Tuesday, May 21, 2013

China Day Eight - Tunnel Vision

It’s 2am here.  My child has been screaming at the top, tippy, tippy TOP of her lungs for about half an hour now.  Ruslan’s record was 90 minutes, but somehow, I think Qing Bei is going to beat his record. 

The people from her orphanage keep coming up to our interpreter and chatting with her in Chinese.  Then our interpreter turns to us to tell us what they said.  This often comes with a charming story –  “They are worried about you because Qing Bei is so stubborn.”  “Her foster family spoil her.”  “She was so angry when they go to pick her up. She had tantrum and threw herself on the floor.  She not walk.  So, they pick her up and carry her out.”  “Her foster family give her sugar water in morning instead of plain water, this is why she refuse drink.” “She throw a tantrum when she is angry and stomp her feet and try to destroy things.” 

We found a nasty scar on her arm and part of her hand and when we asked about it, the caregiver just nodded her head in disgust and started off.  The translation was, “She was angry and she wave her arm to destroy some teacups just filled with tea.  She knock over cups and burn her arm.”

Ok ….This is a far cry from the words, “quiet” and “shy” that they used to describe her personality in my paperwork for her.  I know the word, “sucker” is emblazoned on my forehead, what I’m wondering is, “in how many languages?”   Plus, I do admit to feeling a small pang of jealousy over the other families with their adorable little Chinese children who were in the room.  None of THEIR kids were screaming on the “gotcha day.”  We keep passing them in the hotel or in different government buildings and their kids look so cute and …you know…not shrieking. 

This morning, Qing Bei woke up about 5am and finally ate.  She had a banana and some yogurt, but she wouldn’t eat anything at breakfast at 8am, and really she had nothing else substantial for the rest of the day. 

We met a van at about 10 am this morning and drove back to the wedding/adoption room to give the “donation” to the orphanage.  This is when most of the stories came out about Qing Bei.  I think, when she saw the orphanage workers, Qing Bei had some hope that she might be going back home.  She sat quietly in my lap while we signed a bunch of papers and the caregivers couldn’t get over how well she was doing.  She kept her cool until we got back into the van and then I think she realized that she was stuck with us. 

We had to drive to her birth city (Datong City) today to apply for her passport.  This is what I mean about the Chinese making the transition as hard as possible for all parties involved.  Qing Bei had to ride four hours yesterday to get here to meet us in the wedding/adoption room and now, today, we all had to drive four hours back to her birth city to apply for a passport and another four hours back home.  It was a long day. 

She cried off and on during the ride to the city.  When we got there, she was a little more clingy.  No wonder!  Let me tell you, I would not let my DOG live in that city.  It was horrific.  It was easily the worst, most disgusting city I have ever been in, and I say that having traveled in Africa, the Middle East, and the Soviet Union before the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  They have the same problem with dust and pollution, which gives a brown haze all over everything, but the real problem was the trash, everywhere, and the people, who apparently have no sense of order nor cleanliness.  The street vendors were crammed haphazardly all along the sidewalks, which is common enough, but their stuff was filthy.  The buildings were constructed poorly and most were falling apart.  Everything smelled. It was crowded and the beggars were laying on the street, not against the wall so they wouldn’t be stepped on, but laying in the middle of the sidewalks for some reason and surrounded by filth. They were so dirty, their hands and faces were black with bits of brown skin showing through under the muck.  There was trash everywhere.  And, here is the kicker, we were in the nice part of town, between the police station, where we applied for the passport, and a shopping mall, with advertisements for Tommy Hilfiger and a KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), just like you’d see in the states.  These were garish spots of cleanliness amidst tons of dirt and…putrescence. 

Qing Bei had to use the restroom at the police station.  OH MY GOODNESS.  It was squatty potties, which is bad enough, but they were filthy and apparently, they couldn’t flush because all the units had piles of half-dried human excrement in the bottom of the toilet area.  There is no water in the bottom of squatty potties to cover the smell, this was all open to the air and there was a LOT.  Qing Bei had to go, so I just straddled the poo and held her over it until she was done.  I understand about the toilets being broken, but that restroom had not been cleaned in months, if ever. 

We had dinner at the KFC (Qing Bei ate nothing).  I must have washed my hands and the kids hands 100 times over before we sat down to eat.  I still feel crusty. Then we headed to the van for the four hour ride back to our hotel in Taiyuan.  This is where Qing Bei really started to scream.  She cried off and on for most of the ride.  She wouldn’t let me hold her or even touch her, so we just sat next to each other while she looked out the window and cried.  I left her alone unless she started to pull her own hair or scratch her own face.  Then I just held her hands and said, “No,” and she stopped.  She hadn’t eaten anything all day, so we tried to get her to eat.  All she would take was cookies, so we gave her some, just to keep her blood sugar up, but I can see many food fights in our future. 

She went to bed right away, about 8pm, but she woke up at 1am, screaming and here we are.  She wouldn’t let me touch her, so I let her walk around the room for a few minutes, but then she put her shoes on and I realized she thought I was going to take her home.  It didn’t seem fair to make her think this, so I took the shoes off and put her in her crib.  She sat and wailed/shrieked/screamed non stop.  In the van, there were a few times that she cried with tears and I know she was genuinely sad, but this time, she was just flat out angry.  She wouldn’t let me touch her.  She just sat in the crib and shrieked.

I would have a hard time being compassionate, but I know she is walking an almost unbearable road.  Her old life is gone.  Her foster mother is gone.  I’m sure it’s grief as if her  mother had died.  I know what this is like.  Today is the anniversary of the death of our good friend, Bruce West.  I wrote about this in May/June 2011.  I well remember my grief turning into anger and disbelief that God would allow something like this to happen.  The anger is very real and a legitimate part of her mourning. 
The irony is that this time, I can see what is happing with Qing Bei.  The city where she lived held NO future for her.  Those people would have eaten her alive. It was Lord of the Flies with a KFC thrown in for color.  She could not stay with her foster mother, even if she went back.  Our translator told me that eventually she would have to go back to the orphanage and there is no hope that she would ever have any surgery in China.  The translator said, "The doctors will not touch her."  With her face, she would have ended up as a beggar on those filthy streets, and here she is crying over THAT loss. 

I know the parallel exists.  I kick and scream in the same way against many parts of God’s undeniable will, especially when it seems so completely insane, like the death of Bruce, or a baby girl with a face that is so horrific, I cannot muster the courage to post a picture.  I see the parallel.  I know that I have tunnel vision. 

She finally stopped after 45 minutes.  (Ruslan still holds the record.)  She is now sleeping peacefully, but this is just a break. It’s not over yet. 

You cry all you want precious little one.  I’ve been there.  I got this. 


  1. Honestly, the beginning of this was hard for me to read. I felt like I was back in Ukraine with Oksana. I swear I have PTSD over that experience so I think I was about to have myself a little panic attack as I read. When I got to the end I felt much better though. Your perspective on the whole thing is great and helped me see things through different eyes too. So when do you get your next girl and how will her arrival play into all of this?

    1. Sorry I missed this! I know what you mean about that panic attack. Ukraine would give anyone PTSD. We get our next girl on the 27th in the afternoon. ...How will her arrival play into all of this?? Ha! I'll have the screaming in stereo. No Worries.