One hundred wishes and counting


Families waiting to adopt internationally find many ways to pass the time. Some learn their child’s language or how to prepare dishes that will be familiar to their children. Others renovate kitchens. I don’t recall doing much beyond completing adoption paperwork and fretting needlessly about our boys’ bedroom curtains.

Many families adopting children from China have embraced the tradition of making a quilt containing 100 wishes sent from family and friends for their child. Leo has a lovely quilt with 100 wishes printed on it, a thoughtful keepsake my colleagues gave me when we were waiting to travel to meet Leo three years ago.

We were invited to participate in making a 100 wishes quilt for the first time when another family asked us to contribute a wish—and two pieces of the same fabric—for their new son’s quilt. One piece will be stitched into the quilt and one will be placed in a book alongside our wish. The family is leaving for China in just a few weeks to meet their son, and the mother is obviously not only very excited, but also extremely organized and talented. With just days to go—at a time in our journey when I was trying to decide whether we needed to pack conditioner—she is assembling the quilt.

We have a special connection to this family—one we discovered in an amazing way after returning home from China with Leo—so I put a lot of thought into the wish we would send to their son. Finally I decided to write him a letter letting him know of the gift his mother gave our son when she noticed him sleeping in a crib in a rural foster home where several children lived:

We would like to tell you a story. Four years ago on Easter Sunday, your mother was visiting China when she saw a little baby boy who needed a doctor. She helped make sure that little boy got to the hospital and was placed with a loving foster family. Today that boy is our son. This year on Easter Sunday, your mother shared the news with us that you would become her son, and we remembered again how important Easter was for our son—and our family.

Easter is a day of beginnings, of new life, of hope, and when God shows us that He can be victorious over anything—even death. God can truly move mountains, care deeply for each one of us, and create families even when the parents and children are born thousands of miles apart.

As you join your forever family, you will face challenges—but we know you will face them with your parents, brothers, and sister, and with God always at your side. And so we send a whole bushel of wishes for you and all you will grow to be. May you find courage and humility, creativity and faith, peace and joy, and may you always know that you are loved.

As you grow and discover your talents and create your dreams for the future, you and your family will always be in our prayers.

I hoped Leo would also want to send his own wish, but I wasn’t sure he would participate. But he latched onto the idea right away. He wanted to know more about this boy he had never met. He looked at our fabric pieces and said, “What would a boy like who is 6?” We talked about other 6-year-old boys we know, and then he carefully picked the construction vehicles fabric. He chose the Cars one to send with our family wish.

Then I sat beside him as he dictated his wish for a boy he doesn’t know who will meet his new family in just a few weeks.

“What should we say?” I asked, still unsure whether this would work.

“We wish you could fly to outer space on a rocket ship,” Leo said.

It’s such a different wish—and a magnificent one. And it’s one that a 6-year-old will understand and appreciate.

We wish our friends’ new son a safe journey home, a smooth transition to life with his forever family, and—oh, yes—one day, if he’s lucky, maybe even a trip to outer space. Leo will be ready to tag along.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.