With the loving support of our families, we adopted Ling Jun on last spring. We gave him the new name David.
Our first weeks together were packed with learning at light speed. Even In the midst of terrible grief at the loss of his foster family, and immersed in a language that couldn't have sounded more foreign to him, David revealed more of himself with every passing day. Very quickly we understood that David was not the son we expected, but another daughter. In every way she could, this child declared herself.
She challenged us point blank to enact the total acceptance we'd considered deeply, hypothetically – nearly a year prior. Some of the first ground she held in asserting who she is, was the rejection of her names. Within a few weeks of arriving home, Ling Jun/David fiercely, furiously rejected both names. She would pound her chest and shout "wo shi mei mei (pron. MAY may)!” In English, "I'm little sister. Call me little sister.” And so for more than a month, she was only "Mei Mei." All the while we called her Mei Mei and still used male pronouns, she was wearing dresses, playing mostly with dolls, and asking daily when her hair would be long. As our communication with each other became more nuanced, we understood more of what Mei Mei wanted to share. In a conversation just a few months after arriving home, we were convinced that she knows exactly who she is and what she was asking of us. Without reservation, we trust Mei Mei and we trust our creator. We trust that Mei Mei is who she reveals to us day by day, and we trust that god made her exactly as she is meant to be. Not wanting the whole world to call her "little sister" forever, we were eager to find a name that fit. We started tossing out girl names with the sound "may" in them every time we thought of one. She rejected all of them out of hand for weeks until we hit "Macy." By bedtime that day, she was again pounding her chest and insisting, only smiling now. "I'm Macy!" she shouted, running through the house. She is Macy. And she is our daughter. We are blessed beyond measure with a circle of supportive family and friends. We are overcome with gratitude that Macy is clear about who she is at this tender age. She began preschool in September, introducing herself as Macy to kids she'll graduate from high school with. What does our family need? We need what every family needs. We need acceptance. We need an appreciation that most of our daily struggles are universal and some are unique. We need for everyone who is trusted with this information to hold it in loving confidence for Macy. She will walk this path in some ways alone. But we need a legion of loved ones to be at arm's length, each offering their own light.
For anyone who hasn't followed the story of Ling Jun's adoption, none of what we've explained here may ever need to be shared. But we know that many followed along and must now make this transition with us. If you wonder how to talk to your kids, we've said something like this: when a baby is born, people see the body and know that that child is a boy or a girl - and they are! But every once in a while someone is born whose body just doesn't match who they are inside. It's what's in a person's heart and spirit is that makes them who they are. So for those few people, we sometimes don't know that they're really a boy or a girl until they get big enough to tell us.