Friday, October 26, 2007

Sounds of Waiting

This was written by a friend of mine. I liked it so much I asked her if I could post it here. Christina, if you're reading - you're a woman of great strength. Sending prayers as you wait.

Sounds of Waiting
Christina Mohs

The woman smiles at the uneven banjo twangs of the green frogs in the small pond off the patio. She shifts her legs to prop them up on the bottom rung of the outdoor patio table. The balmy evening breeze slowly rotates the open umbrella above and it click-click-clicks as it picks up speed. In the darkened outskirts of the lawn, the chain link fence rattles as a spooked rabbit dives under the safety of the neighbors' shed.

Through the open kitchen window, she can hear her husband on the phone. He draws out his Os, the Minnesota accent; he must be speaking to someone in his family. She hears only bits and pieces as he paces the length of the phone cord and back. "No word... could take a few more months... hard to wait."

A sudden siren ascends in volume several streets over. From inside the house, the dog scrambles to his feet, nails scratching the hardwood, to take up his throaty howl at the passing ambulance.

The breeze picks up again, rustling the dwarf cattail grasses around the pond. The woman glances at the empty swing as it creaks back and forth, back and forth.


Twelve hours away, it is a new day. A child wakes up slowly, drifting toward consciousness in the grey light as a truck outside shifts its gears and honks its horn in the thick, still air. The windows are open, and already an unbroken line of children's clothing dries over the sixth floor balcony ledge around the courtyard.

The baby reaches for the metal rungs of the crib to pull herself to her knees. The bamboo mat on which she sleeps slips and scratches against the plywood bottom of the crib. From this new position, her dark brown eyes scan the room with its peeling paint and dingy white walls. In a few hours, the babies will wander the playroom in misshapen and dented walkers, now and then jostling into each other like bumper cars, plastic wheels clattering on the floor. Some of the babies will sit still and sway from their walker seats to the tinny music from the small radio atop the counter.

But it is now still early and not all of the caretakers have arrived. A baby two rows over is crying. The sandals of one of the aunties smack on the tile floor of the hall as she approaches the room.

"Bee-eh ku, bao bao." Don't cry, baby. There are 47 babies in this room. One wail could wake them all. The auntie swiftly leaves the crib room with the fussy one. Her footfalls echo, slap-slap, slap-slap, down the hall to the feeding room.

The child lies down again. Her head has become flattened in the back from the hard surface of the crib bottom. Above her, a moth performs aerobatics in wide sweeping circles. She points a small finger at it before it flies away. The baby bends her knees, pushes her bottom off the mat, kicks both her legs straight, and allows her backside to thump back down again. She does this often. Thud. Thud. It will soothe her while she waits. Thud.


A dark-haired woman, briefcase in hand, arrives at the China Center of Adoptions government building in Beijing. Her low heels click quickly on the polished tile. In her cubicle, she flips a switch and the processing unit of her computer whirs to life.

With a sigh, she heaves the stack of color-coded files from the cart onto her desk and opens the orange one from the top. She fingers the passport photos of a blond man and woman. In their application letter, translated several months ago, they make their promises, as all adoptive parents are required to do. They say they hope to take their future daughter to museums, to the zoo. They like science, nature, spending time outdoors.

From her computer screen, several sets of dark brown eyes peer back at her. She takes her job of matching these children to their new parents very seriously. She reads the descriptions of the babies, looking perhaps for a sign, for inspiration. With the eraser of her pencil, she tap, tap, taps the orange folder.


amy said...

what wonderful words

Mark, Rebecca and Sophia said...

I often think about the person/people who have such a profound job of matching...

CJ and Donna said...

Makes you really stop and put yourself in the shoes of others. Praying for everyone involved in these adoptions.

Christina said...

Thanks, Karen. :)


Daniel Lawson said...

"A word fitly spoken in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

-Proverbs 25:11

Leave it to Mrs. Mohs to encapsulate the entire adoption process in the space of a few paragraphs. Of course, it has already been published and recognized by a journal.

Daniel Lawson said...

Oh, and I guess by way of introduction, Mrs. Mohs was my Jr. High English teacher through Calvert School correspondence...