People often speak of the miracle of birth. Adoption is just as much a miracle. Gary and I waited over 5 years and traveled halfway around the world to bring a child who was chosen for us by strangers into our family. When Ling Wan Han's adoption file and our dossier crossed paths in the child matching office in China some person, who I will always think of with extreme gratitude, put the two files together and made us a family. It's mind boggling to think of that simple act that created some of the deepest love I have ever experienced.
Our first glimpse of Ling Wan Han as she arrived at our hotel in Nanchang, China.
From the perspective of Ling Wan Han: After being taken from her foster mother and the orphanage home she had always known, Wan Han then had to travel by car for about four hours - very likely the longest trip she had ever experienced. That evening she was brought to our hotel in Nanchang where she became the center of attention with several people speaking to her all at once. It was after her bedtime and she was hungry to boot. Suddenly a odd looking woman with curly hair and weird eyes (me) knelt down in front of her, reached for her and spoke in a strange language. It makes complete sense that her reaction to being handed over to total strangers was initially one of terror. As a friend recently wrote on her blog, to a child this experience is like being abducted. Wan Han screamed and pushed me away as hard as she could when I picked her up. She was surprisingly strong for a 21 month old undernourished child who only weighed 18 pounds at the time. I will never forget the force of her little hands pushing into me as she tried to escape and return to the familiar orphanage staff.
For the next five days Natalie went into an emotional shutdown. Other than crying out "Mama, Mama" as she reached for me later that first night Natalie did not speak. Nor did she crack a smile at any of our attempts to be amusing. She was scared and she was grieving. Even as she played stacking blocks with Gary on our 3rd day together her face was very serious and intense looking. On the 6th day she began showing us glimpses of her true bubbly personality, but I don't think we completely saw the real Natalie until about a month later.
Watching Natalie grow into the happy, healthy little girl she is today has been an awe-inspiring experience. She has been through so many difficult times in her short life, but her resilient, beautiful spirit has helped her to adjust and heal so quickly. We love her so much and are grateful for every day we have together.