Friday, December 30, 2005

Foster care

Nora (although I have a feeling she won't want to relenquish her Chinese name ala YuYu) has been in foster care since the beginning of August. Here are some tiny pictures from the most recent report from late October. She is an adorable child. Hard to think about what I'm going to be doing to her little world in just over a week from now. This is when I really hope the net will appear.

This is a picture of Nora that is featured on page 119 in a portrait book published by Half the Sky Foundation. Richard Bowen (he and his wife Jenny created HTS to give back to the children who remain behind) received permission to photograph children in eight orphanages where HTS had established preschool programs. I was flipping through the book and, WHAM, there she was. I didn't want to believe in the coincidence until Charlene, CHI's China liaison, confirmed the symbols were Morning Leaf. It's a beautiful portrait, but kind of freaky that my child's image is for sale. Check the store tab in the HTS link, Nora's print, along with 11 others, is for sale individually. Kind of unnerving. I hope when I get back with Nora, proving that I'm her parent and not some crazy asking for pictures, that I can get through to someone at HTS (so far no luck), to see if there were other poses from the photo session; wouldn't you think there would have to be?

December 30

I've been frantically tying up loose ends at work, trying to remember everything that needs to be taken care of before I leave and generally being disorganized. I found out on the 19th that we needed to leave on January 6, and it felt like such a shock in the head, but it's not like I haven't known for months that this was inevitable. This week I've had computer problems that have reduced me to tears and the pictures I have of Nora that came with her placement information and from foster care updates are in the computer that has committed ritual hara kiri. I'll work on trying to retrieve them from a different source next week.

Here's what I know about our newest Hanson girl:

The name she was given at the orphange is Jiang Xiao Ye. Jiang is just a place name, no particular meaning, but the symbols in her name for Xiao and Ye mean morning leaf and I think that is lovely.

She was born on July 30, 2001, and was found and delivered to the Guilin Social Welfare Institute within a month of her birth. She was born with an extra thumb on one hand and a misshapen thumb on the other and those minor differences kept her from being placed in the non-special needs category with adoption much more likely when she was an infant. Of course, when I saw her file and figured out that the extra thumb kept her from a permanent family, my heart broke for her. Ellie had an extra thumb removed before she was placed with me as an infant. If Ellie's orphanage had not spent the extra money to repair her hand, she would have languished in the orphanage for a very long time and that outcome is too painful to consider. Ironically, about the time I first viewed her file and felt connected to her because of her thumbs, she was having her hands repaired in China. Nora benefitted from the Tomorrow Plan: an initiative by the adoption authority in Beijing to provide surgery/treatment for thousands of orphaned children in welfare institutions and foster care. So just when she was available to me only because she had not been eligible for a non-special needs placement earlier in her life, her special need disappeared.

Another irony was that the whole fam damily was at the Guilin SWI in November 2004 during YuYu's adoption trip. I was allowed to take updated photos of six Guilin beauties who had been matched to CHI families who were in the process of preparing their adoption dossier and working toward travel. I stood in the hallway outside her Half the Sky preschool room but I was trying not to be an ugly American and I didn't go nosing my way into the room with my video camera and it's a shame I chose that one occasion to be sensitive to privacy issues. Of course, she wasn't on my radar and wouldn't be for months, but wouldn't that have been a kick if I had serendipitously caught her on video?

Another latent benefit arising from my trip last year were the contacts I made with Xiao Xiao and David Huang, the Chinese coordinators for Grace and Hope for Chinese Children and Love Without Boundaries. Through these contacts, and the most important link in the chain who will remain anonymous, but she knows who she is, I was delighted to learn the Nora had been placed with a foster family and I've had the privilege of sponsoring her foster care. I truly hope that the rough edges from four years of institutional care have been rounded off a little bit by her "starter" family. But when you read the foster care report I've linked in the side bar, it may be that she has retained a few sharp points.

Unfortunately, we will not be traveling to Guilin this time around and I will not have the opportunity to meet her foster family. Nora will make the 5 hour train trip to Nanning on Monday and it seems cruel to bundle her back up there on Wednesday. More importantly, we will be in Nanning and I want YuYu to have as much time with her beloved foster family as possible. Hard choice, but I hope the right choice.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Getting set up

December 8, 2005: This my first attempt to post. I'm setting up this blog so I can keep Ellie and Mimi and the rest of the people we love connected to us when YuYu and I travel to China to adopt Jiang Xiao Ye, soon to be known as Eleanor Elaine Xiao Ye Hanson. She will be the final piece of our family puzzle, or my puzzling family as some may suspect.