Monday, March 28, 2011

Gotcha' Day

We are in love. Xi Xi is not so sure.

We walked into the Civil Affairs Office at 9 AM and were directed to sit down and start paperwork. I'd just pulled out my chair when a group of women walked in, one holding a baby. I recognized her as the daughter of our travel companions and quickly grabbed my camera to take a picture for them. Through my camera lens, I noticed a very scared, sad-looking little boy trying to back out of the room. He was older, much bigger than I'd envisioned, and so tan, but I knew it was Xi Xi. As further proof, he was clinging to the photo book we'd sent to the orphanage.

A woman, who I later learned was the assistant director of the orphanage, pushed him toward us and he erupted into hysterical sobs. The woman picked him up and handed him to me. He's extremely heavy and with the kicking and flailing, was nearly impossible to hold. He was screaming in Mandarin, "No! I don't want it!" and many other things that required no translation to understand that he was not pleased with the situation.

I'd been holding him all of three minutes when our guide asked me to come back to the table to do paperwork. There would be no 24 hour harmonious period like we'd had with Cholita, they wanted the final adoption papers done immediately. I handed Xi Xi to Lyle and the screaming and kicking continued as I signed my name saying we'd love and care for him forever. Based on the present state of things, I wasn't feeling especially confident. Every time I'd glance over at the chaos, our guide pointed to the paperwork and asked me to hurry.

Xi Xi was yelling something to "his auntie", as we learned that he called her, and then she told Lyle that he wanted to be put down. He sat on the couch next to Lyle and the kids opened his backpack and showed him that there was another copy of his photo book. I wasn't sure if he'd get the one I'd sent to China, so I'd made another just in case. He stopped crying and quickly grabbed the book, added it to the other book and held them close to his chest. He then hopped down from his seat and walked out the door, causing us to panic. His auntie motioned for us to stay where we were. From my seat at the table, I could see him in the hall outside, breathing deeply, slowly looking at each page in his photo book. I wanted to cry for him.

The auntie called him back in and after having that moment to collect himself, seemed much more content. He looked at the toys we'd included in his backpack, but it was all done only one-handed because he would not let go of his books. The ice breaker came in the form of a ball--such a boy. I'm not sure who threw it first, but he was all over it. His tear-stained face broke into a huge grin and he laughed.

When this boy smiles, I challenge anyone to not smile with him.

At this point, there was a break in the paperwork and I showed Lianne's letter to Auntie. She seemed so happy to see it and knelt down next to Xi Xi and put the picture into his available hand. He did a whole face smile and immediatley yelled, "Jie Jie!"

There was no doubt whatsoever that he remembered her and that she was a very special person in his young life. I will always love this girl who sent our boy such a precious gift on this most difficult day.

Now it was Lyle that needed to add his signature to the many papers and Xi Xi once again looked through his picture book, this time pointing and asking questions. I'd included the two pictures we have of him as an infant and he looked at them for a long time. Then very clearly he said, "Shur boo shur wo?" (Is that me?) My mandarin stinks, but I was so happy that I understood exactly what he was asking and could answer him "shur", yes, it is you. I told him he was a very cute baby and he nodded his head and smiled. He saw a picture of Bruder and pointed to him and said, "Gu Gu" (big brother).

The next big hit was Lucy's camera.

Xi Xi loved taking pictures of everyone and then would laugh as he shared their picture with them. Funny picture faces were very appreciated.

Even though it's not the clearest photo, this one completely cracks us up.

Xi Xi showed his result to Cholita and they both thought it was just hysterically funny, which it was.

While the officials did whatever else they needed to do, we all sat in a circle on the floor and threw the ball to each other. Each time we threw it, we'd say the person's name. After just a few rounds of this, he threw the ball to Rose and very clearly said her name. We all clapped and he seemd quite pleased with himself. The next time he got the ball, he said "MaMa" and threw it my way. He had my heart right then and there.

A couple of times Cholita over-threw the ball and I'm pretty sure he scolded her in Mandarin. Cholita is taller, but Xi Xi is much, much heavier. I wouldn't be surprised if he weighs more than Rose. Later in the day when I asked his auntie if he had any favorite toys, she said no, but that his favorite thing to do is eat. I believe it. The boy is a tank. While we waited for the officials to finish their part of the paperwork, we played Ring Around the Rosie, and he quickly learned to sing the "Ashes, Ashes" part. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes was also a big hit, with him attempting to sing along.

He looked very concerned as we left the office, but was happy to get a shoulder ride from Baba.

He sat quietly on the bus, calmly looking out the window at the commotion of the city. It's not just the U.S. that will give him culture shock. His orphanage was in the city, but he never really went anywhere. The foster village, where they said he'd been for the past six months, was a couple of hours away in the countryside, so this bustling city was all new to him. When the bus stopped and the auntie got out to run an errand, he cried, calling her name. When she got back on the bus, Xi Xi told her that he wanted to sit on her lap, but she told him in no uncertain terms that he could not. He tightened his grip on his photo books and laid his head on my shoulder, resigned that he was staying with us.

Our next stop was at another office for his passport photo. Only Lyle and I needed to get off the bus with him, so as we were leaving, Lucy waved and said, "Bye, Xi Xi" He waved back and said in English, "bye". In the office, he listened very attentively to the adults that spoke to him and responded in a quiet, clear voice. Someone at the office asked him if he liked his new dad and he shook his head and said no. Lyle wasn't at all offended. We were told that in his foster family he had several siblings and was very much loved by the parents. Auntie said that they took him back to the orphanage a week ago and that it was very sad and his foster mother cried when he left.

It was clear that he'd had his photo book for quite a while, which was an answer to prayer. At one point, his auntie jokingly asked if she could take one of his books and he hugged them closer and shook his head no. As we were going back to the bus, he tripped and fell and his precious books went flying. He frantically gathered them up and let Lyle give him hugs. Besides the clothes on his back (which we would later discover were many), the photo book was the only thing he was taking with him and he wasn't about to hand that over to anyone.

On the bus, he let me snuggle him and he promptly fell asleep. Mercifully, it was while he was asleep that Auntie got off the bus.

He didn't ask about her when he woke up. Back at the hotel, we discovered that he wasn't as chubby as we'd initially thought. He was wearing: a t-shirt, a long-sleeved collared shirt, a heavy sweater, a coat, jeans, pink polka dotted long johns and some funky undies. He kept repeating something that seemed to end in "shway" (water), so we gave him more and more water. We have now learned that that particular phrase means he has to go to the bathroom. Filling him with water every time he said he needed to use the toilet was not really a good move. Despite our mistakes, he hasn't had any accidents and has been fine with the western toilet.

There is so much more I want to say about our day, but I'm exhausted and the rest of the family is asleep, so I'll end with a few observances we've made in our first day together:

*Xi Xi is all boy and loves cars and trucks.
*He's a great mimic and has said several English words.
*He is a total and complete ham.
*He's got dance moves that you would not believe.
*He likes dogs (at least in theory, we'll see what he thinks when he meets Olaf)
*He's awesome with chopsticks, but a fork will do in a pinch.
*He has great dexterity.
*We think he's double-jointed.
*He's got a great throwing arm.
*He's obedient.
*He has a sweet, quiet voice, but speaks very clearly.
*He laughs with every part of his being.
*He's smart.
*And he's so very, very brave.

We love him and feel privileged to be his parents. Tomorrow we'll continue our adventure as a family of seven.


Stefanie said...

Oh my goodness.
OH. MY. Goodness!!
He is positively precious, Eileen!!
May I PLEASE share this on the NHBO blog? You've shared so much over there about your little guy, I'd love to post this over there, too!
Positively precious!!!!!

Mysty and Anthony said...

First of all, you SOOO need to write a book! I am laughing and getting teary-eyed and worried all in what you are writing. I didn't want it to end!!! Amazing! Second, he is adorable! I know he will fit in great!!! He's gonna have some bumps in the road, but just with what you wrote you did (songs, books, games) you are an amazing family!!! He will get the hang of it quickly!
Please keep writing and sending the pics (which are awesome too) I am now HOOKED and will follow your journey! Can't wait to see how big he is with minimal clothes on and that HUGE smile! Good luck and hang in there!!!!

val said...

What a precious little those chubby cheeks. Congratulations & good will win him over in no time.

Julie P said...

Oh, I've had chills. I had found your blog from Segullah and have followed your story. What a beautiful story (and new son)...

April said...

Congratulations to your whole family! What an amazing day, thank you for sharing it with all of us. Xi Xi is an amazing boy, and I am so deeply happy that he received that photo book. You can see the spirit in his little face when he smiles.- that boy is going to be a perfect fit for your family.

Karen W said...

Oh Eileen! He is just too cute for words!! You are making me visit some very happy memories. I hope it all continues to go well.

Amy said...

Eileen-- Congratulations! And wow, did your post bring back memories. My daughter clung to her Ayi and screamed "Wo bu yao" (I don't want to) for a good 10 minutes before coming to us. I'm so glad that he's settling in so well. Lots of love from Moogacat on RQ.

Full Time Advocate said...

God bless you! I remember how hard that first day was. He seems to be doing really well though so keep the faith and know that every day just gets better and better. :o)
and I'm so glad you know some Mandarin. That made all the diffence with Scarlett. The ability to communicate and make her feel at ease, if just a little bit...

April said...

My O My!!! He is gorgeous!! Congrats on your new son.

CSIowa said...


Katie said...

CRYING.....AGAIN! I'm so very happy for your family! He's such a strong and brave little boy and I know he'll just love his new home. CONGRATS Eileen! What a blessing that he got the book and understands :)

Kelly said...

I have been awaiting this post. What an awesome little kid. You are so brave and kind. I am honored to be your friend. Good luck with all that comes!!! Praying for you.

Jessica said...

He's beautiful! Congratulations to all of you, and I can't wait to see more pictures. What a wonderful little boy to go with a wonderful family.

Woodine said...

What a beautiful, amazing family you have. Congratulations!

Suzie said...

Hooray! So excited! Love the pictures!! Congratulations!

Julie said...

I just love it!! AMazing...WOW!! He is a doll. And I love how your pictures tell the story. The first one is classic. And with each one he seems to warm up. What a blessing to have all the other kids there too! He is going to have so much attention...and I'm sure he'll love every minute of it. I cracked up at the one with him on Lyle's shoulders. He doesn't look heavy at all! wink wink

We are so excited for you!! What a blessing. We will keep you and you new little addition in our prayers as you all get to know one another.

I just thought I'd let you know that Darren has talked to Kathy twice today. Hmmm...the ball might start rolling here really soon.

Danae said...

Oh my, could he be any cuter? I am heartbroken and so happy for him at the same time. What a tough transition this has to be for him, I can't even imagine all that he is going through. What a lucky little man he is to be loved and adored by you all! You will have to post some of his best moves!

Tammy said...

Your photo book was truly an inspired idea. I consider that to be a tender mercy. It's a beautiful reminder that Heavenly Father loves each of his children and is aware of their feelings and struggles. We pray that your new son will be able to adjust and feel of your great love for him. Thank you so much for sharing. I agree that you need to write a book.

Wife of the Pres. said...

Absolutely. Positively. Beautiful. In. Every. Way.

Congratulations all over again Momma.

Melissa said...

My goodness. He is so precious. Love the chubby cheeks. I am so glad to hear that he got his photo book. Gives me hope that my Owen will be able to get a care package. What a brave little boy he is. Prayers for bonding for your family.

Cari said...

What a sweet and brave little boy! I am so excited to meet him. Hope Day 2 goes well!

Terynn said...

What a great and terrible day. Thanks for the wonderful description of the events. I felt as though I was right there with you, crying, cheering, smiling, feeling it all.

Looking forward to reading more...

Brooke said...

Congratulations! What a blessing that his siblings were able to be there for this momentous and difficult time. Children have such a great capacity to bond. said...

Congratulations! We are so happy for your family!

Jules said...

Wow, what a day! We've been thinking of you guys. He is adorable and we can't wait to meet him. Hope things continue to go well for you!

Laurel said...

We are so excited for you. We are thinking about you and your family and keeping you in our prayers. We hope everything goes well and we can't wait to meet your little guy this summer. Love, the Osmonds

Canada to China and back! said...

Yay! What a wonderful memorable day for your sweet family! He is so sweet.:)


sierrasmom said...

Congratulations!!! He is beautiful!!!!

Fireball said...

We read your blog post together as a family, and the boys have things to say:

Thing 3: We have seen your pictures. I am so excited to see him!

Thing 2: Good luck! I hope you have a good time with your family.

Thing 1: He sounds like a very nice boy. I hope that he fits in right with your family. He has a great one.

We love him already and look forward to meeting him. Congrats!

Amy said...

Oh Eileen...what a precious PRECIOUS new son and brother! XiXi is can just see he has an amazing sense of humor even in these early moments...and brave...oh so brave.
God bless each one of you during these first hours and days as a family of seven!
With Love and Prayers...

Whatshername's Mummy said...

I first read this entry on No Hand But Ours, during reading it I spotted the chairs and then the blue and white buildings - I was pretty sure I recognised them. The description of Xi Xi's orphanage sounded familiar too. My Kunming daughter has been home nearly 4 years and is now almost 4 and a half. I have very special memories of Kunming.
Kate in Wales, Alice Ming's proud Mama

Paul and Jackie said...

He's adorable. Congrats to your family! Enjoy the rest of your trip! So glad the whole family could go!


Annie 2Good said...

Congreats! He is a very handsome little boy. We can't wait to met him and have him in out class.
Have a great trip home.