My anticipation of Jim’s arrival kept me awake till around 1 am. We had a wake up call set for 7:30 and although I had taken Lunesta I still woke at 5am. I decided to try and take a hot bath and spend some time in prayer. I quietly got dressed by flashlight because the modern room we’re in has glass windows separating the bathroom from the bedroom. The shades that come down are very cool but when the bathroom lights are on it allows a good bit of light into the room and I didn’t want to wake the girls. I slipped out with my computer to the lounge area upstairs for some coffee and to check emails and try to update the blog.
It was peaceful watching the town below come alive but the view was reduced by all of the smog. Electricity is produced by coal and considering the city of ZhengZhou is over 10 million, that equals a lot of smog! Many people on the planes, trains and in town wear masks. We’ve even seen a few designer ones that are colorful and adorned with rhinestones.
At 9 am we met Rosary in the lobby and headed to the Civil Affairs building. Jim had not arrived yet. Soon after we arrived a group from CCAI arrived with their children. They had gotten their children the day before and were back for their official 24hr signing of papers stating they wanted to finalize the adoption and then participated in a short oath ceremony. We enjoyed talking to several of the families and learning about their children and their families. When we adopted Samuel we traveled with a group of America World Adoption Agency families and it was a sweet time getting to experience growing our families together. It was nice having a support system and we enjoyed the fellowship and thanks to social media we are able to keep in contact with most of our group. It seems like just yesterday we were here! Time is passing too quickly! We are a month short of it being 9 years… crazy!
The kids were watching the window looking for the van Jim would arrive in. They began shouting that he was here and we all ran out to greet him. I’m sure we scared him the way we all attacked the car and him but I was a little taken aback by his hesitant hug and his smile was not as intense as I was expecting. He kept looking back and seemed uncertain. Joe, one of the chaperones from the hosting program and an orphanage employee had brought him and then I heard them mention his mom. Then I turned to see an unfamiliar woman getting out of the car. I was not expecting her and I was overwhelmed with so many emotions not only for myself but also trying to process how both she and Jim must be feeling. I hugged her and we took a photo with Jim together and then I lost it. I could not stop crying. Cole asked if we could have some time with her and Jim to ask some questions and get a better understanding of their history. I could not participate! I was in ugly face cry mode and took a water outside along with a handful of tissue and had a good cry and tried to get myself together before returning inside. When I returned from my walk they were finishing up and Cole assured me it was a good conversation. Jim’s birth father passed away when he was an infant. His mom had remarried when Jim was young and had created a new home and family with her new husband and Jim had gone to live with his Paternal grandparents. Sadly he has not had a relationship with his mom. She pretty much seemed completely detached but did light up when she talked about his biological dad and how tall, kind and compassionate he was. I can not imagine the confusion and emotions he was processing having to travel with her for hours in a car the day before and then overnight before coming to meet us at at the Civil Affairs building. I pray it was a time of healing for them both and that will remain my prayer! Again, adoption is a beautiful thing but it comes with great loss and pain! Just as our spiritual adoption cost our Heavenly Father great pain and suffering though the sacrifice of his one and only Son, the process of adoption always includes the same. He is our only home in taking the mess of our lives and turning them into something beautiful for HIs glory… beauty from ashes! Praise Him!
I think the conversation they had was comforting for Jim as well. When they fished he was back to the playful and happy Jim we knew last summer. He was playful with all the kids and even seems to be more of a daddy’s boy. He went and sat beside Cole and copied his exact sitting stance 🙂 He took charge helping his mom understand how to sign the paperwork & I gave her photos of Jim and our family from last summer and she seemed at ease. It was really important for us to know that the “story” we had been told about his past was confirmed by his mom. It was important for us to know she had a clear understanding of what adoption is and what she was signing. There are way too many cases of deceit in international adoption and as an adoptive parent it’s our responsibility to ask questions, listen to previous adoptive families who have lived/are living nightmares because their adoption were unethical and agencies just flat out lied and do as much as we can to make sure the information we have lines up. So while I was not expecting to see her, it was such a blessing!
Cole and I took our “official” photo with Jim that will be on the certificate we get when we return tomorrow after the 24 hour trial period. Jim and Cole are radiant and I have my big puffy ugly cry remnant eyes.
We returned to the hotel, Jim showered and changed clothes and we decided to head out for lunch. We were about to start out when I realized we still had not exchanged any of our money. I sent Cole back into the hotel but since they have only been open 3 weeks they are not set up yet to exchange money. We were getting directions from one of the guys on staff at the hotel and then he told us he’d show us. We thought he was just going to walk us around to the sidewalk and point us in the right direction but he kept walking with us. On the was we saw our first accident. A car and moped had collided. The car kept going and the scraped up woman and her crushed moped were still in the middle of the rode. Our escort checked on her and she just seemed to have surface scratched and I’m sure will be sure but there continued to remain in the middle of the road and the security guard sinning on the sidewalk never even walked over. We finally made it to the bank and with only two tellers it took about 30 minutes before we we called. Cole was going to exchange $300 in travelers checks. She was typing on her computer then turned a calculator around showing there would be a $22.50 service charge to exchange! We needed money so we said ok, but thought that was quite a rip off but when you don’t speak the language we just said ok. A few minutes passed as she typed some more and then she said she had made a mistake, it was $2.25…. much better. Our escort then continued on with us to show us the local shopping center with lots of stores as well as many Chinese restaurants. Not having a guide with us to recommend food options we decided to continue on downstairs to the Pizza Hut. It was a unique menu but it had photos and English descriptions so we felt confident we could order ourselves. Samuel and Jim chose their rice dish and then we attempted to communicate our pizza order. Elizabeth wanted a pepperoni pizza and thankfully that was an option on the menu and with pointing and gestures we ordered her a personal pan. Zoe and JC wanted cheese so we thought that was communicated pretty clearly. Next we attempted to order a custom pizza made up from ingredients on other pizzas: pepperoni, green peppers, olives and tomatoes….. thats’ when things got complicated. Since ingredients weren’t listed individually Cole started pointed from pizza to pizza on different pages pointing out the ingredients. SKIP and JC were helping using their own pointing and gestures and then Jim was also trying to figure out what we wanted and interpret for us. Finally we thought we had a clear understanding with our waitress as she confidently shook her head yes, that she understood. Before long Jim’s dish arrived and then Elizabeths personal pan pepperoni pizza….. we were feeling confident. Samuels order arrived correctly and our mouth’s were watering as she approached with the final two pizzas but as she put them on the table neither were close to what we thought we ordered. Then we panicked thinking every pizza we had pointed to for ingredients was about to be delivered to the table. we were starving by this point s owe just started picking off the thinks we didn’t like or were unsure of and actually liked the corn, pineapple, sausage combination and the veggie pizza; however, my cheese pizza only eaters were not as willing to try. We tried to again ask for just a cheese pizza but from what we understood they don’t have cheese pizza 🙂 I’m guessing they are all pre made…. or else we just weren’t able to communicate clearly. We decided to point to the safest one on the menu and they agreed to just pick off the ingredients. All was good! Thankfully we had exchanged money because when they swiped my credit card three times they said it kept saying not good. Thankfully we got to skip that adventure of finding out how they handle a large table of diners that can’t pay 🙂
By this time my body was shutting down. Since we were in a three story shopping mall we walked through a few stores and looked around but we were all pretty tired so we walked back to the hotel. The girls went to our room and we all were asleep within 10 minutes. The boys had some good bonding time playing cards, eating, kicking a ball, watching tv, etc and Cole and Samuel enjoyed a nap as well. It was sweet watching the boys all enjoy each other. We decided to have dinner in the room eating foods I had packed: ramen noodles, mac n cheese, pb&J, cream of wheat, etc. I was not up for another restaurant experience. It was a quiet evening and eventually we all made it back to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow we will make it out of the jet lag drag and function full speed.