In case you are just joining our adoption story, don't miss:
Once you are all caught up, today I start off in Guangzhou, China where we meet our daughter for the first time.
Our Adoption Story - part 3
Day 7: Meeting our Daughter
We didn't get to meet our daughter until 3:30pm. In the morning we settled in at The Garden Hotel in Guangzhou. We continue to be amazed at how blessed we are by our son - he is so much fun! He is a busy toddler with lots of energy, an insatiable appetite, and lots of smiles and hugs to share. We are truly BLESSED!
We had much, much less information about our daughter so we were a little more uncertain on what she was going to be like. We know she just had heart surgery, but not what it is for. So we have lots of nerves entering today!!! Plus after just having experiencing a gut wrenching hand off with our son I'm not sure I'm ready for another one; and what will it do to my son. Praying; God who has clearly led us here will guide us and take care of all of us.
Meeting our daughter was calm and quiet - we were the only family adopting today. We are so delighted - our daughter is the sweetest, happiest, most easy going girl ever! She has an amazing smile!! We couldn't be more thrilled and relieved. She has the voice of an angel! Our biological children, who had been so heart broken by our son's less than happy entry into our family, were delighted to get to play with her and spent a long time engaging with her.
You can tell she has been through some tough times because anytime you need to lay her down (like for changing or bedtime) she cries hysterically no matter how much you rock her, comfort her, sing to her, or anything. It just breaks your heart. She closes her eyes and we don't think she even knows where she is - she is just scared and alone. I just want to hold her tight and let her know she will never be alone again!
She hasn't grieved yet, I think we are still just temporary babysitters to her....so the real hard stuff that leads to good attachment is still coming, but we were so excited to get to know her and her sweet personality.
Watching everyone play in a room after we got "home" with our daughter my heart was over flowing with love and gratitude. What a blessing these children are to our family - they are treasures!
Day 8 - Lots of Appointments
Today we had our first appointment at 8am - physicals that were merely a formality as they put something to look in their ear, but never even looked. Then we finalized our daughter's adoption at Civil Affairs and went to the notary. After a short, late afternoon nap for the littles we walked to the grocery store to stock up on snacks and water bottles for our hungry crew (you can't even brush your teeth with tap water in China without getting really sick)
Then some evening playtime before baths and bedtime. Busy days, but so blessed to all be together!!
Day 9 - Passport & Play time
Today we fed the fish in the Garden's pond, explored the tiny play room, took a walk to find lunch (eating with 2 toddlers with a menu only in Chinese with no pictures and me fatally allergic to shellfish is not for the faint of heart). Then we were off to get pictures and apply for our daughter's Chinese passport before hitting the grocery store for dinner.
Day 10 -Government Holiday
Because of today's holiday, buildings are closed so we went to the market and Shaiman Island with several other adoptive families to enjoy the day and get some souvenirs too. Bedtime continues to be a struggle, but these kids have never been snuggled and soothed so they want LOTS of it. Plus, you can tell our daughter is genuinely scared - probably from her recent heart surgery just before we got her.
Day 11 - New Years Day
Today we played at the park, in our room, took a walk to the grocery store, took naps, and took a walk to the mall to find dinner. We are seeing more and more laughter and joy. Our son's laugh is infectious!! Such a wonderful day doing nothing but spending quality time together.
Our oldest daughter is getting homesick....one week to go and this week should go fast because we've got things to do every day!
Day 12 - Safari Park
This place was AMAZING! First we went on a train through a safari with free roaming zebra, lion, hippo, giraffe, cheetah, bears, camels, flamingo, and many more. Then we explored some amazing animals and even saw an Elephant show. The kids got to feed the giraffes and hold a macaw - soooo cool!
Such a needed break for the big kids and a great time bonding as a family and then endured the crazy Guangzhou traffic back to the hotel for some spicy takeout noodles.
Day 13 - Visiting our Daughter's Orphanage
Today was bitter sweet as we traveled 2 hours to see our daughter's "finding spot" and her orphanage. She was blessed to be in a very well off orphanage that was lacking in nothing - except for forever families for the 600 children who live here.
Our daughter had not really mourned until today when one of the nurses who really loved her picked her up and then put her down. The nurse was crying as she hugged and held her -our daughter was so loved! It was so hard to watch, but so good for her to get to say good bye. It was a long day for the kids and emotionally charged, but we are glad we got to see it.
Today was a powerful reminder that no matter how much food, clothes, toys, medical care, and love a child can get in an orphanage, nothing can take the place of a forever family! We are forever grateful for the care she received here and pray each and every child here finds there forever family SOON!
Day 14 - Visiting our Son's Orphanage
Today was tough in so many ways - it was back to back with the other orphanage and the kids were already tired. Plus from the time we left the hotel until we got back it was 12 hours - a long day. But more than anything it was emotionally tough; I'm still processing it.
After visiting his finding spot, we drove up a small winding road, through security and into the orphanage. We were warmly greeted by the directors. - it was apparent our son was very loved and very popular there - they all wanted to hold him and love on him.
We had lunch together and spent time not only touring, but playing with the kids. This is a more "middle" level orphanage, they are lacking in funding so they have serious needs, but they really love the kids.
It was hard to watch our son just go from nanny to nanny and seem to completely forget about us as he played with all his toys and was loved and dotted on. I know it is good for him, but I'm not going to lie - it was hard for me! But then. about an hour into our visit he came back to find me, hugged me, and stayed on my lap the rest of the time. I was so very, very relieved. He was glad to see everyone, but he wanted to STAY with us!
Our older three kids did great and really engaged with the kids who lived there. It was a lot to process for them and months and months later they are still processing the children lying quietly in the room with rows and rows of cribs. The lonely child on a riding toy in the hallway just banging his head on the wall. The many children who sat their in a daze until you started to play and their face just came alive! They were loved, but there is just no way those workers can adequately love, dote on, and look out for the needs of so many, many children. My heart still breaks for these kids!
Day 15 - Consulate Appointment & Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family
Today was another bright and early day as we had to be ready to head out at 7:30am. We went to the consulate where, along with about 20 other families, our children were sworn in as American citizens (we pick up the paperwork tomorrow). Then we had a surprise excursion to the Chen Academy - beautiful building made as a temple to the Chen families ancestors, but was burned down during the cultural revolution and then fixed later.
We finally got back to our hotel about 2pm. The kids were eager to have lunch and just run around and play the rest of the afternoon. We hung out inside as the air pollution was "very unhealthy" again (just shy of hazardous) and we can feel it! We both were light headed and had headaches.
Day 16 - Last day in Guangzhou
We were out only shortly in the morning to grab our daily food as the air quality quickly became hazardous (the worst level) so we opted to stay in the hotel room the rest of the day. We are all packed up and ready to leave for Hong Kong in the morning
We are eager to breathe some fresh, clean American air (literally) and go home - there's no place like home!=)
Day 17 - Train to Hong Kong
We have mixed emotions leaving the beautiful Garden Hotel - It will be good to go home, but this was where we bonded and became a family of 7. This is the only "home" these kids know...so this will be another change. We've had such an amazing time.
Getting on a train in China is, well CRAZY!! There is so much pushing, but this was our 7th bullet train this trip so we were use to it and the ride is always nice. We got to Hong Kong and grabbed a taxi to head to Disneyland. This will be such a nice end of our trip, especially for our big 3 who have been such troopers the whole trip.
Today I'm reminded of how far our son has come and the journey he still has. He has bonded really well with me and he always prefers me - I'm his #1 Mama.....but when checking in the lady gave him a sticker and he immediately reached to be held by her. Since he had so many "Mamas" it is going to be a while until he grasps he only has one mama.
Our daughter says "hi" to everyone, but won't go to others. The fact that she strongly attached to ONE nurse has made a huge difference in her transition. She is just transferring that attachment. She is also starting to cry less at bedtime, and not at all when being changed - what a blessing that she is feeling safe.
Day 18 - Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland is much smaller, 1/2 the cost, and generally less crowded than all other Disney parks so it was a fun time to bond, build memories, and cap off this amazing trip... because little did we know, but the plane ride home was going to be TORTURE with our daughter crying hysterically for all 14 hours! (sorry everyone else who was on our plane!!)
When we got home there were more forms to fill out, visits from our social worker to schedule, and lots and lots of doctor appointments. They have some "surprise medical needs", some re-do surgeries, and more bonding - we are working through it. But mostly we are just so, so grateful that God choose us to be their parents!
Some may say that these kids are so lucky we adopted them (and they are some of the lucky few to find forever families), but we feel that WE are the lucky ones to get to share our lives with these precious treasures!
- Praise God no one got sick!
- Praise God all the logistics worked out
- Praise God for traveling mercy
- Praise God for just the right son for us - he is sweet, cuddly, has a great laugh, a wonderful personality, and more.
- Praise God for just the right daughter for us - she has the best laugh, smile, super smart, great sense of humor, very friendly
- Praise God for his perfect timing
- Praise God for great guides and new friends
- Praise God for the finances to make this happen
- Praise God for hubby's job giving him the time off to be with us for 3 weeks.
- Praise God for our three older kids patience and adaptability
- Praise God for choosing us to be the parents of these 5 treasures!
- Praise God for our friends and family who have supported and prayed for us throughout this trip
- Praise God that even when things get tough, he is still there
- Praise God for new beginnings
- Praise God for the joy of children's laughter
- Praise God for health insurance & modern medicine so they two could live!