Sunday, January 18th. It was a big day.
We left our hotel in Beijing in the morning. A guide took us to the airport and helped us get our luggage checked in (phew our bags were just under the weight limit!) and print our tickets. As we were waiting she told us, “I know your daughter! I went with a team to her orphanage last year. I have held her. She is really cute!”
The flight to Xi’an was relatively smooth and we landed in the afternoon.
Then we had to drive an hour to our hotel. We hit some traffic and soon learned we would have about 20 minutes to drop our bags, get everything ready to go to the government building where we would get our daughter. It was a rushed time!
Then we stopped at the bank to exchange our crisp, unmarked dollar bills into Chinese currency to pay for the necessary legal documents (passport photo, notary, etc.). The bank was incredibly slow and what should have been a 10 minute procedure ended up taking an hour. At this point we new our girl was at the government building waiting for us and our patience was wearing thin.
We finally got to the government building around 3:30 pm. Eek! We are here!
Is this really happening? I honestly wasn’t sure. We had faced so many obstacles, even walking into the building I wasn’t sure if this was really going to happen.
I took a deep breath and walked in. There she was! She looked EXACTLY like all of the pictures we had received of her. She was all bundled up (like we expected) in so many layers!
She came right to me and when I picked her up she said, “Mama!” and gave me a big kiss. I’m sure the nanny had told her to do this, but it was still really sweet! She did the same to James and it was a perfectly wonderful moment of meeting our girl.
We gave her a sucker, asked the nanny/director of her orphanage a few questions, and signed some forms. Everything was going really well.
The director and nanny hugged and kissed her goodbye. Whispering words unknown to us. She remained fine during the goodbyes, but as soon as they left the room the crying, screaming, yelling for the nanny started. And that is where our pictures from the day ended.
There were a lot of tears.
At that point no candy, toy, media enticement would help.
She grieved in full force and it broke our hearts. It was hard to see her in pain and not be able to comfort her. Even more so, knowing this pain will not be quickly erased with love and care. It is an injustice.
The next day we had to go back to the government building to sign more papers and meet with the director of her orphanage one more time. It was very hard on her, but we got through it. Someone really should have told us about a footprint being needed so we wouldn’t have dressed her in tights!
Then we went back to the hotel to settle in and spend some time connecting with our girl. James won her over with oreos and a marker tower.
Later in the week we visited the Terracotta Soldier Museum. We had watched a documentary before we left so we had some background knowledge. Basically, China’s first emperor, the man responsible for ‘uniting’ China ordered that all these soldiers be made so that they could be burred with him when he died. There were over 7,000 of them buried by his tomb and they were only recently discovered in the 1970′s.
It just made me sad to think of this man’s fear of death being so intense that he would want to take a clay army with him. Also, to think of the many, many slaves that were forced to make them and then were most likely killed (so they wouldn’t give up the burial/soldier secrets). Also, the guy was so afraid of death that he ingested mercury believing it would prolong his life and that it was the fountain of youth. I am sure you can guess how that ended. His tomb has never been opened because everyone knew it was filled with mercury and wouldn’t risk it.
Anyway. We enjoyed exploring the museum.
The other days we were in Xi’an we visited their city wall, explored the city via the subway, and met up with some American Friends at the Muslim quarter.
Then it was time to leave her home province. She was ecstatic to see her suitcase packed, but the sadness soon settled in when she realized she had no idea where we were going.
We loved xi’an and hope to return someday as a family to visit!