What an exhausting, emotional, WONDERFUL day!!! We felt every single prayer that was said on our and Gia's behalf. Every.single.one. Honestly, this day could not have gone any better.
We awoke early...like 2 am early. Butterflies were in our stomach,s and seriously, my palms were sweaty and my mouth was dry! You'd think I'd never done this before! We met our friends, the Mounts family, for breakfast, and neither Kathy nor I had much of an appetite. We'd chat for a few minutes, and then we'd get quiet. Each anticipating the course of events to come over the next several hours.
We met our guide at 8 am, and off to the orphanage we went. The journey through Shijiazhuang, was, ahem...interesting. It seems as though, in this city of 13 million people, every single citizen was either driving, biking, mo-peding, or walking on the streets as we tried to navigate toward Gia. Seriously. It was chaos! Let me just say that I thought teaching driver's ed in the states was bad!!
|Here's a very mild example of what I am talking about.|
We finally made it to Gia's home--Shijiazhuang Social Welfare Institute.
We have seen video footage of her orphanage before. There is a small building in the front of it called a "baby hatch." This is meant to be a safe, protected place for parents to "drop off" their child if they are no longer able to care for him/her. It caused quite a controversy when it first was built. The orphanage staff were just traumatized at the condition that some of the babies came to the orphanage in...sometimes abandoned in the freezing cold. The baby hatch at least provided shelter to protect the children.
|The "baby hatch"|
At this point, though, I was shaking and sweaty-palmed, I was so nervous and excited to meet Gia.
Our guide ushered us into a receiving room, and she said "Chun Yu" (Gia's Chinese name) is coming. GULP
Just a few short minutes later, there she was. She was holding her nanny's hand. Her nanny brought her right over to us. She had a lovely smile on her face, and her first words--completely of her own volition--were "baba" as she looked right at Simon, and "mama" as she looked right at me.
This child KNEW us!!
I am so impressed with the orphanage staff for preparing her for this day. She came with a little baggy of goodies, and in it was the photo album we sent her 2 months ago. I pulled it out to have a look. She saw a picture of Simon and me and immediately she said "baba" and "mama." So I know that she was allowed to look at this photo album numerous times. For which I am so thankful!
|Waiting for Gia Chunyu to come!|
We brought a Hello Kitty backpack full of goodies to share with Gia. Barbie was one of the goodies. When I gave Gia Barbie's shoes to put on, she knew exactly what to do.
Once Gia Chunyu had the Barbie in her hand, her nanny and the orphanage communications director were comparing Barbie's blonde hair to mine, and I heard Gia Chunyu say "mama" and smile. The nanny and director laughed. :)
We sat there with Gia for a while, while our guide had some of our questions answered by the nannies.
Forever grateful to this woman--Gia's ayi (nanny). I know it was hard for her to leave her beloved Chunyu.
Gia's orphanage is part of a program called Half the Sky. This program keeps scrapbooks on all the children who are involved. We were able to receive Gia's scrapbook. It goes back to 2010, when Half the Sky came to Shijiazhuang. We have some pictures of her from as far back as age 4. This scrapbook is priceless! It is all in Mandarin, so we will need to get it translated at some point.
One poignant note...every time Gia made eye contact with me, she smiled. Her smile seemed genuine and unforced. But as the day wore on, I was reminded how BRAVE she was being with each and every smile. This is one amazing girl!!
Next, it was on to the Civil Affairs Office to register the adoption. On the way, we found out that poor little Miss Gia gets carsick...BAD. :(
But once we got there, she was back to smiling. Which was good, because we had a looooong wait.
So after waiting for 2 hours, paperwork still wasn't ready. Our guide took us back to our hotel, and on the way, poor little Gia had another bout with carsickness.
After we ate a little KFC, which Gia LOVED, it was back to the same office to pick up the MIA paperwork. Gia upchucked her entire lunch. Poor baby!!
Then it was off to the police station to apply for her passport. This was a quick 30 minute visit.
Cute, melt-my-heart story: At one point at the police station, Gia Chunyu looked right at me and said "shui" (water). Of course, I didn't know what she said, and she said it again, except this time she added "mama."
I still wasn't sure, but since she said "mama," I had to do something! We pulled out the water bottle and she took a nice long drink. Later, our guide asked her what she was saying. Sure enough. She was thirsty.
Since we got done so quickly at the police station, we decided to get everything notarized today. Okay. A 30-minute trip to the notary turned into a 2+ hour trip. Can I just say, this amazing little girl just kept smiling and smiling! I know she was emotionally drained. I know she was physically tired. I know she was hungry because she upchucked her entire lunch. But she kept right on smiling. She is
Finally, FINALLY, we were done at the notary. One more car ride back to the hotel for Gia's poor stomach to endure. And endure it did! Yay! We got back and I went with our guide to organize all the paperwork. I decided to go out and get pizza while I was at it, since none of us felt like venturing out again tonight. I came back to our room to this sight:
Then she ate pizza like a champ, and watched some Chinese cartoons in bed.
Now she's safely tucked in next to Gem, hopefully getting some much needed and deserved rest.
We've done this three times now. Each time, I have been absolutely amazed at the fortitude, courage, bravery, and guts these precious children have displayed. They are the most courageous humans I know.
G1, G2, and now G3...you are my HEROES.
I cannot thank God enough for His unspeakable gift, and I absolutely believe that "Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of light" (James 1:17).
I have proof of it x 3.
Amen and goodnight.