Alice, our Gladney assistant, picked us up at the hotel Monday morning to take us to Shanghai's Children's Welfare Institute to meet Mia. When we arrived, Mia was arriving too with two women from her orphanage. We knew immediately it was her so we started crying and waving. Mia recognized us, stared, but never changed expressions. The women rushed her inside before we could talk!
We were taken into a room where two other families had just been united with their toddlers. We filled out paperwork at a table in the back while watching and listening to these families ohhh and ahhh over their toddlers. I was so nervous I was signing my name wrong, writing the wrong birthday.... and Alice was so sweet. She had to point to every space to show us where to sign and date. Then, the director of the welfare institute went to get Mia. Alice turned on the video camera.
When she walked in we were waiting just inside the door. She was so sad and very lifeless. Sad eyes, sad face, sad posture. I'm certain she wished she was with her foster family. She had been put back into the orphange two weeks prior to today, so I'm certain she was missing them. I am so thankful for Gladney's preparing us for this moment. I had thought through it many times as I read "The Connected Child." Gary and I both dropped to our knees to be at her eye level, smiled, and begin talking, asking the interpreter to tell her how happy we were to finally meet her. That we had waited so long. That she had brothers and sisters that were waiting for back in America. The interpreter talked to her for a long time and convinced her to give us a hug. I felt sorry for her. It was forced and she didn't want to do it. I wouldn't either, if I were her.
We moved over the couch and I asked the interpreter to explain to her that we understood she was sad and that it was okay. That we knew she would miss her foster family and that we would try to make her comfortable, safe, and happy. She had our photo album with her, but I brought ours, too (the same one from Shutterfly). We looked together through the pictures and just talked about all of the fun we have as a family. Her entire body begin to loosen and relax the longer we talked. I asked if she was ok with us hugging and touching her. She said yes, so we began touching her and smiling. When we finished looking at the book, she showed us pictures of her foster family. Then we gave her gifts. By the time we left, she was smiling. God had prepared her heart, just like we asked. We left with the things she brought with her from the orphanage...a few clothes and shoes, a picture book the orphanage made for her, a traditional Chinese ink stamp of her name in Chinese symbols, and a bag of snacks. That's it. That's all she owns.
We took some pictures then went straight to the grocery store. Our biggest fear was that she wouldn't eat. Alice translated the entire time. We told he to pick some food she likes and a few toys. She began grabbing things and throwing them in the cart. It was hilarious. Alice asked her to make decisions and change out one thing for another. Several times she tried to hold Alice's hand and Alice told her "Mama and Papa's hands." She held our hands throughout the store. We were on a hunt for "strawberry cakes" that she wanted for lunch. (And we were going to let her have whatever she wanted for lunch!) Gary finally found a box similar to Hostess cakes and she snatched them fast and immediately put something else from the cart back on the shelf. He was now her hero. She is very independent. She wanted to weigh the fruits, put everything in the basket, and she ran down aisles where she saw something she recognized. She had clearly shopped with her foster family before.
We spent the rest of the evening in the hotel room playing with toys we brought her. After a few hours I fell asleep...I had a bad headache from all of the crying and emotion! When I woke up I couldn't believe all of the drawing, coloring, and playing Gary and Mia had done together. She was laughing and smiling and clearly loving all of the attention. For the rest of the day and even the next day, she preferred Gary over me. As we would walk on the streets or in buildings and as we would get on elevators, she wouldn't go two steps without Gary's hand. So sweet. Once she almost pushed me out of the way to make sure she got on the elevator with Gary. Once again I thought about "The Connected Child" book that helped us prepare for this. Playing with older children is the best way to bond because it helps them feel safe. I had clearly missed some bonding time while I napped!
That evening we went walking, trying to find The People's Square. ALice had told us there were many American restaurants and great shopping. We walked for 30 minutes and never found it, so we ended up eating in a little Chinese fast food place. Gary calls it "The Chinese E-Z Mart." Thanks goodness it had a picture of all of the food choices, so Mia could point to what she wanted. She has a HUGE appetite.
That night we Skyped with the kids and introduced them to their new sister. So sweet. Mia waved big and was quite intriqued with the whole Skype thing. Since she is used to a two hour nap, she went to sleep quite easily that night. Peaceful and happy....just like we had prayed. Nothing feels better than being in the middle of God's will. And Skype is helping so much with the process. I love seeing the kids back home. I hope it helps them as much as it helps us. We miss them so much!