Monday, August 25, 2008

Adoption Story - Part 12

The real L stuck around this time with just a few more episodes of screaming tantrums and passive resistance to her new environment. These faded away and she finally began to settle into her new situation.

One of the services provided by our adoption agency is a trip to the orphanage to see where your child and to meet the people who took care of her. When we arrived in Nanchang, I discovered that the agency had only planned a trip to the *other* orphanage where most of our group’s babies had come from. Our daughter’s orphanage was 4 hours in the other direction. After I complained enough, the agency agreed to split the cost of the cab to get us out to our daughter’s hometown, so that was the plan. Unfortunately, the trip was scheduled the day after L had decided to “wake up”. Remembering what happened the last time L saw her nannies, we didn’t want to risk interrupting the bonding process by taking her back to see the other aunties who had been her primary caregivers. So we gave up the idea of going to the orphanage that day and decided that we would go back to China in a few years to visit. I hated the idea of not seeing the orphanage and meeting their staff, but L’s emotional well-being had to come first. So that day we spent with a few of the dads and kids that didn’t make their orphanage trip at a beautiful garden. We then met the other toddler’s family at McDonalds and just had a restful day.

There are many things that they warn you to watch for with your child those first few days. Some have scabies or fevers. For many, the changes in routine and diet have one common and painful effect - constipation. It became obvious that L had fallen victim and the medication we needed had been left at home. One very important thing to have when traveling in a foreign country is a good phrase book. Ours did happen to include the phrase for “I need medication for constipation” so I sent Mr. at Home in search of a pharmacy while I stayed in the room with a crying L who was obviously in pain.

When Mr. at Home returned, he told me the funny story of his adventures. He had found a pharmacy and dutifully showed them the appropriate phrase in the book. As the shopkeepers giggled, they brought out a box with some enormous pills. Then Mr. at Home was faced with the problem of getting them to understand that it was for a small child. He pantomimed rocking a baby and eventually they switched the boxes out for one with a powder. He brought it back to the room, but the instructions were all in Chinese and he wasn’t comfortable giving her the medicine anyway. So we found our guide who translated and assured us it wouldn’t hurt her, but Mr. at Home still didn’t trust it so I sent him to the store for prunes. While he was gone. L continued to scream and cry and I remembered something I had read on an online adoption board. Armed with baby oil and a Q-tip, I applied a little...ahem!..motivation and the problem was solved.

That was good as she refused the prunes anyway. So now you know just in case you ever run into that problem.

We left Nanchang on Halloween, piling into the buses for our first plane ride with 16 new babies. Now *that* was an interesting experience. One thing about traveling with a large group is that they wanted to check everyone into the flight together. Well, that would have been fine except that many of the families had ignored the weight restrictions and were going to have to pay overage charges. The guides solution was to just split the charges evenly among the group, except that those of us who had worked to make sure we weren’t overweight insisted that we weren’t paying. So we split the group into those who were over the luggage limit and those who weren’t, which made the check-in process very, very long. A few of us moms plopped ourselves on the floor and made a spot filled with toys to entertain the restless kids, which earned us many stares from the Chinese as they consider the floor far too dirty to ever sit on. But with bored kids who are about to go crazy, what else can you do?

Our last stop in China was 5 days in Guangzhou, to complete the US side of the adoption paperwork. We had to have a medical exam, apply for our child’s visa, and attend the oath-taking ceremony to make the adoption official in the eyes of the US. We would also receive the paperwork that would make our new daughter a US citizen as soon as she touched down on American soil.

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