What a frenzied rush! It all went by so quickly today. From watching this day unfold for other families, I expected that we would get to the Civil Affairs office and fill out some paperwork while we waited for Shaling to arrive. It didn’t happen that way at all. We shared Connie (our guide) and a driver with Carl & Kim and their two sons, Matt & Andrew. They are adopting Natalie (Ma Meixin). Kim expected things to play out similar to my expectations. Well, when we got to the 8th floor (our floor), there were two giggly little girls with eagle eyes watching us as we entered the foyer. The caregivers quickly ushered then back into play area behind a curtain, but we could hear the girls continue to giggle.
Connie asked us to sit on some couches. We each filled out some preliminary paperwork and then Connie brought our girls out, one by one. Here she is with Shaling:
Shaliing was full of smiles and sweet talk (though we could understand little of it). She was eager to show us the contents of her bags, which included the photo album we had sent her. She surprised us by pulling out a gift for Preston, which was shorts and a Chinese t-shirt.
Siblings’ First Hug:
Several “Getting to Know” Pictures:
She was especially proud to show us this family picture of us, in which she took the liberty of adding herself:
Shaling & Natalie
Ge Ge & Mei Mei
Shaling & Ma Ma
Shaling & Ba Ba
First Family Pictures (along with Orphanage Caregivers)
Shaling grabbed my camera and took 31 pictures of various things, such as some of her toys, Natalie, pictures on the wall, pictures in her books, etc. She said “thank you”, clear as day, over and over whenever we would hand her something and when she opened her gifts. She was immediately clingy…holding hand and hugging all of us.
She thoroughly enjoyed the van ride to our hotel, just taking in all of the sights. She pointed at me and said “Mother” and pointed at Brock and said “Father”. I pointed at Preston and said “Brother”. She immediately started digging through her backpack and found a Berenstein Bears book written in both English and Chinese. She quickly flipped through the pages until she found one with English paragraphs. She pointed at the words “Brother Bear”. She also used one of her new colored scented pens to copy some English words from a package. It seems she truly wants to show us how much she knows.
Carl & Kim and family came back our direction for supper. The two families ate supper together at Lucy’s, the restaurant that caters to adopting families. The big plus is that it has both Chinese food and American food. Connie had told us that we want to make sure we give the girls rice a lot. She says a lot of the kids tell her that they are hungry because all their new families will give them is bread. They have a hard time adapting to new food. Well, when we showed Shaling the menu and asked what she wanted, clear as day she said pizza. Connie’s advice aside, Shaling gets what she wants for her first meal with her family. She chowed right into it too!
There is a playground near Lucy’s. The dads and the big brothers played over there with the girls while the moms waited to pay up. When they were done playing, Shaling happily came bouncing back over. She grabbed for hands a lot whenever we walked.
I don’t want to sugar coat the language barrier, because it is huge right now. However, this little girl is just bowling us over with her desire to please us and her constant smiles of joy. How courageous she is to just happily walk out the door with people she’s never met, people with whom she cannot speak, knowing it’s forever, and just fully embrace it. Brock & I both know that eventually there is going to be an end to the honeymoon, but for now, we are thrilled to have had such a pleasant “Gotcha Day”.
Tomorrow, we go back to the Civil Affairs office to finalize the adoption. This first 24 hours is what the Chinese government refers to as the harmonious period. She’s in our custody, but tomorrow is when she is officially a Reynolds.