Day 4: Family Day (aka: Gotcha Day)

We began our Memorial Day FaceTiming with Liam and Tucker. It was so fun to see them both, and they seem to be doing really well. I can't wait to wake up in the morning and introduce them to their new brother! We felt refreshed after a good night's sleep and walked down to have breakfast. The options here are amazing, and while I have almost a dozen pictures of breakfast, I will share just this one to give you an idea. Breakfast in China is honestly the best, and I will cry when I get home and I don't get to eat delicious omelets, dragon fruit, waffles with cream, etc. every single day. There will be tears. And you China mommas know what I am talking about!! Spoiled? Of course, this is one of our great rewards for braving the adoption journey. It's 1:43 a.m. here, and my mouth is watering just looking at this picture. This picture is just one of SEVERAL areas where one can choose what to eat for breakfast.

Omelet station right ahead (said in my best Titanic impresion). 
After finishing breakfast, I went back to the room to write my letter to Tyson. Ryan and Noah found the indoor pool and went for a swim. You have to wear swim caps in many pools in China. I wish I had a picture of that, but I wasn't there to snap one! After posting my blog, I got ready for the day. I can remember only a handful of occasions where getting ready felt like one of those I-never-want-to-forget-this-day kind of times: my first date with Ryan, my wedding day, Noah and Liam's births, Tucker's Family Day, and now Tyson's Family Day. I wanted to straighten my hair and look beautiful for my baby boy, but my hairdryer nearly caught on fire when I turned it on! BAHAHA!! #chinaoutletprobs. I was only using a universal plug but not a converter like last time. I have had that dryer since 8th grade, and if never works again, I will laugh but be so sad deep down. I mean, we've been together for 20 years!!! That's a hair dryer record! I know you girls feel me.

Ryan and Noah returned from the pool and also began to get ready. Once finished, we went out to the lobby on our floor to complete paperwork for Tyson's adoption. There are two other families here with us, and both are from the Atlanta area. They are adopting little girls, and this is the first adoption for both of them. So thankful to have such sweet families with us on this journey.

After completing paperwork, our guide took us shopping for essentials: diapers, bottle brush, snacks, bread for PBJ, bottled water, etc. We took the local bus because our driver got in a car accident on the way to pick us up - nothing major, but he was at the police station for several hours dealing with that.

We took the bus back to our hotel, and Ryan and Noah went to the room to have PBJ for lunch. Please continue to pray for Ryan to recover from jet lag! I want this to be an incredible and memorable experience for him, and his stomach is nauseated most of the time. He is a great sport about it, but I know he doesn't feel well. His body just doesn't adjust very well. :(  I went out with David (left) and the other two couples for some delicious Chinese food. I am being 100% honest here - it was the best Chinese food I've ever had. David ordered everything. We had no idea what he was choosing, and I liked every single thing he picked. My stomach is growling! It makes me cry at our Chinese food in the US. David even said it is terrible in comparison. Our host student from U of I is Chinese, and he found a place he likes in Indy. I need to get the name and see if they can make anything I had today. It was remarkable!

Our guide is phenomenal and really loves the children!

Once we finished lunch, we went back to the hotel and had about 30 minutes before it was time to leave. Ryan, Noah, and I all recorded videos for Tyson to watch when he grows up. Then, we each took turns praying for Tyson, each other, and our family. They were some of the most beautiful prayers I've ever heard. What a sweet time for our last moments together before leaving to meet our new little guy.

We met everyone in the lobby downstairs and walked out to our van. I didn't feel nervous at all, which can only be explained by the warriors who were sending up beautiful prayers to our Father. I looked at Ryan, and got a thumbs up! It was go time.

I looked at Noah, and he gave me the same! Thumbs up and ready to go.

The drive took maybe 10 minutes to reach the civil affairs building. We were told that Tyson took a bullet train from Beihai to Nanning that day. I could not stop imaging him peeking out the window, watching the world fly by him, as he became closer and closer to us, the curiosity of a toddler guiding his actions.

We got out of the van and walked into the building together. I started to look around to see what I could take pictures of while we waited. I document this experience so extensively because it is such an important part of our son's history, our family's story. Just as I began to look to the right to see what pictures I could take, I heard my friend say, "Amy, there he is. I see him."

I looked at a room to the left, and there he was, in the arms of a sweet woman. I started taking pictures as fast as I could, and then it hit me. That was my little boy! He was real and here and I could see him. There were other families from Spain meeting their children for the first time before us (like the man in white below). Doesn't it give you chills to know that God is touching people from all over the world to bring these children home?

Noah and I stood close to the door way, peeking at the beautiful boy in blue. Having studied his pictures for so long at home, I could not believe he was just feet from us. 

And then our eyes met for the very first time...

...and I melted. This was my son, and he has a mommy, a daddy, and three brothers who will adore him forever. I stepped back to take it all in and watched as Noah peered in at Tyson with such curiosity. I watched my son fall in love with his brothers. And you know what, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed in my life.

 Noah was invited inside the little room to play with Tyson, and I watched their eyes meet for the very first time.

A game of peek-a-boo began while Tyson rocked back and forth on this toy! I mean seriously, how precious is this picture?

I stood there just watching my sons together for the first time. Such precious moments I never want to forget.

Be still my heart! When he stood up and walked around, my heart went pitter patter! He is just so cute when he walks. I haven't had a little one like this for 2 1/2 years, and his every move made me smile.

We were finally called back to an office where the official invited us to take Tyson with us for a 24 hour harmonious period. She said that if we wish to move forward with the adoption after that time, we would return the next day for our formal adoption ceremony. Ryan said, "We will see you tomorrow!" At that point, the sweet women who brought Ty from Beihai to us came in the room, and they gave me permission to take him. I felt him warm, strong body in my hands, told them thank you with great respect, admiration, and love, and pulled my son into my arms. They said and waved goodbye to Tyson, and he stayed peacefully in my arms. The power of prayer, dear friends and family. I gave him a sucker, and he proceeded to slobber bucks of slobber all over me. And you know what? I loved it. I was in awe of this beautiful gift in my arms. My faith became my sight. It was you, Tyson. It was always you. 

Joy. So much joy!

I am one proud momma!
 Oh this boy! Noah Ryan Abell, you are amazing!! I am so thankful that you have been able to come with us to China to meet your brother for the first time. Seeing you with him melts my heart! I know your presence helped calm Ty's spirit today. You are such an incredible big brother to all three boys, and I am so proud of you!!

A Tyson sandwich

My sweet friend, Kelli, and our Beihai beauties.
After taking our family pictures for the "Red Book," we were allowed to leave the building. We got back in the van and made our way to the hotel.

I have very few pictures of Ryan during our first meeting with Tyson. We reversed roles this time around, and he completed the paperwork at the Civil Affairs building for our family. He also took so much video of our first meeting, as the emotion when meeting Tucker took us over, and we have almost no video of that special encounter. I know because of Tucker's and my our attachment struggles, he really wanted me to be the primary person to bond with this time around if Tyson allowed for it. We hadn't planned that together, but I am beginning to wonder if this had been his plan all along. What a guy! This is quite a sacrifice for a Daddy who loves his son and has longed for him, and I am so grateful for it! He refused to hold him for several hours, depriving himself of what his heart longed for, knowing the long term benefit it could have for our family. I love you, Ryan Abell!

That is one proud poppa watching his son!
We brought Tyson up to our hotel room. He held me closely as he took in his new surroundings. I showed him our room and sat on the end of the bed with him in my lap. He was looking around, taking it all in, and I said, "Guo An Tao, I am your mommy." And he quickly turned his face, and his eyes met mine. And they stayed there, looking deep into my eyes. At that moment, I knew our prayers were answered. He recognized me. The Spirit inside me leapt as this precious little boy so peacefully kept his eyes on mine. So many have prayed for just this to happen, and I was fully prepared for it to go unanswered. But the Lord, in His good and mighty ways, answered our prayers!

We laid on the bed together holding our gaze, and I fell in love with my son. I distinctly remember the moments that I fell for my other boys, and I will never forget any of them. What a gift to fall in love so many times and to be loved in return. I never imagined I would have a beautiful husband and four children, and here we are, living a dream greater than any I ever could have imagined.

Ty and I sat down on the floor to play. We have told Noah that as a mommy and daddy, we have to be the ones to meet Tyson's needs. Give him his food, bottles, drinks, etc. right now so that he can learn to trust us to meet those needs. However, Noah's job is just to play and have fun with his brother! With Tyson in my lap, Noah sat across from us rolling a ball back and forth and playing with a toy truck. We spent the next hour or so playing like this. It was in this time that we heard his first sounds, saw his first smiles, and took in his every move. The sounds he makes are seriously adorable!! Meeting your child at 19 months old is so fun! You get to constantly learn new things about them and watch their personality unfold.

Ty started to get tired, so I began walking him back and forth in our room. Ryan turned on the sound machine, and Noah found the iPad to keep himself busy. I wasn't sure how he would want to sleep. Tucker preferred his crib from Day 1, so I attempted to put him down, but he immediately began to cry. I couldn't let that happen, so I pulled him close to me and continued to walk. He started to yawn, and I stood in front of the mirror, watching my son fall asleep in my arms for the first time. I walked over to the bed, sat down, and he stayed asleep. Ryan propped pillows under my arm (it's like we've done this before or something), and I just watched in amazement as Tyson breathed in and breathed out minute after minute. I have missed so much in his first 19 months of life, and it reminds me what a gift every moment is with our children. He started to fuss and stir a few times in my arms, but with some gentle patting and sounds to calm him, Ty would fall right back to sleep.

When he finally woke up an hour and a half later, I sat on the floor and fed him some congee. This rice porridge continues to be one of Tucker's favorite meals, and Tyson ate it everyday at the orphanage, too. He ate well, and while Ryan and Noah left to pick up our dinner, he sat on the bed with me. We played with a few different toys, and I introduced his stuffed animal to him. I got the best smiles and sounds from him! I gave him a snack trap of puffs, and showed him how to retrieve them. He did so well and really seemed to love them! He stayed with me on the bed while I ate some pizza, and then I fed him a squeezable fruit thingy (that is the technical name for it). He loved it!

Then the fun began! Tyson's personality started to shine. As he heard the bath water running, he kicked his legs and made those cute little sounds! We are told that he received two baths per day, and from his reaction, I could tell he enjoyed them. I took off his shirt and admired his tummy and strength. He is such a healthy little guy, weighing around 27 lbs! I admired his body much like I did when Noah and Liam were born and like Tucker that first day in our arms. Each freckle, scar, bump, hair was being cataloged in my heart.

Ryan put on his swim trunks and got to have his first real daddy time with Tyson! They played with stacking cups, a toy boat, and a one of those things that you use to pour water on flowers (BAHA!! You see what happens when you blog at 3 a.m. China time - you vocabulary goes to pot) in the bathtub for quite awhile. Noah hopped right up there and wanted his picture taken, too. That is one happy little boy!!

Adoption is such a gift! Too many people are missing out on these precious children! I am praying for you to open your hearts beyond our story to a child who might be waiting for you on the other side of it. Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours. Lead our friends and family to your precious children. They need each other. May your glory shine through in every part of our story! We love you. Amen.


The White Family said...

Thank you for sharing!! I love following your adoption!

Unknown said...

Oh, what a journey your family has taken. I read every word and loved every photo. What a treasure for your son when he grows up, to read how chosen he was and blessed to become part of your loving family. My husband and I strugled with my infertility issues for some years , always knowing adoption would be an option even if we had biological children...well sadly 16/yrs has creeped by and my heart still Burt's to become a Mommy. I KNOW iny heart that I am supposed to be a Mom yo a boy and a girl. I feel the boy is from China. Thank you for the boost...I felt such joy for you all. Please say a prayer for us.There is much still to do, but with Christ All things are possible. Thank you Amy. Happy Homecoming. Warm Regards

cyn said...

So lovely! Also, we love David!! He was such a wonderful part of our adoption trip!

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