Gotcha Day is very important, obviously, and one to be marked for all involved. But I love the importance of Adoption Day. It's forever. It's permanent. It's covenant. And boy was it BUSY!!!!
We started the day with some serious cuteness - our girl is a slow waker-upper and we were pleased that she woke fairly happily today. She was apparently ravenously hungry, because at breakfast she ate a whole soft egg, one of Daddy's steamed meat buns, yogurt, and watermelon. All while charming the waitstaff and practicing her "More Please" skills. She is a very good independent eater and we'll likely have a hard time keeping up with her for quite a while. As tiny as she is, I think she has some nutritional catching up to do!
We were delighted to discover in her sleepy moments
that she sucks her first two fingers for comfort.
After breakfast, the whirlwind began. We headed by van over to the Civil Affairs office for the final signatures and verifications of the paperwork that we started on Sunday. We were a bit early so we sat in the lobby and shivered - it is soooo cold and windy in Beijing so far. We apparently aren't dressing Mei Mei heavily enough as we have gotten chided twice now by the locals for letting a bit of her skin show. Apparently there's no wiggle room even when considering that when a baby is being carried, her little leggins will slide up her leg a bit!
It's official! She is ours forever in the eyes of
us, God, and now the Chinese government!
Anyway, once that paperwork was finished, we went back out to the van and were whisked off to the Office of the Notary. There, the paperwork was all examined and re-verified. Then copied and sealed by the local notary, who by the way was sweet and charming and totally surprised that we'd offer her a gift. We thought it was protocol but her surprise and sweetness was quite nice.
At the notary, Mei Mei melted down a bit. She was probably getting hungry and definitely antsy. She likes to "move it move it" (a reference to one of Li'l Empress's favorite movie songs!) and all the hurrying around to sit and wait is really hard on a little one. We took turns walking her and doling out snacks in tiny portions to pacify her.
From there, we sped off (and I literally mean sped off - Beijing traffic is NOT for the faint of heart!) on our way to begin passport processing at the local security bureau. But the director of the orphanage who needed to meet us there wasn't free to meet for another hour. So we stopped at a local mall (don't even try to picture it if you've never been to Asia - it's really nothing like our little local malls, I promise!) and had some good old-fashioned fast food.
At lunch there was a family with two little ones sitting near us. The little ones were so curious about each other and watched each other with big solemn eyes. I should clarify: their little ones watched Mei Mei. She was watching the french fries! heheheheheheh.
First bite of American french fries brought a big smile!
She couldn't stuff them in fast enough.
It was NOT popular that Momma limited her first exposure
to just one at a time!
Her first chicken nugget.
I'm so sorry, all my Chick-fil-A friends
(and you know who you are!)
but apparently the only red and white nugget boxes
available here in China do NOT sport the big CFA logo!
Finally, we headed to the passport office to get her photo done and her paperwork submitted. We were pleasantly surprised that Mei Mei recognized the director but really wanted no part of connecting with her. She offered to hold her at one point and Mei Mei refused to leave her Baba's arms. That's such a good sign. When we got there we were a little afraid of the pending wait, based upon our number in line and the crowds in the lobby already. But this director just marched us right through the process, headed right to the desk ahead of some other folks and they waved us through. It was really quite impressive and we were all drooping by then so we were grateful.
We got some insight today to Mei Mei's life in the orphanage, as we had more time to ask the director some questions about her temperament and her eating habits. She's refused bottles from us for the most part. Especially in the traditional "snuggle down and let's make this a bonding experience" kind of way. So we were asking about what kind of formula they used, when she would normally take it and what temperature (that's a big issue for a lot of Chinese babies). Well, the answer was so telling.
First she said if she's eating the other three meals of the day fairly normally, we shouldn't worry about a bottle. If she wants it, she'll take it. That's good common sense, of course, but with as tiny as she is and as sick as she has been, we're definitely looking for ways to boost her nutrition. Plus, with her special need, there's a learning curve for us as to what foods are going to work well and which won't. So the bottle is pretty important. We're not camping on it now and won't force the issue but it's important.
Second, she said that the children who are capable of doing so typically feed themselves. They get their plates, bowls, whatever. They eat what they can or what they feel like eating; and this leaves the workers free to care for the kids that cannot feed themselves for whatever reasons. She stressed that quantities are very controlled and choices are limited. Again, in that setting, fairly common practice. But for good bonding and relationship/trust building, we are definitely going to have to work on that. Spoon feeding her will be much more regular than she currently views as her norm and hopefully will go a long way to helping her trust us. The same will go for finger feeding herself - we'll have to manage it and dole it out pretty intentionally to communicate the larger message that we're serious about caring for her every need. She's already bucking us on this a bit, wanting to do EVERY!THING! herself but we're treading lightly and re-paving some patterns already.
She fell asleep in the van, after that exhausting whirlwind trip around Beijing and woke up as we walked in to the lobby. We let her play and snack a little here in the room but when the rubbing eyes and yawning started up less than an hour after our return, I scooped her up and started our bedtime routine. Boy, was she angry with me! Once we got over the hump of that, she finally fell asleep in my arms. Wherein, The Boss and I both crashed for a good 2 hour nap right alongside her crib. She's a good sleeper and we all woke this afternoon feeling more refreshed.
Dinner tonight is pretty low-key - and then we'll walk around the lobby to wear her out for what we hope will be a normal bed time hour. It's really hard to have any kind of routine that matches what she is used to and I'm certain that the bouts of grumpiness and sadness are partly due to all the changes that she's experiencing physically. It's a lot to take in mentally and emotionally - we saw that yesterday in her extreme reactions to the bus rides and the huge sensory overload she experienced. But helping her through the grieving by establishing some good routines for her even here in our "hotel home" is good for us all.
Thanks for all the kind words and prayers and well-wishes you have been lavishing upon us - we're grateful for the support and encouragement. And so grateful that our little girl is being covered in such sweet petitions!
This last picture is for all of you, but particularly
for big sister, Ladybug. She helped me pack for the trip
and loved the idea of putting this outfit on Mei Mei.
It's the same outfit that Li'l Empress wore
on her Adoption Day, four and a half years ago.
She's as sentimental as her momma!