Vancouver Family Photographer - A China Adoption Story


Vancouver Family Photographer - A China Adoption Story

"It had been such a long journey. In just a few weeks Victoria will officially become part of our family."

Being able to say these words meant so much to Signe and Cory. For years, they had waited to be matched with a child and when it finally happened, those months and weeks in the final leg of the journey felt like it took forever. Checking off the list of paper work and travel approval was an agonizingly slow process and everyday, they waited with bated breath.

Nothing like putting together a travel itinerary within two weeks of international travel right?

adoption mom comforting her child in the car
mom signing adoption papers while dad comforts their little girl
girl with a congenital heart surgery scar
girl riding a train with her parents
girl and mother being seated at the restaurant
mom playing with daughter in a playground
daughter asleep in her mother's arms

As I was waiting in the customs line at the Beijing airport, I spot their familiar faces. I remember them saying, there is probably a better chance for you to spot us than the other way around! We met up again at the gate for our flight to Nanchang, and there a thunderstorm grounded our plane. When it seemed like we would be camping out at the airport - a break in the weather - we were approved for departure. Finally, the last hurdle is cleared.

We landed in Nanchang with a buffer day to acclimate. When Signe and Cory met Victoria at the adoption registration centre, it was Mother's Day back home. This date, in addition to the significance of the other two dates (August 2015 and February 14th, 2018) did not escape them.

As much joy as their hearts can feel at the first sight of their little girl, it was just as heartbreaking. It was gut wrenching to watch An Bai Li (her given name) cry and reach out for her foster mom as they said goodbye. That kind of finality for a 3 year old is so much to bear. Her tears came hard and didn't stop until exhaustion found her, only to ramp up again when she woke. Signe and Cory's hearts broke as they held her sobbing body.

That was the cycle for the first day. With environmental changes and a language barrier, there was much rejection at first. However, Signe and Cory's persistence and preparation paid off. Hugs, cuddles, magnatiles, coin flips, bunny stuffies, an inflatable ball, and the undeniable sights and sounds of cartoons on a screen helped this transition turn the corner. They built connection and attachment with food, play and affection, and slowly but surely, Victoria started to respond to her new parents.The smiles and laughs came a little easier, accompanied by relief and tremendous joy.

As they gave her a bath that first night, we looked at that beautiful scar on her chest. It was a mark that represented the first years of her life's story. And now, here she is, in the hands of her forever parents, with eager siblings awaiting to love her on the other side of the world.

A life saved for a new life. The road will not be easy, but they have love in their corner.

Felicia Chang is a documentary photographer who tells stories of everyday families and their different stages of life. Contact her to find out about these storytelling documentary sessions or connect over at @feliciachangphoto on Instagram.