Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Adoption March 25th
Another long and busy day here in Beijing! After a sleepless night (Ben kept us all awake all night) we left at 8:15am to go to the Civil Affairs office to complete the paperwork there. Ben was running a low-grade fever during the night and he cried all night, so we expected a rough day today overall. Although he was cranky and tired, Ben was actually great during the first appointment of the day. The Civil Affairs worker, Ms. School, remembered us from the other day, and she asked us if she could send her child to us for a foreign exchange. She actually offered to take Connor at her house, and we could take her son, who is the same age, in a language exchange! Our guide decided that I must have impressed Ms. School with my gift the other day, since she thinks that we’d make good host parents for her child. I told her to give me her email, and I’d send her the information on AFS exchange programs and how to apply. Joking with Ben, Ms. School asked him if he was ready to return to his hometown now. Wow!! We would never say something so insensitive to a newly adopted child. Lucky for us, Ben answered, no; he just wants to go back to the hotel. After the Civil Affairs Office appointment, which took 90 min.at least, we had to go to the Notary Office to have all the documents notarized. We were escorted into a big conference room to wait with several other families for the documents to be notarized. Until now, I haven’t mentioned the other family that we keep running into at various adoption checkpoints, including the notary office. They are an older couple (in mid to late 50’s) who are adopting a girl who is almost 7. Their new daughter has significant special needs, and Chinese people stare at them and whisper. Why would they adopt a girl? Why would they adopt a child has developmental delays? After talking to the other parents, we found out that they have another daughter, age 6, at home already. She is also from China, and they adopted her as a baby. They applied to adopt a second child 4 years ago, and then waited 3 years for a healthy infant before deciding to accept a special needs child. It’s weird how the term “special needs” has so many different definitions. Our children are considered special needs adoptions because they are over the age of 3 and both need minor surgeries. The family we met this week adopted a child with a multitude of significant special needs. I guess it’s all a matter of opinion as what is special and what is simply impossible.But I digress. We waited for a long time (close to 90 min) at the Notary Office,when we finally received 8-10 copies of all the official documents notarized. Then we left for the passport office. Now remember, we have a feverish 6 year old and two tween boys with us during all these government appointments—we feel quite fortunate that no one has had a crisis/meltdown/fight/ yet. The passport office also took forever, it seemed,although everyone managed to behave and we got the job done. Ben didn’t want to take his hood off to have his photo taken, but alas, new photos in hand, the orphanage director (who met us at the passport office) applied for the boys’ passports. Finally, five or six hours after we left the hotel, we headed back to our room. On the van trip back, I gave Ben a sweet-roll, just to keep him awake. Poor little guy was ready to fall over, he was so tired. We returned to the room, and I went across the street to get a pizza. We ate a late lunch, and David and the boys went down for a nap. Cheng’s mom, in the meantime, had called David and told him she was on her way over to our hotel to take me SHOPPING. Now, anyone who knows me at all, knows that shopping is my most HATED, absolutely DETESTED activity. I’ll spend all morning in government offices without too much complaining, but shopping is sheer torture for me. I do need to buy gifts for our family and friends, however.By 3pm we were at a shopping area that is famous for ripping off tourists far and wide. But most tourists don’t have my secret weapon, Cheng’s parents. Ha! I would go into a “shop” ( like a booth at a flea market), pick out what I thought I might want to buy, and then step back and let them bargain. I had to be willing to walk away (and since I don’t like to shop, that was easy for me) and let them decide if it was worth the price. Actually, it was fun to watch them “work.” Cheng’s parents would get angry, and walk away; the shopkeeper would throw the item on the floor; Cheng’s parents would criticize the quality of the item, and we would walk away again; the vendor would get more and more anxious to make a sale-- and all this was in the first minute. Then the bargaining was just beginning. Really, by the end, I began to feel sorry for the shopkeepers. It must be hard to actually make a living, although I guess there are a ton of foreigners who are willing to pay half the asking price, thinking they got a deal. Just so you have a clearer picture of the mark-up, we were quoted a price of 800 yuan for an item, and Cheng’s parents bought it for 100 yuan (less than $20). They asked another man (walking by) what he paid for the same item, and he told them 1600 yuan. Yes, he paid 16 times what we paid, and he was still happy with his purchase. If you ever go to China, be a tough shopper, or be prepared to spend too much. After shopping, we left the hotel for dinner. Ben was feeling better after his afternoon nap, but during dinner, he started to fade away fast. He didn’t want to eat much, looked feverish again, and was just ready for bed. As always when he’s tired, he began to reminisce. He told Cheng’s parents about his hometown and the circumstances of his coming to be available for adoption. Ben told Cheng’s parents that he knows his family name (we were told this info was pinned to him, with his date of birth), and that his father did not have a job. His family couldn’t feed him. We knew that this information was left with him when he was found by the police, but we didn’t know that Ben was actually aware of all this information. We thought we would inform him later, when he is older and asks us questions about his adoption. We are glad that he knows already, and that he is comfortable enough to share that information with Cheng’s parents (and us, via them) so soon. Towards the end of our dinner, Ben began crying again. He was overtired, feverish, and he just told us all why he was available for adoption. But I know how to comfort a crying little guy. I scooped him into my arms, crooned, rubbed his back and carried him home. David climbed into bed with him and rubbed his back until he went to sleep. We both kissed John goodnight, of course, but he remains quiet and distant.Time. Yes, we know it takes time to develop a relationship with an older child. We hope that at some point John will share with us his feelings too.