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China Adoption Story
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Do you know a child adopted from China?
Is My Chinese Adopted Daughter Healthy?
My first concern after getting my daughter Mollie back to the hotel is to see if she is healthy. I undressed Mollie while she was crying to see if I could check her health. She has a long torso and her arms and legs are well developed. She had no diaper rash and no Mongolian spot. She is clean and her clothes are new. Her hair is thick and coarse. She on her arm she has a scar and some red marks on her arm. I think perhaps there are birthmarks. I decide I will ask about them tomorrow. I think about how intimately I know the bodies of my other children, but this body is unfamiliar to me, just as I am unfamiliar to her. Still, I find that she is now reaching for me when I put her down, wanting me to comfort her, even if she is not sure who I am.
I call my husband, Christopher. Following the instructions by the phone, I find it is easy to call and I can hardly believe it when I hear his voice. Our guide, John had told us it was $1.00 a minute, so I talk fast and tell him as much as I can.
Chris told me he likes the job of stay at home mom—what good news! I tell both of the older kids, Maggie (6) and Brendan (4) hello. I think that little one year old Sophie (the reason Christopher stayed home and didn't come with me) probably can't understand mom's voice on the phone.
Maggie tells me that our neighbor Mackenzie has given her a necklace which looks like real jewels when it is washed. Her voice sounds so young on the phone. Brendan sounds almost exactly like her, which surprises me. He says Mackenzie gave Maggie some boyish shoes and that Maggie gave them to him. Then he asks me when I am coming home.
That is a hard moment. I miss these kids so much! I tell him next week, and encourage him by saying he will have a good day and make some new friends at the Columbus Avenue daycare. I worry about him, but God has really been blessing us and all of the kids seem to be doing well.
My Thoughts and Prayers for My Adopted Daughter Mollie
As Mollie sleeps, I think back over the day and write down in my journal my thoughts and prayers for her:
Mollie—you looked at me when you were crying—not quite knowing who I am. At first you didn’t look at me at all. You just reached back for your nanny and cried and cried. But in our hotel room, you would sometimes turn to me and look. I’m sure you wonder who this person is and why you are with her and not your foster mom.
You wonder where “ba” is. But when I put you down, you would reach up to me. You did want comfort; although you weren’t sure you wanted mine. I think it is good to have just us together for now. I pray that tomorrow you will begin to accept me as a person you can trust. I know that we will be forever, lifetime friends and I pray God’s great grace and peace on you now. What a lot of transitions you have faced and will face in the next few weeks. God’s grace to you. I have loved you and prayed for you since before you were born. I knew God’s hand was with you and that he planned for me to be your mother. Thank you God for this great gift. Amen.
In the Morning
Mollie slept well for about 8 hours. I woke up at 5:00 and ended up waking her up too. We played together. At first she was crying. Not screaming, but whimpering crying. Then she calmed down a bit and became interested in toys. She very slowly and carefully explored each thing I gave her using a pincer grasp and touching things with her index finger.
We played with a pen. I put it in my pocket and she took it out. I had brought a stuffed bird and we played with that too. She liked peek-a-boo and I think that was when I got the first smile and chuckle. She wanted to be held all of the time. Finally, I had to hold her while I dressed, putting her down for just a minute when absolutely necessary. She watched me and looked at my eyes when I fed her. I think she is trying to memorize my face.
We were ready so early that we were down for breakfast at 7:00. We were the only ones in our group to actually make it to breakfast, but I met some other adoptive parents from Canada. Breakfast was mostly dim sum and delicious. I liked the steamed buns with lotus seeds, the sesame buns with bean curd and something called Indian cake which was spongy and coconut flavored. Mollie ate some congee, but I think it was too hot. She also had some bits of bun and peaches. I held her the whole time and except for occasional whimpering she was fine.
Questions for Me
Later in the morning, we all met together to go back to the hotel where we had gotten our daughters in order to finalize the adoption. I was taken back first into a small room with a very nice young lady who asked me some questions:
1. Are you sure you want to adopt this child?
“Of course!” I gave Mollie a big hug.
2. Why is your husband not here?
“He stayed home to take care of our other three children. We thought the travel to China would be too much for them.”
3. What is your neighborhood like?
“Nice houses. Good neighbors. Good schools. We have many Chinese friends. My oldest daughter, Maggie, has a Chinese teacher. Also, Maggie’s best friend is Chinese.” I also told her that we want to work at a Chinese University and live in China in the future and she seemed to like that. I told her also about Grace and Eric as Chinese godparents who will help Mollie know about her Chinese culture.
4. What is your plan for education?
“We live in a good school district. It is one of the top ones in our state. Our children also get a free college education at a private University.”
5. How will you treat this child?
“We will raise her just as we raise all of our other children. We will treat her the same.” This question was related to information we had been told to put in our cover letter to CCAA.
Christmas Greeting from Wuzhou Orphanage 2010
China Adoption PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Finishing the Adoption
The young lady official was very kind, and I signed in several places and put my fingerprint in red ink. I also signed Christopher’s name and Mollie put her right footprint in red ink. It seemed like I was supposed to do it with the other foot and I got it inked, but then they said no more.
I noticed that all of this paperwork was hand done. It was not something put into a computer. For one part, I needed a visa picture from Chris, which I did not have. Luckily, I remembered that I had some photos of him in the album I had brought of family pictures. One of the family portraits had been taken on our couch and the picture of him was against our blue wall and was just the right size! So I cut it out and it ended up on the official document!
After all of the paperwork, I brought Mollie back into a room where our guide John was sitting and talking to those of us who were finished. Mollie was smiling and clapping and very happy. She finally got down from my lap and cruised over to John. He held her for a while and then realized, “Oh, I don’t want you to become attached to me!” and gave her back.
I realize that it is true. The attachment process needs to be guided so that she will attach to us. However, as we go through the next week, it becomes evident that Mollie has a healthy attachment to me and is also happy to be friendly with others and John develops a particular fondness for her.
The Adoption Ceremony
When everyone was finished with their paperwork, we went back into the room where we had gotten the girls. Our local guide, Joy, tells us when it is time to give our donation to the orphanage director. I get out my envelope. For some reason, the director, Cai Wen, pushes it away with her hand. The envelope is rather ragged from having traveled in my waist pack across the world, but the money is new and clean. I know from the email groups that some directors reject old money. I tell Joy, “The money is all there. She can count it if she wants.” I don’t know if the director understands my English but she takes the envelope.
Then they present us with some things. I am given perhaps the most precious thing I could have hoped for, a small packet of pictures of Mollie which include pictures of her foster family. Since the pictures have the date of Dec. 1, I suspect they were taken on the day that Mollie was brought back to the orphanage. We also get a certificate thanking us for our donation and a brochure of the orphanage. It is the same one I had seen online. Mollie is given a Jade horse necklace. After this, the woman official says the girls are adopted and are now American citizens. We cry and hug and take pictures.
Our Adoption Photo
Mollie and me with Cai Wen, assistant director of Wuzhou SWI and Ms. Lee, whom our guide Joy called a nanny. Ms. Lee is the one who had given Mollie to me and seems to have been in charge of her on the trip. She knew Mollie well and seemed to like her very much. Later, through the orphanage Yahoo group, I find out that Ms. Lee is actually an assistant administrator at the orphanage.
After having to gather all of the paperwork in the U.S. by ourselves, we have very little to do in China except to follow the directions of our guide. It is the local guides who help us through the paperwork of each individual province. Like states in the U.S., each province seems to have individual laws to govern the adoption processes.
Joy tells us each morning how much money we need to have converted into Yuan and then guides us through each step. Our agency guide, John, who has never visited Guangzi before, comments that the amount of paperwork for different aspects of the adoption vary a lot from other provinces he has visited. He stays with us through each day but it is Joy that tells us what to do.
After our adoption ceremony, we go to the notary office. Another woman asks us some questions similar to the ones we answered earlier, but the questioning is briefer. Mollie had fallen asleep in my arms. When she asked whether I would ever abandon or neglect her (the second time I’d been asked this question), I wondered how I could convey to her the idea that this was inconceivable. No words were enough. Parenting is a commitment lived out over a lifetime, like marriage. The words are only the beginning.
To the last question she asked, “Do you want to adopt this child?” I answer an emphatic, “Yes, absolutely” and hug Mollie. I had to try to say what I felt. Finally, we went to a third office in the same building where two women sat who were apparently the cashiers. We paid them and then it was done. Mollie was my daughter. I gazed at her face and knew I loved her; better yet, looking at her eyes shining back into mine, I knew with joy that she was also beginning to love me.
Questioning Ms. Lee
Then we went back to the hotel to wait for the nannies to come and get presents and give us a chance to ask questions. Ms. Lee is short and petite and very sweet and lively. It was clear that she liked Mollie a lot. She did not try to hold her but she made sounds for her and played with her.
Many of my questions had already been answered by an update sheet they had given me, but I did learn a lot from this meeting. It was clear that Mollie had been a favorite and was well-loved by this nanny as well as her foster family. When I asked, “Who named her?”
Ms. Lee said, “I did,” and went on to tell me that her name meant “smart, active” (Min) and “good, fine” (Jia). Joy told her that Ms. Lee had told her previously that Mollie was smart. I have noticed this too. After I combed her hair, Mollie tried to do this herself. The nanny also tells me that her nickname is “Guy Guy.” When I study Mandarin later I realize this is a name for little girl. She tells me that the picture of the foster family shows their 17 year old daughter and a 10 year old niece.
I give Ms. Lee the gifts and then ask Joy to explain about the scrapbook that I have brought. It is a compilation of pictures of former adoptees from the orphanage. Ms. Lee immediately starts looking at the pages and talking about the children. She remembers them and goes on to page after page, obviously pleased and excited. She also likes the posters I sent for the orphanage and Joy says “That is a nice gift,” so I’m pleased. Ms. Lee gives me an affectionate goodbye and says in English, “Thank you very much.” I try to express my appreciation in my tone and eyes and voice too. I hope she understands how thankful I am for her love for MinJia.