Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Now She is Ours

This post is very long, so here is advanced warning.  It covers two days and our days right now are full! 

Sometimes we look back at a specific time in our life and we realize that time was a turning point in our lives.  That it was a point in time which changed who we would become as people.  For us as Christians, the most major turning point was when we accepted Christ as our Savior.  After that, many turning points coincide with large life changes.  For me, getting married and giving birth to my two oldest children were all life changing events.  The entire process of our adoption is definitely a life changing event and it is stretching and changing who we are as people.

Yesterday, we finalized the adoption of our Norah at the Civil Affairs Office in Taiyuan.  The night before was very rough.  Our tears mingled with hers as she cried hysterically and the reality of what we are doing finally set in.  We wanted desperately to explain why she was with us and could not.  In the morning though, she was happy and very chatty.  We have been told that nap and night time is the worse and that is certainly proving to be true.

The Civil Affairs Office where we first met Norah and where we finalized her adoption.

Here Norah is signing the adoption document with her hand print.  She is agreeing to become ours even though she doesn't know it.  

I wonder if she would look less happy if she knew what had just happened.  After they process the paperwork, she will legally be our daughter!  Now we are officially parents to three beautiful girls.

Norah loves her baba which is dada in Chinese.  Again, we have been told that children often attach to just one parent and Norah is definitely a daddy’s girl. 

We went swimming and she is a little fish.  She seemed to be familiar with the water.  She moved her arms and kicked her feet like she had been shown how to kick and stroke.  Our guide said it was very unlikely she had ever been in a pool before, but who knows for sure.

This pool had windows below.  It would be awkward to lose the bottoms of your suit in this pool!

Today, we went to the orphanage and met the foster family.  We get the feeling that this was an unusual privilege and we are very grateful for the opportunity.  It was an emotionally draining experience, but not one I would change for the world.

On the way, we passed the Taiyuan Iron Hospital where Norah was found on the first floor.  She was found with no note on her at approximately eleven days.  It is possible her parents were workers in the iron mill as we passed through the iron milling district soon after.

Then, we arrived at the Taiyuan Institute of Children Welfare (top picture and to the right) where Norah was taken after she was found.  Their motto is “Life starts from here” which appears to be true.  We met several directors and social workers who work very hard to place each child into a family and to care for their needs while they are in the orphanage.

Chris and Norah stayed in the car in order to avoid meeting the foster mom and going back to square one.  When I walked into the meeting room, the foster mom was there sobbing her heart out.  I sat down and we talked through our tears.  Her eighteen year old son had come as well and he was also crying (although trying to hide it).  This family loved and cared for her from February 2011 until she came into our care on August 5, 2013.

The foster mother gave me many pieces of advice regarding Norah.  Through her sobs, she told me to make sure to wake up Norah in the night if I gave her water before bed.  She said Norah need a stuffed animal to sleep with and she brought one of her teddy bears from home.  She said to Norah was a very good girl and only needed to be told one time not to do something and she would listen.  She also said Norah was strong and healthy and did not get cold (this indicates health in the Chinese culture).  She told me to make sure Norah had all her favorite foods and gave me a bag of boiled corn on the cob because she said it was Norah’s favorite. 

Through our translator, I told the foster mom that she and her whole family were Qian Qian’s first family and that we would always be grateful for the unconditional love they gave her.  I told her that it is because of them our daughter is the healthy, smart, funny girl she is today.  We gave her a jade family ball that symbolizes interlocking family generations.  I told her our families would always be interlocked because of this little girl.  I promised we would love Norah with all our hearts and give her the best care.  I also promised that we would not let Norah forget her first family.

With the foster brother and mother
The family wants very badly to stay in contact.  While we were talking, the son’s phone rang and he handed it to me.  It was the oldest daughter in the family who spoke English.  She was trying to get my cell phone number.  As soon as I started to give it, the orphanage director stepped in and stopped it.  Then the family asked for my e-mail address and the director intervened again.  It is very apparent to us that the government does not want any direct contact with the foster families.  The director told us we could communicate with the orphanage and they would pass that along.

Directors and social work of TICW
After meeting the foster family, one of the directors and the social worker gave me a tour of the orphanage.  I was not allowed to take pictures, but was allowed to look into all the rooms.  They had six nurseries with babies progressing from newborn to about three to four years of age.  Each child had his or her own crib and there was one nanny per ten to twelve children.  The rooms were all clean and painted with stickers on the wall.  The children appeared to be in clean clothes and well cared for.  However, there are no words to explain what it is like to see these children all lying in their cribs.  In one room, there was an older boy (maybe three or four) standing up in his crib.  The director made an offhanded remark that he was silly boy who got into lots of trouble.  I looked into his eyes and all I saw was a longing to be free and run and play whenever he wanted.

Gifts for the officials and toys for the orphanage
The orphanage also had a library, a play room, and two physical therapy rooms for children with cerebral palsy and other physical special needs.  There was also an outside play place.  My hope is that these children get out of their cribs in the evening (we have noticed cities come alive about 6:00 pm when it cools down).  However, I know in my heart, that these babies are probably not out of their cribs for more than a couple hours a day.  It is heart breaking to know that even in a very nice orphanage such as this one, every one of these children is in desperate need of a family.  Overall, I was very happy to see that the donations to this orphanage (coming from every family who adopts from Taiyuan) appear to be used wisely in investments for the children’s well being.

Please join us as we pray for the children at the Taiyuan Institute of Children Welfare.  Also, please continue to pray for us.  At the end of the meeting, the foster mom came outside looking for Norah and Norah spotted her.  This set us back and Norah has been crying a lot tonight.  By this point in the journey, we are quite exhausted both emotionally and physically and continue to covet your prayers.

Eating the corn from her foster mom


  1. The handprint. That's what got me. Thank you for sharing, Chris and Angela. We are so blessed to know how to pray for you, and to share what must be a very small part of some of your emotions. We love you guys!

  2. PRAISE GOD!!! I'm so very happy for all of you, and I can't wait to meet her.

  3. Oh, my friend. We'll be praying for your adjustment, as well as Norah's. I'm sure the girls meeting her will help a lot. Children speak the same language, no matter their mother tongue. :)

  4. There is such beauty in adoption and reading about your journey is so, so touching. Norah is absolutely beautiful and it is such a joy to see her united with the family God has chosen for her. I'll be praying for her foster family, as I know there is great pain there. I'll be praying for Norah as well and for all of you. Have you ever heard of Ashley Ann's blog "Under the Sycamore"? They adopted a little girl from China. I feel as if you might resonate with their story. Here's something she wrote shortly after their adoption:

    "So much of her history is a blank page for me, so it is like putting together a puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Ultimately though, regardless of the missing pieces my response is the same. I will hold her through her grief. I will hold her now as a toddler when she doesn’t even know or understand the changes. I will hold her as a young girl when she faces the grief of recognizing she doesn’t look like her parents or siblings. I will hold her in grief when she understands what adoption means. I will hold her in her grief as a young woman who wrestles with questions I will never be able to answer. I will hold her. Not because I am a great mom or because we did some noble thing by ‘rescuing her’. That is so far from reality. I will hold her because she is my daughter."

    Praying for you as you hold your daughter and start this adventure together.

  5. I have been thinking and praying for you everyday. Words can not describe what a beautiful little girl God has given you!!! We are praying for you guys, that God will give you strength like only He can.

  6. Thank you for sharing the incredible joys & painful moments the three of you are experiencing. Our family & the HDC family join in the prayers being lifted on your behalf.

  7. Congratulations on your beautiful daughter! We adopted our daughter from Taiyuan as well. She was fostered by her foster family from 3 months to 4 1/2 years. The day we met her foster family the foster mom handed me their QQ account number and their cell phone number. This was done in front of the orphanage officials and no one stopped it. It is definitely an individual thing and they seem to treat some foster families different than others. Our daughter's foster mom now works at the orphanage and had connections there even before she had become employed there. We have kept in contact over the past 2 1/2 years. We've even video chatted with them. I pray you get to have contact with your daughter's foster family in the future. It's a very special connection!