(Warning: a long read!! I'm using this blog as my way of journaling all the details that I want to remember so there may be more detail than you want!)
Mei Sims is taking a nap so I finally have time to sit down and think through all that happened yesterday and fill you all in on the details. So, the plan was to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 2:00 to head to the civil affairs office.... that made for a LONG morning. We tried to sleep in, ate breakfast, worked out.... debated over and over about what to wear.... after all, what do you wear when you are going to meet your daughter? I joked that maybe I should wear a hospital gown since it felt like giving birth.
We FINALLY made it to 2:00 and arrived in the lobby with the other 9 lifeline families, two of which were getting 2 children each... So 9 families and 11 babies! The "Civil Affairs Office" sounds so official but it was tucked back in an alley off of a nondescript but very busy street. The office itself was one that I'll just say, you don't want your kids crawling around on the floor in. There was mysterious water everyone and newspapers all on the ground to absorb the "water." So, our guide rebecca (who is so sweet & funny) told us that they would call us up one by one and we were supposed to show our TA and then get our child. It sounded to orderly and we were planning on taking photos and videos for each other.... but if you have looked at the video, you will know that what followed was nothing of the sort. I can only describe it as sheer pandemonium.
I think all 9 families got their babies in a matter of 5 minutes total. I remember trying to snap photos of a friend and then hearing "Xiao Mei" called out and throwing the camera back to tiffany just in time to grab Mei Sims. I remember wondering if I would recognize her... Derek on multiple occasions tried to peek behind the curtain into the playroom where they were waiting but couldn't find her. But when her nanny appeared in the doorway, there was no mistaking it was her... and my heart did a flip. She was so calm the whole time.... just taking everything in and staring at us with her huge eyes moving up and down us. I will add that there were PLENTY of screams in the room from our group and others.... it was honestly gut wrenching to see children kicking, screaming and fighting their new parents.... there were so many who were just so so scared. After we got her, we sat in that room for an hour & a half or so while Rebecca translated for each family as they asked the nannies questions about their daughters. Derek asked our 15 questions and videoed it, which I have not even had time to look at. Only once did she start to have tears well up and I handed her a white burp rag similar to the lovies they use in her orphanage and she shoved it in her mouth and was happy as can be.
Her report said she had never eaten solid foods but while we were waiting she ate almost a whole cup of gerber Puffs. She could even pick them up and put them in her mouth although she preferred to bury her face in our palms and eat face first. She even ate a cracker.... so hoping the eating stuff will not be too much of an issue. After the civil affairs office, we loaded back up onto our bus with all 11 kids in tow and went to a supermarket of sorts. We were quite the spectacle... all of these moms with babies strapped, following the guide and figuring out what formula, etc. to buy. We did not get the formula that was used in her orphanage because our guides gave a frowning look and said they did not want mei sims to be taking that any longer..... all I can guess is that it is cheaper and not as good for you perhaps.
While in the store a Chinese grandmother with her daughter and the daughter's new baby stopped me and asked if mei sims was a boy or girl (which was hard to tell based on her outfit) and then asked if she was Chinese? I said yes and they questioned again "Really, is she Chinese?" I said yes and then told them I had 3 other kiddos at home which made them about fall-out! MS doesn't have the typical Chinese "look" to me so I found it funny that even some Chinese ladies thought the same. The young mom then took my photo with mei sims and her baby.... wondering where that will end up.... perhaps above their mantel? :)
While in the grocery store, MS actually smiled at another dad in our group! I was shocked but a few minutes later, she smiled and laughed for us as we played with her. On the bus ride back, she fell asleep in my arms. I was sitting there thinking, this has been a dream Gotcha day.... smiles.... no tears.... laughter.... and she loves derek as well! Little did I now what was coming....
Derek went to do more paperwork as mei sims was waking up (by now it was 7 p.m.) so I got on the floor with her to play with toys before giving her a bottle and that was when it happened..... I saw her eyes get really big as she scanned the room and then saw a look of intense panic come across her face.... she sobbed, screamed bloody murder (a really high pitched scream), hid her face behind her white rag refusing to look at me.... I tried a bottle and she refused and screamed even louder... so we just sat there together, both sobbing and waiting for Lily (another lifeline employee who is awesome and actually matched us with MS). Lily tried to feed her but decided she was too nervous to eat today. So together, we changed her into pjs as she screamed more and then waiting for derek to get back.... kind of funny now because he had no idea what he was walking into. At that point she actually had quit crying and just had a glazed look on her face. She fell asleep on our bed after banging her head over and over on the comforter.... I have read that this can be a typical orphan behavior to self soothe but I have to say that reading about it really doesn't prepare you to see it happening.... it is so unsettling to say the least....but she fell into a hard sleep and we moved her to her bed. We never bathed her on gotcha day even though she had a strong odor... it would have simply added to the trauma and we had heard nightmare stories of parents who rushed the first bath. Derek and I managed to eat some dinner at 9:30 that night (small pizza and chicken fried rice).
It was truly an amazing day... one that I will never forget... filled with intense joy and intense sorrow for everyone involved. And it left me feeling completely spent, overwhelmed and peaceful all at once if that is possible. Praising the Lord for picking us to be Mei Sims' mommy & daddy.
An interesting aside... Henry has this little "birthmark" on part of his ear that looks more like a little dent... the size of the tip of a pen... no one has probably ever even noticed it. I've showed the other kids and said that that was where God made the final stitch when He was knitting Henry together... I thought that sounded fun and kind of gave that dot a purpose because it is kind of a random little mark to me. As Mei Sims fell asleep in my ams last night, guess what? She has that exact same little dot on the same place on her ear! Totally random I realize but kind of cool to me.... picturing God putting the final stitch in place as he created her.
Her schedule at the orphanage said she wakes at 6 a.m. which was not a thrilling report for someone like me who loves to sleep.... well, today we woke her up at 7:30 only because we had to get ready to go. Poor thing has probably been longing to sleep late her whole life.
So I know that I said I started that post during her nap but that nap lasted 10 minutes so I am finishing it tonight.... if I thought yesterday was an emotional roller coaster then today BLEW it out of the water.... I have never experienced such highs and lows in the same day as I did today... I can't remember the last time I sobbed as hard as I did today.... she is grieving... this is hard... but God is showing up... I'll have to blog about that tomorrow.
(At top is a photo form this morning and a photo from MS passing out on gotcha night-- having computer issues so I'll try and get more photos up soon-- I know that is what you want!)