Sunday, July 31, 2005

Introducing Jemma Ancui Lawler!

What a punim, Look at those cheeks! These photos were taken at her orphanage when she was only 5 months old. We are so smitten and can't wait to hold little Jemma up in our arms and turn those pouty lips into a big smile.

Proud parents

Here we are at our adoption agency, US Asian Affairs, picking up Jemm'a photos the day after we received our "2nd call". It was a very emotional afternoon and we were glad to share it with our new friends, Bebe & Wayne, and Mark & Nicki, who will be traveling with us to China. Though we will all be traveling to different provinces, we will spend the last week together in Guanzhou and of course, a ton of time together in Los Angeles. We'd be friends with these people even if we weren't adopting together! they're just so great. In fact, we've made so many new friends through this process and feel very fortunate to have a built-in community of sisters for Jemma. Very cool.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

2nd Call - July 28, 2005

Only one week later and we got that second call! Our daughter's Chinese name is Gao Ancui (Ahn-chooie), Gao being her last name and Ancui being her first. She is situated in the Jiangsu Province at the Gaoyou Social Welfare Institute ( She was born on December 21, 2004, the same day as Ellen's sister, Sharon and her husband Tom, how auspicous is that! When we finally meet her in China she will be all of 8 months old - much younger than we expected. She has been in the orphanage since December 23, 2004, so it's time for her to have a real home now. All of the children at this orphanage have the last name, "Gao" so we will probably drop that and keep Ancui for her middle name - Jemma Ancui Lawler - sounds just right. Tomorrow we will drive to Monterey Park and pick up her photos and the medical records. How will we be able to sleep tonight?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

1st Call!

We finally got the long-awaited first call on Tuesday, July 19, 2005! It didn't really happen the way it looks in the photo, this is just a reenactment. The truth is, we were convinced we were getting nixed from the whole process since everyone else from our group (#105) had gotten their calls but us. When Ellen arrived at work at 2pm there was a message on her answering machine. We had actually gotten our call early that morning! All that worrying for nothing. We called US Asian Affairs immediately and were thrilled to hear them say, "Congratulations! You have a baby waiting for you in China!" We were instructed to deliver our passports and get our visas ready. Now all we have to do is wait for call #2 in two to three weeks. At 2nd call we'll find out who our baby is, where she's from, how old, what her name is, medical info, and any other info that they have. What are we going to do for two to three weeks? Time to assemble that pile of IKEA furniture...

The Matching Room

This is where it all happens - the matching room. 8 or so Chinese administrators from the CCAA pour through stacks and stacks of files, containing the life stories of each adopting family, to match you with the "perfect" baby. We poured our hearts out to our wonderfully empathetic social worker for 3 months, filled out numerous forms and voila, we had a file. Inside are dark details of our finances, childhood experiences (both good & bad), past marriages and other skeletons in the closet. Hey, is that our file on top? Hard to tell since it's been translated into Chinese.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Patient Pooches

Many of our friends have expressed concern with our obsessive love for our dogs, Ollie and Rua. We often joke that our new daughter will not live up to the joy and unconditional love we receive from our dogs. Will our daughter be able to fetch? Rollover? Give us a paw? Probably not. But rest assured, we are quite confident that we will love our little girl much, much more than our canine pals, though it would be kind of cool if our girl could fetch... woof!

Why China?

There are so many questions and curiosities surrounding our choice to adopt from China. Perhaps the following passage will help to answer some of those questions. This is an oversimplified explanation of the social/political climate in China that has created the enormous need for families to adopt Chinese girls but here goes:

In the 1970s, The Chinese government instituted a "one child policy" as a way to try to control population growth within the country. This one-child rule is strictly enforced by local province officials, though sometimes in varying ways that often includes monetary fines. As a socialist country, education and health care are provided through the government. Parents must register their child to receive these government services. Parents who do not comply with the one child policy are often fined, taxed, and are then required to pay out of their pockets for care of a second child. Chinese culture places high value on boys, particularly families in rural areas, because boys tend to remain with the family and take care of the parents as they age. Some families, expecially those in rural areas, cannot afford the fines and face pressure to abandon the child. Abandonment is considered a crime and birth families, particularly the birth mother, often abandon their babies in public areas like marketplaces, parks, and police stations, with the hopes that their children will be found quickly and taken to one of many state-run orphanages around the country.

These birth mothers take good care of themselves through their pregnancy, drug and alcohol use is rarely an issue. The families love and want their children; however, may be unable to raise them for financial and political reasons. The parents are taking a big risk and making enourmous sacrifices so that their children can have the chance to be raised in a family. The adoption is legally complete and irrevocable during the trip to China (which is about 2 weeks long); the chance of birth parent challenge is virtually zero since children must be declared orphans by the Chinese courts before they are eligible for adoption.

For many reasons, we feel that adopting from China is right for us, and we know deep in our hearts, that she will be our good fortune.

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break."
--An ancient Chinese proverb