Meeting Katie!

Hmm. Trouble getting a good connection… here’s the full post…hopefully…

Ok, small child is finally sleeping…mom can now blog! Get your tea ready – this will be a long one 🙂 The details are for the record…skim as you must.

Details of March10th (aka Katie Day)…

We flew very early in the morning to Nanchang with our guide and group of 3 families (including mom and I). We arrived around noon and were scheduled to receive babies at 4:30pm at the hotel. It was unbelievable to see Cindy and Tyler waiting for us in the hotel lobby! What a joy to see them and so bizarre under the circumstances! We had lots to do to prepare for babies…walk down the street to buy water (and fun snacks we found along the way), gather up all the gifts we had to bring for the various officials, prepare our technology for the meeting, do up a bottle and bring a couple of toys, etc.

At 4:00pm our guide called to say the babies were delayed arriving at the hotel and she would call in 10 minutes…so we sat in the hotel room all ready to go and waited…45 minutes. When we finally headed down to the conference room we had to walk through a crowd of business people taking a break from a meeting…yelling, smoking, overall just crazy. We were really concerned about the babies having to be brought through that stressful environment just before meeting us but it turned out the people were all leaving. Whew!

I expected some kind of “ok, here they come” announcement but instead, these 3 people carrying babies (and a couple of other people) just walked into the room while we were getting settled. To my surprise, my reaction was to ignore them until I was ready to receive her. I turned around so my back was to them. I wanted my sling on, snacks ready, cameras ready especially because what we were about to capture would be very important to Katie (and us) down the road as she comes to understand her history. We also had put much thought into being able to Face Time Tim into the room (like Skype) and we hadn’t even dialed him yet. I didn’t want to see her face until I was ready but I did catch a quick glimpse of the babies and was surprised that I immediately knew which one was Katie – it has been 7 months since the photos were taken that were sent to me with the referral. It only took another 30 seconds and we were all set.

Katie was in the arms of a man who, I think, was the assistant to the orphanage director but I honestly can’t remember now. She was indeed bundled in many layers as I’d heard was likely and she looked very warm and sort of dazed. She held close to him and turned away when I went to talk to her. Luckily our guide Sarah was right there so when the gentleman tried to hand her to me, I told tell her to translate that there’s no rush. I wanted her to see my face for a little while and get comfortable before being put in my strange arms.

My crew was in action…Cindy was video taping with my iPad, mom held my iPhone with Tim connected and Tyler used Cindy’s video camera too…just in case 🙂 He was also in charge of handing me the bottle or Cheerios when I needed them. We have everything recorded, although I haven’t had a chance to watch it. I will post video as soon as I can figure it out – I know I can’t recall all the details but here are the essentials…. I sang a bit and shook the mini maracas, she was not interested 🙂 I did take her in my arms eventually and she was absolutely burning up…I couldn’t believe the heat coming off of her! We took our time and I sang a few other things from her CD, very quietly. It’s hard to know if she immediately recognized anything but she stayed very calm. Eventually I sat in one of the chairs with her. We fed her some Cherrios and although she spit out the first one like we’d given her something disgusting she changed her mind quickly and couldn’t get enough. She let me feed them to her (she has the cutest little lips) and she took some of a bottle as well. The turning point came when Tyler came over to say hello. She responded to him beautifully! We managed to get smiles!

I was grateful that the room was calm although there were some other babies crying. Katie didn’t cry at all. In the “old days” when adoptions happened faster, there would have been 10-12 families doing this all at once…complete chaos! I was able to calmly wait my turn to have Sarah translate my questions to the orphanage official…things about her current health, if she had ever worn diapers before (babies all wear split pants in China), if she had any allergies, was she walking, did she speak any words at all, etc. Some excellent news was that the disposable camera made it back and it looks like they used up all the photos!! They also sent back one of the 2 copies of the CD I sent – the one meant for the orphanage so I’m going to try and get it back to them.

So, I didn’t cry!! I expect to be nominated for some award (although I don’t know what) and I won’t get booted out of the actor’s union 🙂 It was really important to me NOT to cry because it would be very upsetting to Katie. I was very calm and Mom and Cindy were amazing about getting the photos and video and not overwhelming Katie.

Tyler was an ANGEL of goodness and love! He was gentle and sweet, considerate and mature. He placed Katie above all else and did everything he could to calmly amuse her, feed her, sing to her etc. His song of choice (previously decided) was “If you’re happy and you know it”. When he wasn’t interacting with Katie he was using the video camera on his own to record his version of the events. I am SO grateful that he is with us!

We were the last people to leave the room…with a trail of Cheerios behind us. The whole thing took about 30 minutes. We went back to our room and showed her some toys…and took off her huge coat and bulky pants! We sat on the floor and played while Sarah came in and translated a report we were given on her current schedule (quite accurate I’m finding). Cindy took notes.

Not long after that Katie got really upset. Turns out she’s teething and the crying was quite desperate. We were going to have dinner but that didn’t work out. I gave her some Tempra and put her in the Beco carrier against my chest and wandered around with her until she fell asleep. We were supposed to go at 8pm back to the conference room to do some paper work in advance of the next days appointment with officials but as soon as I walked in she started crying again. Sarah was lovely about waiting and I completed everything in her room much later in the evening.
Cindy came with me to calm Katie down again and we went to the cafe to order me some food – I hadn’t eaten since early morning. The sandwhich took about 45 minutes which was enough time to get her sound asleep. We finally Skyped Dad on my iPhone so he could see her in my arms. Yes, there were tears. I’ve sent several prayers of thank to Steve Jobs in heaven…being able to share this experience with people at home has meant everything to our family 🙂

We finally put her to bed…the sweet crib the hotel provides is completely foreign to her but she seemed to really like the soft and cute “Hello Kitty” quilt. She chewed on one of the tops she had been dressed in when she arrived, to help her teeth feel better. I had put it in the crib with her so she would have the smell of home. In the middle of the night I realized this top had buttons…mom lesson #1, remove choking hazards 🙂 Tyler brought her a stuffed bear which is in the crib and Mom had given her a pink bunny that she seems to love too. It took quite a while to get her actually sleeping. She is a VERY fitful sleeper. Couldn’t get comfortable. I felt it was too soon to try and have her sleep with me, she really seemed to need her space. She spread out, limbs everywhere. Pretty dramatic…she flopped around like a fish! Head at one end then the other. burying her face into the blanket. I don’t think i’ve ever seen a child sleep like this! Finally, she was peaceful. She slept until about 5am but her teeth hurt so I gave her more pain killers. She was also incredibly thirsty…must have been all the crying. She sucked back a couple of sippy cups of water and loved the feeling of the hard plastic on her teeth. She conked out again completely and didn’t move until we woke her up to go to breakfast.

We learned very quickly that Katie will tell us exactly what she wants and doesn’t want…especially when it comes to food. She doesn’t like her feet covered when she sleeps. She has the “Mongolian Blue Spots” I’ve read about…on her sweet bottom. The first diaper change was not bad at all, she was quite calm but it was a surprise to me to see the blue, bruise-like colour. It will go away and it doesn’t hurt. Common in children from China.

All in all an exhausting day and totally surreal! I am so grateful that our first meeting went SO beautifully – it was more than I could have hoped for. on our crazy second day in Nanchang tomorrow. It was full one…Must get some sleep!

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Kovinsky
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 01:52:34

    Love your story and pictures

    Reply

  2. Stuart
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 02:19:47

    YAY!!! Congratulations Risa!! Katie looks adoreable!! One beautiful day at a time!!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful adventure!! Keep on rockin’ 😉 xx

    Reply

  3. Heather
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 02:26:08

    Thrilled to share this amazing journey with you & to meet adorable Katie as she meets her new wonderful family!! Can’t wait to hear more!! Mazel Tov to all & love to all !!
    Heather ( & Noel )

    Reply

  4. Bernie
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 04:40:51

    Reading this and crying – thank you for being so present and yet still managing to share all of this with everyone in your life…you’re amazing. xox

    Reply

  5. Lisa Shislowski
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 05:59:02

    Risa, thanks for you detailed update!! Congratulations!! Katie is adorable, your photos are great, Tyler sounds lovely, and I hope your little peanut feels better from her teething! Very happy for you all!!

    Reply

  6. Risa Hoffman
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 11:44:13

    Fantastic, Ree. I’m sitting here crying the sweetest, happiest tears!! What a beautiful story. Can’t wait to hear more! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. xoxo

    Reply

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