We got safely into Beijing Saturday night China time, spent the night and then took a bullet train to Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province where Noah is from. We have to adopt him here, and so we met him here. There was a delay because someone in the civil service office was out of town, so we had to wait an extra day here. That was hard, but we have been told it likely won’t affect our paperwork (which is very important as our entire schedule, plane tickets, etc. are all already set and paid for based on the first schedule), but we figure God’s got the timing. In the end it was probably good, because the extra day really helped all of us adjust our body clocks and that was important because we needed it tonight!
How do I say how it went? God was so good to us and all the prayers for Noah’s fear and feeling of safety seem to have been answered! He looked sort of shell-shocked when he got to our room, and really looked like he wasn’t even sure what was happening, but he wasn’t scared. He didn’t want much to do with us at the beginning. He said I didn’t look quite like my picture and that Nathan was very tall. He stayed very close to John, our translator, at the beginning and was trying not to cry a few times, but overall he was amazingly calm and brave. He seemed to warm up fairly quickly and was very interested in the letters we brought from our Chinese friends Fanny, Cindy, and FeiXiang and seemed very happy to know that there were people in his new hometown who could talk to him right away. He wanted to hear about his school and the hospital and was nervous about surgery. He also told us he is very excited about our dogs and that he would have siblings because “it would never be boring alone stuff” at our house.
Then we showed him one of the small Lego sets we brought for him, and he immediately said he wanted to put it together with ge ge (his older brother) and then seemed really happy that the girls wanted to do it too. The four of them put it together on the bed next to us while we did paperwork. The adoption worker with him was very nervous for him, and wanted to make sure that we understood not to tax his heart, and for sure, we’ve already seen that if he walks too fast or climbs stairs his lips turn blue. This is a problem because he’s also clearly a boy and has places to go! When we are walking with him, he wants to get there! Our cardiologist in the States has told us that we can’t hurt him – his body will simply stop and rest if he’s overtaxed himself and it won’t harm his heart – but it still makes his caretakers here nervous. It makes us nervous too, and we’re taking it slow and happy we brought a stroller for him.
We had to walk to a photographer and have official pictures taken for his adoption paperwork tomorrow. Then we were done, and everyone left. We showed him how to play Uno, and he seemed a little concerned that he didn’t understand but was almost immediately teasing everyone, and saying, “Yea!” every time someone played a Draw 2 or Draw 4 on someone else. He wanted to play a number of times and seemed to really like it. We went to dinner and that went well, stopped at the supermarket to buy water and he was willing to hold my hand when we crossed the street.
Back at the hotel we played one more game of Uno and watched a little bit of Robin Hood and then everyone took showers. Rachel showed him how to play Temple Run on her kindle and now the whole family knows how to say “jump!” and “duck!” in Mandarin. We told him it was time to take a shower and brush his teeth and he did great and didn’t even seem to think it was too weird. We put him to bed next to Toby and they both went right to sleep.
I don’t think it’s possible that it could have gone any better. I know we are in what adoption people call “the honeymoon phase” and I know at some point he will start grieving. His foster family wrote us a heartbreaking letter and told us what a blessing he’d been to them for 7 years – I can’t even imagine. They were very good to him, and the only family he’s known and he just left them this morning. He was clearly trying to be good and fit in with us and even be a little silly.
We think the the biggest problem is going to be communication. He’d obviously smart and wants to talk and tell us lots of stuff, and we’re all frustrated that he can’t and that we can’t. But he was already saying a few numbers and colors when we were playing Uno and a few phrases he’d obviously learned in English class like “Go to school!” whenever we’d say “Let’s go.”
I don’t really know what I’m feeling tonight. I wish we could talk to him, but I’m so thankful that he at least doesn’t seem scared of us at all. Scared of the US, sure. Scared about surgery, definitely. But not scared of us, and that is a tremendous answer to prayer.
I will blog more later about China when there’s time and space for it and it’s easier to get pictures up. Some very interesting experiences for us, especially as in this city of 8 million people, Caucasians are rare enough that everyone was stopping, staring, sometimes following us, taking pictures and video of us, and even asking if they could pose for pictures with our family. It was pretty uncomfortable but also kind of funny, especially the woman who tracked us from the adjoining aisle through the entire grocery store staring without ceasing over the shelves as if covering up the lower two thirds of her made her invisible to us. The octopus on a stick. The smog that makes your eyes water as soon as you step outside and means many people routinely wear masks. The incredible beauty and contrast we’ve already seen between the ultra modern and the ancient butting right up against each other. We’ve only been here a few days, and it’s already been an amazing experience. But right now, I’m about done emotionally, and so we’ll go to bed and adopt Noah tomorrow and see what the day brings.
Please keep praying for us! This is going to be a big transition, but we’re all happy to have a new di di (little brother) in the family!