Welcome. We have completed a successful adoption of a baby girl from China. These pages are dedicated to the fantastic experience we had. It was truly an exciting, wonderful, and yes, scary experience that forever changed our lives. The story in this site is not in the least, comprehensive. For several reasons, I did not include all the details and not nearly all the photographs. I hope that what I did include however, will give you a true feeling of our experience.
We viewed our experience twofold. The first was to finally have a family which felt more complete. The second was to somehow give a baby girl the fighting chances that she would not otherwise have... the chance to live with loving parents in a good, Christian home and the chance to follow her dreams, whatever they may be.
December 29, 1999
September 27, 2000
September 29, 2000
October 9, 2000
November 10, 2000
November 29, 2000
November 30, 2000
December 1, 2000
December 2, 2000
December 3, 2000
When we landed in Wuhan we were greeted by Tracy, another Holt representative. Tracy would be our guide for the next week and would help us deal with the Civil Affairs office. After loading our bags, we all boarded a bus which Tracy chartered for the week, to take us to the Shangri-La hotel. On the 45 minute trip there, she prepped us on what would take place during our week's stay in Wuhan.
The Shangri-La hotel was incredible! The rooms were spacious and clean and probably nicer than most of us have ever experienced in the states. They had an all-you-can-eat buffet which was absolutely humongous and contained an array of wonderful foods. The biggest shocker was opening our door and seeing a crib in our room. That's when it actually hit home that this would be the last night we would be a family of two.
Later we all met in Tracy's room to prepare our paperwork for the Civil Affairs office (they handled the adoption). The amount and intricacy of the paperwork was daunting, but Tracy made very sure that we did everything completely, correctly and to the letter. None of us could afford a mistake now.
Afterwards, we all hopped out to a local grocery store to stock up on Chinese baby formula, Chinese baby bottles, Coca Cola, and snacks. Many of us craved a Diet Coke, but it was nowhere to be found.
It turns out the traffic lights in Wuhan are just a suggestion and nobody really follows them. The streets are wide and it's a bit like playing the "Frogger" video game when you try to cross.
Most of us got back to our rooms early, because we needed to prepare for the big day tomorrow. We had to lay out Stephanie's clothes, wrap the gifts for the orphanage and for the foster family, and make sure we had all our paperwork in order. We also wanted to enjoy what would probably be our last decent night of sleep.
The Big Day
December 4, 2000
As we entered the 20-foot, square office we could see the caregivers from the various orphanages holding the babies on the right and left sides of the room. The babies were brought in from 4 different orphanages. Stephanie had to take a 90 minute ride from her orphanage in Hanchuan to the Wuhan Civil Affairs office.
We were instructed to sit in the middle - which we obediently did while, at the same time, scanning the room to find which baby looked most like our Stephanie. We found her sitting on her caregiver's lap clutching rice crackers and dressed in several layers of heavy red clothing. That's when it hit me that this is for real and that our lives, and hers, will forever be changed.
Each family was called up one at a time to be processed. The processing consisted of a series of questions, paper signings, fingerprinting, and a ceremonial gift from the orphanage. As we waited our turn, we were able to walk over to Stephanie, talk to her and hold her. Stephanie was incessantly crying in spite of our best efforts. I felt sorry for this poor baby who was abandoned when she was born, then taken away from her foster mother a year later. We knew it would take some time for Stephanie to feel comfortable with us, but we still felt her pain.
It took about two hours to process all the babies. The room was very warm with all the people in it and it was obvious Stephanie was getting very hot. I didn’t want to change her there so as not to insult the caregivers. I did however, put a diaper on her after she "baptized" me on my leg through her split pants. This was only the second time in my life I handled a diaper and the first time I got pee'd on.
Finally, we piled back into the bus with our new daughter and immediately took off her jacket. When we made it back to the hotel, we rushed to undress her. It turns out that she had on seven layers of clothing beneath a heavy outer coat. No wonder she was hot. Some of the babies had notes from the foster parents sewn into their clothes, but unfortunately, Stephanie didn't.
Stephanie was obviously grieving over the change in her life. Each time I put her down or even carried her below eye level, she would bawl. For the first few days, she would let only me hold her - not even Grace. My arms have never gotten so sore in all my life! In order to put her to sleep, we had to rock her for about a half an hour then gently put her into the crib; hoping she didn't wake up. She did however, wake up several times during the night.
Stephanie went through the grieving process almost for a full week. She was one of the last ones to adjust. It showed me that she was well loved by her foster mother and that Stephanie missed her very much. It had us a bit on edge to see her so heartbroken, but after she finished her grieving, she was the most lovable, fun-loving child you could ever imagine.
She was obviously taught well by her foster mother. Stephanie already knew how to eat with a fork (and hold it properly), wipe her hands and mouth with a napkin, clean the table, drink from a sippy cup, use a straw, drink from a regular cup, etc. She had no problem eating anything we put in front of her and eating large quantities of it.
Sightseeing in Wuhan
December 5, 2000
December 6, 2000
We also were able to visit Wuhan's East Lake park. We were informed that the lake in this park was famous. For what, we don't know but it was very nice.
December 7, 2000
Later in the day, we traveled back to the Civil Affairs office to pick up Stephanie's Chinese passport. Now, according to the Chinese government, we can legally leave the country with Stephanie.
This day was also the first day we heard Stephanie laugh and talk. (Now she won't stop). It was a monumental occasion because it took 3 days for her to even crack a smile. Perhaps she is starting to come out of the grieving process.
December 8, 2000
The White Swan hotel was a magnificent place filled with beautiful art and containing seven different restaurants. A beautiful view of the Pearl River is the backdrop to one of the restaurants.
December 9, 2000
It was really hard for us to find "traditional" Chinese clothes for Stephanie. The Chinese people don't wear the traditional garb any more, but instead wear American and European styles. Eventually though, we found some clothes tucked away in a department store.
December 10, 2000
December 11, 2000
December 12, 2000
That night we decided as a group to have a final dinner together as we all will be heading back to our respective homes the next day. After dinner we quickly made it back to our rooms to prepare ourselves for the long flight home.
December 13, 2000
Because of our airplane schedule, we flew into Hong Kong and stayed overnight at the Regal Airport Hotel. The hotel was a bit like living in a George Jetson cartoon because everything was so modernistic... to the point of being funny.
December 14, 2000
We finally arrived in Chicago just in time to dig our house out of 10 inches of snow. Even though we had a wonderful trip and came back to the aftermath of a snowstorm, it was great to be back home.
Stephanie got acquainted with her new home very quickly. For the first week however, because of the jetlag, she was up promptly at 3:00am every day. We were severely sleep deprived because we would go down to her room and comfort her when she woke up. She was also scared of her crib. When we would set her down in it, she would just wail. We would have to rock her to sleep before we could set her down in the crib.
After a week of torture, we decided we would try the "tough love" approach and let her cry. It was one of the hardest things to do, not to run to her each time she cried. However, after 2 days, Stephanie was fine. She now asks to go to bed and has slept through the night ever since.
We can't imagine any other baby being with us and we can't imagine Stephanie being with any other family. We truly believe it was a match made in Heaven. I am sure that all the other adopting parents feel the same way about their bundles of joy.
Stephanie continues to amaze, amuse, and yes, sometimes annoy us. However, the entire experience we have been through to bring home Stephanie was just wonderful and the best part is that it isn't over yet. We have a lifetime to spend with her.
It doesn't get better than that.