Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Forever Family Day Emma Rain!!

Two years ago today, we landed in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China. We had spent 4 fantastic days in Beijing and couldn't believe that this day was finally here. We found our Holt guide, Lisa, and quickly made our way to the hotel. Lisa told us that we had about an hour before we would leave for the Civil Affairs Office to get Emma. We walked into our room to find an empty crib waiting by the window, a stroller tucked in the corner of the closet, and a baby tub in the bathroom. It was really happening! All the things I had read and heard from other families were finally happening to us. It was just like I had pictured in my mind.

We wrapped the gifts that we brought for Emma's foster parents, the orphanage nannies and the director. Lisa helped us write cards to them thanking them for taking care of our precious daughter. How do you even put that into words on a postcard? Then...we grabbed the camera and headed down to the car. When we arrived at the Civil Affairs Office we took the elevator to the 16th floor. It was such a hot and humid day and there was no air conditioning. We stopped and took a quick picture in front of the sign. I expected that we would have time to get settled in the room before Emma was brought in because this is what usually happens. So, when I walked around the corner and saw her standing there with her nanny, I almost couldn't breathe. It had been 2 years since we filled out our first piece of paperwork. You would think that I would have been ready for that moment. I guess you never are truly ready for that moment whether you are picking up your child in a hot room in China or giving birth in a hospital. I just wanted to run and hold her but they wouldn't let us near her until they checked our passports. I thought...Are you kidding me? You can't tell that it is me after all the pictures I had to send you?! Give me my baby!!

Finally, we were allowed to go near her. I walked up and knelt down beside her. She had such sadness and confusion in her eyes. She was covered with little red spots and sweating like crazy. I picked her up and her big beautiful lower lip shot out and began to quiver. The poor dear had been tossed around so many times in her short life. She was with her birthmother, the orphanage, a foster family for a year, then back to the orphanage for 4 months and then handed to these strange looking white people who sound and look and smell so different. My heart just broke for her. We were able to spend a little time chatting with her nanny and the orphanage director. She gave me additional pictures that I saw in Emma's file. She answered our questions about sleeping, eating, etc. She said that Emma enjoys joyful music. This is still true. I asked her why she chose the name Cai Juan for her. The director said that in China the name Juan, pronounced Jin, is a "pretty girly girl" name. Emma was such a pretty baby that she gave her that name. I agree...she is the prettiest baby that I have ever seen! When we finished, the four us went into the elevator. that was the moment that Emma realized that her assumptions were correct. She pulled her head back and let out the saddest sound that I have ever heard. It wasn't even really a cry just a shout of pain and sadness. It was like she was shouting...no not again. We got into the car and Matt held her close. She fell asleep in his arms. It was lovely.

For the next 3 hours she cried and slept and ate. We filled out more paperwork, fingerprints, footprints, etc. Finally, it was time for bed. The nanny told us that she likes to be tickled before going to sleep. So, Matt laid her down and started tickling. He finally found the right spot and she burst into laughter and smiles! It was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. We both burst into tears. It was finally a moment of relief. She was going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay.

It absolutely amazes me how this little person having been through so much can be so happy. Her resilience and strength motivate me to be a better mom. She understands that she was in China and that we came to get her. In fact, when we are in a Chinese restaurant she always greets the waitress with a Ni Hao and asks them if they are from China, too. Usually they are and they enjoy chatting with her. Whenever she sees a picture of the Great Wall she says, "You and Daddy went to the Great Wall to get me." It's pretty cute.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beijing Remembered

Two years ago today Matt and I landed in Beijing. It was the first leg of our trip to pick up Emma. We spent 16 hours on a straight flight from Chicago. I remember thinking how clean the airport was in Beijing. Of course, the Olympics where to take place there in a just a couple of months so everything was spotless and all the workers spoke English. It was like a trial run was happening or something. We walked down a long hallway with skylights and then everyone was funneled through a strange looking gate. I have since found out that it was a thermometer of sorts. They were trying to gage temperatures for H1N1. Crazy! We met up with our Holt guide who took us to the hotel. The drive there was amazing. I had read all about how big Beijing is but until you are there you can't really grasp it. The buildings are so modern and the architecture so incredible. We both instantly fell in love with the city, people and country.

Once we got settled into the hotel we decided to venture out and find a market. We are huge fans of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel and had to find the market that Andrew filmed the Beijing episode in so that Matt could eat something bizarre. And, oh he did...seahorse on a stick! Fortunately, it was just a short walk down the street from our hotel. There was a huge Olympics souvenir store where we picked up lots of goodies. Matt bought some Narnia books in Mandarin at the bookstore. It felt like being in Time Square. Huge billboards of Kobe Bryant and the Chinese Olympic women's volleyball team lined the streets.

The thing I will remember most about that night though is the giant tv screen in the center of it all showing images of the devastation caused by the massive earthquake just a week before. People were standing on the sidewalk, eyes glued to the screen. I remember seeing people crying. It was so heart wrenching. I just kept thinking...this is their 911. So many children killed because of a lack of building codes and laws. So many parents' left to mourn the lose of their "only" child. The government forced them to pin all their future hopes on this one child and now in away the government had taken that away, too. The pain. My heart was just breaking for those families.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Emma's First MLB Game

Emma enjoyed her first Major League Baseball game on Saturday. The Dodgers where in town to play the Padres so the whole family went. Matt, Emma and I cheered for the Dodgers while Dave, Heidi, Mema, and Grandpa cried over the Padres loss. Petco Park in San Diego is the best stadium to take young kids to see a game. We sat in the sand box. Only San Diego would think to put a giant sand box in Center Field. It is awesome for the little ones. Emma had a blast playing in the sand while we watched the game. She had her first ballpark hot dog while I enjoyed a Rubios Fish Taco. Gotta love it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sunny California

We are finally all together again! Emma and I arrived late Saturday night just in time for Mother's Day. Emma is adjusting well to her new surroundings. She has been such a trooper through all of this. The last week at my parents' house was rough. She really started to feel Matt's absence. She would constantly say, "I miss my Daddy." Bed time was a big struggle. She even had a couple of episodes that I haven't seen in months. The sad sad cry that I first heard in China resurfaced. It was as if her soul were mourning another loss. It was terrible! As we circled over San Diego waiting to land she yelled out the window, "Daddy are you down there? We are coming!!" Everyone around us was cracking up...especially since it was after midnight to her little body and she hadn't slept the entire flight. She was just too excited to see her BaBa.

Matt has been able to sub several days a week and get a decent number of shifts at Round Table since coming. There is even a chance that he will get a permanent position at the school again starting in the fall. We would welcome the blessing whether it is part-time or full-time. We are hoping to hear in the next few weeks for sure.