Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Days 7-13 ~ July 10-16 ~ Getting to Know Emilia

Greetings on a Tuesday evening from Guangzhou.

It's hard to explain (or even personally digest) the last week here in China - and especially all the excitement and emotion that came with receiving our new daughter. I suppose the best way to summarize this last week is to describe it as a time of settling in.

After receiving Emilia last Monday and officially adopting her Tuesday, the next phase has had many layers to it. I'd call the first layer Surviving the Trauma. This sounds ominous and I suppose it is. This girl has gone through all kinds of trauma.

First, there's the trauma of becoming an orphan. We won't be sharing with very many people the details of how she became an orphan. This will be part of HER STORY, and will be HERS to disseminate over many years time. We’ll tell her the story at the appropriate time along the way and let her tell others when she feels safe doing so.

Next, there’s the trauma of being removed from her caregivers. These people have loved and cared for her for the last several months, and she is connected to them. We literally took her right out of their arms. That was traumatic.

Then there’s the trauma of having strange looking people who talk funny feed her weird food.

And so much more... So much trauma for a 15 month old to handle. And with all of this we have begun to understand the shock she is in. She has basically been in survival mode, and that meant we weren’t seeing the little girl we had seen in the pictures and videos over the last three months. The laughs and giggles. The interactions with her caregivers. Hardly any of it. There were times when I wondered if they’d given us a different girl and didn’t tell us. We’d wonder if and when we’d ever get to see a smile.

While we were in Nanchang we got to know another couple (Jeremy & Elsie) who were adopting their second daughter from China. Jeremy encouraged me with a little piece of wisdom when I was wondering if Emilia would ever connect with me; being that connection is going to be slow for these kids, maybe about 3% per day, but when you put all of that in perspective, you can see transformation in a little over a month. So we set our expectations low and just focused in on loving Emilia right where she was.

Hanging out at the train station

In my last post I mentioned how she was bonding with both of us. Well... that quickly came to an end after Day 2. Suddenly she decided that I was the only one that she wanted to be with, and when I say that, I mean literally 24/7. She refused to be held by April and would scream if I ever set her down, even for five seconds. For the last week she’s been Daddy’s girl. You can imagine how hard this is for Mom. You pour all your love and every bit of energy and emotion into this child and they basically reject you. We had been warned a while back that this could be a possibility, but it’s still hard to take in while it’s happening. But remember... 3% progress per day. As I write this post, she let April carry her and hold her yesterday and today. April has fed her, and was even able to sleep with her the night before last. A little progress is happening every day. We’re praying that by tomorrow night, when we have a 12 hour flight, that she’ll be able to be held by either of us for extended periods of the flight.

Don't judge us. There's no such thing as a car seat in China.

Letting mom give her breakfast yesterday.

Walking back after dinner last night just
leaning into her momma.
Adopting Emilia has been one of the most amazing things ever for April and me... but it's also fun to see how it's been for Peter. He has been such a champ on this trip. He's been flexible, has learned a ton about China, and has basically been a fun mini-adult to have along. It's been cool to watch him love his new sister unconditionally and be okay when she rejects him. We truly think he will carry the memories of this experience with him for a lifetime and that it will make him a great big brother to this beautiful little girl.

Peter at the White Swan Hotel standing in front of
a ship carved from a single slab of jade.
Peter the photographer
"Carbing up" for the day.
Getting fitted in some
traditional Chinese garb.

As I've previously mentioned, the process of adopting a child from China is a straight-forward one, After the adoption is finalized in her home province, the final part of the process involves obtaining her visa from the U.S. Consulate here in Guangzhou. Our visa interview was yesterday (Monday,) and we had the privilege of joining two other families. It was a special moment as we were on sovereign U.S. soil taking an oath on her behalf and signing the last necessary pieces of paperwork. Now we simply wait to receive her passport back tomorrow with the visa enclosed - her official permission to enter the U.S., and once she goes through immigration at LAX she will officially be a U.S. citizen.

This is more than likely my final post from China. Tomorrow evening we'll catch a flight that leaves Guangzhou at 9:30pm and arrives in L.A. at 7:30pm the same day. (That's a minus 2 hour flight for those of you keeping track)  With a 3 1/2 hour layover in L.A., we're hoping/praying we make our final flight in to Sac and will be sleeping in our own beds Wednesday night. There's so much more to digest and unpack from this journey and we'll be doing much more of that in the days to come, but suffice it to say for now that I am all the more convinced that adoption is a window into the heart of God.


Jeff Coppernoll said...

Wow! One at a time! Deep breaths!

Lindsay and Casey said...

What a beautiful example of God’s love and grace. Thank you for letting us be on the journey with you!!!

Monika said...

What a wonderful experience for you and your family. Emilia will be well loved.