We left the room in a frantic rush because, you know, we can barely make it anywhere on time with two kids, never mind three. P and I were so so so super nervous. When I told this to our guide, Glenn, he said, "It's your THIRD time!" OK, so maybe this stuff gets to be old hat to some folks, but not us. Emmie chatted and chatted and chatted the entire ride over there. P and I just wanted silence in an attempt to calm down. The Civil Affairs office is only a couple of minutes from the hotel, so there wasn't a lot of time to get ourselves any more in the zone. It was more like the sweaty, shaky, I-might-puke zone than anything else.
We were the first family to arrive. We sat in the waiting area, and I asked Glenn if we would see Yiman arrive. He told us yes, and showed us where to stand to get pictures. Right about then, I started looking around frantically for Yiman's little Hello Kitty backpack full of goodies. It turns out, in our rush to leave the room we forgot the bag. This sent me into a tailspin. How were we going to meet our daughter who was DEFINITELY going to hate us and have NOTHING to give to her. I mean, were the four of us just going to sit there and look at her and hope we'd get by on our good looks and charm? I think not. So I sent P back to the hotel to get her little bag. Just as the van whisked him away, I realized that he had the camera strapped on to him, so if she came in while he was gone, we'd miss that first glimpse. I was a wreck waiting for him to return.
|Not-so-patiently waiting for their mei mei.|
Thank goodness, he got back in the nick of time. Not long after, Glenn said, "There she is!" P started clicking away with the camera and I started rolling the video. But as I looked through the viewfinder, I knew it wasn't her. I mean, people often look different in real life than in pictures, but this was *really* different. Like, a BOY different. I asked Glenn about 4 times if it was her and he confirmed that it was. They took her/him into a playroom where Glenn said they would change her, presumably into girl's clothing.
P looked at me and said I looked disappointed. Emmie and Rosie seemed a bit flummoxed, too. I started reviewing the video...she had boy clothing on, but this was totally possible. She had a whiffle, but this was possible, too. But it just wasn't her FACE. I mean, a mother knows her daughter, even the very first time she meets her. All of a sudden, I looked up, and in walks in a man carrying a precious little baby girl with big eyes and a crazy hat with fake hair on it. THAT was Yiman! But, obviously in all of the confusion, neither of us were documenting her arrival as we had been told she already arrived. As a boy. Before I could get the video out, the moment was over and she was taken to the back room. Emmie and Rosie was just reeling by now. It was like one minute their little sister was a boy. The next their little sister took Rogaine, grew long hair, and got a color and perm. I mean, do we EVER do things normally in this family?
I wanted to scream at Glenn but we were quickly asked to come into a back room to meet her. She walked in with her orphanage foster father in one of the craziest Gotcha Day outfits I've ever seen. Padded everywhere, red patent leather boots with rhinestones, and a hat with the aforementioned crazy curly hair. But she was the prettiest sight we had ever seen. Well, tied with the other two prettiest sights we have ever seen. She wasn't that interested in the stuff we had in her Hello Kitty backpack, and when it was time to leave the meeting room she started screaming her little head off. Actually, we were the only family with a screaming child on this particular day.
|Rocking quite the trendy outfit.|
|First meeting. The man with her is her "in-house" foster father from the CWI.|
|With Baba while I talked to her caregivers. Emmie was running out of|
tricks by now trying to cheer her up. "Mama, she doesn't even like STICKERS!"
I went over and reviewed my list of questions with the caretakers. I found out that she has had a lot of transitions this past year. Before July, she was in the regular baby room at the CWI. From July to October, she "lived" with a foster family IN the CWI. Some of the younger children actually have foster families who are put up by the CWI to take care of children in-house. From October to two days ago, she was living with a foster family outside of the CWI. Then she went back to her in-house foster family. They said she cried for much of the past two days. The told me that in both of these families, she had a very strong preference for the Baba, because the Baba's played with her more.
Medically, she looked good to us, a little pale maybe, but with all of the anemic people in our house, we sort of get used to pale so my judgement might be off. She hasn't been transfused since 11/11. The transfusion before that was two months prior. It seems as if she is not particularly well transfused, and when she does get blood, she's not getting very much. This is due to yet another very bad blood shortage in Guangxi.
After gathering as much information as possible, they gave me her finding clothes. Unless you've done it before, you have no idea how unbelievably sad and empty it feels to hold your child's finding clothes. There was no note with her when she was found under a bridge, at 3 months old.
During this entire question time with the caretakers, P was trying to soothe Yiman. Emmie and Rosie kept taking turns coming over to me and saying things like, "Mama, she doesn't like me at all." And, "Mama, she doesn't like any of the stuff we brought for her." They were trying so hard to cheer her up, and you could tell that it was bothering them that they could not comfort their new little sister. It's moments like this when I know that I am blessed with two of the most amazing, compassionate daughters in the world.
And then that was that. We carried her kicking and screaming out of the office. She was hot and sweaty and sad and scared and dazed. Our hearts just broke for her, knowing how utterly confused and terrified she must have felt.
When we came back to the room, she seemed extremely angry with me. Probably a combination of her strong preference for males (she was even going to Glenn for comfort) and the fact that I didn't do any of the comforting at the Civil Affairs office because I was talking with the caregivers about her. Surprisingly, she also did not like Emmie and Rosie one single bit. We were a bit shocked because kids usually like kids, but not this kid, I guess. Emmie and Rosie were such troopers about it and refused to give up, even though it was clear it hurt their little feelings.
|Sad and hot. Where have I seen this scene before? |
Talk about giving us flashbacks!
|Rosie: If she doesn't want to eat these snacks, I will!|
|One of her first semi-smiles.|
So the remainder of our afternoon was oscillating between screaming and sort of cheering up. At one point, she screamed until she passed out asleep. We took that as an opportunity to strip off some of her sweaty layers. When she woke up, we went to the Executive Lounge and she smiled a bit and ate some watermelon.
|Emmie still trying!|
|Definitely not happy with any of the females in this hotel room.|
|And I cried myself to sleep.|
|Rosie pulling out all the stops at an attempt to gain little sister's favor.|
Tonight we gave her a bath with the girls which was a huge hit. After Emmie and Rosie got out, Francesca proceeded to poop in the tub, which was a bit of a surprise because the caretakers went on and on about how constipated she was and that we had to go to the pharmacy to get some ancient Chinese herbal remedy for this problem. Emmie and Rosie thought this was both disgusting and hysterical. P said that Emmie will probably talk about this as much as anything else about our entire trip to meet her sister. And, for those of you who know Emmie, this is absolutely true. If anyone from Emmie's pre-K class is reading this blog, I'm sure you'll be hearing about this when she gets back.
|Loves the bath!|
After cleaning up the poop and re-cleaning Francesca (which she did not mind one bit and I'm sure makes her think she gets a double bath every night), the girls watched Classical Baby. Now, Emmie and Rosie are pretty serious when they watch Classical Baby, and they were a little miffed with their baby sister grabbing at the screen, putting her face up so close that they couldn't see, drooling on the DVD player, etc. Emmie kept saying in her Emmie-tone, "Mama, what is she DOING?" Rosie rolled her eyes more than once. Ah, sisters.
|Why does it look like they are already up to no good?|
|Rosie, very triumphant that we survived the day!|
|We love you, beautiful baby.|