I tried to send our daughter a care package in mid-March, right after we got our LOA. I was hopeful that if we sent a package, we could get an updated report and photos of our daughter. At this point, all we have is information and photos from when she was 4 months old; she will turn 9 months old next week.
The care package service let me know that although they would be glad to send a package, I shouldn’t expect to get anything back. She said that our orphanage doesn’t cooperate with sending out photos or information except through official channels. That was such a disappointment, as many people can get regular updates on their children through the care package service, but that door was closed to us.
I looked into other ways of possibly getting information, but that was a dead end, too. It seemed unlikely that we could get any more information except through official channels. We can request an update after we get our LOA (our next milestone) and one more right before we travel to get current clothing sizes.
I have met some women on Facebook who are currently (or who have recently) adopted from China. In fact, Facebook has been an incredible networking tool during the adoption, and the adoption related groups I have joined have provided an amazing amount of support from people going through the same experiences we are. I joined a group for families affiliated with our daughter’s orphanage, a group of moms who adopted babies from China with cleft lip and cleft palate, and multiple groups of people who are at a similar point in the adoption process or who are slightly ahead of me (I have gained much practical advice from these groups).
One of the absolute best things has been networking with moms who are going to China before we are, to adopt from the same orphanage.
I was able to make contact with two moms who traveled to China in March to adopt from our daughter’s orphanage. We weren’t sure if either of them would be allowed to visit the orphanage, as it seems somewhat arbitrary with some people being allowed and others denied. We sent a photo and our daughter’s name to each of the women and asked if they would please look for her if they did get in. Then we prayed and prayed that at least one of the women would be allowed in and that she would have the opportunity to see our baby.
We were thrilled, humbled, amazed, and blessed to find out that BOTH of the women were granted permission to visit the orphanage and BOTH of them were able to see our daughter!
We gained valuable insights from them, that we will always treasure. The first woman to go in adopted a daughter from the same room, who was just a few months older than our daughter. She was able to see our daughter as she lay in her bed.
This is what she wrote:
“Hi Molly!!!!! Good news! I did get to see your little girl! And talk to her and hold her hand! I kissed her cheek and told her her momma is coming and she smiled! She is a happy little girl! THEY DID NOT LET ME TAKE ANY PICS IN THAT ROOM! It was sad for us but they did let us get one pic of our little girl’s bed. I was disappointed for you:(
We told the director you were our friends and you were coming soon for her but she said no because they didn’t have a scheduled date for you to come yet. If you have any questions, I will answer them best I can. Your little one’s bed was one row and two down from my little girl. The orphanage is bright but chilly.
Your little girl was bundled up in a blue outfit and it was snack time. She had a nanny right by her when we came in. She is next to this little boy with downs that is soooo sweet. She stared straight in my eyes and kept eye contact the whole time I talked to her! Very impressive as most of the children in there do not even look at you when talking. She is much smaller than I could see in her pictures. About the size of a 6 month old though. Very cute cheeks. I know this doesn’t make it any easier but she is doing very well and I know those nannies really do love them well. You can see it in their smiles!
She did not make any sound but when we walked up and started to call her name she did look at us. She has the cutest soft fuzzy hair and a little bald spot on the back like most of the kids there. The way she studied our faces was so sweet. I can’t wait to see pictures of you with her someday. The nanny that was with us in her room tickled her cheek to get her big smile.
She is a happy little girl and kept studying my face intently. So excited for your journey!”
It was snack time when she got there, and she let us know that the babies all eat snacks in their beds. She also told us that the babies are taken out of bed twice a day for two hours at a time. The rest of the time they lie in their beds. This was hard news to hear, but good to know. It has spurred me on to even more prayer (if that were possible!) that the Lord would be gracious toward her and shorten the time she has to spend there by allowing us to get to her as quickly as possible!
The fact that our daughter made and maintained eye contact has given us great hope that she is being cared for and spoken to. We have been praying that the Lord would cause the workers to look on our daughter with favor, that they would speak to her and pick her up more often than just twice a day. We know her orphanage has Half the Sky, a program that provides love and therapies to selected children, and we hope and pray that she is part of Half the Sky.
We are happy to have this glimpse into her personality that she is able to interact and seems to want to. That is a great answer to prayer! I pray we can get to her before her little spirit is bruised more deeply by the long, lonely hours in bed. This news from a distant land refreshed my spirit.
The other mother was able to see her, too! Here is what she had to say:
“Molly….We got to see your little girlie today and she’s absolutely beautiful!!!! They brought her out when I asked about her, she had been laying down for a nap but had not fallen asleep yet. She’s got the softest hair and cheeks and pretty little fingers, everything else was bundled and she had a blanket wrapped around her!
It looks like a very nice orphanage and they were very nice to us, they even fed us lunch and ate with us. They have beautiful activity rooms!!”
She told me that this orphanage has special baby bottles that are for cleft babies, so now I know why our baby has gained so much weight and seems to be feeding well, when so many babies with cleft lip and palate struggle with failure to thrive.
She let me know that her guide recognized our baby’s name and knew about her from submitting the request that they wouldn’t do her surgeries in China.
A few weeks ago, I was able to speak with our adoption agency’s China contact, who was visiting for a short time in the United States. I asked her whether she thought the orphanage would honor our request to perform our daughter’s surgeries in the states and she told me that yes, the orphanage had already indicated to her that they would honor our request. This is another HUGE praise!! We submitted that request before we even got our PA and never knew if it would be honored. I praise God that He is blessing her in this way, as it will be much better for her to endure these painful surgeries with mommy than all by her little self.
And now I have made contact with another mom who leaves for China in about 2 weeks. She was willing to take a small care package for us, so we sent a little blankie (which a friend embroidered with our daughter’s Chinese nickname). We also sent a disposable camera, in hopes that they will take some pictures on it and give it back to us when we go to China.
I plan to send another care package after we get LOA through a care package service. We will probably send another disposable camera along with some family photos in a little baby album for her to look at.
I am grateful that the Lord provided this network of moms to help us on this part of the journey. Knowing that He allowed two women to see her was such a comfort and blessing to me, and one more sign of His faithful care.
Our prayers have been emboldened, as the Lord has answered all of our prayers regarding the adoption above and beyond what we hoped or expected! We saw so much answered prayer through the referral process, and then more answered prayer about these mothers getting to see her. Now we have answered prayer that China will allow her to get her surgeries here!
Our current prayer request, of course, is to get that LOA quickly so that we can get to her in time for her birthday. In fact, I would love to get her HOME in time for her birthday, so the whole family can celebrate it together!
Our pastor preached a sermon recently encouraging us to pray big and specific prayers. We have been doing that, and we intend to continue!