Sunday, August 30, 2009

...Somewhere Over the Sea of Japan....

Is where I was headed almost 1 year ago at this time.

Yup. It's nearly Gotcha Day/Family Day Anniversary, and somebody better slap me b/c I cannot fathom where the year has gone.

I'm sure I'll do an official One Year Ago post on Tuesday, September 1; however, trust me...the emotions have been welling up already.

I've been chatting up with Christy (good buddy/travel companion to China) a bit more this past week asking her the proverbial, "Can you believe....? Do you remember....?" type questions. I watched the dvd that my agency recorded for the adoptive parents that eventful day last September, and Oh. My. Gosh. It's surreal, to say the least, to re-live the actions and proceedings of the day I met my daughter.

Sherrie, Samm's mom, was with us in China and called me Saturday. We talked for an hour and Miss Emily and Samm talked on the phone for a moment. China cousins making their connection for the first time since leaving The People's Republic of China. Sherrie and hubbie Dick adopted Mr. Samm-My-Man, and I'd missed all their hoopla of meeting him for the first time b/c I was holed up in another room with a scared little girl, a Chinese interpreter, 2 Chinese orphanage workers, and the orphanage director. I was completing international paperwork, trying to acknowlege my new daughter who was scared half out of her mind, focusing on attempting to ask all the questions of the officials I KNEW were critical (it was a "now or never" type situation to get info cuz they were boarding a train and heading 5 hours off into the distance), wondering how to actually make this as painfless as possible for Mei Xia Yin -- soon to be Emily Meilynn -- all after traveling to the other side of the world to embrace a little girl who had no clue how her life was about to change. How she was going to be ripped away from every familiar concept in life as she knew it.

To experience for yourself the rawness of emotions: the end of a grueling wait to adoption, the end of several years of gov't paperwork, renewals, finances, let downs, hopes's so difficult to put into words.

But...the ending is beautiful. The back of the book has the most delightful way of revealing that "They are living happily ever after!"

I'll be back for the One Year post on Tuesday. I'm sure I'll cry my eyes out.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Melody's July Blog Entry -- She's with My Adoption Agency -- Children's Hope International. She Was On a Recent Humanitarian Aid Visit

...I came back to Beijing from St. Louis on July 6th and flew to Mianyang today, July 7th to meet up with our dear friend Steven Curtis Chapman at our Hope Center in Mianyang, Sichuan. Renjiping to be exact. I was told Steven and his team were quarantined for a week in Beijing because someone on their plane was reported to have had a fever. Never the less, their team kept their schedule and arrived in Sichuan as soon as they were able. After a concert yesterday and a busy visit in the morning around noon, their company arrived at our Hope Center. Steven and his two sons sang to the 20 orphans and those children who had lost a parent to last year’s earthquake. There are 40 such children in the Renjiaping settlement area and 200 in our 6 Hope Centers. Children's Hope China has found sponsors for 80 of these children so far.

These children are the victims from Beichuan, a region whose population was cut in half and the whole town buried by rubble. Their hometown is now closed to residence and the children must move permanently in the next few years to a new city. Families struggle to make ends meet, especially those who lost their bread-winning young adults to the quake. Grandparents do not want send their grandchildren to orphanages for the government to help raise them, yet they don’t have the income to support themselves and the children. Children’s Hope began earthquake sponsorships of $50 per month per child in July 2008, to aid these families so the children could remain with their extended families. This is where Zhuqing and Liyangyang, two of our sponsored children live. The children who met with Steven and his family today are those who are still waiting to be sponsored. Many traveled from hours away to be here today. Two boys, gave Will Chapman their gifts - pictures they had drawn earlier.
I wish I could show Steven and his daughter Emily, who is now the head of Shaohannah’s Hope, the homes of these children, but the police were concerned about our large American convoy traveling in the area and gave us a restricted time limit. I visited little Zhuqing and her grandparents after Steven and his team left. She lost her dad last year and her mom left when she remarried soon after. The little four-year-old took me to see her grandma at a nearby restaurant where the 6o-year-old works from 8 in the morning until 10 at night, earning only a $100 per month. She asked for a short break so she could show me her home and fix us a bowl of noodles, to show her appreciation for the sponsorship they receive.
Nine-year-old Yangyang was not home today. She lost her mom to the earthquake and her dad left home to work elsewhere. She helps her grandparents by selling candies at her homemade store, pictured here in January. I also met one of the sisters who lost their father. (The young girl sitting next to Steven, wanting her picture taken with him.) Liling, our team leader for this Hope Center, and I will have pictures and profile stories for all 20 children who are still waiting for sponsors, tomorrow. I also hope to be able to go to Beichuan to see the old town if the rain will stop.View a small number of the earthquake children's profiles, here. A year has passed, and life goes on. Real life and the needs of these people keep us motivated in our work here. Our local staff are able to build relationships while they live among the victims and we now welcome our friends to join us and show these children great love from above.

My Email to Sherrie -- a Travel Mate (and hubbie) in China Who Adopted Samm

Hello Seasoned Mom.
Yup. I guess that's us now, huh? Can you believe one year nearly has passed. PLEASE lets chat that day -- Sept. 1/Gotcha Day -- for just a second. Maybe we can let Emily say hi to Mr. Samm. How phenomenal to think that you, a first time mom yourself, were there w/me to see it all. I look at pictures of us getting ready to ride the elevator up to the "whatever floor" to meet out children in that hot, old building. I recognized the room when we arrived because I'd seen it in hundreds (yep!! lots) of blogs of other folks who'd adopted from that same Guangzhou government facility. It was surreal to say the least.

The ear surgery was not a big deal (overall). She has to go back in 5 weeks to have something (gunk/packing/not sure) removed from ear canal. We're putting in drops 2x a day to prepare for that...some type of steroid. She was in zero pain afterward. Yeah. I assume it was all likely due to the chronic ear infections in China.

I've thought of you all a lot lately w/the near anniversary arriving. I've written about you on the you took us in and helped us find our way several times while in China (especially at the White Swan when you helped us find the clinic for Emily to have her ear seen about. That same DARN ear that has had antibiotics, tubes, and now titanium replacements!!!!!!) Your calming voice in a foreign country was a Godsend; however, I knew you, too, were finding your way in uncharted waters as well.

Can you believe we even went to CHINA? Amazing, huh? I look back and tell folks it was a difficult trip for me (b/c of Emily's grieving/rejection) but that it was THE trip of a lifetime. I actually didn't realize how emotionally drained I WAS from that trip until I returned. Jet lag kicked in, too, and I was almost useless for about 2 weeks. Kinda zombie-ish...but probably doing better than I thought at the time. I look forward to returning again one day. Hopefully.

My love for Emily grew each day after we arrived. I was not sure what all to do w/her at first b/c she's older and was very aware of being in another culture with strangers. I look back and think how VERY difficult her transition in China was -- and how hard it must've been to land on U.S. soil w/no way to communicate feelings. Ahh. The meltdowns. It was very normal and very much indicative that she had been loved and would know how to love again (vs. being an institutionalized-acting child). How do I sound Mrs. Social Worker? I did do my homework before going to China. I did not feel hopeless while there. I KNEW it would all work out.

She's funny. Witty. Compliant. Creative. Silly. Opinionated. Exact. Her comment: "You said milk. You didn't say chocolate milk." (That was today. She doesn't like white milk and I told her I was going to the store to get milk. My BAD. Ha.) Of course, I think she's smart. At first, I had NO idea what to think. Learning a new language at a later age in life (7-8 y/o) after having been through such a huge change in life could not possibly have been easy. She informed me not too long ago that I needed to remember the "sunscreen" when we went camping. I was like, "Huh? How'd you remember that word?!"

I want to hear all about your darling Samm. Not that looks matter, but he is quite the handsome little rascal. Oh. Those eyes. I bet he can "cut them" ju-u-u-u-u-u-st right". No doubt Daddy-O is proud as can be. You and your little girl poochie are evenly split w/the guys at your house. Fair enough!!

I'll run for now. Just know that a part my heart is with your dear little family -- along with our China memories.
Big hugs,