Thursday, January 10, 2013

The end of the beginning

We woke up early on the morning of the 7th of January. I woke up earlier than the rest mostly because I barely slept. It's not that I wasn't exhausted but what was about to happen loomed over me like a dark cloud. I couldn't shake the feeling of wanting to pinch myself and awaken from this dream that was just too much for me to continue. When I opened my eyes I was staring at a ceiling that I didn't recognize and realized that it wasn't a dream at all. We were in China and we were only hours away from meeting our daughter. A daughter raised for almost 6 years by other women in a country with a vastly different culture. 

I escaped to the bathroom to find out the time and switched on the TV. Yes, our bathroom has a TV set (but I'd trade it for an actual mattress on our bed and heat in our room). To my surprise it was 3am and the Cotton Bowl was on. Seeing American football gave me a little lift as our failure to secure a hotel with WiFi above the second floor and a less than stellar VPN had me borderline frantic. The anxiety that welled up inside of me when Michael told me of the most epic fail of all, our lack of ability to communicate with our precious friends and family back home, was yet another shock. I never expected to feel so desperate about making contact in one way or another. At 2 bucks a minute though, I wasn't desperate enough to pick up our phone. 

As I climbed into bed I realized that I was not the only one awake at that time. Michael and I talked about a few things, rolled over, and tried to get a few more hours of sleep. I didn't have the heart to burden him with my doubts and fears. After all he had none... Seriously, he had absolutely none. In many ways his lack of doubts and fears made me feel better. I trusted the Lord on this and trusted him to trust Him to and to lead us in the security and rest of that trust. 

At 8:30 we met Lydia and began yet another death-defying attempt at pulling out into the traffic. New to us was the increase in people going to and fro since we had arrived on a weekend and now we were meeting the end of rush-hour. I made the mistake of glancing out of the window when our driver was crossing 4 lanes of traffic to make a left turn... He just pulled out into each lane and forced each driver coming toward us to choose between hitting us or stopping. I was thankful they all chose to stop since I would have been the victim each time. 

As we walked into the government building Michael asked her what bldg. it was. Lydia explained it was the Communist gov't headquarters there. Anyone my age or older will relate to the desire I had to stop in my tracks. What the word Communist does to the soul of a 50 year old is far different than what it does to a 30 year old. I was pleasantly surprised to see two smiling guards at the sign in desk greet us in their best English. It was a nice diversion from the pestering feeling of nausea that overwhelmed me. That feeling increased as we stepped into a small conference room stuffed with the longest table that I've ever seen. They could have seated 30 people at that table. I'm not sure 30 people would have fit in that room. 

We sat down at the table while Josh and Kate took a seat in chairs against the wall. A very young Chinese girl entered the room with a stack of papers and Lydia introduced her as the woman who ran the adoption program for the government there in Haikou. She smiled, shook our hands and proceeded to ask for documents. We soon realized that there is no grace in filling out Chinese government paperwork. It is all done in pen and there is no white out scratch outs accepted. If you make an error you begin the paperwork all over again. Although I would have preferred for Michael to fill it out an alleviate my already stressed mind, the woman explained to Lydia that his printing was just too illegible... The pen was handed to me and i began to fill in the boxes as I was told. Suddenly the door opened and this very pleasant but heavy-hearted woman came in with the most beautiful, itty-bitty child I've ever seen. She looked right at Michael and pointed and yelled "baba"! She then looked at me and yelled"Mama".  Of course Michael's arms seemed to supernaturally stretch far beyond human capacity as he scooped up this beautiful little girl who suddenly became our daughter. Her joy was overwhelming as she was introduced to her "gege" Josh and "jiejie" Kate. Out came the suckers as we had to turn our attention back to the paperwork. 

Nothing of this day proceeded as I had imagined nor was it in any way similar to the experiences others have written about. I thought it cruel to force us to care at all about the paperwork so precious to the Chinese gov't when we had endured pure torture to get to this point. The choice was not ours and a full hour later we had said goodbye to the head nanny who had carried Elli to us and were on our way, little one in hand, to grab some lunch and hit a grocery store. Along the way we found a little Chuck-E-Cheese type amusement park outside (everything is outside) where we paid a stupid amount of money for Elli alone to play... For all of 15 minutes. 

Then it was back to the hotel to get to know each other better. What that would mean, I had no clue.

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