It is Wednesday, May 10th at 9:30AM in China. We are in our hotel room and MR. AUGUST is napping, Anastasia is doing homework and Mike is doing laundry in the tub. Today we FINALLY have a free day to do as we please, so I am able to “relax” (sort of) and update you all!
May 8, 2017 is a day that we will never forget. On this day, we laid eyes on a boy we had merely dreamed of for 15 months. Our “BABY CHINA” was suddenly in our arms. Let me walk you through this day.
We did not leave for this “once in a lifetime” moment until 2:15PM!!! Making it through the morning and afternoon was grueling. But the time came and us and another family (who adopted a 13 year old girl and we have befriended while in Kunming) climbed into a van with our wonderful guide.
And we drove to the Civil Affairs office. Now this sounds simple. But having never driven in China before, we were in awe. Remember how I mentioned crossing the street in China was no simple task. Whelp….driving in China is what I can only describe as New York City driving on STEROIDS. Like serious insane STEROIDS! There are hundreds of bikes and scooters that could care less about the cars. There are hundreds and hundreds of cars. There are traffic lights in some places and then jam packed intersections that have no lights or stop signs or yielding at all! Once we got close, the street narrowed to what I would consider a one way street. Yet, there were cars parked on both sides. And cars attempting to go down the middle BOTH ways! We scraped by other vehicles and scooters multiple times with mere centimeters to spare (I EXAGGERATE NOT ONE BIT HERE!). This phased our driver NONE. This is the NORM. Our guide was amused by all of us Americans in the car squealing with shock as we clung to our seats.
But we made it. The Civil Affairs office was now in sight. And it was not a sight we expected. This was a hole in the wall doorway, locked and not exactly inviting looking.
We were let in, nerves on edge, and invited to sit down. There was nothing fancy about this place. Several officials were there waiting for us but few others. Other families (these several were from Spain!) came in for the same purpose…to meet their son or daughter. Suddenly in walked the other couple’s daughter! How emotional.!!! As I said she is 13, but she looked happy and excited. I began to tear up at this intense moment and knew I would be losing it for the rest of the afternoon.
We took it all in as we waited. And we soon learned that MinXian was to be there soon. About 20 minutes later (which felt like a lifetime) the room suddenly exploded with people. It was a blur. I had no idea who was who. And only moments later did I realize that the first child walking through the doors was OUR SON! The moment caught us so off-guard that emotions were literally frozen. The tear-jerking response that one imagined was stuck!
I stood up and stared. I was in awe. I could not tell you what Mike and Ana did. I was lost in a place I have never been. Moments later, the orphanage staff who carried him in, motioned for me to take him. My heart beat. I was shaking. I laid my arms out and held my son without knowing what was even happening.
The next hour was filled with awe. We stared. We smiled. We knew not what to do. We talked to our boy and, though stone-faced, he was so very calm. This was interspersed with officials asking us to begin filling out paperwork. Mike took MinXian and I started to complete forms that would soon make this child our “son” (he officially became our son the next day when we returned to the Civil Affairs to complete the paperwork). Except what you might expect this to look like was not exactly the case. I was asked to “sign” our names. But please do not “sign” please print “it is easier to read”. And please just sign you and your husband. HA! So, to begin officially becoming MinXian’s parents, I printed both Mike and I’s name on several pieces of paper. (Other official tasks to complete this process on both May 8 and May 9 included taking a family photo, stamping our thumbprints, and “signing” a few more papers!)
And that was it! An orphanage staff made him a bottle. I fed him! He fell asleep in my arms and we left. We got in a van and drove away with our child!
These few hours were the most zealous moments we may ever experience. Our emotions were literally frozen in moments of pure shock and overwhelm. Yet, these moments were life-changing for us as a family, for myself, for Mike, and mostly, for MinXian.
We made our way “safely” back to the hotel, once again, narrowly missing other vehicles on a regular basis on our way. And then we began to take in what just happened. We walked into a run down building, parents of three children, and we walked out parents of FOUR! It is impossible to put into words how shocking, incredible and fierce of a feeling this is.
By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was evening. We spent the next hours face timing back home so Danika and Callum, grandparents and aunties could all “meet” August MinXian. The night quickly came to an end. We bathed our son, fed him and put him to bed.
This is our story. The story of how we became a family of FOUR! It may or may not be what you might have expected. And when I think back, I was likely most nervous because I truly did not know what to expect. But this is how our son came to us and he came to us in the most perfect way. He is a boy who was cared-for and clearly liked by staff. But he is a boy that was not loved or held or cared for or nourished by a family until May 8th, 2017 at 3:20PM.
We have spent the past days getting to know August. And he has done the same with us. He is calm! He is interested in everything and he is so aware! He looks at us and has now begun to seek us out. He smiles and he even giggles with us. He loves toys and he is a squirmer. He sleeps very well so far, in fact he is likely used to sleeping on his own, with little rocking, snuggling or checking. So, though the good sleep is welcome, it also is eye opening to his life in China.
Our boy is doing well and he is already showing us his potential of thriving in our arms. But our boy also shows us many signs of “orphanage life”. He is tiny. I mean skin and bones tiny! His little legs and arms need meat and they need strength. He is so very weak! We have already begun loading him with bottles and even his first solid foods. He loved CONGEE (rice porridge popular in China) and fruit!. He has an itchy rash that needs treatment (not an easy task in China) and his cough lingers from pneumonia. But, although stressful and worrisome in these moments, all of these things are small in comparison of what he really needs, LOVE, FAMILY, US! We will get him everything he needs. We will nourish him, we will get him medications if need be once home, and we will give him all the therapy possible to help him develop to his fullest potential. Most importantly we give him LOVE. We give him SNUGGLES. We give him TOUCH and EYE CONTACT and PLAY and INTIMACY. And we watch him already transform before our eyes. He stares at us. He giggles with Ana. He reaches for his special “blankie” I made and brought for him. The next months and years will be hard and intense and will test our strength and patience. I may be strong enough and I may not be on some days. But ready we are! I will give him everything I possibly can.
This boy came to us with nothing more than the clothes on his back (pink clothes, mind you, what we in America would consider ‘girl” clothes yet in China baby clothes has no gender! And, like a new parent forever keeps the first baby hat, I will forever treasure this outfit!). I will never truly know what his life in Xuanwei was like. I can merely imagine and guess. And on May 8th, he lost all of it. Aside from the country we remain in for the next 10 days, there is already nothing left of our boy’s life from two days ago. That is frightening to consider. And we will NEVER be naive about this fact. But we do know that this baby needs what we have to give him. So we will give him it all with patience and persistence and respect. And we will LOVE this boy, this “BABY CHINA” who is now a FOREVER FITZGERALD.