Hey, everyone: Jeff posting today! Crystal is with TongJie on the bed as he is thoroughly involved in a little Boeing 747 that Jax Mathison (son of West and Courtney) gave to him. (Thanks, Jax!)
So, today we met our son, TongJie, whom we have loved since we first were introduced to him. We got up this morning just prior to 6 rarin' to go. I probably don't need to say that we've been waiting for this day for some time, but I will anyway. We did our usual morning preparations (freshening up, made our beds, cleaned the room, and ate an AWESOME breakfast). Then, we headed back to our room to wait - Crystal her Bible, and me with Perelandra from C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. It was exciting, as you can imagine, waiting for the moment when we got to drive to the civil affairs office (CAO) and get the adoption process going with A Jie (his nickname at the orphanage.
Our ride to the orphanage was fairly quick, and all of our hearts were beginning to race the closer we came. We arrived at the CAO and there was a van parked in front of us with other parents with kids. We exited the car and began our ascent to the 2nd floor of the building. I had the great fortune (or was it?) of FlipCamming the first video of us entering the room to meet A Jie. He was situated in the arms of his caregiver, Yi Wen, who then began saying to A Jie, " Ma Ma, Ba Ba." He smiled and looked around. A Jie was then given to Crystal, and our life with TongJie began. As I mentioned to Courtney in an email earlier:
"The meeting with TongJie, which I'll blog about in a few minutes, was nothing I could have prepared for. He took it in stride, and is, by nature, a pretty serious kid, though he has a great laugh and smile to go with it! He has only cried on two occasions with us: once when we were deciding to give him a bath in the tub or just sponge bathe him, and the other time when we put the water bottle down to allow him to breathe."
Our itinerary from then on was to get our family's picture taken for our official registration in "the red book," head to the grocery store to acquire newly-needed items (more diapers, formula, food), then head back to the hotel.
The other family that was with us had an understandable hickup when their caregiver left, allowing their child to realize she wasn't going back to the orphanage, and these weren't just new friends. They're taking me to their home! And, the expected tears began. It lasted about 10-15 minutes. We could tell A Jie's breathing began to labor a bit under this stress from the crying. Amazingly, he didn't buckle to the pressure to cry when other children would cry. In fact, it so happened a couple of times that when other children were under duress, he would extend whatever was in his hand, whether it be food or a toy, and offer it to the other child. Sometimes, he would wave at them.
I digress. After getting in the car and "Fawn" pulling herself together. We trekked to the passport photo building, and was unkindly told they didn't do those kinds of photos. So, the driver and our Hangzhou guide, Sarah, located a Kodak store, and we navigated our way into the parking lot and into the little plaza store, where each of the families got photographs taken for our red book.
Then, the grocery store! Wow - what a cool place! We met inside after having difficulty finding our way into the store from the lower-level parking lot. I think our guide was a little embarrassed. She was consoled by the fact that she'd never been into this particular store. So, we had the chance to look around after Sarah directed us to the dairy and baby sections. The baby section was a bit easier to decipher than the dairy. They have drinkable yogurt in cartons similar to our paper cartons of milk in the states. At first, we were concerned we'd need our guide to read the labels to us. However, we finally came to the end of the dairy aisle, and we saw pictures of cows on the cartons containing milk - yes! And, we did notice that many of the items had the English translation below.
Upon checking out, we were told by Sarah that the grocery bags had to be bought. You could buy the plastic bags for 20RMB cents, or by the more heavy-duty bags, which we did, for 2RMB Yuen. After bagging our own groceries (which, I think we should do in the States), we packed the car and headed back to the hotel. Besides the fact that traffic laws are, by and large, avoided in China, we have had uneventful trips.
At the hotel, we had to change his diaper (first time for both of us!). So, we derobed him, and prepared to give him a bath, which A Jie was NOT going to have. In most orphanages, the children are given sponge baths, and haven't had experience being in water. So, we went straight to plan B, sat him up on the counter, and used a rag to bathe him. We also used a glass and filled it with some water to pour on him, which he seemed ok with, but wasn't quite sure about.
We got a crib from the hotel (pink-colored Winnie the Pooh), fed him some food, played with a toy airplane from Jax, and he is now peacefully asleep on Ma Ma's bed.
It has been a most wonderful day. I want to thank all who prayed for a pleasant interaction between us and our son. We have been most blessed by you who sought God on our behalf. Please keep those prayers coming. The devil would do anything to destroy the family makeup. We need to hold each other up in prayer and ask for God to remind us of the great and glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.