who was wiping down the bamboo crib mats with a sponge and bucket of strong solution. She went to the baby girl but when she held her arms out to pick up the child, her gesture was met with a confused expression. Mia talked to her in a soft voice that made the small girl raise her eyebrows even higher, causing Mia to chuckle. The expression was adorable but also comical as the eyebrows were raised to heights that seemed impossible for such a tiny face. Mia picked her up and in spite of the child’s inability to mold to Mia’s body as most babies would, she seemed content to be held.
The child gazed silently into Mia’s eyes and everything around them faded away for a moment. All of these months leading up to this trip, Mia was sure she wouldn’t get emotional—she prided herself on her ability to hide what she was feeling, even from her parents who watched her so closely for signs of discontent. But holding the baby girl close to her heart finally opened the door to the room in her mind where she stored all of her hurt feelings of being abandoned. She fought back tears as she rocked the baby back and forth in her arms.
This was me so many years ago! Why? Why didn’t my mother want me? Mia turned her back to hide her face from the others as she struggled to bring her feelings under control. The director and her entourage were concerned but Xiao Jo waved them away to give Mia a moment to compose herself.
How could this tragedy happen to so many children around the world? Mia was overwhelmed with the truth of the situation— that most of these children would go through life without knowing who gave them birth, whether or not they had siblings, what their medical histories were, or even where their hometown was. It just wasn’t fair—everyone should know who and where they came from! As the baby began to fidget, Mia swallowed the lump in her throat and straightened her shoulders. She pulled herself together and replaced her anguish with a stoic expression, just in time to face the director as she beckoned for her to join them in the hall.
Mia kissed the infant on her sweaty forehead and whispered to her, “I’m a witness to your life and you will be loved one day. Don’t lose hope, baby girl.” She lowered the child to her bed and walked away, leaving her with her fascination of her own fingers, the only comfort that couldn’t be taken away.