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The Day Everything Changed
Home Our Adoption from China Family Photo Album Jaclyn's Adoption Story

The Start
A Flurry of Paperwork
The Long Wait
The Referral
The Second Referral
The Incident
On to Beijing
Tour of Beijing
The Day Everything Changed
The Adoption
Shopping Nanjing
Touring Nanjing
Leaving Nanjing
The Long Ride Home


December 16, 1997

This day is Jiang Li's 15 month birthday. The phone rang at 6:30 AM, a recorded voice with a slight accent repeated: "Good Morning, This is a wake up call. Please wake up. Have a good day." There was a fax under our door from my coworkers telling us that they were thinking of us and wishing us luck We double checked the diaper bag, checked the money, made sure we had every document ready, then we dressed and went to the buffet breakfast.  Like Beijing, they served both Chinese and western foods.  They even had an cook preparing eggs to order.  Unfortunately, the cook spoke no English, and I didn't have a card that said "fried egg sunny side up." I pondered for a while how to mime this for him, and finally decided that I probably really wanted an omelet.

At this point our group split up, the one family that had their child would be traveling by train to Suzhou to complete the adoption. A group of 4 families left by bus for the airport to pick up a late arriving family, then they would head on to Changzhou.  Our group of 3 took a one and a half hour bus ride to the Zhenjiang Social Welfare Institute. The bus was quite, everyone was nervous. It was a cold, grey day.  I shot video out the bus window and wondered what our future daughter's life would have been. I thought about her birth mother. I thought about how far this was from Ohio, and wondered how long it might be before we were here again.

As we got close to town, our driver stopped a couple of times to ask directions.  We pulled up to the gates of the Institute, big, shiny bronze plaques said Zhen Jiang Social Welfare Institute in Chinese and English on one side of the gate, Zhen Jiang Children's Welfare Institute on the other side. We pulled through the gate and parked in the center of the compound, near a large fountain.  The ground was still healing from the recent construction. The buildings were new and in a modern angular style. One building, that I took to be the orphanage building, had fanciful tile mosaics of animals.

We were ushered into an administration building.  The hallways were open to the outside and not heated. We were led upstairs to a large conference room.  The room had a large table with a sunken center, a Howard Miller grandfather clock, and a TV and VCR under a velvet cover. Tea was already on the table in large green covered cups. The three children, well bundled, were sitting on their nanny's laps when we entered the room. We were told to sit and enjoy the tea, Ginger, who immediately noticed the children when we entered, did not know until we watched our video that they had even served tea.

Once we were all settled, they called out the babies names and introduced us to our child.  Jiang Li took an instant dislike to K2B.JPG (35699 bytes)both of us, although she thought the toys we brought were grand. She cried when placed in Ginger's arms.  After a few moments, the nanny took her back, gave Jiang Li her ID card, and she stopped crying immediately. She cried when I held her too, this time, the nanny had to rock her and give her the ID card before she stopped. I surreptitiously tested her hearing. I took the musical Winnie the Pooh toy and started it playing behind her head, she turned quickly and took it from me. She clung to her nanny tightly.  It was obvious that she did not display the behaviors that we were told to look for in attachment disorder. Ginger continued to try and make friends with Jiang Li by offering toys. The nanny told her we were Mama and Papa and showed us how she could blow kisses.

They suggested that Jiang Li liked chocolate. I rummaged through the diaper bag and found a Hershey bar, we tried to give it to Jiang Li, but she just clung to it and when Ginger tried holding her again, smeared the chocolate all over Ginger's jacket. I pulled out our camera and took a couple of pictures, then the unthinkable happened, the battery in the camera died!  We also had brought a Polaroid camera. I took it out and took 2 pictures of each shot, leaving one on the table for the director and giving one to each of the parents. Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have brought more film and left the camera as a gift for the orphanage. Then, we were again asked to take our seats.

They told us about the children, Jiang Li likes to be held all the time, another child was very active. The director asked if we had any questions about the children. One of the parents asked if they had any information about where they were found. The answer was that the children were brought to the Institute by the police, and the police, not the Institute had those details. We asked about feeding, sleeping. We each then had a short meeting with a uniformed notary. She was polite, nice, but official in her dealings with us. We carefully reviewed the spelling of the names, all the birth dates, as she gathered the information necessary for the adoption paperwork.

While the others were doing the paperwork I gave the director 3 red bags filled with gifts.  We had brought some Micky Mouse tee shirts, postcards of Ohio, and a nice pocket knife with Indian art stonework on the handle for the director. After the paperwork was complete, the nanny gave Jiang Li back to Ginger, along with a hot (HOT) bottle of formula and rice cereal mixed together and lead us out of the building.  The mixture was quite thick and the nipple (long standard rubber type) was cut in an X. The nanny also gave me several bags of snacks for the children on the bus.  Cuttlefish crackers, prawn chips, and something call "Puppy", but it looked a lot more like a cookie simulation of a hot dog than a young canine in cracker form. Jiang Li had finished the entire 8 oz bottle before we were out of the building. Although she was about 20 lbs, she drank it as if she hadn't eaten in days! As we gave the empty bottle back to the nanny we noticed that the other children were eating at a much more leisurely pace. On the bus, Jiang Li sat on Ginger's lap and I assumed the new role "Daddy, source of all food" with the hope that she would warm up to me. Wanting to save the snacks the orphanage gave us until I could figure out what they were, I introduced her to K3B.JPG (21830 bytes)Cheerios (toasted oat cereal in the form of an "O"). She liked them and kept saying "uh UH!' (Translation: "Thank you very much, may I have more?") After a short while she fell into a deep sleep. As she slept, we carefully examined how she was bundled. She was wearing a disposable diaper, a cotton jersey, a heavy sweater, a pair of heavy knit split pants, and a nearly new snow suit over everything, pink terry cloth shoes and Baby Gap (yes, Baby Gap) socks.  Ginger was delighted at the taste in clothing our child was already showing.

On the way back to the hotel, our group asked the guide to stop so that we might get some local formula.  We stopped at a small (12 by 12 foot) grocery store.  Our guide talked briefly with the person there and pointed to some bags on a shelf, we cleaned them out. It was several days later that I discovered that it was real dairy powdered sweet cream intended for coffee.

I noted that all the workers at the orphanage wore white smocks. Back at the hotel, I suggested to Ginger that she should put on one of my white shirts. I thought that Jiang Li might be more comfortable if she was in the arms of someone in white. After the children woke up we gathered in the doctor's room and gave all three a bath. Jiang Li was hesitant at first, but seemed to like the bath.  All of the babies had colds, Jiang Li's chest was clear, according to the doctor, Dimetapp to clear the congestion.  Ears looked good.  Ginger then diapered her.  She would get much faster at this in the days to come.  I really wanted to help, but when I approached, Jiang Li would get upset and cry. I knew that this was already a very stressful time for her, so I didn't push the issue.  We would have plenty of time to get to know each other.

We went to lunch, and Jiang Li would not sit in the highchair. She sat on Ginger's lap and I fed her the bottle. She also enjoyed the spaghetti and rolls. She also loved the prawn crackers that the orphanage had given us. In fact, she enjoyed every food that she could get into her mouth.

She went down for a nap at about 4:00 PM, we woke her at 8:00 PM for dinner. We fed her the "formula" we had bought, some rice cereal with formula, and Cheerios. She fell asleep again at 10 PM and slept until her usual wake up time, 6:00 AM. She was very restless as she slept, and very quite when she was awake.  Although very quite, she looked at everything around her.



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Copyright 2001 by George Keller. All Rights Reserved.