When I hear the line in Dr. King’s speech about his hope that one day in Alabama, “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers,” I can’t help but think of three of my favorite kids, who happen to be people of color, and happen to be adopted. My community is not very ethnically diverse—lots of shaggy-haired blond kids here—so the boys and girls of color really stand out and usually enjoy something like celebrity status. I don’t know if this is exactly what Dr. King had in mind, but I think it’s a good thing!
My friends Pamela and Andrew Herrick adopted their youngest daughter, Catherine, from China when she was a year old. For work-related reasons, the Herricks are living in Asolo, Italy, and Catherine and her older sister Caroline attend school there. What I find so amazing is that little Catherine was born in China, became a California kid, and now, as a five-year-old, speaks Italian, correcting her parents’ pronunciation or vocabulary when need be. She is a character.
Cora Metherell, who is of Latina and African-American descent, was adopted at birth by our friends Sarah and Mark. Cora is now almost three years old, and more beautiful by the day. She’s the little girl jumping off the boat to her mother in the picture I posted.
Vasco, ten years old, is from Malawi and is in the process of being adopted by Cathleen Falsani and Maurice Possley, also close friends of ours. How they found Vasco and the chain of events that brought the three of them to Laguna is too amazing for me to tell here. Plus, Cathi and Maury are famous writers who can tell the story much better than I ever could. Anyway, I had some fun writing an ode of sorts to these three children, whom I love dearly:
Catherine, Caterina, China doll of the Veneto,
Smarty-pants mascot of Café Centrale:
May you eat your vegetables and grow,
so your stature matches your attitude.
May you never be far from your stuffed Kitty,
and may you return to us soon so I can hear you say,
Gelato limone, per favore
Cora Cora from Bora Bora,
Miss Thing, precocious princess of Brooks Street,
the best two-year-old snorkeler there ever was,
the fastest-running little girl on two feet,
amazing eater of grown-up things like salad
and stinky French cheese:
May you always be fearless like your daddy
and adventuresome like your mom
Vasco, Capital V, you own the letter V!
(I’m just glad I get to have a V in my name like you)
Mini-Jimi, micro-Spiderman, Chocolate Ninja,
super-striker for the almost-undefeated Fat Pandas:
It was really good of you to come all the way from Malawi
so we could be lucky enough to know and love you.
May you keep outgrowing your clothes and shoes
and may your strong, beautiful heart take you everywhere you want to go
(just remember to save a tickle-hug for me)