Monday, May 8, 2017

Gotcha Day

There were approximately 5million hours of training for the adoption process. (Insert slight sarcasm font there.) In addition to the hours and hours of training, we took it upon ourselves to read lots of blogs and talk to lots of friends about their adoption processes. And as the time to travel came near, we prepped ourselves big time for what Gotcha Day might look like. Would our boy kick, scream, hit? Would he want anything to do with us at all? Would he be reserved and subdued? Would he even show the slightest interest in toys.. or us?

We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. We prayed a lot. We asked other people to pray. We knew, that for our boy, it would mean a day of tremendous loss. He'd be losing everyone and everything he'd ever known. He'd be confused, in a new place and with people he'd never even seen before. 

May 8th started much like every other day of our trip in China. We woke pretty early, had a delightful breakfast, lounged for just a bit, and then ventured out into the city. My emotions were all over the place, and I literally had All The Feels. Staying in a hotel room, waiting for our son, would not make The Feels any better. 

Our first stop was Zoo Coffee right across the street from our hotel. Um. Wow. China knows how to do atmosphere. 

We opted for lattes and were surprised with latte art!

To kill more time, we meandered down the road a ways to the local mall. We took our time browsing the many floors and especially loved the Children's floor! (Each floor of the mall caters to a specific style. First floor is makeup and perfumes. Second floor is women's clothing. Etc.) 
Every store should have a HUGE Bumblebee, right?
FINALLY, it was time to eat some lunch and make our way back to the hotel. Nervously, I tried straightening everything and making it just so. Usually, adoptive families meet the Orphanage Director, the child's nanny and their (long awaited and prayed for) child in a banquet room at the hotel. However, we're the only family adopting from Gansu province this trip. So all the people and our boy were coming up to our hotel room. I wanted our room to look inviting, but also orderly. 

When everything had been placed in its place for the third time, I finally decided to sit down,  calm down a little and pray. After about 20 minutes, I realized that if I looked out the window, I would probably be able to see our boy arrive at the hotel. Peering over the windowsill, I spotted a car pull over. A woman emerged from the car, another woman, and yet another woman. Finally, I saw the tiniest little bundle emerge from the car. 

If All The Feels hadn't been going crazy enough, it's like they were kicked into hyperdrive. The day we've prayed for and dreamt about for the last 3 years was finally here. I saw my precious tiny boy in the flesh, 100+ feet down- but still-, for the very first time. Any moment, he would be within arms reach. I knew everything he was going through was frightening enough. So, I tried my best to keep my emotions in check. A frightened and confused toddler would probably not be comforted much by a strange woman doing the ugliest of ugly cries. 

In the blink of an eye, there was a knock at the hotel door. I opened it, and had to peer out to get a glimpse of our precious Benjamin. He stood between his nanny and the orphanage director.. so tiny.. so wonderful.. so much more than we could have ever prayed for. 

He reacted about as well as you would think a shy little boy might. I approached him slowly, cautiously with my arms outstretched. He was quick to back away from my embrace. With the encouragement of the onlookers, I quickly embraced him and picked him up. The fists starting flying in perfect synchronization of the flailing feet. To round out the "Total Toddler Meltdown" experience, his back bent backwards away from me and his little voice let out a nice sized wail. I spoke in soft, reassuring tones while the nanny (I'm assuming) gave the same sentiments in his native language. To my surprise, he calmed down quite quickly and seemed to be not as mad about the strange American woman holding him. We introduced him to all his new toys and delighted in the fact that he wanted to play with them. 

Soon, it was time for all the people that were familiar to Benjamin to leave. He was none too thrilled about this, and let us know he was sad to see them go. After a few minutes of hugs, he was ready to play again. We were astonished to see the ends of his sweet little mouth curve into a reserved smile after some teasing and playing. And not long after that, he let out a few shy chuckles. We relished in the way this precious boy played and seemed to be comfortable in this new, strange place. 

Benjamin's paperwork describes him as a shy little boy who likes to be quiet. Um. Maybe for the first 10 minutes you meet him.. or in a big crowd. 

But the Benjamin that has wreaked havoc on our hearts is boisterous, funny, enjoys being loud, has personality enough for 10 toddlers and is anything but reserved. My limited vocabulary isn't expansive enough to begin to describe the numerous ways for which we are grateful for not only this day, but how well our boy has done today. He did kick and scream. He wanted nothing to do with us. But then, he quickly adjusted and liked the idea of having every ounce of attention he desired. He was eager to "perform" for us, to make us laugh by doing silly things, and to "ask" for things from us. (He doesn't quite talk much, but Benjamin is well versed in the communication ways of toddlers world wide. He does a fabulous job of letting you know exactly what he wants.) This brilliant boy proved to be anything but subdued. And the whole "no interest" in us thing? Well, this sweet boy is already taking quite a liking to his new Mommy and Daddy. (More so Daddy. But hey, this relationship is still young! He'll be saying "I love you Mommy" in no time! Hah!)

And now, the most beautiful black haired baby with the most beautiful set of almond shaped eyes is snoring sweetly beside me. And now, without fear of traumatizing this precious boy of mine any further, the tears are flowing. Tears of gratitude that he is, in fact, ours. Tears of gratitude for the smiles we saw, the deep belly laughs we heard, and for the words "Mama" I heard come out of that perfect little mouth. Tears of gratitude for all the "firsts" we got to experience today: his first book, his first meal with us, his first bottle, the first time I rocked him to sleep. My heart grieves for the many "firsts" we did not get to experience with him.. but I am rejoicing for the many "firsts" we will get to have. 


Tomorrow, we sign all the official forms proclaiming that our boy will be Benjamin James Brantner for as long as the Lord allows. After a few days, his passport will be ready and then we fly to Guangzhou. There, we'll do more paperwork, have a medical appointment and fly home to live as Brantner Party of 6. We're praying that Benjamin falls more and more in love with us, that he will begin to understand deeply the true meaning of the words Mommy and Daddy, and that he stays well. (Lots of adopted kiddo's are prone to sickness during the process. This is quite a lot on their little bodies. Many have never travelled outside of their province or experienced so much.)


After the Orphanage Director left, our guide took us to a photographer to have our first family photo made. It went as well as you could expect. Being the only Americans in Lanzhou with a Chinese Baby means we are gawked at just about every time we step foot out of our hotel. Benjamin was uber confused, but didn't cry. So, I guess we succeeded at our first formal picture experience with him.

We let Benjamin recover from the first outing for a while. We played, read books, and basically did whatever he wanted to do to make him feel comfortable. If he threw a toy, we laughed like idiots. If he dropped a book, we exclaimed "uh-oh" with gusto. If he did something totally adorable, we clapped fervently and gave a hearty "yay." But dinner time drew near, so we prepped him for the "cold" and threw a hat on his head. The Chinese believe your child must be layered in 5million layers if the weather is at all below 100 degrees. Benjamin came to us with two pairs of pants, a t-shirt and two jackets on. I'm sweating just thinking about it. While we opted to go with only one pair of pants, a t-shirt and light jacket for dinner, we thought it best to cover his head lest we be shamed by some well-meaning Chinese Grandma on the street.

The first few minutes were mere tolerance of his new accessory. But, he grew to be quite fond of it. He'd pat his head every few minutes just to make sure it was still there.. which is probably best, since he has about 10 more hats waiting for him at home!

After a long day, it just felt good to be snuggled up with my precious boy. Benjamin is every bit of 2 years old, and doesn't enjoy sitting still longer than a few minutes. So, you better believe I soaked up all the cuddles I could while he enjoyed his bedtime bottle.
This picture. (And the 5million others we took today.) So many things. First, the look Benjamin is giving his new Daddy.. the eye contact.. the way he will grab a book, sit you down and then plop himself in your lap now? The way he curls so perfectly and fits just like he has belonged in your lap for years and not hours? It's a picture of God's grace.. of His goodness... of His faithfulness... of His provision. 


daiseymae said...

Kazowee!!! Love him already. AM

Meghan Krueger said...

Loved reading this!!! Thanks for sharing :)

Rachel said...

So so so happy for you guys! Thanks for Sharing all the sweetness!