She'll be leaving New Orleans soon. Our temporary "daughter" will return to China on May 20th.
What, exactly, will she take back home with her? I don't know.
Will she miss us? I don't know.
Will she miss New Orleans, living on ground level, our Spring flower-fragranced city, the food choices, her room, our outings, our home-time, her school, her personal freedom?
Will we hear from her again?
Maybe these questions are what are beginning to puzzle me, bouncing around in my idle moments, keeping me awake at night? I don't think so.
It all goes back to that first question, "What exactly, will she take back home with her?"
I've never explained how John and I came to host a 17 year old high school student from Wuhan, China. This could be the BIG question of our time together (37 years of marriage, coming up May 3rd!).
Friday morning, July 29, 2011.
John opened an e-mail at his university address from an organization that was identified only by four initials. He doesn't know why he opened it. He'd never heard of it before. He doesn't know why he read it. He doesn't know why he forwarded to me...except maybe he was intrigued by the short profile of a girl, one of three exchange students in need of a host family for 10 months.
I was bored, seated at my drafting table (which now mostly serves as a laptop perch). Two repair men were in the house. The air conditioning thermostat wasn't working and I think maybe the other problem was plumbing. So I opened the intriguing e-mail, read it and curiosity took over.
Xiaoxuan's short profile read, in part, "She's wanted to be an artist since she was 4 and she loves to be around animals, especially dogs." Three years of school grades were provided (mostly A's and B's), including five years of English (all A's) and her weakest grades were in Science.
Well! John is a biology professor (in-house science tutor?) and I am a professional artist (I've followed many career paths, all in art) AND we have five (yes, 5) dogs (and some "garden" rescue-rabbits)!
Through the years, I have been fond of pronouncing, "We are blessed with no children and don't practice Planned Pethood."
So the next question is, "Why did I feel compelled to learn more about the sponsor organization and more about this girl from China whose short profile tugged at my heart?" You guessed it - I don't know. Maybe the reader sees it clearly. Honestly, I am still perplexed.
So I went online. I remember filling in a form on the organization's website. Early that afternoon, on July 29, I answered a phone call from someone (in Kentucky?!!) and within a short time, I was naively narrowing down possible high schools for Xiaoxuan to attend.
I remember a rush to supply photos of our home (inside and out), the bedroom and bathroom for Xuan (not to be shared by more than 4 people), ourselves and (not required) the dogs.
I was sure the five dogs would be the deal killer. Nope.
Then we needed to supply personal references, personal information and submit to background checks.
Xuan arrived August 13th at Louis Armstrong International Airport.