MS LORRAINE WAGEMAN
It has been Three weeks since we arrived back in New Jersey and 5 weeks since we have met.
We are beginning to get used to each other and learning about each other and living together. Today is one of the first days that I have enough energy to be awake (I got up at am) and have the time to begin Lily Ming's story. She is sitting on her sleeping bag in my den with her toys, her "first" bottle of cow's milk and is eating her 5th slice of raisin bread (do you believe it?) She is quietly playing and can't get hurt (I hope).
I just had a visit yesterday by my social worker (1st post adopt visit) and I'm glad I did. I was feeling quite overwhelmed and she assured me that it is the equivalent of post partum depression - post adopt anxiety. After getting home Lily got sick (a cold) and then I did and I still have it (over two weeks later) , the lack of sleep, and mostly waking up to an "very active toddler" without having my house really babyproofed. I felt as if all I were doing was cooking, feeding, changing, cleaning, comforting, bathing, soothing all day long.....and I was.
The difficult part is getting over the jet lag. I have NEVER had such a problem with jet lag but I suppose jet lag with a baby and a cold is another thing. I was putting her to sleep at 4 pm because I could not stay awake any longer! We were up at 11 or midnight for the day!
Anyway, that is the past (thank goodness) and we are on our way to finally having fun and enjoying each other. She is adorable and a joy. She is so funny, you can really see her personality emerging now. She makes "funny faces" on command (I don't' know where she learned it) she knows all of our pets names and noises ( Scooter's bell, Simons voice and even though Dude is still with my Dad she knows when she sees a dog that's Dude!) She is very alert, curious and copies everything (and I mean everything). Enough bragging- Here's the story:
Lily Ming's story - Part 1
Our trip began at 8 pm on 8/5 when our hired car picked us up, Mom and I that is. It was a rainy, thundering dark evening and I should have known what lie ahead when I witnessed a tree get struck by lightening on our way to JFK airport.
We flew business class (my two for one tickets were indeed a bargain, cheaper than full coach fare for two!). It was a heaven send, in that for 7 hours mom and I, in our reclining seats, relaxed all the way to Anchorage for a fuel stop. We spent an hour + at the airport and I found it amazing that the shops were open and fully staffed. I wonder if this fuel stop was a stop to help the economy of Anchorage? We didn't need to stop on the way home for fuel.
Back on the plane for a 7 hour flight to Seoul, Korea. We managed to get some real sleep and the flight, the layover, (2 ½ hours in Seoul) and the flight to Hong Kong were uneventful. One other perk of Business class is that you get to spend your waiting time in the lounges which are full of free goodies to eat, drink and even liquor if you so choose. We rested on soft sofas and watched TV, ate, drank and relaxed.
We got to Hong Kong about 11:30 am on Thurs. 8/7 and spent the rest of the day resting, walking around and trying to find good restaurants etc. We were not jet lagged at all. We did some shopping for little things on Friday and Saturday morning was the orientation meeting with our agency and our group so we got to bed fairly early.
Now begins the story. My mom woke up and said "I see a haze and some flashing colors in my right eye, and I can't see out of it". I felt a knot in my stomach and I really got scared, I thought she was having a stroke or something. My mom is 68 and very healthy, I am the one who is supposed to get sick!
She tried taking aspirin and washing her eye; she actually thought that it may have been the beginnings of a migraine headache. Nothing worked. She accompanied me to the Holt meeting at 9 am and by 9:30 she was in terrible pain and it was getting worse. One of the Holt staff (Yolanda) took her back to the hotel room and called the doctor. I stayed at the meeting and received a phone call that the doctor thought that my mom should see an optometrist, Yolanda would take her to his office by taxi.
The meeting lasted 3 hours and I was pacing the floor in my room nervously. My mom finally called and said that she had an acute attack of glaucoma. She would need to be hospitalized so that they could put medicine in her eye each hour until she was able to see the doctor the next morning. At that time the doctor would be able to tell if she needed open eye surgery or could get by with laser surgery. If she didn't have surgery soon she could lose her vision in that eye. My mom had just seen her ophthalmologist two weeks prior and nothing was said (another story).
I couldn't believe this was happening. The group was scheduled to leave at 10:30 tomorrow (Sunday) to go to Nanning and pick up our babies. I was torn but I decided I had to stay with my mom, I just couldn't leave her in a strange place with the possibility of open eye surgery and/or going blind!!!
I went to the hospital right away to be with her and I can't say enough about that Holt staff in HK-they were with her the entire time and did everything for us. After a brief visit I decided to go back to the hotel and get her things, pack some things for myself so I'd be able to spend the night in the hospital with her. She had a 9 am appt. with the doctor the next morning and then I could make a decision. I was dying inside at the thought of not being able to get Lily Ming!
Les (Holt) accompanied me back to the hotel and waited for me to put some things together, he brought me back to the hospital and assured us that he would do anything in his power to make this as easy for us as he could. I spent the night on a cot and was awoken each hour when the nurse came in to put the drops in mom's eyes. We saw the doctor at am and he was thrilled that the drops worked and she would only need laser surgery (thank God!). Mom immediately said "Hurry up and go get Lily!, I'll be fine" (she is something special!) I flew out of the hospital back to the hotel (Les waited for me in the lobby)I began unpacking and repacking and was ready in time to make the flight. I was on my way to get Lily Ming - alone.
Lily Ming's story - Part 2
We flew from Hong Kong to Guangzhou (on Sunday there were no direct flights to Nanning) which took 25 minutes and we had to wait at the airport in Guangzhou for over 6 hours. That was a complete waste, I wondered why we couldn't take the train (2 hours) but we would have to take the suitcases with us and carry them. We had dinner at a wonderful Chinese restaurant at the airport - our first Cantonese meal-it was wonderful. I must say we had Barbara (Holt) with us and ordering so the meal was thoroughly delicious!!
We finally left Guangzhou (the flight was delayed also) and flew 1 hour to Nanning, arriving at night, in the rain. The airport was nothing more than a hanger and was actually closed. We could have used flashlights, we put our luggage in the back of a pickup truck and got on to a minibus. After this looooooong day I was really not amused when Colin (Holt) asked us to fill out forms as soon as we got to the hotel (even before we got our rooms!). We had to prepare for the paperwork to be done in Nanning. Tomorrow morning we were going to get the babies. By the time I finished and got to my room it was after 10 and I was tired. We needed to be in the lobby by 6:30 am on Monday.
The Majestic hotel in Nanning was wonderful. It was elaborate, well appointed, well staffed and extremely clean. Each morning I would notice workers wiping down elevator doors, and stainless steel columns, washing windows etc. The rooms were large, comfortable and they did not mind having cheerios all over the place. The beds had comforters with duvet covers and extremely soft linens (I have a thing for this). The hotel had 2 very good restaurants, a pool, beauty salon (where you could get your hair washed for 1 hour with a head massage for $7- this I was told), a business center and even a bowling alley!!!!!
Now, it was Monday morning and you should have seen me trying to get a "baby bag" together. They suggested we bring diapers, bottles etc. and I didn't have a clue how to mix formula, or what to bring. I also am the most unorganized person in the world so I kept losing nipples, bottle tops, toys etc. I finally got everything together and flew down to the lobby. I don't know how those hotels allow us to stay there. You should have seen the formula stuck to the table tops and the cheerios all over the floor.
I don't remember much about the outside of the orphanage (Nanning State Orphanage). It was rainy and we traveled down dirt roads, poor people, animals and fields surrounded the area. We went into a conference room where there was a huge table, lots of chairs and servings of tea. There were only three of us getting babies here. Pam, a single mom about my age and Larry and Barbie a mid thrityish couple had babies that were in foster care via the orphanage. Lily Ming was not in foster care. Lily Ming was the first baby to be brought in.
She was brought in by a caretaker and looked just like she did in her picture (it had just been taken 1 ½ months ago). She looked a little scared but she wasn't crying. The woman kept saying Mommie to her and pointing to me. I put my arms out to take her and she didn't accept them readily, she turned away so I didn't push. The woman put Lily on her lap and began taking the wet rag off of her and put the diaper on. As she was doing this I was holding Lily's head up and touching her face and gently singing her Chinese name Ming Yue. A few minutes later I again put my arms out and she came right to me - no crying or fussing. She held on to me for dear life. They needed to take a foot print and I tried to hold her away from my chest and each time I did she pulled herself closer to me. I spent the rest of the day with Lily attached to my chest. She was very quiet so I spoke gently to her, sang to her, rubbed her back and rocked her. We became friends right from the start. I am not a very emotional person and I did not cry but I did have this feeling as if she belonged to me and she was mine to take care of for the rest of her life.
The other two babies both acted differently. Kailin, the daughter of the single mom was screaming and did so for at least 3 days. She was very close to her foster family, and very well taken care of. Mattea the other baby took to her parents right away and was extremely outgoing and gregarious, funny, she was much like her parents, Larry and Barbie!
Next we went to the Ministry office to get "interviewed" and then received the adoption paper. The official did ask if I were to get married and my husband didn't want the baby what would I do (I think it is a standard question for single moms) and I explained that I would not consider marrying someone who did not like or want my daughter and he seemed to like that and the fact that I have financially helped several people both in my family and through charities did not hurt. The interview took about 15 looooong minutes (you need to do it with the baby sitting on your lap). The next step was to "officially" adopt your baby, which consisted of someone giving you a booklet written in Chinese (the adoption paper, I guess) and I don't know if it was from the officials or Holt but someone gave us a pearl necklace in a little box for Lily Ming.
The rest of the day Lily Ming and I stayed in the hotel and listened to Chinese music on the radio, I fed her, and cuddled with her and brought out some toys. I was told that the children in this orphanage were never outside. They just don't have enough people to watch them so they keep them inside and if they are old enough and walking they can play outside of the crib. I didn't want to over stimulate her so we spent the entire day together and in the hotel room.
I was amazed at Lily's coordination, muscle control etc. due to the fact that she was in the orphanage I thought she would be very delayed but for 17 months she was in pretty good shape, she even has 16 teeth! I asked Xiao Xiao (Holt) if they could have made a mistake regarding her age and she told me that Lily was abandoned at 6 months and was breast fed for all that time. She said it makes an incredible difference as these babies mortality rate is low and they often times do not make it beyond one month. So, I guess if our children have made it this far they are pretty special-they are survivors. All of the babies were happy (even Kailin) by about the 3rd day. No one really had a hard time, we were all very grateful.
On that first day Holt had a doctor come to the hotel and most of us had the babies checked just in case. It cost the equivalent of $15 and set our minds at ease. Lily had a temperature of 99, she was acting fine so I just made sure she had plenty of water. Her temperature was back to normal by the next day. One baby had congestion and the doctor gave out some antibiotic.
Lily went to sleep easily that evening; I allowed her to fall asleep with me and then I put her in the crib which was right next to my bed.
Lily Ming's story - Part 3
The next few days with Lily Ming were a joy. She has a sweet disposition albeit she is very quiet and probably not her real self. We didn't stay with the group all that much, not because we didn't want to but it was difficult to get up, dressed and ready in time to make the buffet breakfast early enough to go on the trips that Holt had planned for us. We usually got to breakfast by 9:30 or so and that was the usual time the bus left. We didn't miss the important things and on the days we stayed behind we usually walked amongst the people of Nanning (I really would rather have done that anyway, the only thing I felt badly about was that Lily didn't get too much of a chance to play with the other kids but I thought it better for her to be among her people for the first time).
By the third day I had this mom thing down pat. I'd get a wake up call at am and get myself ready along with the never-to-be forgotten "baby bag" and at the last minute I'd wake Lily, get her ready and GO! I was able to be at breakfast by 8:30 which allowed us to go on a few "important" outings like the Minority Cultural Museum and a trip to a "village" (which was probably similar to where these children were from).
This "third day" was significant for more than one reason. I was getting Lily ready for bed, after her bath, and just as I was diapering her she began to scream, kick, tighten her little body and throw herself around the bed. I don't know what a temper tantrum is (well now I do) but I thought just by the seriousness of the scream this was something different. I had been playing with her after dinner and I thought I'd upset her stomach etc. but when I tried to comfort her and she pushed me away and would not let me near her I knew I was in for something. I decided to just kneel at the edge of the bed and allow her to "let it all out" and that is what I did for over an hour. At times I would try to comfort her but she just kept pushing me away. It was now getting dark and every so often she would look around to see if I was still there. At one point I moved to the foot of the bed and after a few minutes she looked around and didn't see me. She stood up and when she finally saw me she held her arms out and ran over to me (I still get tears in my eyes when I think of it). I held her in my arms and she fell asleep within minutes. She slept well, actually this was the first night that she didn't toss and turn and jump in her sleep. The next morning everything was fine, she awoke and as her usual cried to be taken out of the crib and I put her in bed with me and we cuddled.
Her personality began to emerge after this episode. She began to laugh for the first time (what a delight!) and she also began to play with her toys and she finally seemed interested in the other children. Since then she has had tantrums, but these are different, and now when she cries she allows me to comfort her. I guess it was a kind of grieving and it surely broke my heart but I was glad to see it happen. Some children did not have such an episode and they were fine but I thought Lily was a little too quiet and boy was I right!!!!
We spent a total of 7 nights in Nanning and I loved the City and the people. We got the applications for her passport done the first night and picked up and adopted the babies on day 2. We got pictures taken for the passport and filled out all the information for the visa the 3rd and 4th day and received the passports by the 5th or 6th day. While we were there we had the option of taking trips to the local department store, souvenir shopping, the cultural museum, a typical village and the reps took people on side trips to find certain things like Chinese musical instruments, antiques, or whatever. On the morning of our last day we were taken individually to our child's abandonment site. Lily Ming was left on a busy street, the one that runs by the Nanning Train station. They did not know exactly where or how she was left, all they knew is that someone found her on that street and took her to the local park where there was a police station and the police then brought her to the Nanning State Orphanage.
Lily Ming's story- Part 4
Holt took each family to the abandonment site of their child. They also took each family that adopted a child who had been in foster care back to meet the foster family. That was very frightening to all of the parents. There were 6 in our group. The one that I really worried about was Pam (the other single mom) since her baby cried so hard for 3 days. They were all scared but in the end they all were glad that they did it. The babies did go to their foster moms willingly and some cried when they were handed back to their adoptive moms and they cried as the foster moms waved to them on the bus but very shortly thereafter (while they were still on the bus) they stopped crying and were back to the way things were before the visit.
All felt that it was a good and healthy thing to do. The foster moms as well as the children needed closure and the foster moms needed to be reassured that the adoptive moms were okay.
We left Guangzhou at 6 am on Wednesday to get an 8:25 flight to Hong Kong. By the way this is something you need to know: When you purchase your tickets to HK or receive anything at all make SURE you check it. I was leaving HK for home on 8/21 and when I looked at my tickets to HK a day or two before I was leaving I noticed that I was booked to leave Guangzhou on 8/23! Yes, I panicked and brought a Chinese speaking rep from Holt with me. It worked out fine but not without my getting a few gray hairs!
Anyway, we had to wait around in HK airport for 3 hours and let me tell you it is not easy getting around with a stroller by yourself. You need to check-in on the 1st floor, we went to the lounge on the 3rd floor and the 2nd floor is where the gates are and there are no elevators! There are some escalators but they mostly go up and people use the stairs for going down. We flew to Seoul finally (that took 3 hours) and it was fine.
We waited in Seoul for a couple of hours but at least we were in the lounge and very comfortable. We left Seoul for our 13 hour flight to JFK. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised how well Lily did. We were awake and eating for the first few hours and then the lights dimmed, we reclined our seat and Lily slept next to me. She would awake every so often and move around ( she still does-she is like a jumping bean, I thought I moved around a lot in my sleep!) but we kept easily falling asleep again. I made sure I did not drink too much since I did not want to keep getting up to go to the bathroom.
The next thing I knew there was an announcement that we were 3 hours away from our destination and they would be serving dinner (dinner? I thought it would be breakfast!). So, we slept about 6 or 7 hours! They did serve dinner which I couldn't even think of and at this point Lily began to get fussy (can you blame her? We left the equivalent of 6 pm Wed EDT and now it was 5 pm Fri ). She sat on the floor and screamed and cried for about ½ hour while I tried everything in my power to soothe her. After a quick change and wash up I put her in her pjs and gave her a bottle and she felt better.
We landed at JFK at 8 pm and went through customs without a problem. They didn't even look at my suitcase. We had to stop at immigration and they stamped something and we had to go into an area and wait for INS to take the "envelope" (the one "never" to be opened). We handed our papers to the guard at the doorway at 8:30 and took a seat. I must say there were about 15 people in there (some waiting for others) and 4 INS workers plus 1 other one kept going in and out. After sitting there for ½ hour with only 1 family being waited on I asked if I was in the wrong place. The gentlemen said "No you just have to wait your turn". I could not believe how these immigrants were treated. The INS people were screwing around laughing, talking and not caring in the least that people were waiting. The final straw was when one INS guy (He was about 40, tough looking and big) was interrogating a young (about 14 years old) Asian girl. He was actually yelling at her and telling her that she better not have an attitude with him cause "I'm the one who can have an attitude, you hear". The girl was so nervous and scared. (I still intend to write a letter about all of this). Finally, at 9:00 I again went up to the gentlemen that I had spoken to and asked how long this is going to take. He said probably ½ hour. I sat and watched only 2 other people get called up there. At almost 10 PM a person who came in after I did was called upon. I went right up to the guy that I had spoken with and I guess he took pity on me. He yelled over and asked for the "stamp" and he said that little baby has been patient enough! He walked in to another room, got my papers and stamped them. It was awful. It was interesting how this INS area was staffed 2 African American men, 1 African American girl, 1 Asian man, 1 Italian man, and 1 Irish man who kept going in and out. I suppose then there should be no complaints - just wait!
Lily and I were bleary eyed by this time and finally met with our driver. I put her in the car seat and she screamed her way to sleep. It is a 2 hour ride from JFK to Princeton so I just laid back and rested. We arrived home at 12:30 am on Saturday August 22. My mom and my sister greeted us in the driveway. My mom had tears in her eyes and couldn't believe she got all the way to Hong Kong and didn't meet Lily Ming and here she finally was at her new home safe and sound.
MS LORRAINE WAGEMAN
Gotcha date: 8/11/97
See Lily Ming on Rosie's home page
Return to "The Triumph of Hope"