Monday, December 10, 2012

Gotcha Day part 1: prelim stuff

(Guest blogger: Lorraine. This is the Williams' story. So, while I may offer some anecdotes and sidebars, I will let Julie detail her perspective of the events and all the emotions involved later.)

The day started with a lunch time meeting to get all the paperwork in order! There were with five other families and one translator/worker helping them through this whole process. People talk about adoption as being 'paper pregnant', and that is certainly the case. I caught the end of the meeting, where Meeko (a phonetic spelling, I have no idea the proper way to spell it), the translator, started going family by family and telling each about certain habits of their new child. What they eat for breakfast, are they potty-trained, that kind of thing. When they got to Shiloh (Zhengyi), it was a sheet of paper with a simple schedule of times of when she does stuff. No details at all, just: breakfast 8 a.m., classes 9-11, that kind of thing. All of those 'detail' questions would have to be asked of whatever nanny brought her to the office where they would get her. 

 The emotions and nerves were pretty high, but they were like that for everyone. It was eager expectation with subtle fears all mixed in and they were openly discussed. This was comforting I think for everyone involved, going it alone would have been hard.

 Boarding the bus, with gifts in hand for the orphanage and workers.
 Look, Santa and and his elves climbing the hotel wall. Crazy.

 This is Meeko. While her English is not stellar, I think she did a pretty good job of helping everyone get ready and seeing it all through. She was very busy.

 We got off the bus and walked down a very interesting alley. It was pretty actually and this building stood out because of the dark brick and nice windows.

Then we made it up the small elevator to the 'civilian affairs office'. This is where they bring all the children being adopted and this is where you have your 'Gotcha' moment. You can arrange to go to the orphanage if you want but that would be on a different day.
 Meeko had previously explained that a lot of waiting may be involved. There would be more than just these five families (she later told us that 30 families adopted kids that day), and the children might not be there yet, and then you have to do certain paper work, and then one by one she would translate any questions for the parents to the nanny/worker who had been taking care of the child.

When we entered this room, indeed many families were right there having their 'Gotcha' moments right before our eyes. It was overwhelming, and loud. It definitely increased the nerve level as you watched all these kids of all ages joining families. There were families from Spain, and some from other parts of Europe, and some Asian families adopting as well, but mainly Americans.

Travis had already talked about the idea of this not being a private family moment, but this was a little crazy.
Next it was time for another paperwork check.

Julie, holding their papers and waiting.

 This is the back room where the kids wait. The worker then brings the child out to meet the parents. But there is no back way in there, so if the child has not arrived you could possibly see your child walk through the crowded room back to this 'curtain' room and then get to meet them.
 More forms, corrections, etc.
Out of the five families with Travis and Julie, Shiloh was coming from the closest orphanage. When their group arrived, four kids were already there, and Shiloh was not one of them. We watched as each of their new friends started having their 'Gotcha' moments. It was quite incredible. Also we each grabbed families' cameras and helped take lots of photos. They really appreciated this, that way each parent could really be in the moment, and it got captured too. They didn't have their own paparazzi (as I called myself) like the Williams. One dad was there getting his daughter alone, his wife was home with their other kids (five I think!), so he was very thankful for the photo help.

But still we waited. It seemed like forever (I am sure it did for Trav and Jules), the room was hot. And we waited.

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