This is Cole, not Joy, writing (actually typing) about our amazing day-the day we embraced Samuel into our lives. As this is being typed, I sorely miss Sloan who graciously types my dictation at work. Already my typing is slow and filled with errors (thank goodness for spell check).
Unlike Joy, my knowledge of this adoption process and what we would face in China was limited in scope. You must understand that I am the type of person who, once finished eating at a fine restaurant, is ready to leave immediately. After all, the purpose in going to a restaurant is to eat. Once finished, the purpose is accomplished and it is time to leave. I viewed this adoption in the same way. Our purpose was to adopt a child. The child is in China. We needed to pick him up and return home with him immediately. Apparently, the Chinese government and our adoption agency have other ideas. Thus, since my options are limited, I guess I have no choice but to conform, be a follower, and “go with the flow”.
The plan, as presented by our tour guides, was to leave our Hotel at 10:30 am to travel to a government office in the dungy city of Changsha. Changsha is a city in the southern part of China with about 1.8 million people. While there appears to be quite a bit of new construction (lucky us, a brand new building is being constructed outside our room. Unlike the US, these folks don’t knock off of work of work at 3 in the afternoon. Instead, the company building the building works in shifts 24 hours a day. As I said, lucky us), most of the town appears to be constructed in the 60’s and 70’s. All of the buildings, as well as the sidewalks, are brown. I am confident that the original intent was not to paint the town brown, but quite a bit of grime has built up over the years. Nonetheless, I can tell there is a movement to modernize this country. There is a vast influx of wealth. To me, it appears there is a growing movement toward capitalism and more individual freedom.
We are in a group of ten families. Most of them are here to adopt beautiful baby girls who aren’t quite a year old. The families are from South Dakota, Illinois, Tennessee, Florida, West Virginia, Texas, and probably some other states I cannot recall. The group is diverse, but they all seem to have wonderful hearts. On the morning of our departure to pick up the children, these families were energetic. Rightly so, they had looked forward with anticipation to this day. Some were adding the first child to their families. One was adding a fifth child to their family. On this morning though, all of these families were thrilled at the prospect of grafting in a precious child born in China.
I was excited too. I wasn’t numb. I wasn’t worried. To be quite frank, I have been oblivious to the enormity of this adoption. Our family will change…for the better. God has already graciously given me a wonderful wife and three beautiful and unique children. We are far from perfect, but we were in a good routine. Joy and I always anticipated hearing Jon Cole’s door squeaking open around 6 in the morning. He wanted to be held by us. Sarah Kathryn would wake and ready herself for school. She is an amazingly gifted child with a sweet disposition. Before long, Elizabeth would insert her vibrant personality into the mix. Love abounds in our home. All of these morning routines will change, as will others…for the better. But, this morning far far away in China would be eventful.
We arrived at the government building within 20 minutes. The government isn’t spending its resources on government buildings. We were carried by an elevator to the third floor of the building. Yet, none of the families knew how their children would be presented. After a few minutes, one of the men (his wife wasn’t able to accompany him) was told that his child was in the room (she was the only Chinese child in the room and no one in the group knew that she belonged to anyone in our group). Surprisingly, I was overcome with emotion. I didn’t expect to be emotional for someone else’s child; thus, I did my dead level best not to lose my composure. Soon, family after family was being introduced to their children as they were being transported from other rooms. The tears in the room could have helped fill any parched riverbed. We were blessed to be a part of something so special.
As Joy and I waited, I happened to look out the filmed window. I saw CJ (the name used by our family before we adopted him) being carried by a Chinese woman and being accompanied by a Chinese man. I told Joy. We waited. I was getting nervous. What would I say? How would I respond? What was this three-year-old child going to think? What had he been told? How were we going to make the adjustment? What would Elizabeth and Jon Cole think about him? Will we really improve his life? Question after question floated in my mind. Meanwhile, Joy said I had to complete a form immediately. The only question on the form was what would his name be. Joy politely told me to decide. I thought this was supposed to be a joint venture. We had spoken about it numerous times. I always liked the initials CJ. However, during my tenure in China, I fully realized that I, nor anyone else in the South, would ever be able to properly pronounce his Chinese name. Joy was sold on the name Samuel. Thus, his first name was easy. I wanted him to keep some of his Chinese heritage in his name. Of his three names, Xin was the coolest. What a way to pick a name-choose the coolest. Finally, I always have liked the name Solomon Wilder. Wilder went better with Samuel than Solomon. Solomon was meant to be a first name rather than a middle name. My only remaining hang-up was to get past my biased of three names rather than four. Done. Therefore, his name was cemented, Samuel Wilder Xin (Shin with an emphasis on the “S”) Portis. What a great name for a child!
As soon as I finished, we were called to meet Samuel. A young Chinese woman appeared to be in charge. She was checking travel letters (I’m not sure what these are or how we received them) and passports. For some reason our travel letters were out of order and she told us that Samuel was the wrong child. I had seen pictures of Samuel. I knew he was THE child. The Chinese woman in charge was resolute and said this wasn’t our child. Now, I don’t know if you have ever been around Joy when she is right and you are wrong and someone is telling her she is wrong, but my suggestion is to always tell Joy that she is right. As Joy began to argue, I thought it was best that that I make sure she didn’t go to jail in China (she had already come dangerously close to jail when she told the airport security officer he could open up all of the pears to smell them-I gently reminded her that we were in a foreign country and to obey. Of course, the pears and all of the accompanying juices were useless after she opened them, but at least I saved her from jail time). I knew this was our child and reckoned that this would all work out. Suddenly, someone unknown to me located the correct documents. Now, the young Chinese woman in charge wanted our passports. I reached into my pockets and pulled out our passports. Unfortunately, the passports in my pocket belonged to someone else in our group. The woman eyed the passports and again said this is not your child. We looked on in amazement until we realized the passports belonged to someone else. But, where were our passports? As Joy argued, I went back to our belongings and found the passports. We presented them to the young Chinese government official. She finally relented and let us embrace our child. I was relieved! Samuel would now be with us forever! I rejoice that God will gift him for His service.
Samuel seemed to adapt to his new environment very well. He let Joy, Sarah Kathryn and me hold him. He was interested in all of the new sights and sounds. He wasn’t afraid. Wow. As I thought to myself, this is going to be easy. However, nothing is ever easy. As he slowed down, he became quiet. Sadness overwhelmed him. He wanted no one but “mama”. He had 2-3 nannies at the orphanage. We found out later that there was a special one in his life. He wanted her. He desperately wanted her. You can see his desperation in the video. Immediately, I wanted to know all I could about him.
Thankfully, Joy had already asked a number of questions about his past. Let me share some information with you:
- After employees in a government building discovered him, he was taken to an orphanage. Employees in the orphanage named him Cheng Xin. He was weak and not healthy. They wanted to give him a name that would bring him good luck. The meaning of his name was to “grow happy like the rising sun and have a rich experience.”
- He eats rice three times a day. But, his favorite food is eggs. He does not like lean meat. He will eat all kinds of vegetables. As for fruits, he likes bananas most.
- He normally goes to bed at 9 pm. He sleeps through the night. He wants water by his bed to drink if he wakes up. In fact, on his first night with us, Joy placed a cup of water near his bed. He didn’t know she had done so. He awoke briefly at midnight, found the cup, drank it while sitting on his pillow, and then went back to bed.
- He is quiet, active and easy going. It takes him a while to warm up to strangers.
- He enjoys playing in the water and with other children. His best friend was a girl named Xuan Rong.
- He is happy when he gets what he wants (imagine that) and he becomes upset if he is getting a shot.
- He is on target for his development. He can walk and run on his own. He can maneuver on stairs on his own. He can feed himself (are you reading this Elizabeth and Jon Cole?). He is potty trained. He can pick up objects in both hands at the same time. He can build up the blocks in different shapes. He can hold the pen and write. He can speak in long sentences, but because of his cleft his language is not clear. But, he can make himself understood.
Well, this is the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to learn about him and God’s plan for his life. May God grant us the wisdom as parents to shape his life in a manner that is pleasing to God.