Maybe Maddy will be an engineer or an architect when she grows up? Here's her masterpiece for today. When I saw it, I couldn't help but think of the Great Wall.
Gwen might someday work in the field of demolitions since she took great delight in marching through her sister's beautiful creation and kicking it to smithereens.
I know every parent thinks they have the most beautiful children in the whole world. When you love someone, it's impossible not to see everything about them as beautiful. So I guess it's no surprise that I actually gasped when these breath-taking photos of Madeline came up on my computer screen.
Maddy is so graceful and elegant! She has perfect posture and the proportions of a super model (and the appetite/diet of one too). Physically, she's like a tightly wound rubber band. Emotionally, she's like a French Poodle: smart and entertaining and eager to please but always jumping up and down in your lap. Laid back? Absolutely Not! But Madeline Abigail is a joy in our lives and we can hardly believe that it was just 10 months ago that she joined our family.
Maddy wakes up several times per night. This is nothing new - she's done it since the first day we came to be her family (Aug 2006). She doesn't cry - she mostly just whimpers and whines for a minute or two and then goes back to sleep. It's as if she's grumpy about being awake and has to voice her disapproval before falling back to sleep. Gwen is a really sound sleeper (thankfully!) and manages to sleep right through this.
But, lately, Maddy's grumpy little whines and whimpers have morphed into something much harder to ignore and I often have to go into the nursery and talk to her to quiet her down. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog closely knows how I feel about going back into the nursery after lights-out! For those who don't, let me explain: The problem with doing this is that it feeds on itself and, pretty soon, you're expected to come running for everything or the screams and cries get more and more desperate until you can't tell what's a trivial situation and what's life-or-death.
For example, a few nights ago, Maddy screamed and screamed and screamed because the snap on her PJ's came unsnapped. Before that, she was screaming hysterical bloody murder because her blanket came untucked at the bottom of her crib. Several times, she screamed because she wanted a toy that she angrily evicted from the crib earlier. Or, worst of all, she just screams and screams for no reason at all (so you can't "fix" the problem).
What's Gwen doing while this is going on? She's laying quietly in her crib with her big brown, wide awake, eyes staring up at the ceiling. She never complains. She doesn't say anything until you leave the nursery then her sweet little voice calls out "Nite nite, Mama". This makes me feel sad because that little baby girl likes to sleep.
Out of fairness to Gwen, I've started responding to Maddy's nocturnal scream sessions by removing her from the nursery to spend the remainder of the night in the spare room in the Port-a-Crib (aka "the blue crib") she uses for naps. I feel bad about this because it's a little crib and her full sized crib is beautiful and big and comfy. And, best of all, it's in the pretty nursery that she and Gwen share and I like to think that they enjoy having the company of their sister at night. But Maddy hasn't seemed to mind being exiled and spending the night alone in that tiny crib. And Gwen doesn't seem to mind that Maddy is being exiled!
Last night, after bedtime stories, I asked Maddy if she wanted to sleep in her white crib or her blue crib and, to my amazement, she picked the blue crib! I thought she might have not totally understood the question so I wasn't going to force her to accept her choice but we put her in and she got kisses and was tucked in and zipped in and she went right to sleep. She slept the whole night without so much as a peep and I kept checking the monitor to make sure it was working. She's normally awake by 6:30 AM but, this morning, I actually had to wake her up at 8:00 AM!
At 12:30 PM, she went back into her blue crib and slept for a record-breaking 3 hours! Then, she woke up more cheerful than I've ever seen her! It's 5:30 now and she's still all smiles and is actually letting me sit here at the computer and type this!
I'm happy to let her sleep in her blue crib forever but there's one little problem: She's almost longer than the mattress!
At 5:10 am, as the hot summer sun was about to make it's daily debut, a 4 pound Chinese baby girl was born and screamed her first protest at the world.
And the world totally deserved it.
Her family was probably worried about the baby's obvious prematurity. In China, it's a common belief that premature babies are likely to die in early childhood even if they beat the odds and survive infancy. This little baby was just barely 4 pounds and her future was uncertain. She also had a very minor cleft palate -- something her family might not have noticed because it's very VERY minor.
Or, perhaps, their concern was the fact that this infant was female and the family already had a little girl and really needed a boy to guarantee their security in old age?
Whatever the reason, someone bundled up the tiny infant and carried her down this dirt road towards the gate of the local High School.
It was a Saturday on the last day of July and it was HOT. But we know for certain that most of the teachers lived on campus and someone would probably find her right away. Her family probably knew this too.
They quickly scribbled a note on a torn scrap of paper that stated her birth date and time. She was only a few hours old when they set the tiny newborn girl down on the ground. Then they turned around and walked away.
From this heartbreaking act of desperation, our family was completed.
That little girl was Madeline and Maddy will soon be 3 years old. As the third anniversary of her birth approaches, I'm certain her birth family will think about her and wonder what happened to the tiny child they left alone at the gate of that school three years earlier.
As a mother, I'm sure they can't find any peace with what they did. It's just the nature of moms to fear the worst and that's probably the case with mothers in China too. How can they possibly expect that their baby is a thriving, robust, little fireball living with her virtual twin sister in a lovely house in Silicon Valley, California. They can't know that she's got a Mommy and Daddy who love her to pieces (and a kitty who fears her)? They would probably love to know that she adores everything Elmo and her favorite food is watermelon, sliced ham or KFC coleslaw.
Someday, this little girl - who we've affectionately nicknamed "Our Scientist" - will attend Stanford University. We're absolutely sure of it. And we'll celebrate birthday after birthday with her and watch her grow up and fall in and out of love and marry and have babies of her own. But her birth family will probably weep each year as they remember the little baby they left at this gate -- the baby they gave back to The World.
And, every year, we'll remember them and be gratful that their difficult choice put their baby on a path to us. And we'll quietly hope that this will be the year they find peace with their choice.
This is a family planning poster from the city Maddy was born/abandoned/found. I'd like to include it in her lifebook and would also like to include a translation.
Can anyone help? I'm very curious to know what it says. You can post the translation as a comment or email me privately, if you like. Thanks in advance!
UPDATE: Many thanks to Anita for this translation! "The growth of population must be in accordance with the developments of the society, economy and material resources".
Today was Maddy's re adoption. I tried to get excited about it but it was hard. Seriously, my friends, (to us) this re adoption stuff is just a formality arranged around a single, simple purpose: Getting a California Birth Certificate that lists us as Maddy's Mom and Dad.
Why do we do it? We do it because we want that piece of paper -- that birth certificate. Not because we want to trick anyone into believing that we provided the DNA that eventually became this little girl we call Maddy, but because we don't want her to have to go through life hauling around a half dozen Chinese documents with akward translations that announce to the world that she was abandoned by an unknown birth family and born on a non-specific day in a country called China. Somehow, that seems like a tad too much personal information to share with the 22 year old clerk at the registration desk when we sign up for Junior League soccer. We think a simple birth certificate would be much easier to manage under those circumstances.
We also want to have something official that is easily replaced if lost. Maddy's Chinese documents could probably NEVER be replaced. We keep copies of them in two separate places "just in case" but I'm always reminded that I've had to request copies of my original birth records twice for our adoptions. What would Maddy do if she ever decided to adopt? How would she get copies of those Chinese adoption/abandoment papers?
So, I dressed the girls in matching outfits and put on some makeup and went down to the local Courthouse to "finalize" what was really final last August: Maddy's adoption.
The Judge sat there in his official looking black robe while the court reporter typed away and he announced that it was in the best interest of the child (Maddy) for us to be her parents. I held back the urge to roll my eyes and I think I must have succeeded since there was no warning that I was in contempt of court.
We left the room with our adoption documents in hand and took them to the registrar to have them certified. She asked how many copies we wanted and I told her two would be enough. She asked if we wanted more and offered that we'd need them when we applied for Maddy's Social Security Card (already have it. Didn't need the readoption to get it) or when we travel outside the country with her (got Gwen's new USA passport before her re adoption so that wasn't necessary either).
Obviously, these nice people don't realize how unnecessary this whole process is. How much easier it would be to just mail them a bunch of forms and a check and get the California birth cert in the mail some time later?
Okay, it might have been "semi significant" since we took a picture of it. But I have to admit that I'm really glad this part of adoption is over.
This is the third time I've been in this building and had our picture taken. It's the third time I've paid for a meaningless home study and struggled with parking and thrown a bunch of money at a process that only produces a birth certificate at the end. We already had the child.
The first time was Michael. He's my child from birth and Andrew adopted him after we were married long enough for the court to allow it. Funny how the court didn't require that I be married to his bio father for any particular period of time, huh?
Then there was Gwen's re adoption. She as already, legally, our daughter for nearly a year when our Santa Clara County Superior Court put their seal on our "done deal".
Now there's our little sweetie, Maddy. Here she is just before the Judge declared that she would be ours. She was already ours. Does she even look a little bit like she's not been ours for nearly 9 months?
Finally, with some new legislation, it's possible for adoptive parents to undertake this re adoption process without help (and expense) from their agency). The post-placement report and forms they already have from China are sufficient to meet the Court's needs.
Prior to the new legislation, when we readopted Gwen, we paid our $300 to our agency and they gave us a bunch of forms and a new home study.
With Maddy, we did the exact same thing - since we didn't want to fuss with a new process - but our agency they must have realized that their role was less necessary so they provided MUCH less services for the same price. For example. Both re-adoptions cost $300 but Gwen's re adoption package from our agency contained forms and instructions. Maddy's cost the same but contained no forms or instructions. If we'd not already been down this road with Michael and Gwen, we really wouldn't have had the first clue about how to get the forms on-line and fill them out. As it turned out, we did manage to miss some essential forms for Maddy's adoption and had to fill them out at the court house. The court was surprised that our agency didn't provide them but we weren't.
Maybe I should just re-name this post: Re-adoption is Lame. But we're still thrilled to have yet another government entity declare that Madeline Abigail is our daughter! Forever!