We entered the Office of Civil Affairs in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China on October 30, 2006. Two long years of waiting were over and we were going to finally be a family.
I had some idea what to expect when I walked through the door. I had spoken with a few families who had done this and I had seen a video of the process. What I thought was going to happen is that our group would be in a conference room. They would bring in the babies and call each family forward to be united with their child.
That is what I thought would happen. But in reality I can best describe it as crying and chaos, chaos and crying. Babies were crying. Parents were crying.
We walked into a large room and there were several groups of families waiting for their children. Nannies and babies sat on one side of the room. It seemed like no one was running the show.
I looked all over for Bunny. I had only seen a few pictures but I was sure I would recognize her. And I did. She was sitting on a nanny's lap staring out into a sea of unfamiliar faces. While some of the babies were crying, Bunny was not. She seemed nervous but calm.
I wanted to run to her, to grab her in my arms and never let go. But I couldn't. I had to wait my turn. Our guide located the orphanage director and they had to match the babies to the parents. Several other families in our group got their babies but we were still waiting.
Finally they called our name. Bubs manned the video camera and we handed our new camera to someone we didn't know. I walked up to the director and finally was able to hold Bunny in my arms. I just stared at her. She was so tiny and perfect.
She was wearing a bright yellow shirt and yellow pants with electric blue split pants. Most of the other babies from the orphanage were wearing the same thing. She was holding a stuffed bear that we had sent to her in a care package. It was the only familiar thing she had at that moment.
She was 9 1/2 months old. She had spent about six months living with a foster family. She went back to the orphanage when she was matched with us. She was leaving the only familiar home she had to go with these strangers. They didn't look like anyone she had seen before. They didn't sound like anything she was used to. She could not have understood what was happening to her but she really didn't cry.
Being first time parents we had no idea what to do. We had brought bottles from the US and we were given formula and rice cereal when we arrived in China. But of course we didn't bring any of this with us. We only brought a bowl of Cheerios. It wasn't enough. She had left the orphanage early in the morning and traveled for 3 hours on a bus. She was tired and hungry and her new parents didn't have any food for her. Poor girl.
But we were finally together. We were finally a family. We would figure this all out together. We would figure out what it meant to be her parents. She would figure out what it meant to be our daughter. What it meant to be our forever family.