Archive for October, 2011

The Adoption File

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

[Written 10/19/2011, published 11/14/2011.]

I woke up spontaneously at 5am this morning and grabbed for my cell phone in the dark. It was blinking; I had a new email. :) Sure enough, it was from our agency. I’ve been emailing (pestering) them with questions for a couple weeks now about this little boy who I just KNOW is supposed to be our son!  One of the biggest pieces of information we got from our Puyang visit was that the SWI had already made an adoption file for Pu Min Yu (which they were nice enough to give us a copy of) and submitted it to the province about a month ago!  We thought we would have to convince them to create a file, but SURPRISE!  They already made it AND submitted it!  The only problem is that we haven’t been able to find it.  (An adoption file is created by the orphanage, sent to the province, then to the national place–the CCCWA, then the CCCWA sends it out to an adoption agency, or the shared list which can be accessed by all agencies.)

So he has a file, but we’ve been unable to locate it.  Once the orphanage sends it off to the province they have no control over where it goes.  We weren’t sure if it was with another agency, or not on any list because he was already matched with a family. (Honestly, I didn’t think it was with a family, because he is supposed to be with OUR family.) But to keep my heart guarded, I tried to at least acknowledge the possibilities to myself.

After anxiously reading this morning’s email, I am once again filled with gratitude:

I heard back from China today, and the CCCWA [China Center for Children's Welfare and Adoption] said Pu Min Yu’s file may be going to be released to the shared list, most likely one night next week! We will look for him for you, but please remember that there is a risk that another agency could lock him in. Being an older boy, we should have a good chance though.

We found it!!!  Phew!  I am so grateful it’s not with another agency, or with another family.  And what timing!  This whole timing thing is beginning to make a lot of sense.  If we had waited for months or a year like we had wanted, we would have missed finding our son.  Now we just have to wait until his file is released, and pray our agency can lock it for us before another agency does!  Praying, praying, praying! :)

 

A Perfect Day (Puyang Visit 10/14)

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

[Written 10/15/2011, published 11/12/2011.]

Friday. My favorite day of the entire trip, hands down! We spent the day with the sweetest boy, Jasmine’s friend from the SWI, Pu Min Yu!  Warning:  this will be long because I don’t want to leave out a single detail.  I want to remember every moment of that day.

About a week before our trip, we asked specifically about seeing Pu Min Yu while we were in Puyang. (We saw him during our visit last year, and I could not forget him.) The ayi said she could arrange time for us to see him, so she took him out of school on Thursday just for that purpose.   Because we were with two other families Todd was the translator, which made me the designated kid-wrangler.  So we saw Min Yu briefly and said hello, spoke with the ayis and director, toured the orphanage, and then it was time to leave.  No time to visit with Min Yu.  :(  We didn’t feel right leaving things on that note, so after we left Todd messaged the same ayi, asking if it would be possible to spend some time with him the next day.  She didn’t know what she would be able to arrange but said she’d try.

A little shy, watching from the sidelines.

Friday morning we returned to the SWI to deliver clothes for the children, and to talk with the director and the ayis. We had a list of questions we wanted to ask, some about Jasmine’s history, and some about Pu Min Yu.  Todd went inside and I stayed outside with our kids to play on the playground. About 15 minutes later, up drove an ayi on a motorbike—with Pu Min Yu! The kids noticed, “Look! It’s Pu Min Yu!” We waved, and he waved back from the back of the motorbike. He disappeared into the building where Todd was for a few minutes but then came out with an ayi at his side. He was a bit shy, but I can’t blame him; so were we! He watched the kids play for a bit, then Kaylee Ann asked him if he wanted to play with them (in Chinese of course). He said he’d just watch. :)

 

We talked, but my limited Chinese kept our conversation at a minimum. I asked him how old he was and he said 11. (We found out later that he’s actually 12. So interesting that he honestly did not know his age.) I asked if he knew when his birthday was and he didn’t know. (This is common in an orphanage.) I asked if he knew English and he said a little bit. I asked him a few other questions and found out that he wants to learn English, and he does want a family. He actually answered “yes” in English to both questions. :)  It was so cute that after we talked about learning English he started practicing right away, and continued for the rest of our time together! He asked me a few questions too, and a couple times I had to call Jasmine over to translate. He was polite enough to try to make conversation, even though he knew my Chinese was not so great.

In between talking with Min Yu and playing with the kids I took pictures and videos of everyone.  Confession: I wanted nothing more than to point that camera at his sweet face and snap a million pictures!  And I wanted to capture his every movement, every word, so I could “take” him with me once we said goodbye.  But…I didn’t want to weird him out, so I took pictures of all the kids, including him. :)  Until we can bring him home, pictures are all we have.

Four little monkeys...

We spent a couple hours there–playing tag, climbing on the monkey bars, chatting, taking funny pictures on the phone.  Then somehow it was lunchtime…already time to leave.  We were planning to eat at a jiaozi place, then play at a nearby city park.  My brilliant husband asked if we could bring Pu Min Yu with us.  The ayis asked him if he would like to, and he agreed very enthusiastically.  Yea!  He was coming with us!!  I honestly don’t know who was most excited–me, Todd, kids, Pu Min Yu?  We were ALL so happy to spend more time together!

 

Jasmine tried teaching him all our English names on the way to the restaurant.  When she had told him all 7 names she asked which ones he remembered.  ”Uhh…..Michael!”  And that was all.  We all had a good laugh with that.  Todd asked if he could use chopsticks (since he only has 3 fingers on each hand).  He replied that he could.  Michael’s comment during lunch was, “No fair!  He has 3 fingers, and I have 5, and he can use them better than me!”  And with those chopsticks this boy did some serious eating!  Yep, growing boy if I ever saw one. :)

LOVED the swings!

Lunch eaten, we headed to the park.  After watching him climb around for a while I asked him if he was a monkey. He laughed.  He was excited to try the swings, but he didn’t want to go as high as Kaylee Ann!  He thought she was kind of crazy. :)  He loved the swings.  I didn’t realize it until we left, but I think that was probably Min Yu’s first time on a swing.  Wow.  We also got to take him on his first boat ride.  There were some paddle boats on the pond so we rented two of them. We put four of us in each boat and raced each other around for a while.  He was in the boat with Todd so I only saw him a few times, but each time he was smiling ear to ear.  I love that boy’s smile! :)

First boat ride!

 

He had grown less shy, and happier and more smiley the longer he was with us.  Then during the drive back to the SWI he got very quiet, and all the smiles disappeared.  I was hoping he was just tired from a long day of playing.  So I asked him.  No, he wasn’t tired.  It seemed to us that he wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  We had to take him back at 3:00 because we were supposed to make one more trip, a visit to Jasmine’s old school.  When he overheard us telling that to the nannies, he ran to one of them and quietly asked if he could go with us.  They said he could, if it was okay with us.  OF COURSE!!  So we all went to the school–our family, Pu Min Yu, and the ayis.

About to say goodbye, no more smiles. :(

We toured the school, saw Jasmine’s teacher…and then came the real goodbye.  The goodbye I had been preparing for.  I knew I’d have to be tough.  Todd thanked him for spending time with our family that day, then he gave him a little hug.  And then I gave him a hug.  And made myself let him go, my son.  Then we drove away, all of us waving and waving out the window.  And he waved and waved and waved at us until we were out of sight.  Very bittersweet.

There were several times during the day, when kids’ heads were turned, that Todd and I glanced at each other long enough to convey something to the effect of, “WOW. He is an AWESOME kid!” I wish I could describe him. Like most children who are adopted older, he seems younger than his years.  Jasmine at age 8, seemed more like a 5-6 year old.  Min Yu, at age 12 1/2 feels like a 9-10 year old.  Not immature, just young and innocent, very child-like.  No pre-teen attitudes or angst, not self-conscious at all.  I remember my first impression of him when we saw him last year, that he had “the sweetest face I’ve ever seen.”  And I don’t even know that it was his face exactly, but something about him conveyed sweetness.  Well, as far as we could tell, that is him through and through.  Sweet, calm, kind, gentle, thoughtful, yet still very much a BOY! He had so much fun playing, swinging, climbing, and jumping.  And he ate a whole plateful of jiaozis at lunch—plus a ton of other food. Definitely a boy. :)

Needless to say, we’re totally in love–me, Todd, the kids–and are doing everything we can to bring him home. :)  The kids have been begging to adopt him since the MOMENT we drove away, literally.  I wish we could tell them that’s exactly what we’re trying to do!   After the initial pleading had stopped, Kaylee Ann leaned forward from the backseat and whispered in my ear, “Mommy, I really feel like Heavenly Father is preparing our family for him.”  I had to keep my response to myself.  Yes, Kaylee Ann, I know He is.


 

Puyang Visit Next Week!

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

[Written October 8, 2011.  Published November 10, 2011.]

So excited!  We have made plans for our first family vacation here in China!  We promised Jasmine that we would visit Puyang in September.  Well, September was a little busy, but we’re happy to say we’ll be heading there on Sunday!  We’re taking the train to Zhengzhou, doing a little touring around the province.  And then we’ll visit the orphanage with another couple on Wednesday or Thursday!  She is sooo excited to see her friends and ayis and has been counting down the days.  We are really excited too!

It’s funny how life takes little unexpected twists.

Pu Min Yu when we met him last year. A sweet but solemn face.

When Todd asked me who our son was (see previous post) he mentioned a boy we’d met before when we visited the orphanage last year.  Well, I’ve pulled out some of the pictures from the orphanage for Jasmine so she could remember names and faces before we go.  I was asking her the names of everyone, and remembered the last boy we had met during our visit.  I showed her the picture of him on our blog and asked a little about him.  She said, “Oh, the one with 3 fingers.  That’s Pu Min Yu.”

I hardly remembered that I had been brave enough to write any of my feelings about him in that post, but I had been, and I read it again.  (The funny thing is, I only wrote a tenth of what I felt when I saw him.)  I remember hoping he would find a family, and almost wishing that we could adopt him.  But I knew we couldn’t since we had just adopted a daughter 2 days before!  And limb differences…that was not a special need I felt prepared for.  It scared me.  Anyway, when I reread that I realized that my heart had been touched by those older waiting boys…and it started with him.

I feel like we have come full circle to where this began.  We are both very sure that we have found our son!  Nevertheless, the last several days have been very emotional.  I went from thinking I wasn’t prepared for a child with limb differences, to realizing that I want this child in my family more than anything!  I have been guarding my heart all week because of several very likely possibilities, which Todd was also aware of.  It is possible that…

  • he has been adopted already (it was over a year ago that we saw him)
  • he is already matched with a family
  • he is waiting on the shared list and will be matched with another family before we can even get our paperwork ready
  • he doesn’t want to be adopted.

Realistically, if he wasn’t already adopted, it was probably because he didn’t want to be, and we knew this.  (This is not unheard of with older children.  It can be scary to leave everything you know and start over in a foreign land with strangers!)  So last night when one of the ayis texted us to say it was okay to come visit the orphanage next week (yea!) Todd said, “Here’s our chance.  Do you want me to ask about Pu Min Yu?”  Uh…I couldn’t think of what to say!  So Todd just typed, “Last year we met a boy named Pu Min Yu.  Is he still there?”

Well, we waited for about 10 minutes (that felt like an hour) and got a reply.  Todd read it, and then began laughing hysterically.  Of course it was in Chinese, so I had no idea what it said.  He just kept saying how hilarious it was, and laughed and laughed.  And I was dying to know!  And he wouldn’t tell me!!!  And I was pretty sure it said something about this boy’s new family.  Maybe they’d be there next week at the same time as us, or they were coming soon.  Well, Todd continued laughing, and I started fighting back tears, because I realized he wouldn’t be ours.  Then I began reprimanding myself.  Why couldn’t I just be happy that he had a family??  Well, because I wanted him in MY family!  But I continued to fight the tears (didn’t want Todd to see them) and begged him to tell me what the text said.  He read (translated from Chinese of course),

He’s still here.  Do you have friends that want to adopt him?  He really wants to be adopted by a family.  He’s very smart, has good self-care ability, studies well.  If you have a friend that would like to adopt him let me know.”

The abrupt change in emotions, from bitter disappointment to overwhelming gratitude and renewed hope, was too much for my tear ducts to handle.  We knew we wanted him to be our son, and now we knew it was possible!  I cried.  Tears of joy, and gratitude.

Well, we didn’t tell the orphanage our desire since we still have several hurdles to cross before we’ll know for sure if we can bring him home.  But, the ayi said she would arrange for us to spend some time getting to know Pu Min Yu while we are there!  AWESOME!  We already feel so good about him, and are pretty certain he is our son.  We feel that after our visit next week we will be able to know with 100% certainty that he is ours.  I can hardly wait to meet this boy!!!  (Yes, we saw him once last year for a moment, and it was enough to momentarily stop my heart, but we didn’t have a chance to speak with him at all.)  I hope it won’t be too hard for Todd and I to act “normal” when we’re there.  We really don’t feel like we should tell anyone (him, ayis, our kids) since we’re not sure we’ll be able to make everything happen like we want.  It would be terrible to get everyone’s hopes up, especially his, only to have things not work out.  So, we’ll be praying that everything goes well next week, and that we can somehow make this work!

 

The Boys

Friday, October 7th, 2011

[Written October 7, 2011.  Published November 9, 2011.]

Todd is hilarious.  Once we made our big decision he asked, “Well, who is he?  What’s his name?  Is it the boy from Jasmine’s orphanage?  I figure you have it all planned out and I’m just waiting for you to tell me.”  What???  I had been looking at profiles of children on different advocacy sites, but I honestly did not know who our son would be!  When we had discussed it earlier we both wanted a boy, but couldn’t decide on an age.  Todd was thinking younger, maybe around Spencer’s age (4-6).  I was thinking a little older, closer to the girls’ age or possibly closer Michael’s age (8-11).  But that’s as much as we both knew.

Ah…those older boys.  I have to admit, the older boys have been pulling at me for a long time.  It has taken me a while to figure out exactly why.  I thought maybe it was because I could see my own 10 year old boy in them.  And then there is the waiting.  These older boys wait and wait and wait for families, and see the younger children chosen first time after time.  Many of them are never chosen, and will never have a family of their own.

Most people adopting from China want a child as young as possible.  About 72% want a child age 1-4.  And about 77% of adopters also want a girl.  So if you’re wanting a girl under age 4, you’ll have to get in line.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for a boy over age 4 (and especially over age 5, 6 or 7) THEY wait in line.  There are even “healthy” older boys, with no special needs, just waiting for families.  It breaks my heart.  In China, children “age out” of being adoptable on their 14th birthday.  You can adopt a child up to age 13 and 364 days old, but not a day older.  Many girls, and many more boys, age out and will never have a family.  It’s true the older children don’t seem as cute and cuddly as the babies and toddlers and preschoolers, but they really are still children on the inside.

Back to the older boys.  So, I had been looking at advocacy sites and really had not seen “our son.”  (By the way, most people are matched with a child’s file by their adoption agency.  But I felt that if we were adopting older I really wanted us to be able to choose ourselves.)  There were lots of lists and lots boys, some with no special needs, many that had very manageable, minor needs, but there wasn’t any one child that kept pulling me back. One thing I did realize was that I wanted a “special needs” child.  (I say “special needs” because it’s such a misnomer.)  I remember thinking about the older children, knowing there were “healthy” boys and thinking how easy it would be to choose one.   But I really couldn’t. It just didn’t feel right for our family at all. So the decision is made–an older, “special needs” boy!

A New Adventure!

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

[Written October 3, 2011.  Published November 8, 2011.]

Happy Day!  It is official, mostly.  After much prayer, we have decided to add to our family one more time–a son from China!!!  We don’t know his name, or how old he is.  We don’t know where he lives or when he will come home.  But we know that our hearts are ready, and when the time is right, we will begin the paperwork to bring him home.  Of course, money is tight (honestly–not there) and I wonder why little ol’ ordinary me should be so blessed to have another son, but I know this is what we should be doing!

If you remember, I had a distinct impression to “prepare for other children” (see full story here) about 2 and a half years ago.  That, and a lot of prayer, led to the adoption of our daughter from China in September 2010.  I have to tell you, I honestly didn’t think about it when we first started the adoption process, but about halfway through it I realized that I was to prepare for other “children.”  Not “child.”  This was a little problematic because although our adoption was a beautiful, special process, it was not without sacrifice and challenges.  I adore the result–our sweet daughter–but the thought of doing that all over again was a bit overwhelming.  So I tried NOT to think about that!

Well, it turns out adoption is not unlike birth, in that the memory of the pain of bringing a child into your family surely fades with time.  It’s easy to say “Never again!” during labor, but almost everyone does it again anyway, no matter what they swore in that hospital room. :)  Well, here we go again!  We are excited, grateful, and humbled to be able to adopt another child!