Friday, January 29, 2010

Adoption, Rotarians, and Cancer

Today AwesomeCloud and I went mallwalking at 8:00 AM, right after we dropped Daddy off at work. This is not an unusual thing. It's cold and sometimes snowy outside, not good for strollers, and the mall is blissfully quiet at 8:00 AM. There are other mallwalkers, custodians, and Dunkin Donuts. AwesomeCloud can practice his walking without bumping into oblivious teenagers or getting in anyone's way.

He clings to the stroller with one hand and toddles forward happily, his wide eyes roaming all around him in every direction but the one he's headed. Senior citizens pause to dote on him, "Ohh, he's so cuuuute!" and dart off to do their laps. We start in the middle, near Macy's, and turn right until we reach Dunkie's at the very end. We order an egg and cheese on a croissant and one glazed donut. (We usually bring our own drinks.) Then we sit on a bench and eat, and maybe stop awhile at the Ride'em boat (without putting quarters in) before we resume mallwalking.

This week the Rotary Club has a display in the middle of the mall. There's a big tent, and inside the tent is cookware, place settings for 10 people, and a water purifier. The tent kits cost $1,000 each for the Rotary Club to purchase and send to Haiti. They send the kits elsewhere, too, but Haiti has become their favored destination since the earthquake.

Next to the tent is a big yellow funnel for donations. Drop the coin in ad watch it spiral down, down, down into the bucket. A wonderful contraption to fascinate a young, curious soul such as AwesomeCloud.

I made sure and grabbed some coins this morning so we'd have fun watching the funnel. Previously, AwesomeCloud couldn't get enough of watching the coins, but he had trouble with the concept of putting the coins in the slot. He dropped them directly into the funnel, where they rolled straight down and disappeared immediately.

There was a new guy at the Rotary Club display this morning. AwesomeCloud and I strolled up, coins in hand, and he began his spiel:

"Good morning! We're collecting donations to send tent kits like this one to Haiti. Each tent fits ten people and comes with cookware and water purifiers."

I could have told him, "Yup, we know! We come here all the time." But I was a little distracted, because AwesomeCloud was trying to claim a coin for himself instead of waiting patiently for me to drop them all in the correct way.

"I have a coin for you, little boy," the Rotarian said, and handed the kiddo a dime. "Put it right here in the slot."

Before I could explain that AwesomeCloud had trouble understanding the whole coin-in-slot concept, AwesomeCloud dropped it in the slot.

"Where did he come from?" the Rotarian asked.

"From a city near Shanghai," I said. "He's my Shanghai baby!"

The Rotarian and his friend sitting at the table smiled. "Did his parents leave any information about him?" the friend asked. (There was actually a bit of conversation between that - it wasn't a complete nonsequitur. There was stuff about boys from China being unusual, well not so much anymore, and the One-Child Policy which is brutal but getting better, and about how the Chinese really love children and it breaks their hearts to give them up.)

"No," I explained. "The parents were completely anonymous. It's illegal to abandon your child in China, just like it's illegal to keep him. Often what they do is sneak very early in the morning to an area with heavy foot traffic, and then they find a nearby corner and lurk, watching until someone finds the baby. Whoever finds the baby usually brings it to the hospital or police station, because the orphanages are very hidden and most people don't know where they are. Then the baby gets looked over, treated if necessary, and brought to the orphanage. And that is, officially, when the baby's life begins. All his past history before then is gone."

The two men nodded solemnly. Then one said, "I can tell you, as someone who knows, that when you're adopted you don't need that past history. You can get on just fine without it. Your life in the present is all you need."

"I'd like to encourage my son to live in the present," I agreed. "Maybe have a little Zen." Zen is technically Japanese, but it came through China first. A little bit of native culture to inspire him, perhaps.

I brought Ban Lu to the vet today. It was all very sudden - I called up asking for an appointment, and said, "Late afternoon on a weekday, please."

And she said, "How about today at 3:40?"

"Great!" I replied, and hung up the phone and looked at the clock which read 2:45. I got the baby milked, changed, and shod, crammed the cat and all four of his long legs into the carrier, and drove us all to Daddy's place of employment to pick him up.

The vet informed me she'd been looking at Ban Lu's records from the previous vet and didn't find enough compelling evidence to believe the intestinal mass was cancer. "I'm guessing it's irritable bowel syndrome," she said.

Then she gave me a Plan A and a Plan B. Plan A is to feed him three jars of chicken baby food a day. (Dang, I totally flaked at the grocery store tonight and forgot to buy it!) Plan B is to put him on, uh, something that starts with an O. It's a single-dose oral treatment that he might have to take every once in a while if it helps.

What this means is that Ban Lu could live another 15 years instead of 6 months. We'd be treating his ongoing tendency to vomit instead of treating increasing pain and weakness. He may always be skinny and clumsy, but he won't be getting skinnier and clumsier anytime soon.

We're also decreasing Riley's hyperthyroid medication, and hopefully wean her off it. My vet is skeptical about her diagnosis, and her online forum of experts is, too.

I love this vet and I hope hope hope she's right! Especially about Ban Lu. But then, she was the vet who had just ruled out Trixie having a brain tumor when Trixie died suddenly. It wasn't entirely the vet's fault, though. A CAT scan or MRI might have turned up a tumor, but I wasn't about to pay for it. And Trixie was showing signs of responding to the antibiotics the vet gave her. Aside from Trixie's weird blindness, an ear infection really seemed the likely cause.

If Ban Lu's condition worsens and he dies of cancer, we won't get an extra bonus 10-15 years with him, but we won't suffer any worse than our original expectations when we took him. In that respect, we can't really lose. We can only win, or return to the status quo.


  1. Wow! That is potentially awesome news! I hope that Ban Lu's condition improves and he can be with you for many years to come. I too remember being fascinated by those big yellow funnels when I was a kid. How fun! It sounds like things are going well with your family. Yay! I hope to hear more good news about Riley and Ban Lu in the future!

  2. I thought that was so cool, about the ROtarian. So often these kinds of things, where someone posts about what a stranger says to them, end badly--but this is such a nice one!
    Glad every thing's going so well for you. Look out--once they can walk they don't stop!