Friday, August 15, 2014

Ten Years Ago Today I Became a Mother (The Story of Anna, part 6)

Ten years ago today I became a mother.

I was in China.  Not a hospital.

I wasn't anywhere near my family.

Scott and I just did it on our own.

And it was the most important, most wonderful, most amazing day of my entire life.

Everyone in the world should have a day as marvelous as I did... ten years ago today.

Putting this day into words; well I suppose I've been doing that little by little by little on this blog for years but I feel like I never do it right.  Today I'll try.  Deep breath.  Here goes...


I woke up early that morning to the sound of construction work.  Loud construction work.  Like right outside my hotel window.  I panicked because I was sure my new baby wouldn't be able to sleep.  So I made Scott call the hotel lobby to get our rooms switched to the other side of the hotel.  Easy task, except that we were in China and we didn't speak Chinese.  Somehow Scott found a way to explain what his crazy wife who was having a baby today wanted.


I frantically packed up all that had been unpacked and we moved to another room.  We had the whole morning 'off' and were to meet our group before lunchtime on the bus.  Scott turned the video on and we held hands and prayed.

We prayed for the day, We prayed for our baby girl.  We praised and thanked God for his blessings.  I cried and cried and cried.  And it's all on video tape.  (except that Scott drew the line on this raw footage because, well it's really raw and he didn't think anyone would want to see me crying and praying)  I'm just glad that we have it.

Nerves were sky high when we met our group in the lobby and boarded the bus.  There was little talking and lots of talking.  No one knew what to do with their emotions.

Lunch at a fancy hotel.  It was not edible for me of course.  I ate some rice I think.  And didn't drink the water.  Scott ate and ate and ate the hottest spicy food.  Somehow a contest began between Scott and one of our friends Bill on who could eat the most spicy food.  Crazy men with their nerves.  He was sweating from the heat and I just kept thinking don't get sick now, don't get sick now.


That lunch seemed to last forever. and ever. and ever.


A quick group picture in the lobby and then back on the bus.


We were told it was about a twenty minute ride to a government building where the babies already were.  They were driven in cars from their orphanage about two hours to the city of Chongqing.  Their first car rides.  Ever.  Two hours.

Here we are after lunch on the way to the government building where we would see Anna for the first time. Nerves were sky high I tell you. And joy... unspeakable.  I can't watch this clip without my heart pounding.

Arrival.  We jumped out of the car and headed toward an elevator.  This was it.  I was about to enter a room with my baby.  Except that she wasn't there.


Here's that story.  Deep breath.  You can hear me in the "here I am" video (below) saying to Scott, "turn it on. turn it on."  I didn't want to miss it being taped when I saw her in the room.  He left it on.  What a gift to the families that received their babies when we got there.  It's all on tape for them.  The chaos and the joy in the room is all there.

I scanned the room searching for baby Anna.  Instantly I recognized several of the babies from the pictures our group had brought.  But I didn't see Anna.  Not worried yet I just immersed myself in the moment of watching miracle after miracle happen before my eyes.  And it was wonderful.  Except that when all the babies were given to their families I still didn't see Anna.

You can hear on the video that I ask our American guide to go find out what was going on.  And then Scott turned off the video.  Fifteen long minutes passed and I started to feel weak.  Helen, our Chinese guide came over after trying to figure out why our baby wasn't there.  And then she walked over to us.

"She was left at the orphanage. They are putting her in a car right now.  She'll be here in two hours."

(This photo has a whole different post for a different day but this is where Anna was when we were going through this chaos ten years ago today.  This is a photo of her that day when she was left at the orphanage) 

The room was blurry and I was just trying to breathe.  I could wait two more hours.  Anna could wait just two more hours.

 And then it got worse.  Helen was talking in Chinese to the orphanage workers who knew my baby.  I saw frantic panic in their Chinese voices.  Their hands were all over and they looked upset.  I didn't understand one word.

Helen sent our American social worker over to say, "they are not sure your baby is on the way.  She might have gotten mixed up and was given to another family this morning.  A Dutch family. Do you have your referral picture of her so we can figure out if it's her when she comes?"  


But then the video turns off because I collapsed in his arms.  Unable to stand anymore (literally) he helped me out of that miracle room into a glass office.  I remember my legs giving out like my body just couldn't take any more.  I wasn't sick.  I was just heart broken.

I couldn't take one more minute of (ready for this immature reaction) it's not your turn yet.  Not one more time could my body physically take you don't have a baby yet.  Not one more time could I handle watching everyone around me have a baby and not you.  Not now.  I was beyond devastated and I cried and cried.

And my baby might be gone?  Too much to process.  I curled up on the couch and sobbed.

I begged Scott to call my mom and dad.  But we had no phone.  And we were in a government building filled with only Chinese speaking people.  When he said he couldn't and then saw my reaction I saw him leave the room to make it happen.  I lay down on the leather black couch in a heap.  I was a mess.  And everyone in our group saw me.  I was more of a mess than when I peeped on that pregnancy stick on Christmas morning years earlier because I was sure I'd be pregnant and wouldn't it be cool to tell everyone on Christmas?  I was more a mess than ten pregnancy sticks later.  And I didn't care what I looked like or how I handled it.  I just wanted to talk to my parents.

There was one family in our group that rented a "panda phone" for the trip since they were leaving their little kids at home with family.  Bill must have seen the desperate look in Scott's eyes.  When Scott walked in he handed me the phone and my Dad's voice was on the other end.  I won't forget it.  It was happy.  Excited.  Thinking that this was the happy my daughter has a baby in her arms call.  But it wasn't.

"Hi" (he was so happy)

I cried out, "dad...."  and then I couldn't even talk.

So I handed the phone to Scott and he explained the entire problem.  I think he handed the phone back to me but I don't remember what my Dad said to me.  It didn't matter.

Then we waited.  Scott and I talked about what we'd do if it wasn't our Anna.  Would be adopt the baby brought to us?  I didn't want any other baby.  I wanted our baby... Jiang Qian with those huge cheeks and beautiful eyes. But what would we do if it wasn't her?  And her medical records, what about those?  And did she belong to a different family.  I don't think we came up with an answer.  We just waited to see what would happen.

I found a way to regain my composure.  And get off the couch after a while.  Our group was still there in the main room and everyone said I could hold their babies.  No thank you I thought. I want my baby.  And I'll wait.  Some of the other moms in our group were crying for me too at that point.  They could feel my heart ache.


Two hours later I heard "they're here, they're here"

I turned and saw our Chinese guide run across the room toward me with Anna in her arms.  I knew instantly it was her.  She wan't given to another family.  There was no mix up; she was just left.  But now she was in my arms and I'd never been happier.






Our group gathered around us and were all videoing and taking pictures.  And Bill must have hit redial on his rented phone because my dad was on the other end again except that this time it was happy.

I told you the story gets better.  She filled my heart that day in such a powerful way.  Thank goodness for those moments because she was unresponsive and didn't make a sound.  I was too happy to be worried really even notice how she acted.  I was in love.

Good stuff coming again tomorrow... oh good falling in love stuff.  I am so grateful for this adoption day...



  1. Oh Tara this post has me crying...really crying. What an emotional day. All of those years of waiting and then you finally have your beautiful Anna in your loving arms.
    I have chills just thinking of that moment when they came in and handed her to you.

  2. I remember you telling this story last year and I was like, H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. I knew the sick feeling the morning of in your stomach...I had it too. I remember I felt like I was in a slow motion dream, where your head and thoughts are on real time, but your body, legs, and arms just won't move fast enough. She was SO cute!!

  3. Tara...and Scott,
    I wish I had words to express what I felt as I watched this.
    I wish you would know how much I felt the emotions of that day with you. The excitement, love confusion, fear, anguish, and then the relief...and the unexplainable joy that you felt when your sweet baby was finally in your arms, right next to your heart...exactly where she was born to be. My favorite moment was when you Tara are holding your Anna, and Scott puts his arms around you both. Your family. Your world. Thank you for sharing this. I love you even more. : )


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