Okay folks....get your tissues out. This post is a 3 hankie tear-jerker!!
9 Months ago yesterday, we met for the first time. We were instantly in love with this beautiful baby girl. We were thrown right into the deep end. We just couldn't believe it. This baby was handed over into our care. We had no clue what to do with her. No instruction manual!! LOL!! Imagine, first time parents to a 9 month old at our age, especially when there were couples younger than us receiving referrals of children that were 12, 13 and 14 months old - even older! A baby girl 9 months old just accepting us as just another caretaker.
We could see right from the start - she was well-taken care of, and very healthy!! As some/all/most parents at this stage, we just just looked at each other and asked ourselves "Now what do we do??!!" Is she hungry? Is she thirsty? She didn't cry! Is she okay? Is she sleeping enough? Is she sleeping too much? Does she miss her home? Does she wonder where she is, or who we are? So many questions, no answers. She won't eat from a spoon. She won't drink any juice. She won't drink any water - unless it's very hot and has sugar in it. She breaks out into a sweat with every hot bottle. Surely, this can't be good for a baby??!! We take sugar from our breakfast, lunch and dinner tables just to make sure she drinks some water. If she doesn't drink enough water, we're afraid that she'll dehydrate. How I wish that I could ask my Mother for advise!
We give Jillian her first bath. Trying to give a slippery, wet, uncooperative baby a bath in a small sink. Jillian is NOT happy about it! All lotioned up after her bath, placed in her crib, Jillian is ready for bed.
Here we are half way across the world - so surreal! Suddenly there's a baby in our arms, and we start to get to know each other. We walk around the local neighborhoods. We meet all kinds of people. Here we are quite an unusual sight, an American couple with a Chinese baby - a Chinese baby with strawberry blond hair! We draw crowds everywhere we go. Some people that we meet know some English and tell us lucky baby!! Beautiful Baby!! Then some are quite surprised at the color of her hair. They ask how old. We put up 9 fingers to indicate 9 months. They smile and nod their heads - lucky baby! Some parents bring their children over to us. They place their child's hand on our baby's hand - they say lucky baby! They hope by this touch that their child will have some of that luck. We say that we are the one's that are so lucky!
We are amazed. We are ecstatic. We are happy and we are insecure. We get through the first day and night, and are relieved that there was no harm done. We change her diaper, and are all thumbs.
We hear on the news of another earthquake hitting another area in China so very far away from where we are staying. We let our families know that we are in a safe place. We are saddened by all the loss of life and devastation. We also hope to travel safely back home.
Next day, upon going back to the civil affairs office, there is so much traffic - more than usual. We find out that the torch relay for the Olympics is in this very area. People are very excited over this. Today, however, we are not tourists. Today we are making our adoption official and finalized. This baby nicknamed by her Nannies as Jing Jing, does not know us. She does not know the name we gave her. She has no choice in her destiny. She has no clue what's ahead of her - neither do we for that matter. We look different. We smell different. We speak a different language from what she is used to hearing.
We were given a glimpse into her infancy as we were given a precious gift, a photo album, from the director of the SWI. Precious infant pictures, as well as her original finding ad.
9 Months ago, this baby was 9 Months old - half her life spent in China, half her life spent with us. Jillian came from an orphanage to a world wide traveler - buses, trains, taxis, airplanes - touch down in the U.S. In an instant , she is a U.S. Citizen! It is very late at night, and we use a car seat for the first time. Jillian falls asleep. When we arrive home - all exhausted from a long day of travel, Jillian has a new home, a new family, a Mom and a Dad. A new life!!
Since we became a family, Jillian has had her first 4th of July, her first Birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's day! She took her first steps, and said her first words: Ma Ma (her very first word!! Just grabs my heart!!), Daddy, Papa, Nana, Deba (Debra) nice, happy, wow, baby, tree, Zee, hi, car, me and no! She has turned her head away from food for the first time since taking to a spoon, and has had her very first tantrum! She plays peek-a-boo! Jillian puts her index finger to her lips and says "Shhh", and she is very attached to her baby doll. Jillian is a happy baby.
We've had nine months to get used to each other - to make sure that Jillian knows LOVE, and we are so happy that we have had no attachment issues. Where we were merely existing before, we walk a lighter step. Jillian has brought life, love and happiness back to all of us. We all are thriving just as much as Jillian!
China was our destiny, and we are Jillian's destiny. We waited officially 27 months, and, unofficially we waited 6 years. We wonder who was waiting for who. Were we waiting for Jillian , or was Jillian waiting for us?? All I know is that I would have willingly waited till the end of time to have her in our lives! When Jillian was placed in our arms, all that time just melted away - like it never existed!
Mind you, I am not claiming that life is all "peaches and cream". There are ups and downs, There are worries and sleepless nights. There are fears and there are tears. Sadly, Jillian will only know my Mom and John's Dad through all our stories and the few pictures we have which just breaks my heart. However, I will make sure that she knows their love!! And, I will make sure that they are alive in her heart always!!
Now, this poor child constantly has a camera in her face. I try my best to take her picture every day. There are very few days that I have missed! I want Jillian to always know and see how much she is loved from the time she was born in our hearts all those years ago before she was a reality. that we traveled the world just for her.
As I go through all her photos from day to day, you can hardly see the differences in her until you go back to her referral photos, the first days in China and her first days home. Sometimes, I am shocked at how much she has changed, grown and thrived - even though she changes daily!
9 Months there and 9 Months here. Each and every day that goes by, we love her more and more, and, we just can't imagine life without her! We are so very grateful, lucky and blessed to have this baby in our lives!
Goodness - after all this, I don't have a clue what I'm going to write when we arrive a year to the date we became a family!!