Sunday, December 5, 2010

Well...I'm the dad of 4 kids

What a night! So, we meet the guide and head to the adoption center where it will all "go down". I want to go back and get a picture of the building...I mean, if you were walking down the street you never would have thought this hole in the wall, office space in a dirty downtown row of shops and vendors was a government run adoption department. I forgot to snap the picture on the way in, and the way out was more like a hostage evacuation so no time for pictures...but I don't want to get ahead of myself.

We walk into the dark, open office space and head to the elevator. I'm lagging a little behind Stef and Graham who are already in the elevator when a man starts yelling at me...I figured he wanted us to hold the elevator, so that's what I do. I gets in, and then there is sudden mahem...all I here is "your baby"...I fumble for the camera, and snap a quick picture as in walks Maggie with her foster mother! The next 45 seconds were a really, really odd elevator ride as everyone is staring at each other, and Maggie is obviously anxious.

Then we go into the room where we are supposed to have our "gotcha" moment. It was really, pretty first anyway. We had a great meeting with the foster mother, asked a bunch of questions and generally, had a great conversation...translated, of course. She seems to be a very nice lady and really, really cared for Maggie. She had Maggie since Maggie was 44 days old, and they've nicknamed her Tao Tao. She send Maggie to us with some pictures, a backpack, and a red sweater outfit that she had knited her all stuffed into a plastic bag...and the 18 lbs of cloths that Maggie was wearing.

All went well until she left...then it got rough, really rough. Maggie was devastated. It makes me want to cry as I type thinking about how heart broken she was and how scared she must have been. The foster mother said that Maggie was fully aware of what was happening. And she was loud...and persistent...and strong. Stef held her while I signed some documents. I must admit that I could tell, even though they were Chinese characters, that Stef was going to have to sign too...which meant I had to hold Maggie who was crying, screaming, kicking...and I was intimidated. Anyway, I didn't have a choice, and to my surprise, she calmed down a bit when I held her. Then we left...and Maggie was a mess again. We rushed onto the dark street, and into the van as the crowd on the sidewalk grew. I was a mess of nerves, though I didn't admit it until Stef told me that she felt like she could throw up...and I confessed that I could too.

We needed diapers, formula and supplies. I was unable to find the Walmart...which is across the street from our hotel...earlier, so one of us had to take Maggie to the hotel...the other went shopping. I handed Stef my wallet. (Un)fortunately, Maggie did pretty well when I held her and Stef was the first to admit that she was ready to puke, so I was on Maggie duty. I recruited Graham, who was a trooper, to help me with her and we sent Stef shopping.

We tried to give her candy, crackers, cheerios, toys, crafts, dolls, money...anything...and she wanted nothing that had anything to do with us. We left her alone, and the poor thing tried to wiggle into the space between the bedside table and bed in an attempt to get away from us and hide. I decided to give her space but the crying got the best of me. I mean, a dad wants to hold and sooth their I tried...but I only made the situation worse. I put her down again, and then Stef showed up and I was glad to have a wingman, not that either of us knew what to do, but at least we could mess everything up together.

Eventually, Maggie packed her belongings in her plastic bag and moved to the hallway leading to the door, and stayed there. If we didn't look at her, she might look at us, but that was about it. She tried to "escape" and I told Stef not to worry because the door was too heavy for her to open. Then I got up to pull Maggies fingers out of the door jam...and locked the door...and closed the latch. I'll figure this out eventually...

Maggie was crying for her dad...and then she pooped on the potty. Apparently, the word for "I have to poop" and "dad" are similar and I didn't pick up on the nuances of a 3 year old's Chinese...huh...I bet a Chinese woman came up with that word.

She stayed in her hall until she found her picture book. She opened it and laughed, and Graham took another picture book to her, and suddenly the dam began to break. We laughed, as she laughed. She pointed to pictures of her foster family and "told" Graham all about their likes, dislikes, personalities, games she likes to play with them, etc. Problem was that it was all in Chinese....

About that time, we skyped with family back home. It was really good to see Davis and Corinne. We miss them so much. She sort of ignored the computer screen until one of them would yell "Tao Tao"...and then she would glace at the screen. She absolutely knew that the kids taking to her were "supposed" to be her brother and sister, and recognized them from the pictures. Of course, she did her best to ignore them too...even putting the picture book over her face. As we talked, Maggie worked her way back into the room and all was well, relatively, until it was diaper time. She knew that a diaper meant she was staying the night...she cried, packed up her things and headed back to to the door.

Well, we eventually worked her into a crib that sits by the bed. Right now, she's sleeping in her 18 lbs of cloths with her plastic bag of stuff and picture books. Dear God, let her sleep. She needs it and we need it.

Two last hard as it is, I am thankful that she is grieving as it means she knows how to attach. Over time, she will with us too. Second, I really appreciate having Graham with us. He's great to watch in China, generally (he's so comfortable that he wanted to go outside the hotel by himself to fly his remote control helicopter), but he also is really, really great with and for Maggie right now.

Pictures tomorrow...way to tired right now...maybe well have them up for you to see on your Sunday night.



  1. Hi Brook, Stefanie and Graham!! Mom and I are reading this together, laughing and crying at the same time (as always, Brook I just love your perspective on things!)... It's heartbreaking to hear what she's going through, I know how hard it is to watch that grieving process, but you're right, it's so healthy and so much better now than later. Praying that God will comfort her in a way that only He can and that all of you will know the sweetness of a good night's sleep and wake up COMPLETELY refreshed! Mom says she's praying for a DOUBLE portion of all of the above... Can't wait to meet her at New Year's! Love you all!

  2. Oh sweet Maggie. Bless you heart for how confused and broken it is now. We pray for God to heal you in a way that only He can. WOW what a blessing to get to talk with her foster mother....just a wonderful, wonderful gift. Brook the descriptions are glad you are blogging. Its a gift for us back home. Stefanie...prayers for deep sleep tonight. And look so much like Jesus with your new sister. Well done Graham!
    Love to all!

  3. Awesome story, Brook and Stefanie. I just read it to the kids. They asked lot of questions. Lanlgley says, "I can't wait to see Maggie". Gray says, "Me too." Mac says "I am really proud that Maggie is in our family and I hope that she will have fun with us too." Elizabeth says, "Flower." You will be in our prayers. John

  4. this is from Davis: I really, really, really miss you. I am about to cry (which got him a kiss). Hopefully Maggie will like us when she gets home. It made me happy that I got to see you this morning. I was also happy to see you at Mac and Langley's. Can we call (skye)this afternoon? I am having fun over here. I am going to do a craft this afternoon. Hopefully tomorrow in China Maggie will have fun and she will get use to you guys. Have a good time in China. Good By. Love you

  5. Just got home from church... great to see Corinne and DAvis there! I am so glad that maggie is with you all and that the "bonding" can begin. Sounds like it is going to be a rollercoaster ride (I would put it in the rockin roller coaster at Universal category). We will be praying for baby steps of attachment and that God would give her a peace that you all are safe people!! Thanks for giving us the details so we can feel like we are getting a glimpse into this journey and we know how to pray for you all!!

  6. It was good to see everyone this morning, even though we did not have a very good picture. My heart is breaking for Maggie, but I realize this is good thing for her to grieve. Hang in there, we have all confidence in you. The kids are doing well. Both are needing a bit more than usual hug hold time and they are getting it. We are having Sloan's birthday tonight and all the kids will be here, so that will be fun for them. It is very, very cold here too...even a bit of snow falling. Love you all

  7. Corinne talking: to Graham...don't throw up again. I love you Graham. I love my sister. I don't want her to pee in her pants in the airplane. I hope she will be good on the airplane. I hope she loves me. I love mommy and daddy. I hope Maggie will be a good friend. Good by see you later. I miss you.

  8. I guess that is what adoption is....the good, the bad, and the ugly, just not necessarily in that order. I have to keep putting it in perspective of how my kids at home now (or C,Gor D) would respond in the same situation. THANKFUL that Maggie is attached, and has been loved well. Keep reminding yourselves of that. Her circle of trust will soon include you...till then, praying for you, for her, for her foster family, and for the "good" to come soon...

  9. We celebrate with you guys! Praying for you all!

  10. I am praying that you all get a good night's sleep and that tomorrow will be a much better day. God Bless you all.

  11. We have just now had the chance to post and were so glad to read about your day. It was wonderful to see what little we could of you all on Skype this morning. Graham you amaze us with your patience and understanding that you have with your little sister. You truly are a Blessing for her now. Someday when she can understand better we will tell her how much you loved her the first day she came to your family.
    Brook thank you for posting with such reality. It helps those of us who are waiting anxiously to hear from you. Stef I pray for you to sleep deeply and peacefully and awake very rested.
    I know it is so hard to see Maggie so distressed and heartbroken. We also will pray for your hearts to feel the calm assurance that comes through your faith and trust in knowing you are there by Gods will for your lives and that He will provide you with what you need to care for Maggie at this time. As I talked to Corinne this morning about the day she came to you, I just had to smile. Adoption has so many faces during it's process and Maggies is just beginning. Corinne is the hope of what is to come for Maggie. Your love has transformed that precious little girl and that is the same future awaiting Maggie.
    We Love You,
    Mom and Dad

  12. Oh Stefanie and Brook. I am just now reading.What a heartbreaking picture for little Maggie and yet a beautiful one at the same time with Graham and his sweet nature. I have been reminded twice today how God uses his little children. The voices of children singing praises to the Lord and children reaching out to children, remind me how big God is, how He speaks through and uses childlike faith, how simple His message of love is, and how mysterious and wonderful are His ways. What a gift you have been given in both Graham and Maggie. Praying for you all the way!! Corinne was sweet at the nutcracker. It was like Disney World and chasing characters, except we were chasing beautiful Ballerinas for pictures with each. Thank you for letting us take her with! Love to you all!!

  13. Brook,
    Thanks for sharing your heart. I wept as I read it. It's been 4 years since Julie and I went through that with Jenna. It all came flooding back as I read your post. We are praying for your heartache as Maggie's little heart grieves her loss and change. Even knowing how wonderful it is down the road, I'm sure the road can feel incredibly long right now.
    I think there must be some Chinese proverb about toddlers wearing their weight in clothes.:)
    Praying for all of you,
    Dale and Julie Dunnewold

  14. Stefanie, I can only imagine how sick you must have felt over Maggie's grief. My stomach hurt just reading about it. Brook, you have a gift for storytelling. Thank you for sharing the reality of the journey with us. Graham, Maggie is blessed to have you as her big brother. And Maggie, you don't know it yet, but you've got a great family that loves you.

    Praying for you all,