Yesterday morning we woke up at 4 a.m. We showered and headed for the airport at 5 a.m. for a 7:40 a.m. flight. This should have put us in Nanchang by 10 a.m., and we were all supposed to meet our babies at 2 p.m. Unfortunately the fog was so bad in Beijing that our flight ended up delayed three hours. Had this not happened, I'm quite certain I would not have had the opportunity to add "Peeing in a hole in the ground" to my life experience list which would have been unfortunate. Now it's on the list with a line through it. High five.
You should have seen what this flight delay did to us poor adoptive families' nerves. Emotions were running amok as it was, but now we knew that we would really have no time to settle into our hotel rooms first, freshen up... nothing. In fact, we were all scared that we would literally walk into the hotel, loaded down with our carry-ons and luggage, and glance across the foyer and say, "Hey, that's my kid!" Not how we've all been envisioning it.
We finally arrived at the Crown Plaza Hotel a little after 2 p.m., and we asked Grace (our guide) to go in ahead of us and scope it out. Turned out the children weren't even there yet themselves, so we were able to check in and go up to our rooms. My emotions were all over the place (though I was keeping it together pretty well I think), but I started to get teary as Jeremy was checking us in. I'm only human.
We went up to our rooms and all the families (five of us in total) were called and told to meet on the 2nd floor at 4 o'clock. So we ended up having time to splash water on our faces and get our gifts for the nannies and the orphanage together.
We get off the elevator and meet up with the four other families just beside the elevator bank. We're all just standing there nervously chatting while we wait for Grace to give us our instructions on how this is going to work. I can't help but think how strange this is. Here we have waited for so long for our daughters - and these baby girls have waited so long for a forever family (no boys in this group of families). It just seems like it should be more formal than this - like maybe we should be walking down some long, ornately designed runner and embrace our baby at the end of it or something.
Suddenly, two people holding a baby show up from somewhere and Grace calls one of the families over. I hear Jennifer say to her husband and 13 year old daughter, "That's us."
We're all holding our breath wondering who is going to be next. Grace comes over and tells the rest of us to gather our things because a conference room will be opened up for us to wait. We grab our stuff and start walking toward the room, when all of a sudden four babies, each with two orphanage representatives come walking up. All us parents drop our things back to the ground and start scanning the group for our baby.
We immediately noticed her. The little girl in red was ours.
And she looked right at us.
At first, she refused to even look in my direction. She just stared at the orphanage nanny. It was like she knew I was there but if she didn't acknowledge me this wouldn't be real.
The nanny kept talking to her, trying to get her to look at me. I said her name a few times, but didn't press. Finally after a few minutes I reached out and touched her hand. She turned her head and just stared me down. She didn't cry. She didn't turn for the nanny. She just stared at me with a bit of a scowl.
I got out bubbles, and put them in her hand. Her fingers gripped them, but she never looked down to see what she was holding. She just stayed stone faced, now staring expressionless at Miles (and Jeremy too - he was behind the camera for this part but took little breaks to try to engage her).
Finally I decided just to pick her up and see if it would spark a reaction - even if it meant tears. But she didn't cry. She was being so brave. Stoic.
Finally we moved into the conference room for a change of scenery. Miles came over and sweetly said, "Hi Baby Lakey," and I couldn't hold it in anymore.
Jeremy and I switched roles so that he could hold Lakey, but not even his charm could break her.
It was time for the big guns. She was still holding her bubbles, but hadn't looked at them. So I gave some to Miles and myself. We opened them up right there in the conference room, with other families and nannies all around (a rather chaotic environment really) and Miles and I started blowing our bubbles. That reminded her.
I put the wand up to her mouth to see if she wanted to try.
But to no avail. Then Miles brilliantly started to catch his bubbles on his wand, so we started doing this and holding them out for her to pop them with her fingers. She did it - pop! And then immediately this happened.
It was all over after that. She and Miles played bubbles for probably 40 minutes while Jeremy did the paperwork to give us temporary custody for the night among other things. She watched Miles be silly, and she laughed out loud a few times at him. It was really special to watch them.
Gotcha Day couldn't have gone better, in my eyes. She has warmed to me already, but she is still undecided about Jeremy (though I can see in her eyes that she wants to smile at him but she is unsure). I have a feeling that one of these days he will break through in a big way and she will never turn back.
Praise God for this sweet girl!
p.s. Lakey looks so different to me now that we've finally peeled away all the layers of clothing and given her a much needed bath. Whoa! More pics to come.