The Second Referral
On November 4th, Ginger called me at work, she had the director of our
agency on the line. Yu Zhu was not to be our daughter. Like the other
couple in our group, we were told that Yu Zhu was referred to another couple
from another country. This happened to three families in our group,
and we later corresponded with several other people from the APC list using
different agencies that also had happened to them in this time period.
Our agency director did have a new referral for us. This child, Wang Jiang
Li was at the Zhenjiang Social Welfare Institute. She was born on 9/16/96,
We were, of course, stunned. We had firmly bonded with that picture
posted on our home page and grieved for her loss as strongly as we grieved
for the miscarriage. We heard the information about the new referral, but
it didn't really sink in. This new child was older by a month, but
it was also apparent by now that we would not get speedy travel approval.
Ginger and I were certain that we would not travel until everyone in the
group was over 35, mid December at the earliest. This child was going to
be 15 months or more old when we adopted her. Older than the 9 to 12 months
that we had expected, older than the 6 months that we wanted. Frankly,
had we known up front that we would have adopting a child this old from
China, we would have gone to other programs.
The information that we were given about Jiang Li also raised some very
serious concerns. The weight and height information did not agree
well. She was at 90% for weight, but only 4% for height on the Chinese
growth charts. If this information is correct, does she have a growth
or hormonal problems? If this information is wrong, how trustworthy is
the other information? She reportedly had 10 teeth and was
walking with fingertip help. This was a toddler adoption, not an infant
adoption, and we needed some time to sort things out and decide what to
do. We asked that the agency not send Jiang Li's picture.
We called our agency back, and explained that at this point we were
not comfortable with the referral and explained our concerns. They had
already noted the conflict in the height and weight information and were
trying to get someone to measure her again. In the next measurement
we were given, she had "grown" six inches. We asked if someone independent
from the orphanage could examine the child, we were told that would be
difficult. Given the child's weight and number of teeth, I seriously doubted
that she was (at that time of the report) 12 months old.
It seemed that every piece of information that we uncovered only made
us more uneasy. We posted to the APC list for information about the orphanage
and got one response. The information on the orphanage web page:
did not agree with what our agency was telling us about the orphanage.
Jiang Li was not abandoned as a newborn, they estimated that she was perhaps
two weeks old when she was taken to the police station after being found
at the doorstep of a man in Dantu county. We felt overwhelmed, angry,
very skeptical, and very confused.
We called the social worker that had done our home study. We asked to
meet with her to discuss the issues of toddler adoption including developmental
delay and attachment problems and made an appointment for November 10th.
We scrambled to find some books on toddler adoption, attachment problems,
and developmental delay. We tried to sort out our feelings. What were our
real concerns about this new child? What was the hurt and anger over losing
the child in the photo that we had come to love? Although we had invested
a lot of time and money into this adoption, if it didn't feel right, we
knew we should not do it. Conversely, the guilt of rejecting a child,
sight unseen, because of bad information and our fears of potential problems
also ate at us.
Our social worker talked to us at length, and we discussed our fears.
We knew that we would be dealing with developmental delay with Jiang Li.
Based on the other children that we have seen from China, we knew that
at any age, this is a problem for nearly every institutionalized child.
Attachment disorder was the next fear. Our social worker explained
that this was relatively rare in Chinese children, but it was a valid and
real concern. She suggested things to look for, eye contact, back arching
(lack of body molding when held), and other clues. We also talked at length
about her age. In the end, it came down to whether we were willing to jump
off the cliff with the information we had. We decided that, yes we
would accept the referral, that our need to parent was worth taking this
risk. I also got Ginger to agree that if I said no when we were presented
Jiang Li due to symptoms of attachment problems, that she would respect
On Tuesday, November 11th, we faxed our acceptance of Wang Jiang Li
back to our agency and asked that they send us her picture. Ginger came
home from work the next day to meet the FedEx driver and brought the picture
to me at work. The picture was small, about 1.25 inches square and showed
Jiang Li dressed in a bright yellow top looking rather seriously at something
near the camera. You can see this picture here
Later, we would see other exposures taken at the same time used
for the adoption paper work.