Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Big Debut that Didn't Happen

Our adoption agency, Children's Home Society, let us know a couple weeks ago that they would be hosting a delegation from the Chinese Government to discuss the current state of affairs about international adoption (severely curtailed but with important child-safety safeguards finally put in place) and how Chinese kids are doing here in the United States. Tonight, for families so inclined, they were hosting a dinner for the Chinese team and we were certainly invited, and if we wanted to get up and say something, even better.

We replied with an enthusiastic "yes" within about an hour of getting the invitation.

For the past week, we have been discussing with Wynn what she would want the Chinese Government and the people in the orphanages around that country to know about her life. With our help, she wrote a speech that we would all get up and say. Over this weekend, we practiced it several times!

Here is the outline of that speech:

Our family cares about making sure we all know we’re taken care of, are learning new things, and are happy.

I.               Wynn knows she’s well taken care of because …
a.     She gets lots of hugs from her family.
b.     She eats a lot of delicious, healthy food.
c.      She goes to the doctor, dentist, and speech therapist to keep her strong and healthy.
II.             Wynn is learning new things because …
a.     She goes to a great school, Yinghua Academy, where she learns Chinese, English, math, art, and music.
b.     She travels around the world with her family to see all kinds of people and places.
c.      She helps around the house and in the yard, so she’s learning about cooking, gardening, and responsibility.
III.           Wynn is happy because …
a.     She has a lot of friends.
b.     She does fun things like dancing, swimming, and rock climbing at summer camp.
c.      She has a dog who loves her and who she loves right back.

Wynn has changed our lives and filled them with learning and happiness. We are so proud of her and honored to get to see the amazing person she will grow up to be.

So, we got to the agency on time this afternoon (I took the afternoon off to pick up food for the potluck & to get Wynn early from school) and found our seats. Ann was feeling ill but was able to make it about halfway through, so all of us were together.

No surprise that there were quite a few kids from Yinghua Academy there! A few of the older girls even knew Wynn!

Conference room beginning to fill up

So this is what a typical Chinese delegation looks like. Everyone dressed in black suits; a few know English but most are Mandarin-only. Everyone has an iPhone or video recorder and about a third of them are checking their laptops. Nothing unusual...
The delegates were visiting a number of cities around the US and were here for one day only, so they wanted to document as much as they could. Little conversations going on and people wandering around is not atypical - nor by their standards disrespectful - behavior in large group meetings and assemblies.

Yinghua's directors and a group of students opened the meeting with a greeting song & dance; very sweet and well-received.
So nice to see most of the people who worked with us on Wynn's adoption still on the job!
This fellow was the leader of the group (translator to the side) and gave a very long speech in Mandarin (seriously, almost 10 minutes) which I'll sum up here: "don't forget who you are, we're very proud of you, come visit us sometime."
Food time; pandemonium at a big buffet is something both our cultures have in common!
The family speeches began while folks were still getting their food. We had been told to keep our presentations under 5 minutes - and to be aware that anything we said would need to be translated of course, so really a 2:30 presentation. That's what we kept to with Wynn's speech.  The first lady took 10 minutes in English. Whole story of her daughter's adoption and everything.
There were three more 10-minute long speeches. Bless these families but they weren't ... strong presentations or ... edited well.  While the speeches are going on,  I re-wrote our notes and coached Wynn on what phrases to use in Mandarin so that we could skip the translator and get the full attention of the group.  Some of the delegates wandered the floor and a few wanted to get their picture taken with Wynn of course.
 Meanwhile, several of the delegation were in and out of the hallway on their mobile phones (again nothing at all unusual about that), but then suddenly the group got the signal that it was time to pack up and head out to the next event.

The director went around to all the kids and handed out little gifts.

The packing-up-to-go process took about 20 more minutes and none of the families were in any big rush to go ... some were still eating dinner. And it gave the kids a chance to hang out with each other outside of school time.
Wynn took it well enough but Ann and I were disappointed at the disjointedness of the "American" side of the evening. Wynn didn't get her chance to send a message to the 'homeland' and her hard work had evaporated.


No comments: