Thursday, August 21, 2008

Adoption Story - Part 8

On Tuesday morning, we loaded everything back on the buses, made the long drive out to the airport, and boarded the plane for the flight to Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province. Emotions mounted as our plane flew over fields and dirt roads on our approach because we knew we were finally going to meet our daughters.

We arrived at the hotel shortly after 2pm and were told to meet in the common room on the 11th floor at 5pm where the orphanage workers would be bringing our children. Mr. at Home, K, and I headed up to our room and I pulled up short at the door. The sight of the hotel-provided crib, stroller, and baby tub brought a sense of reality to this adoption as nothing else had. In a couple of hours, we would have *a baby*. A little girl who would need all this stuff. The face we had memorized from pictures would be real. How in the world had we made it here to this time and this place?

We unpacked everything we would need when we got L - the paperwork, the money, the orphanage donation for the workers as well as blankets for the crib and toys to distract a child whose world was about to turn upside-down. We found the camera and the video camera and made sure they were ready to go.

At 4:40, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer, so we gathered our things and went to the elevators. The doors opened and the elevator was occupied by three Chinese adults holding three babies in identical clothes. It had to be part of the other orphanage contingent and I kept stealing glances at them. When the doors opened, we all headed to the common area, which is already crowded with more adults and babies and anxious families trying to identify *their* babies. The plan was for the orphanage director to call out the Chinese name of each child (we’d been practicing listening for our daughters’ names) and the family was supposed to go forward and claim their child. This worked well for a moment or two, but it quickly dissolved into mass chaos with so many screaming babies and teary parents taking advantage of this opportunity to ask questions of the orphanage workers about their new child’s history and habits.

When we started, the 14 little girls from one orphanage were the only ones there. I was standing near the hallway and saw a new group pushing their way through the crowd. The first one was a woman carrying a toddler. I anxiously scanned the child’s face, but it didn’t look like L’s. Close on her heels came another woman and child and there was no doubt this was her. This was our daughter.

I called to Mr. at Home that I found her and we followed L and her nanny as she found a spot to kneel and put L down beside her. We crowded near them and stared at L as she looked back at us in wonder. She and her orphanage mate were dressed in matching orange corduroy jackets and pants and she was clutching a cookie. A card was clipped to her jacket with her name, our names, and her referral picture so there would be no mistake.

We waited forever watching L, talking to her, until our name was finally called and the nanny could officially hand her over to us. I held her first and she cried for about 30 seconds, then she settled quietly into my arms. A few minutes passed as I marveled that I was actually holding her before I passed her off to Mr. at Home and she began crying again. We quickly asked our questions, finished our obligations there, and escaped with our new daughter back to the quiet and calm of our own room.

I sat holding her on my lap as K and Mr. at Home gathered close. L sat quietly as we all simply looked at each other, gauging this new reality. She didn’t whimper or cry, she just stared at these strange new faces. She was as astonishingly beautiful as her pictures with her big dark eyes and perfectly shaped lips. And she was ours. Our second daughter who would keep us up at night for months. K’s little sister who would one day steal her lip gloss. But for that moment, we just praised God for bringing our family together in such an awesome way.

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