Tuesday, September 16, 2008
9/16 Makes 6
This picture will be forever embedded in the recesses of my mind. I can smell the crowded conference room and elevator lobby. The man with the black bag was a local guide and sang to us on bus rides those 6 days we were in Changsha. This most auspicious of all days should have been relaxed and calm. It wasn't and to this day I cannot relax my stomach when seeing this photo. It was moments before Jing Tang, now Ava, was carried off the elevator to meet us. I had never been more scared in my whole life. That was exactly 6 years ago today.
She was handed to me and simply stared at me with the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Her perfect little round face sat square on sturdy shoulders. She had no eyelashes. Her size 18 month Western sleeper hung on her body even though she was quite a chunk of amazing baby bulge. Her fingers were perfect, there were 10, I noticed that right away. I suppose that is what all parents do, count fingers. My long arms and tall frame must have felt very awkward for her. But she was silent, for all of 3 minutes. And then the baby next to us in the conference room started to cry. Ava Jing couldn't take it any more, she let out a wail that still rocks my soul just thinking about it. I wanted to run. Get this poor child out of here, I thought. But there was no where to run, there seemed to be hundreds of people blocking our way. Chinese officials stamping A4 sized papers, well wishing parents and crying nannies all stood sentry blocking my escape. She cried and I panicked through a gritty smile. My husband wanted to video tape our first minutes with her. I couldn't get over the raw indignity of the public nature of this our first meeting with the person whom we would forever call daughter. I wanted no video tape. To this day I shutter at the thought of watching it. It is just too emotional, too raw.
And then we were released to our hotel rooms. Each family was supposed to retire comfortably for some alone time to feed their child, calm them and begin that almost elusive bonding. Ava just wailed, obviously pining for someone who knew better than us how to calm her rattled nerves.
Here the Muffin Man holds our new daughter, 17lbs. of gorgeous strangeness. He looks happy, and truly he was able to embrace the moment so much better than yours truly. She rewarded him with the priviledge of holding her without terrified screams. I look into that face in the picture today and almost don't see her. The real Ava. I see a far scared and tramautized 8 month old who had just had her world rocked. Someone tipped that bough just a little too far, is what she would say in the picture if she could.
I pressed on the next few days as if she were a project to be managed. There was never a project I couldn't manage, it was all about planning and executing to the written order. Or, it had been in the past.
She had her doubts about my plans and projects.
And, then we found water. A perfect equalizer in her mind. Any woman willing to stick her in a warm bath couldn't be all that terrible. And so we bathed and bathed that next week.
It has now been 6 years with Ava. I wouldn't give even one of them up. Not one day, and there have been a few where I once thought, hmmm...maybe we'll just forget about this one. But no. This person, our daughter is an amazing spirit that we are simply honored to be in the presence of. She's a survivor, she'll do anything she has the inkling to do, I'm just so forever grateful she saw it in her plan to make us part of her life.
Happy 6th adoption day, my Ava, my Evita, my love.