Written in May 2004:
We arrived in Nanchang around lunchtime on Sunday, July 18. We checked into the Gloria Plaza Hotel and unpacked. We were due at a meeting with James, our rep, in a short time period. We got the older two kids busy with a movie or nap, and left for the meeting. During the informational session, James got a phone call saying the babies were in the lobby. As hard as it was, we had to finish our meeting first before getting the girls! As quickly as he could, James wrapped the necessary meeting and sent us on our way to get ready for the babies. We went racing to our room to get the older kids. They were happily playing with another travel mate the same age as our son. They looked at us in amazement when we said the babies were already here. We were supposed to go get them at the Civil Affairs office later that day so plans changed drastically!
We grabbed the video camera, digital camera, and a blanket and went back to the third floor conference center. Everyone milled about listening for baby sounds. It was exciting but nervewracking at the same time. Gradually we heard crying so we knew they were close. James had arranged to call each family in alphabetical order so we could prepare the cameras for our turns. Somehow word did not get to all the orphanage workers because someone came in carrying who I believed to be Anna Grace because she was holding the doll I sent over to her. She got sent back out to wait her turn. Shortly thereafter, we heard a lot of screaming from the hallway. I looked at my husband and said, “How much you want to bet that is Anna Grace screaming?” Turns out I was right.
In any case, within just a few minutes, James was calling our names. All four of us went up to meet her. Poor little thing was scared to death. She was handed over by a person she did not know to weird looking people she didn’t know. Anna Grace was in foster care but not delivered to us by the foster parents. All our girls were in foster homes but brought to us by orphanage workers. She screamed hysterically and could not be comforted. She was dressed in several layers of clothes, was sweating, had tears all down her face, a runny nose because of the crying, and no diaper. Nothing we did calmed her down. We made a rapid exit from the conference room and missed seeing some of our travel partners get their children but we needed to get her in a quieter setting. We had prepared the older kids for the fact that Anna Grace would not be as happy to see us as we were to see her but it’s still very hard.
We got her upstairs to our room, changed her clothes into warm jammies, and added a diaper. We had been given her bottle and directions on how to make it for her. She refused a bottle completely and preferred to just cry. When I look at the video now, you can tell how completely distraught she was at that time. Poor little thing had just spent 3 hours on a bus and was handed over to complete strangers. She cried and cried for several hours. She only wanted mom to hold her but still pushed me away when I held her. Even that first night though, if dad held her she would reach back for mom. It’s interesting-in our travel groups case, the parent who first took the baby from the worker was the favored parent for the whole trip. In some cases, it was the dad who was favored. Oh well. You never know!
She finally gave up from exhaustion and fell asleep. She had been inconsolable which was hard on everyone. We got her into her crib and ordered room service for dinner. Fortunately, we had two rooms because of the kids. This gave us more space to spread out. We ate dinner with shocked looks on our faces. Anna Grace had not eaten at all and cried herself to sleep.
One parent had to meet with James to do paperwork for the following day’s adoption proceedings. I did this since I had done all the paperwork and was more familiar with it all. This was a long meeting late at night. After a day of traveling and getting an inconsolable baby, doing paperwork was very hard. We were given an information sheet from the foster parents during this meeting telling us her schedule of food and sleep as well as other important info. Most things on that paper contradicted what the orphanage update had told us just two weeks before! I did learn that Anna Grace ate many table foods (10 months old on Gotcha Day) and slept with her foster mother. Foods I can deal with but I don’t like having little ones in bed with me! That’s hard. We were encouraged to stick with their schedules as much as possible. Anna Grace had different plans though-quite independent in her old age!
I went to bed that night completely overwhelmed by the day. I did not sleep well and was truly questioning the logic in what we had done. Had we made a good decision in adopting? I was worried about my older kids and the effect a sad baby would have on them. Never once did I wish we had not brought them though. It was vital that they be there from the very beginning.
The next morning, Anna Grace woke up crying, looked at us and cried louder. I figure she was hoping we had gone away and the whole thing was a nightmare. She eventually quieted down though so we went over to wake up the older two. She sat there and looked at them for a long time. Then, totally out of the blue, she raised her hand, pointed with one finger to her brother’s stuffed dog, and said, “Uh.” She wanted to hold the dog. A breakthrough! From that moment on, she played, smiled, giggled, and grew to accept us. She still would only let mom hold her though which was hard on everyone. She finally took a bottle later that first day but did eat off the breakfast buffet with us that morning. She did not, however, like the traditional breakfast of congee. She wanted eggs and fruit like everyone else! She is still that way. Does not want baby foods but big people foods. She would nap in her crib but sleep with us at night. It worked okay in China because the bed was a king. We have a queen at home so it was a little crowded.
As each day passed, more and more of her personality would come out. She was and still is a very extroverted child. She loves people and children. She especially loved the other babies in our group. We would have playdates in the hallway so the girls could play with other little ones. Each day got easier as we got to know her and she got to know us. Once home, we had to start all over again as she got used to our house but it didn’t take as long.