We have been in China now for one week. I have deliberately refrained from sharing about each day and each excursion because there have been so many emotions and feelings about it, most of which are really for our family, especially our daughter to know and share and experience and not meant for sharing on the world wide web.
Monday was our Gotcha Day of Xiang Ling (Felicity Grace) and this is a day that I do want to share. It was a full, busy day and there were so many emotions that enveloped the day.
Due to jet lag, Pete and I have been waking up 3 AM most mornings and Monday morning was no different. But, what was different was that neither of us could fall asleep again. We talked and prayed about the upcoming day until about 5AM and then got ready to be at breakfast by 6:30. We met our guide at 8:30 AM and then headed to the orphanage. The orphanage was only 20 minutes from our hotel, and during that time, I had to keep on reminding myself to take deep breaths and just relax. As we pulled past the gates of the orphanage, tears started to fill my eyes. We were really here. At this moment. Gotcha day. A day I dreamed about for quite a while. In less than an hour, our daughter would be placed in our arms. She would no longer be an orphan.
We came into the orphanage and were led to a nice room on the second floor. Staff started to come in and out of the room, talking with our guide. We were given paperwork to double, and triple check to make sure the information was accurate, and to sign, followed by placing our fingerprint over our signature. As the end of the paperwork drew near, we, along with the other family, knew it would be soon. I am not sure how much time passed, I was too anxiously waiting for someone to tell me when our daughter would be coming, that I did not hear the steps coming down the hall (although Pete did). Our guide entered the room and was carrying Felicity Grace!! To see her, in the same room, knowing the moment had come for her to be united with us was overwhelming. I stood up and went to her. She was happily sucking on a baby bottle full of water. Helen handed her to me. When I had pictured this moment in my mind and all of the emotions that I thought I would feel, I was positive I would cry. I had shed tears just thinking about Gotcha day. Yet, I did not cry. In that moment, as I held her in my arms for the first time, I was filled with so much joy that I started to laugh. Not a silly, uncontrollable laugh, but a joyful laugh.
Felicity did not cry, at all. Which surprised me. As I held her, she continued to drink her bottle, and she seemed rather sedate. She started falling asleep within minutes of entering the room. And, truthfully, it all made me nervous. If you have been around the adoption community at all, you know there are stories of families getting to Gotcha day and their child has more, severe needs than were ever listed in the file or their child was extremely ill. I began to feel Felicity’s forehead. She was sweating, but in no way had a fever. As she drifted off to sleep, I tried to remind myself that I had seen video of her and there was no way that her current state could be due to a significant special need that was unshared. I tried to tell myself to relax, everything would be fine. Even though there were lingering fears, I was just so happy to finally have her in my arms. Felicity remained asleep for the rest of the time at the orphanage.
After the other family was united with their son, the orphanage director came in and we were able to meet him. He was a really nice, very friendly man, who smiled a lot (although you would not know that from the pictures). He presented us with a small photobook with pictures of Felicity from her time at the orphanage and a gift made by some of the older, permanent residents of the SWI. This was followed by photos, and then we left.
She was content, but the poor thing seemed a bit in shock. At one point in the afternoon, our guide Helen (whom the children at the orphanage know) walked by us and Felicity wanted to go to her. Helen said something to her in Chinese and then said in English “stay with your mama.” Felicity was making very little eye contact with us, and even while we played games in the hallway, she would turn away from me so as not to face me. I would hold her and she would lunge back in an attempt to get away from me. I knew that most of these behaviors were normal, but I would not be being honest if I did not say that it did make me sad a little. But, I had come to this moment with full knowledge of all that could happen and I just whispered in little Xiang Ling’s ear that I was not going anywhere and I would be patient with her as she grieved the loss of her life at the orphanage and adjusted to life with us.
Now, it is two days later. We have had more stops at more offices. More signatures. More pictures. Xiang Ling is officially ours!! We have taken a tour of the city our daughter has come from. But, mostly, we have spent a lot of time at the hotel, allowing Felicity to get to know us, play with us, and for us to love on her. Each day she has blossomed more before us. Smiles come more readily. She was even singing today and saying mama. She has only been with us two days, and her personality comes out in many moments. Each smile, each laugh, each time she is in my arms and just stares into my eyes, is such a gift. These are things I have taken for granted with my boys, but I cherish each moment with Felicity when her guard is down and she allows herself to feel comfortable enough to share herself with us. I am happy to say that she is a mama’s girl, but still will go to Pete without a fuss. And, even though she wanted to go tour guide on Gotcha day, there have been several times since then that our guide has motioned for Felicity to come to her, or she has wanted to pick Felicity up and Felicity has run to me, or, if, in my arms, she will turn away from my guide. As our guide joked about it yesterday, I told her that I was glad that Felicity no longer wanted to go to her and preferred me. Little by little she is feeling more comfortable with us and I have no doubt that all of your prayers have made this transition the joy that it is. Xiang Ling is a precious soul and I am honored that God chose us to be a part of her story. I am humbled by this gift that He has given us and overwhelmed by His love for us and for our daughter that is an orphan no more.