Archives for November 2013

A Little More Family….in China

One of the highlights of our trip to China was growing our family, not just in the obvious way by adopting Olivia, but by adding Julia’s foster family.

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Way back before we knew a lot about adoption we liked the idea of adopting from a place where our children’s birth families would never enter our lives  to create confusion and disruption.  After years of reading and learning we know things are complicated no matter how you slice it.  Our children’s birth families ARE important but with China it’s unlikely that our kids will ever fill those holes in their hearts.  I’m sad to think of each of their birth mothers and the pain they must have experienced to let go of these beautiful babies.

Both Julia and Rion were fortunate enough to be loved thoroughly from the time they were babies until the time we adopted them.  With Rion we had almost immediate email contact with his foster family.  Though our communication is somewhat limited due to rather poor computer translation, we often receive pleas for pictures so they can see the “baby”.  When we adopted Julia we were told we could not have contact with her foster family (who cared for her for well over a year).  We just knew that it was a mom and a dad with two almost grown children, a boy and a girl.  We also knew that they had loved her through and through.  She was such a happy little girl and almost immediately showed us the love and affection that only a loved child can even understand.  We sadly accepted that we would never know this family. After Rion’s adoption the possibility of meeting them began to nag at me.  Julia often drew pictures of her foster mother just based on her imagination.  Her foster mother was much more of a reality and had left more of a hole in her heart that even her birthmother.  About a month before our China trip I finally contacted the orphanage for information.  They once again said that contact was not allowed, but for some reason gave me the foster mother’s name.  So I found a researcher and asked if he could find her.  Twenty-four hours later we had an address and over the next few weeks we established contact and found a guide who would introduce us in China!

Julia was excited and nervous, as I think we all were.  We were to meet the foster family at their home in Guangzhou.  After an adventuresome two-taxi drive where we managed to lose Phil and Rion (who had no phone, no address, and no phone number for our guide) we finally managed to all get to our destination.  The foster mother met us out in the rain with umbrellas and I could see the excitement in her eyes when she spotted Julia.  Over the course of the morning and early afternoon we enjoyed getting to know and love this amazing family who loved our little girl.  The mother was so sweet and caring.  Since Julia was feeling a bit shy, the mother turned her attention to Olivia who I think was hoping she had found a new family.  (We had to deal with quite a traumatic good-bye for Olivia later in the afternoon.) Julia soon warmed up to the daughter “Zoe” who is in her early twenties and speaks pretty good English.  The father was kind and quiet offering up tea.

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We learned that they had chosen to foster a child when the mother thought the house had grown too quiet as her kids grew up.  She went to the orphanage and was allowed to choose from the children and she picked Julia.  Later they also fostered a little boy (who we’ve now seen in a few pictures with Julia).  He was also adopted (supposedly by a family in Sweden) and they haven’t fostered since then.  She said it was too painful to lose the kids.  I can only imagine how heartbreaking that must have been.

One thing that surprised us was that Zoe is the younger of the siblings.  We asked about the one child policy and they told us that after they had their boy they wanted a girl so badly that they became pregnant again and paid the large fine so that they could have their little girl.  In a country that so often de-values girls it was so nice to know that Julia’s foster family treasured both their children!

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Maybe not so surprising was the way they were deceived about Julia’s adoption.  I don’t know if the orphanage was just trying to make sure they wouldn’t look for us, but they told the family that Julia had been adopted in Brazil!  So when the family got a call from America this spring they were somewhat scared and wondered if we had kidnapped Julia!  I wonder if that foster brother is really in Sweden or here in the U.S. somewhere?

We also learned at lunch that this is what a real Chinese take-out box looks like.  Zoe was very confused about our explanation about Chinese take-out boxes here.  🙂

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It was good to fill in some holes.  One sad thing that I noticed soon after Julia came to us was her reaction when put in a room full of children.  One day I brought her to a little gymnastics class and as soon as I put her in the circle of children her head dropped, her shoulders slumped, and she became incredibly sad.  My heart just ached as I realized that that was probably how her foster family had left her at the orphanage two months before her adoption.  I asked and the foster mother told me that the orphanage made her leave Julia in a room full of kids and didn’t allow her to say good-bye.  My heart still breaks for her mother’s heart and also for my sweet girl who had no idea why the only mother she had ever known abruptly disappeared from her life!

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One of the most wonderful gifts of the day was getting pictures of Julia as a baby.  Until then we only had 3 blurry pictures of Julia. Zoe quickly uploaded pictures onto our camera card and now we can enjoy pictures of a tinier Julia than we ever knew!  We even have a great video of Julia playing with her dinner (that is playing with a bowlful of live crawdads who would later become dinner!)

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