It's official.....William is legally a Trusty! The adoption paperwork has been completed....
And sealed with a kiss!
After a few more days in Zhengzhou, we will fly to southern China to complete the paperwork necessary for his visa. Then we will begin the journey home. It sounds simple, but we still have a long way to go! We will be held up in country for a few extra days due to the Dragon Boat Festival. It's a national holiday and observed by the government offices.
After finalizing the adoption, we made the 1.5hr journey to Kaifeng. This city was once the capitol of China and it was shockingly beautiful. The suburbs were lovely and the architecture equally impressive. Everywhere we looked there were elephant statues...at the entry gates, outside of parks, lining the streets, and at restaurants. The purpose of our journey was not only to see Bear's hometown, but to visit the orphanage and to meet Grandma Han.
When we arrived, she nearly ran to him and he couldn't get into her arms fast enough.
The joy on her face was unspeakable. She beamed as she held him and did what all grandmothers do...she looked him over head-to-toe. She checked his arms and legs, readjusted his shoes and pulled up his socks. She hugged him a little more and then fixed the collar on his shirt and rebuttoned his top button...that seemed fine to me but clearly not up to her standards. I admired her instantly and knew that if given the chance she and I would be great friends.
Bear had a tight little grin on his face as the orphanage director explained to us that this group of 4 lovely souls act like a family unit. The little girl is Bear's best friend and "sister." They love to play together and take toys from one another. She has a family coming for her and is headed home to the US very soon. She was smitten with Dennis and he carried her around for nearly 20 minutes. She wanted his attention which he wholeheartily gave. I mean, who could resist that little face!
The younger women is the lady whom Bear calls, "Mama." Grandma Han shared that "Mama" brings him little pieces of candy each day when she arrives and steals him from the room to spend time with him alone on the playground. She grinned as Grandma Han gave her a stern look and proceeded to giggle knowing that Grandma did not approve of the candy. The director told us that this sweet lady spent her own money on little treats for Bear because she had grown more and more attached to him as each day passed.
Grandma Han...oh, Grandma Han. I truly love this lady. She stood in front of me and studied me from top to bottom. She squeezed my upper arms checking to see if I was strong enough, worthy enough to care for this precious child. Although several inches shorter and much smaller that I, she was clearly in charge and I felt slightly intimidated as she checked me over...hoping I would get he seal of approval.
She asked how he was doing and when I shared that he refused to take his bottle, she was distraught and whisked my little man away into another room. The director let us know that Grandma Han was off to make him a bottle and sure enough, when I peeked into the sleeping room, I found her on the floor. She was rocking Bear and giving him a bottle as she had most likely done for the last 21 months. Her glasses were off and she was crying as she talked quietly to him. I stood and watched at a loss for words and busied myself with the other children as to not disturb their private moment. And to keep myself from crumbling into a thousand tiny pieces.
A few minutes later she returned composed and ready to show me how to "feed him correctly." I tried to listen but my brain was running an inner dialouge that just wouldn't shush. As she spoke, I just kept thinking....she is so strong...so gentle but so strong. Her face was beautiful with kind eyes and creamy mauve lips. Her hair matched his almost exactly and those hands....hands that have worked for a thousand years. She watched him play for a long time.
We knew that saying goodbye would be painful and it was. After one last picture, where Grandma Han insisted on taking off her glasses and adjusting her hair, she gave final hugs. Everyone wept as we walked down two flights of stairs and to the van that was waiting for us. The nannies watched from the windows as we pulled away.
I know right now my own Grandma is not very happy with me. I can hear her words on the other side of the world: "Why in the world would she take that baby back to the orphanage? That was too hard on that little guy." I hear you, Granny. It was hard on him but there are things that we needed to know that only his nannies could tell us. He needed to see Grandma Han and she needed to see him. Her heart is broken too and for it to begin to heal, she needed to see Dennis and I in the flesh..not just a picture. And I needed to see her to better understand him. You see, this love story is made up of more than just Bear and I. There is another woman....and she loves fiercely. I am the one who is stepping into their relationship. She and I know that it is best, but that doesn't make it any easier on his heart or hers.
When leaving, Grandma Han told me that it brings her comfort to know that I am a teacher and that I really love children. Oh, Grandma Han, you have no idea. Just as I was about to go, she held up 4 fingers and then pointed to herself...a simple sign language reminder that he was hers from 4 days old until just yesterday. I acknowledge by nodding my head yes and then gave her a full frontal hug and kiss on the cheek. She lingered for just a few seconds before covering her face to cry.
It's quite impossible for me to describe an orphanage visit but it feels very much like attending a funeral. I dread visiting up until the moment I arrive. Then, it is a time to mourn. A time to process. A time to wish things could have been different. A time to reflect. A time to cry. And when I walk out of the doors, I feel so much better..relieved and ready to start moving on.