Monday, January 28, 2013

Gotcha Day! (B.J.)

What a day it has been!  I woke up early, had butterflies of excitement all through breakfast, and just could not wait for the time to pass to get to 9:30 am when we would be leaving for the registration office to get Liliana.  My diaper bag was packed.  I had the appropriate paperwork, gifts, and money set aside.  Camera batteries were fully charged.  I checked and rechecked everything multiple times, and then finally we were on the bus headed to the registration office.
When we arrived, we entered a bright white room with one red wall, a very tiny play area, and cold white marble floors.  A cherry wood desk sat at the front.  Eleven families were here this day to pick up twelve children.  The children were coming from different orphanages.  So they arrived at different times.  When we arrived, two had already arrived, and the tears, hugs, and pictures began.  I found myself crying immediately despite the fact that I had just met this group of adoptive parents only  few days ago and I did not know their adopted children other than the brief stories we have shared.  Yet in the world of adoption there are heart strings that tie us all together and that are pulled often at the same time.
As the morning continued more children arrived in drips and droves.  More tears came. More photos came.  More hugs and kisses came.  Some children reacted with smiles to their new parents.  Others with tears and screams, which is actually a good thing in some  ways because it shows a healthy understanding of relationships.  Soon the treats and toys came out, and parents were playing with their new children.  Our guides helped with exchanges of gifts, money, and paperwork in a simple and orderly way.  Within time we had our first poopy diaper of the group ... and of course, the award went to our only all male couple, a Daddy and Grandpa duo.  As the joy spread, the several families from the Louyang orphanage waited.  Louyang is at least two hours away.  Deep sfog made driving conditions difficult, and once in the city, the Louyang group needed to pick up Liliana from Swallows Nest and come across town, and with traffic this added an extra hour or more to their arrival.
So there we sat, the last few families waiting for our children.  Our guides told the other families they could get on the first bus and head back to the hotel while we waiting.  One person in our group, John, piped up and asked if the families could stay because we collectively were a family.  I cried.  So did several others of us waiting.  It's those small moments that say, "I'm in this with you." that touches an adoptive parent at the core.
So there we waited ... and waited ... and waited ... and waited .. and waited ... until finally a small van pulled up with several children.  Liliana was taken out first and placed on the ground standing.  There she was.  Just beyond the glass door.  Mom was already outside taking pictures.  I had never been so close to Liliana, and now she was here. 
As the other children were picked up, Liliana began to cry just for a moment until a worker picked her up too.  She was second in the door, and when she was handed to me, she began to cry and held tightly to the orphanage worker.  I gently took her and began trying to comfort her with a slow bounce and the few Chinese phrases I know such as "Hello", "I love you", and "safe".  She looked at me and cried with her little black pigtails.  She was dressed in roughly five layers of clothes with a bright red Thomas the Tank Engine sweatshirt of top.  We had bought a batch of sweatshirts for her friends at the foster home for Christmas.  Her breath had a slight stink to it, but that was OK by me.  I tried comforting her with the small scrap of fabric from the blanket Rachel and Mom made her that we mailed over several months ago.  She clearly recognized it, and it did help but only minimally.  I also tried a few other tricks to no avail.  Mom tried to comfort her with a few snacks.  They helped stop the crying momentarily, but not fully.  She eventually threw her body towards Mom.  I let her go knowing that she was probably more used to females caring for her.  It was hard to do but I knew it was right.  Oh how I wonder how often God experiences such a thing when He tries to draw one of us near Him and we simply refuse.
We sat down on the floor in a corner of this cold room.  Though I still heard the noise around me, I certainly could not tell you about anything else that happened in that room at that moment.  We eventually pulled out a little Asian doll we brought ... big hit!   So was the bouncy light up ball.  Liliana sat in Mom's lap and rested more calmly though still unsure.  I needed to sign papers at the cherry wood desk for several minutes.  When I returned, some tears came from Liliana, but in a few minutes we were able to get her to sit in my lap as long as she was facing outward.  We then went for a mandatory picture.  I was expecting the screaming kid on Santa's lap type picture, but she handled it fine. 
We spent a few more minutes here, and then needed to board the bus for home.  I continued to hold Liliana as we boarded.  Once on, you could see how much Liliana was just taking everything in.  Actually, you could see she was doing this from the start, much like Elianna does.
Daddy (aka Baba) and Liliana looking through one
of the picture books she received from us while she was
at Swallow's Nest.  She clearly recognized
our family and was able to match names and faces.
Thank you to her caregivers at Swallow's Nest!
Remember when I explained the game "Does my car fit there?"  Today on the bus ride home we got to see how the game worked when the answer was "No".  About halfway home, a small van cut us off and hit the brakes.  We hit him though not too hard.  No one was hurt, and in fact we barely moved.  Though we still clearly dented his van.  So mark down baby's first car accident in Liliana's baby book, Rachel.  We sat there for what seemed like fifteen or so minutes.  During this time, Liliana fell asleep in my lap holding her blanket, doll, and my thumb.  Oh, how I longed for a moment like that and now I had it.
When we finally arrived home, Liliana woke up.  We headed upstairs to Skype Mommy.  I will let her write about that experience.
Liliana changed into pajamas and playing with some
new favorite toys
The rest of my day was filled with preparing paperwork for tomorrow and helping Liliana get used to me.  She favored Mom most of the day but slowly transitioned to me in different ways.  She would not eat from me to start, but by the end of the day she sat in my lap for dinner and I also gave her her bottle as we cuddled.  She only played games with Mom, but now she seems to include me also.  She seemed to be turning to Mom looking for emotional cues, but late this evening I saw her checking me out for some of them as well.  Mom, for her part, has been wonderful.  She's playing a difficult role in this trip.  She's the female here but not the Mom.  She's the one Liliana sorta felt/feels more comfortable with, and yet she needs to help Liliana attach to me.  She needs to comfort little Liliana during a very difficult time, and yet challenge her to take risks like go to Daddy.  For a first day ever doing this, she did fantastic.  I am so blessed to have her here helping me with this.

Liliana had quite a busy first day with us.
Here she is all tucked in and asleep.  Goodnight, Liliana
I want so much to write about so many details of the day, and in due time I am sure I will, but for now, I need to rest.  So off I go to snuggle with a little girl named Liliana who I now call my daughter.  Praise be to God for His faithfulness.

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