My husband and I already had three wonderful children, all adopted from China through Wasatch, when we came across the profile of a lovely little girl on the shared listing. We knew immediately that she was meant to be part of our family and began working with Wasatch to make it happen.
Within nine months, we received our Travel Approval and were ready to go. Because our two little ones would not do well on such a long journey, we decided that my husband would stay with them at our home outside Houston, Texas, and our older son would travel with me to adopt his new sister. My mother, who lives in California, would accompany us, as well.
On Friday, January 11, my son and I boarded an early flight from Houston to Los Angeles, with a perfectly legal, properly authenticated power of attorney (POA) in hand. We were brimming with
excitement. Upon landing at LAX, however, my excitement quickly melted into shock when I received an e-mail from the local coordinator, stating, “We were just informed last night that the adoption affairs center in Shanghai is rejecting the validity of your power of attorney.” My heart sank.
I tried not to let on to my son that there was any cause for concern. But, my mother, who had been waiting outside our gate, could tell that something was wrong as soon as she saw my face. Too distraught to give her a proper greeting, I simply whispered, “I just found out that the adoption bureau in Shanghai is contesting our POA. I don’t know if we can even go to China.”
With no further word from me, my mother dutifully fed and entertained my son, as I sat immobilized during our nearly four-hour layover, e-mailing, texting, and calling my husband, Wasatch, and the local coordinator, trying to figure out what to do.
Should we turn around and go home? Should my husband get on the next plane to Shanghai? Should my mother change her flight to go to Houston, to watch our other two children instead?
As the flight to Shanghai began boarding, my husband and I decided to proceed as previously planned, except his mother, who lives in New York, would be “on call” to watch our younger children in Texas, in case he had to travel the next day.
When I landed in Shanghai on Saturday night, the local guide informed me that there had been no change in the adoption official’s position on our POA, despite the best efforts of Wasatch and the local team. She advised that we would likely know more on Monday, which was our scheduled “Gotcha Day”.
Although I knew there was nothing I could do to fix the problem, I spent all Sunday overwhelmed by stress.
Monday came, and I was terrified. I worried about taking custody of this young girl, only to have some local official refuse to finalize the adoption. It would be devastating for us both. Wasatch and the local contacts, however, assured my husband and me that the adoption would ultimately take place. It was just a matter of time and, in the worse case scenario, we would just have to extend the guardianship period until the adoption could be complete. The Wasatch team had established our trust during our three prior adoptions, so we followed their advice.
Before all this drama, I had daydreamed about meeting my new daughter. I envisioned embracing her and proclaiming, “I am your mother! I will give you a good life and love you forever!” Given the cloud of doubt cast by the Shanghai official, however, I was purposefully reserved when the moment finally arrived. Trying my best to hold back my emotions, I calmly introduced myself and
described to my new daughter the composition of her new family and the layout of her new home.
(Afterwards, I would come to feel robbed of what should have been a more-tender moment in my daughter’s and my lives. But, it was some comfort to be able to bond with her vicariously through my son, who—blissfully unaware of the POA issue—could not stop hugging her, holding her hand, and exclaiming, “I love you!”, in Mandarin, the entire day.)
As the sun began to set, we finally received word from the local official of a way forward: First, my husband would have to issue, in duplicate, a new, notarized power of attorney, using the precise wording provided by the official. Then, he would have to Fed Ex one original POA overnight to Shanghai. Next, he would have to have the other original POA fully authenticated and then sent to Shanghai by the end of the month. Further, Wasatch would have to fax (not e-mail, wire, or mail) a letter in Chinese, vouching for our good character and promising to ensure that the new powers of attorney would arrive by the agreed deadlines. Under these conditions, the official would allow me to proceed with the adoption, but would withhold the adoption certificate until the new, notarized POA arrived in Shanghai.
As soon as he could, my husband met with a notary and immediately sent one original POA to Shanghai via Federal Express. He then drove over three hours to Austin to have the other POA authenticated at the state level and then drove back to Houston, to have it authenticated by the Chinese Consulate—a process that would require another week to complete.
Meanwhile, Marilyn Cypers (of Wasatch), and her husband left their grandson’s birthday party early, in order to send out the required fax from her office. The Shanghai fax number did not initially work, and Marilyn had to e-mail a video, filmed by her husband, showing her trying to fax the document as requested. Eventually, the fax did go through, but only after several insistent phone calls from Judy, Marilyn’s colleague in Guangzhou.
The next morning, I incessantly checked the FedEx tracking status on my phone. The package was en route, but had not yet arrived. I repeatedly texted our local guide, pressing for updates. Finally, right after we sat down for a late lunch, I got “good” news: The adoption bureau would allow me to proceed with the adoption that day, but would withhold the adoption certificate until my husband’s first POA arrived. Once the second, authenticated POA arrived, the bureau would finally “close out” the adoption in their system.
As I signed the adoption documents that Tuesday afternoon, I felt a sense of relief, but I could not quite “let go”. Until we had the actual adoption certificate, I was not sure whether we would be able to travel to Guangzhou for our U.S. Consulate appointment. I also worried that my anxiety about the paperwork might come across the wrong way to my new daughter. I had treated her in a
warm and welcoming manner, but with noticeable reserve—out of an abundance of caution.
My worries continued throughout Wednesday. The new POA did arrive in Shanghai that morning, but, for whatever reason, the registration official said he
would not release the adoption certificate until Friday. He knew our flight to Guangzhou was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, so I could not help but question his motives.
Fortunately, our local guide took her duty seriously and promised me that she would retrieve all official paperwork for us and send it to my hotel in Guangzhou. That way, we could proceed with
our existing travel plans and obtain my daughter’s medical exam without delay. And she kept her word!
On Friday afternoon, our Shanghai guide texted me that she had recovered all of the necessary documents and that they would arrive in Guangzhou on Sunday. That Sunday, the hotel manager kindly informed the desk staff to be “on high alert” for the package, given its importance, and they notified me the instant it was delivered. Finally, a reprieve! Thank goodness!
Things went well with the remainder of the process in Guangzhou, and my husband was able to send out the authenticated POA in good time.
As soon as my daughter and I passed through her secondary screening at Immigration Control in San Francisco on January 24, I could finally breathe. Six days later, we received confirmation that the Shanghai bureau had closed this case. Everything was finally done!
Now that our family is together in Texas, everyone is very h
appy and doing well. We feel like things are as they are supposed to be.
This would not have been the case if the Wasatch team an
d their Chinese counterparts had not “stepped up to the plate”. At no time did my husband or I ever feel that any of them had “dropped the ball”; to the contrary, perhaps the only comfort we could find during this ordeal was in knowing that Marilyn and her team were truly doing their very best. From the folks in Utah, to the coordinator in California, to the locals “on the ground” in Guangzhou and Shanghai—and, of course, my wonderful husband—everyone did what was needed, and when it was needed, to help make our family complete.
Thank you, Wasatch!