Monday, November 25, 2013

Remembering Gotcha Day....1 year later.

This photo was taken by the orphanage director's wife just minutes before we were handed our daughter
at the Galactic Peace Hotel in Nanchang, China. 
Exactly one year ago today, we met our daughter in China for the very first time. It was Sunday, November 25, 2012. We were told by our local guide Mary, that our daughter would be arriving at 4 pm that afternoon with the orphanage director and possibly her nanny. We were told that it was about a 6-7 hour drive from her orphanage in Ningdu County to our hotel in Nanchang. We were staying at the Galactic Peace, a beautiful 5 star hotel located in an incredibly busy intersection, where hundreds of cars, scooters, busses, and trucks seemed to navigate the streets in what seemed like orchestrated chaos. Looking back, I can't believe we had decided to venture out on our own around 1 pm that afternoon. Our local guide Mary had already taken us to the grocery market the day before so we figured we would be able to walk the 6 blocks or so on our own to pick up a few things before meeting our daughter. But as we walked these crazy busy chaotic streets, it started to drizzle on us, and I suddenly started to panic a little. We were only a few hours away from meeting our daughter, & the idea of getting drenched in the rain or somehow getting lost in the crowded streets or getting hit by a bus or even a scooter freaked me out a little. We both only had 1 semester of Chinese in our vocabulary, hardly enough to feel confident wandering the streets alone. Nanchang was not a city where you would easily find any people that spoke any English ( like in other cities in China ). Even our hotel staff was very limited. And so halfway to the market, we turned ourselves around and headed back to our hotel. Around 2:30 or so, we decided to grab a bite to eat in our hotel dining room. There we met up with Andrea and her mom who were also going to be getting their little girl. We all ordered hamburgers and fries, a familiar taste from home. It was nice catching up with Andrea, a woman I had met through our FaceBook adoption support group. She had also been waiting over 6 years to be matched up, and she was traveling with her mom Joyce, a very sweet and excited grandma to be. As we savored our last bites and shared our excitement of meeting our girls in a matter of hours, "daddy to be" got up to take a peak through the glass window to check out the activity of the entrance to the hotel. I will never forget how we all quickly jumped out of our seats as he screamed "I think I see Madi downstairs!" She was wearing a yellow snowsuit which appeared to be over a few other layers of clothes & was holding the orphanage director's hand. Although she seemed a lot smaller in person than she appeared in the photos we had seen of her, we were certain it was her, with her cute little chubby cheeks. We quickly grabbed our video camera & started filming and then continued to the elevator to rush upstairs to our room. We had already been told that as soon as the babies would arrive, we would be getting a call in our room to let us know when they were heading up....or that was the initial plan. But as we waited anxiously in our rooms, and we no longer could contain ourselves, we received our call from our guide Mary and she asked us if we were ready for them to come up or if we wanted to come downstairs to meet her in the lobby. Without hesitation we both decided to just rush downstairs as we didn't think we could stand the anticipation. As soon as our elevators to the lobby downstairs opened, we were quickly greeted by our guide Mary, and then appears.... the most sweetest little girl with the chubby cheeks, dressed in bundles of clothes under a bright yellow soft snowsuit. She had a little scab on her nose and appeared to be quite frightened. Without any sort of gentle introduction, the orphanage director took her little hand and led her over to us and abruptly said "mama" "baba" "mama" baba". She cried and cried as her new daddy scooped her up into his arms and gently whispered into her ears that everything would be ok. But she continued to cry a deep sorrowful cry. We had just learned minutes after we received our daughter, that she had been living with a foster mother, her husband, and older married son, and not at the orphanage as we had initially been told.  The cries were perhaps for her foster family & the only life she knew. But for as much as we felt her immense fear and confusion, we knew in our hearts that she would one day grow to love us as her forever parents. 

A year later, today, Madeline is a confident, trusting, loving two and a half year old. 
We are looking forward to a very special Thanksgiving Day this week, as we have so much to be thankful for. After dinner with close family, we are planning to watch our video footage of our Gotcha Day for the very first time, as well as our photos from our two week stay in China to relieve this miraculous event. 

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