Sunday, October 31, 2010

Remembering the first Gotcha

   Six years ago on a steamy Sunday afternoon in Guangzhou, China, we met Katherine and became a family.  It was an amazing day...
   There were seven other families in our travel group and all of our daughters were from the same orphanage.  We flew out of Beijing early in the morning in a cold rain and landed in Guangzhou that afternoon in 85 degree weather.  We had time to drop our bags off at the White Swan Hotel and then climbed back on the bus to go get our babies.  On the way to the Civil Affairs Office, our guide explained that our babies' Chinese names would be announced, so we needed to practice hearing and saying them.  Thankfully, Katherine's name was easy to say.
   At the Civil Affairs Office we were directed into a small, very warm waiting room to fill out paperwork.  We could hear the babies in another room across the hall and every time a baby cried we wondered "Is that ours?"  As each family was called up to sign papers the tension in the room mounted.  Steve finally announced that he felt like a kid at 5:00 Christmas morning waiting for his parents to wake up so he could go see what Santa had brought.  That was exactly the feeling!  After what seemed like forever our guide announced that we would receive the babies and to come to the hallway when our daughter's name was called.  All sixteen parents and the assorted grandparents and older siblings were all tense with anticipation.  The first name called was Yang Guo Dan.  Our baby!
   Steve and I jumped up off a couch and hurried toward the hall.  There were civil affairs and orphanage workers milling around and we were pushed back into the waiting room.  Suddenly someone handed me a baby.  It was Katherine, the same little face we'd stared at in photos for six weeks.  She was beautiful!  Katherine looked up at us and smiled.
   Within moments, someone turned us back to the couch and we sat down to study each other.  Katherine was not at all afraid of us.  We passed her back and forth and she looked at us curiously.  In her referral pictures her hair had been buzzed off but now it had filled in.  She had huge chubby cheeks but the rest of her was stick thin (she was 9 months old and weighed 15 pounds).  We thought she was the most gorgeous thing we'd ever seen.  We had waited so long for a child and now here she was!  We were a real family.
   At some point I finally looked up and realized that the room was full of babies.  I hadn't noticed anyone else's Gotcha moments but now there were 8 babies, some happy and some crying.  The adults were all happy and crying, too.  It was one big delivery room and we were all aware that nothing would ever be the same for any of us again. 
   After being briefed on the babies' schedules and how to mix their formula we were handed a big envelope of papers and a bottle and waved back out to the bus.  I remember feeling so weird to just walk out with Katherine.  Becoming parents had been such a long, hard struggle that it felt strange that somone would let us just walk away with this beautiful baby.  Back on the bus I opened up the big envelope and found pictures of Katherine's orphanage, a feeding schedule, copies of paperwork we'd signed, a little photo album with pictures of Katherine and a business card.  The card said "If you are not satisfied with this child call this number!" and gave a 1-800 telephone number!  We decided that we were satisfied.
   Six years later, we are still satisfied. Katherine Guo Dan has exactly what we had been waiting for and she still is.  We became a family that day and Halloween will never be the same!  Happy Gotcha Day, Katherine!

1 comment:

  1. happy gotcha day, katherine!!! we are all so thankful that your red thread and amy's got tangled together :-)


I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way