Old parents find solace in substitute daughter
Updated: 2013-03-19 05:38
By Cang Wei and Song Wenwei (China Daily)
When a dying woman expressed a wish to see her baby girl given up for adoption many years earlier, a well-meaning substitute made the family feel whole again. Cang Wei and Song Wenwei report in Nanjing.
With the best of intentions, 32-year-old Jin Bing pretended to be an old couple's daughter for six years.
One day at the end of 2006, the young woman, then 26, was watching TV. The program was about an old farmer, with tears streaming down his face, looking for his daughter, whom he gave to another family when she was just 20 days old.
"Your mother is dying because of advanced cancer. Her last and only wish is to see you just one time," said the old man, Du Fangqin. "The family was too poor when we sent you away. We had no choice at that time. Please come back as soon as possible, daughter!"
"What touched me the most was his wife's expression. I could feel her pain and sorrow, and sense the expectation in her eyes," Jin says.
She found out that the daughter, who agreed to visit her birth mother before that year's Spring Festival, had changed her mind at the last minute.
"It was too cruel for a dying mother," says Jin. "From TV, I noticed their daughter and I look alike: We are both tall, have a birth mark on the face, and are of the same age. So I asked myself: Can I help them in my own way?"
With the telephone number she got from the TV station, Jin called Du. She suggested to him that she would pretend to be his daughter just to comfort the sick mother.
"For me, making the call and visiting the family was a piece of cake, but for them, it might mean a lot."
Though well-prepared, Jin was still shocked when she arrived at the small village, in Pukou district of Nanjing, Jiangsu province.
Many locals, including some from neighboring villages, gathered to wait for her. They treated Jin with the ceremonial etiquette of China's rural areas - setting off fireworks to welcome her.
Many people had tears running down their faces, including Du, his son and daughter. The mother, who had been bedridden for a long time, was standing in front of the house to greet her.
"My daughter, I miss you," the mother said the moment when she saw Jin. They hugged and cried out loud.
Du Jialing, the elder sister, says she never imagined that a stranger, with no blood connection, would devote so much to the family.
"She called my mother every week, bought shoes and clothes for her frequently, and never forgot to come back to the village every one or two months. She works in the IT field and is very busy, and each visit to the remote village might cost her a whole day."
"When she noticed the TV we had was a black-and-white one, she was afraid that mother's eyes might become damaged and immediately bought a color one," the sister says. "Sometimes I wondered if she was sent by our real little sister to take care of mother, or else how could she do it so well?"
When Jin recalls the six years she spent with the Dus, she says she often felt very moved.
In 2009, Jin suffered a serious cold. When the parents realized that Jin's quilts were too thin, they cultivated cotton the next year and made two thick quilts.
"They grew cotton just for me. They are farmers and their way of expressing feelings are rustic," says Jin. "When I received the quilts I said to myself: You are so lucky to have a family like this."
Jin felt so lucky that she wanted to do something more for the family.
With the help of local police and media, she got the telephone number of the real daughter, Ge Miao (not her real name). But they had a fierce quarrel when they met.
"'She abandoned me when I was little'," Jin quotes Ge Miao as saying. "'So I won't visit her when she needs me. I don't hate them. I don't want to see them. Let's just forget each other'."
Jin says Ge's words hurt her. She says she did not understand why forgiving parents who had no choice but to send the baby to a well-off family seemed so hard.
"I had to respect Ge's choice and could only get the recording of her wedding ceremony from her husband, which I showed to the whole family later."
Jin says various details made the mother realize long ago that Jin was not her real daughter, but she never said a word until October 2012, when she was on her deathbed.
"She was afraid that I would leave her if she told me," says Jin.
"Without the happiness Jin brought to the family, my mother would not have lived for another six years," says the elder sister Du Jialing. "We don't know how to express our gratitude to her."
"It is more blessed to give than to receive," says Jin. "I firmly believe in this saying, and I'll stay in touch with the Dus as long as I can."
Contact the writers through email@example.com.
(China Daily 03/19/2013 page20)