Family Day!
“Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King of Glory!
This is amazing grace

This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave”

~ Phil Wickham, “This is Amazing Grace”

Before we met Chad, we ate at Salvadore’s, where we had eaten the day after Chaela’s gotcha last year. Back then, it was a very sad meal, but it was great today!

We had so hoped that today would be less difficult and awkward than meeting Chalea for the first time because of the different circumstances now…but it really wasn’t. We spent the whole morning in preparation for the afternoon- wrapping gifts for Chad’s birthday party, preparing gifts for the directors, nanny and notary, curling and re-curling my hair to withstand the humidity, and trying to not be a bundle of nerves as we waited for 3:00 to come. As we were driving to the civil affairs office, we noticed a boy crossing the street with an umbrella and a big group of people, and he looked a whole lot like Li Xiao Qiang…and then we realized it was him! We got a sneak peek, and we actually ended up at the civil affairs office before he did. We had a good five minutes to prepare for his arrival in the crowded office, with Gwennie crying and two other families from different agencies who had already met their children. One little boy about Garrick’s age was screaming in terror as the nanny tried to hand him to his new parents, and it was just a sad scene that only escalated Gwennie’s screams, and it was complete chaos. A little girl about Caitlin’s age (8) looked shell-shocked as she posed for pictures with her new family, and my heart went out to all of them as I also anticipated what I knew would be a difficult time for us, too, any moment.

Chaela meets Bo Pin as she comes through the door.

 

The director walked in first and immediately went to Chaela with open arms. They were so happy to be reunited! Chaela was completely in her element and it was so thrilling to see this happy little girl who has blossomed and grown after being in that same room with her only a year ago in a completely depressed and melancholy state. A minute later, Chaela said she saw Chad, and I went around the corner to greet him, but he had gone into the hall leading to the bathroom to hide…who can blame him? I met him at the corner and put my arm on his shoulder and said the only thing I can remember to say well in Chinese “May Gwan She” (it’s okay) His eyes were red and he looked terrified and backed away from me as far as he could, but eventually he came out into the room and sat on the couch by the director’s daughter, who also came with her husband and baby boy. I told Chaela to go give him a hug and she balked and said, “Mom!”, all embarrassed. I was not expecting her to clam up with Chad, too. At first the two of them wouldn’t even talk to each other and we all just kind of sat around and watched as Chaela reconnected with the orphanage director and her family. It was incredibly awkward. We tried to snap a few pictures, but as Chaela’s gotcha day, it was not happy, and he did not want to come near us. Gwennie screamed almost the entire time we were in the office, which felt like hours, but was probably only about 30 minutes. We tried to break the ice by showing him Jon Jing’s family book, who is his best friend still at the orphanage waiting for his family to come in the fall. I was kneeling down to interact with the one year old grandson of the director when Chaela said excitedly, “Mom! He has a phone!!” I thought she meant the baby, that he had a toy phone or something. What I was not prepared for was to hear that Li Xiao Qiang was given a cell phone. This was not an obstacle we were expecting. Chaela did not come with one, and we have heard horror stories of older adopted children getting them from the orphanage, and it presents a huge obstacle to bonding and attachment with the family.

Chad stuck as close to the wall as possible initially.

 

While Chaela and Bo Pin were happy, Chad was dealing with grief.

 

We had a few moments of ‘question and answer time’ with the director through our guide who interpreted, and we found out that Chad does have some physical limitations when it comes to sports and running, which we expected. He walked on two club feet until his surgery at the age of 8, and his feet get sore if he does too much fast running or jumping. I noticed throughout the day that stairs seem to be a slight challenge and a little awkward for him to navigate. We won’t be playing the elevator jumping game this adoption trip, and we might be re-thinking purchasing another trampoline when we move. When it was time to leave, Chad lagged behind and I waited for him. He went back in to grab his umbrella, and when he came out, he asked the director, to ask us, through the interpreter, if we had “We Chat”- the Chinese version of Messenger. We don’t. Honestly, as much as keeping a connection to Bo Pin and their past lives is a blessing, it can also be a curse. Holding on too tightly to the past prevents taking hold of their new lives in the future, and they can be caught between both worlds, never fully integrating in to the present. We want him to know that he can keep a connection, but on our terms, like Chaela does, about every few months through Facetime. We don’t want this to be an ongoing, daily thing where he is chatting with people from China. He is already doing a lot of hiding on his phone and escaping awkward moments through use of this device instead of interacting with us.

New siblings!

As soon as we got into the van to drive away and he waved goodbye to Bo Pin, he broke down in tears, staring out the window at them as we drove away. It was so heartbreaking. He is so incredibly brave, saying goodbye to everything he’s ever known to go with complete strangers. Chaela sat in front of him in the van, and I sat next to him with the baby. She kept turning around, and told him in Chinese, “don’t worry, it will get better”, which did help. She told him that she felt the same way when she met us. I handed him a Kleenex to which he said, “Thank you” in English, and then he began interacting with the baby. She smiled at him and slapped his hands and he played with her for the rest of the drive. He seems to really like babies and it was also a very welcome diversion for the difficult moments in the car.

Gwen is a hit with Chad, Bo Pin, pretty much all of China.

We came back to the hotel to put our stuff down and head to the Wal Mart to get some junky snacks and necessities, and it didn’t take long for Chaela and Chad to pick up where they left off. They became very chatty, and she has been a great go-between for us in communicating with him. I can see, however, that this will likely prevent him from having to learn the language as quickly, and it also pairs them off to detach from the family if we aren’t proactive to prevent that. By dinner, Corin looked about in tears and he said, “I feel like I’ve lost Chaela”. He and Chaela have been great buddies- she has a tomboy side to her and she and Corin will often go off at home to play Legos or throw the baseball around. They’ve been buddies on this trip, too, and now he’s feeling quite left out. Dinner time was an awkward mix of him retreating to his phone, he and Chaela having conversations and laughing about things we didn’t understand, and Corin, me and Joey looking at each other and trying not to have too much of a separate conversation at the same time. He also said something to Chaela and when she went to tell me, he said “No, no no!”…he didn’t want her to tell me. Another issue we’ll have to approach on another day. They have their own code language they can communicate in, which comes with blessings and challenges. We went to pray at dinnertime, and he looked around, completely confused, and laughed. He had no idea what we were doing, but he thought it was pretty hilarious. He’s probably never said a prayer in his life. The few times he’s come out of his shell a bit with us was over a game of Jenga (again, bonding over fun and games is the very best way- fun and laughter is universal!), a game of Uno, and opening his birthday presents at his party. We had a cake and sang happy birthday and this boy has a killer smile. He’s gonna be a heart breaker someday! He’s incredibly handsome and such a gentleman. He holds the door for us all, wants to walk behind me, not in front of me despite my efforts to stay in the back, he pays attention to all that’s going on around him to make sure others are being taken care of. He brought some fruit with him and wanted us all to eat some with him. He is so sweet and thoughtful, just like Chaela.

Some of the birthday presents prompted a smile…

 

…particularly the stuffed moose!

Now, this may all change tomorrow because we already told our guide that the phone has got to go. He’s going to be very upset because it’s brand new, he has two cases for it, he’s obviously so excited about it…but we just don’t do electronics and cell phones for kids in our family. We really hate to be the bad guys, but we need to nip this in the bud because it is hindering our efforts to bond with him in-country. This time is so critical to forming a relationship and setting the tone for interactions with each other. It’s not a fun situation we are put in with this- I am just hoping the subject is broached tomorrow by the director and guide AFTER he signs his life away to us on the adoption papers. We’re going to be the mean parents right off the bat, and it’s not what we want!
As I am writing this Chaela came and told me, laughing, that Chad is washing his clothes in the bathroom sink. He has very little belongings, and he is so polite, he doesn’t really want to take things from us or ask for anything, so I guess he thinks he has to wash his own clothes and wear the same things over and over. He’s incredibly clean and organized- he made sure to stack all his birthday presents in a perfect little pile, wanted to be sure he didn’t rip the gift wrap (I don’t think he’s ever opened a present, from watching him) and then wanted to clean up the table before we were done. Of course, he’s on his best behavior right now, and we know that, but this boy seems pure gold- how we’ve been so blessed to be the parents of these four precious children from China, I will never take for granted. Today we give all glory to God, that He has placed this boy in our family, and there is one less orphan in the world.

He has a family, and we have a son!

Isaiah 1: 11-19

11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.