Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One Year Ago Today: A Forever Family!

A year ago today my dream of becoming a mother came true, Gary finally became a father and 21 month old Ling Wan Han had her life torn apart as she was given to two strange sounding, odd smelling and different looking people.  Wan Han was abruptly thrust into a whole new world without a clue of what was happening to her.  It was a bittersweet day for me knowing that in her short life Wan Han had lost her birth parents, two sets of foster parents and the only home she had ever known at the Shangrao Ling Orphanage.

From the first moment I held Wan Han in my arms I remember feeling fiercely protective over her.  I wanted to keep her safe and provide her with all the love and care she needed to heal from her emotional wounds including the huge one that was inflicted on her the day she met us.

Wan Han cried a little the first few days that we were together, but she was mostly eerily quiet.  We wondered if she would ever smile; her spirit seemed broken.  She constantly looked around as she seemed to be assessing her new environment for danger.  Wan Han quickly decided to turn to me for security while she took in everything with her big shell-shocked eyes.  I remember so vividly the moment she made that decision the first night.  After we brought her up to our hotel room I was going to leave her with Gary as I took my turn going downstairs to sign paperwork.  When Wan Han saw that I was going to leave her she spoke the only words we heard during our first 10 days together as she reached her arms towards me desperately crying out "Mama, Mama".  It was so very sad.  That is when I realized that she chose me as the person she would cling to during her time of loss and confusion.  I knew that to Wan Han "Mama" meant caretaker and that it would be quite some time before I heard that word again with the meaning of mother. (By the way, I ended up taking her downstairs with me and she sat on my lap as I filled out and signed document after document.)

Soon Wan Han decided that Gary was a good playmate and would play stacking blocks with him on the bed.  However, for the first several days even her playtime was solemn.  It took awhile for all of that fear to turn to love, but eventually it did.  Tiny cracks in her somber veneer began showing up on Day 6 and little by little she opened her heart to us.  Since then the love between Gary, Natalie and I has never stopped growing.

This movie documents our first year as a family of five: Baba, Mama, Daughter and Newfs.  I love seeing how Natalie's face has changed over time as she learned to trust us and fully embrace her new home, dogs, family, life and all the love we have to give.

People we encountered in China frequently gave us thumbs up and said "Lucky Baby" when they realized that we adopted Natalie Wanhan. We feel that we are even luckier to be her parents. Natalie has changed our lives and our hearts forever in the best possible way. We love our amazing, beautiful, precious daughter so much!  Every day we have together is a gift that reminds us to live in the present moment and fills us with gratitude.

Happy Forever Family Day Natalie Wanhan!


Bebe Blogger said...

This is such a lovely post! Audrey and I watched the video together. She asked questions about Natalie and the dogs and seemed to understand the meaning of adoption. Natalie will be forever grateful that you take the time to document so many special moments of her life. What a beauty she is! Happy one year "Forever Family" anniversary!

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. You two looked like parents immediately - loving and concerned. It is easy to see Natalie's confidence and sense of security skyrocket. -Beth W.

Anonymous said...

What a sweet and touching post and video. I've been following your blog since your referral and it's lovely watching little Natalie blossom under your love.

Happy 1st Anniversary!

Charity, Gary, Katie, Louie & Natalie said...

Thanks everyone for the kind comments.

Bebe Blogger, I think it's wonderful that you are teaching Audrey about adoption. Maybe she will adopt someday :)

LeahNYC said...

I loved this! I can't wait to hug all of you. xoxo

networkace said...

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