Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ups and Downs

Yesterday we heard that China is shutting down international adoptions for 20-30 days, at least, until they can reassess Swine Flu. Today our agency tell us it is just rumors, and that "travel approval" will be granted as expected. I am not at all sure what to think, and after being crushed yesterday I just refuse to get excited today. "Rumors," all rumors. We are in limbo, unsure if my office schedule should be open or closed, unsure who will be Miranda's nanny if we are still here in three weeks, unsure if Phoebe will be growing into a little girl in China without us because we can't get permission to pick her up.

Not an easy time for us. In other news, this week has been very hard on me, with events too sad and difficult to make it into the adoption blog. All I want right now is my little girl home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Little More Information

I got her new measurements today. They say she weighs a whopping 11.2 kilos! That's 24.7 pounds, which is pretty much what big sister Miranda weighs. I'm not buying it, since that's a good 7 pound weight gain since her referral paperwork three months ago. Looks like we'll be bringing a whole variety of clothing sizes with us.

I hear she has 6 teeth, too!

We decided on her new name: Phoebe Qianyang (and we are trying to keep our last names off the public blog, but imagine my last name followed by Mark's with a hyphen in between). I'm afraid she might never make it to 1st grade recess if she has to print her name neatly once before being allowed outside, and I feel a little badly about that. But we thought she might like to keep her Chinese name as part of the name she'll carry for the rest of her life, so Qianyang it is.

I heard back from Adopchina, and as it ends up Phoebe was not one of their sponsored children after all. Another family traveling with us heard that their daughter definitely is, and the sponsoring family asked to stay in touch with the adopting family-- pretty wonderful, huh?

Yesterday Miranda and I went to the post office to mail Phoebe a care package. Tucked inside was a disposible camera, a little stuffed dog we've been sleeping with for three years, a handmade blanket, and a list of questions for her caretakers about sleeping, eating, and pooping, all the baby essentials. Sometimes these things come back to parents, sometimes they don't. I told the clerk, "To China. For the baby we're adopting." She click-click-clicked away and then said, "It will arrive to her on Monday." And that's when I choked. Suddenly, Phoebe is real and waiting and living not so very far away on the other side of the world. I wonder who is puts her to bed and where she spends the day and if she has little friends and if she has said her first word and if tooth #7 will be there by the time she's in our arms.

Maybe, if we leave on the earliest possible date we've been given, we'll be arriving in China one month from today.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Tonight-- Sunday night-- I sat down to plough through the large stack of mail and paperwork on my desk and found, to my surprise, and envelope from our agency! We have an update on the baby-- and the great news that she is not in the orphanage, but is in the care of a foster family. We have details now of where she was found (and will hold that information quietly, for Phoebe and us). We hear that she eats porridge, rice, noodles, eggs, fish, meat, vegetables, and fruit. She can giggle, "behave excitedly when she sees food", "move her limbs freely when she is happy." The report of her abilities leaves off at 10 months, when "her amount of exercise, form of exercise and psychological activities all had great leaps." Oh, good. Good, good.

There was another great surprise. We were contacted by an organization in Spain run by volunteers who have put together a child sponsorship program, where families sponsor a child in a Chinese orphanage. Our daughter is one of their sponsored children! We keep a picture on our refrigerator of a little girl in Zimbabwe whom we sponsor, in the hopes that she has food, clothing, and education that she otherwise wouldn't have. And now I find out that our Phoebe's picture is probably up on someone's refrigerator in Spain. Imagine that. Adopchina has e-mailed this picture already, from last September, when she was seven months old. Look closely, I might be wrong here, but I think she's sitting on a potty chair with her pants cut out under her! This might be the earliest picture of Phoebe that we'll have. So often the past for children who have been adopted is lost. Their life before their adoption is one with many questions but no answers. Suddenly I have the hopes of knowing more about her-- whom she was with, what she looked like, when she learned what. What a tremendous gift to our child! Adopchina said they may have more photos and videos, and I've asked if it is possible to connect with her sponsors to thank them for taking care of our baby. Stand by, we'll keep you posted on more.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The weekend

Once one knows the name of her daughter's orphanage, a whole community of people who have connections there starts to emerge. What I am hearing is that it is a good orphanage where the children are generally healthy and bright. Several people have told me that I will find out later that she is in foster care-- either with a family, or with one of the older folks that lives in the "orphanage" that houses the elderly as well. We are hoping for that.

Believe it or not-- this is true-- yesterday morning I took Miranda for a walk and one block away from our house I ran into a woman with her 5 year old daughter who was adopted from Jiangxi Province! I whipped out my picture, saying, "Hello! I just got a referral from China last night!" and she was delighted for us.

I found growth charts for Chinese girls, and it looks like Phoebe is right on target at about the 25th%ile for height, weight, and head circumference.

Miranda was giggling with excitement on our way out the door to pick up our referral picture, shouting "Mei mei! Phoebe!" but I think that was more a response to my wired state than an understanding of what was about to happen. When we got there, she took a cursory look at the photo itself and since then hasn't shown much interest. She is carrying around her Asian baby doll (named Mei Mei) quite a bit lately, and her favorite bedtime books are "Red Blanket" and "My Mei Mei," both stories about adoption from China. But this is still a child who speaks just one word at a time (out? sit? juice? daddy? up? eat?). I think she can't possibly understand that we are talking about a playdate that lasts for a lifetime. A sister. Maybe in another two months, as she hits her 2nd birthday, she'll understand more. I ordered "Big Bird in China" for her today, and I'm hoping that somehow she'll understand the words "Mama and Daddy are in China. They are picking up your baby sister Phoebe."

We are working on translation of Phoebe's name, as we had planned to keep part of it as her middle name. Ling is the surname of all the children from the Shangrao orphanage, so not something unique to her. Qian means lead. As the element #82 on the period table. Not a common name, and a Chinese friend told us, "I'm a little confused by that." And Yang means fluttering or blazing. Not sure what we are going to do.

We've had such an outpouring of congratulations! Thank you ! I can't stop looking at her little picture.

Friday, April 3, 2009

At last, Phoebe!

Here she is-- Ling Qian Yang, born on my Grandma Connelly's birthday, February 26, 2008. She is thirteen months old, and has been living in the Shangrao Children's Welfare Center (also called the Ling Orphanage) in Jiangxi Province since she was one week old. At ten months old when her survey was filled out, she could crawl, look for a dropped toy, roll over, and eat biscuits without help. She knows her name and turns when called. And, inspite of her grumpy look in the pictures, she laughs aloud and smiles readily. She is "active" and "fond of playing games." The box for "quiet" is not checked, and the box for "obstinate sometimes" is. That's our baby!

Funny, I've been glued on-line for days now, hoping that each day would be the real one, until this morning, when I gave up hope on this week, for the complete lack of on-line rumors. I had the day off-- and actually slept well on-call last night. I spent the morning at the Children's Museum with Miranda, had lunch, and put M down for a nap. I thought I would check just once, just in case, and my heart stopped when I found a posting from just 5 minutes earlier from a fellow parent in our group that said, "We have a daughter!" There we all were, the expectant parents from our agency, sitting at our computers hitting "refresh" as we got the news one by one, waiting for our own phones to ring.

I drove in to the city, and Mark left work early to meet me at our agency. And suddenly we were handed a few photographs-- there she is, this little person who will change our lives forever.
So good to know who she is, and yet so strange to know so little about this little human being who will be with us for the rest of our lives.

I heard somewhere that this orphanage has an old folks home within its walls, and many of the "Grannies" take a baby into their room and into their lives. I hope that's true with Phoebe, that someone has been snuggling her and singing to her and kissing her goodnight. I can't wait to get this little one home and make her smile.