Sunday, February 7, 2010

DAY 3 - A Family of Four

What an amazing day it was. The day our daughter finally became a part of her forever family. There is plenty to tell and not much time for me to tell it in so I'll get right to it!

We left Taipei at 9:00 and took the High Speed Rail to Kaohsiung City. The bullet train was amazing... crazy fast, very comfortable, and it gave us a great look at the Taiwanese countryside. It's amazing how in places it didn't really look all that different from something you might see in middle America only instead of fields of corn there were fields of rice. It was a great experience.

We didn't arrive in Kaohsiung until 11:00 and we were supposed to meet Claire for the first time at the hotel at only 11:20. All along we had imagined that we would be comfortably settled in our hotel room and there would be a knock at the door. We would open it and there she would be... our daughter.

That's not quite what happened. The foster mom and the social workers beat us to the hotel by a good 15 minutes so when we arrived they were walking around the shopping mall that is on the first level of our hotel (I'll tell you more about this hotel later... it's amazing). We were standing there with our social worker getting ready to go check in when we saw a group of people come around the corner and... there she was. We'll never forget that moment... the little girl out of all of the pictures was right there before our eyes. It took our breath away.

She was curious about us at first but VERY clingy to her foster mom. We all went up to the hotel room together. It was Jessica, Connor and I, our social worker Bernadette, two social workers from Kaohsiung, Claire, her foster mother, and also a boy and a girl who were in foster care with that mom as well. It was quite a crew we had packed into our room... good thing we sprang for the suite for these 2 days in Kaohsiung.

We got out some toys we had brought for Claire and she was really happy about that. She played with Connor and they were doing great while the grown ups talked. We asked the foster mother tons of questions through an interpreter. Mostly boring stuff about diapers, feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, and that sort of thing. Then it was time for the foster mom and the social workers to go. It was tough... the foster mom was a little bit emotional and Claire was a LOT emotional.

When the foster mom finally made it out the door, poor little Claire just lost it. She wailed and sobbed and thrashed and screamed. It was heartbreaking. She knew exactly what was happening as the foster mom had been preparing her. Through our interpreter she told us Claire was crying things like "You aren't my mama" and "I want my auntie". Over and over she went to the door and cried "I want to go look for my auntie".

The good news is that during this time she finally went to Jessica and let her try to comfort her. Jessica held her while she cried and finally after a couple of hours she was able to get her a little bit calm which was a good thing because right about then we had a visit from Claire's birth grandfather, her half-sister, and also her birth mother. We didn't know until that morning that we would be meeting the birth mother... we had been told all along that we would not. We're so glad that we did.

The details of that meeting will remain private... some parts of the story don't need to be spoken. All we'll say is that we're really glad we were able to meet the birth family and also that we were able to get some pictures and video. We think Claire will be grateful for that someday.

After the family left we said our goodbyes with our social worker and all of a sudden, after a whirlwind day of craziness, there we were. Alone in the room, a family of four, together.

The rest of the night was spent hanging out in the room at the hotel. Claire slowly started to come out of her shell a little bit and by the end of the night, we all had earned a few sweet little smiles. She is joined at the hip to Jessica and will not leave her sight. She is already calling her mama and seriously, if Jessica leaves the room, Claire freaks out immediately.

She absolutely LOVES Connor. She has been more affectionate with him than with anyone rubbing his hair and even giving him a couple of hugs.

As for me... well, she's not quite sure what to make of me so far. If she is the one to initiate a little bit of play, she'll tolerate me for a few minutes. If I try to talk to her or touch her though, she will push me away and sometimes even cry. This is not surprising to us at all... it is common in toddler adoption for the child to bond tightly to one parent and somewhat reject the other. All of the books we had read prepared us for this and we're alright with it. It hurts a little but hey, this isn't about me! This little girl had her world turned upside down... she can have all the time she needs. She'll be a daddy's girl before too long I'm sure.

All things considered, Claire did incredibly well on her first day. She ate like a champ (dinner was apples, bananas, cheese bread, and a little bit of a doughnut) and she let Jessica give her a bottle (Asian children tend to stay on formula until they are 2 or 3). She finally fell asleep around 10:30 and slept soundly until about 7:00 the next morning.

Sorry I don't have time to go into more detail... we have absolutely been spending every waking moment with Claire. We'll have much more to tell later and hopefully some video soon as well. I'm slowly working on editing it but I have to do it when Claire is asleep because if she hears her foster mom talking on the tape she cries for her.

Thank you all so much for the continued comments, emails, and prayers. They have meant the world to us.


Jessica and Claire with their matching bracelets.

Connor and Claire looking out our 56nd story window at the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Claire had a very hard and emotional first day. As joyful as it was for us, it was scary and confusing for her. She is such a brave and resilient little girl.

Connor with Claire's half-sister. They are both six and hit it off immediately. Claire's and her sister look a lot alike... we're so glad to have some pictures!

Just moments after meeting Claire for the very first time.

Connor was so wonderful with her all day long. He is so excited to have a little sister and he has been unbelievably sweet. We are SO GLAD he came with us.


Sarah C said...

Just beautiful! Can't wait to meet her.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! I'm so excited for you all -Jessica S.

Dunns said...

That's just an amazing day!!! I'm so happy everything are falling into place, meeting Claire's birthmother & siblings,,that's the most precious gift to give Claire when she is older. It's going to get better for everyone with each passing day...I can't wait to see when those smiles coming out with Claire.. she just beautiful!!

Glad to hear you're coming home on the 14th... a Valentine's day you will never forget!!!!


Tiffany Travis Sexton said...

Incredible story you guys! Thank you for sharing.
Greg, just remember, it took me a while to get used to you, too. :)

Marla said...

Such a wonderful journey. That sweet little girl has found the right family.

Shannon Kelley said...

So happy for an awesome family of four! Love the pictures!

Ashley said...

Your story is so inspiring! I'm just so happy for you guys, and looking at the pictures just makes me cry they're so sweet! You guys have been so brave, and little Claire has been as well. The pictures of she and Connor are fantastic... you can already tell he's a fantastic big brother!

QingLu Mama said...

Congrats to you all!
What an amazing and emotional day for all of you! I am so glad that you are finally a family of four! Claire is a beautiful girl and Connor looks like such a great big brother!

Once you get back and settled we should get together here in Knoxville!