Monday, November 7, 2016

NAM2016: Our Family Day 5/30/16

I realize this is about five days late, but its been a pretty interesting five days here. However, here is the long-awaited post about Gotcha Day. We like to call it Family Day, by the way. We have nothing against the Gotcha Day phrase, and there are a lot of different reasons for why people use either term, but Family Day for us just sounds We also wanted to post this since so many of you prayed for us both this day and every day since (and many of you days and months before). Plus, with our church showing our adoption testimony video on Sunday, we figured some people may be interested in a little more behind the scenes. (Note, for those of you that missed the video, it should be available soonish to view and share.) This will probably be a long post because I do plan to go through the entire day until bedtime--not just for your sake but for ours and Jet's memories someday.

As I previously mentioned in my last post, we had the absolute best night's sleep the night before we went to the government building to receive Jet--probably the best night's sleep we had in the entire months of both May and June. That was definitely a God thing, but I honestly don't know how else that would have been possible. Derek laughed at me because I was trying on clothes like a maniac that morning knowing there would be photographs and videos, but finally just went with what was comfortable. It was 85 degrees outside and other than our hotel, most buildings did not have air conditioning. Also, gents reading...sorry, this is TMI, but for the ladies...underwire was not an option. Go with the sports bra if you travel to China in the summer. Life. Saver. Derek clearly spent a lot of time on his clothing choices too, before we snapped a picture of ourselves and all the gifts (for the orphanage workers and his ayi...although I'm not positive that his ayi received her gift). We also loaded up my giant purse and a few bags with supplies, since we had absolutely no idea when we would be coming back to the hotel. Before we left, I also just want to plug our absolutely amazing hotel buffet. Many of you know I can barely eat breakfast (don't judge, I know it's a terrible habit) and if I do eat it, it cannot be sweet. This food was amazing. I still make these things for breakfast and just the other day Jet and I had leftover lo mein for breakfast with eggs.

The building was much closer to the hotel than we knew and arrived around 9am, and the three of us families with our agency shared a quick prayer together before we began the wait for our children. Essentially unless special arrangements are made, all families adopting in the Henan province meet in the capital city of Zhengzhou at the Henan Centre for Children's Adoption, so there were a few other families waiting there as well with their agency reps for their children. Derek and I (and the other families) settled in for a longer wait and tried to calm our sudden nerves, because This. Was. Happening.

And, happen quickly it did. Suddenly, no more than five minutes after we sat down and ten minutes after arrival, there was a flurry of movement and voices. Obviously, neither of us spoke the language so we had absolutely no clue what was going on until our guide gestured to us that Jian Guo had arrived. Jian Guo!? That was our son! He arrived with his beloved ayi who was his sole caregiver and they apparently had taken the bullet train from Beijing to Zhengzhou that morning (so he'd been up since before 6am...already he'd experienced an eventful morning)! He was very big-eyed, and clinging to his ayi yet checking out the room thoroughly (we have since learned about him that he IS quite nosy, but also very observant when in new surroundings). I've attached the two best videos we have, and they pretty much say what I can't.

The handoff, as Derek likes to call it, went pretty well until Jordan realized "wait. I have to STAY with these people? But I don't know them!" Our guide interpreted for us that he had heart medication that he needed to take twice a day and asked if we had any questions. Honestly, we didn't...but only because we had absolutely no idea what to ask (as you can see in that second video). We had already been given his general daily schedule, a few days worth of his formula, and other than that we just didn't know what were typical questions to ask. Beyond that, we had anticipated waiting hours for his arrival--not five minutes. I think all of the families were thrown off, because we didn't even have a chance to give people our cameras. 

His ayi kissed him goodbye, once, then twice, and left. Looking back, I can see in photos that it was hard for her to say goodbye. One special item that did not make it into any of our photos was a pillow that had traveled with him that had pictures of all of his "brothers and sisters" from Morning Star to keep him company on the train. If anything, that's what got to me. I wish we had been thinking clearly enough to get a photo with her, or at least her name, but we weren't. 

The next couple hours were painful. It was so hard, because he was beside himself (plus he was hot). We removed a layer of clothing and started sponging him off but he wasn't having it. For about two hours, until the other families received their children, I wandered around that room with him while he sobbed. (Yes, I still tear up now thinking about it.) We received lots of encouragement from the other families and guides that it was normal, but we could see that some of them were thinking "is this what it will be like for us?" Our guide, Tina, did pull me aside during our pacing and said the more the child cried on Family Day the faster the adjustment would be. At that point, I felt like our adjustment should be immediate, based on how things were going! But slowly, we made progress. I learned we didn't walk past the door, because that was where he last saw his ayi. His arm slowly started to wrap around my side and slowly he started to lean on me instead of pulling away. His bottle, his beloved bottle that many of you have seen and we still use during upsetting days, did not leave his mouth. We were a snotty, drooly, formula covered hot mess--both of us. Lest you think that Derek was just standing around, he was actually fanning us to keep us as cool as possible...most of the pictures we have were taken by others. At this point, I honestly felt (and I think Derek did too) like we were the absolute worst people in the world. As far as Jet was concerned, WE did this to him. This was OUR fault. WE were the ones who took him away from everything comfortable. I know this isn't true, but I don't know how else to communicate to you how we felt in that moment. 

Ever so slowly, he calmed down. If loud noises (new family members arriving) happened or I made the mistake of heading past the door for some air, we'd start up crying again but by the time we got in the bus he had settled down. No smiles of course, but no more tears. He was, truly, just exhausted at that point--and who could blame him. Crying takes it out of you, traveling takes it out of you, new experiences take it out of you...he was three for three--as evidenced by the absolute immediate sleep when we got in the van to head back to the hotel. (We also soon learned that as a "fight or flight" response, Jordan's was flight--and by flight we mean sleep since it's not like he was mobile! Sleep allowed him to escape the situation.) But you have to admit, sweaty hot mess and all, he was (and is) pretty darn cute. 

Once we got back to the room, we soon learned I would not be able to put him down for anything (and that he was quite particular about how to sit on me). Eye contact was still kept at a minimum and still no smiles. Derek ordered some lunch and we ate in the room while Jordan ate some snacks that had been sent with him somehow with his bottle still in his mouth. (By the way, even now, when he sees pictures of himself with that particular bottle, he still asks for "milk?") Our very clean and white bedding was quickly covered with crumbs. We also stupidly attempted a selfie, which just made things worse. He was comfortable, or at least getting there, and then we disrupted him to make him take a picture for our Jet Landing Facebook page. Fail. There were a lot of parenting fails that day, but he doesn't hold them against us and it's not like kids come with a manual anyway! We also learned quite quickly he did NOT like my long(ish) blonde hair anywhere near his face. Actually only recently does he like it now--by recently I mean in the past month he thinks it's hilarious and awesome. That particular day however, it was terrifying.

Then, because we are awesome at knowing the best thing to do, we decided that since he was covered in drool/snot/crumbs/slime, we should at least hose him down in the giant bathtub. No. Wrong decision. Adoptive parents reading this, I feel and accept your judgement. No need to rub it in. However, he was clean, and everyone (IMO) sleeps better when they're in clean clothes. And his cheeks were huge and adorable. The absolute best. Clearly, this boy liked to eat. He finally fell asleep on Mama, but unfortunately we had a major problem. Well, I had a major problem. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with Derek yet at this point--wouldn't even look at him but (here comes more TMI) I had to pee SO. BAD. Sorry, but it's true. So after traumatizing him with the bath, it was either embarrass myself with the hotel staff or traumatize him further and wake him up to have Baba (Daddy) hold him. Obviously, we chose the latter.

But you know what? It went fine. I mean, we did have some tears, but Derek FINALLY got to hold his son too. And yes, those clear glass bathroom walls did come in handy so Jet could see that I wasn't leaving. Plus, he let Derek hold him long enough that I could get a few pictures after I got back. AND he stopped crying. We call that progress. Then the progress started happening even faster. Instead of needing to be on my lap at all times, he would sometimes go by Derek. He still refused to walk or crawl, but he did start to venture out onto the bed--not off of the bed, just move around on it. We were ecstatic! This is actually typical behavior: start with where they feel safe and let them explore on their own from there. We may have pushed it with the bath, but clearly the prayers from the other side of the world from the people who stayed up all night or most of the night for this were helping. The bottle was attached though--I still want to know if this was his comfort only because it came with him or if this was HIS bottle with Morning Star and what he had always used. By the way, the only time this bottle was not attached to his person was when we got our official picture taken for our paperwork. He had literally just calmed down--again--and they took the bottle out of his mouth...and man, did he let everyone know what he thought about that!

We really didn't do much during the rest of the day--just played with the iPad and apparently he already know how to use a phone; we ate some more room service supper even though the other families offered to meet us in the dining room for dinner. We really felt the cocooning process that we wrote about before we left started from the second we got him, and wanted him to get used to us before we started taking him out on our own--unless we had to.

We did another bath, which went almost as well as the last one, and then got him ready for bed. It gets dark there around 6:30, which threw us off for the entire trip since back home it wasn't dark until 8:30 or so. We actually started a routine that night that lasted the rest of the trip. Both of us would do bath time with him and get jammies on him, then I would lay in bed with him until he fell asleep while Derek ran (walked up and down two huge flights of stairs to cross a bridge plus a few more blocks) to the Walmart to get snacks or things we needed. Usually, it was Coke or a Snickers, but also things like looking for a second bottle like the one he had, etc. (FYI, we had people looking at home too. The closest we could find cost $80. We did not buy it.) By the time Derek would get back, Jet would be asleep enough that I could transfer him to his crib (which we turned into a cosleeper) and we'd take turns taking showers and going to bed. But that first night? We were all exhausted. I'm still glad Derek made it back from Walmart safely because selfishly I just wanted a shower and bed.

At the end of the day, regardless of the exhaustion, tears, boogers, more tears, exhaustion...he was ours. The paperwork was officially signed and we were his legal guardians. I believe there was a twenty four hour period where we could change our minds, but there was and never had been even an iota of doubt to do so. Feng Jian Guo, now known as Jordan Ezekiel Tanis, or Jet, became a member of our Family on May 30, 2016. Praising God still for all He has done to orchestrate this amazing plan for all three of our lives.