We got our boys sent to America via my mom, and Ryan and I got house clean, not knowing when we would come back to it, and headed on a plane to China! There is really no other feeling like the anticipation and joy and a little bit of freaking out when you get off that plane in the homeland of your future child. China is full of people and cars and noise, but Ryan and I felt like it was quiet compared to India! We were in a city in central China, Hefei, and we stayed at a nice Holiday Inn. We found the nearest Walmart and walked up the streets, enjoying the amazing surroundings. We bought a stroller and some strange looking snacks to get the full Chinese cultral experience, and then we ate dinner at a Cafe on the side of the road. They had a picture menu and I had an app with translation, but even with that, I have no idea what we ordered! It was tasty and we could see that our limited Chinese would not get us very far! We found ourselves looking around at all the people and wondering if our baby girl would grow up to look like the beautiful people we saw.
The next day we got up early and had a breakfast with butterflies in our stomachs knowing as we ate, our girl was being brought to the meeting place from her orphanage. We got to the meeting place first and filled out a few more papers and checked the info and name spellings on documents. Finally, SHE ARRIVED! She was dressed in layers and layers of clothes... and a pink coat with bunny ears on the hoodie. She was holding tightly to the nanny that brought her and a few other ladies had come and were encouraging her to let go and come to me. I did not want to force her. I cannot even imagine what could be going through your mind at 20 months to have everything you had known before change and you cannot even communicate! One of the ladies gave me a strawberry cookie and said she would like me if I gave it to her. She did. Came right to me! She was so light and it seemed like she could blow away if the wind blew right. She cried on and off but we tried to make her feel comfortable with us. We walked the halls while they did more paper work and some official signings. I absolutely fell SO in love from that first glance at her. Even as she was pushing me away and crying, I was just completely overwhelmed to be this girl's mom!! Once we made it back to the hotel, things got better for her as she started to warm up to us. We took off her four layers of clothes, and really were shocked to see how tiny she was. And the way that her breathing was labored and seemed to take a lot of energy. I just tried to not worry and just figured it was all part of her heart issue and would be fixed with surgery. I was encouraged by a friend who said, "she does not know any different." Its true. Everyday before her surgery was full of retractions and labored breaths. She loved to take a bath and started smiling with us. She could not walk on her own, but would take a few steps if you held her hands. She would not cry for more than a minute at a time (maybe because of the labored breathing) and she would point to her bed and put herself to sleep when she was tired. We explored around the city and even took a day trip to see the orphanage she was from. That day turned out better than I could have planned. She had started to bond with us and I was scared that she would be confused and want to go back to the nannies and her life there again, but she seemed to cling to me even more and did not have a desire to go into the places that had been all she had known before. She did give her favorite nanny a few hugs and smiles and the nanny seemed so sad to say goodby, but i think she was thankful that Abby Grace was now in a loving family who could get her the medical care she needed.
Then we headed to Guangzhou to get her US visa processed. We also met up with lots of other adoptive families and it was so amazing to hear their stories and see their newly joined family members and how they were like Abby Grace and attaching to new parents. We went shopping and sightseeing and would take our new little ones out to eat. It was so amazing! We felt like our lives were in slow motion compared to the action packed life with the tornado twins and overseas living. Several things made us a bit worried about Abby Grace's health but nothing seemed too out of the ordinary and we did not feel we needed to find a Dr in China. Until the middle of night, right before we caught a plane to America the next morning; she could hardly breathe. I have never seen a kid work so hard to do something so simple as take a breath and it was overwhelming. Here it is the middle of the night in China, where we don't speak the language or know much of how to get around and I am gripped with fear to where I cannot hardly breathe either. I have never felt fear like that. I may have lived overseas too long, but I am pretty sure it was spiritual warfare! I fell on my knees and for the first time I cried. I cried full of fears with her health being out of my control. I cried for the many months that she had lived with a huge hole in her heart without people around her who could give her life saving surgery. I cried grieving the many other nights I had not been able to care for her. I cried for the struggle I could see ahead on this girls road to a normal life. Most of all I cried out to God to save my baby girls life. I know our kids are not ours, they are God's- but adoption and then a kid with2 special health needs just make it even more obvious that our kids are NOT ours. They are a loan from God and he gives and he could take away, and in all things deserves the praise. As I stayed with my face in carpet still sobbing and praying, I listened for her every breath, and I kept adding more oils which seemed to help her breathing some. When it was finally time to get up (even though I had not slept ANY. Not exactly how you want to start a 30 hour flight with a one year old who met you only two weeks prior) Ryan gets an email that they have postponed one of our flights and it messed up our whole itinerary. We grab some breakfast and load up hoping to get our flight fixed so we can get home and get the baby to the Dr. It took some work, but we made it on another flight that left us in Houston for the overnight, but since Ryan's mom lives there she could pick us up and let us sleep at her house and then take us back in the morning for the puddle jump up to Little Rock. The whole long plane route from China to DC, Abby Grace was struggling to breathe. We could keep her happy with snacks, but pretty much the whole ride is a blur to me. The fear grabbed my heart again and I seriously was not sure if she was going to make it to the US alive. Sounds so extreme now, but it was so real then. I know now that she needed Oxygen and there should have been some on the plane and a Dr. would have been available to look at her if I had just asked. But we made it. We were united with our boys who we missed tremendously and we were so excited to have them meet their Mei Mei (little sister in Chinese) She started calling them Ga Ga, which I thought was baby talk until my Chinese friend said it was Big Brother in Chinese. I was shocked that she not only knew how to say it, but associated it with the fast moving brown boys who were kissing all over her.