• Celebrating Gotcha Day

    Date: 2013.03.12 | Category: Adoption, Benjamin, Maisey | Tags:

    It doesn’t seem possible that it has been a year since we waited anxiously in the Registration Office for them to show up with our son and daughter.  We had traveled with 12 other families and most of us were in one large room waiting for our little ones to arrive.  Would I recognize Ben and Maisey when they walked in the door?  I had looked at their pictures over and over for a year, but would I know them once they came through that door?  One by one, children were brought in by the directors of the orphanage or the nanny who cared for them.  Most parents cried.  Some children cried, but most of the children were unusually quiet.  It was such a moving experience.  To this day, watching a video of anyone’s gotcha day brings me to tears.  It is such an unbelievable moment.

    Suddenly Maisey was there.  She was bundled in 3 snowsuits and looked so quiet and sad.  The director was gruff.  Hardly said a word to us, threw her in our arms, and was gone.  They didn’t return any of the things we had sent to her.  They didn’t take the pictures with the disposable camera that we had sent.  There was a photo album from the time she had spent in New Hope and we were thankful for her time there, but it was obvious she was not loved while she was in the orphanage at least not by the people who came to drop her off.

    We waited and waited for Ben.  His orphanage was 90 minutes away and it seemed like everyone else already had their child.  Dan impatiently paced back and forth searching every car that pulled up for his little boy.  All of a sudden Ben was there.  Dan stood there, looked back at me with tears in his eyes and went to get his boy.  What a moment.  I still get teary eyed thinking about how sad Ben looked and how in love my husband looked.  Not a whimper from Ben.  No words.  No fear.  He just grabbed on to Dan and would not let go.  Dan had been praying all year that God would allow them to dream about us and let them know that we were coming.  It seemed as if Dan got his wish.  Neither of the children were afraid. They wouldn’t get down and play.  They just held on to us for dear life.

    We took them back to the hotel and let them eat what they wanted.  It took some time for them to stop eating.  They were amazed at our drawer full of food.  They ate for a couple hours straight. I was afraid they would get ill from eating so much. I have no clue where they were putting all of it.  Ben held on to food and wanted to sleep with his bowl, spoon, and whatever he had been eating.  If you moved his food, he would have such a panic attack.  Yet, he showed signs of that sweet little soul by sharing his food with Maisey (who he’d never met until that day in the Registration Office).

    I remember undressing them for the first time.  The last pictures we had of Maisey had her looking like any other chubby baby.  We were unaware at the time, but it is customary for children to go back to the orphanage while they are waiting for their family to come.  Our last report said she weighed 23 pounds while at New Hope, we took off those three snow suits to find a 16 pound two year old.  Ben was even worse, at 3 1/2 he weighed in at 23 pounds.  Dan and I both cried tears, heartbreaking tears.  It’s hard to look at your children knowing just how much they were doing without – both food and love.  It’s hard to not be angry knowing that it was the endless paperwork that kept them from you for so long.  We later learned Maisey weighed 6 pounds at 6 months.  How could your heart not ache for all that they had been through?

    As time went on, Ben’s attachment for Dan grew and grew.  They were inseparable.  We still hadn’t heard Ben speak Chinese or even utter a sound.  The end of day 2 had him telling Dan that he loved him and speaking English words like crazy.  It wasn’t what we expected.  The child we were told was deaf, babbled like crazy from the very beginning and the 3 1/2 year old wouldn’t say a word for the better part of the first 2 days.  But soon he was laughing and coming out of his shell – as long as we were in the room.  As soon as we left the room to get on the bus or take a taxi, Ben’s fretful little face would come back.  I wished I had the words to comfort him and say he was ours forever.  To let him know that he was truly our son and just what that meant, but how do you explain family to a child who was abandoned at 9 months and spent almost 3 years in an orphanage?

    There were adjustments while we were in China.  You travel and you are 12 hours behind and naturally tired.  Your children come to you with whatever issues they bring with them from the orphanage as Maisey showed from her bald spot on the back of her head.  No matter how well they are cared for, it is still an institution, and institutions are dehumanizing.  One of the saddest moments in China was Maisey waking up on the bed, and sitting up with her back to Dan.  She sat there and just cried silent, shoulder shaking, tears.  Dan still can’t talk about this without getting upset.  What he saw was an orphan looking utterly and totally alone, crying out to God.  As soon as she saw Dan, she laid her head on him and snuggled.  He held her close and rubbed her back and kissed her little head.  It was the moment I think she understood she wouldn’t be alone, that Daddy would be there to comfort and protect her.  Every little girl needs a daddy and she finally had hers.  She never cried those dejected, heart wrenching tears again.

    This past year has had many doctor’s appointments.  We’ve had wonderful news in the fact that Maisey is not completely deaf.  Her speech and her signing has taken off.  She is full of information that she loves to share.  She even said the prayer last night.  I only caught “Dear Heavenly Father….more words, more words, more words….in Jesus name Amen!”  But she understood.  She counts to 6.  She tries to read everything.  She is blossoming in so many ways.  Her life has been forever changed.

    Benjamin’s diagnosis was more complicated than we thought.  We are still hoping to do surgery to improve his quality of life.  His heart is not fixable at this point but we are hoping to bring his oxygen saturations up.  We found out that Ben has ITP and have been watching his platelets for a year.  His platelets run anywhere from 18,000 to 40,000.  He bruises at the drop of a hat and ends up with marks for something as simple as scratching himself.  It has made things more complicated with surgery and it means we have to watch him extra close, but he is doing well.  He spells his name.  He counts to 11.  He loves Mickey, Spiderman, Jake the pirate, and Thomas the Train.  We have had the privilege of loving this little boy for a year now.  I remember being afraid that he wouldn’t life long enough for me to get to hold him at all and I’ve had 365 wonderful, blessed days.

    I’ve spent today, with tears in my eyes, remembering where we were on day one and just how far we’ve come.  As Dan said the other day, listening to those two just enjoy every moment of their lives has been so worth it.  There have been tears and frustrations, but 80% of the time is filled with joy.  People ask why we are adopting again.  It’s so hard to explain, it is different than it was with our biological kids. When you take a child out of an orphanage, you understand that it isn’t about being able to do everything.  It isn’t about being able to give them everything.  It’s about taking a life and showing them what the love of family means.  It is about showing them about God and His love for them.  It’s about taking a life that had an uncertain, frightening future and giving them hope.  It’s knowing you can do more and love more than you even believed possible.  It’s been an utterly unbelievable year and I feel blessed to be able to set off on that journey again in another month.  I have been blessed in ways I can’t even explain.  I wish I could give you a picture of what it means to rescue a child.  To really give you a picture of what that joy means.  To take a life with very little if any education, no God, no future, no hope, and instead guaranteeing them a life of love from a family that adores them and presenting them with glimpse of an eternity of love with God.  Gifts that have no measure, truly priceless, and I got to be a part of it.  I am one seriously blessed mama.