china

Small world

Sunday, August 30th, 2009 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off




Small world

Originally uploaded by kjda

KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone

Oh–why is it a small world? I never came back to this (similarly, I owe the blogosphere a post about why I don’t regret adopting Rory, and happily that one gets easier to write every day).

This is Jan–she’s our beloved babysitter Heather’s step-mother-in-law. And she knows Miss Nanette and Mr. Dana. They are the only people she knows in all of China, and they are one of Rory’s former preschool teachers, and the man who drove her from the foster home to the orphanage so that she could be brought (kicking and biting, good girl!) to us, and also the only people we were able to meet from Hidden Treasures.

I’m sorry, but that’s just downright ridiculous.

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Wyatt’s Big Day

Saturday, May 16th, 2009 | Connecting the Dots | Comments Off




Wyatt’s Big Day

Originally uploaded by kjda

I had a fabulous day with Wy. There was some suggestion, yesterday, that perhaps China hasn’t had a blanket flu-freakout, and that travel dates, for everyone who’s waiting on them, may come soon–and although I’m still hoping we’ll be heading out in June, I can be ok with SOME delay–just not infinite, or even indefinite, delay. It turns out that the combination of a little positive news and a beautiful day returned me to my usual overly-optimistic viewpoint. (Optimism invariably triumphs over experience for me, which explains a great deal about things like the number of pets we have, and why we give multiple annual parties).

Point being, I was able to enjoy a day with Wyatt that’s going to be a lot tougher to have once Rory is home. I make it a point to spend some solo time with each of the three, to the point of working it into the schedule once a week–which, since the schedule is subject to many, many variables, means it happens every other week, or two out of three. And Lily’s been shortchanged this spring, but I’m working on that. But today wasn’t on the schedule, it just fell together, and it was wonderful. Lily had a playdate, Sam had baseball and a birthday, and Wyatt and I had a bike with a bikeseat for him and nowhere in particular to be, so we just enjoyed being together.

Turns out that when Wy grows up, he plans to be a fireman–the one that drives the truck—to live in the “fire garage” with his best friend Trevor, and to sleep in bunk beds, which are located not, as you might imagine, in the “fire garage”, but on the truck. And I will also note that it’s a lot easier to say “ok” to one frappacino which will only be partially consumed than to three.

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Sometimes there’s nothing to control

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | 2 Comments

It looks like things are still moving in China-adoption land, flu or no flu. And so it looks like we will likely be trotting along on our planned schedule. One advantage to not being able to do something at the first possible minute is that it’s more likely to fall in with your schedule. Not that it has, yet, and aliens could always invade at the last minute, causing the whole thing to go up in smoke in an Independence Day-like fashion (now, there’s a fun way to watch movies. We all live in a dream world? But how would that affect my adoption? Aliens live among us as immigrant citizens? What if some of them are in charge of my adoption? Didn’t work so well with “I Am Legend” last night–in fact, I couldn’t watch.)
I had, actually a productive day by my newly reduced standards, and lessened my obsessing on the internet level by at least three-quarters. All that has to happen now is our travel approval. If it happens anytime this month, we’re good. It’s time to stop with the thinking–and get back to the doing.
And do I ever have things to do! Before we can travel, there’s the little matter of my sister-in-law getting married. In Seattle. And getting the garden in. And spring cleaning (it’s May, that’s spring here). And getting enough pitches and otherwise out there that I can be gone for three weeks without witnessing the collapse of my career.

But in case you’re doing what I like to do, and just noodling around looking to see who’s out there doing what, I thought I’d take a minute to post a little nothing. And now I’m off to unpack Rory’s new comforter!

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A Solid Guess on Travel Dates

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | Comments Off

Here’s what I think:
I think we’ll head out around 6/11. Here’s the tentative schedule I’ve planned for us:
Day 1: leave
Day 2: Arrive Beijing
Days 3-4: Sightsee in Beijing. Lily tries to throw Wyatt off Great Wall. International incident narrowly averted.
Day 5: Fly to Fuzhou City
Days 6-9 Get used to Rory, one way or another.
Day 10 Fly to Guangzhou
Days 11-13 Various appointments
Day 14 Fly home. I may have the whole date line mixed up, but I think we arrive home pretty much at the exact same time we left.

I’ve been told to be flexible. I think we can handle that, since flexible tends to be pretty much the definition of our travel plans. We’re looking for a little luxury and good tours for those days in Beijing, and planning on letting whatever happens in Fuzhou City happen. (‘Cause what happens in Fuzhou City stays in Fuzhou City. I’m pretty sure that’s their slogan.)

We had plenty of conflicting advice about her name. I popped it up as a question on a board, and the thinking was divided equally into “she’ll adjust and be happy that you gave her a family name” and “you’re a racist, overly-Westernized white devil to even think about changing her name, and btw you used the phrase ‘going off the reservation’ in another post and that’s grossly insensitive too.”

Let’s just say not everyone on the “boards” is fully literate. (For those of you just joining us, our daughter’s name, as given to her in China, not by us, when she was 2 months old, is…Rebecca.)

And the irony of all of this was only highlighted by a piece in today’s Slate: What’s Up with Chinese People Having English Names? An american writer with a chinese name is mocked by his chinese peers for being so out of it as to still be using his original moniker.

In the United States, people tend to view names and identities as absolute things—which explains why I agonized over deciding on an English name—but in China, identities are more amorphous. My friend Sophie flits amongst her Chinese name, English name, MSN screen name, nicknames she uses with her friends, and diminutives that her parents call her. “They’re all me,” she says. “A name is just a dai hao.” Dai hao, or code name, can also refer to a stock’s ticker symbol.

Our decision–well, our partial decision? We’re calling her Rory. As for her formal name, we’re still working that out. I’m a big fan of nicknames, but Rob thinks her official first name ought to be: Rory. So: Rory Claire adjusted-and-yet-not-quite-finalized-chinese-name, or Lorelei Rebecca chinese-name, or possibly Rebecca Rose chinese-name or Rebecca Claire chinese-name who is just called Rory. Or maybe something else. But called Rory. It’s already on her shoe cubby.

Now we just have to get Lily some speech therapy before Wowy comes home.

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LOA!

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 | Connecting the Dots | 1 Comment

Ok, nobody but another China adopting parent will know what that means. Suffice it to say it’s big news. It means our paperwork has been through the mill. There are no questions, there are no issues, and now we are just waiting for our permission to travel–which is a pretty standard and predictable process.

This was fast. This is good. (This is real!)

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Mushy Happiness in General

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | 2 Comments

A few days ago I found Rob noodling around on the Internet (what did we do with ourselves ten years ago?) looking at, of all things, artificial ice. We’d been talking, looking at pictures of Rebecca, telling the usual end-of-the-day stories…him talking about how funny Wyatt was during tooth brushing, me describing the day’s drop off and pick up adventures. And now he was looking at…ice.

As in, synthetic hockey rinks. Really. Who knew? There were pictures–a big ole suburban house somewhere in the the sunny South with a pack of kids, zipping around in pads and shorts. A barn with a rink.

Now, where we live, having your own hockey rink is actually not uncommon–but that would be because it’s cold. We even have a friend who owns a Zamboni. A real, full sized Zamboni.

But a synthetic rink, that would be…something. And apparently it would only cost, oh, a gazillion dollars to put one in our barn! If we had a barn.

I told Rob I thought he should wait until we won the lottery. His response?

Haven’t we already?

Well, yes, we have.

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Adventures in Adoptoblogland

Thursday, April 9th, 2009 | Connecting the Dots | 2 Comments

I got an impulsive email from Guoji Familia this morning–she, Cupcake, Spark and her #2 son were heading our way! We met up at the Montshire, and hung for the morning. It was great to meet up “IRL”, but I’m finding the whole thing inspires me to talk in what I think of as “blogher” talk…lots of exclamation points and references to the ‘net.

We had a good time, and bonded over plenty–adoption, of course, kids the same ages, yadda. Meanwhile I could see Cupcake, home just since September, first hand. I have nothing profound to say about that, other than that she was adorable, I wanted to squeeze her, and it gave me a little insight into both how great–and how difficult–this is going to be. Making no bones about it, I am not sure Wyatt is going to like this. I think the whole first few months, if not longer, is going to be one big choice-making adventure–am I paying attention to Rebecca, or am I paying attention to Wyatt?

It’s funny, because when the process started, one of our friends suggested that she wasn’t sure this was going to be a good choice for Lily. Who was just about the same age as Wyatt at that point, and having a difficult time with everything. Just like he is now. Anything I suggest, he says “no.” I don’t wanna go to the bookstore and eat a cupcake. I don’t wanna go to the Montshire. I don’t wanna read a book. Unless it’s Mariocart, he’s not interested. And yet, and yet, he’s passionately attached to me at the hip. He just doesn’t want to wear anything I want him to wear or do anything I want him to do.

Put that way, it all sounds more like classic ambivalence over getting more independent than anything else…which makes it feel a little more manageable, and more like Rebecca will just be another twist in it, not a horrible complicating factor. You just manage, I guess–I don’t just guess, I know. My friend will soon be coping with a 3-year-old home new this summer and the still adjusting Cupcake, and while I’m sure she’s got her worries, I look at it and think well, you manage. You do what you do. It works out. It will be fine.

And I think the same of us, but knowing–and I do know–that we have our doubters, makes me 1) want it all to be perfect and 2) not want to admit, even a little bit, that, for a little while, this may not contribute to the utter perfection of life that generally belongs to our children. But maybe it won’t. It is not all going to be a bowl of cherries the whole time. It’s just not.

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Rebecca!

Monday, April 6th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | 3 Comments

Rebecca!

Rebecca!,
originally uploaded by kjda.

Here she is! And in yet another amazing coincidence–Lily owns that sweater. It’s an Oshkosh B’Gosh by way of Target, but it’s unmistakeable.

We got an update tonight, and the word is that yes–I did, via googling and link following and Yahoo Groups, find our little needle in the big ‘Net haystack.

I’m thinking I should have bought a lottery ticket, too!

More importantly, she’s on track in every way, and we know it. We’ve spent the evening working on a book of pictures that I’ll be getting out in the morning–the family, the house, her bed–illustrated by Sam, Lily and Wyatt in various fantastical ways.

I think maybe Wyatt thinks it is time we talked about something else. I can understand that…and we have a lot to absorb, too. I think I’ll sleep well tonight!
KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone

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Impossible! Improbable! Ridiculous! (but true?)

Monday, March 30th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | 2 Comments

china-sun

You Wan lives in a foster home in China–and I found her. As in, I found the foster home, online. I found pictures of her. I found out more about her than I ever thought I’d know at all, let alone before we went to China to get her. Chalk it up to the magic of Google.

Wan’s file has been in China since 2007, when someone, somewhere, declared her ready for adoption. The latest information we had dated back to 2006–hooray, we know she was quite a normal, healthy size for a one-year-old! Since she’s three now, I think we can be forgiven for being a bit…curious. And when I’m curious, I google.

I googled her province. I googled adoption groups from her province. I googled “update” “Adoption” “china” “How long”. You name it, I googled it. I didn’t get a whole lot of work done…but I found a small Yahoo group, of lovely people who’d traveled to Wan’s city and brought home kids of their own. All agreed that yes, they’d had updates–and yes, we needed one!

One had a blog, and that blog led to another blog, and so on (they’re like eating Tings, aren’t they?). And one of the blogs had a teeny tiny little link to a teeny tiny little foster home in this teeny tiny (ok, not so much) province. And there was this picture. Of a girl, clutching a crayon. Same tugged up nostril as Wan. Same look of fierce determination. Same….je ne sais quoi.

I know. I thought it too. I had to be kidding, that I would find this needle in a haystack when, realistically, the vast majority of the needles aren’t even in the haystack (because if you think the average Chinese foster home has a website, well…suffice it to say, nope. And even if they did, they’d be in Chinese, right? Right.)

I didn’t even bookmark it. Which meant that a week later, when I really, really just wanted to see that picture again, I had to roll through most of the google/yahoo/blog process all over again. But there it was. And above it, there was a link. “About the kids.”

Reader, I clicked it.

And there was the determined girl. I clicked again. Birthday–match. Date of arrival in foster care–match. Same scar, same lip, same nose, same province, same city…

At some point, it became less likely that there would be two children with all of those things in common than that I would find the child we’d been matched with on the website of an American-run foster home in China. I’m no statistician, but I’m pretty sure the numbers are on our side.

Here’s the thing: we can’t check. Adoption regulations forbid direct contact between orphanages or foster care and prospective adoptive parents. I called our agency, absolutely. She’s checking. She’s checking.

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You Wan, Soon to Join the Family

Monday, March 30th, 2009 | Adopting Devils | Comments Off




You Wan

Originally uploaded by kjda

KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone

Here she is! Some know, and plenty don’t, that we’ve been working on adopting a little girl from China since February of 2008. (Details? look here). If there are extreme adventures in parenting, this has to be one of them.

Because this is Number four, right here. Don’t be fooled by appearances–she’s three years old. This is an old picture, and we’re waiting, now, for an “update”–which could include a picture taken last week, updated measurements and health information, and a whole host of other things (one of our questions is whether she has a nickname). Or it could be another brief medical report from anytime between now and then. Whatever it is, we want it.

Meanwhile, Lily has the pictures. Sam and Wyatt have copies, too. Should you run into one of them on the street, expect to be regaled. Lily would love to tell you about “my girl that I’m getting from China this summer.”

You Wan was described in our paperwork as “spirited.” I think that may be a good thing (although I also suspect it’s the equivalent of calling an apartment “cozy”).

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