Ridiculous Faith. Was it that God called us to adopt ZhenAi right when we started building our house? Was that the Ridiculous Faith? I don't know yet...but I know that was a huge reach.
The timing. Oh...so tired.
We built our house and moved in just about a week or so before going to China. Two major, major life events coiciding to one time in our lives.
The last week in China, I woke every morning seeing the endless sky rises out my window and thinking of the contrast of our master bedroom view at home. Hills, the valley...sunrise. Each morning I felt like I woke disappointed that we weren't yet there.
I just opened my eyes to find myself at midnight...on the couch, in front of the fireplace...with a view that I think will always find a way to take my breath away. I wanted to start crying.
Wait...this means we are home from China? ZhenAi is here? We are in this house? It's ours?
I can breathe. No more fundraising. No more sleepless nights racing out to the land to help install hardwood and tile and ...
Oh yes, I know now is when things really begin. The adoption process is behind us but that's like coming home with our newborn baby and thinking all the work is past us. Yah..no :)
ZhenAi did really well on our flight. She was adamant the seatbelt was not going on (but that was fixable :) and was not going let go of the backpack...but we were able to get that out of her hands so we were good.
Until bathroom time. Oh...my word. I don't know how this worked on her foster village but woah. When she has to go...she has to go. NOW. And she holds her self in the most dramatic way...dances...and starts pulling her pants down. Yes. She does. And she's 12 so that makes a big difference. (Enter in to this with me...).
Well on the plane our only moment of crazy was Nazara (2) said "Mama I have to go potty" but we had just gone so I was chatting with Dean when she taps me again "I have to poop really bad!!!". That's what I notice she's already gone. Ok. She's 2.5 and has been fully potty trained since before she was 2. She doesn't have accidents (hasn't in months!) and she has just pooped...on the plane. So Dean picks her up and runs to the bathroom (thankfully people let him in first) only to find she has diareah and it's everywhere. Have you taken a toddler to the bathroom on the plane...? Yah. Tons of room...right? Uh huh.
So he's gone forever when I finally clue in somethings wrong. So i grab new underwear from my bag (it's a first that I've ever been prepared. Yes. Mom of 10...now 11...and I'm always the one begging for wipes. Hey...I run by the seat of my pants a bit!). As I stood up ZhenAi freaks. Like starts grabbing herself all in a panic so I get her and of course Ray will just about die if I leave her so I take her too. As I'm walking towards the bathroom line she is panicking. I mean she's pulling her pants down, grabbing herself the works. I'm constantly removing her hand...pulling her pants up. And seeing the line. So I keep saying "we have to wait' and she is pushing past everyone. I'm dying you guys. Dying. She looks so healthy. She's a tall big girl and totally beautiful. Everyone is looking at me like I need to get my 12y under control and I'm dying. She's so strong. She is pushing my hands away and those pants are coming down, by golly. I'm now much more forcefully removing her hands, holding her pants up and the moment the door opens with Dean and Nazara...umm...she has pushed past everyone and is all but peeing before I can even say anything. Oh my heck. Really
I'm left profusely apologizing and also saying she has special needs. It HAD to be said...right there. It had to be. I didn't get a lot of understanding but one young American guy was very kind and even laughing at the mayhem. So I'm changing naked Nazara as we wait because ZhenAi will have no idea how to open the door. I quickly open the door, pull her out, we'll sanitize our hands from the seat. (That stuff is a God send..do NOT go to China without hand sanitizer!!!). We get back to our seat and I'm sure several rows heard me breathe. Exhale. Loudly. Yes...you can do that. I exhaled loudly.
The flight itself was really cool in the sense that we left at noon Shanghai time...and watched the daylight wane pretty quickly. It was really smooth and it was an older plane. :( Boo. Yes...an older plane going from Shanghai to Seattle. One of those wobbly ones too. I have them all dubbed and I know by looking at the wings if it's going to feel good or not...and this was a 'not'.
We were at the very back of the plane in rows behind each other. All was good until 'night' hit. That was super weird because it was afternoon for us, China time. Meanwhile the sky was black and it was night. I thought the crew handled it weird. They basically put people to sleep for half of it, half way through they turned on the lights to full brightness and served food! My eyes couldn't' adjust and I was sure it was the middle of the night.
During the "night" period it got rough. This isn't a debate...Dean would say it got quite bumpy. It got rough. :) For someone terrified of flying..it was rough. The plane was creaking. It was banging around. And...I lost it. I started sobbing. I was just praying for "one not-hard thing". Was that too much to ask? I have a lot of hard things. One not-hard...now? Please? and I just lost it. Sobbing. Not crying...sobbing. Dean told me to start praying for peace instead of for a smooth flight. I kid you not I fell asleep in the middle of the roughness. Though lightly...I fell to sleep. And that ... could be nothing short of a miracle.
It smoothed out and I was so thankful. The sky was full of stars. Lovely.
What shocked me is how late the sun came up! We were 40 minutes from landing in Seattle and it was still pitch black! Finally this blue line crept across the horizon!
Honestly...it all felt surreal to me. Could we really be almost home? Could we really be back on the other side of the world again? Could our journey be finally almost over? Not the 2 week journey...the one year journey. The year where we put everything on hold to solely work hard, build our house and bring our daughter home.
Finally. A major chapter in our lives closed. Ahhh.
We landed in Seattle.
We had 3.5 hours there. Immigration was done in mere minutes. ZhenAi is officially a US citizen! Then we contacted a friend who wanted to come start a video documentary of our family. They felt this moment, our first on American soil...could not be re-enacted. That went really well. They just followed us around, chatted, let us sit and drink GOOD coffee (sorry China...maybe I don't have the acquired taste but woah...!) and just unwind.
After saying good bye we went in through security. As we did, I said to Dean...what if our friends Dennis and Rita (who used the same agency and were in GZ with us adopting their daughter) are here? They flew Hainan Airlines from Shanghai to Seattle (same times, different plane, crazy!) and now would be going Alaska Air to Boise. We look up and there they are!! Sitting in Seattle waiting for their plane. How cool is that? We didn't get to say good bye in GZ but got to hang out for a bit in Seattle!
One of the best parts of this trip was the families we got to meet. Good people. Just plain good people. Many at a completely different place in their lives than us. Small families. Some motivated very differently than us to adopt. And we form these unique bonds that I hope are for a lifetime. We are in the trenches together. In the thick of it. Seeing each other at breakfast and offering each other hope. A "you can do this!" shot for the day from someone who gets it. Totally gets it. The smile that doesn't need many words that unites us together....yes, the night was hard. Today is a new day. That. So very thankful for these people now a forever part of our lives.
We landed in Pasco and it was definitely surreal. Oh..something funny..the Pasco take off was super rough. I mean...really rough. Dean said he kept looking at me to see if I was ok and I never flinched. haha. If ever I should fly somewhere domestic...it's right now! That flight felt like a breeze to me though we were like a tin can going all over the place! Izrael and Nazara slept and ZhenAi seemed really nervous. Almost like she knew...this was the final part of our journey.
When we landed, we saw a friend who generously offered to photograph (he's a photographer!) our homecoming...but we didn't see the family! Finally I hear Miss Tamara in the bathroom and so we all went around the corner and they came running out. It was such a fun, beautiful moment. Kids running into our arms into the most genuine, heartfelt hugs.
I kept ZhenAi close and she was pretty hunched-shoulder, keeping her distance. And that was ok. She did say "hi" at my prompting to the kids and smiled.
From what I have seen: these are my favorites:
So much love. So....much...love. That's all I can feel right now.
And this. Such a natural moment, I didn't even know the photographer was there! Two sisters. Born worlds apart...only months apart. One so blessed to be born into the family she was. No choice of hers. No one had a say. Both..just little innocent babies. A world apart. Brokenness. Broken world...broken hearts...brokenness....all led to the day with little Guan PeiQin was abandoned by her birth family. The next 11 years filled with people who tried to close the gap between what should have been...and what needed to be. They were not her forever family...didn't even think they were. They were standing in the gap. Bridging the space between what was and what would be. For them, my heart is forever thankful. For every nanny and "auntie" along the way. This is the power of God's redeeming love. Taking something so broken, so flawed, so not the way it was supposed to be...and making something beautiful out of it. Not better...not the original plan...no. No... staying with your birth family is the original plan. That's the way it was meant to be. This moment is captured so well...here. Today...? They are sisters. ZhenAi has no role to fill. She is not an automatic best friend for Tirzah. No she didn't come with a burden. They may or may not be close. ZhenAi may or may not ever catch up developmentally. She only has her own shoes to fill. Whatever size they may be.