We were all sort of nervously pacing around waiting for 2:00 to get here so we could load up into the van and get moving. Earlier this AM Lisa and I took care of some adoption business while AR and K/D/A stayed behind in the apartment. But the time was approaching for our afternoon “Go Get Ryan” appointment at the Civil Affairs Office. Lisa and I were fighting the butterflies, while the kids were a bit wired, but in a good way.
We made our way to the lobby and met up with Lily, our guide, and started the 30 minute journey. We arrived and were led to an upper floor, where we entered the “Baby Room” (as it used to be called) where the children were presented to their forever families. It was reminiscent more of Kyle’s and Ashley’s presentation room than Dylan’s.
We were the first family there and we wondered if we would be the only family today. That lasted about 3 minutes, until two other families joined us, followed by several more after that. All told there were about 10 families in the mix for today. We waited about 15 minutes, and then Ryan came in (he didn’t see us but we saw him. They led him into a small playroom, off the main room, with all manner of toys, art supplies and other diversions (the “get the childrens’ minds off it” room.) He came in holding the hand of his orphanage representative and he carried only a small backpack. We waited a few more minutes and then our lives changed forever as we were called to meet him as they guided him out of the playroom.
His guide took her time to introduce him to all of us. As he heard each name he repeated it, almost silently. His apprehension started to rise noticeably, as we (actually Ashley and Kyle) took his hand and we moved back to our position on the couches near the edge of the room. Ryan was not very animated but we could tell that he was very uncertain of how his next few minutes would go. K/D/A were tremendous with him doting on him like we’d never seen before. Ashley and Kyle were competing for every hand hold and chance to help.
We all took a bunch of photographs with cameras and phones to capture the first few moments of the rest of Ryan’s life. We got a nice group shot near the front of the room.
And some other shots too:
Smiles were hard to come by, as we got the sense that Ryan was slowly coming to the realization that this was really happening. He was certainly feeling saddened about losing the only world he’d known, and was surely a bit overwhelmed by it all. He began to cry softly and this set off a chain reaction – Kyle, then Ashley, then AR then Mom. It was difficult to see how profoundly sad this must have been for him. Our family was sad because Ryan was sad – and we didn’t want him to be sad on this most excellent day. Our guide, Lily, even tried to calm and soothe him – speaking Mandarin – but wasn’t successful. His tears flowed freely and his cries got louder and louder. Hand-holds were shunned and he withdrew further as he and Dad went to the side room to help him gain his composure. In a few more moments it was time to go. It all went by so terribly quickly.
All of our other adoption days were very different and special in their own ways. This one was very special for Lisa and me because we could see how genuinely loving our first three children were toward Ryan. They reached out to him unconditionally in that room, in the same way that Lisa and I committed to him unconditionally in front of the Chinese government when we realized that he would be the one for us.
We were fortunate to have the unique opportunity to witness how our children connected Ryan’s transitions to their own transitions when they were adopted. I could almost translate Kyle’s and Ashley’s tears: “Why is he so sad? Doesn’t he know that we we’ve been desperately waiting for him to join our family, and that we’ve waited so long to be able to love him?” It was amazing to see and we’ll never forget today, just as we will never forget our three other adoption days. Lisa and I are a bit sad as well, since this will be our last adoption day…and despite all the stress, work and uncertainty, there is no better feeling in the world than having the chance to change a life forever. We are the lucky ones – we’ve been able to experience this four times.
We were able to help Ashley and Kyle calm themselves down and we think they understood that all of the emotions and feelings that were happening would eventually sort themselves out before too long. Ryan was still crying quietly, as we headed out to meet our driver. As the driver was fighting his way through afternoon traffic, Lily showed Ryan the photo book that he’d brought with him that day, She calmly paged through it with him and worked a bit more of her Mandarin magic. In a few moments, before the van even arrived, Ryan was completely composed and seemed more accepting of a helping hand to climb in.
Then, things took a turn for the better…we suspected that they would…
Ryan sat next to Mom in the van, and that had a further calming effect on him. We stopped off at the supermarket to pick up some snack and drinks. Despite his visual challenges, Ryan certainly knows what he likes and wasn’t shy to look at the labels and load up the basket with things that HE wanted. We had a good time and rolled out with a bunch a good stuff (and some, honestly, not so good stuff!)
On the way back to the hotel, Ashley muscled Mom out and sat next to Ryan! They had a nice time looking at photos and videos on Dad’s iPhone…
Things were indeed settling out, and Ryan’s entire disposition changed once we got back to the hotel and he realized that “this was going to be OK.” There were smiles and laughter, and goofing around, as he got more & more comfortable. He found the crayons, drew some pictures, played with his new set of dinosaurs, and enjoyed modeling his new Dino hat!
Soon it was time for dinner, and we headed out to – where else on Day #1? – McDonald’s.
Here is the full lineup in the lobby, headed out for chow. (…Love that picture…)
Here we are mid-meal…
After dinner, it was wind-down time – teeth were brushed and Jammies changed into. After weeks of Ashley wanting to know if she’d be able to sleep next to Ryan – she finally got her wish. They passed out within moments of each other in their twin beds – separated by about 18 inches – and less than 3 months. This should be interesting!
And so here I sit, in the kitchen of our Guangzhou apartment, Everyone’s sleeping; and it’s a satisfying silence after the day we’ve had. It was a long time coming, i just wish we could have made it last a bit longer.
The other day, one our tour of the Forbidden City, Robert (our Guide) noticed that I was wearing my gently aged “Life is Good” t-shirt. He pointed to the sketch and logo on the front and kindly said, “Life is good for these kids, thanks to you and Lisa.” I looked him in the eye and replied, “Not nearly as good as our lives will be once they’re all together on Monday night.”
Some people struggle with the “Why am I here?” question. Thankfully, we do not.
Welcome to the world of the Lockheads and the Wedders, Ryan, we hope you enjoy it.
We love you very much.
PS, we have a bit more catching up to do with our stories to match our pictures – so our apologies if the posts are a bit out of sequence – thanks for bearing with us.