Wide awake (and starving) at 5 am - we waited until breakfast and then threw on our walking shoes to go out and explore. It is BEAUTIFUL here. We walked along the river and just took in the sights. There is a school where we assumed they held Olympic practices (marked with the rings), a play park, people walking/riding/exercising, several people washing laundry in the river and lots of people fishing. It’s just so different here! We took a look at a museum that was designed and built by our guide Denise’s husband. We kept walking and found several pop-up square dance parties! The people are such free spirits here and literally just need a little shade a some music and they couldn’t care less who is watching!
We did our best to stay out exploring until about noon since we knew we wouldn’t be leaving until 1:45 - but I really had to pee and was doing my best to avoid a squatty potty on the street - so back to the hotel we went! Ha!
We both showered and got ready and then Nate watched a movie and I played 784 games of solitaire on my phone because the WiFi isn’t the best and Nate’s movie choices are even worse.
FINALLY it was time to go! I made Nate check the backpack and the list 83 times before we left and he patiently informed me we were leaving and he had it all.
Now - let me back up this story bus to the day we were picked up at the train station by our guide Denise and the lady driver who was back for us again today. Denise told us we would have the lady driver until Tuesday - then said “I hired you a man driver for Wednesday and Thursday because it is safer for the long drives - safer for you to have a man driver”. (On Wednesday we will drive 3 hours to visit her orphanage.) Now, in that moment I thought - wow, that’s offensive - women can drive too? Good thing this “lady driver” can’t understand a word she is saying!
Okay- y’all this driver about made me lose my mind. The driving here is the craziest thing I’ve ever witnessed. I really can’t believe their population is so high because we’ve only been here 5 days and almost died several times each day. But none the less - no amount of preparation could have prepared me to be under so much stress (being driven) and so much emotion (ohmygoodnessimgettingmybaby). We ended up stuck in a tunnel for almost 20 minutes and thankfully Nate had headphones I was able to listen to some praise and worship to calm my nerves and keep from completely boohoo-omg once we knew we were going to be late. Our guide sent a text saying “Don’t worry. It’s okay. Don’t be nervous!” [okay, Denise!]
We finally arrived and walked into a room full of 7 other families already with their babies and Fei Fei just standing there looking around. I am so thankful that Nate took pictures because the next ten minutes just seem like one big blur to me. The ladies who work in the orphanage office are the ones who brought her - and they immediately started telling her I was “momma” and Nate was “baba” (daddy). She was very very hesitant but did take a lollipop from me. We talked about Skylar and Wyatt who were in a picture on a bag we had sent for her. She let me rub her back and touch her but was so very skeptical. Her nanny finally picked her up - said something to her that included “momma” and put her down in my lap. She melted like butter in to me and let me snuggle the mess out of her. I couldn’t believe it. It still seems completely surreal. The room was literally a zoo of people and in that moment I felt completely unaware of everything else going on. She couldn’t even look at Nate - which broke my heart - but she didn’t scream or cry when he touched her. She took a second lollipop from him (after feeding the first one to me and laughing her little head off about it - the faces I must have been making slurping on that dumdum I’m certain we’re top-notch ridiculousness) and when I handed her to Nate so I could sign papers she was okay with it and even gave me a little smile.
We were able to ask several questions to the ladies who brought her and basically they told us, she is not a picky eater, she sleeps well, she has 6 nannies and they all love her and she is a perfect child. Sounds about right (so far).
We signed papers giving us guardianship, and then went upstairs and took an official family photo.
We stopped by a supermarket for diapers and then they took us back to the hotel. It’s insane - we walked into an office, were handed a baby, went to the store and were back to the hotel in a matter of less than three hours. [Oh, and we even had time for “lady driver” to HIT another lady on a moped. Y’all. No words - but Nate does have it on video. Ha!!]
We were shocked when we got back to the hotel. She wasn’t walking last we heard - and the videos we had definitely reflected this and as soon as we put her down she was wobbly walking everywhere and mimicking everything we said - including Skylar and Wyatt’s names.
Once we picked our jaws up off the floor - we went upstairs and had dinner in the hotel where she polished off 4 plates of spaghetti. I couldn’t believe it! She laughed and giggled and kept trying to feed Nate noodles - which if y’all know Nate - he does not share food - nor would he ever in a million years willingly eat off of the slobbery hand or fork of a child. Except for now - he took each noodle with a big ole smile — or was it a grimace? Ha!
She earned her bath after having spaghetti for dinner (especially because the last couple noddles she couldn’t get up with her fork or her hands so she literally used her mouth) and she went right in the water squealing and laughing while we splashed and played with a ball and wash rags.
I had a moment while giving her a bath that I don’t want to forget but also breaks my heart. With Skylar and Wyatt - I know them. I know their tummies and their thighs and their squishy little arms and precious little baby bums at all the stages - but here I was bathing my own daughter and I have no idea how she got the scars that she has, how her little body is supposed to look? Is she healthy? Is this normal? Is she supposed to be chunkier? Is she hungry? Is she scared? Has her hand always been tight? Are her toes normally curled? I just don’t know! I don’t KNOW her. But I never want to forget how grateful I feel for the people who took care of her for the last two and a half years. The ladies who fed her, diapered her, dressed her, bathed her, loved her - I am indebted to them forever.
After getting in to her pajamas - we set up to FaceTime Skylar and Wyatt. Their faces were priceless! They didn’t even really say much because they were just staring at her@. She seemed to recognize them from their pictures we had shown them and kept trying to touch them through the screen. We don’t know if she already knew how to “blow a kiss” but even if she did - she didn’t know it in English - but after showing her a few times she had it down pat - blew kisses and waved goodbye!
I snuggled her for a bit and then switched with Nate while I showered. After we were all ready for bed I put her down in her crib and she was asleep within minutes - snuggled up with her little kitty cat from her China Family. ♥️
About an hour later - she woke up and had a a big huge sad moment. In that movement I had lots of panicky thoughts- oh my goodness - I don’t know her cry - I don’t know what she needs - how can I comfort her? And the other thought was oh, good - she needs to grieve - but please, Jesus, let her trust us in this moment. It didn’t take nearly as long as I anticipated to calm her and she fell asleep on my chest.
I am so thankful for God’s kindness toward us - and his answering my very specific prayer request of just one smile on our first day together. Just one. Instead He gave me a whole day full. I am so thankful! I know the grief will come - and there will be moments of sadness - but today - today was just perfect.