[All photos by JML & KKB]
Our daughter-in-law K and son J are the most adventurous people we know, and we have always enjoyed vicarious experiences through them. Recently, though, they topped it all off by going on an amazing two-week journey to China to receive their new adopted son, L. V, their two-year-old daughter, went along to meet her new brother, and K’s dad Ted went too. K and J were great about sending pictures and keeping us informed electronically. K maintained a blog for family and friends (“Journey to L**”), and J sent regular e-mails. The following is a description of their trip drawn entirely from their accounts.
According to K, L was found wrapped in a blanket inside a basket at the Children’s Hospital in Taiyuan, China, in October 2008. He was missing part of his left foot, and J and K speculate that his original birth family did not know if he would ever walk and how they would take care of him. J and K learned about L in November 2009, and they have been going through bureaucratic paperwork to adopt him for months and months. They finally got travel approval in July of this year and set out on July 29 with V and Ted.
The group arrived in Taiyuan on Sunday, August 1st. K reports that from the outset V got lots of attention in public situations from the Chinese people, especially when she started saying “hello” and “thank you” in Mandarin. They went to Civil Affairs on Monday morning, and two nannies from the orphanage brought L in. K said he was screaming and crying, and it was pretty heartbreaking. J noted at the time, “We know that this is going to be a long grieving process for L**, and that we won’t be able to win him over in a matter of hours or days or even weeks…” K worried at the time whether they would ever see him smile, but happily a couple of hours later he and V were running around the hotel room, playing hide and seek, and laughing together. J observed that L walks pretty well, though his foot will need medical attention.
K described Tuesday as a difficult grieving day for L, though he had already developed a firm attachment to J, sitting on J’s hip or laying on his chest while wailing. J, K, and Ted took the children to the park and once again drew a great crowd. On Wednesday L was doing better, and K wrote that they were “really getting to see his spunky, funny personality.” According to J, V was terrific with her new brother -- whenever, he started crying, she would go up to him, offer a hug or kiss, and say “okay, okay.” K reports that L “also busted out some dance moves to the traditional Chinese music in the (hotel) lobby which was adorable.” They drew a crowd of about 60 at the park, where many young ladies wanted their picture taken with Grandpa Ted (who mumbled, “I’m not exactly George Clooney but whatever”). K reports that two-year-old V was in a wonderful mood all this time, well-behaved, charming, and full of glee. K adds, who wouldn’t be, when you get everything you want and your many fans squeal with delight at your every move.
On Thursday the family flew to Guangzhou near Hong Kong and stayed at the White Swan Hotel. The White Swan was filled with American and European families who were adopting babies from China. L took K by the hand for the first time to go and explore things, and K said that she burst into tears. J and K note that they were surprised to be just about the smallest family there, having met many parents with 6 to 12 children. K was impressed (sort of) when they received a box from the Mattel corporation labeled “Welcome Home, Barbie” and containing a Barbie doll with her tiny Chinese baby. V screamed, “BAAARRRBIE!”, much to her parents’ dismay. V and L were getting along terrifically by this time. K reports, ‘He thinks she’s hilarious (who doesn’t?) and imitates her a lot, then she repeats what he says in Chinese back to him…They LOVE to roughhouse and frequently I think I have the two wildest, rough-and-tumble kids at the White Swan!”
On Friday the 13th the family left at 5:45 a.m. from Guangzhou to Beijing, then to San Francisco, and, after an overnight stay in SF, back home to New Orleans. K wrote, “I am really looking forward to being in my own house and getting into a routine, but it’s sad to be leaving and taking L** away from the only country he’s ever lived in.” We got a call from J upon their arrival, and the children did well on the trip. J and K look forward to settling in at home and becoming a new family. They are such great parents that we know they’ll all thrive. We can’t wait to see our grandkids together.
-Phyllis SS (8-23): Dave. L and V sound so funny together. How lovely. I wonder why on earth the chinese ladies wanted their picture taken with K's father?
-Gayle C (8-17): David, How beautiful is that. What a trip and what an experience. I hope I get to see the children and the family ..... Soon.... Give my love to all. G
-Vicki L (8-17): Dear David, Again, my best congratulations ever. You've raised an exceptional child - truly - and the two of them are like superheroes. And now you have two grandchildren - the saga is epic! I know, of course, that there'll be hard times but the love flowing throughout this quest has been, in its own right, an incredible gift to the world. L** is so beautiful, and V** and her parents have a depth of optimism, faith and generosity that serves to inspire us all. And a happy 50th anniversary to you both! August 28th. I was so proud to be a part of your ceremony and to see you married. I still am - you've been very important anchors in my life and I always hold a deep appreciation for your commitment to one another throughout all these decades - it's meant a lot to me. I hope you have a really fun celebration. Will keep you posted on the wedding event some time after recovery. Love, Sis