I have a hunch that this blog post will reach record traffic levels due to the amount of people that love my cousin Mark Trombino and his wife Carol. This has been a life changing time for them and briefly being a part of it has been such unbelievably good fortune for myself. It is a great honor to be bringing many of you the first photos of father, mother and new child all together, either on this blog or on Facebook. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bit unfair for me to meet Leah before her own older sister, but Priya, you’re going to see this little bundle of energy in Arizona quite soon. Mark and Carol had their hands full here in China, literally and figuratively.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, my girlfriend Sharman and I travelled to Guangzhou this weekend to meet my first cousin Mark (my dad’s sister’s son) as he and his wife Carol went through the final steps to fully adopting Leah Ao Xin Trombino. They met Leah on Monday morning in Harbin, China after nearly two years of research, paperwork and nail biting. Harbin, a freezing city in Northeastern China, is Leah’s birthplace and where she’s lived for the first four years of her life. After a few days there, the three of them hopped on a plane down to Guangzhou on China’s much warmer southern coast. All American adoptions in China must go through Guangzhou, as this is the location of the US Consulate.
On Saturday morning, the day after the Trombino’s arrived in Guangzhou, Sharman and I took the two-hour train from Hong Kong meet them, as well as my good friend Henry who lives in Guangzhou and hosted Sharman and I. For the rest of the weekend, we were able to see just how special Leah Ao Xin really is. Despite all the certainly confusing stuff that’s been happening to her lately, she was nothing but smiles, laughter and love for the whole time we were with her. According to Mark and Carol, it only took about a day until she fully embraced them as her new parents, saying Baba and Mama all the time. Her first English sentence earlier in the week was “I love you.” Her second, thanks to Elmo and his videos, was “That’s not a frog!”
Much of Leah’s past is unknown but we do know that after a few months in an orphanage, from ages one to four, Leah she was in a loving foster family. This may explain why she was immediately so trusting and open, while a child straight from the orphanage may be shy and take longer to adjust to his/her adopted family. We went on a brief Guangzhou sightseeing tour with a number of adopted children and their American parents, and I can safely say that Ao Xin was the most comfortable, outgoing child of the lot. She is a little person like her parents, but even in spite of that, she’s quite mobile. Perhaps faster than her old man already!
Also this weekend, I was given reason number #2,654 why I’m lucky to be with Sharman. As a speaker of Mandarin (in addition to Cantonese and English), she was able to translate her parents’ instructions for Leah as well as helping Mark and Carol get some understanding on Leah's constant chatter towards them. She was always saying funny, adorable things in Mandarin like “Dad, I drew a heart” or “Is it yummy?” or “Write horizontally!” that her parents would have otherwise had no way of understanding. Not to mention that Sharman is a preschool teacher and a natural with young kids. She and I are so looking forward to seeing Leah again in a month on Christmas day in Phoenix. By that time, I’m sure her English will be increasing at the speed of light.
I was sad to leave them so soon but even though it was only a weekend, I know I’ll remember this as long as I live. It’s still hard to comprehend that this adorable little four-year-old who speaks only a couple words of English is my new cousin. At this moment, they’re in Guangzhou still but they leave on Thanksgiving Day to begin life as a family of four!