Thursday, June 13, 2013

China Looks Different Now

Today I'm posting some answers to questions we've been asked about our China girl.

Our adoption agency is Great Wall China Adoption. We are very happy with them and their support. We really feel respected and guided through this process. I knew there would be a lot of paper work. I was right. Great Wall is quick to contact us by phone, check up on us, keep in contact via email, and they are very organized. I'm impressed. They make me feel like I can do all this and I can do it right. Which is very necessary to feel right now. There is a lot of paperwork. I mentioned that already, didn't I?

Our girl is 10 years old. She will be 11 when we finally get her in 7-10 months. She is 6 months younger than Maren.

In most adoption agencies, each child is assigned an American name, mostly for organization purposes, but also because it's so much nicer than a number and gives potential adoptive parents a glimpse of possibility. Our girl's assigned name is "Sarah". She has no idea of this name and it's connection with her adoption. However, we know it, and we refer to her as "Sarah". I asked my cousin Jessica about how people go about naming older children. I'd already seen her choose names for her little girls (both a baby and a toddler at the time of their adoption) but I wondered how naming an older child is handled, and if they chose their Henry's (10) name. She said the older children most often expect to be given an American name chosen by their new parents. The child's last name (usually the name of their first orphanage or head of the orphanage) is dropped. The rest is up to the new parents and the child.
We thought about new names, made a list of cute and appropriate girl names, taking into consideration what we knew of her personality.
But it didn't matter. In our conversation, our prayers, and our thoughts, she remained "Sarah". So we chose Sara, without the 'h'. We'll keep a portion of her Chinese name for her middle name. We hope she loves it. So for the rest of this blog, I'll call her Sara.

When Jessica learned we were looking for a 10 year-old girl, she sent us a picture and a little bit of information about Sara. She was on a Waiting Child list at GWCA. These are orphans who either have mental or physical disabilities or are older (or both) and will age out of the system within a few years. The adoption process is quicker with these kids because the agencies in both countries wish for them to be given a home quickly. We saw her big smile and her little bit of attitude and all we could see was her fitting right in. We haven't been given permission to post her pictures yet. We requested her files, which gave us 2 weeks to study, consider, and make a decision. And after reading her history, studying her medical records, and seeing more pictures, we decided. Actually it really just confirmed what we already knew. We wanted her.

She does not have a disability. She is learning a little bit of English. She is in the Chinese 3rd grade. She is not the greatest student. :) Yes, we will try to learn some Chinese. Yes, she will laugh at our attempts. She loves to play outside. She is outgoing. She makes friends fast. She can be stubborn. She loves the color red. She likes to play hacky-sack. Yes, we will try to learn hacky-sack. Yes, she will laugh at our attempts.

She was abandoned at a hospital as a newborn. She was raised from the age of three in a foster home. She has been raised by the same foster parents this whole time. While this is optimal for her situation, my heart breaks a little knowing she will be leaving them, and that will be hard. She will mourn.

She knows she is up for adoption. She wishes to be adopted by a foreign family. I am not naive enough to think that she understands what that really means, and we'll do our best to show her the best of what it does mean. Family, future, hope. Trust. Adventure. Love.

When a Chinese orphan ages out at 14, they no longer are allowed to be adopted, they can no longer be part of the foster system, and they are on their own. And because of their last name, they are recognized as orphans. Orphans are considered bad luck in China. Most seriously. They receive little opportunity for any situation as adults.

In studying many many other blogs about adopting older children from China, the consensus is the same. They learn English quickly. Study, immersion, and desire + positive feedback. And occasional help from translation apps. A lot at first. :)

So there you have a little bit about our Sara. We can't wait to take her and Maren camping. We can't wait to take her to our favorite beach. We can't wait for Maren to teach her to make cookies. We can't wait for Jacob to make her smile with his goofiness. We can't wait for the smiles and the tears and the frustrations and the triumphs and for the day she realizes she's ours to keep.

This is a post about Henry, my cousin Jessica's son. It tugs at my heartstrings.

And here is my first attempt at a new Chinese phrase: Zai jian.

Good Bye!

More soon.

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