Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things Quinn is grateful for this Thanksgiving

1. Stacking cups and rings. Always a good time.

2. Baxter the dog. Loyal and protective of HIS boy.

3. Grandma Marj. Unconditional love, and a weakness for Gymboree.

4. Best pal Ba Ba. Always happy to act like a kid himself.

5. Bedtime stories. Good Night Moon works EVERY time.

Things we're grateful for this Thanksgiving

1. Smiles.
2. Hand games that make Quinn laugh out loud.
3. Stacking cups.
4. Peaceful nights. Thanks to a RIGID schedule, we now have bathtime, reading in the rocker and then to bed. Quinn usually wakes up when we put him in the crib, but cries for only about 15 seconds - tonight, he just looked up at the mobile and didn't cry at all.
5. Eye contact. Finally.
6. Learning ever day. When we came home Quinn couldn't handle a big, chunky stacking ring - he would over- or under-shoot the central post and give up. Less than two weeks later he has mastered a three-part stacking tower with very narrow wooden posts.
7. Crawling. In China Quinn could barely make it from one side of the bed to the other. Now he is crawling through the entire house.
8. Walking. He looks like a cross between Frankenstein and Popeye with his goose steps and wobbly legs, but with a little assistance (we hold him under his arms), he's cruising.
9. Baby pajamas. Is there anything cuter?
10. Kisses. Quinn has two versions: The vampire kiss, where he tucks his lips around his teeth and bites the neck; and the face plant, where he positions a hand, palm open, in front of him, then falls face-first into it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Boy under a microscope

Quinn's first doctor's appointment led to a flurry of specialist visits.

First up, on Monday he will meet with an internationally know feeding specialist, who happens to live in Tucson. She will work with him on his refusal to eat solid foods. Our first exercise was to track anything he puts in his mouth - that was easy, the answer is nothing! - and to dip the fingers he puts in his mouth in juice and see what he does. He pops them in just like normal.

Next up, he is enrolled in Arizona's Early Intervention program for kids with developmental delays. That will lead him to a physical therapist to get him to use his bad shoulder (his SN is a brachial plexus injury sustained during delivery) and an occupational therapist to work on his walking.

In December, we will visit an international adoption clinic in San Francisco for a thorough analysis of his development, attachment, etc.

This kid is going to see a lot of waiting rooms. We'd better make sure we bring the stacking cups!

Help! Sleep!

Quinn slept so well in China. Near the end of the trip he started crying when we put him down, so we went into the bathroom for a few minutes to get ready for bed, and he'd be out by the time we were finished.

Now that we're home, going to bed has become tougher and tougher for the poor kid. He cries for about 90 minutes and then starts these
horrible institutional behaviors: rocking very hard forward and back,
hitting himself in the mouth, making odd faces. I really want him to
sleep in his own room, but this is just about killing me. I know he must
be scared - it's probably the first time he's been in a room by himself.

Our doctor suggested we read to him for an hour or until he falls
asleep. I did that last night and he went right to sleep, but when I put
him down he woke up and SHRIEKED for 45 minutes. Tonight he willed
himself to stay awake for the full hour - I could see it!- but when I
put him down he cried for only 30 seconds or so. But then an hour of the
rocking and hitting.

Help! Any ideas?????

Pee problem, solved!

A couple days ago we went to Babies R Us and asked for the most industrial-strength diaper ever made. We went home with Huggies Overnights and something called Diaper Doublers, which are big, long pads that line the length of the diaper. Hooray, it works! I am still changing him A LOT, but we are no longer leaking through four outfits a day!

Hello, America

We're home!

The journey was far easier than we had feared, thanks to a miraculously good boy who had only one bad moment on the loooong flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles, when Baba tried to help fussy Quinn by popping his fingers back into his mouth. SKREEEEEEECH!!!! He screamed for about a minute and quieted down.

Quinn became an American in the eyes of the law when we touched down in LA. He seemed to understand the significance of the moment as he looked out over the tarmac:

For most of the flights, he entertained himself by playing with his toys. On the flight from Guangzhou, we were lucky to have an empty seat next to us:

He did very well, but after a while he got a bit bored:

On the long flight, he had his own little cubby under my seat - although he spent most of the flight sleeping on my seat. About two hours before we landed I gave up and surrendered the seat to him; I sat on the footrest and read a book.

Here he is in his cubby. This is the first picture he ever posed for and smiled:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homeward bound

Tomorrow morning we head home.

I'll be sad to leave China, the place of Quinn's birth and heritage, but I'm excited to get him into his new life and develop some sort of routine.

This trip has been amazing, and I've loved everything about it.

I'm so glad we were able to see China and learn a bit about a country I had underestimated and misunderstood.

I'm so grateful that we were able to see Quinn's finding place and piece together some of his history and the events of day he was found - the day he began his journey to us.

And most of all, of course, I'm awed that this trip gave us our amazing son, who is currently sitting on the middle of a kingsized bed, happily stacking his cups and babbling his adorable little baby babble.

I'll write again once we're home and settled. Thanks to all of you for sharing the most important journey of our lives - it was fun to have you be a part of it!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The many-varied attachment process

In the adoption class we took when we started this process, we learned that a common reaction of kids when they meet their parents is to reject one or the other. We also learned that grieving was normal. Surprisingly - to me, at least - is that both reactions are considered healthy and actually good for the child. They indicate that the child has bonded to a caregiver and is grieving that loss.

For Quinn, the grieving process was retreating into himself and crying all night in his sleep his second night with us. He needed a good week to warm up to us. For the first couple days, he refused to make eye contact and was so deep into himself that we were convinced he was autistic.

Two other couples we met yesterday saw very different reactions.

One couple, experienced parents of special needs kids who adopted a 2-year-old, found that their new daughter completely rejected the heartbroken mom. It's been a week now and the little girl will look at her mom, which is progress, but will not let her hold her or feed her. I had heard that a good thing to do in cases like this is for the preferred parent to hold the baby while the rejected parent feeds her. Not sure if that works, but maybe it's worth a try.

Another couple adopted a 2-year-old girl who was deeply attached to her foster parents. Hand-off was very difficult; the entire foster family, including grandparents and aunts and uncles, showed up and sobbed. The poor little girl was despondent for an entire week. She smiled for the first time on day eight and is showing small signs of progress.

As we prepare to head home, I do not pretend to be anything close to an expert on this whole process. All I can say is that, from what I've seen, children respond and bond and attach in very, very different ways. It seems like the best thing to do is learn about what might happen so you're prepared, but not worry if it does happen. Almost every problem experienced by the people I've met here has either disappeared a few days later or is waning.

My other advice would be to avoid comparing your kid to others. That's not easy when a 13-month-old in the playroom is obviously considerably more advanced than your 17-month-old, as we saw this morning. But every kid is on his own schedule, handling major, major upheaval in his or her own way. It's amazing, really, considering all they've been through, that they're doing as well as are.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quinn's first American meal

We've really been enjoying all the great Chinese food. But we have to admit that after more than two weeks in China, some American food sounded pretty darn good. It's a gorgeous day, so we went to Lucy's and ate outside.

Iced tea - hooray!

And grilled cheese sandwiches - with the crusts cut off!

A romantic dinner for three

Last night was beautiful, so we ate at a lovely outdoor restaurant on a heavily planted pedestrian street. We sat at a big, wide couch, which was perfect for Quinn. He sat and played with his trucks and rattles the whole time we were there.

We were sitting on this front porch:

The place used to be a coffee and tea house, so their tea presentation was quite lovely:

A knock at the door

Yesterday afternoon while Quinn was napping I heard a knock on the door. When I opened it there was a smiling young woman holding out a box. "This is for you, from the hotel," she said. I looked down and saw... Chinese adoption Barbie!!!!! There she is, standing in a garden and holding little Chinese girl. Way fab - I totally love it.

Here she is:

My favorite souvenirs

Personalized souvenirs are all over the place here.

Here are my favorites:

- Chops are small stamps with your name in Chinese carved in them. Many people told us Michael has the best reputation for carving them, and that's where we got ours. If you upgrade to the medium size, he puts the name in English AND Chinese, which we liked. (Bring the birth year of anyone you plan to buy a chop for - each one includes a carved Chinese zodiac symbol on the top.) We bought a bunch for Christmas gifts.

- Some places, including the shop just past Michael's, will carve your child's face onto a larger chop. They're very cute, but we couldn't figure out how we'd ever use it so we passed.

- Several shops will paint your child's face inside a small bottle. Great grandma gifts! We bought ours at Michael's, and he let us e-mail him a photo.

- Several places also will carve your child's face in granite. We chose a cool version at Sherry's, that includes not only the face, but also a quote from the parents, a map of China with the child's province marked, the child's birthdate and adoption date, and the parents' signature. We plan to give it to Quinn for his 13th or 16th birthday. (They'll take a photo of your child there in the store.)

- Almost everywhere will do your child's name in calligraphy. Both Jordan's and Sherry's will do you a small one for free. We haven't picked up ours from Jordan yet, but the one from Sherry's is way cute and includes a colorful pig (Quinn was born in the year of the pig). If you want to buy more, you can get a big version of the child's name in calligraphy, and Michael's has a cute selection of bookmarks you can personalize.

- This isn't exactly personalized, but a cute and easy to pack gift is ornaments in the shape of the recipient's zodiac animal. The best ones I saw were in Beijing - I wish we had bought more there, on the little street across from the Wangfujing shopping street (there are a bunch of souvenir shops and camera shops all interspersed, and they're in those souvenir shops). But Michael's here on Shamian Island has some, too.

- At Raymond's suggestion, we're also bringing home some almond cookies. They're in nice boxes at the grocery store, and WAY cheaper than the versions you'll see in the tourist shops.

Shopping tips for those coming to Guangzhou

We have been here for almost a week now and have done A LOT of shopping. Here are my tips:

- My favorite merchant, by a long shot, is Michael, of Michael's. Just walk out of the hotel on the first floor, turn right and then make a left on the first street. You'll see his shop right away. He's very nice, his quality is the best in my opinion, and neither he nor his clerks are a bit pushy. That is a big-time rarity here, and makes for a much better shopping experience than in most stores, where someone follows you around and says, "That's very rare. You want that? You want that?"

- Try the green tea latte at Starbuck's after a long day of shopping. Yummy.

- The owner of Jordan's is very nice, and his shop has ADORABLE Chinese rag dolls for girls.

- If you want a doll for a boy, check out the awesome charity shop on the pedestrian street near the hotel. It's called A Gift from China, and it's right in between Sherry's and Starbucks - two places anyone can point you to. If you're looking for Christian-themed Chinese souvenirs, or you want to buy someplace where your money goes to charity, this is the place. And the knit boy dolls are super cute - someone in our adoption group spotted them and bought one for Quinn (thanks, Melanie!!).

- Catty-corner across the street from Starbuck's is a very nice art gallery called E-Gallery. Nice variety, very good quality and very fair prices. They did bargain, but not a ton. And they take Visa, which is rare in China.

- Someone in my group suggested buying several years' worth of Chinese New Year's outfits while we're here. We found one we loved at Michael's (Quinn is wearing it in his red couch photo) and we bought three more in bigger sizes. It's short-sleeved, which will be good for us in Tucson (most of them are very heavily quilted).

Bargain shopping with the bargain shopper

Today our Guangzhou guide, Raymond, took us shopping for kids' clothes. First we started at a very fancy department store, where the clothes were fabulous, but priced about the same as they would be at home. So Raymond dragged us out of there and took us to the children's garment district, which is mostly wholesale but has some retail outlets, too.

That Raymond was quite the wheeler and dealer. I'd point out what I'd like and he'd ask the price, then scowl and tell the seller that was ridiculous. If they didn't come immediately down he'd say to me, "We'll go to another place" and lead me out of the store. Most of the time someone would come running after us with a better price, but sometimes not. Usually in those cases Raymond would say, "The 66 yuan they want is is a very good price." Then why did we leave? That's just the way you do it here. So we'd look at another couple of stores and then head back to the one we had just marched out of and say we had reconsidered.

Pretty quickly I got a beautiful Chinese New Year's outfit for $13, a very nice coat and matching ski pants for $14 and a nice stocking cap and gloves for $4. Then Raymond hit the motherlode: a row of wholesale shops that each had a box of retail bargains out front. I got two pairs of sweat pants for less than $1 each and seven adorable long-sleeved t-shirts for less than $2 each. It was quite the haul, and a really fun experience.

The newest Americans

Yesterday afternoon we headed to the American consulate to get the kids' immigrant visas. The guy who runs the adoptions unit is new to the job, and still obviously jazzed about it, and he came out and gave a sweet speech about how much he loves his job. Then all 37 families in the room stood and gave an oath that all the information in our children's information was correct, and poof, instant Americans. It's not official until they touch down on American soil, but all the paperwork is completed.

Congratulations to the newest little Americans!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Only in China

At a very nice Thai restaurant in Guangzhou, an entire page is dedicated to food for infants:

Starbucks in America serves green tea latte, too. But the version here is VERY strongly flavored of matcha powder, and very delicious. Also much greener than the American version:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What I wish I had brought/glad I brought to China

I wish I had brought:

1. An illuminated alarm clock. We have stayed in two very nice hotels, and neither has clocks in the rooms. Apparently Chinese people are not fond of them, because they're a reminder that time is short. We've been doing wake-up calls every day, which is fine, but when I wake up in the middle of the night I wish I knew what time it was!

2. OTC medicine. I brought antibiotics from my doctor in case we got really sick, but I had a cold and now a cough, and haven't been able to find cough or cold medicine at the grocery stores.

3. Diapers. Quinn has leaked through every Chinese diaper we have tried. I think we have spent way more in laundry service than we have on food!

I'm glad I brought:

1. Baby Bjorn. We struggled with this one because Quinn is 22 pounds and Baby Bjorn carriers max out at 25. We are SO glad we brought it. We firmly believed this helped significantly in our bonding process. Wherever we went Quinn was right there with us, feeling us against him and hearing our voices. After the first couple days he started asking to hold our fingers, which we hold up light motorcycle handles in front of him. He is ALWAYS happy in his Baby Bjorn. We will be so sad when he outgrows it!!

2. Music. We bought a portable speaker system for our iPod at Target, and it's been great. We downloaded lullabies for nap and bed time, and upbeat Asian tunes for playtime. It has really created a nice atmosphere for us.

3. Laptop. We really struggled with whether to bring it, and I'm so glad we did. Not only did it make it possible for me to blog, but we have used it to look up all kinds of things: how to make phone calls from Guangzhou, how much formula babies should have at 22 pounds, the definitions of various special needs (after meeting kids with them), all kinds of stuff. It also eased my mind when I was convinced Quinn had autism, and told us who our next president will be. I'm SO glad we brought it.

4. Baby clothes. Everyone kept telling us not to bother, that everything was readily available here. That's true here in Guangzhou, but we spent our first 10 days in Beijing, where the only children's store was a very nice, but very expensive, super store. We also went to Super Wal-Mart, but it was far away and not especially well-stocked with baby clothes.

We're walking, yes siree!

Every day we do a little walking. Today Quinn really started to get the hang of it. By the time he wore out, he was supporting himself pretty well and mostly all I was doing was helping him balance!

The famous red couch

Today the Little Emperor dressed up in an outfit fit for his status for his red couch photo:

Just about every child adopted from China has been photographed on the famous red couch at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, where we're staying.

Yesterday was our day. Not long ago, red couch photos of individual adoption groups included dozens of children. Now, adoptions from China have dwindled significantly because of new restrictions, longer waits, and China's new emphasis on adopting out healthy children domestically and special needs children internationally. Our agency now does about eight adoptions of healthy kids a month, compared with 60 special needs adoptions.

Our adoption group has three kids, but for the photo we teamed up with the other Holt families here in the hotel. Two of them we met at our orientation in Beijing so long ago, and another we met at dinner the other night, so we were among friends.

Predictably, none of the kids cooperated, lots of them cried, one of them tumbled head first off the couch (the one non special-needs kid in the group, mind you) and none of them knew where to look with all the parents calling and all the camera flashes popping. It was utter chaos, but also lots of fun. Afterwards, we all went for tea at the White Swan and had a serious sugar fest.

These are the kids from our adoption group: 17-month-old Quinn, 25-month-old Anna and 6-year-old Malia (plus Malia's big sister, 8-year-old Ari):

And here is our entire Red Couch group:

We survived!

Here is our entire group, plus the fabulous Leah:

And all the Holt families:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Babies, babies, everywhere!

We're now in Guangzhou, where every Chinese adoption is processed. Actually, we're on Shamian Island, which is where the consulate used to be and is still is where every adoptive family stays and shops. To me, at least, the place is a little trippy. Everywhere you go, you see adoptive families. We all stay in the same hotel, The White Swan, so on every floor you hear crying babies. And a huge cottage industry serving people like us has sprung up on the island. Little shop after little shop carries traditional Chinese outfits, baby clothes, souvenirs, diapers and all sorts of arts and crafts aimed at adoptive families - get your child's name carved on a "chop" (a signature stamp), get your child's face carved on a stamp, get your child's picture etched in granite, get your child's face painted inside a bottle. Of course we can't resist any of them.

It's fun being here, but I must say that I prefer Beijing. There, we met Chinese people who were truly interested in us and our kids. Here, very few people live on the island so the people you meet are mostly merchants who want to sell you something. Both are fascinating in their own way, but Beijing felt more authentic to me.

Also, it's very difficult not to compare development levels here. What, that kid is 13 months old and already feeding herself? Look at that little baby - her eye contact is way better than Quinn's. Wow, that boy is just a little older than Quinn and he's walking already. Definitely not a good thing to do, at least for me.

On the plus side, it's great fun to meet other adoptive families and hear their stories. Last night at dinner we sat next to a super nice couple from Omaha who is here adopting their seventh (!!) child, a 3-year-old boy with spina bifida. This morning at breakfast we sat next to a couple of Chinese descent with an elementary-school-aged bio son who adopted a baby girl. They're from Phoenix, just a couple hours from us. It really is a small world.

The drama king of Guangzhou

We arrived in Guangzhou, where all Chinese adoptions are processed, on Monday night. Quinn did pretty well on his first flight, although he was fussier than normal and - despite repeated diaper changes - managed to soak both of us in pee.

On Tuesday we went for a mandatory medical check at a nearby clinic for adoptive families. The kids were weighed (Quinn now weighs 10.6 kilograms), measured, their vision and hearing checked, and they underwent a basic physical exam (Quinn's centered on his bad shoulder).

Let's just say the Little Emperor did not enjoy the experience. Screams. Shrieks. The sourest of sourpuss faces. Every time someone did something Quinn didn't like - which was pretty much constantly - he either complained loudly or outright screamed. In short, the baby was a big 'ol baby. All three families in our group couldn't help but laugh at his ridiculous over-reaction.

Granted, the kid is fighting off a cold and just before his appointment we woke him from a three-hour nap...

Malia, the 6-year-old in our group, did great, as she always does. Watching her do an eye exam, following directions (in Mandarin) and moving a wooden spoon over her eyes as directed, it really struck me just how amazing the kid is. She speaks an entirely different language than the rest of us, doesn't understand hardly anything we try to tell her, and yet she always has a beautiful smile on her face and does all she can to please her new parents, who adore her.

Anna, the 2-year-old in our group, also was the perfect angel.

Let's just say nobody is writing on their blog right now about Quinn's lovely behavior...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Parenting at the one-week mark

One week in, it seems like Quinn has always been a part of our lives. But it's still all so new, both to him and to us. He reveals more of himself every day, and it's so much fun to see what we'll learn about him each day.

The boy we have now is not the boy we met last Saturday. Looking back now, I can see that the poor kid was shell-shocked. He just retreated into himself, I think as the only way he knew how to cope. He wasn't ready to acknowledge us, much less look us right in the eyes.

Our first breakthrough was the discovery of the beloved mirror, which remains the can't-miss cheerer-upper. Since then it's been one tiny discovery after another, all of them amazing.

What we see now is a kid who is very mechanically oriented, with a killer sense of humor and near-perfect comic timing. He loves to entertain a crowd, but he's equally happy examining a toy to figure out what it does and how it works. We gave him a little Tonka truck this morning, and he immediately flipped it over and started spinning the wheels. He loves to be outside and wants to be on the go. If we stop to look at something, he starts fussing. He has a monster attention span, and will happily sit and play with his stacking cups - no exaggeration, I swear - for an hour. Getting ready in the morning is a breeze, bless this child. We wake up, snuggle for a while, have a bottle, and then he starts looking around for those stacking cups.

His injured shoulder seems to be fully functional, but he will do everything in his power NOT to use it. Hand him something on the right side, and he'll twist all the way around to grab it with his left hand. Whether it's out of habit or pain, we can't tell. But definitely a good amount of therapy awaits.

In short, my very unbiased opinion is that he's a spectacular, very special little boy. We're lucky to know him, much less to be his parents.

A fond farewell to Beijing

In a couple of hours, after the Little Emperor wakes from his nap, we leave Beijing for Guangzhou in the south of China. That's where all international adoptions are processed, and loads of businesses there cater to adoptive families. I'm looking forward to it, but I have LOVED our stay in Beijing. This is, by far, the friendliest big city I've ever visited. And it could not be more baby friendly. On the subway yesterday heading to the Lama Temple, someone always gave me a seat - here, it's babies first. When Quinn got a little fussy, people gathered around to entertain him and laughed heartily when they saw him catch his reflection in the subway window and smile.

This place is huge and loud and the traffic is pretty daunting. But it's really a wonderful place. I'll definitely be back.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We're smiling now!

Good news from the baby front: Quinn is now smiling at us (not just only at his reflection in the mirror!) and he's getting very good with the eye contact. He's looking right at me now, although he a bit of a Grumpy Gus after his nap. He is also starting to respond to his named, which has morphed from the western Quinn to the eastern version, Quinn-Quinn.


Friday, November 7, 2008

New families arrive

Today we went on a tour to the Great Wall of China with six families who have arrived to meet their children. They were excited and scared - I remember that combination!

It's funny to be considered someone who knows much of anything after only six days of hit-or-miss parenting choices, but I tried to share what I wish I had known last Saturday:

- Don't expect your child's development to match his chronological age. Quinn was 16 months old when we picked him up, but in many ways he's still a tiny baby. He couldn't push himself from a laying position to sitting up, couldn't pull himself up and needed us to do everything for him.

- The personality of the child you meet is not necessarily your child's personality. Quinn was so out of it when we met him, to the point that we were quite terrified. What I've learned from all of you is that these guys are going through so much change that they need something to hold onto that they can control. For Quinn, it was eye contact and reverting to bottle feeding only (we're told he ate quite well at the orphanage).

- Don't worry - at least not yet. Quinn showed so many alarming signs when we met him. A week later, they're mostly history.

- Just because your child did something in the orphanage doesn't mean he'll do it for you - at least not yet. Don't compare the child you see in person to the child you saw in his or her paperwork.

- Don't worry about those developmental milestones. I purposely decided to steer clear of the "What to Expect" books until I had Quinn home and adjusted. I'm so glad I did. To me he is a wonderful, funny, brilliant 17-month-old baby. What I don't know right now is definitely not hurting either one of us.

- Bond in whatever way your child is willing. Look for the signs and respond. Quinn is particularly open to us when he wakes up in the morning and after his nap. So we make sure our plans allow plenty of time for snuggles and hugs when he gets up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My ever-changing moods: the many faces of Quinn-Quinn

One thing we totally love about this kid is his vast range of emotions. They come fast and furious and you better look quick or he's on to the next one. Here are the faces of a single, 30-second diaper change:

The Chinese factor

We're noticing some interesting things regarding how our kids relate to Chinese people. When Quinn is approached or held by someone - actually, usually a crowd of someones - who is Chinese, he is thrilled beyond words, laughing, smiling and showing off something fierce. He comes back to us easily and actually interacts BETTER with us afterwards.

Anna, the beautiful, super-smart 2-year-old in our group, has just the opposite reaction. If a Chinese person interacts with her - either holding her or even coming up for a chat - she takes one big emotional step away from her Mama and Baba. She doesn't want to go back to them and it sometimes pushes her right into meltdown mode. Her spectacular mother Susan, who has become my mothering role model, is faced with a huge and difficult dilemma: People in China are so very friendly and LOVE kids. They are just genetically drawn to them and truly want to help us new parents adjust. How does she tell them, for Anna's sake, not to approach?

And why such different reactions? It's all a bit of a mystery. We're wondering how Quinn will react to groups of Americans, like relatives, when we get home. Same reaction? Something entirely different? We'll see...

A miracle day

Today, Leah, our guide from Holt, offered to take us to the "finding place," the place where our children were found. For us it was a subway station on the outskirts of Beijing. Quinn was found at Exit B of the station, which is small and fairly quiet. I was so happy to have such a specific location and wanted to go there and take a picture so Quinn would have it. This is the picture I hoped for, and it alone would have fulfilled my expectations for the day:

As we took pictures, a crowd gathered around us. Quinn, who is a first-class ham, put on quite the show: He smiled, laughed and even stuck out his tongue and blew raspberries at the teaming masses:

While Quinn entertained the crowd, Leah asked the station guard if there might be anyone around who remembered the day Quinn was found. He didn't, but told us where to find the station director. She had only worked at the station for less than a year, so she didn't know anything either. But she took the time to coo at Quinn and pose for pictures with us:

She told us to ask at the police station inside the station, because that is where babies would have been taken. So off we went:

Within minutes, a guard walked up and greeted Leah very enthusiastically. He was there the day Quinn was found at the station, and remembers him well. He told us Quinn had been taken from the substation to the main police station for the area. And amazingly, he said there might be a file on Quinn there, maybe with pictures. Here is the guard:

We hopped into a cab and drove to the police station, where the commander was out front waiting for us with a big smile on her face. She had just gotten a call that we were on the way. Not only did they remember Quinn, she said, but they did, indeed, have pictures.

She quickly ushered us inside and into a small office. A young receptionist inside saw us walk in and she started pointed excitedly at Quinn and then at her computer. She motioned us to come behind her desk. And within seconds the big face of tiny Quinn, at five days old, filled her screen. Then she pulled up an amazing shot of his whole body, laying on a small bed covered in a blue-and-white blanket and wrapped in the white sheet and orange blanket he was found in. He had on no baby clothes, which I had been so sad to read when I first saw it on the updated child information we were given during orientation last Saturday.

As she scrolled through the document I saw a file and asked Leah if we could get a copy of the photos and the file. They said no to the file, but did agree to let Leah copy its contents - and download the photos onto a memory stick she happened to have with her, God bless her. Tom asked if we could take a picture in the police station, and the commander said we should take a picture with the officer who brought Quinn from the subway station. Wow. She made a call and within a couple of minutes in he walked, carrying a steaming bowl of noodle soup. He greeted Quinn and pointed to the adjacent room where he first brought Quinn. Tom peeked inside and was shocked to see the very same blue-and-white blanket still on the bed. Quinn was due for a diaper change anyway, so I asked if we could use the bed - which provided a perfect opportunity for a photo op: (the officer who picked up Quinn from the subway station and brought him to the subway station is below the picture of Quinn.)

As we left, after trying our best to express our deep gratitude, Leah shared with us the contents of Quinn's file. On June 14, 2007, at 9:35 a.m., a 40-year-old woman approached a guard at the subway station and told him she had noticed a bag. She led him to a large, zippered canvas duffle bag like the ones everyone in China carries and he heard noises coming from it. He rushed to the bag and unzipped it, to find a five-day-old baby - wrapped in a sheet and a blanket but with no other clothing - tucked inside. When he turned around, the woman was gone. She may have been Quinn's grandmother, meaning his birth mother may have been a teenager or young adult. Having a baby at 40 would be very unusual in China, and not being at all ready for it (Quinn had no clothes when he was dropped off) would be even more unusual considering how very familiar everyone in China is with the one-child policy.

Learning his story fills in some blanks, and raises some new questions. It makes sense that a young girl wouldn't have baby clothes, and it might explain the rare choice to give up a boy, which are treasured in China. I had assumed his birth mom was unable to raise a child with a birth injury, but instead, perhaps she was unable to parent because she was a child herself.

Here is Leah translating the file for us:

I can't describe how grateful we are for the indescribable gift of learning a bit about Quinn's history - and even having pictures of him on the day he was found. Leah was amazing today, and her determination, along with the willingness of person after person to to help us, was truly astonishing. This is a morning we will never, ever forget.

As she dropped us off at our hotel, Leah turned to us in the cab and said, "I think this was a miracle day, guys. It was." Man, did she get that one right.