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Friday, May 20, 2011

With 3 Weeks To Go.

The Husband and I stayed up late last night talking. Talking about our upcoming adoption trip. About adoptive parents searching for their children's birthparents. About the Tongginator, several months ago, asking us to search on her behalf.

Yes, y'all, she did: she asked me if I could find them.

And I told her that we would try.

We've only taken baby baby steps so far, asking questions of others who are further along in their searches and emailing one mom who has already found her daughter's birth family. The Husband and I debated for long periods of time whether or not we should make a trip to Tonggu County while we were in China during this adoption trip. I've prayed about that idea more times than I can count, and always I felt the answer was "not yet." I know the Tongginator wants information, but - as the person who knows her best - I'm not sure she's ready for the emotional impact of actually visiting her orphanage. A different orphanage, maybe. But not HER orphanage.

Not yet.

Especially since we don't want to be The Ugly Americans, stumbling through town, creating more problems than not for her birth family, for local officials, for everyone.

I've debated this topic in my own mind more times than I can count. Most of my friends who are also adoptive parents think I'm crazy for even considering going down this road. I've learned to keep my mouth shut about this topic. I know the Husband and I aren't quite ready for this journey we are about to undertake, but we're readying ourselves for it because the Tongginator asked us to. Many would argue that - at seven - she's too young to know what she's asking. That she may feel angry that she's lost yet another choice.

They may be right.

But I would argue that not searching - when she's asked us to - definitely steals a choice from her. As adults, we have the means to search, whereas she has exactly $126.52 in her savings account and an understanding of the world at a seven-year-old level.

I mention all of this right now because I recently read AmFam's post about what to do before your adoption trip when it comes to searching. The Husband and I talked about it last night. We already have vital information about the Tongginator's finding - the exact location (with a photo), the name of her finder, local opinions about the probable reason for her abandonment. We also know the county where the Tongginator was found is not exactly a bustling metropolis, to put it mildly. In all likelihood, the Tongginator's birth family is still living within that same county. Maybe not, but quite probably.

In terms of Mei Mei's finding information, we have very little: no name of the finder, a location that may well be a secondary abandonment site. We've already guessed at one probable reason for her abandonment, although we know that statistics aren't individuals. And of course we want to ask locals their opinions so that we can learn more. We're quite probably incorrect in our assumption, but even the possibility assures us that we don't have much time. Not if we want Mei Mei to have a chance at finding her family.

Because Mei Mei's orphanage is in a university town.

Which means we are feeling the pressure to gather as much information as we can. On this trip. Next month. Because Mei Mei's mother may not be living there six years from now.

Three years from now.

Next year.


Aus said...

Morning TM - lots of thoughts here!

First and mostly - support all your decisions in this post 100%. If T wants the search conducted then it should be conducted by the people that love her completely - you and Tdaddy! But not now.

T is mature enough to understand 'your turn next' - and this time it's mei mei's trip - and T is mature enough to understand that this trip is about getting her mei mei off to the best possible start with her forever family.

But promise a 'homeland journey' to her - and in a few years make that trip! We're already in the planning stages for some years down the road - and God willing I'll finally get the family picture made on the Great Wall - with all of my kids in attendence!

I think T will 'get it' if you explain the decision in these terms - it's all about mei mei for now.

But I do disagree with you on one point - if T is half as mature as your posts make it sound - she could handle a trip back to her orphanage just fine! Still - I get where you and Tdad are comming from - and as always - I'll support a parents absolute right and correctness to make a decision like this for themselves! ;)

hugs - really excited for you guys!

aus and co.

jennifer said...

Wow! Big decisions to make. I don't have an opinion, right or wrong, about this subject. I think each parent needs to make the best decision they can for each child. I think having 2 complicates things. I'm thinking in my case...what if I could find one and not the other. I would think that would be very hard for the child whose birth parents were not found.

I am anxious to see how this plays out and will be thankful to know someone who has taken this journey before me if we ever go down this road.

You're almost to China!!!!!! Whoo Hoo!!

LucisMomma said...

Totally supporting your decision to search (or not), as if I have any say in the matter. It's up to each family to decide, so why do others get their knickers in a knot? I don't understand that reaction.

God bless you all as you go forward. I've got a 6 yo who asks some heavy questions. Wish we were made of money so we could pursue everything, make trips to China. Wish we didn't have to consider finances at this point.


supergrrl7 said...

If you want to talk more about this, I am happy to share our whole story on the phone. The stuff we did on our adoption trip was absolutely vital to our later success. I can't write it online though.

supergrrl7 said...

Oh, and that last comment was from me. http://american-family.org

Chinazhoumom said...

I just wanted to give my 2cents - when K (dd) was 4 we took a vacation back to CHina (she had comehome at 14 mths). We toured Bejing, Xian, Chengu, Leshan, Yibin(orphange town-Sichuan), last stop Hong Kong...
K wanted to see HER nanny (the lady who handed her to me-in the video) we talked alot about it - and I can tell you - she was at peace about 1 min after seeing her...We toured the orphange saw the baby room - she talked to the babies - and was quite and took it all in. During this visit - before arriving - I had contracted to have someone drive to her finding town - as it was about 4 hours south (small roads) of Yibin...The person I hired - I asked him to take pics/video of the children the people the country etc - as well as try to find the person named in her paperwork - HE DID !!! WE have great video of him interviewing her - the place where K was found (on the stoop) and all about it...
K did not see this during the trip - and I only let her see part of it about 6 months ago - when we were talking about the lady who found her - I said I have a video - would you like to watch it...She watched - and I translated (no I don't speak Chinese-but our guide translated it with the person the night he gave it to me- I played it on my laptop in the lobby of our hotel K was upstairs -with Scott...anyway he told her - she told me - I filmed them both -
K was quite and finally asked to turn it off - we talked about it - she says next time we go to China I want to meet the lady that found me and tell her thank you for finding me.
I think if you dont want to go - hire someone to go - to film - to find this person - my fear was that China is changing so fast and I did not know if the person would be around yrs later...so glad I did this -
Use this trip as Mei Mei - and then take T back next year - just about her !

Here is our blog of the trip..

We are friends on FB if you have questions - CDM

Carla said...

For both my daughters, I fear finding their birth families will be next to impossible. Neither had too much to go on, both were in cities with MILLIONS of people. Both in areas where people from all over the city would come.

What has been hard to navigate is that since both were in foster families, you would think we'd have info on the foster families. Our oldest daughter is from Kunming where we have zero info about her foster family. Our youngest daughter, well, we actually got to meet the foster family. So, we can stay in touch. That is so hard sometimes.

Amy said...

Wow - I would love to have more information on DD's beginnings - she is already starting to ask at age 4. I think that it is a good idea that you are doing it now, rather than waiting. I think the more pieces of the puzzle that we can find the better - there will always be more information for our girls to search out, so anything we can find is helpful. I have even printed out hourly weather conditions for the day DD was born/found.

In our case, we have video of the finding spot, with a woman who says she remembers the day a baby was found, but her details don't match the information we have obtained since. We don't have a police report, a finder name, or even her foster parents' names. The swi consistently denies she was ever in foster care, even though we know she was. Many stories, nothing solid. I wish I had known what to look for before we traveled so that I could have put more pieces together. The link you share gives great ideas, and next time around I will do more of those things. Thanks for sharing, and good luck on your search!

Kristen said...

I completely understand your angst about this. I have a 7 year old from China who has asked me too.. she asked some time ago as she is very mature. I have been searching for her for awhile and it isn't easy.

Keep in mind.. just because you search doesn't mean you have to share everything you find with her immediately. You can start the process without revealing all until you find them. At 7 she can't process all of the details of searching and the ups and downs of it. If/When you find her birth family then you can tell her about it. Searching is a bit of a rollercoaster ride sometimes. Not everyone agrees with this approach but I find it best for my daughter. I don't want to subject her to the roller coaster but if/when I find them, she will be told. It's a long process.

I can tell you that if I were travelling back to China on a trip, I would do everything I could in advance and while there to gather information. It of course depends on your daughter's circumstances.

And I would not assume the orphanage will help you.. in fact, sometimes informing them you are searching may create roadblocks.
People and places in China are changing rapidly and a lot of pertinent information will likely be lost if you wait. I'd give my left arm for the opportunity to go back to China right now to search and gather information in her hometown.
You have this opportunity. You can also utilize a trip like this so she can get to know the town where she was born. This helps them connect to China and their roots too.Just because you search for information right now or begin a search, doesn't mean you have to tell her every detail of the search right now.

You're her parents so whatever you decide is the right and decision. She sounds very bright, mature and inquisitive like my daughter.

Good luck on your trip and best wishes on your pending adoption.

Shawna said...

Please can we talk more about what we need to get out of this trip so that at least we have the option of searching down the road. I don't want to have any regrets.

Briana's Mom said...

I have so little to go on when it come to Briana's information that I feel pretty hopeless. And her orphanage never even admitted to me that she was in foster care. If I ever decide to search, I would literally be coming up from ground zero.

I wish you the best of luck in your search for both of your girls' families.

Sharie said...

I admire your ability to prioritize this trip. It does need to be about the new little sis. There will be enough change without adding in another layer.
I am at a crossroads in searching. Amelia asks - has been for nearly a year. I have information, unfortunately a lot of it, including her finder doesn't seem to be accurate. I'm not quite sure where to go from here. When she says, "You're doing everything you can to find them right mama?" It breaks my heart because I just don't know what to do next.
I pray I can find a connection that will lead us to them - but at the same time I know that Amelia is not quite ready for it. She is truly an "old soul" with thoughts and ideas beyond what I ever expected from a 6-year-old.

La-La-Liene said...

Wow! The idea of finding Emi's birth family really hasn't crossed my mind much. Only because I didn't think there was much chance finding anything. Like searching for a needle in a haystack. Maybe when she's a little older and have more funds, we can see where it takes us. My fear is that I will put time and effort into it and come up with nothing. Plus when she's older she can decide whether she wants us to search or not.

Mamatini said...

I agree with many here, that you do what you can now, and share what information you have when she is ready. With one child who feels the void strongly, and one who does not, we have decided to find what information we can for each. And when they are ready, if ever, we can answer their questions to the true best of our abilities.

Ultimately, for us and our family, I want to know we did the best we could for them. Regardless of the outcome.


Lisa said...

Oh TM~

So much to disseminate for your journey and a journey already filled with such purpose!

But to have the chance and not visit her orphanage? Gosh, that's hard. I was struck by your concern that the baby's search needs to take precedent due to it being a college town. Please remember that folks move, become ill or sadly pass on all over....including the Tongginator's village. Stability is fleeting....

We let so much time pass for our first search....its been challenging, moreso due to the passage of time. That's all I can say here, but please email me if you would like to discuss this further.

I know you will make the best decision with what you have in terms of time, viability, Mama's intuition and in the end what's right for one is not always right for another....

I wish you luck....

P.S. As for families earching for their children's overseas families ~ gosh that process is growing in leaps and bounds and rightly so IMOP!!! Some kids will never "ask" for said search because they can't imagine its even possible.

anymommy said...

Wow. Three weeks. So much to process and plan for and think about. I am so happy for you and yet I feel your confusion and uncertainty on the searching issue deeply. I don't know any answers, I hope you share your decisions with us because I learn so much from your grace.

The only thought I have that seems worth sharing is that these trips are so overwhelming. Everyone is in sensory overload, parents, new baby, siblings. I think, (though I haven't been there) that if I were facing this, I would keep it simple and take a lot of time to explain to Ess that we will make progress, try to move some simple things forward, get one or two questions answered. But, your beautiful girl may be too smart/focused for that.

CC said...

I still am amazed by the Tongginator's understanding of her adoption. We make adoption talk a regular part of our life, but still our kids either really don't get it or really don't care. (yet)

Mahmee said...

I have a good resource for the birth family search if you're interested (and haven't already found it). The privacy is extremely guarded to protect everyone, so I can't publish it here. Shoot me an email if you are interested.
I've been getting all of my 'ducks' in a row because although R hasn't asked yet, I know (and have always known) that she will want to find her birth family someday.
Happy 3 weeks out!

Learning Together at Home said...

We are home (2 months on) from our third adoption. We spent time visiting the provinces of our other two children who were adopted from China on the same trip. I can't speak to your decision regarding what or when you will pursue things, but I *was* amazed in our case, just how much it has set our children at ease. We *did* do some searching with them there and asked some tough questions. We have some new information and we will do more from our home now with contacts in China as we feel is right. You are doing the very best you know how with the information you have. It sounds as if you are being open to His leading and gathering information as you can. That is really the very best thing you can ever do for your girls. That and to remember that as you are *in* China, plans may have to change as you search and probe and make connections. God will be in that too. You are doing so great TM! I love seeing how God is leading you to be the very best Mama for your girls that you can be. It encourages me to read your journey!

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Just dropping by to say hi... I don't get to visit blogs much anymore... let alone do mine... anyway... can't wait for your adventures to start... take care...

Wanda said...

Just came by to see how you were doing and that I was thinking about you.

You're so close now.

Mama C said...

IMO seven can be ready. #1Son is six and very clearly expressed a desire to physically (as in a famly trip) to connect with his first mom sooner rather than later. He knows what that means to him today, and if he didn't want to he would very clearly let me know that. There are no shortage of informed opinions over here. Ours is a domestic open adoption, so the situation is completely different--I understand--but I also want to offer complete support for the child where the child is, in expressing what they need developmentally. Like you, I said we'd try to make that happen, and are making steps to connect (across country) next spring.

Love the linkage too btw. As always. You are an incredible resource on so so so many layers.