Day 6: Gotcha Day (detailed version)

Ryan and I woke up yesterday, having just arrived in Chongqing the day before, and we couldn't believe the day had finally come. We had first seen Tuck's precious face on January 23, 2012, and exactly 37 weeks and 5 days later, we were meeting him. It really was like a pregnancy in so many ways (including the time that passed!). I felt really peaceful about everything, and Ryan said he was fairly anxious. We chose some American foods we are used to eating for breakfast to help keep our bellies feeling well.

Our guide, Michael, joined us for breakfast about midway through, and we had the chance to talk with him. Michael has done this for quite a long time and had experienced Gotcha Day with many, many families. He told us to expect a lot of crying...but to know it would get better. He said that Tucker's nannies would have prepared him for the day by showing him pictures of us; however, because he is only two, his understanding would still be very little. This conversation was the first time that I got a little emotional. It was becoming more and more real. 

After breakfast we joined the other two families also adopting their sons. We all met in a small conference room with a large table and reviewed paperwork and signed our names in various places. Yu Yi Ming was officially going to become Tucker YiMing Abell!!!

Below you can see me with Tammi (blue shirt) and Carroll Lane (grey shirt) with their daughters. I am SO grateful to have met these sweet, Christian women in Chongqing! We had previously connected on Facebook, and now we were altogether to meet our boys later that afternoon.

Ryan is standing below with Brad (left), Michael (our guide in the middle), and Dave (with his son). These guys are just the nicest guys you could hope to have in your company during such an occasion as this. 

After finishing our paperwork, Ryan and I returned to our hotel room and did what any normal parents just getting ready to meet their son for the first time would do. We finished watching World War Z (the most intense zombie movie I've ever seen)...hahaha! I know that is terrible, but my goal was to stay calm, relaxed, and in that peaceful place. One way to do that is to avoid thinking about the situation altogether, and we finished the movie less than an hour later. 

Although I had no appetite, we knew we needed to eat something. We made our way across the street through an overpass and grabbed Subway at the Starlight Mall. There are, no joke, two HUGE malls with like 5-7 floors each within three minutes walking distance from this hotel. I guess you have to do that when you have 8 million people living in your city. :) After finishing our turkey sandwiches and Sprites, we made our way back to the hotel room. We grabbed Tucker's little backpack, the gifts for the head nanny and assistant director of the orphanage, and our cameras and headed out the door.

Here we are just waiting to leave for the Civil Affairs building!! We hopped on the big hotel bus that fit our families perfectly and started the very hilly ride to Tucker. :) Chongqing is extremely hilly. You don't see any bikes here like in Beijing because it is just too difficult to get around that way. The terrain is similar to San Francisco, but there are 8 million people navigating it.

Baba (daddy in Mandarin) is all ready to go!!!

Now I will take you through moment-by-moment as I remember it. We walked up this staircase...

...and took one last picture before meeting Tucker. 

We took an elevator up to the 14th floor and walked up a short, dark hallway... 

As soon as we turned the corner, I saw him...sitting on the couch. I gasped and said, "Ryan, that's him. He's right there." The nanny and assistant director started pointing to us and hurried him over. He toddled along with them, seeming very comfortable. 

The head nanny (below) started showing him the photo album we had sent, pointing to our picture and then back to us saying, "Mama" and "Baba." Tuck would look at the album and then look at us. Ryan quickly gave him a sucker, while we said "Ni'Hao" over and over again. 

I put my camera down and scooped Tucker up! He is such a little peanut. Poor Ryan was juggling the video camera and the regular camera. We thought we would arrive before the children and would have be able to take turns with the other families, but instead it was a whirlwind! 

Before too long, Tuck wanted down , so Ryan showed him the spinning, light up toy we had brought for him. He loved it!! 

The head nanny began pulling things out of a bag she had brought. We had no idea they would bring anything for him, but we were so thankful to find that they had a bottle and formula for Tuck (formula for the first 3-4 years is very common in China). She gave us a flash drive that will hopefully have lots of pictures from Tuck's life at the orphanage. We will treasure them always. There was a disposable camera we had sent, and they have also taken several pictures on it for us. So excited to develop them! The nanny let us know that he has Bronchitis, and there were four medictions for him to take. We are so grateful for the way they prepared him so that our faces would be familiar. We are thankful that he had seen a doctor and was being treated when he did not feel well. We got vaccination records and a baby book of sorts because his orphanage is part of the Half the Sky program. We cannot wait to get it translated!

At this point, I had the opportunity to ask the nanny and assistant director questions about Tuck. I had made a list of 50 questions (I mean, there are so many things a momma wants to know), but I must admit, in that moment, I just felt like, "Who cares! He is right there!" I pushed through and asked the most essential questions because I knew I could get the rest answered at the orphanage visit later in the week. They described Tuck as smart, outgoing, happy, and brave, all of which we have found to be VERY true! 

After finishing questions, the head nanny said goodbye and excused herself. Tucker followed the assistant director around, as she was taking paperwork here and there. Then, she left as well. Tucker started crying, and big crocodile tears poured from his eyes. My momma heart was breaking in two to see him scared/sad like that, and at the same time, I was thanking God that Tuck cared that his familiar people had left. It would have been more concerning if he had no reaction to them leaving at all. We can see that he has formed attachments to the women in his orphanage. This can make attachment to us easier, as he has known love before. 

Ryan walked Tucker away from all of the families and stopped at this great big window. After about 5 minutes, the crying stopped. Through tears were still fresh on his cheeks, he was distracted by the traffic of his beautiful city. Ryan showed him videos of Liam and Noah, and that seemed to perk him up, too.

We got a ball and a toy car for him to play, and for the next 45 minutes or so, we just played by this window, basking in the joy of being with our son.

We signed a quick paper, giving us permission to take custody of Tucker for 24 hours. My friend Carroll Lane and I decided that it was at least a million degrees in that room, and our poor boys were wearing sweat suits/quilted clothing, making the kids approximately 210 degrees. So, I stripped off Tuck's shirt and put on a oneside. Then, before I ha the chance to finish getting him dressed, it was time to go! Ryan scooped up a half dressed, no shoe-wearing Tuck. We hopped back on the elevator and rode down to the first floor...

...made our way outside...

...walked away from the building...

...and immediately Tuck came to life! He started speaking Mandarin a mile a minute, repeating himself over and over again. We heard a horn honk, and Ryan said, "Beep beep!" Tuck repeated, "Beep beep!" And so began the "Beep beep" game! Love this picture of Ryan cracking up. 

We rode to the hotel, and Tuck enjoyed looking at the cars (Tu Tu). He would say, "Mama, tutu!" and point to them. He was so excited! My heart was melting and leaping simultaneously. We took the elevator up to our room...

...and got a great picture of Ryan carrying him into our "home," just like when we brough Noah and Liam home from the hospital. Precious.

Tuck went right to our big window, and we sat there for a long time together. 

We played with balls, cars, spinning toys, and had a snack. I posted pictures on Facebook at 4:00 a.m. Indiana time and could not believe how many people were awake to see them! I have said it a million times, but we seriously have the most supportive, loving friends and family. 

We decided to keep it simple and just grab a quick carryout order from Papa Johns. We didn't want to separate since we had just finally been united, so I loaded Tuck up into the carrier and off we went. 

Poor baby was starving! He ate a piece of pizza and some spaghetti with a little marinara sauce. While I would have loved to have given him some traditional Chinese food, all of the menus are in Mandarin, and we didn't have time to figure out where to go and what to order. The name of the game was keep it simple!

He loved everything, and when he was full, he stopped. :) Tuck played on the bed again with his spinning toy and looked at his photo album of our family. 

I couldn't stop staring at him. This child, who I've prayed for the past 9 months was sitting on my bed! It felt so unbelievable but at the same time, so familiar...like he has been here all along. Ryan put on his swim suit and hopped in the bathtub with Tuck. This served two purposes. First, we are doing all kinds of things to support good attachment to both of us! Second, we don't believe Tuck has ever been fully submerged in water like that, as sponge baths were more likely. We weren't sure how he would react. Turns out, he loved it! Give the kid some stacking cups, warm water, and a parent in the water, and he is as good as new! (Truth be told, he tries to take off his clothes now when he is near the tub because he wants to go back in). :)

Poor little guy was shivering and super tense when he got out of the tub. I wrapped him up in the hotel towel and a robe. He was snug as a bug in a rub. He just stared at me. I laid down next to him, my face maybe 6 inches away, and just started back into his eyes. This child, for whom I prayed, was lying on the bed next to me, healthy, peaceful, and redeemed. 

We put on the cutest little thermal jammies ever and just watched him in amazement. Was this finally real? Was this beautiful face I've stared at every day for 9 months really staring back at me? We got Tucker's medicine all ready, and when I saw the size of one of the pills, I thought, "How is a 2 year old baby supposed to take that?" Well, it was no big deal for this little guy! He gobbled it right up and washed it down with water. Well, ok then! I guess Tuck can swallow pills. :) We have so much to learn. 

I prepared his bottle of formula, and as soon as he saw it, he began reaching for me. I don't know how he took his bottle at the orphanage...with a caregiver or by himself. Regardless, he let me hold him like a baby and stare into his eyes while he gulped (and I mean gulped) down his precious bottle.

And I fell in love all over again.

He finished his bottle, and I began to gently stroke his face and sing...

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I'm afraid
To fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt
Suddenly goes away somehow

One step closer

I have died every day
waiting for you
Darlin' don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

Time stands still
beauty in all he is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What's standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this

One step closer

I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin' don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

Slowly, Tuck's eyes began to close. He was trying to stay awake, so I said, "You can go to sleep. I will be right here, watching you." And with those last words, my third beautiful son fell asleep in my arms. I held him tight for at least 30 minutes, just thanking The Lord for answering our prayers that day. I feel so unworthy to have such a perfect day with a child who has only known me for such a short time, but God loves us so much, and He provides us with abundant rewards beyond our understanding. It wasn't my timing, but it was His timing that Tucker was in our arms. It was perfect. And now we are a family...forever.


Melissa Niehaus said...

I love this! As I read it, my eyes filled with tears and my smile kept getting bigger :-) Congratulations to you ALL for this gift from above! God is good!!!

Linda T. said...

Amy, this is an absolutely beautiful story. I am so happy for all of you. You are all so blessed to have found each other. Congratulations!

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