Today began bright and early as we had to meet at 7 am to take the subway to the train station for our 8 o’clock train to Sanmenxia. The primary purpose of our trip was to apply for QiQi’s passport. The process changed about three years ago and they started requiring all the families to travel to the birth city to apply for the passports. Previously I guess you could do it from the capital city. We were lucky in that, though Sanmenxia would be an almost 4 hour drive, the bullet train took us there in just over an hour. I was hoping we would get to experience China’s bullet train while we were here, so it was a fun experience. We travled at 300 km’s the whole time, which was about 187 mph. We got to see a lot of the country side. There are very pretty parts once you get out of the city. They have flattened a lot of the hilltops to terrace the land for planting. I guess much of the crop was wheat, and after that will be corn. Anywhere there was a small plot of land, they filled it with seed and it was growing – in the middle of the busy freeways, train tracks and everything. The pollution and smog has been so thick the last three days – we haven’t seen the sun since we got here and buildings across the street are very difficult to see and disappear into fog. The air quality is ‘very bad’ and protection is recommended. A handful of the chinese can be seen wearing masks, but most don’t bother. We aren’t spending much time outside thus far, so we haven’t used any.
Sanmenxia is very pretty – mountainous and green (certianly more so than ZZ). We arrived and had to find a taxi to take us a short distance to the passport office. There was a long line of taxis at the train station – probably 25 taxis waiting there, but Tina – our guide who took us on our trip – could not find a taxi to take us as they all said it was too short and not worth their time! After talking to 5 or 6 taxis, a driver apparently started bargaining with her (there is no set price, you just agree on your price before the ride). I guess they struck a deal and for 15 RMB – just over 2 dollars – he agreed to take us. The orphanage officer who brought QiQi on gotcha day was there waiting already. He recognized her, but was content in my arms. I’m not sure what part she played in getting his passport, but she did most of the running around the office. QiQi had to take a pictore for his passport, so they sat him on a little chair by himself and he stared at the camera with his unamused look. It was pretty darn cute. We waited a short time to see the passport officer, who was a very serious man. I guess in the other cities, they no longer question you during the process, but the Sanmenxia officer wanted to ask us some questions. Why did we want to adopt from China, how much did we make (that was awkward!), how many children are at home… Apparently he was satisfied with our answers and we finished quickly. Becuase we are asking them to expedite the passport process – it normally takes 3 weeks – we brought a gift to give to him. He bawlked and would not take it, so the orphanage officer went to find the manager to give it to.
The orphanage had a van there, so they drove us to the orphanage. The driver was on staff at the orphanage and a very kind man. On the way, they took us to the place where the found QiQi as a baby. When a child is abandoned and brought to the police, they place a ‘finding ad’ in the paper to try to find the parents. Of course, the parents do not want to be found – and it is illegal – but it fullfils the requirement. The finding ad lists the place where they found the child. That is where we went, but there was a little discrepancy in the ad as the ‘intersection’ listed did not actually intersect. The driver took us to the place where he thought it meant – the two streets that actually intersected. I think he was right, as right there on the corner was the largest hospital around. I can only imagine his mother with a one day old infant, grieving this blue baby, not knowing what to do with him… and she did what she thought was the best for him – left him in front of the hospital hoping he would get the care he needed. Only a few minutes from there was the orphanage. We entered through a gate, and it was a very beautiful property. There is a large playground in the front – where apparently his nanny often took him to play.
We were greeted by several women who escorted us upstairs. Two flights of stairs, and there at the top is the Pearl Room. This room is for kids 0-3 years of age. There are 18 nannies for 26 kids – that is a lot! I think the dayshift has more than night. As soon as we entered the room, all the nannies cried “QiQi!! QiQi!!” They engulfed us and he was passed around nanny to nanny. Oh my, he was loving it. I thought we were starting to see his little personality, but nothing compared to the way he was there. And if that wasn’t enough, his nanny walked in, and he lit up even more. He didn’t let her put him down for quite some time. They commandeered him, and I quite ceased to exsist at that point. He gave everyone kisses and hugs and shared the last of his crackers in his cup. Then the other nannies brought over a little girl that I guess he was buddies with and she started clapping and he shared a goldfish with her. Then they brought over his little buddy, a little boy born 4 days after QiQI and they were both visibly excited to see eachother. They looked like trouble together!
QiQi ruled the place! He was clearly very comfortable there, and being so mobile from such an early age (started walking at 11 months!) I think he just become the king. I guess he knew all the children by name, and when one of the nannies needed a kid, he’d go to them and push them or bring them to the nanny. They also said they just started him on the potty and whenever it was time, they would simply tell him to go over, and he’d take care of business. He also feeds himself quite well, as they demonstrated when they strapped him in his old seat, put on his bib and gave him his rice porridge. He apparently wasn’t very hungry and just played. His nanny showed me a picture on her phone of him having cleaned his bowl and fallen asleep in his chair, spoon in hand. She also had a video of QiQi pushing one of the babies around in the stroller.
While QiQi was doing his thing with his nanny, I was walking around. Jesse had found a little buddy that climbed up his legs, so he was hanging out with him. There was a sweet baby boy, maybe 6 months old who just woke up from his nap and started to fuss. I went over to him and talked to him – he flashed me the biggest smile and kicked his legs, rocked back and forth on fours and tried to grab my hand. He was such a sweet cuite pie. I really wanted to pick him up and love on him, but I felt like I was stuck in a strange place – QiQi clearly not interested in me, but wanting to be available if he did, but wanting to hold another kiddo if mine didn’t want me!
I was able to ask his nanny about his first heart surgery. It sounds like she took him there, but after his surgery he stayed in a foster home in Shanghai while he recovered. This makes more sense, because about a month after his surgery he had pneumonia and was treated at the same hospital he had his surgery… Shanghai is not close to Sanmenxia, so I was confused as to how he got back there… but I guess he never left! Sweet baby was only 6 months at the time.
At this point I expected QiQi to have a hard time, but when Tina said it was time to go, I just went over and picked him up. We took a picture, said goodbye – he blew kisses to everyone and said “ba!” – and that was that. No tears, not concerned. I was thankful. As uncomfortable as it was for me, it was neat to see what he is like when he is feeling comfortable and with his people… so I guess that’s our goal – when he acts like that with us, we’ll know he’s at least comfortable, and maybe we’re his people too. Hopefully it also provided a little closure for his heart.
We had a short wait for our train, and then back to ZZ. While we were waiting on the platform for our train to arrive, another bullet train came past but did not stop, or appear to slow down. It may have slowed down, but from the outside, it was at least going over a hundred miles per hour. Holy Moley was it moving! Of course we were pointing it out to QiQi – look, there’s the train! But when it came, it came with such a rush and noise and wind, it quite startled and scared him. But he turned in and buried his head in my neck and I was able to comfort him. Wasn’t such a bad thing for Mama 🙂 They don’t call bullet trains a bullet for nothing!
We got to know Tina our guide a bit on the trip. She is married with a 3 year old. She went to university and majored in English education – she taught kindergarteners English for a few years before she got pregnant. Now she works for CCAI and her mother in law watches her son while she works – which isn’t full time and she can do a lot of it from home as they do a lot of translating for our documents. It is very common to see the granparents with the children – I have seen far more children with older adults than adults who looks like their parents. A country full of single children homes being raised by their grandparents!
We spent the afternoon playing in the room and in the hallway, had an early dinner and QiQi was asleep by 7:30 – he was a tired boy. He had a rough night last night, tossing and turning and not sleeping very soundly. I’m not sure if it’s the stress of being with strange people in a strange place, or if his tummy is hurting. Sweet boy… and his cough isn’t going much away either. I’m not sure if it’s something new he’s fighting, or maybe he has always coughed. Wish I knew! While we were in the hallway. he was running (an 18 month old version, anyway) up and down chasing a beach ball. I was curious how his pulse ox was doing as it seemed like his lips were much darker… sure enough when he finally sat still enough for me to check, he was down to 55% :(. It’s amazing how his little body can compensate for such low oxygenation. I am getting concerned that the altitude at home is not going to help us… will you pray that his stats don’t drop further when we get home? He’s got some pretty bowed little chicken legs – I’m not sure if they are just classic bowed legs or there might be something else going on there. We’ll see! Either way he’s full of energy and laughter and we are so thankful that he is ours.