Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Family Day: One year getting to know the most amazing little girl in the world.

How does one reconcile a day that was one of the best ever in your life; but to your child, one of the worst? This is what we signed up for, one of those things that sets IAPs apart from any other parents. While we do not want to minimize SS's trauma on that day, as well as the consequences to her still today, we also want SS to know how happy she's made us. How happy she has made us every day for the past year. The sleepless nights, the freaking jet lag when we came home, the concerns about SS's emotional and physical well being, all of it, a drop in the bucket that is the joy of having her home. This precious child has brought so much happiness to our lives (and many others).

Every so often someone refers to SS as lucky and that upsets us. Lucky? What is so lucky about spending fifteen months in a SWI, then losing everything and everyone that makes sense in your world? SS got the short end of the stick here. SS will not only have to deal with looking different, but also being the child of an interracial couple. SS will have to cope with the age difference between her and her brother. SS has Abus and a Grandpa who love her dearly, but live too far away to participate in her daily life. If SS was lucky, she would be with Br@d and Angel*na, jet setting around the world, and have her own staff. We are the lucky ones.

Of the thirteen families in our travel group, one family remained in Guangzhou the two weeks, since their daughter lived there. Twelve families headed to the airport early that morning, and that is the first time we got a sense of who was traveling where. That is when realized six families were traveling to Kunming. The flight from GZ to Kunming lasted a little over two hours, but it seemed longer than the fourteen hours it takes from SFO to GZ. I was a nervous wreck and my stomach desperately wanted to dispose of my breakfast. Interesting thing about in China flights, you get a meal, even in such a short flight. Why can't US airlines do the same?

P and I were seating on aisle seats across from each other. That made me uncomfortable because I am used to have him by my side. P still held my hand during take off, turbulence and landing. As we were descending into Kunming, a father who was seated in front of P began to shake. It was his 50th birthday and he was about to meet his first child. I am not a touchy feely person. There are so many persons I have known for years that I have never touched. Also feel the same about others touching me. He turned and I could see that he was crying. I reached out, lightly touched his shoulder and asked him if he was OK (dumbest question under the circumstances). He was so overcome with emotion, all he could do was smile, and nod. He then squeezed my hand.

That is another aspect about meeting our children in such an unconventional setting. We were strangers until 24 hours earlier, but we were all about to experience the miracle of life at the same time. Pretty much six couples (and three older sisters) in the delivery room at the same time. You are all feeling the same, sharing an incredible moment in your life. It is truly an amazing experience and one that we will never forget. We are grateful for the opportunity to see six families united.

Now imagine the kind of chaos the previous scenario would create. That is exactly what we got. We had read numerous stories about how orderly the process of receiving the children is, and about posing for the official pictures (directors or nannies). I think we arrived on "screw protocol day." From what we read and heard, our names would be called, they would look at our passports and match our info with SS's. Then we would receive our child. As I wrote then, SS's nanny had her between her legs. I squatted in front of SS, said her Chinese name, the nanny nodded, got teary eye, said Mama and gently helped her walk towards me. Dude, all I wanted to do was touch her, but once SS reached out to me, I was a goner.

One thing we were not expecting was the silence among the children. Not a single one shed a tear. We had seen so many videos and pictures of screaming kids, we were prepared for the water works to explode. By being so wonderfully quiet, mainly because of the trauma, SS unknowingly ruined a photo op we dreamed about. A picture of a screaming SS with the caption"I specifically requested Br@d and Angel*na." Sick. SS actually smiled at me several times, much to the surprise of many there. It's all about survival, our spectacular S went into survival mode. Whatever it took until she could figure us out.

We wish we had asked more questions about SS, but by finalizing the adoption within hours, we missed the opportunity. I asked about her daily routine, food and sleep schedule, etc. What I failed to ask is how long she napped. SS turned out to be a power napper, thirty minutes and she is ready to roll. Wish we knew that then. We also wish SS had the opportunity to see her nanny and SWI director again. Although we were told that we had the choice to finalize the adoption that day, we really had no choice. At least in our case (and Baby J's) the nanny and director had a four hour drive and had not made arrangements to stay overnight. Another poignant moment is when they left, and the nanny only had her purse. SS was on the road since probably 6:00 a.m. Where was her diaper bag, bottles, and formula? When was the last time her diaper was changed? When was she fed? That realization really kicked us in the gut.

I remember that as we left the Civil Affairs Office, I started to sing this song to SS. So appropriate, because she is indeed unbelievable. SS smiled and giggled at me when I sang to her. I then proceeded to show off my motherly skills on the bus. We were seated at the front, and I proceeded to lift SS to make her laugh. I promptly managed to hit her head on the roof. Poor SS should have known that would be a sign of things to come. Thankfully SS is a forgiving child. *P just read this post and is cracking up over the memory of my masterful introduction of my mother skills to our travel group.*

Pictures and ramblings of that day here and here.

She looked so tiny and fragile.

SS was not in a posing nor a reminiscing mood, so this is the best I could get. Funny how the dress still fits, but to us, she has grown so much. The panties are still huge on SS, but we expected that due to her tiny hiney.

SS is still in a funk, we have not returned to the pool, for fear of making things worse.

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