That was the subject line in the email that we sent to family and friends after we received our daughter, Gracie. I wrote about our adoption journey up the point of seeing Gracie for the first time in person and you can read Part One if you like.
Well, I believe I left the story at the point of the elevator opening and seeing the orphanage officials walking out with Gracie in their arms. Although I recognized her instantly, there was something different in her appearance….she had no hair. Well to be honest, she had very little hair…..it was obvious that her head had recently been shaved. It really didn’t matter, I was just so happy to see her finally in person.
The nanny from the orphanage walked over and handed Gracie to me….
Gracie was wearing the outfit that we had sent her a month ago. She was obviously not sure what was going on. She had spent over 3 hours in a car in order to get to the hotel we were staying at and it very well may have been the first time she had ever been in a car.
We were very fortunate to be staying in Hangzhou as the area is so beautiful. We toured West Lake.
This was a very special visit and I saw many precious children. You can click on the photos below to enlarge if you like.
I had a wonderful time visiting the orphanage and my heart ached for all of the children who had no parents. But, I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and be with Gracie again.
The United States Consulate was located on the island at the time and this portion of the trip was focused on completing our immigration paperwork and securing a visa for Gracie so that we could travel to the States.
Our hotel was a 5-star hotel and the primary place that adoptive parents stayed while waiting for their child’s visa. It was beautiful inside….
I remember walking into our hotel room and telling my husband that we had better enjoy this stay because we were highly unlikely to ever stay in another place as nice. *The foreign exchange rate at the time made it very affordable to stay there ($1 = 8 yuan).
In our new hotel, Gracie played for hours with the plastic spoon and cover of my airplane lunch – she was absolutely fascinated. We were coming to see what her delays where. She would spend time in front of the mirror and would tap it with her fingers. It was obvious that she had never seen herself in a mirror before. She also liked to eat Cheerios, but she could not pick them up with her thumb and forefinger. **A few years later a visit to her orphanage showed us how deprived she had been of sensory input. I will write more about that at a later time.
We enjoyed our time on Shamian Island with walks, shopping and hanging out with the wonderful people in our group.
One afternoon when we returned to our room in the hotel, we saw that Gracie had received a surprise gift….
Yes, that is a Barbie doll. Notice she has a Chinese baby she is adopting. All adoptive families receive a complimentary “Going Home Barbie” and each year there is a new version.
Our hotel had new hallways for Gracie to explore with her dad.
And to be chased again….
All to soon, our time in China was coming to an end. Our group gathered in the lobby to take a picture of all of our adopted girls.
Gracie is on the left.
Two of the girls had been adopted a few years before.
It is amazing how strongly you bond with other families when you share an experience like this. Most of us are still in contact with each other 7 years later.
I was so excited to be going home to my other daughters and couldn’t wait to introduce the entire family to Gracie. The flight was a long one and Gracie did well for the most part. We landed in Los Angeles and went through immigration in the airport. Once we handed them her visa – she was an American citizen.
Just outside of immigration was a bunch of people just waiting to see Gracie for the first time and welcome her to our family.
All of a sudden this little girl who had been abandoned as a baby, not only had a mom and dad, but two sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles waiting outside the gates to welcome her to the family.
If you would like to read more of what happened after we adopted Gracie, you can read Part 3 if you like. This post is already so long and although many of you mentioned that you didn’t mind the length of my previous post, you probably would like a little break from reading 🙂
I would like to thank you all for your kind comments. Gracie has enjoyed having me read your comments to her. She has been such a miracle in our lives and I enjoy sharing her story whenever I can.