Archives for April 2013

Overjoyed! We Have Our Official Referral!

032-Yang Yu Zhen2At long last, we received our official referral from the Chinese government Monday formally approving our adoption of Olivia!  We were so excited.  Tricia called me at work mid-morning right after she got a call from Great Wall.  We could hardly contain ourselves knowing we’re getting closer to being Olivia’s parents.  At this point, the waiting is harder the closer we get to our departure date.

For those unfamiliar with the Chinese adoption system, this is really the last big hurdle.  It’s somewhat downhill from here, although it still takes a bit of time.  We need U.S. immigration approval to adopt Olivia specifically.  (We have general U.S. immigration approval to adopt internationally.)  Then, we need approval to travel from the Chinese government.  Finally, we need an appointment with the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou.  Then, we can purchase our plane tickets, get our visas, and we’re off to China!

We’ve been doing things around the house to get ready.  Trish put her engineering degree to good use and assembled the bunk bed we bought for her and Julia to share.  Tricia’s found a third car seat.  We’ve been spending a couple evenings a week learning Mandarin with Rosetta Stone.  (“Zhe ge nu hai zi you yige jiating” which means “This girl has a family.”)  We’ve got a long way to go though.  Mandarin is a tough language.

Honestly, we get more and more anxious as we get closer.  Olivia’s living situation right now is as good as it gets for an orphan.  But, she doesn’t have a family.  The four of us just want to hug her, hold her close and show her how much we all love her.  We can’t wait to make her part of our family!

Olivia’s Safe and Sound Away from the Earthquake

For those who noticed among the Boston news yesterday, there was a 7.0 earthquake in the Sichuan province of China yesterday, as reported in the New York Times.  The earthquake, in the same area as the 2008 quake, was devastating with early reports of 157 dead and 5700 injured.  Olivia’s safe and sound, however, a good distance away from Sichuan.  Olivia currently lives in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.  It’s a good 800 miles from the earthquake-affected region.  We’ll write more about the city of Guilin later, which is one of the prettiest cities in China.Pagodas in Guilin

The Hardest Decision

JuliaJulia asked me to read her a story Saturday afternoon.  She picked The Prince of Egypt, which is based on the Disney movie about the life of Moses.  We sat down on the couch and started to read.  I got to the beginning of the second page, “Yocheved (Moses’ mother) made the hardest decision of all:  to save her child, she must send him away.”  BAM, just like that the truth of it hit me HARD.  I fought back the tears that were welling in my eyes, and it was several minutes before I could go on.

One consequence of adopting from China is that you usually don’t get any information about your child except where someone found them—police station, hospital, community park, or other public visible place.  Sometimes there’s a note with the exact birth date, but often Chinese officials just guess and assign a date.  With Julia, however, we know a little more.  Her mother gave birth to her in this subway station in Guangzhou, China.  DSC_0481She was taken to a nearby hospital so they could cut the umbilical cord.  When doctors cut the cord, she ran.

Our guide on Julia’s adoption trip speculated that Julia’s birth mother was probably a young single woman.  Under Chinese population control laws, she was not permitted to have a child.  If she did, the child wouldn’t have access to the government health care or public schooling.  Simon, our guide, also speculated that Julia’s birth mother gave birth in a public place just so that Julia would be found.

Yocheved, Moses’ mother, knew that the Egyptians would kill Moses if they discovered him.  Pharoah had decreed that all Hebrew baby boys should be killed because he feared an uprising from their growing numbers.  So, she set him adrift on the Nile River where he was adopted into Pharoah’s household.

From our perspective, it’s hard to accept a mother’s abandonment of her child.  But, Chinese society is far different.  So, as Julia grows up and wrestles with her abandonment by her birth mother, we’ll try to help her understand.  Her birth mother probably made this most difficult choice:  to save her child, she ran away.  Julia will probably wrestle with this a lot as she grows up, and she’ll feel the loss deeply.  But, I know we’ll be there to listen and seek to understand what she feels.

Xinran’s book, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother:  Stories of Loss and Love describes the difficult choices made by many mothers.  Xinran, a former radio personality in Nanjing, China, interviewed midwives, students, businesswomen, peasants and adoption workers about relinquishing their daughters.  They talk about the combination of feudal traditions, government policy and abject poverty that causes women to relinquish their daughters.  It’s a heartbreaking read, but if you want to learn the real circumstances behind the stories of these mothers, I highly recommend it.  Written to the “lost daughters,” Xinran tells the story of how much their mothers loved them and how, as one put it, “they paid for that love with an endless stream of bitter tears.”  Ultimately, we hope Julia realizes how much her mother must have loved her, and how much she cared.