disclaimer: this is a long post at the end of a long day... mild typos are probably my fault... crazy typos are the fault of the iPad's autocorrect feature, which can be a little nuts, and which I'm slowly getting used to... now on to the show...
Today was the day to which we've been looking forward since last June, when this whole process started, and especially since October, when we knew Henry would be the next in our family. We woke up and had breakfast as usual along with the rest of the families on our tour. Nobody was really sure if they were ready for what was about to come. The experienced families were pretty cool about it. The first-time adopters, you could just tell that they... that we knew something big, something irreversible, something cool was about to happen.
I should take a moment here and say that our group is a bit interesting because there are no "new parents" here, and most of the adopted children were boys. The majority of the group left 2 or 3 kids at home. Most of the adopted children are about 2 years old. Henry's the youngest at 18 months, and a family that went to another province are adopting an 8 year od girl. I've been slowly learning everyone's names, but truth be told, I'm best at knowing who's who by identifying their state. As in, "Kentucky's little girl is really cute."
Back to today's events. We took a bus down ZhengZhou's main street (traffic is horrible) to the Office of the Registry, or something like that. Inside a big room just inside a side door we waited as cars came from the various orphanages carrying the little ones. The first little girl to arrive was crying a lot as her care-taker handed her to her new mom. This family had adopted before from China, and their 10 year old daughter was with them. All of the parents had a hard time watching and listening, knowing it was soon to happen to all of our families, to one degree or another. Some kids had harder times than others. One boy handled his grieving by going into shut-down mode. Another was a big-time screamer.
When Henry arrived, he was handed to Jenn, and he cried a good bit, but not for too long. Turns out he's a snuggler. He sucked on his first two left fingers, rested his head on Jenn's shoulder, and took it all in. He was very good about my holding him shortly after his arrival. You never know from one child to the other. For instance, there is one little girl who is only calm when her dad is holding her... she's not yet ready for her mom to be holding her, and that's tough for both the mom and the rest of us watching on the outside.
Most of the kids were soon calmed with food of one variety or another, but the big hit was DumDums suckers. Parents on their way to China: pack some suckers! And parents on their way to China: familiarize yourself with the cameras belonging to the other families. You'll be taking their photos as their child arrives, and the favor will be returned.
After signing some paperwork, we left the Agency soon after the last child arrived. Traffic was nuts, it was hot, and there are no such things as car seats in China. Henry rubbed his eyes, and fell asleep for about five minutes on the bus, but then we pulled into the hotel driveway. He played with a couple of things on the bed for about a half-hour, and then it was time for lunch.
Henry showed that he's capable of fitting in with the Donati family and carrying Grandpap's name, as he put away pizza and gnocchi at the Italian restaurant in the hotel. He's probably never eaten so much in one sitting. It was at lunch where he started to open up with us. We've seen videos and photos of adopted kids that are stone faced initially and then after a while, a few or many hours, they start smiling and interacting in a very positive way. He started smiling here and there, and then when we got back to the room, and he wasn't showing any sign of being tired, we played with a few toys (specifically a Tupperware-style container, a syringe and a toothbrush) and he started pulling out the biggest smiles. I even found a few ticklish spots, and he's funny when he laughs.
Jenn and I are amazed at how well he uses his right hand. Clearly nobody has told him yet that he has a disability. He uses the finger on his right hand to feel, push, point, and he's a pro at using his wrist to hold and steady his toys while his left hand does with the toys what he wants to do.
We were told that he can walk, but that's not the case. We were also told that he naps from 1:00 to 2:30, but with the day as it was, Henry didn't start to show signs of being tired until about 2:45. One of had to be somewhere to fill out more paperwork at three, so Jenn went to do that, and I stayed with Henry and the Ergo to try to get him to nap, as he didn't want anything to do with the crib. He let out what proved to be his tired burst of crying, and fell asleep within five minutes, and he napped for almost 2 hours, even getting passed to Jenn midway so I could take care of my paperwork.
We went to Walmart... you read that correctly... at 5:00pm to get a few things that we needed, and it must have been like Vegas lights for Henry. Again, he handled things very well. Dinner tonight consisted of oatmeal, fruit, some Puffs, and his formula. He's not skinny, but he's not chubby... And his tummy is huge. One thing he didn't do well was his bath. He's a little hotbox, and after arriving in one of the outfits we sent him of fleece pants and a long sleeved shirt (it was in the 80's today), he was a sweaty and gamey mess. We were told he likes baths, so hopefully with familiarity he'll warm up to it.
Jenn has been awesome with Henry, and he's definitely taking a liking to his new mommy. So I gave him his final formula at what is supposed to be bedtime, he took it well, and then started crying and reaching for Jenn. I sang him a song, and layed him down mid-cry. As soon as his back hit the bottom of the crib, he stopped crying, he started sucking his fingers, and he remained quiet as I gathered my things to start writing this. He's probably used to there being some quiet activity in the room before he falls asleep, but this development completely surprised me. All in all, we couldn't be more pleased with the day. Henry was an absolute All-Star.
Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. More paperwork. We go back to the Agency building from 9 'til Noon, then we'll drive to his city... three hours there, 30 minutes of paperwork, then three hours back. If things are going well, we might be able to see his orphanage, but it's looking like that actually won't be the best thing, so we'll see.
We were told that Henry wakes up at 1:00am for a drink. Yikes. Not sure why an 18 month old needs to do this... probably because he's not been fed enough to date. Our plan is to fill him up during the day and hopefully get him to sleep all night. The potential consequence to this is either diarrhea or constipation, but with some consistency, hopefully we'll have him sleeping through the night and have him regular. Time will tell.
Now playing some catch-up:
Last night we went to dinner with some new friends, and we strolled into a restaurant with no English-speakers and no photos on the menu. It was clear that the waitresses, who all reminded us very much of Haley by their mannerisms and their ability to operate a cell phone, were jockeying to not have to wait on us as they knew by looking that we couldn't communicate much with them. Jenn knew ennough Mandarin to order some not-too-scary things, and we ended up with a spicy pork dish, an even spicier chicken dish... and I was successfully able to order some Coca-Colas for the four of us. I know... you're impressed. For the four of us, dinner amounted to $17, and even though wait staff are not tipped in China, I tipped our waitress 20RMB for putting up with us. We want to go back not only because the food was pretty good, but also to see the look on the waitress' face when we walk in. Even though it was a small tip by American standards, they'll probably push each other out of the way to wait on the tipping Westerners.
The hotel we're staying in now, the Crowne Plaza, has WiFi, just not in the rooms like our previous hotels have had. This means I have to go to the lobby to get online. A minor inconvenience. Also, parents on their way to China: download and register for a VPN if you want to get on Facebook (web or App), use Blogger, Wordpress or Twitter. You can find these in the App Store or by a Google search, and most of them have free trials for you to use. Even if you get into a situation where you need to pay for VPN service, the cost is very reasonable (<$30).
To close this post, I want to thank all of you who have been praying for us. We appreciate your prayers, and it was evident that God's hand was on Henry today. There have been stressful times so far, and there will be more as the days unfold, so we ask you to not stop praying for us.