Thursday, February 9, 2017

Travel Diary: Day Two--GOTCHA DAY!!!

Gotcha Day dawned....way before dawn.  We napped late on Sunday and then couldn't go to sleep on Monday night, and true to American-person-in-China style, we were up around 3:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep.  I knew that the day would be long and emotional, but even that couldn't convince my body to relax and go back to sleep!  Finally, we left for breakfast around 6:30.  We got tickled when we saw that another American family was coming out of breakfast as we went in.  We all have messed up sleep patterns right now!

After breakfast, we came back to the room to get the backpack/diaper bag ready for the day.  We met with our guide, Aron, at 9:30 in the lobby to prepare our paperwork.  We made copies of passports and paperwork in the business center first, because some of our paperwork had to be copied onto A4 sized paper for China.  We then went upstairs to the "Carousel," got our itinerary for the trip, and rearranged all of the paperwork that we had brought with us to be ready for all of our upcoming appointments.  After that, Aron walked us to Aeon for some baby shopping!  We got bottles, bottle brushes, diapers, formula, rice cereal, and some Chinese snacks--rice cookies, rice crackers, and hawthorn cookies for Judy Lin and animal crackers and strawberry marshmallows for Kinley.  We came back to the hotel and made plans to meet Aron again at 2:00.  

Zeke, Kinley, and I went to the restaurant downstairs for lunch.  We decided to order from the menu so that we could get some Western food on our nervous stomachs.  We ate (cheeseburger for Zeke, chicken wings for Kinley, and Pad Thai for Lisa), and then I attempted to ask for the check.  I said "Check please," and the girl asked me to repeat it.  I did and she said, "Oohhh," followed by a Chinese phrase.  I nodded, and she left.  She returned a moment later with a latte.  Not a check, but it was the best coffee to date in China, so it was ok with me!

We met Aron and the other Lifeline family that we are traveling with in the lobby and we all nervously climbed into the van.  We drove for about 15 minutes, but it was quite a scary ride!  Apparently China saves money on road construction by not having merge lanes.  And Zeke swears we drove for 15 minutes and were five blocks from our hotel!  Lots of u-turns and bicycle dodging was involved in the trip.  When we arrived, Aron told us that we would get out of the van and take a quick shortcut to the Civil Affairs building.  We walked through some back alleys and suddenly we were there!

Aron had warned us that when we got there, things would move abruptly and quickly, and she was right.  We walked into a room that I had seen only in pictures.  There were already several families there and several sweet babies in various stages of meltdowns.  There was a curtained room to the left where the babies and nannies waited for their families to be announced.  We were led to a place on a purple couch and went over some paperwork.  Finally, Aron motioned to us that it was our turn.  We walked just outside the curtained room, saw some movement, and then suddenly there was the face that we had, to that point, only seen in pictures.  She was in the arms of the Orphanage Director from Suixi, where she had stayed for her first four months of life.  He didn't seem to ready to give her up, so I awkwardly finally reached in and took her from him.  She came to me willingly and quietly, without crying at all.  She studied my face and looked back and forth from me to her nannies, who had by that point come closer, and then to Zeke and Kinley, and back to the nannies.  Believe it or not, I was too overwhelmed to even cry.  It was such a strange, beautiful moment and it seemed that time almost stood still.

We were finally asked to snap out of the fog and move back to the couch so that other families could get their babies, and we sat down and found some toys for her.  Finally, she gave us the big grin that we had seen in those pictures!  We signed some more paperwork and were able to talk with Peggy, the Foster Center Director, and the nannies who traveled with her to bring Judy Lin to us.  It was so obvious that they loved her.  They were sure to tell us about her "witching hour" from 6-7--that she would get fussy, but that it would go away.  They told us how she liked her bottles, her daily schedule, and what she liked to eat.  They gave us precious gifts for her--a baby book (in Chinese!) that they had kept for her, a photo book that they had made of her sweet pictures from the Foster Center, a letter from Peggy, and a card from one of her nannies that I can't wait to have translated.  We were also given a flash drive with pictures of her time at the Foster Center--from the tiny, frail baby who arrived to the smiling, growing girl that they delivered to us.  It was so very obvious that she was loved by these ladies who stood in the gap until God brought her to us and we will forever be grateful to them for all that they did for our sweet girl.  We gave them gifts too--Beehive Bath House lotions from Iris Jane and English Toffee from Morgan Price candy.  Then we all took pictures together, and it was time to leave.  Her sweet nannies came to her and took final pictures of her and kissed and hugged her--all while she was in my arms, they never offered to take her back--and both of  them started to cry.  I hugged them and thanked them over and over, but I don't know if they'll ever know how grateful I really am.

We walked back out to the elevator and back outside the building.  It seemed crazy that what we have been waiting and wishing for was already over, and she was in our arms.  We walked back through the alley and back to the van, and on the streets my heart started praising God for the very real little girl in my arms.  She was quiet and content, just looking around and taking it all in.

When we got back to the hotel, we went upstairs to a playroom to finish filling out some paperwork.
When we were finished, we came back our room and took some time to just watch her.  She loved playing with her toys!  She seemed so content and happy--there was none of the crying that we had prepared ourselves for.  We held her and loved her and played and fed her some puffs--thank goodness for those--and let her look outside.  She had not napped all day, so we ordered room service and I started undressing her for bath time around 6 p.m.  She did not smell bad, just different, and although I know there are lots of great organic things out there for babies, I had planned ahead and brought some pink and yellow Johnson and Johnson's.  I used that with all three of my bio babies and wanted her to smell like mine.  She LOVED her bath!  I was afraid that she would be scared but she played with her toys and didn't whimper or fuss at all.  I held out her pajamas and let her choose which ones she wanted, and since she's definitely mine, she chose the polka dots.  I fixed her bottle, snuggled in with her warm, yummy-smelling, footie pajama-clad body, and right after she took her bottle, she was sound asleep.  Picking out parents is hard work!

We were all exhausted, so I laid down with Kinley just to hang out with her, and within a few seconds, we were both asleep.  Zeke crashed on the couch but managed to wake up long enough to sign for room service, then woke me up.  We made it through a cheeseburger and fries, and then crashed again.  Kinley couldn't even wake up for dinner!

Even looking back on it three days later, it was a crazy day.  Our emotions were all over the place--we were nervous, excited, scared, overwhelmed, ecstatic, and overjoyed.  Things somehow happened in slow motion and all at once at exactly the same time.  We had looked forward for so long to kissing those sweet cheeks and loving on that squishy little girl, and having those dreams fulfilled was a feeling we won't soon forget.  I don't think we realized how exhausting it would be to scrutinize every little move she made, trying to determine what her health was really like, or how we would stare at her as though if we looked hard enough, we could see her future.  What I do know is that these moments were planned for us since before the beginning of time, and that she--and we--are right where we are supposed to be.  Welcome home, baby girl.  You are ours, and we are yours...we love you already, and we'll love you forever.

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