Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Older Child Chronicles: Part 3

What can happen at and after Gotcha

I had read many, many stories of other adoptions before traveling.  Just when I thought I'd read enough, I'd read more.
I knew the children being adopted would most likely be shut down when you first meet them.
I knew that nearly all children cry, some even hitting, kicking and screaming.
I knew all of that.  I even understood it; the child really has very limited understanding of what is happening and they are frightened and may even be (in their eyes) fighting for their life.

I expected it.

And then it happened.
When we first met Claire she was smiley, said 'hi" to me after I said "ni hao" to her and let me hug her.  She gleefully went through the backpack we brought and quickly finished a package of teddy grahams I'd stashed in there.  When her last teddy graham was gone we watched as she quickly realized what was happening.  We were forced to sign paperwork while she watched and then she broke out in full hysterics.  She cried, and cried, and cried while saying in Mandarin "I want my grandmother, I want China, I don't want to leave China."  I don't know anything that the orphanage worker or our guide told her as it was all in Mandarin.  After about 10 minutes of her heartbreaking cry it was time for us to leave.  The orphanage worker walked us out of the orphanage and Daddy carried Claire to the van, while she was crying, pleading and begging to stay.  We were put in the van, Claire sitting on her new Daddy's lap and we left.  She was crying, I was crying and our guide was repeatedly trying to reassure her.

It felt like we had just kidnapped her, and by all accounts, I'm sure that is what it appeared like as well.  Two Americans in the back of a van with a Chinese child being held while she screamed; not exactly what I had pictured in my head of the day we met her.

Once she stopped crying hysterically she rejected anything our guide would say.  Our guide would try to redirect her attention to the baby doll we brought, she grunted and pushed it away from her.  Our guide would say something about her new Mommy and Daddy and she would yell out a very hostile "bu shi" (NO).

Even though I knew this could happen and actually expected it to happen, it still caught me off guard.  I was surprised by the way it made me feel.

I felt so wrong, like we were not doing the right thing, like we just kidnapped a child.  I questioned everything.
I questioned our motives.  Were we being selfish and doing what we wanted and not what was really best for her?
Was she better off staying here in China with her foster family?
I felt completely helpless.

I didn't know what I was supposed to feel; immense joy that we were just given our daughter we'd dreamed of or extreme guilt and hurt that we were breaking this little girl's heart?  I didn't really know how to process what I was feeling; I wasn't really able to think beyond that exact moment and what Claire must be feeling.  I couldn't see past that moment and it was almost like I had blinders on and the future was literally one minute at a time.  I focused on the time in the van and didn't think much about getting back to the hotel; I simply couldn't think that far ahead.  The only thing other than Claire that my mind thought of is that we needed prayer.  I prayed the whole time we were in the van and used the rented cell phone to call my mom back in the states to tell her to start praying for us.  Honestly, I have no idea what time it was in the states and I didn't even think of that at the time; I just knew we needed as many prayers as we could get.

We stopped at a Kodak store on the way back to the hotel to have our photo taken for our adoption registration.  Our guide and the worker at the Kodak store dried Claire's tears and tried to make her look somewhat happy in the photo.  That didn't work, she has one mad scowl on her face in our registration photo.

We got back to our hotel and had about an hour and a half to get some lunch and hopefully get Claire to calm down.  She was very quiet at first.  I can't begin to imagine what she must have been thinking.  Two people that look nothing like her nor speak her language picked her up, took her picture and brought her to a place unknown to her.  Looking back now, I'm surprised she didn't fight longer.

We fed her a big plate of egg fried rice, her favorite, and opened up the suitcase full of toys.  By the time we left for our appointment with the government official she had warmed up and showed our guide the toys she brought to play with.  The second time we arrived back at our hotel she went with us willingly and the rest is history.

God is good.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Letting the guard down

After reading many stories from other parents who adopted older children I expected Claire to resist affection from us and also not want to share affection with us either.  I was surprised when she kissed Daddy on the cheek the first day and didn't physically resist a hug.  In fact, she never resisted hugs or kisses so I was a bit surprised after reading that most older children do resist it.  I mean, I can understand not wanting someone you just met to hug you.

I never really thought much about it except for the fleeting thought of that it was one challenge we didn't have to work through.  That is until about a week or so ago.  Even though Claire didn't resist affection from us and would show us affection as well I noticed a shift in her; almost like a guard came down and we worked our ways into her heart a little more.

She hugs back now.  I mean really grabs on and hugs back instead of having her arms around us but we're really doing the hugging.  She seeks me out to give me a kiss.  When it's time for the kids to catch the bus they wait in our front yard until the bus starts coming down the street and then they hurry to to the bus stop.  Every day this week she has run back up to the front porch towards me.  The first day I said "what's wrong honey, did you forget something?" and she smiled and said "no, I give you kiss."  She had big puckered lips and laid a big fat kiss on my cheek and then ran off saying "bye bye Mommy, I love you."  It just made my heart melt.

She initiates the affection now and I can clearly see it is different than before; even though I didn't know before that anything was off.  It is so neat to see the guards come down and her heart fully open up to us.