Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ONE YEAR AGO A CHILD WAS PLACED IN MY ARMS

KIRA'S REFERRAL PHOTO, ONLY 5 MONTHS OLD

ANOTHER REFERRAL PHOTO THERE SHE IS, CLUTCHING HER RAG AND FIRECRACKERS?

I simply can not believe that one year ago, a frightened, tiny, fragile baby girl was placed in my arms. Years and YEARs of yearning for a child to call my own, had now culminated in one of the most memorable moments of my life. Though the rest of the trip to China was a blur, the day I held Kira for the first time is one day I will never forget.

We knew that Kira had a repaired cleft lip, and needed surgery for her open palate when she arrived home.  We were told that she was a happy baby who enjoyed the outdoors and being with her caretakers.  She wasn't walking yet, but would pull herself up in the crib.  She weighed only 17 lbs and was 29 inches tall.  She was abandoned at 2 months of age and taken to the You Xian Welfare Institute to reside.  This part of her story makes me sad and happy.  Sad because she bonded with her mother and was then abandoned, we assume because of the clefting issue. She was very malnourished upon arrival to the orphanage so her mother did a brave deed by relinquishing her into care.  Her parents probably could not afford medical or corrective surgical care.   She was found with a birth note and this tiny hat that was given to us when we met her.

I am also happy that we have these precious items and her story to give to her when she is old enough to understand. There is also another amazing connection between this tiny child and my family. Kira's birthday is the same day as my Mother's. What an amazing birthday gift I had for my Mom this time last year.

So after flying over 6,000 miles we landed in Bejing for a day and a half orientation and sightseeing tour. The entire time all I could think about was this child I was about to meet the next day. I had held her referral photo with me everywhere we went and was wondering if I would recognize her. At the end of our agency's orientation a beautiful Oriental tapestry book was handed out to all the families and then there were photos suddenly put up on the slide screen of all our children. Dani and I were looking for Kira and there she was, dressed in a little yellow coat. We opened the book and to our surprise there were more photos of her. I peered down and just started crying happy tears. She seemed bigger in one photo and so tiny in the other. Hey what did I know, I thought an 11 month old is tall, walking, talking and eating on their own. I even imagined my daughter would be this small child with pigtails for some reason, but instead she was a small, beautiful, well cared for tiny infant whom I just couldn't wait to see.

The next day we all left for our childrens' provinces and we flew to Changsha, Hunan. A bus took us to the Civil Affairs Office and I took a deep breath and walked inside. Immediately I could see the baby. She was wearing the same yellow jacket in the photos, only she was so little. It was very surreal to me, the hand off (as it's affectionately known) was very traumatic for this child. She was so bundled in layers of clothing, she kept turning around and looking for her caretakers, screaming a muffled cry because of her open palate. I started crying again and could do absolutely nothing to console her. I even asked the caretakers and our escort if they could console her. But I think it was me that needed consoling, yep, I was bawling even louder than the baby. I probably freaked the kid out! Anyway, the hour or so we spent there exhausted this tiny child and we then traveled back to our hotel by bus. It was on the bus that Kira calmed down a bit. I noticed her looking around and then realized from here on, I will be watching her observing her first new sights, sounds and adventures together. Everything was new to her, the streets, the people, us.

So here's a glimpse of our first moments together and our lives as a new family.

OUR FIRST GLIMPSE OF KIRA
THE HAND OFF
OH THIS IS THE PART THAT JUST GOT TO ME. ALL SHE WANTED WAS TO GO BACK TO HER CARETAKERS. I WAS A COMPLETE STRANGER AND NOTHING WOULD CONSOLE HER SOFT CRIES. I WANTED TO SAY "YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A BEAUTIFUL LIFE SWEEET CHILD" AND THOUGHT THE KISSES WOULD BE OF SOME COMFORT. BUT POOR BABY CRIED FOR HOURS UNTIL WE GOT BACK TO THE HOTEL. RIGHT BEHIND ME IS LEAH, OUR AGENCY'S ESCORT DURING THE ENTIRE JOURNEY. TO ME SHE WAS MY MIDWIFE, HELPING ME THROUGH EVERYTHING, UNDERSTAND AND CONSOLING THE BABY AND I WHEN NEEDED. HOW I MISS HER!
NOW I'M CRYING PROBABLY LOUDER THAN KIRA
FINALLY CALM AND QUIET. I PUT A CHINESE LULLABY TAPE IN THE COMPUTER AND THE BEAUTIFUL MELODIES SOMEHOW SEEMED COMFORTING AND SOOTHING TO HER. OKAY I AT LEAST DID SOMETHING RIGHT HERE!
PEELING THE LAYERS OF CLOTHES OFF
AFTER 4 SETS OF SHIRTS, PANTS AND 2 JACKETS, THERE SHE WAS, OUR TINY DAUGHTER, SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL
I LOVE THIS PHOTO OF THE BABY LOOKING AT HER DADDY.  
BACK IN MY ARMS, CRYING AGAIN.  WHERE'S THE BOTTLE, CRACKERS, NOODLES, WASHCLOTH.  YES, SHE WANTED A TATTERED OLD WASH CLOTH IN HER LITTLE HANDS.  WE WERE TOLD THAT OFTEN ALL BABIES DID IN THEIR CRIBS WERE PICK AT THEIR CLOTHING OR THE WASH CLOTHS.  THIS WAS THE ONLY THING SHE WANTED, SO THERE IT IS, CLUTCHED TIGHTLY IN HER TINY HANDS.
HERE'S OUR WONDERFUL ESCORTS, ECHO AND LEAH.  THEY ARE THE MOST AMAZING WOMEN I'VE COME TO KNOW.  THEY HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR ALL THE FAMILIES AND CHILDREN.
GOODIE, SHE'S REALLY OURS!  KIRA STAMPED THE PAPERWORK WITH HER FOOT!
SO CUTE!  GUESS THEY KEPT HER SO BUNDLED SHE COULDN'T SIT WITHOUT BEING PROPPED UP WITH PILLOWS.  BY THE FOLLOWING MONTH SHE WAS WALKING!
MY JOY, MY DREAM, MY BABY!
AW, MORE LIKE IT,  FINALLY A HESITANT SMILE (AND MY BIG OPEN MOUTH IN THE BACKROUND)

BEAUTIFUL KIRA TODAY

You first came to us in an envelope
With letters, forms and such
Just two tiny little pictures
With nothing warm to touch.
You grew in our imagination
In our hearts and in our minds.
You brought us greater joy
Than we ever thought we'd find.
A phone call started labor pains
Which lasted 'til we met
Strangers brought together
A day we won't forget.
You bloomed as you were planned
In our hearts, our lives, our home.
Our child of chance, of plan, of will
You're now our very own.
-Unknown Author

23 comments:

day by day said...

Oh, Ivy...what a beautiful post!!!! Happy Forever Family Day!!!!!

I loved seeing your Gotcha day pics. Kira is just adorable!!! What a special day and one you will never forget! We saw our Ella for the very first time in that same room in Changsha.....almost 3 years ago....a day I treasure in my heart...forever!

Blessings to your family as you celebrate your special day!

Jewels of My Heart said...

How happy.... What a blessed precious day indeed... each time I share in someone's gotcha day it takes me back to the day I first held each of my children in my arms and I find my self in awe of the wonder of them and of the love and faithfulness of God.... I am so thankful that Kira is safely home with her Mommy and Daddy.... and they lived happily ever after...

Eileen said...

COngratulations on your special day! Isn't it amazing how much faster this year went by in comparison to a year waiting to go to China?

Jboo said...

Congratulations on your Family Day anniversary!! Oh my -- she was just a little peanut, wasn't she! Her sweet beauty shines through. Enjoy your day with your gorgeous daughter!

Janet

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Happy Family Day!! What a wonderful day it was....although very emotional and somewhat traumatic for sweet little Kira, it is a day that will be etched in your mind and your heart forever!

She is precious and you are so blessed to have this little Angel in your life.....Hope there are many more years to make sweet memories together!

Enjoy your special day together!

Lisa

Yoli said...

I am crying here with you. Happy Anniversay to you guys and little Kira. To our children of the heart.

Kim said...

Congratulations!! I love looking a pics from gotcha days! Their just so precious. Thanks for warming my insides on a cold day today!

Ivy said...

Oh my sweet, sweet friends,
Thank you for such wonderful comments. My eyes are full of tears as I recall that day. I never thought how powerful the love for a child can be, until I held Kira.

Thank you for joining us in celebrating Kira's first year home!

Waiting for Mia Hope! said...

What a beautiful post! Kira is gorgeous!!! Beijing was always the same for me...a blur waiting to hold my baby girl. But the moment I held my babies for the first time was something I will never ever forget...the happiest days of my life!

Happy Forever Family Day!!!

Hugs from St. Louis!
Robin

mommy2nikki said...

Ivy,
What a touching post, I'm crying. I love you gotcha day pictures. It's amazing to see Kira transform from that frightened baby to the beautiful happy little girl she is today. You are so very lucky.

Happy forever family day!

Kristin said...

What a wonderful post and beautiful look back on your Family Day!!

Kira is such an adorable little girl. I know she brings you much love and happiness. :-)

Vivian M said...

Wow, it's already been a year! Happy anniversary!

Beautiful post. And Kira is a beautiful little girl!

Sharie said...

Thank you for sharing your forever family day. It brought tears to my eyes - and so many memories of my own back to me.

Femin Susan said...

Hello……. !
Very cute all these pictures... Great……. may god bless you !

Sharon said...

Oh!!! Beautiful, beautiful post!!! Thank you for sharing that, made me tear up! Such a beautiful story from a fantastic family!

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful post about your Gotcha Day! Thanks for sharing that with us. I can see the joy in your face.

Kira is just precious!

Jen

Natalie said...

I just love the post. It was lovely and very touching.
and definately a day you will never forget. Ivy... you made me cry again!


Happy forever family day!
I hope your day was a special one.

kerri said...

Thank you so much Ivy for sharing your gotcha day story and photos with us,just beautiful.

Meredith Teagarden said...

Ivy, I am in tears at the beauty of the photos and the truth of your words. Our hearts filled with love for these tiny little girls who know nothing of the life we will sweep them away to! Kira is DARLING!

Beverly said...

yes beautiful!

Carotte Rose said...

Dear Ivy,

Kira's story, with your words, is the most beautiful story! I had tears in my eyes. Your daughter changed so much since one year. She is adorable.

Michelle said...

Happy Anniversary!! That picture of Kira looking up at her dad is just precious. What a sweet little face.

Felicia said...

What an absolutely sweet post. Thanks for sharing your Gotcha Day!

Happy Forever Family Day!!!

 
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