a year ago today

Today marks one year since we became a family of seven.  It was a day full of beauty for us, but a bittersweet beauty. While we gained a daughter, we also recognized the great loss she faced on that day. It was a beautiful day and a broken day. A day I will forever treasure and a day I will continue to shed many tears over. I can’t put to words how one day can be so full of joy and so full of pain. Such great gain and such immense loss. To feel my daughter, finally in my arms, and to feel her brokeness and loss at the same time – it will always break me.

Because there is beauty in remembering and joy in hindsight….here is the post I wrote last year, on this day.

August 27, 2012 ~ Guangzhou, China

We had all morning to kill time. We weren’t meeting our guide until 2:00pm.

The boys worked on their travel journals. We skyped their brother and sister back at home. The first thing FireCracker wanted to know is if I had her sister.

Then we headed to a new market street. I needed to buy rice cereal. The boys wanted buy flowers for their new sister. I just wanted to keeping moving.

So many distractions should have helped, but I kept thinking about our daughter. Was she on her way to Guangzhou? Was she coming via a van or the public coach? How did her day begin? Was she scared of all the new sights? Was she excited by the change of scenery and new faces? Was she at peace? Was she okay?

The boys found a kitten to photograph…and got a lot of smiles and laughs from locals.

Our hotel is in a modern area full of lots of big nice hotels and shops. But, this is the part of China I enjoy the most. Little alleys full of life and people.

We found the rice cereal, a cold Sprite, flowers and some Oreos for the boys. Then headed back to the hotel, where I uploaded these photos as a distraction.

2 hours to kill.

National Geographic animal shows on the tv.

Dumplings for lunch for Chris. I couldn’t eat.

The hotel staff rolled in a crib.

Freaked out.

Boiled some water for Little One’s bottle (told she drinks them piping hot).

Clock moving slower than a turtle.

My heart racing faster than a rabbit.

Stomach in knots.

And then it was time to head to the lobby to meet Helen, our guide.

Deep breath. A hundred deep breaths.

And we left the hotel.

Got in a van.

Arrived at a government building and waited.

Then my oldest said, “I see her. She’s right there!” Sure enough she had just walked past us in her nanny’s arms and back into a little room. Not at all what I envisioned as the moment I would first behold my daughter. It happened so fast…there she was…and then she was gone.

And we waited.

Our name was called and they brought her out.

I was so worried about her. So scared for her. The minute her tears started so did mine. I was hurting for her….

And then she stopped. She held on tight to me and was content in my arms. The director and a nanny from her orphanage brought her. We had a chance to ask them some questions and were grateful for little tidbits they shared. We look forward to learning more when we visit her orphanage later this week. They shared with us some photos of her from that morning…doing what looked like gymnastics moves on the ground. The same moves her big sister likes to do.

I was so worried about feeding her. Trying to guess which Chinese formula and rice cereal to buy. How much of each to put in the bottle. How hot the water should be. How big of a hole to cut in the top of the nipple. Cleft bottle or regular bottle. And how to feed her in regards to her cleft. So worried.

Turns out we did okay together. I made a few mistakes, but next time will be better. She downed the bottle in record time – so hungry.

Once her little belly was full, we got to see some of her spunky personality. We’ve only seen one photo of her with a smile, so I’ve wondered is she could smile easily or if it would be a long road before we saw her smile and heard her giggle. Turns out daddy was able to evoke both really easily.

She is quite simply awesome.

We’ve learned she likes to make a clicking/sucking noise with her tongue and cleft palate. It is pretty loud and sounds a lot like the Chinese squeaky shoes. She seems to do it to soothe herself. She also likes to put her thumb in the cleft of her palate and suck. It is pretty cute.

She fell asleep in her daddy’s arms. Probably the first time she’s fallen asleep in someone’s arms.

Today I was prepared for the worst case scenario. It was so very different. So peaceful, even in the tears. So natural. It was so much like the first times I met her older brothers and sister. And yet it was so very different. Today was beautiful. Our hearts are full. We are beaming. I am overcome with gratitude that God has given us this beautiful gift in the form of a tiny daughter. She is completely awesome.

Today was beautiful.

August 27, 2013. One year later. My beautiful baby has grown into a vibrant, full of life little girl.

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