The last 48 hours of my life have been nutso and amazing.
I sat down to write this and started to cry. ha. Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but tears just started coming out of my face so I got up, made some instant coffee, and here I am trying again to put this into words.
Friday morning my friend Laura came over and helped me carry teddy bears from my co-worker Rebecca, homemade mashed potatoes, vanilla pudding, and strawberries with sugar to the hospital. While I was paying for the taxi, my phone rang. It was a weird number starting with 0 so I answered it thinking it was my mom, "Heeeeeeeey". Well, it wasn't my mom. It was Zhejiang University offering me a full scholarship to recieve a PhD in international comparative education. They wanted my answer right then and my head was spinning so fast that I told them I would call Monday. There were mashed taters to deliver and I just couldn't process that information right then and there. So I basically put the news aside and headed into the hospital.
I had bought train tickets for me and Amanda to go to Shan.ghai that afternoon. She was being interviewed yet again by another journalism crew and then we would head out. After a few hours playing with the babies (it was soooo good to see Harrison's progress from the day before!) we headed to the train station just us two. There is a new Burger King at the train station so we indulged while listening to the Britney Spears cd they had on repeat (reason #1897382 I love Asia).
Well, I made a classic "Jessica" move when I thought our train was leaving at 1:30. The ticket lady had told me "yi dian ban" (1:30) so I never bothered to look at the ticket. Turns out our train was leaving at 1:21, and we were lolly gagging our way to the platform around 1:18 thinking we had 10 minutes. The train lady started yelling "kuai yidian!" (hurry it up!) and we raaaaan to the train. Our car was #1 and the entrance to the platform was at car 8 so we had a loooong way to go. We ended up seperating and just jumping on the train, meeting in one of the cars and walking through the cars to our seats. hahahahaha. oh geez.
We chatted and rested until our train rolled into Shan.ghai around 3pm. We took a taxi out to Pudong, the business district of Shan.ghai, and met with one of Amanda's friends who is fostering a child. She was a kind Australian lady who bought me a vanilla cupcake. Love her. After a short while it was time for us to head to the other foster family's house to pick up baby Chloe.
Baby Chloe is 8 months old and has cataracts. She was staying with a foster family in Shanghai while she was going through surgery and they decided they can't keep her anymore. She wears teeny tiny glasses that are training her eyes to focus and in a few years she will have another surgery. The hope is that she will have restored eye sight by age 5. Currently she can see light and shadows and her little eyes dart around like crazy.
We spent some time with the family in their mansion. It was weird to be in a real house because people in Chi.na live in apartments in the city, not neighborhoods and houses. There were white children running around green lawns and cars parked in drive ways. I could have sworn I was transported to Trinity, Florida! I have never seen living arrangements like that in Chi.na! (I also don't really hang out with rich expats, either). It was weird to see how some people's Chin.a experience is. The family has been here 15 years, it was crazy to interact with them, a wonderful sociological observation. They were wonderfully nice people, but I had a hard time thinking they were "Indian giving" a baby.
We finally took Chloe and headed to the train station again around 6pm. Somewhere along the way we realized that she did not have a full bottle and we were left with no diapers. That was exciting. Riding on a train with a screaming, hungry, wet diapered baby. As if we aren't stared at enough for being tall white women, add a screaming Chin.ese baby to the mix and a large suitcase of her belongings and you've got a real circus. haha.
Luckily, Amanda is a certifiable "baby whisperer" and I bought a million dollar bottle of Evian and made some powdered milk with 30 minutes to go on the train. She finally fell asleep somewhere around 9pm. And all was well.
I took the opportunity in the train station to fib a little and told many Chin.ese people she was my baby. I just love the reaction. The looks on their faces are priceless. hahaha. I was so entertained. ha.
There were no taxi's at all around the train station and after wandering around like crazies we finally paid a private car to take us to the hospital.
Sometime during the day it had been brought up to me that baby Chloe could not enter the hospital because she does not have papers. Once a baby is taken into the hospital, you need to show proper documentation to take the baby out. Well, it was inferred that baby Chloe would be taking up residence at my house. I was scared out of my brains, but of course said ok because who in their right mind says no to helping an orphan?!
So baby Chloe and I headed home together. In the taxi I called my friend Hannah to meet me at the gate because there was no way I could get up the stairs with a huge suitcase and a diaper bag and a baby. I have no idea how single moms do it.
We sat around holding baby Chloe while she slept and talking about how people our age have children when we felt so completely incompitant to have this precious life in our care. Hannah left around 2am and I called my mom to sing her my new favorite song, "I have a baby, I have a baby, I have a baby, hey hey hey hey." And to let my family know that, oh ya, I got a scholarship to the 2nd best school in China. ha. I had forgotten about that in the craziness of the day.
I put some blankets on the floor and slept while Chloe slept on the futon. Amanda had told me just to have her sleep in my bed with me but I saw on Oprah once how a fat lady crushed her baby so I wouldn't do that. I opted for the floor.
The next morning after minimal sleep because I was so worried about Chloe, my dear friends came over. They brought me lunch and let me shower while they played with Chloe. We played with her and discussed what an awesome sitcom we would be until it was time to take Chloe back to the hospital at 3pm.
I miss my 24 hour baby! But after a million diaper changes and warm bottles of milk, I know that a baby is not something I want for a while. That was hard work. haha.
They are going to try to get Chloe adopted out fast so that she can have a family to care for her while she goes through her medical treatments for her eyes. A huge foster care system is really not the place for her.
Also something I learned about while having Chloe was Mongolian Spots. I have never heard of this before. On Chloe's back there are bruise-like stripes that look awful. Amanda and the foster family talked about them as Mongolian Spots. I looked it up and they are genetic pigmentation birthmarks that occur in most asian babies and fade by puberty. It also occurs in half of hispanic babies, native american babies, polynesian babies, and african american babies. So interesting.
It was great to have her. My friend Hannah commented that we were all in "crisis mode". It was like, I am going to care for this baby the best I can. I refuse to get emotional. I will not think about the fact that she was left on a hospital step by her birth mother and spent the first 5 months of her life in an orphanage where she was malnourished and left on her back for so long that she has a dent in her head. I will not be angry because her foster family gave her up. No, I will not wonder about the reasons why she was left, was she the second or third illegal baby so her mom couldn't keep her, was her mother not married and thus afriad of family retribution, was she left because she is a girl? Was her mom threatened with losing her job because there is no maternity leave here and she had to give her up to feed herself? No, I will only love her now in this moment like the precious child that she is, I will make her bottle perfectly and make sure she is warm because in this moment she is in my house and I am her caretaker. Tomorrow that will change but today she is mine. No sobbing, no deep thoughts, just hold the baby and get her where she needs to go safely.
Here are some pics:
All of baby Chloe's earthly belongings. She's a little nomad who needs a home!
Hanging out in the hospital with the babies and nannies:
Harrison and Matilda loving the bears sent to us from the chrch ladies in Tennessee:
Well, I accepted the offer for the sholarship to Zhejiang University. It has been my goal and dream since last summer and it became a reality. Everything fell together really fast in the past few days. Everything just went "boom" in place.
It means that June 30th I have to move out of my current apartment. I will be subleasing from my friend Katie in a baller apartment near my current home and living with my friend Laura, and in September I will move to a dorm a Zhejiang University. I will study Chin.ese for one year, then will begin my PhD in comparative education. The classes will be conducted in Chin.ese. Which means by September 2011 I have to be able to read a text book in Chin.ese characters. (Lrd help me). If all goes well I will be Dr. Griner (or Li, Xu, Wang, etc hahaha) in Spring 2014.
I am so blessed because my friend Hannah recieved a scholarship for her masters so we are going to be going through Chin.ese class together next year. I had previously thought I had not received the scholarship because Hannah found out 3 weeks before I did. I was never told no, but I assumed that since she found out and I didn't that I had not recieved the scholarship. Well isn't that a learning lesson not to assume! Geez louise.
The scholarship is given by the Chin.ese government and covers tuition, housing, books, and pays students a small stipend (about half of what I make now working). There are talks of a job opportunity in the works but I am not banking on anything until it is for certain.
My reasoning is this: I have no idea if I want to be here that long. I have no idea if I want to be here today. hahaha. BUT if I am given an opportunity this grand and do not at least try then I am crazy. If I really want to learn Chin.ese and someone is offering to pay me to do it, then I am dumb to walk away when there is really no other option equally as wonderful. Hmmmm...go home and live with my parents and try to find a job in a crap economy, or get paid to earn a free PhD and continue living in the city I love and learning a language I love speaking....um, there's really no contest.
And I also believe that the greatest joys in our lives are not risk or pain free. I kind of have a, "Ok, G0.d, let's do it. Let's learn Chine.se this'll be fun. Let's just see where this adventure takes us. You haven't left me hangin' yet." mentality.
So, that is that. Funny how everything falls apart and gets put back together.
But alas, there are more important things to talk/think about. Think of sweet baby orphan Chloe. For eyesight and a family. Think of Amanda and her 53 babies and 26 nannies. Think of baby Jessica and Matilda who are still in the hospital.
"You and I, we are the Chrch, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear: 'Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me.'"
walk slow. xoxo.