Saturday, February 7, 2009

"The Greatest Love"...or..."Today we are Three"

On this day, we celebrate the 3rd anniversary as a family. Try as I might, I believe I will forever be doomed to bumble any written description of that day in China that Lia was placed in my arms...the day my life truly began. Bumbling or not, I did try to describe it last year...and if you have any interest, or if you are new to our blog, you can read that account here.

While we were in China we communicated with friends and family via a website. I have gotten many compliments about the content of our website...the details of our days spent in China mingled with liberal doses of humor and history...and I believe it is time to publicly come clean about a few minor details of our China story (although I HAVE done so many times privately!).

We were so fortunate to be accompanied to China by Jim's brother, Joe. As Jim and I muddled through our first few days of parenthood, our website was lovingly attended to by Joe. At first, he tried to gently remind us that we had many people waiting at home to hear ANY details of our trip (read...get going and start getting some posts up!). So consumed were we and overwhelmed...that Joe finally, blissfully, took matters into his own hands and assumed the helm of the website. It was not until we returned home, that I had the opportunity to go back and read it all...and much to my amusement, I discovered that Joe had chosen to write in first person. In his own sweet way, I guess he was trying to protect the fact that we (I) were really struggling with the responsibility of caring for a grieving toddler in an unfamiliar country half a world away from home and were just plain too tired to write about the events undfolding. But while, I may have been tickled by Joe's "voice choice", I was thrilled to discover how thoroughly and accurately he portrayed our time in China. For that I will forever be grateful. Because of her Uncle Joe, Lia has a record of our early days together...and I know that one day that will be priceless to her.

So....for old time's sake...the play by play reported on our website on our Uncle Joe...

We are Parents


We have Lia!!!!!

She is a blessing!!

Another restless night was spent back at the Plaza Hotel in Beijing. We were up early, for our return to the Beijing airport to catch our plane to Xi'an, in the Shaanxi province. The flight on China Eastern Airline was short and uneventful, and we touched down to a sunny day in the city of Xi'an.

An hour long bus ride took us through farmland, suburbs, and into the bustling city of over 6 million that had Lia waiting for us somewhere. After settling into the Jianguo Hotel, we boarded the bus and headed to the Shaanxi Provincial Office headquarters in the center of the city.

We were immediately ushered into a room full of babies! It was crazy beyond words, as each of the ten families scanned the beautiful children before us, trying to guess which was ours. With months having passed since the last photos we had seen, it was not an easy task. As the director of all the orphanages was introduced with our guide, Ike, as translator, we were hard pressed to concentrate on the speech.

Was it the little girl in yellow down on the end? Was it the one crying in the center of the bunch? After a few guesses that didn't feel true, we began to pay attention to the sweet little girl near us who was quietly destroying a roll of toilet paper to pass the time. Suddenly, Jim remembered reading in the referral how Hui Wen, our baby, was known to enjoy tearing paper to comfort herself! It had to be her! We held our breaths as each family was called forward to receive their child from the orphanage nanny and sign some documents. One by families had been called...finally, next to last, we were called and we received little Hui Wen Lia Nanette as our own! An entire book of writing can't begin to capture the emotion of that moment. It was hard for all involved. Naturally the babies cry when leaving their nannies and foster parents, and naturally there are tears of joy from the new parents. But everything worked out slowly but surely, and I'm sure every parent was as happy and proud as they have ever been in their life. Kate held little Lia tightly and the bonds were quickly made. After some official photos, it was back to the bus and back to the hotel to begin our new life together. An emotionally and physically draining day was ending...

So...Joe...I couldn't have said it better myself. Words straight and to the describe the moment my life truly began. We were so fortunate to have you with us. Thank you.

(A cool self portrait of Uncle Joe!)


Our first glimpse of Lia:


Our first moments together:


And finally, back at the hotel...I can't believe Lia was ever that small!:


All of the clothes Lia was wearing when we met:


And of course, this post wouldn't be complete without some words dedicated to our sweet girl...

To my darling darling Lia...the light of my heart,

You came into my life in the most dramatic of ways. Our wait for you was filled with exhilarating highs and crushing lows. My arms ached with the very thought of you, so anxious I was to have you with me. Nothing, however could have prepared me for the rush of emotions the day you were placed in my arms...a squirming, scared, overheated, beautiful, brave angel. I held you so gingerly, hardly daring to believe that you were for real. I touched your face and looked into your eyes...and my life was complete.

While this day will always be filled with memories of our first moments together, I want you to know that it is the thousands of moments since then that I savor most. Inconceivably my heart grows a little more each day as I tuck these memories away for safekeeping...and I fall in love with you just a little more with each one.

You make each day special ~ an adventure, a comedy, a fairy tale. You have taught me so much in the three short years we have been together. Listed, in no particular order are some of the important things you have shown me:

~Wake up each morning with a song. "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is always a great choice!
~Take time to do things right...and never give up. Even if it takes you 5 minutes and 27 tries to say, zip your coat...the pride in that moment of success can't be beat.
~There is always time for one more kiss and cuddle...and even if it makes you late for work, your day will inevitably go better because of it.
~Bathtubs really ARE like swimming pools if you wear your bathing suit in them.
~Life IS more fun in a princess dress.
~It's okay to eat dessert first sometimes.
~Your life will be ever so much richer, if you try new things. Learning a new skill like the names of the continents or photography can make you REALLY happy.
~Splashing in puddles in rain boots or bare feet causes giggles.
~Raising a child...raising the best thing I will ever do.

I hope as you continue to grow up and gain more awareness of how you came to be our child, you will know without a shadow of a doubt how very much you were wanted, wished for, prayed for.
I hope when you hear well meaning strangers tell you how lucky you are to have been adopted, you will understand the conspiratorial smile your dad and I will inevitably exchange, as we always do when we receive such remarks. It is we, your parents who are the lucky ones. We have been blessed beyond reason and gifted beyond any wild expectations with the honor of calling you "daughter". You are our sun, our moon, our stars, our everything. And I hope someday you might read this and understand that your Mama's penchant for emotional platitudes comes from the greatest love of all. Thank you for allowing us to be your parents.

A few images from our time in China:


Exhausted after taking her oath of citizenship:


My creation


Rachel said...

Kate - what a beautiful post. I so enjoyed your brother in law's account of the moment of meeting Lia and your note to Lia was so eloquent and touching!

Lia is certainly a lucky girl - for having you as a mommy! :)

Have a wonderful days recalling the memories and celebrating the ones to come.


Kam said...

Beautifully said. Lia will treasure these words that speak so well of your total devotion to her and enduring love for her.

Blessings on your special day~

Ivy said...

I am bawling here:))
A beautifully written post!

It's so amazing how the day we held our daughters are forever etched in our minds. You are such a loving and giving Mommy, Lia probably felt that the moment she was placed in your arms!

Enjoy today Kate and many, many, many more forever familiy day's! Lia is blessed by the love from her Mommy and Daddy...and that dimpled smile is proof:))



Sue said...

I love seeing all the pictures of your first days together.

We are all so blessed to have our girls!

Thanks for sharing your special moments and thoughts.

Sue : )

Missy said...

Happy Family Day to you guys! Lia will absolutely adore this post one day. It has brought me to tears. Your love for her is immeasurable!

Enjoy your day with your angel.

PS-Loved the baby pics of your sweetheart. She was such a gorgeous baby!

Felicia said...

Kate, your post gave me chills. What an absolutely beautiful and heartfelt post. What a documented treasure you've created. Happy Family Day...enjoy your "Today We Are Three" anniversary. Blessings!!

Jodee Leader said...

This is a beautiful post. I enjoyed reading about your time in China! Lia was an adorable baby! Happy "Gotcha" Anniversary!

Jennifer said...

I loved reading this. I can't believe she had all of those clothes on :) Happy Anniversary!

Doug and Terrye said...

Oh Kate, I'm so glad I decided to skip tv and come read blogs! What a precious post, it will resonate in my mind for a long time. I too remember the surreal feelings that surrounded those first moments, and the seeming chaos that followed. Isn't it wonderful to slip into parenthood with such grace that those days of uncertainty are but sweet memories!

Terrye in FL

Kerry said...

Oh so beautiful. Happy Happy Family Day. Thank you for sharing the memories of your first precious moments together.

Lia was sooo tiny- an adorable baby.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Happy Family Day!!

One of your best posts....such sweet words to your beautiful girl!! I loved reading all about the day you met Lia and the pictures....oh the pictures....she was so tiny!! Where does the time go!

Hope you all enjoy your CNY celebration!


Jennifer said...

Happy Anniversary! A beautiful post, one you will cherish always.
Beautiful pictures too.


Steffie B. said...

Kate....this psot was just beautiful....recalling this day is so deeply planted in our hearts.... ;)


Joannah said...

Lovely post. What wonderful memories you have, and what wonderful memories you get to make each day with Lia.


my4andnomore said...

I think that was just about the most heart felt, beautiful post I've ever read. I don't doubt that Lia will know how much you love and adore her. You are a blessed family. I am enjoying your walk down memory lane. God Bless, Amber

Jboo said...

Oh Kate -- what a lovely, lovely post! And the photos -- sweet little Lia -- so small, but that unmistakeable sweet smile of hers!

Congrats on your third family day! You are right -- you are one lucky Mom to have such a sweet daughter!


Chris and Deb said...

Happy, Happy Family day to you all! have such a gift of words.....and I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face right now! You have shared exactly what we feel too...of our days spent with Sophie since gotcha day! Sometime I am going to have to take the time to go back and read what Uncle Joe wrote! What a gift that is for you all!

I loved all of the sweet pictures of your beautiful little Lia too! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Erin said...

This is so poignant. I love the account so lovingly written by uncle Joe. Lia was/is so adorable! The photo of you together is just precious. The letter you wrote to Lia is one that each and every child in this world should be so lucky to have. This really helped me re-live our magical day too. It is a day like no other in this life. Lia will love reading this one day, when she is a mother, and can appreciate the deep and abiding love that you so instantly had for her. Beautiful, Kate!

Bridget said...

Oh Kate -
What a beautiful post and lovely tribute to your wonderful daughter Lia! As I read your words all of the feelings of our first day with Lucy come flooding back. Lia was and is such a beauty and I know she is such a blessing to you! In each of your posts I can always feel the love that you have for your sweet girl - there is nothing like it! This one especially conveys your special bond! Happy belated family day to you!!!! What a special day and such happy memories! Thanks for sharing!

- Bridget

Lucy said...

Wow, this is just beautiful. A beautiful story and beautifully written with photographs to match. I cannot get over little Lia and how precious she was all bundled up. What a story!!!
Happy Happy Family Day!

3 Peanuts said...

I don't know how I missed the beautiful post. You are such a special and loving Mommy! Happy family day!