Two years ago today, we woke up to a cold, gray morning in a very foreign city in a getting to be not so foreign country. The sounds of fireworks had kept us up late the night before (January 28th is a very auspicious day to get married - even though it was a Sunday night). We ate breakfast at the rotating restaurant at the top of the Hefei Holiday Inn and prepared to meet our daughter.
Would she cry? Would she like us? Would she be the crabby kid we saw in her referral pictures? Oh my God we're going to be parents! Us? I can't believe they're letting us do this. Holy Shit.
Our capable guide Linda met us to take Bryan and me and our traveling partners, Craig and Gwen, to the government office. I don't have a lot of memories of the trip over, lots of traffic and a long drive to the other side of town and we parked in the back. There were lots of other anxious parents waiting in a large group in the lobby for the elevator. We decided to take the "even floor" elevator up to a floor above where we needed to be and then walked down a flight, to the 7th floor (I think).
We then made ourselves comfortable in a large room that had many long tables and we waited. It took maybe 15 minutes and the babies started trickling in. Little crying babies, so we knew they weren't ours. So I'm talking to Bryan, Craig and Gwen, when Linda nonchalantly says "there's Xiao Mao". What? I don't know if I was expecting fanfare or what, but I was so surprised to be sitting there chatting away and then boom - hey, by the way - here's your kid. And there she was, in real life and so beautiful. Damn, just such a gorgeous kid - all bundled up in 3 layers of clothing, holding onto a little cardboard label with a picture of a teddy bear on it that her ayi must have given to her to play with. She was staring at me, and her ayi was showing her the photo book we had sent to her and telling her in Chinese "Look, it's your Mama! Look, it's your Baba!" And I was just staring right back at this little stranger, thinking "Oh my God, she's real! She actually exists in real life and not just on paper!" Linda then says "Do you want to hold her?" Are you kidding me? I've been waiting my entire life to hold her! So her ayi passes her over to me, and even though she was a big package in all of that clothing, she was such a light package. And she's still looking at me, just getting a feel for it all. And her ayi gives her some hard candy to hold onto. And then sometime in there, Craig and Gwen met their daughter too, but to tell you the truth - I wasn't paying attention to them at all!
Then there was much paperwork to be done by our guide and the orphanage director. So, we head out into the hallway to get away from all the chaos, because by this time everyone in that room had met their babies and a lot of those babies were not happy about it! There were about 30 families meeting their babies that morning, plus travel guides, plus orphanage directors, plus nannies (ayis), plus government officials, plus babies. It got very cramped and loud in there very fast.
So, Maggie and I hung out in the hallway and Bryan looked on and took pictures of me crying. I think we tried to have Bryan hold her once, but that didn't work well at all. I have no idea how long we were out there, but we were eventually called back into the room. Maybe we signed some paperwork? I hope we signed some paperwork! Then we had a chance to talk to the ayi and orphanage director about Maggie's sleep schedule and feeding. I remember hanging out in that room for a little bit and meeting Craig and Gwen's daughter Julia Lu.
And - that's it! The day we stopped Waiting for Maggie.
If you want to read the posts that we wrote on that day, you can find them here and here.