The Long Wait
After the paperwork was submitted, We started looking for things to do.
We needed to get ready for our child. We needed to prepare a nursery,
child proof the house, prepare for travel in China, and prepare to become
Ginger traveled to Orlando, Florida in December to visit a friend that
works for Walt Disney World. The express purpose of the trip was quite
simple, to shop, shop, and shop. Among the dozens of things that
she brought back (well, actually shipped back) was a Minnie Mouse outfit.
The first tangible item that our quiet, no kids life was going to change.
We traveled back to Austin on February 10th to attend a seminar by Great
Wall on inter - racial and international adoption. Ginger and I had
attended a couple of similar seminars in Columbus on inter racial adoption,
but the emphasis was on adoption of black or biracial children, not international
children. International adoption has issues that are different than domestic
adoption and the issue of how a child becomes available for adoption is
very much different. Telling our daughter that "your birth mother made
an adoption plan for you" and "your birth mother was not in a position
to parent any child" will not work. Presenting the issue of our daughter's
abandonment and the cultural preference for boys will be difficult to do
and must be done with sensitivity for the Chinese culture, her birth mother,
and most importantly, our daughter's self esteem.
We attended several of the local FCC events, the spring Asian festival,
went to an exhibit of Chinese art in Washington D.C.. I read nearly
every book about China and adoption that I could get my hands on. Ginger
decorated the nursery with pandas playing with beach balls and polka dots.
She made panda window dressing and hung my mother's panda cross stitch.
Pink carpet with really thick padding. The finishing touch was a panda
mobile that matches the pandas on the wall.
We bought a crib, a dresser, and a chest of drawers that doubled as
a changing table. The crib came unassembled and I spent about an hour and
a half assembling it in the living room. It was only after I got
the last screw firmly in place that I realized that it would not go through
the doorway! Cribs must be designed by the same people that put 8
hot dogs and ten hot dog buns in a package. Both of our cats, Brindle and
Penny, really enjoyed sleeping in the crib, something that changed quickly
when we filled the crib with a crying baby.
We tried to take Chinese language classes at Ohio State, but were frozen
out of the classes. We contacted a few Chinese students and found one that
was willing to try and teach us some Chinese. Although it took a
lot of time and effort, it was one of the most rewarding things that we
did in preparation. We learned a lot about China from her, and she
learned a lot about the United States from us. She was especially fascinated
by our dog, Cammy. She was surprised that Cammy understood spoken
commands, and was then also surprised that our cats didn't. Although we
will never be fluent in Chinese, knowing some words and carrying our homework
and flash cards, we were much more adventurous than most in China.
By April, it was apparent that the Chinese process had slowed down,
we were slow to accept that we would not travel in mid summer. We
started being concerned about the age of the children coming out of China.
We requested a young infant, 4 to 6 months old. These ages were not uncommon
when we started, but we had noted that the children have been older, some
over a year old. Developmental delay is a serious concern, so is
attachment disorder, and both are more likely with older children.
By mid summer, both Ginger and I were going stir crazy. Our agency had
confirmed our fears that we would not see a referral very soon. Ginger
decided to take up ribbon embroidery to pass the time. I decided that I
would start a new hobby as well, clock and watch repair. A clock shop in
Cincinnati had a bunch of inexpensive, dirty and broken clocks that were
perfect to start out on. I asked the shop owner where he had got them from.
He told me he had imported them from China. One of the clocks was particularly
fascinating. It had been repaired many times in the past. The repairs
were very ingenious, and nothing close the professional "book" methods
I had been studying. Nails used as pinions, hand filed gear sections soldered
to the original gears, epoxy used to fasten gears to pinions. Despite how
it looked, and how different it was from the "professional" repairs, it
did work! Perhaps an important lesson on the differences of the East and
In mid July, we had an event that elated us, then crushed us, but ultimately
confirmed that what we were doing was right for us. After 7 years of trying
seriously, Ginger was pregnant. We were so disbelieving that we used five
home pregnancy test kits (all different brands!) to confirm it. We
were aware that it was a high risk pregnancy, but were still unprepared
when the miscarriage happened a few weeks later. We were quite depressed,
but this confirmed that we were right in not pursuing further medical options,
we could not deal with the pain of multiple miscarriages
Lighting the load somewhat, our agency continued to have groups travel
and referrals were steadily coming in.
August and September passed very slowly. Ginger started to formally
keep referral statistics on the APC list, something she has done informally
for months. Using the information people put in their referral and other
postings and compiling them, it is easier to get an idea of the big picture
of how long referrals are taking, how old the children are, and how long
to travel. Another APC list participant, Ralph Stirling volunteered to
analyze the data and post graphs on his home page. You can find this information
This information confirmed that the children were coming out of China
significantly older than in the past and that we would not likely get a
very young baby.