Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Our Visit to Sarah's Orphanage!

So sorry for the delay in posting on the blog, but Tuesday was a long and full day. Sarah was VERY excited to go back to the orphanage to visit and was having a hard time sitting still in the lobby while we waited for the van! She's so cute. She kept whipping her head around to look out the front window to see if the van was there and then would whip back around and pronounce "Nah."

Before that though, we had our official visit back to the Civil Affairs Office (CAO) to finalize the adoption. When we arrived there were three other children there, two little boys which were being adopted by families from Europe and then a little 5-ish year old girl who seemed to be being transferred from the orphanage to a foster family. The little girl and one of the little boys were very nervous, shaking or rocking, and it was hard to see. Everything at the CAO is done in one large open room. We were called to the first desk and asked several questions like "Why did you choose to adopt from China?" "How do you feel about this girl now that you've spent 24 hours with her?" etc. Then, the man asked Sarah pretty much the same questions (we think as it was all in Chinese!) but we heard "MaMa" and "BaBa" (mom and dad) several times so think she may have been asked more about her feelings for us. Then, she was asked to sign a form using her Chinese name (in Chinese characters) and then to ink her thumb in red ink and press her fingerprint over her signature. We did the same thing on our forms and were told "You are now a family!" They presented us with the official papers in a hardbound red folder which also includes a family photo that was taken the very first day.

Then, we moved right over to the next desk and were asked pretty much the same questions again, did the red ink and were done. Our guide had told us that once we were done with these two desks we would be done. BUT, he started talking with another person and then came over and told us we had to go upstairs! Okay, here is the point where some panic entered! We were taken to a large office that was occupied by one man behind a desk. We could tell by the office, the desk, etc that this was a very important man in the building. Our guide told us that this man is the head of the CAO and that he wanted to speak with us before the adoption would be finalized! He greeted us and then spoke directly to Sarah for a bit. She answered a few questions and from time to time would look over at us -- it was one of those helpless times where we had no idea what the man was saying or what she was saying and nothing we could do but hold her hand. Then, the director looked at us and started talking. Our guide translated for us and basically he wanted to know why we wanted to adopt an older child, for us to understand that it may be hard to bond with her due to her age but that he had spoken with her about it and that he told her she should try very hard to learn English and to be a good daughter. Something along the lines of thinking of this as her "second life" and to make the most of it. We were amazed that he knew several things about Sarah such as the fact that we had sent her emails, letters and a care package and that Kevin was a teacher with Chinese students. He also told us that the orphanage director had told him that Sarah was a very good student and that when she writes Chinese characters she shows great promise both intellectually and creatively. Finally, he asked if we would consider bringing her back to China some day to visit and that he would love for her to come back "home" to Nanjing to see how things that changed while se was on her new life. We thanked him and headed back to the hotel.

It took both Kevin and I a bit to get over the shock of talking with the director and then in the realization that we must have passed the "tests" and indeed were a family of 3!

We had a few hours before our orphanage visit so we headed out to shop a bit as most of the clothes we brought for Sarah are too big. We were pulling out everything preparing for the orphanage visit and she saw what we were doing and we told her these were things to "give to the orphanage". "Ah!" she said, "give." She kind of looked toward her stuff so we asked her if any of the things we had brought for her did she want to "give" but also tried to explain that they were her things that she could keep or give. She picked up the jeans that were too big and questioned "give?" and when we said "yes" then she got the idea. She pulled out all the underwear we had brought for her and with her hands made the sign for "HUGE" and put them in the "give" pile! Then a sleeveless top and the pink leather shoes she had picked out at Walmart the day before. We were so rattled yesterday that we didn't have her try them on at the store but she picked what she thought was her size but when we got back to the hotel they were too big. So, they went into the give pile.

She had picked up several bags of candy at Walmart to take as well. One bag we thought she had picked for herself as she seemed very interested in it (a sesame seed covered chewy candy) so Kevin had opened it up to try. She looked over, saw him eating the candy and started waving her index finger back and forth at him like "no, no Baba". Then I ate one too! So, we folded the bag over and she put it in the "give pile." That wasn't our first faux-paux!

We then went shopping to try and get her some clothes as she only seems to have the skirt she came in and the one pair of jeans we brought that weren't too giant. We pointed to stores and she would say "no." Finally we just pulled her into one and pointed to some jeans and she seemed very nervous. She did try a pair on but came out holding them and looking rather oddly at them. A young sales girl started talking to her and then brought us over to a rack of pants that were not jeans but more like cargo pants. Sarah looked at us like "are these okay" and we said "yes" so she wanted a pair of tan ones but I don't think they had her size but the girl brought a white pair over and she shook her head "yes." As we left the store, Sarah pointed to the hotel and made the sign for sleep so we headed back. When we got back here, we realized it was more a sign for "I'm done shopping and am tired of trying to understand what you are saying!" She sat on the bed, turned on tv and seemed very happy just to chill!

Then, it was time to go to the orphanage! Again, the van was 30 minutes late (driver said there was a traffic jam) and when we arrived at the orphanage there were two women waiting on the front steps to greet her! She was so excited. We first went into the main office on the first floor where we gave our clothing gifts and then we were presented with gifts as well. Sarah received a stunning glass ornament with her Chinese name and a rooster on the front (which is her Chinese zodiac symbol). We received a gorgeous framed silk embroidery that is done only in Nanjing city. From there, we went up the elevator to the floor she lived on. This floor is for only older children and each 'bedroom' has four loft style beds (like in the referral photo we received). Then there is a main "bathroom" area and what we are calling a 'rumpus room' where there is a tv (this is the room behind her in the photos she took of her face in the four different poses). There were probably 6 to 7 children in the rumpus room and we learned that these are the older children who have special needs who do not go outside the orphanage for school. The other children were away at school for the day.

The director was speaking to us and our guide was translating and we didn't even see Sarah leave the room. She came back, arranged some of the little green school chairs, asked us all to sit and then did some magic tricks for us. SHE'S GOOD!

Then, we quickly went by the baby room and they brought several of the babies up to the window for us to see. One nanny was waving the baby's hand and then made it look like the infant was blowing kisses at us -- too cute! Then we went into a class room which is for the 2 to 3 year olds. They were all sitting on the little green chairs which were lined up along a wall and having small snack. When we entered the room, most of the children left their chairs and came right over to us, but did not get close enough to touch us. One adorable little girl sat in her chair and did not move. Kevin and I both waved over to her, she looked at us, shook her head back and forth with "no" and just sat there. It was hilarious! We said to the nannies, "she had quite a mind of her own!" and one nanny who spoke a little English said "YES! YES!" and then said her new parents will be coming soon for her so we were very happy to hear that.

As we left the orphanage, the director asked if we had plans for Thursday. She then invited us to dinner with her. Our guide is going to arrange it for us, but we explained to him that we did not have any nice clothes with us and he said that is okay. I hope so!

After we left the gate of the orphanage, Sarah said something to the driver and we were told that she has a good friend who owns a hair salon near by and that she wanted to know if we could stop by and say good-bye. When we arrived, her friend was not there but someone called him and he jumped in a taxi and about 15 minutes later arrived. She was so excited to see him so we took some video and photos. He then asked if I would like him to style my hair! I thanked him but said "no" and hoped I wasn't being impolite.

After that, the driver said Sarah had also given him directions to her school so we stopped by just as school was letting out. Again, we had to pass through a security guarded gate (just like the orphanage) and made our way up a long brick path to the school. It is a 6 floor very narrow building with a few classrooms on each floor. Then outside there is a track which is where the tug-of-war photo was taken. All around the track and school are hi-rise apartments. We spoke with her teacher and learned that she had gone to this school for 5th and 6th grade. She had passed the test to go to middle school for 7th grade but then when her adoption paperwork came through she did not start 7th grade and instead waited for us.

We asked our guide about school in general and were told that in China the city children go to school through 9th grade as long as they can pass the test to get into each level. If you don't pass the test, you can't advance to the next grade. After 9th grade, the children can decide to stop school completely, go for three years of trade school or go for three years of intensive "high school" which prepares students to take the entrance exam to try to get a spot at a university.

Then, back to the hotel where Sarah asked for KFC so we headed down there. Then, started to watch a movie which from what I could tell was about a rather well-to-do couple who adopted a puppy. Rather interestingly, the puppy was a yellow lab which is a puppy Sarah had pointed to in our photo book. My brother and his wife have a yellow lab and in one photo I was holding him as a pup. So she was interested in the photo and then chose this move to watch -- and not only did she watch the whole move, but then it started to replay again and she content to watch it a second time until we all fell asleep!


Lesa said...

It sounds like you had a very full day, and that she was very excited to go,go,go! How fun.
I think I would have been very nervous also with meeting of the Director of the CAO.
I love seeing the photos as well.
Take care.

Lesa Lamber LID 6-19-06 GWCA

Stacey T. said...

Wow, thanks for such a great post about all the events of the day!!! You will really appreciate these journal entries when you get home....the China trip all becomes one big blur. When I got home, I copied and pasted all of my entries and photo's into a Shutterfly.com book.....

new girl said...

Wow, there's a lot going on, huh?!? It sounds like everything is going wonderfully, but I bet all the big changes for everyone are also a bit stressful. The photos of Sarah QiuYan performing magic are wonderful -- I'm so glad you got to see all of her "places" while you are there. And what an honor to meet the director of the CAO! Hang in there, you are doing great!

Sylvia said...

I've been waiting all day for an update! Thanks for the detailed blog entry. Sounds like you had a wonderful day. Look forward to following your adventures....

A Special Family said...

I cried reading your post. I am simply thrilled for you!
I am very happy you are now officially a family of 3!

Chairman Mom said...

What a sweet, sweet girl you have! I just love these posts-- warms my heart to read them!


Stacey and family