Gotcha Day – 2.14.2011

Hello Everyone!!! First off I want to say that we are not putting up a Gotcha video right now because we are WAY too tired to edit and you can read the details below. Nadia and I in the orphanage conference room.

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We all woke up about 6:30 and started to get ready. I double checked that everything we needed was packed and was surprisingly calm. I felt so much more prepared for this trip compared to Nadia’s. We went to eat at the breakfast buffet and even though my tummy was filled to the brim with butterflies I made myself eat some sticky buns and egg fried rice. I would have given almost anything for a Coke Light, but that was not a choice so I had hot tea. We came back to the room and Mike had one last talk with Nadia about how this was going to be scary for Amelie and that it was going to be a stressful day for all of us. He also let her know that we were going to spend a lot of time in government offices.

We went down the lobby with all our gear and Tony and our driver were waiting. We headed down the road and I was thinking that I had some time to get my thoughts in order and prepare myself. I had barely started to say a quick prayer and BAM we were pulling into the complex. I told Mike it was so close to the hotel that I didn’t even have time to freak out. The other 2 couples who are from Italy arrived just after us and we were all lead into the main building and into a conference room. We started doing our paperwork immediately and introduced ourselves to the other couples. While we were doing that a couple children came in and were talking and playing around with the adults.I want to stop here to tell other China adoptive parents that Ningxia does not have the “harmonious period” like other provinces. So before we even saw Amelie we were signing all the official documents and giving our fingerprint signatures that she was ours forever. That was fine with us, but I found it interesting that they are not like the other provinces. Okay so we are finished with the paperwork and in come all the kids. BAM! We don’t have the cameras on or anything.

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They get Amelie over to us and say, “Baba, Mama, Jie Jie” while pointing at us and she starts screaming at the TOP.OF.HER.LUNGS. They hand her to me and the screaming continues. It was the saddest thing you ever saw and while we were prepared for that it was still heartbreaking to see. So the first 6 minutes of video is her completely hysterical. I finally turned the camera off. The nannies were trying to give her candy and other goodies to get her to calm down, but every time they came near she would reach out to them and scream even louder. I handed her to Mike to see if that would help and Nadia hopped up in my lap and said, “When are they bringing our baby? When are they bringing Amelie?” I said, “That is Amelie.” And Nadia said something like she couldn’t tell because the baby was screaming so loud.

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The director was introduced to us and he gave me a sheep scarf and Amelie a necklace made from a mountain top in the province. He also talked to us about how he knew we would give her a good life, but she had a good life there at the orphanage. I told our guide to tell him that we “knew they took very good care of the children and they are very healthy and we are grateful.” (meanwhile the other 2 families from Italy were having a blast with their kiddos who were both boys and older so understood a little better what was going on)

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Then we were all taken out into the main area where they had a little group of children waiting and a bunch of the nannies. We posed for photos with the director, just our family and all the families with the children. That part was a total blur – they just moved us where they wanted us and there was a lot of noise and Amelie screaming at the top of her lungs while I was holding her. Then suddenly it was time to go. The whole time inside Mike and I couldn’t wait to get Amelie away from all the women who were trying to make it better, but were just making it worse because she would scream even louder to try and get them to take her. We got out to the van and I climbed in the back with Amelie and she stopped crying instantly. I have no idea how long all that took and how long she screamed, but it felt like forever.

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She was shaking and breathing really heavy with tears about to spill out, but at least she was not screaming and started to really look at me. I just kept talking to her in the most soothing way possible. I told her that we loved her and that we were glad that she was going to be a part of our family. We rode in the van over to the Kodak store to have the photo taken for her “red book” which is her adoption decree from China. While there Amelie just looked at me and wanted to be held by me and didn’t want Mike to do anything or come near her. Here we are at the Kodak store when Amelie was really watching me closely and then fell asleep.

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After the photos we went to the civil affairs office and did a lot of paperwork. We answered questions that we have answered about 20 times before and signed more documents. I gave Nadia and Amelie each a lollipop and she ate it up. She was still looking nervous and had tears about to well up the entire time, but she was improving. She what felt like 50 layers of clothes on and they had us put her coat we brought on her too so it was like holding a giant marshmallow. She did not make any sounds at all during all of this except to cry. After the civil affairs office we went and got some food at a chicken place. Amelie let me feed her and then we decided that Mike better do it since she was so freaked out by him. She started to cry, but wanted the food so she laid all the way back in the highchair with her face as far from him as possible and refused to look at him. She let him feed her, but that was it. When I took the food back to finish she sat right up and looked at me while I fed her. Then we went to the hotel and I got her undressed ASAP and changed her diaper and put some fresh clothes on and then laid her on the bed with me so she could have a quick nap. While the nap was going on Nadia was doing this in the other room – writing a note to Amelie.

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We want you to know she did that all on her own. “Mike is not a monster. From Nadia”

Then Tony returned to take us back to the Civil Affairs office to get our red book. From there we headed to the police station to have our photos taken for her Chinese passport. We had to wait there a long time and had a lot of people staring and asking questions of each other to figure us out.  At 3:35 pm Amelie finally cracked the tiniest of smiles for me. It was fast and fleeting, but I saw it and it gave me hope and I teared up. We had her 6 hours at this point. After the police station we came back to the hotel and I sat Amelie on the bed and Nadia got to work with the toys. The very first thing Nadia wanted to do was read her “moo ba la la la” and it was so sweet. After just a bit Mike laid down on the bed next to her and she refused to look at him the entire time but she didn’t scream with him there. I was even able to get right up and do a few things like go to the bathroom and she didn’t scream. We brought some Little People animals and some peek a blocks and they were a hit.

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Through nearly 8 hours she was completely silent except for the crying. We know that she can say some Chinese words, but she didn’t say anything and really just looked so scared of us. We decided that we would head over to the store we found last night and get some supplies. We had Nadia in the stroller and I put Amelie in the cart with her peek a block she had the death grip on. About half way through our trip she started to swing her legs and bang the block on the cart and look a little – dare I say it? Happy. And then while we were checking out I got her to smile and you would have thought I had climbed Mount Everest I was so proud! It was such a thrill to see those little teeth and cute lips. By the time we got back to the hotel I had her laughing which was precious.

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We went to dinner and when I started to feed her I couldn’t do it fast enough and she had a huge smile after every bite. By the end of dinner she was dancing along to Stevie Wonders “I just called to say I love you.” Nadia was like “there’s a happy face! Sissy is dancing!” And Nadia really needed to see that. In so many ways I think that today was a disappointment for her sweet little heart. It didn’t really matter how many times we had told her that Amelie would probably be afraid and nervous. To really live it out and not understand why she isn’t just up and excited to be playing was just really hard on her. And Nadia didn’t really get a nap today, so we thought she was a trooper through it all. We know that Amelie will be following her around in no time, but today was a hard time for her. We are very proud of how well she did, because it was stressful for all of us.

We got back to the room and I got the girls in their jammies and teeth brushed and we had a little more play time. At bedtime Nadia sang her 2 songs about Jesus and she fell asleep in my arms. Precious. Amelie said 1 word the entire time we had her and that was when a display fell over at the store. I am praying that we get to see a little more of her personality tomorrow and that she can relax even more and try to communicate with us. She is just so adorable and very curious so I want to see her come through this fear.

Here are a few other random things about Amelie:

They said she was a good eater and this is true and totally opposite of Nadia. She is wearing a solid 18 months for clothes. I have some 12 month I brought that are too short that I am going to give to the orphanage. She has these adorable chunky little baby legs – must be because she eats anything. Her hair is much lighter than Nadia’s and it curls up on the ends.

We are blessed and we are thankful for all of you who have kept us in your prayers. Please continue to do so as we start our life as a family of four with one very scared little girl.

  • Julie Massouh

    Louanne –
    She is just so beautiful! Praying she feels less and less sad today. Congratualtions on your special day!! Belssings to you all!
    Julie Massouh
    P.S. I think I saw our little pumpkin in the red shoes – but I can’t tell because her head is turned!

  • courtney j.

    tears. so happy to see her with you guys. your quiver filling so beautifully. God is so good! i can’t wait to cuddle her. need to start “the cross” bible study while harrison sleeps but can’t stop bawling and looking at her pictures with her family. been praying for her fears. i know God will continue to comfort her in His way. love you guys!

  • oh my, I can’t type for the tears! Congratulations, it is so wonderful to see you all together. And to see even how Amelie progress and warms up to you all from the first photo to the last one, it is amazing. Praying that God will soothe her little heart, help her through this transition time and for you all, for Nadia, she has done so well. Soon they will be laughing and playing together. Also praying for you Louanne that your muscle pain will go away and for Mike that Amelie will warm up to him soon.

    So happy for you all and praying you will all get a good nights rest. God is good and faithful.

  • You had me on the verge of tears (you write so well – felt like I was there) and then you brought me back from the verge of tears with “Mike is not a monster. From Nadia”.

    Yes, I can see it was a very emotional day – but seems that it ended on a good note, and her smile (the little crack of one) is just precious, precious, precious.

    I hope your pulled muscle feels better soon, Louanne!

    And Charlotte did not like Adam for the first 4 days. The strategy that worked for us was doing “family” hugs where I held her and then hugged Adam or gave him a quick kiss while she held me, so she could see he was nice, too (you know – not a monster) 😉 and then he bibed her affection with Goldfish crackers. She finally let him hold her on day 4 while we walked to a store (long walk) as long as I held her hand. After while I slowly let go of her hand, and she didn’t notice, as Adam was holding her and pointing out things on the street.

    Anyways, I can’t wait to continue to follow this journey 🙂

    Hugs!

    Tracy

  • she is so so lovely and pretty. Wow. I just can’t stopping looking at her sweet pics! Thank you so much for sharing!!
    Nancy

  • Laura H

    There are no words! Many blessings in all facets of this. I know God loves you guys and Amelie. She is quickly adjusting and will continue to grow to love all of you until she knows nothing else. Soon she will be running and playing with Nadia and making sweet happy sounds. She will be shouting, ‘Momma, Daddy and Sissy! Look!” You have a beautiful family.

  • Jennifer Chapman

    Congratulations! Prayers for a smooth transition for Amelie. Many blessings to your family.

  • Happy Gotcha Day! Congratulations! I hope for more smlles tomorrow. It’s great you are bonding over food. As you know each day just gets better and better. I hope you guys have a good time exploring the area before heading back to Beijing.

  • Kerrie

    Oh Louanne, what an emotional journey! I’m so thankful I can share a little bit of it with you. Nadia’s note really had me laughing. That is going to be something that Amelie will appreciate when she’s older and her daddy is the apple of her eye! 🙂 Praying for you, Mike, Amelie, and especially Nadia that she would not be anxious about this new situation, but that the peace of God would guard her little heart and mind. How faithful our Father is to take care of his sheep.

  • Emily

    I am not emotional and don’t cry often, but I just can’t stop. I am so grateful to be apart of your lives and to get to share in the celebration of Amelie becoming apart of your family. I will pray for her fears and that she would learn to trust you guys quickly and that God would give you and Mike infinite wisdom on how to comfort her and love and encourage her. I will also pray for Nadia during this transition that I know must be hard, even with all of your preparation and explanations to her. Your family is a BLESSING to all who read this. This is the most beautiful story of hope and God’s love to us.

  • A message from Lilly: “Amelie is beautiful. Amelie is crying like me because she does not know that you are her daddy and mummy. Now, she will not cry anymore because she knows that you are her daddy and mummy and that Nadia is her sister. She will be happy with Nadia.”

    What an emotional day. You should be prepared but it’s still hard when you see your child suffering from not understanding what’s happening. You made huge progress in a day : from tears to smile. Hope the next days will go smoothly. One little step at a time.

    Congratulation from our family.

    Isabelle, Frédéric and Lilly

  • Staci

    Loved reading through all of this! So amazing that you finally have her in your arms! Definitely praying for Nadia, and for Mike 😉 It won’t take long for her to fall in love with all of you, she won’t be able to escape the love and patience that you all show her. So happy for you guys!

  • tears of joy flowing right now! Praise the Lord for that sweet girl and how wonderful the orphanage was to her. Praise the God for that sweet smile, and curious mind. We are so blessed to be praying for you and seeing yall become a family of 4!!! Love you!

  • Linda

    Have I said how special y’all are? Incredible. Those early photos of Amelie remind me Reagan. Screaming. Oy, the screaming, I’ll never forget. I hope your ears recover soon, I know the sweet singing helps 🙂

    I am so delighted everyone is eating and happy. Nadia looks gorgeous. Reagan said Nadia first thing this morning, even before Good Morning. She wanted to know if there was any “new” news from China. Reagan is still asking about her sister who she just knows is waiting for us in China. Double Oy.

    Praying for your family as you all get to know one another and Amelie begins to discover what special and amazing people G-d has chosen for her Baba, Mama and Jie Jie.

    By the way, Louanne and Michael, you two also look gorgeous and beaming.
    Blessings for you all, Linda

  • Lesa

    I’m so happy to see her with you guys! It must have really hard with her crying and not one thing you could do to make her happy at first. That is what happened with us.
    She is so precious and I know that Nadia and she will be hitting it off soon.

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

  • Congratulations!!! Amelie is beautiful! I am so happy for all of you and that she has already given you some smiles. I will pray for the days ahead to just ease her fears and draw her out of her shell so that you can see her sweet personality and continue the bonding process.

  • Lina

    What a beautiful family you four make! She is absolutely precious. Nadia is brilliant!!!

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for letting us all be a part of this! I love hearing the process of her discovering that she is already 100% loved and wanted and safe. Her life of people coming and going is over – she has a mother and a father and a sister now!
    We love you guys and are truly overjoyed!

  • Gwen

    Amelie is beautiful! I’m glad she is smiling a little for you!
    Congratulations on this very special day!

  • kendall

    Hoping and praying that you will All have a much sweeter day today and for the many many years you will have together. May she find sweet sweet comfort knowing You are hers FOREVER! Blessings to the FOUR of you!

  • catherinethegreat

    Congrats…Amelia is so sweet and I am sure she is going to come around in no time…poor sweeties. Thankfully she does eat well; always a bonus. I am hoping for your sake that she has a nice rest/sleep tonight.

    Take care and congrats again. Nadia…awesome big sister…love that valentine heart on your shirt..to cute…

    Take care. CTG

  • debbie w.

    Congratulations on your beautiful little girl. I loved the note from Nadia. I’m starting to imagine what our forever family day might be like. Best wishes for the rest of the trip. Thank you for letting us follow along.

  • Kim

    We’re all huddled around the kitchen table, riveted as Regan reads the details out loud. We’re all so happy to have a new member of our family, so precious and sweet. Her response is so normal for a child that age – but as she sees repetition of predictable and loving behavior she will relax! It’s all good! We all rolled-laughing about the “Mike is not a monster” note – so precious.

    Nadia, I’m so proud of you for being such a great big-sister! You’ve really learned how to share all that sweet love you have in your heart. Tell your Mom & Dad to give you a big hug and kiss for me, ok?

    We’re praying for you guys (all 4 of you) and can’t wait ’till you’re back state-side. Oh, Claire says she can’t wait until vacation!!!! Love you all!

  • Oh, Louanne! How I wish I could give you a big hug right now! I know that you expected this, but I know it doesn’t make it easier. It is so amazing to see the four of you, finally together. I am praying God’s indescribable peace for Amelie, and that he will guard her heart and draw her to Himself during this time. You guys are amazing and it is a privilege to know you and walk this journey with you. Praying for each day to get better and better! Sending all my love on this incredibly special Gotcha Valentine’s Day!

  • What a day! You guys really had a busy day- not only getting your daughter but having to do all the normal stuff you would do on day 2!

    I am so excited for you guys & my heart really goes out to you and Amelie for having such a rough start. Things will get better.

    It made me smile to see how Nadia reacted with the note. You can tell she really wants her sister to love you guys.

    Praying things will keep progressing & you’ll see more of that precious personality come out! Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

  • so so happy right now. what a sweet story and a beautiful day. God is so good! i am so proud of nadia and how sweet you guys have raised her, it makes my heart so happy. i’m amazed to see what God did in a day and i know that He will do so much more throughout amelie’s life. thank you for taking the time to write out all these details for us who couldn’t be there. i am so proud to call you and mike my sister and brother. and i thank God for you two, nadia, and amelie.

  • Dad / Papa

    LouGoo, Mike, Nadia & Amelie:

    You are now a complete family. God Almighty has fulfilled all of your dreams. How blessed is it to be Nadia & Amelie who have been saved from certain poverty and struggle? How blessed is it to be Louanne & Mike who have the privilege and the honor to care for 2 of God’s most precious creations? How wonderful to see God’s handiwork unfold half a world away!

    We love you guys and we are excited to see our new granddaughter soon.

    Love,
    Dad / Papa

  • Happy Gotcha Day, Louanne – it’s all downhill from here!!

    Nadia, you are a SWEETHEART!!!!!!

    big Hugs from Snowy Iowa,
    Sara

  • Sindy

    Aloha and Congratulations! What a beautiful blog entry Louanne. Praying that Amelie continues to come out of her little shell. I cant wait to follow the rest of your amazing journey. The girls are adorable together and will be the best of friends. Just like Allie and Katie.

    Love,

    Sindy

  • Cristina

    Oh Louanne!! What a great post. I have been thinking of you guys so much, and I am so pleased that you finally have Amelie. Nadi’s note cracked me up completley!!! Love and blessings to you all xxxx

  • Lisa Lewis

    Louanne,
    The pictures of Amelie gazing up at you are very telling. She is gaining trust, how beautiful! I felt so teary watching that lovely moment between mother and daughter.
    So glad that Mike continues to insert himself. He is such a kind, loving man – she will be a Daddy’s girl, too!
    Sweet Nadia, helping out and bonding. Giver her a kiss!
    Congratulations, God is Wonderful! LEL