Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Foster Parents

I always think that Rules #1 & 1a when you travel abroad are "Flexibility" and "Expect the Unexpected" because things don't always (usually?) go the way you think they should, so you must go with the flow.  I thought I was prepared, but nothing could have prepared me to meet Dean's foster parents of nearly four years.
As we were driving from Hope Foster Home a man on a bike suddenly darted in front of us.  That's hardly unusual in China, but when he turned around and motioned for us to follow him I realized he was the foster dad.  He was pedaling up a storm, showing us exactly to their home.  The mom was waiting at their gate and was wailing as she flung open the van door and started pulling us out of the van.  She grabbed my arm and is talking a mile a minute while dragging me inside the house.
Once inside, our guide could not keep up with the flow of information.  They talked, and talked, and talked.  They cried, and cried, and cried.  They showed me the 'altar' of pictures of him.  I probably won't do it justice, but the basic idea is they thought we had Dean with us already, they didn't understand why his adoption wasn't finished because he had already been gone so long, they knew the orphanage must be taking horrible care of him and therefore they had purchased sacks of treats that filled half a twin bed for him to have, their heartache was immense. 

They told us that even though his Chinese name was Fu Tian Suo, to them he would always be Li Tian Suo.  Li is their family name, so they are saying he is their son, not 'only' a foster child.  It was clear they had given their lives over the past few years to this precious boy and their grief was palpable.

It was also clear they had spoiled him...they said so themselves!  They showed me all the many types of treats and candies he loves, and so when I asked what kind of regular foods he would eat they didn't have an answer.  Apparently, he ate the treats!!  Can't wait to see those teeth of his.
They were able to give me lots of good information, though, about things he likes to do and how he sucks his thumb when he falls asleep.
None of the above was terribly unexpected...they loved Tian Suo and still do.  I have heard, via the orphanage in Jiaozuo, that he is a kind and helpful boy so he was clearly not totally spoiled.  Once he got over not having his treats in Jiaozuo he even ate very well! 

So what's the big deal?  The unexpected was this:  at one point during our visit the foster father left the room and came back with a bag, which is pictured above on an outside window ledge.  Inside the bag was a ziploc full of Tian Suo's hair clippings.  Again, Americans save a baby's first lock of cut hair so that isn't too strange.  It was sad to hear him say that he would take out the bag and run his fingers through the clippings so that it felt like he was rubbing Tian Suo's (Dean's) hair again. 
Are you ready for the big one?  No, you're not, but I'll tell you anyway.  He next pulled out a bag that contained Dean's last diaper change from the night before he left.  His DIAPER!  In a bag for over a month.  I'm not sure I can tell you the rest, but here goes:  there was a stool in it.  A large one.  Which he brought out to show us.  Holding it in his hands.  Apparently, the wife took one look at it and said 'Get that stinky thing out of here!"  So there it was, on the window sill for further review later, I suppose.  I think I have now seen, up close, what it means to be crazed with grief. 
I hope this doesn't sound disrespectful about the only parents my soon-to-be son has ever known.  I do think they have done their best by him and it was very good.  I wonder if perhaps they thought the day would never come that he would really be gone because our adoption process took so very long.  They have a new grandchild, and I am hopeful that will soothe their broken hearts.  
I suppose I expected it to be an emotional trip to see them, but not so emotionally exhausting.  And under no circumstances did I ever expect a filled diaper.  That's just something they don't mention in the adoption literature.   


3 Sons said...

How wonderful that he has been loved so much already. How heart breaking it must have been to see them hurt like that. Continuing to pray for all of you, Jill.

Much love!

Jennifer said...

Oh my! I guess no two adoptions ever bring the same expereinces do they! At least you know he was truly cherished by them!

Can't wait til you have him in your arms...I was hoping Friday would be the day. You must be seeing everything in Beijing!

Leslie said...


I'm thankful Dean has been so well loved. It must have been hard though to see their grief. (((Jill)))

So excited for you friend to meet this sweet new son!


Charissa said...

So are you bringing the diaper back home as a keepsake to treasure forever? Thanks for a good laugh. Looking forward to more updates, and now you've got me interested in seeing those teeth as well.

Linda said...

On our second China adoption, we met a US mom and her new son. She referred to him as the Emperor of his orphanage. You may be soon traveling with another little Emperor! Thanks for sharing,
Linda in OKC

Ashley and Mike said...


This post made me cry. How lucky yor little guy is and how lucky you all are that he has been so loved his entire time with the foster family. My heart aches for them! Actually when I skyped with Jenny the other day she mentioned the little boy who only had treats - I bet it was your minnie man. I cannot wait to follow your journey. If you are able to go to EW3, would you take a picture of my sweet Piper Qiu Han? Thanks so much and I cannot wait to see pictures of you with all of your babies once you are home. You are a lucky momma!


Table for Six said...

wow, that would be a lot to take in. thank goodness they didn't give you any of the "other" stuff to go with you!
I am thinking it would be a good idea to NOT give them your US address.. hhhmmm
all kidding aside, it is heart breaking to witness or hear of a broken hearted person - especially over a child that they have spent so much time and love on.
Praying for them and for you. Praying that you know deep in your heart, Dean is meant to be yours.
G@d is in control.

Carol S said...

That is something indeed! But I'm so glad he has grown up with such love. Surely that means it will be easier for him to accept all that love coming from his big new family.

June Berger said...

Awww, to me that is so sad, yet so sweet. Dean should not have too much difficulty bonding. He knows what love is, a obviously very deep love. Not the type we are used to, but heartfelt all the same. Praying for your little guy to adapt to the family easily (and the family to adapt to him) and for his urological difficulties.