We stopped at the bank to exchange our US money for the adoption to Chinese money. We got there a few minutes before the bank opened and waited in line outside. When they opened the doors, there was a mad dash for everyone to get inside and pick a number (like going to the Revenue Dept) and then have a seat and wait for the number to be called.
We waited less than 5 minutes because we were able to go behind a partitioned wall to the VIP section. When it was our turn, we stepped up to the window and the teller sat behind a glass wall with a little pass through at the bottom. There was lots of Chinese being spoken rapidly between our guide Ming Ming and the banker, lots of documents to be signed, etc. We handed our US money over and they counted it in their bill counter then began preparing the Chinese currency to hand back to us. Jason had the US bills in a money holder that went around his waist—when they started stacking up the Chinese currency, we realized pretty quickly that all of those bills were never going to fit back in the pouch! With the exchange rate, the large US bills took up WAY less space than the equivalent of Chinese bills. We had the teller put the bills in a large brown envelope and then Jason took my cross body sling purse and put the envelope of money in it. He took his jacket off, put my purse across his body and then put his jacket back on top. Our transaction took a while and there were several people in line for the VIP section behind us that were loudly yelling out that we were taking too long. We know that because we asked Ming Ming what all the fuss was about. Again, we were the only westerners in sight, so it was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling. We finally finished our transaction and we headed out the doors back onto the street. The social welfare office was just about a 5 minute walk from the bank, so our driver had already taken the van over there to park and we walked. That’s why Jason was wearing the purse-full-o-money :) He wasn’t about to put that burden on me to walk around with all that cash on me. I was dying laughing every time I got a good luck at him with his floral purse, though. He tried to hide it under his jacket, but the purse was FULL and it was hard to hide :)
When we walked up to the building and Ming Ming said, “We’re here.” The nervous and jittery anticipation turned to full on excitement and the “Mamma Bear” started to come out in me. I knew I’d be holding my baby in a matter of minutes and I just wanted to take off running into the building to go get her!!
We stopped at the van to grab our diaper bag and cameras before heading into the building.
I took this picture as we were waiting for the elevator to go up.
As soon as we got up to the room we were to go in, we were told we’d have to wait because there were other people using the room already. As we were waiting in the hall, I heard a baby’s cry in the next room. I listened to it for a few seconds and I knew it was HER! We already knew that we were the only adoption in Shanghai that entire week, so who else’s baby would be in there crying. I asked Ming Ming if that was her and she went to find out. Yes! We did find out that she was already there waiting for us. Let me tell you—it took ALL that was within me not to run in there and grab her!!! I started shaking and I felt a little light headed. I can’t fully describe the emotions that began to run through me. It was almost like, as we sat there standing quietly in that hallway, that the last 3 1/2 years of my life were just flashing before my eyes like in a movie. This was it. I looked at Jason and we didn’t have to say a word. It was happening to him to. We just smiled at each other and we both had eyes filled with tears.
After a few minutes, the other group of people exited the room and we were escorted in. After a brief introduction and handshake with the official, we were led to a table where we would fill out, sign and complete the last bit of paperwork needed before they brought her to us. I could still hear her fussing down the hall, by the way. By the grace of God I was able to fill out the papers even though my mind was racing, my hands were shaking and I could hardly catch my breath.
Here we are filling out the papers.
As soon as we filled out the last paper, the official grabbed all the papers, arranged them neatly stood up from the table. Ming Ming said, “Ok, now we can go pay the money.” Jason stood up to go with her while I stood up to begin pacing the room while they were gone. They had gone to another room down the hall to complete the transaction. Jason came back with his purse considerably smaller :)
Right when they walked back in the room, Ming Ming grabbed our camera and said, “Ok! She’s coming” and just then we heard them coming down the hall. Jason grabbed the video camera, Ming Ming went out the door to take pictures of them coming down the hall and I stood in the middle of the room waiting. I saw the flashes of the camera and knew she was RIGHT there! Outside the door!!
Here are some pictures that she took while Jason and I were waiting in the room.
Right before they walked into the door, I had a brief panic moment where I thought they were going to walk in the door with the wrong child… but…. here’s the picture Ming Ming took right when they walked in the door to the room.
These were our first glimpses of our baby girl! It’s HER!!!
Saying Ni Hao and looking into my daughter’s eyes for the very first time.
Hi, Baby Girl! Come to Mamma!
Right in this moment, it was like everything in the world just stopped and everything was just playing out in slow motion. My baby girl that I had dreamed about, longed for and that my arms and heart had literally physically ached for was in my arms. Finally. Nothing else mattered in the whole world.
Oh, she was so upset :( Poor thing! I know she must have been so scared.
I just kept gently swaying and rocking and telling her, “It’s ok. I’m your Mamma. I love you.” It was so surreal. I loved her already, but as soon as I laid my eyes on her that day and as soon as they put her in my arms, I was “done for”. So totally and completely in love. It didn’t bother me one little bit that she was screaming. I knew I wasn’t letting her go and I’d stop at nothing to make sure she knew what it was like to have a Mamma that loved her so much and would do anything and everything for her.
Starting to settle down. I love this picture. You can see the glow on my face and the pride and excitement on her Daddy’s face as he was videoing every moment.
First family photo!
Here’s the social worker from the orphanage showing us the photo book they made for her.
After about 15 minutes, Ming Ming grabbed her jacket and said, “Ok, let’s go.” And that was it. We grabbed all of our stuff and headed back downstairs and to our van.
Daddy took about 100 pictures in the van on the way to the grocery store and back to the hotel!
Here was the very first. One word to describe this picture for me in this moment. Heaven.
After we left the Social Welfare office, we went to a grocery store to get snacks/food and bottled water. Then we went back to our hotel room.
Life with our baby girl had just begun!