I’ve been asked to share some more about Kaitlyn, her adoption, and our time in China. I’ve pasted an excerpt below from an article first published in The Chatham Daily News (June 2006) and The Moose Jaw Times Herald (May 2006). It’s our adoption story. Enjoy!
Taken from our adoption journal:
Tomorrow, we leave for China to meet our daughter Kaitlyn. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep too well. Not because we’re nervous to fly and not because the food scares us a little. It’s all about the anticipation.
I suppose more than anything, we’re anticipating parenthood and how that will totally change us. Watching our daughter grow up and reach certain milestones in her life: taking first steps, saying first words and a bunch of other firsts we can’t think of right now … we’re not willing to think beyond those moments just yet. It’s all about anticipating how our lives – and hers – will soon change forever.
We have prepared almost two years for this moment, a moment that began with an unexpected phone call. Unable to finance an adoption put us at a standstill. Dated in our prayer journal is a cherished entry regarding this time. I had written that I was finally able to release my hopes and dreams of having a family to God. Less than two weeks later a couple we are close friends with offered to finance an international adoption. We were stunned. Tears silently poured down our cheeks as we asked if the understood the cost. They knew. What a gift.
Paperwork, interviews, fees, and applications brought us to this precipice of parenthood. Our group of nine families traveled together from various parts of Canada to meet in China. We laughed together, cried together, and got to know each other through the modern convenience of the Internet before leaving Canadian soil. We share many things in common. First, we all picked a wonderful organization called Family Outreach International to facilitate our adoption. Second, we were all accepted by China as prospective parents. Third, we all received our proposals within months of each other. And finally, at 5:10 in Nanchang, China, we all became parents, many for the first time.
We were supposed to receive our children at 4pm by traveling to a neutral location to meet the nannies from the orphanage. Due to some really hot weather and lack of air conditioning on the bus, the orphanage asked if they could postpone the exchange a little while longer; we would meet them at 4:30 instead. We were disappointed, but we understood. The 4:30 deadline was then pushed back to “around” 5:00. We were instructed to wait in our hotel room for a phone call from our tour guide who would then tell us to come downstairs and give us instructions from there.
At about 4:58, we received the phone call that our babies were already waiting for us in the hotel meeting room. We pulled everything together lightening fast and hustled down to the main floor. When we arrived, all the babies, care workers, orphanage personnel, and families had gathered and were impatiently waiting for “the big moment.” What chaos! By this point, we all knew who our children were, but we were not allowed to take them from their nannies until our passports and some official adoption paperwork was verified.
After waiting for an eternity, we were finally given Kaitlyn. She came to us with barely a struggle and dove into Mommy’s arms first. Though she cried for a few minutes – and understandably so – she settled in pretty quickly and has since made a good adjustment. After a few dozen pictures and some additional paperwork, we shared our first meal together as a family.
Kaitlyn came to us with a really bad lung infection that made her breathing labored and her ears ache; she was also teething. The congestion in her chest was easily felt while holding her. She’s the smallest girl in our group of nine children, but dangit, she’s the cutest by far! We got her first smile within 24 hours and the gummy grins flowed pretty freely after that.
The remainder of our evening was spent getting to know our daughter. The next day we completed more paperwork and made a trip to the Notary Public where the adoption was made legal and Kaitlyn officially became our daughter.
Our time in China was a serious whirlwind. We were on the go from early in the morning to late at night but it’s all been worth it. Along with the formalities of finalizing the adoption we had the opportunity to tour many attractions. We visited the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Beijing Zoo, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the “new” Silk Alley. We learned to barter, we learned some Chinese language and expressions, and we learned what makes a family complete. Normally these are not moments you share with nine other couples, but we wouldn’t change a thing.
After a long flight home, during which Kaitlyn barely slept, we finally arrived in Vancouver. We rushed through customs and officially welcomed Kaitlyn into Canada within the Vancouver immigration office walls. There she became a permanent resident of Canada. What a feeling!
After rushing to our connecting flight, and another 5 hours on a plane, we were greeted by excited family members and friends in the Toronto airport. All feelings of exhaustion left as grandparents met their granddaughter, cousins met for the first time, and aunts and uncles exchanged smiles and tears. There are no words to express the combined feelings of relief, happiness, and closure to a process that was difficult – but will be fondly remembered.
Currently, Kaitlyn is wide awake on Daddy’s lap playing on China time. It’s 4am here but she doesn’t know it. Watching her makes us pause and wonder at how one event could change us like it has. How one little girl for whom we have prayed for so long is finally with us. How all of the planning and preparation over the last two years was needed because of what we experienced. How being a mom and dad totally changes the way you see yourself, each other, and your child.
And when Kaitlyn fell asleep in my arms last night, it rocked my world.
It took my breath away.
God is good.