A little guy, now 19 months old, captured our hearts last month.
His name is Big Z.
As a result, I will have to change the title of this blog soon.
We are embarking on expanding the family via adoption.
I suppose it is inevitable, spending time with family-less children in orphanages all the time for over five years, that it was bound to happen.
He was born with complex congenital heart disease–Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia.
Our medical team had been following him closely during our weekly visits to the orphanage, and he was biding time until he was called to the hospital for his surgery.
When he finally went to the hospital in April, we were told that due to various factors they were unable to do the surgery after all.
Our team tried to help using our foreign medical contacts, but the end verdict from the orphanage, a few weeks ago, was that he had no options for surgery before age 10 unless he was adopted by a foreign family and the surgery was done elsewhere.
As I was lamenting his dilemma with my husband that Monday evening, debriefing as usual about the hard things I had seen and felt at the orphanage that day, he said, “Well, why don’t we adopt him?”
At first I was rather taken aback, not having thought past the usual frustrations of working in a resource-restricted and rules-bound setting that we have so little input into as foreigners here.
As the idea sunk in, we both somewhat incredulously began to realize that this could really happen.
We visited the orphanage together the next Monday, and Papa Chopstix met Big Z for the first time and we had a couple of sweet hours together with him.
The director met with us, and we explained our desire to consider adoption and requested permission to get him evaluated at a hospital with European cardiologists in a city near here. He graciously copied all of his medical records and we made arrangements for the evaluation to take place a week later.
The next week we picked him up from the orphanage for our day trip and made the 75 minute train ride to the other city and spend the day loving on him and feeding him full of yummy eats.
There happens to be a tasty restaurant serving a full selection of bratwursts and other German delicacies right by that hospital.
At the end of the visit we had a relatively optimistic understanding of his situation, and were pleased to hear that he was quite stable for the moment. We will plan a cardiac catheterization in the spring and prepare for surgery after that in conjunction with planning for adoption.
We are hoping to be able to foster him in our home as soon as possible after we return from a pre-planned family vacation next week.
In the meantime, the adoption process is in full court press mode, and we are joining the subgroup of people who know what “authentication,” “China dossier,” “home study” and “USCIS I800A” mean.
Plus the expat factor, which adds about sixteen layers of complexity to each document you are trying to stuff into that dossier.
For example, to get our Ohio criminal record search, we had to send in fingerprints.
If you live in the US, you just go to a place and scan in your fingerprints into some machine.
When you live in China, it’s a bit more complicated.
You have to call Ohio State Bureau of Investigation during business hours (our night time) to request that the fingerprint cards get mailed to your friend who just happens to be in Kansas for a few weeks on holiday.
The first time you call OSBI, you’re on hold so long in front of the computer and Skype around 11 pm that you fall asleep and wake up in time to hear the person finally answer and say “hello, hello?” and the CLICK of the dial tone as they hang up before you realize what’s happening.
So you groan, call back, and surf the web while on hold determined not to let that happen again.
After the fingerprint cards arrive in China, you make an appointment at the consulate (they have hours two afternoons a week) and get your fingerprints which you guard with your life.
You have to call OSBI again in the night with questions about filling out the fingerprint form.
Then you prepare the papers and send it back with another friend who happens to be traveling back to the US in a few days, and she mails them in for you.
Well, enough about that boring stuff.
Just wanted to give you a taste of having double layers of bureaucracy in the context of inconsistent mail and unreliable internet service.
In the meantime, rejoice with us that one more child will have a forever family!