Internet connections: Finding Cheng Er Mei

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Author: 
Diane Haddow
Source: 
Focus on Adoption magazine

For decades, once internationally adopted children left their home country the chances of them reconnecting with family and other people connected to their early days was small. Now, thanks to the speed and global reach of the internet, those reconnections may be far easier to find and maintain.

March 3, 2003—the day our two year wait ended and our daughter, Le Xiao Meng, was placed in our arms. We were overwhelmed with joy. 

At the Notary’s office in China we were presented with a few photos of Le Xiao Meng sitting in a chair, surrounded by what we thought were her foster family, and another young girl bundled up in a pink coat. We tucked the photos away, knowing that we would treasure this piece of our daughter’s past forever.

During our adoption process, I discovered a website for families who are in the process of adopting, and for those who have adopted children from the Leping City Orphanage in Jiangxi province. It wasn’t long after our return home that I posted a picture on that website, introducing our daughter, and comparing travel stories with other families in Canada and the United States.

About eight months later, I noticed that families were posting messages inquiring about foster moms in the Leping area. I was very excited—we even had a name of a lady who apparently had been foster mom to our daughter. Did this name match the woman in the photo we had been given? So, one morning, I posted a message on the Leping Yahoo website asking if anyone recognized the family in my daughter’s photo.

A few weeks passed with no news. Then I received an email from a lady in the United States. Her daughter was also adopted from Leping, and she was in the process of writing a letter to her child’s foster mom. She printed a copy of our photo and sent it along to China with a note, asking if anyone recognized the family.

A few months went by with no word back from the lady in the States. But then, one day at work, I received an email from her saying that she had indeed identified the people in my daughter’s photo. It was a day we will never forget.

Over the email, I was given the name and address of my daughter’s foster parents. We immediately went to work composing a letter, having it translated and gathering recent photos. Finally, we sent it to China. We had no expectations; we just hoped the letter would arrive.

Again, months passed. Then I went to pick up a parcel at the post office. It was a small box with a return address printed on it—Cheng Er Mei, Nanchang, People’s Republic of China. My heart raced. I couldn’t wait to open the parcel. Inside, we found a letter, a Teletubby toy and a monkey necklace. Was this a toy my daughter used to play with in China? Did she wear the necklace? Who was the lady in the photo?

Her name is Cheng Er Mei and the man standing beside her is her husband. The little girl she is holding is her granddaughter. Cheng Er Mei told us that Xiao Meng was like a daughter to them, and that we would be welcomed in their home at any time. It was so wonderful to know that our daughter had been loved, and was still loved, by a family so far away, but so close to our hearts now.

A few months after that initial contact, we sent some disposable cameras to Cheng Er Mei and asked her to take photos of their home, Leping City and, most importantly, of our daughter’s finding place. Many months later, they sent the cameras back. We shed many tears when the film was developed. We now have a lot of the missing pieces to our daughter’s life.

The Internet played a very important part in helping us locate a piece of our daughter’s past. We are so very grateful to one very special lady in the States, who helped us finally find one very important and loving lady, Cheng Er Mei. 

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