It is hard to believe that it has now been 7 years since Gracie walked into our lives. I cannot imagine life without her.
Now for the most part, this is a blog about my adventures living and gardening in the desert southwest, but I occasionally share about my family. I have been sharing Gracie’s story and have been so appreciative of your wonderful responses. You can read the previous entries by following this link.
Okay, back to the story where we left it. We were waiting patiently (impatiently) to get through immigration at the airport. I kept thinking of all the family that had gathered just outside waiting to meet Gracie for the first time. I was also dying to see my two oldest daughters….I had missed them terribly. Finally, the immigration officer stamped Gracie’s paperwork and she was now officially an American citizen. And so, we started to make our way out to the arrivals corridor to meet our family.
*The following photos are not the best quality, but I think they capture the emotions we experienced that special day….
The next day we returned to my parent’s home to enjoy a baby shower for Gracie. I come from a close knit extended family and so family from all over Southern California and Arizona made the drive to the party. Great aunts & uncles, 1st & 2nd cousins, grandparents, her great-grandmother…it was a full house 🙂 Everyone was so eager to welcome Gracie into the family.
Gracie found the ribbon and Cheerios much more interesting then the gifts she received.
We went back to China in order to adopt a little boy, Kai. You can read about Kai’s story here if you like. Gracie accepted her brother right away and since they were only 6 months apart, they played together all the time.
Here we are posing with some of the nannies, the director and the co-director.
One of the nannies is holding our new son, Kai.
At the orphanage, we were treated as honored guests and given a tour. They were thrilled to see Gracie and see how her club foot had been repaired. Gracie was happy to be there and let the orphanage director carry her all over…something she did not normally let strangers do. So, maybe she still had some faint memories of where she came from. One of the nannies picked up our newly adopted son, Kai and carried him around as well.
As nice as all the staff was, I cannot say the same of the orphanage itself. The orphanage was a dark, rather dismal place. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but I do remember seeing the room she grew up in with its dark walls, lack of toys, and rows of cribs filled with babies. Each crib contained two babies…probably so that they could warm each other during the cold winter. Although it was obvious that the nannies cared for the kids, It was also painfully obvious that there were not near enough nannies to take care of all the emotional needs of the kids. It broke my heart to think of Gracie growing up in this place for the first 20 months of her life.
The director wanted to take us out to lunch and asked us if we preferred Chinese food or KFC. I am not an adventurous eater and I was not sure what kind of food an authentic Chinese restaurant in a rural area would offer, so we played it safe and went to KFC.
Gracie with her favorite nanny.
Gracie’s favorite nanny was not at the orphanage that day since it was her day off. But, she did meet us at KFC and promptly took over taking care of Gracie. It was so sweet to see….she took her on the little playground at the restaurant and helped her with her food. She said a tearful goodbye to Gracie when we left.
That day was so special to all of us because we were able to meet the people who raised Gracie when she was a baby. But, I was so thankful that she was ours now.
Gracie when she was 4 years old.
Many people tell us how lucky Gracie is because we adopted her and that we have made such a difference in her life. But, I don’t see it that way. Gracie has blessed us immeasurably and enriched our lives. I am sometimes surprised when I see us together in a mirror because we look so different from each other. The reason I feel surprise is that Gracie is my daughter and I am as much her mother as I am to my two biological daughters who do look like me. There is no difference in the love I feel for her in my heart.
I can’t imagine life without her….