The Story of Baby June’s Adoption
In January 2003, Leslie and her husband Kevin received the happy news that a baby named Sui Chun Lan was referred to them from the faraway Guangdong Province of China. They excitedly made plans to travel together with then six year old daughter Emeline in the spring.
But a month before Kevin, Leslie and Emeline planned to go on their journey, the World Heath Organization set a travel ban to many cities in China because of the SARS epidemic. A difficult decision was made that because of potential health problems for Kevin who has asthma, and Emeline being so young, Leslie would travel alone to bring home baby June.
So Leslie flew to Shanghai, then on to Guangzhou where on Mothers Day she was presented with June Sue Lan, a tiny sobbing seventeen pound baby who after refusing comfort, toys, a rattle or a bottle, clutched a wash cloth which fell out of the diaper bag and happily fell immediately to sleep in Leslie’s arms. Upon awakening, baby June refused to let go her new mother, clinging desperately for the entire trip through China and for the month following at home. (Today June begins her day by insisting upon being held through dish washing, meal preparation and household tasks until she’s ready to begin her routine of daily chaos).
Back at the hotel June cheered up considerably after eating three eggs and a bowl of congee, and began to gurgle and coo. Concurrently Leslie’s spirits plummeted, alone and overwhelmed by the care of a new baby and very lonely for far away Emeline and Kevin. Leslie’s father Dick emailed and called frequently, assuring her that she was suffering from a short-term combination of jet lag and post partum depression.
Fortunately, help arrived the next day. The parents of a close Chinese friend Betty Yang lived nearby and arrived at Leslie’s hotel rooms with a lovely young Cantonese translator in tow. Mr. and Mrs. Yang stayed with Leslie and June for ten days, helping to care for the baby, translating at medical exams and giving Leslie much needed shopping time. Best of all, they treated Leslie to the finest five star Chinese meals available—delicacies galore! Leslie and baby June visited for several days in the Yangs’ city of Shen Zen, a beautiful brand new modern city built in a free economic zone where Mrs. Yang practices law.
June’s visa was issued promptly and Leslie left China with her beautiful still-clinging baby and three enormous heavy suitcases (the result of that shopping), now tearful to be saying goodbye to her good friends the Yangs to whom she will always be grateful.
The thirty hour journey home seemed, naturally, interminable, the baby clinging, the suitcases feeling heavier, long delays and frequent medical SARS checks. Arriving in the United States at last, Leslie self-quarantined for ten days, another long emotional journey of sorts. After the quarantine, Kevin was formally presented with his newest daughter in front of a group of friends and family in the Chinese tradition whereby the father is given in like manner his baby in the hospital room. Emeline sang the Circle of Life from the Lion King and the party began. (Chinese friends had advised that a party is always planned on the tenth day of a SARS quarantine to celebrate no longer being a hostage!)
After the first shock at how much attention the baby was capable of absorbing, Emeline quickly rose to the occasion and has become a kind, attentive big sister who kisses, tickles and protects baby June. Kevin is equally thrilled with his sixth and final child (so he promises!)
Life is buys in other ways. Kevin bought a marina in Stonington, Connecticut where he has boat slips, a kayak and bait shop and a 1707 historic home in need of substantial repairs. Leslie is building a 36 lot subdivision of Craftsman style homes in Springfield.
June has become the world’s busiest baby, happily wearing us all out with her energy, curiosity and spunky personality. When it’s time for her nap, we all shout, “Hurray!”
We are blessed!