July 11, 1997:
It was a long night. Kristina went to sleep okay but around 2:00 AM she woke up crying. It was hard to imagine what was going on in her little mind. This was the 5th night we have had Kristina in our care. We feel she is going through a transition emotionally and mentally. Change is hard. For this nearly two year old girl, though it is a positive change, it must be hard going from adequate but necessarily impersonal institutional care in China to having two doting parents who wait on her hand and foot and respond to her every utterance in a small hotel room. Of course, we also took her out and about, taking interesting excursions around the city she was born in but probably never got to see.
Today we will visit her orphanage around 9:30 AM. We will get to take some pictures but it will be subtle. Right now, Linda is showering and I get to wake Kristina up and change her diaper. Here goes!
Today was the first day that Kristina did not cry when I changed her diaper. I won't go so far as to think it will be that way forever, but it certainly was a nice moment.
We are back from visiting the orphanage. It was filled with very touching moments.
The caregivers who had cared for our daughters, came in to a large meeting room in which we three families whose daughters were found near this orphanage had gathered. Our new daughters were absolutely delighted to see them. They offered big smiles to these surrogate mothers and held out their arms so that they might be picked up by them. The caregivers were squealing in delight as much as the babies. The caregivers were chattering away in Chinese and would laugh delightedly when a baby responded to them with outstretched arms and a smile. They did not seem to care too much about the parents that were taking their babies away. They were just incredibly delighted to see their babies one more time.
I video taped the entire festivities as the director of the orphanage came into a large meeting room and told us how grateful he was that we adopted these orphans and that he hoped they would grow and be educated and help the world obtain peace.
We were not allowed to visit the actual area where the babies spent their days because people from the press had written stories that were unfavorable and that aspect of our visits had been closed down by the Chinese government. Nevertheless, visiting the outside of the orphanage, meeting the director and the caregivers was wonderful, memorable and we were grateful that we were allowed to be on the premises for that.
According to some of the parents, their daughters displayed a different behavior after visiting the orphanage. Perhaps it was a closure for them, or old memories (not THAT old, of course) were stirred up. As I video taped my daughter's happy response to these people, the only people she had ever known, my eyes were filled with tears. It was very hard to tape and see at the same time. All in all, Kristina was very happy to see them.
We think this was very positive. It meant her memories were not bad and that she had good experiences and lots of love at the orphanage. But wait until we get her home! She is going to have lots more love that we will share and a new life with a family, our family. On the bus, on the way over to the orphanage, Matthew said that you can buy a lot of things. You can buy a home, cars, vacations...but you cannot buy a family. That is why he is so happy to escort us around Nanning. He said he is very proud to be working for Holt International. His life is a miracle, he said. He has spent his entire life in Nanning and has been with the Holt organization for a few years. From what I can tell, he can't believe that he gets paid for doing what he does.
After that emotional visit to the Nanning State Orphanage, we got back into the bus and zig-zagged through the traffic of bikes, motorbikes, and cars (with an occasional horse pulling a cart thrown in for good measure) back to the hotel where we would have lunch, get packed for the next phase of our adventure and even take a nap.
We leave this hotel at 6:30 PM and take a bus to the airport where we fly to Guangzhou. It is a 1 hour flight. In this city, Kristina will receive her immunizations and be issued her visa to the US. This process usually takes a few weeks but it is sped up so that the parents can get on home and begin the process of raising their daughters.