Well, maybe a thousand miles is a bit of an exaggeration, but today, I’m taking the first step on a journey I’ve been wanting to make for some time — the path to piece together, as much as possible, the first year of PunditGirl’s life.

We know she was born in Hunan Province in China in December of 1999. And we know she lived in Changsha First Social Welfare Institute for most of the time before we adopted her on January 7, 2001. We know a few details of what her life was probably like, thanks to this book — Kids Like Me in China, a book that was written by an eight-year-old girl adopted from CFSWI, just like PunditGirl.

For a variety of reasons, both professional and personal, I’ve developed an E-mail relationship with the author’s mom, a woman who is, herself, very involved in the international adoption community. So PunditGirl and I are off today on an interesting trip — to sit down and talk with this family who has maintained connections with the baby home and the caregivers, a family who may be able to shed a little light for us on some facts, not just educated guesses, about life in China and inside the baby home during the year PunditGirl was there.

We both are a little nervous — PunditGirl not sure she wants to hear any of this, and me, not sure I can put it together for her in a way that will be helpful to her when she’s older.

It’s probably not the best way to think of it, but I decided that if it was me, I would want to have as much information as possible about what my life was like then.

For most of us, our memories are provided by parents, birth or otherwise, who have been there for us since the moment of birth — baby pictures, first locks of hair, notations made of various ‘firsts.’

We have those, but they don’t start until PunditGirl was 12 months old.

So an opportunity has presented itself where many people who have access to information might be able to help us put the puzzle called ‘PunditGirl’s First Year’ together.

Right now the jigsaw puzzle of her infant days is a mere border — the border you first put together when trying to complete the 1,000 piecer on the kitchen table. If I can find a way to fill in the vast blank space in the middle, maybe that will give her something to hold on to about who she was before she became PunditGirl.