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Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

We found out we were expecting a little one named XiaoBei.  She was a little over 7 months old and I started crying like a baby, sitting in my office at work for all to see, as soon as I answered the phone and heard my social worker say, “You have a little girl.”

I called J right away. I called my mom. I called my mother-in-law. And then I told my whole office who then promptly cracked open several bottles of wine to toast our faraway little one with.

It was a lovely, lovely day that I will never forget. Definitely one of the top 10 days of my life.

And I love this kid more than I can ever express. She is marvelous, wonderful, kind, loving, and her dad and I think she is just about perfect.

(Even if we did spend a whole lot of the 4th anniversary of that day in the corner.)

It was 3 years ago today that I saw Ava’s referral pictures for the first time. The minute I saw them I burst into tears – despite the infamous mug shot look.

I asked her to give me a current mug shot look for comparison’s sake.

She complied.

Amazing, huh?

Check back ’cause I’ll add a few more pictures tomorrow. I don’t have the ones I want on the laptop I currently have with me.

Our Life Changed.

One of the best days of my life.

January 21, 2008

Every moment of that day is forever engraved in my mind beginning with the flight from Beijing to Wuhan, including the trouble we had getting the car seat checked as oversize baggage on that flight, and ending with us holding Ava as she cried, seemingly inconsolably, in our hotel room that night. All night. We paced, we walked, we (I) cried with her, we took turns sitting and holding her upright since it helped her sleep. I remember wondering if this was truly happening after so long waiting.

I remember the snow and the ice and the fears that it would delay the babies’ trip from Qichun to Wuhan and the great relief J and I felt when we were told they’d made it there safely. I remember how my heart skipped a beat when we walked into our hotel room and saw a crib in there – waiting for Ava. A crib!! In our room!! That made it seem incredibly real for some reason. I remember the nerves, the heart palpitations, when it was time to board the bus for the trip to meet our daughter.

(Taken as we were boarding the bus outside the hotel. I think I was about to throw up at this point. Or cry.)

I remember seeing the Yangtze River for the first time as we crossed the bridge and spotting the Yellow Crane Tower. I remember driving by the Daoist Temple, picturesquely covered in snow, briefly thinking it was beautiful and then wishing with all my might that the driver would hurry up and our guide would skip the scenic commentary and just get us to our baby.

I remember walking to the door of the provincial affairs office with our group and feeling my heart drop when we discovered the door was locked and we couldn’t get in. I panicked for a moment because we’d been told the babies were there (everyone else panicked a bit, too) until our guide walked us to another door. I remember feeling like I wanted to laugh hysterically and cry all at the same time when we walked into the building because this was my dream. My lifelong dream getting ready to come true and I was petrified. And grateful. And unbelieving that this was actually happening.

And I remember the elevator. Tiny and full of smokers so J and I opted to climb the grand, marble staircase all the way to the upper floor where we were to wait. The stairs were slick from all the snow and ice outside and I slipped a little at the top, causing my already rapidly beating heart to thump a little harder.

They parked us in a cold conference room where some sat and waited and I paced and waited. J sat up the video camera, checking and double checking, to make sure he would be able to capture something of the day on camera. We listened to a brief speech from the provincial affairs officer, of which I have no real recollection of  what she said, we signed some paperwork, and were presented with a few items from the orphanage. A photo album that was a total surprise and is priceless to us, some medicine (Chinese herbal and an antibiotic) since Ava was sick, baby formula, a one page summary of her current schedule, and a map of the SWI and surrounding area.

Ava was the last baby brought in. I couldn’t get to her because everyone else had their babes in arms and were blocking the way. I think I got a little ill-tempered and finally pushed my way through for the SWI director to hand her to me. He spoke to me about her being ill and I’ll always regret not taking a few moments more to speak with him. But I couldn’t. My every thought and action at that point revolved around her and J. I hope he understood and didn’t think me rude.

Ava wasn’t afraid. She was curious more than anything. Even when I look back at the photos now, after knowing her so well for the last two years, I don’t see fear in those first pictures. I see curiosity and interest. We’d sent a photo album in her care package and I truly believe her foster mom made sure she was exposed to those photos. When I look back at those photos I also see how awkwardly both J and I held her and how completely inexperienced we were as parents.

She was ill. Nothing major or long lasting, but she was slightly feverish and was sweating in the many layers of clothing. I remember how she was dressed in the same faded outerwear that all the other babies had on and how she smelled of coal – and how sweet that smell of her was anyway. I remember the long drive back to the hotel during a snow covered rush hour, and how guilty I felt at not having any juice or anything cool for her to drink.

I remember taking her back to the room and realizing that we had no freaking clue of what to do with this baby now that we had her. We decided to check her diaper and I remember being slightly amazed that diapers now had velcro tabs instead of tape. I didn’t know that. J got the first diaper change while I looked on. He did a good job. We stripped her down and rinsed her off with a damp washcloth, which she didn’t appreciate, before plunking her down on a blanket on the floor in order to overwhelm her with toys, the likes of which she’d clearly never seen before. Fortunately our guide showed up at that moment to translate our one page of info on what to feed her and to tell us what her sleep schedule was and to offer to get us food (Pizza Hut) since it had been hours and hours and hours since we’d eaten. J and I mixed her up a bottle (wrong on the formula to water ratio for at least the first couple of times) and managed to get her fed with only minimal collateral damage.

And I remember how grateful I was when she went to sleep. We’d had no real crying and could hardly believe our good fortune thus far.

Until she woke up in the night. Because our baby? She grieved at night, in the dark, when I can only imagine that she really grasped that her foster mom was no longer there and that her whole world had changed. I remember crying with her because I was helpless, truly impotent, to assuage her sadness. We held her, we walked with her, we slept sitting in a chair with her, doing anything and everything to let her know that, if nothing else, we were there. And we’d always be there. Always.

It’s been a good two years. Two of the best years of my life, and I’ve had a pretty great life so far, so that’s saying something.

And that’s why we want to celebrate our gotcha day. Not Ava’s gotcha day, but OUR gotcha day, because as surely as we ‘got’ her she also ‘got’ us.

She got to pick dinner. I thought for sure we’d be partaking of Chicken Mc.Nuggets but she surprised me with a request for pizza. Done.

There was cake AND cupcakes, homemade by Ava and Daddy. And icing (aka heaven) in a can.

And presents. Nothing big. And nothing I bought in China since I was in no way organized enough to shop for 16 or 18 or whatever number of significant gifts folks are doing these days. Just some small things to let her know that it’s a special day and that we are fortunate beyond measure to have been chosen to be her parents.

We tell her a million times a day that we love, love, love her. But even that’s not enough to convey the depths of feeling we have for this, for our, child. I don’t know if there is any way to do so, really.

As Ava gets older we’re trying to work out our family traditions on how we will celebrate our gotcha day – the anniversary of the day she was placed into our arms. I have lots of ideas but they all don’t feel right (for us) yet but, regardless, this wasn’t a good year for much of anything requiring too much planning or movement since surgery was only 9 short days prior.

But I did want to do something to commemorate it since it was one of (if not THE) best days of my life and I want to ensure that Ava knows that, despite any other feelings she may eventually have regarding that date. I do realize that although it was a day of exceptional gain for us, that gain came at a great loss of many things for her. I can only hope we can ultimately balance those things out by providing her with a family that loves her beyond measure.

At the very least there was going to be cake and presents – except there was nary an egg or a cake mix in the house – so a trip to T.arget was in order. I was beyond excited at the thought of getting out of my house for the first time in a week and a half. Way more excitement than a quick trip like that would normally engender but hey, you try being stuck inside with only daytime TV for company and see how desperate you get for a change of scenery.

Out trip was successful. Cake ingredients procured, as were some odds and ends gift-y things for her, and since I didn’t keel over in the middle of the store (although I felt like having J push me in the cart once we’d made about half a lap around the perimeter) we celebrated with Starb.ucks on the way out. Grande hot chocolate, skim with no whipped is my drink of choice (I don’t do coffee – ever) and Ava always gets a sip or two.

But since this was a special occasion we treated her to her very own cup this time. Whole milk WITH whipped cream – WOOT!

Her first Starbucks:

It was a hit – for about 3 sips. Then she ever so sweetly asked Daddy to hold it and refused to take it back again.

I’m okay with that. Much easier on my pocketbook anyway and she is always welcome to share mine.

By the way, frosting in an aerosol can? OMG – it’s even better than Easy Cheese.