Getting Jonathan -- The Big Day!

posted Aug 17, 2010, 1:02 AM by Charles Boling   [ updated Aug 17, 2010, 10:43 PM ]

Monday 2010-08-16

Up to this point, this has been a spectacular trip as far as experiences and sights. But the real reason for the trip occurred on Monday. Monday morning we went down to breakfast in the “cafe” off of the lobby. Breakfast (long story made short) was included in the price of our room. It was a Chinese buffet. Charles had been saying the last three days that he really wanted a Chinese Buffet (so you can actually see the food you are getting!). They had about 50 or 60 different choices of things to eat (some American, some definitely NOT). We had such things as “preserved eggs” and “fried bamboo shoots” and sushi. Some things we didn't try were the “Pig's Blood Soup” and the live clams... It was actually kind fun.

Helen met us in the lobby at 8:15 and we headed out to the adoption office. It was about 15 minutes from the hotel. We were led into a room and just a few minutes later they brought Jonathan in to us. He looked to be in a bit of shock. A very nice lady was carrying him in. We were handed paperwork that told about him and what he could do and what he liked and in a minute we were in shock too, because it said that he could say “mama, and papa, and yes” (the “yes” being the Chinese version). How could a 2 ½ year-old fully deaf child say any thing??? Michele thought it had to be some mistake and brought it up. They assured us it was true and asked us if he was indeed the right child. He certainly was (from the pictures) and we started paying more attention to him. He was quite scared about being in Michele's arms at first, but once we were able to finish the paperwork and get out of the office and into the car again he settled down and sat stone-faced and immobile in her lap (no such thing as child carseats over here!). Our next stop was the grocery store and in there Michele saw the first glimmers of a personality. She carried him the entire morning – She felt it was important to imprint herself on him as much as possible. He started pointing and playing a bit. The longer we watched the more we realized he wasn't deaf – or at least not entirely. Hard of hearing, yes. Deaf, no. That was quite a shock (a pleasant one).

After shopping we got talking with Helen and she said we could get the next three-days of paperwork done right then, if we were sure we wanted him (they give you a day or two just so you can be absolutely sure you want that child). Well, we were SURE. So we went back to the civil affairs office we had been to when we got him. There was another family there at the same time – they were adopting their second Chinese child. We signed all the official paperwork (which included taking pictures) and then headed over the Notary's office. It was funny but predictable, every person we had to talk to about this adoption was shocked by how many children we had. So often the question, even from the Chinese workers, was “why China???”. And “how can you support them?”. The concept of where we live is beyond the grasp of any of the people we've met thus far in our trip. To them “out in the country” means not in an apartment. And “No, I mean WAY out in the country” means “in the suburbs”.

During the notary appointment Jonathan fell asleep in Michele's arms. He slept in the car ride to the next stop – a cell phone store. Charles needed a SIM card for his phone (to use for calling around in China when we weren't at the hotel). That was a LONG process – Michele found a lobby-type area where she sat and let Jonathan sleep. She ended up getting in a conversation with a 20-something man who was curious why she had a Chinese little boy. She thinks the big thing was that he just wanted to practice his English (which was “passable” in quality). Right at the end of that Jonathan woke up and we all headed back to the hotel. There we parted with Helen for the day – we were now a “family” - just the three of us – and we had the rest of the day to get to know each other.

Jonathan was quite shy and unsure of this whole thing at first. But as time went on he relaxed more and more. There was never any more crying (except at bedtime when Michele made him take off the special light up tennis shoes she brought for him...). He became more and more active and curious. To the point that we wonder how we are going to survive with him in a hotel room for two weeks... (if it was cooler, we'd be spending a lot of time outside).

He has been the only child at a foster home for over a year. He was obviously well loved and taken care of. I'm sure this transition is going to be hard. I'm sure his foster mother is having a hard time too. He's quite a special little boy.

He has quite the personality and is quite amazing actually. Yes, he can say three words – Mama, Papa (that is actually the Chinese pronunciation) and “Baba” which is actually, we believe, a take-off of the Chinese word for “no”. There are certain tones, especially in the lower range, that he seems to be unable to hear. But higher noises seem much clearer. Several times he has heard quiet sounds – so we think he can actually hear quite a bit. His volume level when he speaks isn't bad – sometimes he gets too loud (louder than a “normal” 2 ½ year old boy) but for the most part when he vocalizes it is as if he could hear what he was saying. And his “mama” and “papa” are VERY clear – not mumbled at all (as would be typical of a deaf person who had learned to speak. He is VERY active. He is an extrovert – not shy – loves people once he gets comfortable with them. He is VERY observant. Oh wow – there is no other way to put it. We have NEVER seen someone pick up so quickly on something he's only seen once. We think that because he is hard of hearing, he has learned to watch closely to make up for it. He is SOOOO smart. Those two things (and being active) make him quite the handful in a hotel room. We are excited to bring him home to meet his siblings – he'll have no problem keeping up with Steven. And boy, between the two of them, nothing will stop them! As part of his observance, he reads lips. Unfortunately, it's really hard to do that when people are now speaking another language! But he looks intently at people's mouths when they are talking.

Lunch and dinner were KFC brought into our room and snacks we bought at the grocery story when we were in town. Jonathan and Michele took a walk around outside and ran into the family that had been at the Civil Affairs office earlier that day. They were indeed adopting their second child from China. Their first, a girl, was adopted at 21 months, two years ago. Their second is 16 months, a boy, with “crying eye syndrome”. It's a muscle in the face that doesn't work right and one side of his face is droopy. Very easily corrected they said. They are from Holland. It's just amazing who you meet here!

Jonathan got to bed early – about 7:30 because it was a big day for him! It was for us too and we are excited for the next day! He slept very well all night – not a fuss out of him at all.