Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 3 - Paperwork Day

Tuesday March 22. We woke up early and were able to Facetime again with our sweet kids at home as they were getting ready for bed. They love seeing their new brother and are so excited for us to come home. Nash tells us, “bring my Cooper home”, Mason blows us kisses, Ridge teases his dad about not practicing baseball and Bryn gets us up to speed on all the other happenings at home. We miss them and wish they could be here but are glad Grandma is there to take care of them. The weather today is cool and overcast. At least it seems overcast. Sometimes it hard to tell the difference between cloud cover and smog. Our first stop is at the office of the notary, or the place where they keep “the family books.” Every person has their own page in their family book. Cooper’s page is in the book of abandoned persons. It has the record of the details of where and when they found him, the search for his parents and the newspaper clipping with his photo, the information from his finding and it asks for anyone to come forth with any information that can help him locate his family. After 60 days, no information was reported so there was another short paragraph from the newspaper saying that he now belongs to the Children’s Welfare Institute of Tianjin.

Today the notary office takes our first official family photo. Brady and I with cute Cooper standing between us. We sign and fingerprint more papers. The director from the orphanage comes and signs more papers too. We wait and they move Coopers page (and change his name) from the book of abandoned persons to the book of adoptees. They give us a paper with our picture on it and an official seal. The adoption is now “final”and legal.
Zhang Tong Jiang is now known as Cooper Michael Murray in the family books but our work isn’t done yet because now this cute little Chinese citizen with an American name and American parents needs to immigrate and become an American citizen too. We leave the notary office a gift. Then it’s off to the police station where we begin the process of obtaining Cooper’s passport. It’s a busy crowded place and I don’t understand anything anyone is saying but Cooper smiles for his picture and he makes friends with a cute little girl who shares her treats with him. The Grandma proudly tells our interpreter that the little girl is also American Chinese. We’ve been getting lot of stares and I’ve been wondering what people think. I like this lady a lot for being so kind and accepting.

Our next stop is at another government building. This place is also old and crowded and reeks of heavy thick cigarette smoke. They take us into a room with a giant wooden circular table covered in heavy clear plastic to protect it. We sit down at the grossly oversized table to look over paperwork and make sure all of the dates and spellings are correct and that all of the translations into English are cohesive and proper. They have copied parts of the adoption paperwork into 9 different booklets. We check them all and don’t find any mistakes. We sign more papers. I smile as I think of the hundreds of papers we’ve signed. Our adoption coordinator told us in the beginning that the Chinese love paperwork. She wasn’t exaggerating.

Now our interpreter tells us it is time for the interview. The lady helping us with the paperwork asks us two questions, “why do you want to adopt?” and “are you aware of your son’s medical diagnosis?” We smile and answer. No smile in return this lady is strictly business but I guess we pass the test because they say we can present our gift and leave. I hand her the gift bag and then she smiles. I think word is getting out that we brought Katie Bee honey for all of the officials and they are pumped! We climb back into our van taxi and slowly make our way back through the bustling streets to the orphanage where we met Cooper. It seems like we’ve been through a time warp since being there just over 24 hours ago. This time as the overcast sky is trying its hardest to let out a few drops of rain the building doesn’t look as bright and inviting. Cooper needs to use the restroom so they take us into part of the orphanage where the children are. We can hear them having a class. Cooper and I go into the restroom and Brady, Vivian and the director go into the class to wait for us. The restroom is cold and uncomfortable but Cooper doesn’t seem to mind. I look around at the tiny toilets and sinks, the wet clothes hanging to dry and it becomes apparent that as much as the nannies love the kids, they still don’t have the amenities of a home or family. Suddenly I am glad that we didn’t get a tour of the orphanage. I have a lump in my throat as we wash Cooper’s hands and met the others back in the hall. The classroom door is closed and I can’t see the kids but I hear them talking and laughing and I wish we were bringing them all home. We take the elevator up to the offices and make our donation to the orphanage and pay the announcement fee. We take the elevator back downstairs and walk out of a building with a few of the children and nannies who are leaving to go somewhere in a van. They are happy for Cooper and wish him well and say good bye. We climb back in our van, the smoky air is suffocating. I see a couple small drops of rain on the window. I want it to rain, I think please let it pour. Let it pour and wash this dusty city clean. It doesn’t. Vivian and our taxi driver are excited. Vivian was able to get the exact location of Cooper abandonment from the family books. It is close by and they are taking us there now. After making several wrong turns we pull up at the gate where he was found. It doesn’t look like a factory gate. It looks like a thousand other gates we have passed. I watch Cooper. He is happy to follow us around and smile for pictures. I try to imagine the scene in that spot 3 and ½ years before. There are too many what ifs and maybes.

I really can’t imagine it. But as we get back in the van, I remember the starfish story and the hopelessness starts to leave. The sun comes back out and the van heats up. By the time we reach the hotel Cooper is sweating and sleeping peacefully on my shoulder.

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