So, I guess it all started Christmas of 2003. Erynn and I went to spend the holidays with my “baby” sister and her family in Virginia. I say “baby” with quotes, because even though she is younger then me, somehow she has found ways to kinda take care of me, especially the last few years.
“So Jay-ne, we’re thinking about going to China to adopt a baby.”
“Well, I would like to have another child, there are a lot of unwanted baby girls there, we can afford to do this, and I feel like it something I’m being called to do.”
“Marc’s folks are planning to go with us. Primarily to see the relatives that still live there, but also because his mom speaks Cantonese and his dad speaks Mandarin.
“Well,” I offered, “if ya’ need someone to go to China with you, just let me know…”
Flash forward one year. (Yes, I know, it should not take that long, but the paperwork required is daunting, to say the least.)
“Hey Jay-ne” chirps my sister, “Ya’ still want to go to China?”
Seems that Marc’s dad had delayed surgery on his knee once too often and had to have it fixed once and for all. Marc’s mom would have to stay to help him. That left Julie and Marc taking their two small children to China, where they would be picking up my new niece, Corrinne. Julie is an uber-mom, but even she knew that was beyond her abilities….
“Aw, Julie,” I stammered, “You know I’d love to…but geez, the money. How soon—“
“Oh no, Jay-ne,” she cut me off, “Marc and I are taking you to China. We need you.”
Yes, my friends, a free trip to China. Well, kinda free, since I was the “Super Nanny.” We were one of 13 families flying to mainland China to adopt Chinese infant girls. Arrived in Hong Kong on Martin Luther King Day (Jan.17), flew to Hefei the next morning, got Corrinne that afternoon. Spent the next 10 days finalizing adoption and U.S. citizenship in Hefei and GuangZhou before returning to Hong Kong, where Marc’s relatives threw three gi-NOR-mous parties.
As much as my government and country can drive me nuts, we truly are blessed to live with as much opportunity and freedoms as we do. The city of Hefei is very large, very polluted (coal is it’s main heat supply), and very poor. We were told that the average annual income is between $300-$600. Corrinne was considered a “special needs” baby because she was cross-eyed. Simple surgery here in the states has rectified this condition, but if it had been delayed she might have lost use of at least one of her eyes. The orphanage was staffed by people who truly loved and cared for the children, but were overwhelmed: 100 infants and toddlers, 8x10 rooms containing 6 cribs, two infants to a crib.
On the bright side, the people were very friendly. Some were very curious about my niece and nephew: it was obvious to them that they were half Chinese. They would come up, pointing at me saying, “Mother, yes?” “No, only Auntie.” Shortly thereafter, the other 12 families, the staff at the hotel, and the people at the market were calling me, “Auntie Jay-ne.”