Dedicated to my mother.
May I be half the woman she was and always kill em with kindness.
I grew up in the Bronx, New York to two very traditional Irish parents, Anna-Mae Cane and John Mulhern.
After my father passed, it was always just me and my mother...
December 13, 1992. This was the day I decided I wanted my own kid.
1996, I thought about adopting a child. A friend of mine introduced me to the idea and it stuck.
She said it’s so rewarding...and expensive. Adoption was not feasible.
Adoption was but a dream.
In 1997, my sister showed me an article in the news about the one child policy in China. This policy was in place to reduce the growth rate of China's enormous population. There were so many babies put in orphanages.
Late 1997, I chose to adopt from China as a single mother. I wanted a child so badly. But I constantly thought to myself...
how would I be able to provide for this kid as a single mother?
Months later, I applied for adoption. They reminded me that the adoption process is long and tedious. I didn't care, I had made up my mind.
April 19, 1998. I started journaling again. This time it was for a very special little girl, my girl. I do not know her name yet but she’ll be in my arms and I’ll get to call her mine.
“I don’t know what you look like or what your name is yet but, I will love you no matter what.”
January 3rd, 1999. I cried tears of joy finally getting to see her. She was so small and beautiful, only 8 months old. I would've gone crazy one more day not receiving a photo of my baby girl.
I can actually count the days until Aunt Ann and I begin our journey to bring her home. Family leave starts next week. I hope I am able to financially support our family alone.
Thursday, March 4, 1999. “The wait is almost over. We get to meet each other tomorrow afternoon. Just about twenty-four hours to go.”
March 5, 1999. I'm waiting for her...nervously yet patient. We got assigned family number 5. There were tons of people waiting for their baby girls.
“I hope you don’t cry in my arms the first time I meet you. I hope there is an instant connection.”
They called family number 5. March 5th was the day I got to see her, my baby girl.
“I know we will be a happy family but we must always be grateful for her. I hope your birth mother has nurtured you each day & that she will be comforted knowing that you already have an “other mother” who loves you very much.”
I look at her and her rosy cheeks. They make her look like a soft, pink doll. I can finally call her my own, but what shall I call her?
“I have never loved someone so much, Jillian Xiu-Tao Mulhern.”
“I love you to the moon and back,”
March 19, 1999. I head back to New Jersey, a new and hopefully forever home for Jillian. Some family and friends will be waiting for our arrival. I hope they’ll accept her and love her as much as I do.
When we landed, they came with open arms and a warm jacket so that Jillian would not get sick.
The first night, I lysoled every inch of Jill's room. I was so worried and took precaution. The room was spotless for her to sleep in. I tucked her in and kissed her little hands and tiny feet a hundred times. I refuse to let her get sick.
She got sick, really sick. I didn’t know if she would survive. This couldn’t be more of a nightmare.
A month later, my mother passed.
I was lost. I could not remember the last time
I functioned fully on my own. How am I going to provide for Jillian with just one salary. No parents, no husband...
“I still remember the day my mom bought me lavender potpourri. I had placed it on my nightstand where it filled up my entire room with lovely fragrance. Sometimes I’ll get a whiff of the potpourri and smile. Maybe when Jillian gets older, I can give her lavender potpourri as a gift. It could be our thing.”
I was so nervous my first night alone...
My family gathered and offered me as much help as possible but it was still hard. Jillian cried when others took her from my arms and stopped when they brought her back. It’s as if she knew I felt empty inside.
“How am I going to do this alone?”
“How can I be happy for Jillian?”
“Will Jillian be sad it’s just me and her?”
“I hope she likes me just as much as her birth mother.”
"What if her birth mother comes back and takes her away from me?"
"I hope she'll be healthy."
All of these worries... I decided to write them down for Jillian.
“Jillian, I know it won’t be easy but I will be
the best mother I can be. I will be with you every step of the way. There will be days you doubt us and our family. Jillian, I wanted to write these journals because I didn’t believe a mother could be that crazy about her child.”
"Jillian... let me tell you about the journey for Jillian."
Until next time...