That morning there was dense fog all over the city and it appeared once we got to the airport that our flight was still on time. So we made ourselves a bit too comfortable when they announced that our flight would indeed be delayed due to fog. Okay so what's an hour or two! I kept telling myself that just because the fog seemed to hug the ground and wasn't dissipating. So we waited and waited until about 4 1/2 hours later they boarded the plane. I must say the airline was very accommodating and gave out food to all the passengers with bottled water. Actually I didn't mind the wait, since I was now running on empty myself and felt like I needed a nap, but who could sleep! I kept thinking about my little girl, will she run away, push me, smile. Did she eat? Was she changed? Who was with her and did they know how to take care of her defect? I knew we were not allowed to meet the foster family so the baby was coming to meet us at our hotel with some orphanage directors. I was sure they would take good care, but again after traveling half way around the world, this minor delay started me on a roller coaster of emotions. We also had no way of contacting anyone in Lanzhou, however I believe the travel agency did let them know about our delay.
Well finally we boarded and flew the 3 hour flight to Lanzhou. We were met by a wonderful escort Kaige, in fact she had been with Holt a long time and ran the foster care program in Wu Wei County. I could tell we would be in good hands with her kind, soft voice and reassuring answers to my many questions.
So here we go! Off to the hotel to meet our baby girl. This is the part where I have no photos of our first meeting because we took video this time around. We entered the doors to the hotel and were met by a 32 inch smiling little girl, all dressed in pink! She took one look at us and ran back to the officials sitting on the couches. I smiled and we all sort of relieved to see her move so fast!
Everyone was exhausted, mainly the baby. The ride from her Provincial city to Lanzhou was almost 6 hours so I could tell everyone wanted to sign the paperwork and get to bed.
This was the most difficult part of our journey. The "hand off" literally took place in our hotel room, where the baby was handed to me, screaming for her "momma" or foster mother the entire time. It was very hot in the room and Shelby was soaking wet from perspiration. I proceeded to change her, thinking I was prepared to do it alone, but needed a second hand. Dani was busy with officials and paperwork and then I started to sob myself. I looked down at this tiny, thin toddler, with her bladder exposed outside her tummy and every time I touched her she yelled "ouch" and grabbed her ears. She kept on screaming and yelling for her foster mother and all I kept thinking was, just get the medicated dressings on her and wrap her up. The officials left the room and Kaige stayed to help calm her, but Shelby continued to sob, all the while, pushing me away and refusing to make eye contact. This was absolutely heart wrenching to see a small child so upset, in pain and confused. I knew the transition would be hard, but until you actually experience it, you have no idea how hard it was going to be. Even Dani looked down, trying to console our new daughter, but she also pushed him away. Both of us were almost in tears after three hours of sobbing. Then eventually she cried herself to sleep.
Then I looked around the room and found Kira in the corner also sobbing to herself. So I lost it again, bent down to pick her up and just held ever so tight. Kira had no idea what was happening and when I asked her why she was crying, she wanted to know why she was crying for her "momma". I guess she may have thought we were taking her away from her real biological parents and from a toddlers point of view that's so real. I reassured her that she was crying for the lady who cared for her till we came. I also told her that all older women are called "Momma" in China. She seemed to understand and then we all climbed into bed and fell asleep, completely exhausted!
The next morning we met Kaige and went to the Civil Affairs Office where the official notarization of the many copies of adoption paperwork were completed. Both Kira and Shelby seemed indifferent about the entire thing, but at least Shelby managed to calm down. That second day was a flurry of activity so Shelby really didn't seem to mind being with us. We hoped she was turning the corner here but again, realized she would continue to grieve for her foster family as long as it took. It's hard to watch, but even harder knowing you simply have to give her time and even some space.
On October 31, 2011, Miss Shelby Emmalin officially became our daughter!
And so we headed back to our Hotel, very happy that another orphan of China had found her way to her Forever Family!
We so love you Shelby and know that time will heal your little heart!
Even in this photo you can see the big difference a day makes:))