Monday, October 01, 2007

Harbor Town Girl

According to Wikipedia; "Dongguan (Simplified Chinese: 东莞; pinyin: Dōngguan) is a prefecture-level city in central Guangdong province, People's Republic of China. An important industrial city located in the Pearl River Delta, Dongguan borders the provincial capital of Guangzhou to the north, Huizhou to the northeast, Shenzhen to the south, and Foshan to the west. It is also home to the world's largest shopping mall, South China Mall. City administration is considered especially progressive in seeking foreign direct investment (see below). The three neighboring muncipalities of Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Shenzhen are home to over 25 million residents, accounting for a large proportion of the Pearl River Delta's population."
It's also the birthplace of a certain young lady: Miss Guan Shao Mei, who entered this world some time in April, 2006, in a small village outside the city and was left at a gasoline station some two weeks afterward. She had what in the Appalachian hill country used to be called "the cat's mouth", that is, a monolateral cleft lip and a small cleft in the facial bone above the mouth, what is known as a "alveolar cleft". The lip was repaired within six months, nicely, as you will see, and the alveolar cleft is relatively minor and can wait several years for repair.
So I've told you the terrible story of poor Baoxin. We were still in the midst of trying to get her back to her orphanage when "Rob", the agency guide, instructed me to write out all the details of her problems as well as a short list of the special needs we would consider acceptable for adoption.
Mojo and I had talked about this, especially our visceral horror of dealing with a potential life-threatening heart or lung condition and the awful memories of losing Bryn Rose that would drag up. We put down all the relatively simple musculo-skeletal problems we could think of, including cleft lip and partial cleft palate.
At the last minute, "Rob" bustled in asking if we'd accept a Hepatitis-B positive child. I pounded my skull: Hep A; treatable, OK. Hep C, chronic, no. Hep B? Maybe? Rob told us that our list was very small and the chances of us getting a referral depended on widening it. OK, Hep B goes in.
Thank Buddha for the Internet. An hour later I was armed with the knowledge that 1) Hep B leads to untreatable liver cancer in as many as 15% of all in-utero and neonatal infections, and 2) is so contagious that we would have to vaccinate all our friends' kids and probably her classmates! Yipe! I called "Rob" - NO HEP B! - and then had to write out an addendum to my letter explaining why not. Lucky us - it turned out later that they (CCAA) already had a Hep-B child they were planning to refer us...
So Friday morning we got some paperwork from the agency. Seventeen months old, from nearby Dongguan, simple cleft, partially repaired. Healthy, active...she sounded good. We were starting to hope again. OK, we said, we'll accept the referral. Papers signed. We were told to expect her that evening.
Sure enough, the director and a nanny from Dongguan SWC showed up with a little crew-cut girl that evening. She toddled across the floor, rolled onto her back and slugged down her bottle (a fancy complete-with-insulated-holder model with a cheerful "Funky Dog" logo which immediately and since then has been known not as "her bottle" or "the bottle" but simply as "Funky Dog"). We were captivated.
So the next week turned into another frenzy of paperwork - this time even more frenzied bacause we needed to get done in four working days what had been planned for a leisurely two weeks. I will tell you that all I know of Guanzhou other then the White Swan, Civil Affairs and the horrible Children's Hospital are two tourist spots downtown and the Baiyun Mountain Park (a lovely spot - ride the tram if you get the chance...keep an eye open for White-throated Laughingthrushes in the bushes up top. Handsome birds).
The first two days she was VERY quiet, a perfect orphanage baby. But by midweek she was starting to emerge: little flashes of stubbornness, an unexpected and infectious giggle. She turned out to love her mommy best, but liked to have her daddy raspberry her tummy and turn her upside down. She loves egg-and-rice and congee, but did pretty darn well with french fries, scrambled egg and mashed potatoes. Just as well - she's tiny and unskilled for seventeen months. Our friends Millicent, Floyd and their little sweetie Nola showed up Monday. Nola has been in foster care the whole time - and wow, does it show. She's so far ahead - physically, emotionally, even her little girl attitude. We did have a delightful night where both girls gamboled around their hotel room - Shaomei seemed to catch on to Nola's energy. She was a riot with the little mirror under the window, and they both had a lot of fun...and so did we.
We're home now, and finding that a houseful of grandparents, parents and kids, including a brand new American citizen making huge adjustments to a new home, a new life and a new family, is not exactly a restful thing. Shaomei is still a very poor sleeper, and Mojo and I are getting critically low on sleep. Mom and daughter went to the doctor today (which, among other things, is why daddy spent part of the afternoon with a poopy diaper and several revolting sample tubes but we'll let that pass...) and things look pretty good medically. Now we just need a better little sleeper...
We've come a long way, all four of us, and our friends, and those of you who have followed with us on the trip. I hope I can help draw you along for the rest of the journey. It should he a hell of a ride. C'mon along. I promise I'll try and be at least entertaining.
-- won't have to forego any sleep...


walternatives said...

That Shoamei captivation is contagious - count me in!

Chief, thank you for sharing these photos. Seeing the three of you together (and the one of her on your lap) as well as the Happy Mommy pics make me weepy. Tears of great joy, friend. Great, great joy.

As for drawing me along for the rest of the journey, I'm in for the long haul. Absolutely.

I'm so happy for y'all. Very, very.

Beeb said...

Cheif and Mojo, I'm along for the ride and hanging on every word!

atomic mama said...

Wow. Welcome, Shao Mei! Glad y'all have family there with you now (Well, assuming they're being helpful... heh!).

You are joking about "hoping to draw us along for the rest of the journey," right? This is the good stuff!

holly said...

Shao Mei is captivating, alright - not to mention BEAUTIFUL!

I remember zombie-land from when my kids where's a tough place to be.
I hope it passes sooner, rather than later for you guys.

wzgirl said...

What a great face - especially the one of Shao Mei gazing up at Daddy. Adorable.

I can only imagine the diaper & collection tube situation - hopefully you were so tired that it only marginally traumatized you.

Glad to see you joking around this evening. XO

Dee said...

It's wonderful to meet her! Hoping you all sleep better soon.

Project Ni Hao said...

Welcome home, Shao Mei!

SBird said...

Congratulations, she's lovely! My family wishes you and yours many years of happiness with little Shao Mei.

Millicent said...

We can't wait to see Shao Mei again. She really is a beautiful, precious little girl.

Donna said...

Your baby is ADORABLE! I found your blog when I googled "Shenzhen" since my daughter is from there. Yours isn't but it's still shocking how much she looks like mine. Also amazing is that our 2nd daughter (from Qinzhou, Guangxi) is a cleft affected child).

All the best for you and your family in 2008!


The Wanderers' Daughter said...

Wonderful story, and that last photo is to die for. Oh my!