Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hello, my name is Jeff, but you can call me 爸爸

(Bàba, Papa, Father, Daddy, the Old Man, etc.)

Today was a day much like any other: you wake up in a foreign country, enjoy a breakfast of things you cannot pronounce, take a trip to the bank to exchange some money only to be accosted by several people trying to get you to use their "services" instead of the bank, stop at Starbucks for a 2pm latte, walk down a food alley where all manner of strange creatures are barbecued on a skewer, be stared at by anyone and everyone you pass on the street, and meeting your 5yo daughter for the first time. Yep, pretty ordinary by most accounts. 

 For the benefit of our parents, I'll cut right to the chase. Min Jing and adults from her orphanage came to our room at about 3pm. Leslie opened the door to find this precious little girl holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She came in followed by the adults and our interpreter/guide, Missy. Min Jing immediately recognized us as Mama, Baba, and Gege. She was a bit reserved, but not shy. She immediately allowed us to hold her and kiss her. She soon noticed a doll that we had brought for her and immediately picked it up and began taking off it's clothes. We had an assortment of toys and sweets lay'd out for her. She particularly liked the nail polish and glittering lip gloss. She soon began painting her own nails, and then Leslie's, too. The orphanage director handed her a gift that she then handed to Gege (Manu); a bank in the shape of a Chinese boy. Leslie and I were then presented with a few gifts of beautiful artwork from her hometown. They also gave us a few gifts for Min Jing from people who had worked/volunteered at her orphanage, including a beautiful boxed-set of decorated chopsticks that we will save for her until she is older. 

The director and the two other adults were very warm and friendly. They seemed to take a genuine interest in Manu. The gentleman of the group was snapping away, picture after picture, as the events were unfolding. We presented them with gifts that we had brought from the states, and then the director answered all questions we had about Min Jing and her situation. Then it was time to sign the temporary adoption paperwork. I say temporary because, in China, we have 24 hours to change our minds and cancel the adoption. No chance of that happening, but it is a formaility. We'll head to the civil affairs office tomorrow to finalize, at which point she officially becomes our daughter. Finally we said our goodbyes to the orphanage staff and they left our hotel. Once they were gone, Missy took us to a nearby photography store to have her passport photos taken. We came back to the room and, after it seemed that everything was going to be OK, Missy left for the evening as well. We were now on our own!

So much has happened in the last few hours, my head is still spinning, but I'd like to touch on a few items of note:

1st - This little girl is the most beautiful girl in the world. When she smiles and her eyes light up, it melts my heart. She is very talkative, and as yet doesn't seem much bothered by that fact that we don't understand what she is saying; she just talks and talks and talks, and sometime sings in her sweet little voice. She seems very inquisitive and fiercely independent; she doesn't want or need help opening packages or using the TV remote control. She seems to like Gege and has been mimicking a lot of what he does. Her chopstick skills put us to shame, and we're getting pretty good! She had no problems figuring out our camera or our phones; She actually took several really good photos of us, plus a selfie! She enjoyed her first bath, and went to bed easily, except for getting up a couple of times to get me to come to bed, too. 

2nd - It is obvious that the people at her orphanage deeply care for her, and have taken great care of her, and prepared her for this transition. She seems very healthy and happy. She instinctively puts things back where they belong, without being asked, and has even neatly folded and stacked all of the clothes that Leslie has lay'd out for her to look at. It seems apparent that, because of her situation, she has had more responsibility put upon her than that of a typical 5yo. Developmentally she seems right on point, both physically and intellectually. 

3rd - As part of the care package we sent to her for her 5th birthday, we included a USB thumb drive for the staff to download any pictures that had of her from over the years. They gave that back to us today. On it were almost 900 pictures of her going as far back as her pictures on the day she was found when she was approximately 19 days old! This was truly a blessing as we scanned through photos of special moments and events in her life. But as wonderful as it is to have them (and it really is), it is also a little painful as we realize more clearly all of the good times and milestones we have missed.

In the end, today went about as well as it possibly could; not a single tear and the first signs of bonding are beginning to appear. While this was a great relief, we know that it could be short-lived. Often the reality of what is happening can be delayed for adopted children, so she could break-down on us at any time. We hope it doesn't come to that, but we understand it is a normal part of the grieving process, and we'll do our best to empathize with her, cry with her, and comfort her as she cements her place in our family, forever. 

And now, what you've all been waiting for, the pictures:

My three favorite people in the world!
The nail polish was a hit.
Missy and the orphanage director.
The staff and our kids. 
All of us together. 
Having fun coloring.
More nail polish
Leslie and her flowers. 
Her first selfie. 
Daddy's princess!


  1. She is beautiful!!!! I am so happy for you all God's Speed

  2. Welcome to nail polish, lip gloss, naked dollies and constant conversation! :-)

  3. She's a lovely child. I am an adoptive parent too and can relate to this feeling completely.