I'm now writing to you from adoptive family central. Just so you believe me...
Guangzhou is home to the US Consulate that will finalize our adoption. On Thursday our Christmas gift will be finished and ready for shipping. Arella gets a sister, Eriek and I get another daughter and little Zoe gets a forever family. The best gifts cannot be wrapped... but they can still wear bows.
Guangzhou is a completely different city from Changsha in every aspect. The weather is mild here, much like Houston- sunny and in the 70's. It's a very western city as well and people are used to seeing foreigners so we don't get started at quite as much. However, I have caught myself staring a lot more. We went from being just about the only adoptive family in the city to the norm. When we walked down to breakfast there had to be over 30 American families with Chinese kids. It was cool and it was weird all at the same time.
We met some great people and shared our experiences so far. It's funny because we all get so caught up in asking questions and talking about kids that we forget to introduce ourselves. So I know a lot of children, but I don't know many parents' names yet.
Just about every family that was down at breakfast went over to the Consulate building to have the kids' visa pictures and medical checkups done. Apparently they only do this on Saturdays, so it was a bit crazy. But the doctors were all great with the kids, toys in hand ready to distract them.
Zoe did great. The only thing she really hated was having to open her mouth, but the doctor was quick and she was smiling right after. He seemed impressed she could hear out of her right ear. But we think she actually has a fully intact ear drum in her left ear also, just no canal. Here's a picture of it so you understand what we mean. You'll notice that she has an earlobe but is missing the outer ear. There appears to be some cartilage where the ear canal should be, but there is no opening. It is not uncommon for someone with microtia to still have a fully intact ear drum, just no canal to get the sound to it.
She loves to listen to music on our phones and dance. Girl's got some rhythm. She likes to hold the phone on her left side as well as her right. I think she hears or feels the vibrations on her left side. It'll be interesting to get that checked out back home. But with that little boogie she's got going, she will fit right into our dance party family.
She may have some jaw issues on that side as well. When she opens her mouth, it is definitely crooked and smaller on that side likely because of the bone structure. We'll see what the docs say, but I think her little smile is sweet and endearing.
Apparently Zoe likes it, too.
She did great on the plane last night. It was just an hour flight, but a good trial run for the trip home. Going to bed last night was a little better, but she had some night terrors again. The first one happened about 30-45 minutes after she fell asleep and it lasted about 45 minutes. The next one came around 3:30am and lasted about 10-15 minutes. Then she just cried out "Mama" around 6:30am.
While we were waiting for the medical exams, she fell asleep on me in the carrier for a little catnap and was more than ready for a real nap when we got back to the hotel. But she did not want to be put down. After about 25 minutes and a third attempt, she fell asleep. I'm now very appreciative of having been through nap issues with Arella because God has taught me patience in this process- and patience has never been my best trait. As I was attempting to put her down the first couple times she did cry out "Mama" again, but I'm pretty certain she meant me this time since she was reaching for me when she cried it. It's hard to watch her feel so tortured, but I'm thankful that she finds comfort in my arms and wants me to be the one to rescue her from distress.
I've found a lot of things that soothe and calm her, but one thing that really steadies her is when I just softly talk to her while holding her tight. I just speak truth to her. I tell her I love her. I tell her that I know it's hard, and that Mommy can't always give you what you want, but I will always give you what you need. I tell her that I wish I could have been there from the beginning, but I am here now and I will be here from now on. I tell her that I know everything is different and changing and scary, but Mommy will always be right here for you. I will never, ever leave you Zoe. We'll walk this new road together.
Sometimes it's like I'm reassuring myself because it pierces my heart with the words Jesus speaks to us when we listen. We are all orphans in need of adoption through a savior.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." John 14:3
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him." John 3:16-17
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
Jesus already paid our debt for us. He's preparing a place for us. He wants us to be with Him forever. We just have to decide whether we want to remain an orphan or have a forever family with God Himself.