Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Thoughts on Our Journey: Happy Adoption Day

When we set out to adopt I read as many blogs on adoptions from China as I could find.  I also watched as many videos of gotcha, family, forever family days as I could find.  In the early days it was exciting to watch and as time went by it became more difficult.  But even after watching all those videos and reading all those blogs I was not really prepared for the rush of emotions that you experience and the fears that come out to play in our minds as we get close.  We knew the girls might cry or might be shut down.  We knew they could be developmentally delayed, but knowing the possibilities does not make you ready for them nor does it calm the fear that they might completely reject you.  Just because we had been waiting didn't mean anything to them - they were being taken away from everything and everyone they had ever known.  

Our girls were close to shut down on that first day, but even as quiet as they were I could see a little spark in them both - the rattling on their cribs that first night were just a taste of what was to come.  We rose the next morning and went to breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  It was cold, so cold we had to run back up to our rooms and get jackets (our hotel was a green hotel - so they didn't heat the lobby). After a good nights rest some of the girls natural spunk was starting to show - they pitched a fit over the highchairs, primarily because they hated to be strapped in, this hatred never waned the entire time we were in China and for quite some time Stateside as well.  Fortunately for us, Sissi was a great help pointing out the foods they would most like.  Both girls ate like troopers, they particularly liked congee, steamed egg and rice.  I stayed with the girls and my hubby functioned as a hunter/gatherer bringing food back to the table for us all.  It was a method we used just about every meal the entire trip.  The girls appetites never waned.  I would bet they gained a couple of pounds in that first week.

After breakfast our travel group assembled and we got on the bus to head out to the Civil Affairs office to finalize the adoptions.  It was colder than we had expected and the roads were icy (I am a Florida girl so I wasn't used to the ice) so carrying a protesting toddler and loaded backpack onto a bus and getting them into a bench seat was not easy and my hubby couldn't help much because he was dealing with his own protesting toddler.  My advice to any future parents going to China to adopt is to get in shape before you go. We sat in the front of the bus - I sometimes get car sick and I also liked to see where we were going - the downside was watching how crazy people drove.  We had our fees (times two) that we had exchanged at the hotel and all our papers.  When we got to the building we couldn't park close due to the weather and once inside the building we were packed into an elevator that even when we thought we were at full capacity got tighter as more people piled in.  

The first thing we did when we got to our floor was have our family photos taken for official adoption papers.  We had to take two - one for each child - the officials managed to mix up the girls photos, but no one seemed to notice other than us.  This was the first time we realized that many people would see our twins as identical.  I looked at those photos recently - boy we both looked exhausted in them, my hair looks awful and the girls looked unhappy and a little scared.  We then went into a big holding room with a bunch of other families, including our travel group, and waited for our turn to be seen by the officials.  The girls nannies were there, but neither girl had any interest in going to them.  While we waited my hubby got called in to hand off the money.  At last we were called in to see the officials.  We were asked a few questions, not the grilling that some people had reported on their blog, and the papers were signed.  We were also given a gift, two vases made of bamboo covered in Chinese calligraphy.  It felt somehow like an assembly line and no where near as solemn or sacred as it should have been.

Following the adoption we went to the notaries office to finalize the adoption papers.  It was still cold outside, but when we walked into the notaries office it was uncomfortably warm.  There were two large standing heaters just past both doors and several sofas for people to sit and wait.  We were told to wait until we were called.  I unzipped the girls coats because it was so warm and their cheeks were getting red.  It wasn't long before we caught the eyes of the clothing police that we had so often read about in blogs.  Three older women came up to us and with emphatic gestures made it clear that we needed to zip their jackets both up.  Rather than set off an international incidence we zipped the jackets.  They also kept saying Shuāngbāotāi which we learned meant twins - we would hear that phrase many times during our trip.  It was our first taste of the power of twins.  The notaries were very quick and our travel group was done in about an hour.  At last we were a family!

I'll end this post with a favorite song of ours by the folk singer John McCutcheon 

Oh, who would have guessed, who could have seen
Who could have possibly known
All these roads we have traveled, the places we've been
Would have finally taken us home


So here's to you, three cheers to you
Let's shout it, "Hip, hip, hip, hooray!"
For, out of a world so tattered and torn,
You came to our house on that wonderful morn
And all of a sudden this family was born
Oh, happy Adoption Day!

There are those who think families happen by chance
A mystery their whole life through
But we had a voice and we had a choice
We were working and waiting for you


No matter the name and no matter the age
No matter how you came to be
No matter the skin, we are all of us kin
We are all of us one family

Next: Thoughts on Our Journey - Experiencing China

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