More About Me...

Wife. Mommy. Lover of cookies.

From Twitter...

RT @HonestToddler: Toddler Tip: She has a bounty of nerves underneath that "last" one. Don't worry :)

Adventures in Adoption, or, I Like the Roller Coaster

The waiting room in the Civil Affairs office in Changsha is long and rectangular, and the walls are lined with bamboo couches. A few tables are scattered throughout, but mostly it’s pretty open. We were joined soon enough by two other families, one of which already had their baby. Ashley stepped out to check if the Chenzhou babies had arrived yet (they hadn’t). You know the feeling you get when you’re on a roller coaster and you’re heading to the top of that first gigantic hill? Yeah, that’s about how I was feeling. I now have a deep appreciation for the expression “jumping out of my skin”, because that’s *exactly* what I felt like.

We sat in that room for what felt like FOREVER. Every time somebody came close to the door we jumped up. FINALLY we saw a woman enter…with a little baby girl. SO not our kiddo. Right behind her, though, was a diminutive woman in a bright pink sweater, and she was holding the hand of a tiny toddler in a pale blue coat. His hair was too long, and his cheeks were flaming, and, after five years of waiting, *this* was our child. I looked at Kevin, who hadn’t quite recognized him (we were both still floating in a weird state of non-reality), and I said “There he is.” All of a sudden we had no idea what to do. We stood up and walked (flew) the ten or so steps over to little Chen Jian Hua. I knelt down and told him hello in Mandarin. Kevin was armed and ready with the video camera. I reached out to touch my baby, and he shrank back from me into the familiar safety of his nanny’s arms. She whispered to him, telling him who we were, but he wanted absolutely nothing to do with us. I tried to engage him for a couple more minutes, and finally I couldn’t stand it anymore; I reached out and hugged him to me. I told him over and over that I loved him (in Chinese, of course), and he cried his eyes out. Kevin tried to distract him with the toy truck, and that actually worked for about five seconds. During all of this, the nanny was showing us what she had brought for him: a few toys, his vaccination records, a chop (a personalized stamp), and the clothes in which he was found. I was trying my best to answer the questions Ashley was asking as we were trying to clarify names and addresses for paperwork, all the while wrestling a terrified toddler. After a few minutes of holding him and rocking him, I handed him over to Kevin.

As long as I live I will never forget the look on my husband’s face as he held his son for the first time. Tears were streaming down both of our faces, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen Kevin so incredibly happy. He somehow managed to calm the baby down, and we were able to sit for a couple of minutes and wrap up the rest of the paperwork that needed to be done that day. We had prepared a list of questions to ask his nanny, and I have to give Kevin some major props for remembering to refer to the list. It was all pretty basic stuff: Nap times, questions about poop (little did we know just how much our lives would come to revolve around poop), likes and dislikes. 45 minutes after setting foot into the waiting room, we were on our way back down to the car. Instant family. Just like that.

Ashley had a stop to make on the way back to the hotel, so the three of us were able to spend some quiet time in the car playing “Getting To Know You”. Little Man had a fever (he had a raging upper respiratory infection), but he was surprisingly calm by this point. He was looking out the window with naked curiosity, and he was very interested in both Kevin and the toy truck. Ashley was back soon, and he told us he was taking us back to the hotel for a couple of minutes and then to lunch.

Once back in the hotel, we quickly changed the baby’s clothes. It was HOT outside (side note: In China, they run the air conditioning according to season, not thermostat, so even though it was 80 degrees, we had no A/C in the hotel. Yikes.), and he was wrapped up like the kid in “A Christmas Story”. Trying to be mindful of the fact that the Chinese think it’s unhealthy to have babies dressed in anything other than 95 layers of clothes, we kept him in a long-sleeved onsie. We layered on a t-shirt and some long shorts (on him, they looked like pants), and we headed back down to the lobby. Sure enough, Ashley warned us that we had not dressed the kiddo warmly enough. As IF. We also knew it wouldn’t be the last time somebody told us that, so we weren’t too concerned.

We walked the 1/2 block to the restaurant, and Ashley ordered for us, keeping the baby’s G6PD in mind. He told us that he had ordered traditional Hunan dishes, including pork with green peppers, steamed egg and congee for the baby, and a beef and mushrooms dish. I am not a fan of the green pepper, but I wasn’t really paying much attention; I was more concerned with feeding the hungry little bird who was seated to my left; we had been worried that he wouldn’t want to eat, as is sometimes the case when babies are first placed. It turns out that the pork was AWESOME; so good that I’m making it tonight for Lunar New Year! It also turned out that I shouldn’t have worried about his appetite. He hoovered down everything we fed him.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel, and we spent the remainder of the afternoon basically sitting around staring at this little boy who was now ours. We settled him in for an afternoon nap, and he was out in seconds. I’m sure he was exhausted from the morning. There are no words to adequately describe just how odd it is to go from two people “approved and waiting” to being parents in a matter of seconds. We were literally handed a child who was now ours. We didn’t know him; aside from the snippets of information we got from his caregiver, we had NO IDEA who this little creature was. I didn’t know what scared him, what made him giggle, where he was ticklish, IF he was ticklish….NOTHING. I have never been so intimidated in my entire life. Our kiddo was a whole little person who had already formed his own identity without any help from us.

I’d had 5 years to prepare myself to be a mom. I’d read countless books, not just on parenting, but parenting an adopted toddler. I could tell you all about attachment theory and sensory processing disorders, but it all flew out the window once I held 24 pounds of squirming boy. I found out just how woefully unprepared I was for this moment; then again, nobody could EVER be prepared for something like this. I have never been, nor will I ever be, more profoundly grateful than I was that day. I was grateful, yes, for my precious boy, and for the opportunity to be his mom and make him happy, but I was even more grateful to have made this journey with my husband. Kevin held my hand during the endless wait; he propped me up when I sagged under the weight of it. He listened while I worried endlessly about who our child would be and whether he or she would be the right fit for our family.

That afternoon, as we sat in the stuffy hotel room watching our sleeping son, I knew that there was no better father on Earth than my husband, and I knew that we’d figure out this whole parenting thing together; soon enough we’d be obsessing about poop like old pros (also? You totally know you’ve gotten the hang of the “parent” thing when poop doesn’t gross you out anymore). The best moment of that day, though? Holding my baby, I looked at Kevin with tears in my eyes, and I told him that I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around the fact that I wasn’t just babysitting someone else’s child. I didn’t have to give him back. It was the most exhilarating and terrifying feeling ever.

Leave a Reply




      image      Temple of Heaven      Feed Me NOW!!!      B2      Red Bull Helicopter      Red Bull Helicopter