Wal-Mart and Beyond

The second day with Rachel was much better than the first. We went to the hotel cafe for breakfast, like we’ve been doing every day since it comes with the room.  Rachel still didn’t want to be put down, so Tanya held her while she ate.  That kid really packed away the watermelon, along with congee and steamed egg.  Aubrey was super helpful as usual, and she found waffles and bacon. After breakfast, we cleaned ourselves up and got ready for a Wal-Mart trip.  Tanya stayed in the room with the girls, since Rachel was still a little sick.

Chinese Wal-Mart was pretty interesting. The store was on four floors: top floor was a movie theater, third floor had everything but food, second floor was food, and the bottom floor was basically rented out to other vendors. Zippo was everywhere, which I thought was funny until I remembered that just about everyone smokes here.  So, I grabbed a cart and off I went.

Fortunately, most of the supplies for Rachel were easy to find on the third floor. From there, we got on this kind of sloped moving sidewalk that eased us down to the second floor.  The carts sort of magnetically clamped to it so they couldn’t move until the end.  At the bottom, snacks and such were to the left, and live/fresh food to the right.  I decided to pass on the frogs and turtles in favor of cereal and Oreos.  Oh, and I passed on the the chicken feet, as well.

The trip was a balancing act, though, because you didn’t want to buy more than you could carry. Still, that 12-pack of bottled water was very necessary.

When I got back to the hotel room, Rachel was standing and walking and being a lot more interactive.  It was a huge step forward from when I’d left. Aubrey would take her by the hand and just lead her around, or follow her wherever she went.  And she even smiled and babbled a little bit.  So, in a shot  time we’d come a long way.

For dinner we just made ramen noodles using the electric kettle in our room, which Rachel and Aubrey both liked, and then it was bedtime. First full family day, of many yet to come.

Gotcha!

Holy smokes, what a day. Where to begin.

Since we couldn’t sleep, we went down for breakfast fairly early.  At breakfast, there was another American couple with a Chinese baby. They were with another adoption agency, and they both arrived and got their baby the day before.  She seemed so happy and well adjusted already.  So, that gave us hope. 

At around 10 we went to a conference room in the hotel with the other couples for some final instructions with our CCAI rep.  Then, at 11, the door opened just a crack, and a nanny with one of the babies from our group peered in.  The baby screamed immediately, and they vanished. Truth be told, that’s extremely common; I mean, what do you expect a baby to do when she sees a room full of strangers who don’t look anything like the people she’s known all her life?  So there was a pause for a few seconds, and then another baby toddled in: Rachel.

She was so very tiny and scared.  She looked around the room with big curious eyes, trying to figure it all out. She wore an ID card on a cord around her neck, and was gripping some kind of treat they had given her at the orphanage.  We went to her and knelt down, saying over and over again that we were mama and baba.  Of course, there was crying, but before long she was clinging to Tanya like someone lost in a storm, holding on for dear life as the world went crazy around her.

We went back to our room for a bit, then it was time for the paperwork to begin. I didn’t realize that we were going to actually finish the adoption that same day. We signed papers, gave fingerprints, assured officials that we would never abuse or abandon her.  Finally we were all on the bus headed back to the hotel. Everyone in the group decided on KFC for supper, so we dropped off half the group while the other half stayed on the bus with the babies. And that was an adventure in itself, because Chinese traffic is beyond insane.  If you’ve ever driven in China, you’re probably dead already.  Anyway, everyone made it back to the bus OK, so at long last we made it back to the room, just in time to feed our girls, make some calls, and ease into bed.  Baby Rachel ate some mashed potatoes, a few bites of French fries, and even a tiny bit of chicken.  Then, I gave her a bottle, and she fell asleep in my arms.  Tanya put her in her crib, where she’s still sleeping now.

I’m glad people were filming, because I can hardly remember the details. One thing I do remember:  as we were heading back to the room after Gotcha, Tanya said, “I didn’t get to see anyone else get their babies!”  Yeah, it was great to be first, but that was the hidden downside.  So, congratulations to all the people who became parents, for the first time or the fourth, at the same time we did; we are so happy for all of you, even though we didn’t get to watch it the first time around.

Good morning!

Even prescription sleep meds can’t overcome baby jitters. Tanya and I both woke up at around 3:30 AM. So we’re lying here, listening to Aubrey’s little snores, which will soon be a duet.  At 10:00 this morning all five families adopting from the  province will go to a conference room here in the hotel. Around an hour later, the babies will arrive.  It would be really awesome to have everyone’s new kiddos arrive at the same time, but since they’re from different orphanages, that’s not very likely.  But little Rachel will be coming with a friend, since another family here is adopting from that orphanage. Hopefully that will help them adjust, since they’ll have  each other to cling to.

Our camera batteries have never been so thoroughly charged.  This is it!

Seven years!

Seven years ago this month.  That’s when we were “logged in” with the agency that was then called the Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs, or the CCAA.  And the wait to get our daughter will finally end in about 14 hours.

Today we met with our adoption agency’s representative in Nanchang.  She is super-nice and full of information about China in general and the children we’ll be adopting.  We got a new information sheet today with more about Rachel, what she likes, when she eats, how she plays.  I’m constantly amazed at how very like us she is. She’s introverted and quiet.  She loves music and “dances” when she hears it.  She likes being held when she’s upset.  It makes us wonder, how did they know when they matched us?  Are they wizards or something?

Maybe it’s just the red thread, fate, bringing us together.  The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.

The Final Countdown

It’s almost eleven at night.  Tomorrow, we’re walking out the door.  And the next time we open the door of our home, it’ll be to let Rachel in.

The past few weeks have been absolutely frantic.  We’ve been scrambling for airline tickets, lining up the cash to pay the final expenses to the officials, getting all kinds of medicines and vaccinations….not to mention the craziness at our jobs, trying to make sure everything’s wrapped up or at least fully notated for someone else to take care of while we’re away.  What keeps you centered in the midst of the whirlwind is the goal.  There’s a little girl at the end of this road, at the end of 10,782 miles of flying, and she needs to come home.

We’ve seen lots of pictures of her, more than some adopting families we know have gotten, and what I’m most looking forward to is her smile.  In all those pictures, she’s never been smiling.  That first smile, though….I bet it’s for her big sister.

A few nights ago, Tanya looked at me and said, “Thank you.”  “For what?” I asked.  “For not letting me give up.”  It’s true, there were times when each of us had our doubts, when we wondered if it was worth sticking it out when the wait just seemed to drag on and on.  Were we renewing the paperwork for nothing?  What if they changed the rules and we didn’t qualify anymore?  What if they cancelled the program entirely?  Are we being unfair to Aubrey, giving her hope for something that sometimes seemed like it would never happen?  There were times we lost hope.  And we did what we had to and propped each other up through those times.  It was during one of the last renewals that I realized:  Rachel was real, to me.  A real little girl who we were connected to, even though we had never seen her face or heard her voice.  And I would not give up on her, because that would mean writing a letter to that little girl and telling her that we weren’t coming.  I could never do that, I realized.  And I never doubted again.  When I shared that with Tanya, neither did she.

After seven years, the day is finally here.  Tomorrow we take the first steps of the journey of ten thousand miles.  Rachel’s finally coming home.