Monday was our day to meet our daughter. You will often hear this referred to as “gotcha day.” We got up early still having trouble with our days and nights running together. We had breakfast in the hotel, face timed with family. We had to exchange our money before going on our own. Everyone was very helpful but we encountered a disgruntled customer while there which made the event eventful! We were so relieved to get the money exchanged and go back to the room. Then we had to wait only a few hours that felt like eternity until our van and guide picked us up. Finally the time came and we met two other families about to meet their children for the first time ever. Of all the many things I will take away from this experience is getting to share in this life changing process with others and hearing their stories and meeting their children. One child is 13, she would age out in two weeks becoming unadoptable due to the regulations here. Seeing her so beautiful, healthy, and smart it blows my mind and breaks my heart she waited for so long. I am so blessed to be able to witness her being adopted and getting a her family finally. I can’t bear to think of her aging out. It is such a precious thing to get to witness!
Once we arrived we were shuttled into an elevator with wooden floor and wooden walls that kinda peel back a bit. We came out at our room for adoption affairs. We were sat down on a bench in a room filled with other families all waiting to meet their children. One by one, the families were called up and the children were brought out of a room with nannies and other children to the center room where we all were. While sitting there we watched families experience that moment. What I learned is that it isn’t necessarily a beautiful thing but more heartbreaking. Adoption is beautiful but not easy. This day is glorious for us because we get our child but for them they are terrified, nervous, and have no idea sometimes what is happening to them. Finally we were called and all of a sudden our little girl was brought out to us. I can’t tell you what happened exactly in that moment. It was so rushed, so emotional, so intense I will have to watch the home video to see myself. I know I kneeled in front of her and someone said I could pick her up so I did. I headed away from the chaos as much as possible (not possible) and we gave her snacks and a toy to distract her from the fear I knew she was feeling. She was wearing a little read sweater with white stripes and blue sweater leggings with Rudolph on the bottom :) She sucked on a sucker we brought but you could tell she was just being brave. The snacks lasted a little while and she worked hard to hold it together for a bit. Then she saw the man who drove her there. She cried, then big crocodile tears, then screams and reaching for them. There was no consoling this grief. She just had to let it out. I am glad she did though. She feels, even though she tries very hard to have a brave face (What not even two year old tries to have a brave face?) she let it out. She grieved so much she finally fell asleep on Adam when I was doing paperwork. We were the last to leave the room as our guide had us finish up some paperwork to make the next day go smoother. Our sweet girl was temporarily ours for the next 24 hours. When back at the room she remained stoic. Strong but willing to let us feed her, give her drinks, and eventually a little sponge bath. We could see just how tiny she was and her little timid face showed signs of maybe letting us into her world. She fell asleep between us and slept the entire night. We woke up periodically and found her to sleep hard but occasionally whimpered with little sobs. Heartbreaking what she has had to endure. It’s why I twinge a little when people say she is lucky. Perhaps because she has a family now compared to others who may never have the love of a family, yes lucky, but considering all she has lost in her little lifetime and experienced, definitely would I never consider our baby girl lucky. I would call her resilient.
Adoption Day: Forever Family Day
Tuesday was the day we had to return to the same place we met her and go through two interviews pledging to care for her forever and never hurt her. Our guide is wonderful and helps us prepare the paperwork we need for each of these sessions ahead of time. We got our baby girl up, ate breakfast, and came back to the room to wait. She ate and drank well for us. Occasionally, she would look a bit scared in her eyes and her little lip would quiver but she stayed strong. I have never met a two year old trying to bite back tears like she does. It is a testament to what a strong little girl we have. She is a warrior. We got the sense she was tolerating us but not 100% sure yet. She played some and we even saw a few smiles. Her grin is beautiful. We face timed again with family eager to show them our little one and check in on things at home. I was happy to hear things are going well back across the world. Our sweet four are waiting so patiently to meet their sister. When we came back to the room to finalize the adoption, MeiLin was immediately tense. We could feel it in her body and her little hands clung to my shirt as if begging to please don’t leave her as someone had the day before. It showed us that she understands the potential for abandonment and fears it happening at any turn. She is guarded to this. The room definitely triggered the day before’s emotions as she began to cry again. It was easier this time to find a quiet spot though to comfort her and hold her tight. I pray she felt in my arms that I would never relinquish her. This was a long process 4-5 hours I think. (I still have no firm concept of time and days) It so emotional too that time takes a backseat to watching for her emotional state and responding to it. Once back in the room we all napped and face timed a bit more. We discovered she communicates to us that she needs to go potty and does! Only at night it seems she uses her diaper. She chatted more and we believe she knows we cannot understand her language so she points and gestures mostly even though her communication is well developed in her native language. We have heard 3-4 words strung together! Each moment with her teaches us something about her. It is a mind-blowing process getting to know your daughter this way. We showed her photos of the kids and she saw Lilly’s and said “men-mei” (sister) AH! Such a precious moment! She will love her siblings!
Medical Exam Day & Applying for Passport
Wednesday we had to prepare to go to the medical exam and to the police station to apply for her passport. It was an afternoon appointment so we had the morning to just be together. Wow! What a difference a day makes! Our little girl is coming out of her shell! She LOVED FaceTime with her siblings. She grinned ear to ear at them and even giggled a bit at Lilly singing with a doll. I can’t wait to get her home to meet them. She ran around the room too, before she wouldn’t leave our arms and wouldn’t move too far on the sofa from us. I think she was feeling a little more safe and felt it okay to explore a bit. She played many things with us, taking turns, showing us stuff, telling us what to do with her little pointer finger, and making silly faces! At the exam clinic we discovered she will go to anyone though. This will require some intentional attachment work. Her little charming faces apparently have helped her survive her time in the orphanage by getting her attention and doting from anyone. We need to teach her that only mama and baba get hugs and love though not strangers. This will be a safety concern for us that we will need to pay close attention to. It’s why we mentioned the need to limit her needs being met to just us and not letting others hold her. She is still learning who her parents are. As far as she knows anyone giving her attention could be so we are setting those boundaries purposefully of her emotional development and well being. She is a charmer though! She gives high fives, blows kisses, shares with other children, and more! She is so amazing and special. Today she called me mama! She knows baba too! This tiny princess is a survivor! She has some boos boos that are hard to figure out. In this process you have no way of knowing where that bruise came from, or those bug bites, etc. You can just guess and try to take care of them. Her paperwork is a bit odd too because some things the file said she has, she doesn’t so we had to make sure it was all correct though so she could get her clearance to come back to the US with us. We also learned a bit about her medical care while she was here and that she just got out of the hospital the day we got her on Monday! What an awful day for her! Gosh our girl is brave! While she opened up a lot to us today we still see moments that remind us of her story. Out of nowhere she will grow quiet, lip quiver, or even cry a bit. She has been through a lot and this is her life story forever. It is never personal towards us and we know that. She will likely have moments that manifest her whole life in some way related to the grief she has experienced in her first two years of life. Understanding this and knowing how to raise her to process and heal through everything is at the forefront of our minds.
Orphanage Visit & Finding Spot
Today, we will travel two hours to visit her orphanage and see where she was found. I am anticipating this process to be emotionally evoking for her and us. I am worried it will again set her backwards in her attachment to us as she is reminded of her home and caregivers that she has had for a year now. My heart will be in pieces for her but also for the other children who have not had their forever family come forward for them and still wait there. Seeing her finding spot will lead us to grieve with her biological family who had to make that decision on that day. I will likely not share many details of these events. They are hers to share when she is older and can make that decision herself. Honestly, I don’t think I could bring myself to write about them anyway. Please pray for these precious children that wait and if any of you who are reading this feel a twinge in your heart feel free to reach out to us. Do not let fear make your decisions, let God. He does amazing things and overcomes all obstacles!
Having her with us has given us peace. We finally feel whole! For the past several months we literally felt broken, the stress unbelievable in our hearts. Finally we have our daughter. We thank God for carrying us through the process and to her. Without His direction our lives would be so boring ;) She is unbelievably amazing. Strong, beautiful, brave, brilliant, and OURS! Please continue to pray for her. This tiny girl has just had to endure so very much, more than any living being should ever have to. The fact that despite it all she is willing to play with us, trust us, and give us these glimpses of her true self are a testament to her strength and God’s grace. He loves her as He loves all his children and we know He has her in His care. Pray for our other children at home as well. We still have about 9 days before we will see them. They too have been so brave. Pray for our travel when it comes time. I am a bit nervous about getting through all the security processes with a toddler in tow at each stop.
Thank you all for supporting us, lifting us up, and joining us in this journey. Your messages have given us smiles and encouragement when we are tired and worried. Thank you.