Friday, December 30, 2005

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.

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