Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Five Springs Park

Henry has become a momma’s boy, which is okay by Trish. He is happy and comfortable in her arms or attached to her in the front-carrying baby backpack that we brought, but he cries when he is separated from her. This is good.

This morning at breakfast once again he ate a tremendous amount of food for someone his size. The only thing he doesn’t seem to want to eat is hard fruit such as melon since it doesn’t seem to dissolve well in his mouth. We haven’t quite figured out how to remove without bothering him too much the excess food that visibly gets stuck up in his nasal cavity. His cleft is so open that it would be easy just to stick a finger in there to dislodge this stuff, and that is likely what we will do once we’re sure he trusts us enough.

After breakfast we headed with our guides to Five Springs Park. The park, which is the largest in Lanzhou, lies on the side of Gaolan Mountain, which looks out over the southern section of the city's downtown area. The story goes that in the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 24 A.D.) a famous general named Huo Qubing was dispatched by the Emperor to seek out Hun forces in the area. Having traveled all the way from Xi’an, General Huo and his soldiers were exhausted when they arrived at the foot of this mountain. They couldn't find any water nearby, so the general jabbed his horsewhip five times into the ground causing five springs to suddenly spurt water into the air. The springs are said to have flowed ever since, more than two thousand years. Buddhists built on the site several large temples, ancient structures that are still occupied by monks. In 1955, the mountain was officially named a public park. Local authorities added a zoo and small amusement rides. It is a beautiful spot and very popular, especially during weekdays as a place for older people to gather in groups to dance, practice Tai’Chi, or to sing and play traditional instruments.

Our kids loved the cute children’s rides plus they got to ride a real camel. They got to see two giant pandas among the animals in the zoo. We arranged to meet at the park one of the other families we met at the adoption ceremony yesterday. They are from upstate New York, have adopted a little boy with a repaired cleft lip who is about 3 ½ years old, and are traveling with their 5 ½ year old biological son--and also a family friend who is helping out. This was a wonderful way to spend the day while allowing Dorothy and Clara to burn off some energy.

We’ve just returned to our hotel from a big late afternoon lunch at a restaurant in an alley about four blocks away that is said to be among the city’s best for, yes, beef noodles again. Clara is sneaking around the hallways outside our room. Dorothy is teaching Henry to clap his hands and they are both laughing. “I love you Henry,” she says often and the two of them have formed sort of a natural bond. Henry is turning out to be absolutely the sweetest little child.

Things are going well for us. We are very fortunate, since it doesn’t always turn out this way. Most foreign adoptions in Gansu Province are special needs adoptions.  Six months into the year ours was only the 47th foreign adoption in 2008 for the province overall. 

Special needs adoptions inherently involve very serious risks that things will not go according to plan. There is a fourth family here who found that the child they planned to adopt had issues when they saw her that were more than they felt they would be able to live with. The child appears to have severe autism that apparently wasn't clearly indicated among the other special needs described in her medical reports. The family decided not to go ahead with the adoption, which is a crushing decision. A long time ago we had frankly discussed what we might do if things were to veer in this direction for us, understanding that this was entirely possible. We agreed that in deciding to proceed in the very early stages of this we would accept the consequences. But everyone has different limits and who is to say what our own real limits are.

Tomorrow morning very early Andy and Chen (Steed) will strike off for Pingliang and the area where Henry was found.


teri said...

Andy I love you posts. I am so glad Henry is taking to his Mom. My heart is so sad for the family who had to decide to not take their family. I am glad you will get to got to Ping Liang. Brian has made it there and they are doing well. Saw the Nanny and Mrs Yang along the way.

Teri Prichard

Teagues said...

Hi Trish!
Hudson was a mams's boy too, still is although he loves his daddy, sisters and brothers.
Check out the dumpling rest. The ones with green stuff inside were very good. It is towards the square on a corner...Steed will probably know.
Glad all is going well. Can't wait to hear an update about the orphanage. I will LOVE to be able to ask Hudson's nanny how they got him to sleep. This boy won't nap and is still sleeping so restless every night...oh well.
Glad things are going well.

Piper said...

Henry is so precious!! I love the picture of Trish and Henry together. Andy, your posts have a way of making me feel like I'm right there with you all!!Thanxs so much for taking the time to share these special moments with us!!
Please tell Dorothy and Clara hello!!

Anonymous said...

Andy and Trish,

We are delighted to read how well things are going!! The pictures are adorable and everyone is clearly so very happy. All five of you are in our thoughts.

Ellyn and Sean


Paula said...

So glad to hear things are going so well with your little guy.
The picture of Dorothy and Clara doing Tai Chi is priceless!
Paula Anderson

Zoe said...


Trish and I corresponded before you left - we were in Lanzhou last month picking up our daughter. Your trip sounds like it's going very well - your children are just beautiful and it sounds like Henry is adjusting nicely. I would so love to be in Lanzhou with all of you - and I would give anything for a big bowl of beef noodles right now!

Please tell Steed and Megan (and Esther too, if she joins you) that the Thompsons from Texas say hello. Steed might remember ShanShan, our daughter, as the 'white faced girl.'

Please give Megan a special hello from her boyfriend, Gus (my 6 year old son)!

Can't wait to read about the rest of your trip....

Zoe (Dave, Gus, Henry and Phoebe) Thompson