Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Say helloë to Chloë

We accepted our referral today. That means we've told the agency we want to go ahead and adopt her. After much deliberation we decided to call her Chloë. It's a Greek name meaning "blooming" or "blossoming". It goes quite nicely with Qianfang, which we're keeping as her middle name, meaning "fragrant".

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Referral day

It's been a busy day. I didn't have time to post anything more than the picture this morning, as we were home only briefly after we received our referral packet at the agency and before we headed downtown to the doctor. A quick recap of the day:

- We received three pictures. High resolution versions of all three are on the "photos and videos" link to the right of this window.

- We discovered that we have been using the wrong name. The correct name is Qianfang: the F was mistaken for an S in our initial phone call. (Perhaps I should rename the blog "Fmirnoff" in honor of this blunder). We were told that Fang means sweet-smelling, fragrant, good or virtuous. We'll take any of those. There is no firm information on Qian: one meaning is "male" but somehow that doesn't seem right. Her current surname is Ling (quick, clever, intelligent, effective, skilful) and we'll take any of those too.

- The doctor tells us she is basically healthy as far as he can tell from the limited information we received. She tested negative for all the important diseases. She is below average height and weight for her age, but this is to be expected for a child in her situation. Our priority is to "get her out of there" as he put it.

- We celebrated with a modest lunch downtown after the consultation. We headed for the Walnut Room in Marshall Field's, but even at 11.00am there was a 2 hour wait, and hordes of people with the patience for it. Anybody would think it was Christmas or something. We went elsewhere and had a glass of champagne with our sandwich and salad.

- We finished our excursion with a visit to Circuit City to buy a camcorder, like all good suburban parents. Our excuse, not that we really need one, is that we will want to send video snippets to far-flung family, and that a video record of our trip to China will be an important part of Qianfang's "life book" for her to enjoy and learn from as she grows up.

We are as pleased as punch by all of this, of course. But today our thoughts are with Qianfang's biological parents as we consider how they must have struggled with their decision. It must have been the hardest day of their lives.

Our first picture

Here is a picture of Qian Fang from our referral documents. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A quick update

So what does our neurotic dog have to do with adopting a toddler? More than you might suspect. Toddlers and dogs both understand the word "no," but practice selective hearing. They both move at the speed of molasses when you're in a hurry, then shift to Warp Factor 10 when you're not looking. And they both look at you with such unconditional love and trust that you feel incredibly responsible for their well-being. We're hoping Gomer and Qian Fang end up being the best of friends and that Gomer's self-esteem isn't damaged too much by slipping yet another notch lower in the pack hierarchy.  Posted by Hello

Friday, December 17, 2004

A couple of days later than expected

Working at home this morning, I got a call from Sunny Ridge. The translation is taking a couple of days longer than they originally thought. Apparently this is due to the holidays. Who would have thought that there is a Christmas rush on Chinese translation services?

Anyhow, we have an appointment at the agency on Thursday 23rd at 8.00am where we will see Qiansang's photograph, along with translations of whatever information they have about her. At 1.00pm the same day we will consult a developmental pediatrician in Chicago who specializes in pre-adoption assessments, and he will give us a medical opinion. Then the onus is on us to decide whether to accept the referral.

The rest of our travel group is going through the same process, and we hope that all of these important decisions will be made before the end of the year.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Name Game

(with apologies to Shirley Ellis)

We were trapped in a surreal version of free association this weekend. Bob Newhart would have been proud. The conversation went something like this:

S: Isabel.
J: Necessary on a bicycle?
S: Sophia.
J: Bulgaria.
S: Lainey.
J: Doesn't exist.
S: Anglo-Saxon for ray of sunlight. I once knew a beautiful girl named Lainey.
J: Balderdash. (Some of you can imagine what he really said.)

I thought I had hit the jackpot with "Manhattan." Aside from being an expensive piece of real estate, it's an Old English word for whiskey. The joke would have become even more of an insider's chuckle.

Seriously, we had no idea this task would be so daunting. We will keep Qiansang as her middle name, but are searching for a western hemisphere first name. I feel an enormous burden to get it right and to not curse her with being a geographical feature, one of six dozen girls in her class with the same name, or with a moniker that constantly elicits, "how do you spell that?". Additionally, it can't end in an "s," or contain too many sibilant sounds, and it needs to be culturally sensitive.

So, I return to 11,000 Names You've Never Heard Of: Aadi, Aakarshan, Aaliyah, Aaralyn...

Friday, December 10, 2004

We got "the call"

Today our social worked at Sunny Ridge left a message at the house. Stacy called her back, and heard the news that our referral paperwork has arrived. Our little girl's name is Qiansang. She is 16 months old and is currently in the Social Welfare Institute of Shangrao, which is a city in Jiangxi province. This map shows where Jiangxi province is in China (north of Hong Kong, south-west of Shanghai). Stacy called me in the car to tell me the news. I had just returned from a business trip and was driving out of the airport when the phone rang, so she asked me to pull over before giving me the news.

We're both thrilled of course, but we now have to wait about 10 days for the paperwork to be translated before we learn any more. Once this is complete we will see whatever information is available about her, and we will also see a photograph. This should happen on December 20th or shortly thereafter. I think that's when it will really sink in.

Usually the trip to China takes place four to six weeks after the referral. In our case this would be right in the middle of Chinese New Year when everything shuts down for a couple of weeks, so we're hoping to travel in mid-January if everything moves quickly. Otherwise it will probably be mid-February.

We've heard that several other members of our dossier group also received word today, and others will probably hear on Monday.

The first thing the social worker asked us was to promise we won't *really* call her Smirnoff. Fair enough. We're considering a number of names, including Skye. Or possibly Skyy. :-)

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