Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Final

The paper chase is finished. After the mountains of paperwork we completed to get local social workers to conclude that we weren't sociopaths. After jumping through the requisite hoops imposed by the US government to allow the child to become a US citizen. After submitting reams of documents to the Chinese authorities to ultimately be matched with our daughter and be invited to travel to China. After all of the verification has been completed...the adoption of Chloe is final, and once we step on US soil again she will be a US citizen. Today all of the families in our travel group loaded up a bus for a 30 minute ride to the US Consulate here in Guangzhou. There was one last verification of our passports and a review of Chloe's documentation, and then all of the parents (of about 30 adoptions in the combined groups) stood, razed our right hands, and took a citizenship oath on behalf of our children. And it was at the same time hilarious and very touching that when Chloe saw everyone raising their right hand for the oath, she did too. Although she was clearly mimicking what she saw us doing, somewhere deep down we believe her little spirit has been prepared for what is in front of here, and it was fitting that she would raise her own little hand to take the citizenship oath. But in the middle of all of this, we had more glimpses into what is going to be the plane ride home from hell. This little girl does not sit still. And if we try to get her to stay in one a seat on the bus, perhaps...she lets out a blood-curdling screen and cries at the top of her lungs until she gets her way. We're not sure whether this was a coping mechanism developed in the orphanage, or if she was spoiled beyond belief while she was in foster care. All we know it that it doesn't bode well for the 23 hours of flights we have in front of us between here and Birmingham. We're learning to tag team with her pretty well, but that only diverts her attention for a few minutes at a time. The ride home is going to be brutal! On a lighter note, we are having so much fun getting to know Chloe's little personality. She appears to be very smart for her age. She wants to dress herself and feed herself. And she already knows who Mama, Daddy and Isabelle are by name...although we're still working on helping her actually say some form of Isabelle. Using pictures and Skype we're working on Kaycie and Ravyn and our extended family. But she seems to pick up on things very quickly. And for a girl who probably never heard a work of English before 10 days ago, she seems to understand some repetitive phrases like "Do you need to go to the potty?" and "Are you hungry?" In both cases she will either nod her head or point. We definitely see progress in a very short time. One last thought. We have become very fond of, and respect immensely, the families we're traveling with. All of the children being adopted in our group have some sort of special need, ranging from a little boy with heart and lung problems to a little girl with vision problems to a little bit older boy who is deaf. And then there are the two 14 year old boys who we are told were given the option of being placed for adoption before reaching the maximum adoptable age of 15. Both of these boys are going to families that seem uniquely suited for them. And as difficult as the transition seems to be for the infants and toddlers, we can only imagine what must be going through the minds of these handsome young men. We pray that all of these kids will adjust to their new situations quickly. Tomorrow is our last full day in Guangzhou. After the oath taking at the consulate earlier today, we will get Chloe's Chinese passport sometime Thursday, and we'll be on a flight for Beijing Friday morning. As much as we appreciate the culture here, there is, of course, no place like home.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Wait Continues

We waited so long to get here. Now we can't wait to get home. Don't get us wrong. The Chinese culture is fascinating. But our purpose is not to travel, or sight-see or do other typically touristy stuff. We can here to get our daughter. We have her and we're very anxious to get Chloe to her new home and continue the transition. Today was pretty low key. Quite boring for the most part. Right after breakfast we took Chloe back to the medical clinic to have her TB test read. Negative. One more bit of good news, and one more task completed. But that was the only official item required today. Our guides had scheduled a tour to one of the major Buddhist temples in Guangzhou, but we had visited it where we were here for Isabelle and chose not to go today. We had hoped, instead, to walk with the Yager family (we've become quite fond of their entire family) to a close "medicinal market", but it started raining as we ended up staying in our hotel room until the girls went down for a nap. We ventured out in the afternoon, but the continued rain forced us into Lucy's...a little restaurant the tries to cater to Americans. They have a decent selection of American food...but it really isn't very good. And it seems much more expensive that what we remember from 3 years ago. So we opted for some french fries, an appetizer and some soft drinks to pass the time. After a little more shopping we met up with Yagers and Huizings to go to an Italian restaurant for dinner. Relatively good food, and definitely good company. When we made it back to the hotel is was time to get the girls ready for bed. And tonight was the first time the Chloe has not gone down easily and quietly. It seems that each day that goes by, something in her little subconscious is realizing that her world is being turned upside down. It breaks our heart to watch, but we are becoming pretty good at tag-teaming our approach to settling her down. She is a wonderful little girl, and Isabelle is starting to really enjoy her big sister role. Although it's very clear that she's still struggling with someone stealing part of her spotlight, she seems to be accepting the fact that this isn't just a temporary thing, and she's showing her sweet, compassionate side. Progress is good!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Since we left Hohhot there haven't seemed to be enough hours in the day, but yet it seems like forever until we can get back to the comforts of home. We left Hohhot Friday afternoon, and on the flight to Guangzhou we learned some new things about Chloe. Things were going fairly smoothly until the plane actually got airborne, but from that point on Chloe pretty much screamed for the next 2 1/2 hours. She was absolutely inconsolable. We have read that quite often children with a cleft pallette have issues with fluid in their ears. We're guessing this is the case with her. We felt so badly for her. And it really added to our frustration that since we were one of only 2 non-Asian families on a completely full flight, we became the freak show. One guy in the row behind us was literally pulling our seats back to peek through and see what was going on. But we finally got to Guangzhou late Friday evening and made our way to the White Swan hotel...the same hotel we stayed at when we adopted Isabelle, so there was a certain comfort level that was very appreciated. Immediately after breakfast Saturday we, along with the other 6 families in our WACAP group, several other adoptive families from other agencies, and a whole bunch of what we assume were local residents needing medical attention, went to the designated medical examination facility here on Shamian Island. It was absolute chaos. Now that the Chinese authorities have signed off on the adoption, we need to satisfy US government requirements to allow Chloe to emmigrate to the US and become a citizen. One of those requirements is a medical exam. First we stood in line to have Chloe's vital statistics taken. We have to laugh that although she has eaten pretty much non-stop from the moment she was placed with us, she has actually lost a pound from when we were provided with key data about her in January. Next...another line for a cursory physical exam. And then, another line for a visit with an ENT. Given Chloe's cleft issues, we thought this exam might take a few minutes. Silly us! Quite frankly, it was pretty much a joke. The doctor (?) turned on a toy piano, supposedly to check Chloe's hearing. She didn't react at all, but that didn't phase him from continuing his exam. A feigned look into her ears was also supposedly OK. But his examination of her mouth (and cleft palette) was laughable. It was clear that Chloe has had her mouth check out more times than we can imagine, because when the doctor came at her with a tongue depressor she clenched her jaw and would have nothing to do with it. And apparently that was OK. Examination complete; document signed. And that suits us just fine. Doctor Chambers at UAB is going to help us chart a course of action for Chloe anyway. But we weren't finished at the clinic yet. The US Consulate requires that all of these children be current on their immunizations. And according to the records provided by the orphanage, Chloe needed three shots but the required TB test. Translated: a shot in each arm and each thigh. Since these children are dealing with so much trauma, one of the other adoptive fathers suggested that we hold the other family's child for the shots, so the pain and negative emotions don't get tied to the father. An excellent idea! So he held Chloe (and showed all the compassion in the world...thanks Matt!) and Bill held their son. It brings tears to our eyes to watch the children go through all of this, but we realize the necessity of it all. And now that part is finished! On a lighter note, one thing that made Diann very happy is the fact that Papa John's Pizza delivers to our hotel! So you can guess what dinner Friday and Saturday night consisted of. Sunday night we went with the rest of the WACAP group to a restaurant near our hotel, and even though neither of us got very daring with the entrees, the food was not very good at all. We consider ourselves fortunate that our hotel has a very good breakfast buffet, so we are assured at least one substantial meal each day.