The lights along the runway flew by in the darkness and the engines roared. Zai jian, Xi’an, I whispered. I’ll come back someday. I have only been there two weeks in my entire life, yet leaving still hurt so much. I have learned to love this city.
Staring out the airplane window and feeling that tug on my heart, I finally realized how much this experience could hurt for the children finding a new family, and a new home.
For the first time I caught a glimpse of what it must be like to feel the rumble of a newly-awakened airplane under your feet and watch the only ground you’d ever walked fall away beneath you. I watched a city turn to out-lined skyscrapers and lines of slowly-flowing headlights–and wondered what it must feel like to see your home fade into a dark sky filled with stars, far beneath your feet. I leaned my face against the double pane of glass and let this beautiful city and these beautiful kids tear a piece of my heart away. I watched the constellations on the ground below me vanish in the distance and give way to pitch-black night, broken only by the flash of lights on my own wings.
I have heard it said that the first transition is like a kind of death for adopted children. I know I shall never fully understand what this experience is like for them~~but as I watched the gleaming lights of Xi’an vanish into the night beneath me, I felt something inside of me die.