“It’s a pink nightmare!”

As if we hadn’t embarrassed him enough, how about posing in front of school as your classmates are released?

The night of Chad’s incident, I messaged with the agency director at Lifeline and told her what was going on. She is a wise lady with lots of experience- she has seen it all. She e-mailed her in-country representative because she was also concerned, and “Lily” called Susan, our guide, to talk to her about it. She wanted Susan to go to the director to get to the bottom of this since it is concerning, and to find out if there has ever been any indication of self-harming behaviors. Susan pulled the former director, Bo Pin, aside, and asked her more about it, and they all sat him down to clean and re-bandage his wounds. Bo Pin told Susan that he has never done anything like this, he is always “sunshine boy” and everybody loves him (he is a favorite!). She pointed to his shorts that we had him dressed in. She said he has never worn shorts before. He does not like his legs and his feet, and he is embarrassed and self-conscious about how he looks after his surgery. He is afraid he will be teased and he thinks his legs are ugly. She talked to Li Xiao Qiang a while and then also said that he thought that the “fur” on his legs was too long, and that if he had to wear shorts, at least he could remove the “fur” to make his legs more attractive. My heart just melted. I had laid out an outfit for him each day (shorts, because it’s really warm here now), and he put it on, and never wanted to tell me he didn’t want to wear it, and all this time this we have added stress on top of stress for him, to have him parading around in public with his bare legs that he hates, for all the world to see. I felt terrible! He was too polite and sweet to tell me how the shorts made him feel.

Since we were about to walk to the kids’ school, I didn’t want him to have to be wearing the shorts and tank he was in and be subjected to seeing his classmates in that outfit that he was so uncomfortable in. We asked the director if there was an extra outfit he could wear that he would feel better in before we left. She nodded yes and told Li Xiao Qiang he could go change. It was exactly like the scene in “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie is told he can go take off the pink bunny suit. He set off gleefully “quicker than a jackrabbit on a date” and came back in some eccentric pants and long-sleeved top, despite the fact we were all sweating in the humidity. Poor guy!! We all laughed and breathed a sigh of relief, and I’m sure it’s a story that will be told to him for years to come once he’s past these awkward teen years. If you saw his legs, you would actually have to be looking really hard to even know anything had ever been wrong with his feet. They look normal, but we all tend to magnify the things we don’t like about ourselves, especially in these self-conscious adolescent years. Chaela has told us he has been teased and bullied, at least by some of the older kids at the orphanage, so it makes sense that he has fears about this happening. I don’t know why it never even crossed our minds about the shorts! It was a different time of year when we were here to get Chaela, but even then I had put her in Capri leggings, and I remember her trying to pull them down repeatedly to meet her socks so none of her leg showed. Shorts are just not something the kids wear around Pu Er, apparently. I feel so relieved that this was really a nothing thing, and even the timing of it makes sense now- we were just about to head out the door to go to dinner when he did this, so he was just trying to fix the problem as best as he could before we left.
Today we are packing up to head to Guangzhou where we will spend a week completing the adoption process- the medical and visa appointments required to bring him home with us. I should have some time to tell about our adventures from a couple days ago that were deleted, as well as our emotionally-taxing day we had yesterday visiting Pu’Er. We are so thankful for the prayers and support that helped get us through a rough 24 hours, not knowing what was going on with Chad’s shaving incident. It all makes perfect sense now. Hindsight is 20/20.