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You#8217;ve come a long way baby: Locals adopt orphan girl from China

She can say “Mama” and “Dada” with ease and grins when the folks make funny faces and glide her through the air. She is everything Mom and Dad could ever hope for.

Kaeli Qin Huff celebrated her first birthday last week as a new member of a family who waited a long time to hold her.

She started out in life at an orphanage in China, she is now a new Irontonian, getting to know a new land and a bunch of excited family and friends.

Butch and Lisa Huff had wanted a child of their own since they married seven years ago. Butch has two grown daughters from a previous marriage, and Lisa was eager to experience the joys of parenthood, too. After trying to have a birth child, the Huffs later thought about adopting a Russian child or a child from some other country where kids are more plentiful than are families to care for them. They decided to adopt a baby from China.

“We knew four others couples that had done this and were highly successful,” Butch said. “The babies were all cute and bright and it seemed like a good idea.”

The long road to China began in November 2004 when the Huffs contacted Helping Hands adoption agency in Lexington, Ky., “and started the dreaded paperwork trail,” Lisa recalled. That trail included a home study, interviews, a home inspection, fingerprints collected by local, state and federal agencies, and documentation, lots of documentation.

“We had to have everything notarized and authenticated,” Lisa said. They even had to write a letter saying how much they wanted a child and why they would make good parents.

It took seven months to get the paperwork completed and ready to send to China. After that, it was a hurry-up-and-wait thing, with Chinese officials promising to match prospective parents up with just the right baby.

While the Huffs were waiting on a baby, a little girl in China was waiting to find her family. Qin Liqi had been left of the steps of an orphanage when she was one day old.

“I feel like the birth mother took her to a place where she knew she would be found immediately,” Lisa said.

Chinese officials usually spend six months looking for the birth parents. If they are not found, the child is placed for adoption.

In May, the Huffs received a report on a baby girl that would be theirs, along with photographs of the infant.

“We had waited and waited and we were just overjoyed when we got the report,” Lisa said. “It was a Saturday. The agency called and told us the news and e-mailed us a picture and we cried and screamed and the girls I work with went over the medical report and we took the photographs and made copy after copy.”

In late July, they set out for China to get their daughter. After an initial stop in Beijing, it was on to

Guangxi province to pick up Kaeli.

“They brought us to a civil office and the nannies brought in all the babies and they called out the names one by one and then they handed her to me,” Lisa said. “It’s an unexplainable feeling. My heart was in my throat.”

Butch agreed.

“You get a lump in your throat and you get afraid you’re going to cry in front of people. By the time Lisa had her, she (Kaeli) was screaming and that made it easier because we were focused on trying to calm her down,” he said.

Dad recalled that right away, their child seemed special, if even, perhaps, in a whimsical way.

“I think she was the only baby in our group that looked like a little girl,” Butch mused. “The rest looked like George Foreman. They had humongous jowls and butch haircuts.”

For Lisa, bringing baby home makes her a first-time mom at age 43. Dad is 55 and tends to make jokes about raising a baby and combing grey hair at the same time in his life.

“We want to take her to Disney World but we’ll wait until Mom can push a wheelchair and a stroller at the same time,” he joked.

What do they most look forward to? Lisa’s reaction is that of a typical mom.

“Just growing with her and watching her grow and become a young woman and watching her go through all those steps in between,” Lisa said. “And seeing all the potential she can reach.”