Friday, September 4, 2009

August 15: Meeting Our Daughter

Some babies come from the hospital. Some babies come through revolving doors in hotel lobbies.

By 9:30 the next morning, we were waiting in the lobby to meet our girl. We weren't allowed to go to the orphanage because of fear of spreading Swine Flu. We also weren't allowed to meet her nanny because in the past nannies have contacted families for money. China is very careful about what may or may not be a bribe.

So we sat for an hour in a smoke-filled, bustling lobby waiting for our daughter. We watched business men, a wedding party, and countless bellboys pass through the revolving door. Each slowed down just a bit to have their temperature taken by the automatic scanners.

She was an hour late.

"We're not thinking about TB today," Jonathan reminded me.

I gulped. It was all I thought about. I was about to be handed a baby that I may have to hand back. But if I was truly meant to be her mom, I knew there had to be a miracle in store for this child.

Suddenly, a young woman can through the revolving door holding a baby. I knew in an instant it was my daughter.

We jumped up, and the woman told her, "Mama," and pointed to me. She handed Princess to me. I'd never seen such fear in a child's eyes. She screamed, like she'd been kidnapped. I held her for the next 45 minutes and her heart broke into a million pieces. Everything this child had known was gone. Everything, whether is was good or bad, had changed.

Hours later, Princess stopped crying. Her face was blank, she stared at nothing, and her limbs were limp.

She had shutdown.


  1. Amy, thank you for sharing this story. (i was friends with Jon in high school.) thank you for your honesty and for not sugarcoating this moment in your retelling of it. there is real power here in imagining this moment from evie's perspective. i admit, this is how i envisioned this handoff might have gone. is it what you expected too, though you must have hoped for something else? i wonder what was going through yours and Jon's heads as she was melting down. do you get the sense that evie was, a bit, reacting to your race? the first few times my son saw a black person he screamed. Do you think she'd seen caucasians before she met you two? did the woman who delivered evie to you, who called you mama, stick around for a bit or did she just kind of take off? i wonder what, if anything, evie will remember from this moment and how she will recount the story to you one day. i have been thinking of your family often. i am so awestruck by this story. how lucky this little girl is to have the two of you as parents. may your transition to your new lives together go as smoothly as possible.

  2. Hi Lisa! Thanks for reading the blog. We were actually very prepared for a shutdown baby. We had to take parenting classes as part of the homestudy process to learn how to deal with this situation. We were expecting the worst. So it wasn't a surprise. Kids do this as a defense and a way to survive. The change in absolutely unbelievable. We were probably the first English speaking, white people she'd ever seen in her life. We look different, sound different, smell different, talk different.

    The rep from the orphanage did not stick around. She hadn't really had any contact with Evie, so it wouldn't have made a difference anyway. Her nanny was the one she was close to. And we were not allowed to meet her. So really she was ripped from the only "Mom" she knew and placed in my arms. Granted the orphanage mom had a shift and probably 30 other kids to take care of. So I'm sure Evie never had the right amount of attention she needed.

    Stay tuned.

    Evie doesn't stay shutdown for long. And she is, in my humble opinion, one of the happiest babies ever.

    All the pain was worth it!

  3. I am so happy to hear she is happy! She has many, many reasons to be happy for sure. I hope to get to meet you, her, and your boys at some point. I'm so impressed that you have time to keep this blog with the busy-ness that must be your life right now. All the best to your family.