Our first full day with Special K

It’s 5 am and I’m sitting on the floor of the shower with my iPad. Can’t sleep anymore and don’t want to wake Mom and Katie. Our bathroom is huge and has a floor to ceiling window where the shower is, which is in one big open space with the large tub…really nice! This was the only comfortable place – there’s a little ledge by the window so i can comfortably type πŸ™‚ It’s just starting to get light out, looks like it rained.

Nanchang is a beautiful city!! I love it here and can’t wait to have some time to walk around. It’s very green and more humid because we are in south China now. Nice change from Beijing. There are lovely tree lined streets of shops, random sculptures/modern art, huge modern condos, open parks and squares. Something about it feels a little bit like New York…which is strange.

Our first day was unbelievably full!! We barely had our babies for 12-15 hours and we were expected to be up, dressed fed and in the lobby by 9am. Even for experienced moms, this can be a challenge, especially after a rough night but we were in a strange room with our stuff everywhere (very little storage), a child we don’t know and who doesn’t know us, clothes that I don’t even know will fit, we don’t know what she eats, I’d hardly given any thought as to what we should bring since we were going to be out and about with her and we had to gather official documents and money for our appointments. A tad overwhelming to say the least.

We managed pretty well, considering. I dressed her in some lined overalls which are a bit short and little ‘onesie’ with the green sweater that she wore when she was given to me yesterday (I thought that might be comforting) and cute little socks…I completely forgot about shoes! It is a big deal in China to keep babies feet covered. I also completely forgot that the bottles i’m using have liners that i have to insert to hold the liquid (they have no bottom) so in my haste to make a bottle for her before we ran out the door, I poured wanted in and it went straight through to the floor….would this count as “mommy brain”?

We went to the breakfast buffet and managed to eat. Katie sat in one of the cute high chairs they have with a colourful pillow at her back. She had congee (rice porridge) and LOVED the watermelon.

We managed to get it together and meet in the lobby…all three families seeming a bit shell shocked πŸ™‚ We walked across the street to the Civil Affairs office to take care of some official business. Sarah had to stop traffic for us so that it was safe to cross with the babies. Pedestrians have no right of way here. The office was dim, no lights on. Lots of wood with benches and tables for us to wait in a room that is clearly used for ceremonies…lots of flags, etc.

We accomplished several things…first we had to have our photo taken. Me and Katie together then Katie by herself. These would be used for documents later. Then we had to pay various fees which made me really happy to finally get the wads of cash safely into the hands they were meant for. Seriously, it made me want to cry. Then we had a short interview, which I had been told about. Sometimes people can get kind of flustered so we were advised to bring one of the letters we’d written way back about why we wanted to adopt from China (part of the application). that way we could have a reference if we were too thrown by the formality. I couldn’t find my letter anywhere that morning so hoped I could have my wits about me. The woman who interviewed me had excellent English. She first asked my profession. I said ‘music teacher for young children’ (which is always preferable to ‘actor’) and she said ” Oh! I have a 5 year old daughter. Do you think it’s too soon for music lessons? I tried some for her but she doesn’t like them”! So I spent most of my interview giving her professional advice:-) Fat chance she’d reject me after that! Made me laugh. The other questions were….why did I choose China? What is my marital status? What is my education plan for her and do I have the means to take care of her? I didn’t need my cheat sheet πŸ˜‰ It was very brief. There were about 5 other families there in addition to our group, all going through the same process. Sitting and waiting, trying to entertain babies, running up and down with various documents, passports, cash. I found it really stressful but Sarah was amazing at making sure we had what we needed. Before we left they gave us a gift in a little box with a string handle. It’s a little vase or mug (can’t tell) with Chinese pictures.

We met the orphanage director at Civil Affairs office, he is surprisingly young. He told us that the babies were not placed in the orphanage prior to coming to us (as we’d suspected), they came directly from the foster homes. This is both hugely joyous news and a terribly sad reality. If Katie had been moved from her foster home (her only home) and brought to live at the orphanage for a few weeks she would have had to experience two enormous separations and adjustments. I was really hoping she wouldn’t have to go through that. So, it’s good news that she is only having to deal with one separation and that i am the one who will be here to comfort her but it is so heartbreaking that the day that is so joyous for us is her worst day ever….her whole world is gone and she doesn’t really know it yet.

We were supposed to go back to the hotel and do another bit of business in the afternoon but instead we got on our bus and went to the Notary Public’s office, not far away where we had another interview. Again, one at a time we took our babies in to a lovely office (small, on a beautiful tree-lined street. leather couches, very modern). This is where it all became official. Sarah translated questions for us from a gentleman who seemed nice but formal. Again, marital status, profesion, but some new ones….did I know my daughter’s Chinese name? How is her health? Am I happy with her? Do I promise to take care of her and do I approve of and accept this adoption? Then he presented me with a hardbound document that included the photo that was taken earlier in the morning. I look very happy. Katie does not πŸ˜‰

We had some really incredible moments of connection during this long day. While we were waiting at the Notary office, Katie was really fussy so we went just outside the doors and got some air. She had been pretty serious most of the time. We went to touch a wall of bamboo plants and she pulled off a leaf…she thought that was hilarious! Once she laughed i felt more free to “play” in a bigger way than we’d been so far. I dipped her, spun her, tip toed..generally silliness and got smiles and laughs all the way through. It was really special to break through like that! While i was outside with her, a man came over and pointed to her legs and feet…very unhappy with me for exposing them. This is happening a lot – the Chinese really bundle their babies!
My other most favourite thing about the day was our time on the bus. I wore her in the front carrier against my chest most of the day. In the bus she was especially snuggled up, looking out the window and getting sleepy. Suddenly I started to hear a little soft singing voice go ” baa baa”, so I sang back and we had these little tonal conversations before she would completely conk out…the bus was great for sleeping. I had Tyler snuggled in on my the other side….it doesn’t get much better than that! She did sing in her sleep once too….she’s a natural!

We went back to the hotel after the notary and had lunch…we were able to FaceTime Tim in which was amazing. We spent some time playing on the floor in our room and lo and behold…guess who can walk?! We were told she couldn’t walk yet but she got herself into a little sumo squat and up she went. She crawled around a bit too but clearly prefers to be on her little feet. We had fun exploring some toys and seeing what interested her.

Back onto the bus for a 4 minute ride across town to spend 3.5 minutes getting passport photos taken. Beautiful modern building, great to see more of the city….and snuggle up in the bus πŸ˜‰ There is a HUGE Ferris wheel here! Tons of modern condos, shopping etc. Once that was done, all of our official business was accomplished and we now wait until Friday to pick up Katie’s Chinese passport. Our time is our own.

On the way back from the passport office we made a stop at Walmart so we could bring things home on the bus although we can definitely walk to Walmart too. It was quite a place! Very fun to see all the different things you can buy there. We got diapers, water, cereal, baby wash, etc. Thanks goodness Sarah was with us or it would have take hours. We were exhausted by the time we finally got back to the hotel!

In the evening thing got very difficult. Katie was extremely upset and I didn’t know why. Nothing was calming her down and I tried everything. Cindy stayed with me while mom and Tyler went down for dinner. WARNING – poop talk coming! …..she hadn’t pooped yet since she’d been with me and it was happening now. She has likely never done it in a diaper and all the new food she’s eating now may not have helped. She was so traumatized by it all. We cleaned her up but knew she needed to have a bit of a bath…also something she hasn’t done with us yet. We’d heard that she loves the bath but certainly not that night…she was screaming!! We did the fastest half a bath ever. I sat on the edge of our huge tub with my feet inside and held her in the plastic baby bath that the hotel provides while Cindy cleaned important bits. Katie was terrified. It broke my heart. Once she was clean I just sat there holding her close with her wrapped tight in a couple of towels and rocked her until she finally stopped crying. Then I was the one doing the crying. Poor Katie…so much that is so new all at once! I think that was the moment I really became a mom. I’m crying again just writing about it. Once the ordeal was over she went to sleep quickly and slept like a stone all night until 7am. Close to 12 hours! She had slept a lot on the bus that day and it was really quite early to put her to bed but I don’t think we can’t truly grasp the stress of the separation from her foster home and all the new experiences. What trooper!

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Risa Hoffman
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 16:46:35

    I’m crying right along with you!! Thank you for sharing, Ree. I’m so glad that Katie has you as her Mommy. xo

    Reply

  2. Wendy Coles
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 17:11:00

    She is so beautiful Risa! And how sweet is Tyler! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!! xoxo

    Reply

  3. Anne Churchill-Smith
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 18:03:42

    Is Katie ever cute!! Thank you Risa for sharing these beautiful, precious (and sometimes difficult!) moments. Guess what? Sarah was our guide too!
    Anne

    Reply

  4. judila416
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 18:52:59

    Thanks for sharing so many details Risa. I feel like I’m along for this incredible journey you and Katie are on right now. I’m tearing up partly because I’m remembering those 1st days with M and partly because I’m so happy for you. One teensy weensy question: since when does your mother use a cane?

    Reply

  5. Sarah grill
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 20:51:09

    Risa

    reading your letters to us, is wonderful. It makes me feel like I am on the journey with you. Katie will be fine, she is a very lucky little girl to have come into such a special family. Am so looking forward to meeting her.

    Love

    Auntie Sarah

    Reply

  6. Josie
    Mar 12, 2013 @ 22:38:19

    I LOVE the photo of Katie and Tyler – you can see how they are connecting. He’s such a little man now!!! ❀

    Reply

  7. Jim & Thirza Smeal
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 15:41:23

    Love following your progress–thanks so much for including us

    Reply

  8. scrappinginontario
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 20:48:28

    What a wonderful day!! I had to snicker when you talked about filling the bottle without the liner. Sorry to say it won’t be the last time you do this.

    What a treat all of these wonderful details will be to both of you! Love seeing the pics! Tyler is a cutie too as is your sweet Katie!

    Catherine

    Reply

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