It’s official. We adopted Henry this morning at the nearby office of the Social Welfare Bureau of the Provincial Ministry of Civil Affairs. The ceremony and paper work went relatively fast and smoothly, with two other families also adopting children from Gansu orphanages joining us, although we traveled here alone. One of the other children is also from the Pingliang orphanage, a cute little guy of about the same age as Henry but much further along developmentally.
Henry appears to be about half his actual age. Twelve month sizes fit him loosely. Changing him and putting him into some PJs last night, we looked him over very carefully. At nearly two years old his body and limbs still have an infant shape with absolutely zero body fat and some slight distention to his stomach. Sure enough, his cleft is extremely wide. We’ve learned that the surgical attempt to build him an upper lip was actually done in the large city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province and supervised there by a visiting team of American surgeons. It still failed. His cleft does seem to affect both his breathing and his eating, but he seems to compensate well.
He does not yet feed himself, but has a very good appetite. He can stand with help but does not appear to be walking yet on his own. Indeed he has difficulty sitting up by himself in his crib, and appears to have no experience crawling. We’ve been down a similar road before since this (minus the cleft issues) is very much how we found his oldest sister Dorothy, who at 14 months appeared to be just a tiny infant. It worked well for Dorothy; her developmental delays allowed us to help her through milestones we would have missed otherwise. Eventually she built up momentum in catching up cognitively that never quite leveled off. She was as wise as a little old man when she was about three.
It took only about three hours yesterday for Henry to begin to suspect that he could get used to these new people catering to his every whim. The ice cream was a big help. By about 6 pm he had settled into his mom’s arms with a warm bottle of milk and things began to feel pretty good. After the bottle it was time to try out some of those Lanzhou Beef Noodles (chopped up) and then, why not, some chopped pizza.
After noisily gobbling up as much food as he could fit into his little stomach it was time to sit on the bed next to his sleeping sisters and try out some brightly colored stacking cups, which he found to be fascinating. He gazes at people and objects clearly and thoughtfully. He also has a good attention span and is persistent with tasks.
Orphanage life is so bland and everything now is so new.
Henry’s first big smile came last night just before bed after he spontaneously took turns shrugging shoulders with his dad. His mom read him two books, Good Night Moon and Good Night Gorilla, which he followed very closely all the way through before he fell asleep after lots of soft kisses good night.
Today there have been no tears. This means that so far he’s having a very good transition. For Henry it’s just been a day full of an overwhelming amount of new information, which he seems to be handling cautiously but very well.
To celebrate, tonight we'll all be going out for pizza.