Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Forever Family Day!

It's our first anniversary of our Gotcha Day today!  That was such a whirlwind day...

... from waking up in our hotel in Nanchang and nervously waiting in the room all morning for fear of missing that knock on the door that meant that the babies were here.

The first moment I saw Anna Kathryn and our guide Sally said to me, which baby is yours?  Um, the pressure!  They had two Bo babies, and I knew which one was AK immediately, but was still afraid of picking the wrong baby!  Then, the sweetest moment:  the handover...

Mark delighting in his newest, long-awaited daughter.

The first chance to really look at her, hold her, begin to know her instead of just the idea of her.

 Mark and I got some more time to play with Anna Kathryn while we waited at the various government offices to complete the adoption and do her paperwork for her passport.

After a bottle for AK, lunch and a nap, we were whisked off for all the official paperwork.  Anna Kathryn seemed a bit curious about us, but not overly upset at suddenly being placed in the arms of total strangers.  She had traveled for nearly 4 hours and it had been a big day for her already:  her first trip out of the orphanage, new parents and an afternoon of errands, basically. She was most interested in the toys we showed her and her surroundings.  She loves to investigate and examine everything and that day was no exception!

Now I can look back and see that the look in her eyes was very detached.  She did not melt down or shut down as many babies do when introduced to their new families, but understandably was trying to make sense of this huge transition and change from the familiar to the completely unknown.  She came to us with only the clothes she was wearing.  I can't even imagine what was going through her head, although from the first she seemed to recognize that we belonged to her and she to us.    

On that day, we saw the plans we had made, and the plans the Lord had for us, come together in the most beautiful way.  Just as we come before God and are adopted by him to be his child, though we have nothing to give him but our love and trust-- it was the same for us with Anna Kathryn.  She was just herself.  And she was now our child.  While I loved her from the first day she was a hope in my heart, that was nothing compared to that moment she was placed in my arms.  And it's just grown each day of the last year.  

No surprise here-- Mark coaxed the first smile from our stoic little baby!

Unlike most families, our "harmonious period" was just a few hours instead of the usual 24 hours.  This is supposed to give the adoptive family a brief time in which to get to know your child a bit and note if there are any unexpected issues.  However, due to the holiday (we traveled during the Mid-Autumn Festival) we got AK a day later than planned, so the whole process was compressed into a few hours.  She arrived in our hotel room just after 11 am and we were done around 4 PM with all the paperwork. 

 I was so excited and emotions ran so high I remember few details of the afternoon, but we truly had no concerns and answered "yes" confidently when asked by the notary if we found our child to be "satisfactory".  The two things I remember distinctly is the feel of her gums as she chewed on my finger as we careened through the crazy Nanchang traffic in the van, and the elation and relief when Sally told us that the adoption was final and we were officially a family!

We didn't attempt a bath the first night but we did change her out of the sleeper she had worn all day and put her into clean jammies.  Before that we played a bit on the bed.  She seemed to love the freedom of no clothes-- and all the attention!  She was relaxed and reasonably content, and fell asleep in my arms soon after we took this picture. 

What a day!  Scary, exhilarating, hectic, joyful.  If you want to read more about it, my post from our travel journal is here.  

Today we had a fairly regular day.  I had a ridiculously crazy day at work, Mark had to work late, and AK and I met Allison for our weekly mochas and shopping at Target.  I spent several moment throughout the day remembering last Sept. 16 and wiping away a tear here and there. Every day I am so thankful and grateful for the gift and blessing of being Anna Kathryn's mommy.  

We plan to celebrate as a family tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning is our one-year post-placement visit and we took the day off, so we have a family outing and then dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant planned for the afternoon.  We bought gifts for future Gotcha Days in China, but AK is too young for them just yet, so this year she is getting the DVD "Big Bird in China" and the book "Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats.

And here is our Snickerdoodle, one year later:

Happy forever family day to all of our travel buddies today!  What an amazing year of blessings we have had!!


Kristi said...

She's changed so much in that year! You know the fun part, you'll never get tired of looking back on that day...Happy Forever Family Day to you!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Happy forever family day! What you said about looking back at the photos and now recognizing the emotions your child felt that day... I SO know what you mean. I feel the same when watching video and looking at photos of our Tongginator. And second, in the picture you posted, I can't believe how MUCH AK looks like the Bo girls we know when they were that age. *grin*

E said...

What a happy, content little one she is! Love the photo of her rolling around on the bed sans clothes. Glad that the 1 year anniversary was so special.


Karen said...

What a beautiful story. I got a little teary-eyed reading it, to be honest, and a lot grateful that all of you are a part of my family, too.