Julia ZhiKuang is 18 years old. What a journey! Unexpected and unimaginable but the very stuff of our family. A very, very happy birthday, my dear girl!
Julia is not like any other person that I have ever known. She has an incredibly indomitable spirit; she is strong and resilient; she hungers for social interaction and she wants to be in the middle of all the action. She is an artist in her obsessive drawing and in the clothes she combines with her distinctive style. She is stubborn to a fault (not just a turn of phrase), a survivor’s soul living in an 18 year old body working off a 12-13 year old brain. She doesn’t understand inferences and number manipulation can be a mystery. She can do any kind of art she puts her mind to, but therein lies the genius and the problem. Her schooling and development are my full time job and the pay, at times, is lousy! Today, she is completely consumed with her latest crush causing her to be late to classes. She would gladly risk detention to stand outside the classroom door until the enchanting “he” passes. She wants his attention. Together, we have worked on attachment, trauma, grief, social skills, numbers and letters, money and words. We have read through Harry Potter together and she is now dragging me to super hero adventure movies. She is enjoying high school due to my constant back stage management, but the best part of high school is the cheer team which was her hearts desire. No other cheerleader of any skill level is happier than Julia when she is wearing her uniform, shaking the poms and encouraging her team.
Even if I try, I cannot imagine life without her. Julia was a more than wanted child who scared the bejeebers out of David and I when she came home. She knocked any laurels from our heads for the “fine” job we did raising Cheshire. As she moves through each new phase, I’ve lost any possibility of getting my bejeebers back. But she was also the reason I got up in the morning in those dark days after David died. She was the best reason to reclaim our family life and make a happy life for the two of us. She was and still is my cause and my inspiration. Of course, when we made the left turn to adopt as older parents, I expected about 15 years of intense parenting and 13 years in, I don’t see any end to the hands on portion of the job. I always imagined I would never retire but didn’t see this coming. Of course, of course.
So, in human years, Julia is an adult today. In Julia years, she is a boy-crazy, anime-loving, school loving and loathing, hungry, socially active with not a shy bone in her body, incomprehensible young teen. I am hers much more than she is mine, but to the extent she allows it, she is mine and I love her more than life itself.