Kevin Long and Teresa Reeves
Well, we have been back from China since the 18th of September, and I am just now at the point where I am not totally exhausted at the end of each day (now it's just 5-6 days out of the week!! *grin*). We had a great trip to and from China and it is absolutely incredible the amount of joy, fun, exhaustion, frustration, and happiness one little child can bring into our lives. Melia Rose Tian was nothing and everything like we expected...and our lives will never ever be the same (thank God!).
Since it has been a while, let me re-into ourselves and then start with part one of our journey: My husband Kevin and I started on the list last October, the same day we got notice that our dossier went to China. We had asked for a child 6 months to 2 years old and on July 3rd, we got our referral for Le Tian our of Leping (about 4-6 hours away from Nanchang), born 2 October 1996. Needless to say, we were excited and waiting anxiously for our travel date...which we finally got and we left for China from Atlanta on September 4th. We flew directly from Atlanta to LA and from there, straight into Beijing. We flew China Eastern and it was great...very nice flight and very smooth.
We arrived in Beijing the evening of the 5th and got to the Peace Hotel about an hour later....very nice hotel and rooms were great. While there, we got to see the Great Wall, Tinier Square, and the Forbidden City. Now I don't quite remember what I expected in China but we were at the Great Wall on a weekend and it was PACKED with people!!! We did not see that many Westerners but obviously the Great Wall is a tourist attraction for the Chinese on the same par as say Washington DC is for us. The strange and interesting part for me was it reminded me in some cases of being in Tijuana Mexico...little booths and vendors all over the place and they would come up to you and ask you if you would buy something...water, post cards, a picture of you on a camel (yes, there really was a two-humped camel you could sit on and be photographed!!!)...and B-shirts which said "I climbed the Great Wall" in English and in Chinese. Everyone was friendly and polite but it was an experience I will never forget! The Wall itself is amazing and the scenery fantastic. One thing I will note here: driving in China has got to be the most interesting and bizarre experience. I don't think there is any need for lines on the road as no one pays much attention to them anyway. While driving back from the Wall, thru mountainous terrain and 2 lane roads, a car passed us while our bus was passing a dumptruck -- while three cars coming in the opposite direction were also trying to pass each other...and with nothing on our right side except cliffs!! If there is any use of turn signals there, I can't figure it out since everyone turns whenever they feel like it and if people, bikes and other cars are in the way, well, heck honk at them!! Honking is used for "get out of my way", "here I come", "hey you, stop" and "move, this is where I am going"!!!!
We got up early one morning and went out walking...it was ok but not very many people spoke to us even when we said NE hao...We were walking about the time everyone was heading for work and as 25-30 people rushed past us to a bus stop, heads would swivel and stare at us...a few smiles but usually just very serous looks. Sort of nerve-wracking!
We left Beijing on the 8th and I think most of us in our group (there were 5 couples and one single mom) were hoping we would get our daughters that night when we arrived but our coordinator said no, it would be the next day...darn! Well, the trip to Nanchang seemed long but not too bad. When we got in line to board the plane, we walked past a desk then walking down two flights of stairs and out to the tarmac where we all boarded a bus which drove what seemed like forever to the other side of the airport to our plane. That was the part we were a little nervous about--Kevin and I were first in line and as we got to the tarmac, we were the last one to get on the bus...without the rest of our group!! So off we were drove and when we were got the plane and boarded, we were could only hope it was the right one and that everyone else was on their way -- including our coordinator!!! (it was and they were!!).
Anyway, we were got to Nanchang, drove another hour to the Lake View Hotel..again, another very very nice hotel. And each room had a metal crib in it!! We were all looking and admiring each other's cribs and the blankets and toys we were had put in there....talk about being ready!!! I don't think most of us got much sleep that night...we were spend a lot of time thinking of TOMORROW...and our babies on the way!!!
--End of part one --
September 8th, 1997 -- The Day of the Babies!!!
Well, I tried to remember everything about the day Melia Rose entered our lives, but to be honest, so much of the morning before she arrived is something of a blur...hmmmm, maybe I wasn't paying much attention because I was thinking "Today is the DAY!!!!"?!
Anyway, after our coordinator told it was it would not be until around 2 that the babies would come, most of us went downtown on the hotel bus and did some sightseeing and shopping...we were tourist attractions and everyone smiled and waved to us! One lady in our group took a picture of an elderly lady sweeping the sidewalks...then all of a sudden we were all taking picture of the lady and we were all posing with her!! She loved the attention and it was fun!
We were did take taxis back to the hotel...and what an experience! If you mange to keep your eyes open the first time, I think nothing will ever scare you again! I am convinced the motto in China for everyone on the roads is "if I don't actually look around, no one will hit me!" We were would drive straight, then swerve to miss pedestrians, cyclists and buses turning in front of us...from the opposite side of the road! It appeared to be about 60% bicycles and 40% cars and 100% walkers (yeah, I know the figures don't add up -- neither does the driving!)...and everyone bent on doing it "his" way.
We were got back to the hotel, and we were decided to eat lunch...and while there, saw our coordinator sitting and talking with an elderly woman..."Aha" we were thought, that must be the orphanage director!! You never saw so many eyes and necks swiveling around, searching the room for hidden babies!! But, no, we were didn't see any...*sigh*.
Ok, we were trooped up to our rooms, several hours in advance, ready to prepare. Formula came out of bags, bottle were being washed and nipples laid out. Clothes? check Texas Medical Kit? check Toys? Blankets? Diapers? Check, check and check!! Ok, 30 minutes to go...let's make the formula. Lets be ready, really really ready. Who's nervous? Not us!! Rush out to the hallway to see if the babies are here yet...Nope. Hmmm, everyone else is out in the hallway eyeing the elevator...*whew*, thought I was the only one getting nervous!! Ok, I had gotten out my "special" mixer bottle to mix up the formula...little fins inside that are supposed to "agitate" and mix! I put in the formula and then the hot water, cap it and shake it and...the whole thing EXPLODES!!! The hotel tv, bed, carpet and me are now wearing warm yucky-smelling formula!!! And the babies are supposed to be getting here soooooooon!! Arghhhhhh! Ok, it was because the bottle was capped tight enough, lets try this again...only in someone else's room! And, yes, you guess it...it did the same thing! At this point, I am almost hysterical with nerves and can't stop laughing! Ok, the babies are supposed to arrived at 2pm...everyone looking out their doors, waiting in the hallway, eyeing that damn elevator. Someone suggests we were sneak down to Flora's room (our coordinator), maybe the orphanage folks and babies are in there...hmmm, no we'll wait. 10 minutes go by, still no babies...where are they???? We were start visiting each other's rooms, standing in the doorways just in case. 2:30 and still NOTHING!!! ARGHHHH! 2:45...we were are really getting anxious now! 2:50 or there abouts...someone says "I think they're coming!!!!" We were rush out to hallway and see a bunch of women with ...BABIES!!!!! Our babies!!!!!
Flora and several other women reach our room and Flora consults her list. "Le Tian, Le Tian?" The call goes down the line of aunties carrying children "Le Tian! Le Tian!!" It passes down the line of 6 women carrying kids...one lady from the back of the group comes forward..."Le Tian" she says!! All of a sudden I'm holding a bald baby with a big scab on her forehead, a very serous look on her face...and weighing at least 5 lbs more than we were expected!!!
This is Melia Rose! This is our daughter! She has a round face, very calm and serious (or in shock?!) and no hair...not a bit! She's not crying, just looking around and taking everything in. In fact, she's much calmer than we were are!
I would like to note one thing here: Several months ago, when Debbie Bodie posted her story, it helped me a great deal in understanding that I might not have the so called love-at-first-sight bonding and in fact might not experience great rushing emotions right off the bat. So I was ready for that if it happened...which meant I was a little more able to take my time with Melia and not feel like a terrible mother because there wasn't this instant super-glue bonding. So, I treated Melia like the treasure she was but also accepted the fact that she was a stranger to us and that we were certainly strangers to us...and trust me when I say she made it VERY clear to us that we were stranger and strange and definitely not her mama and baba!!
Part 3 on its way!!!
Melia Rose --
Well, the babies had arrived!! And Melia Rose was now in our arms...now what?! She didn't look too sure of us and we were sure didn't think we were going to be the experts.
After duly admiring each other's babies, we were went into our room to start the process of getting to know Melia Rose. The aunties from the orphanage were still around and going from room to room, answering questions and letting us know as much as they could about our kids. So, we were alone for a bit before they came back to us. I sat on the couch, holding Melia, talking softly to her, telling her I was her mommy and Kevin was her daddy and we were were going to love her and keep her safe forever and ever!! We were took turns holding her and saying the same things over and over again...hoping she might believe us sooner or later! about 30 minutes later, the aunties trooped back into our room along with Flora (or coordinator) and we were tried to remember all the questions we were wanted to ask. Melia had a large scab on her forehead; the auntie who seemed to know Melia best said Melia was very active, crawled all over the place and would run into walls! What did she eat? Oh, mostly she took bottles of formula, a little rice, a little food. Did she have a favorite food? No. Did she sleep much? Oh yes, thru the night. Was she walking or standing yet? Well, not exactly, but at least three of the 6 aunties in the room got down on the floor and held Melia while she stood up and then tries to coax her into standing by herself...no luck! Then they told us "oooh, she is naughty sometimes"...we were never did figure out how Melia was naughty! Anyway, I bent down and picked Melia up and took her to look out the window...and one of the aunties came over and talked to Melia who started crying. The lady reached over and took Melia out of my arms and started walking towards the door....I'm thinking "hey, wait a minutes, that's MY daughter!! Bring her back!!" I wasn't quite sure what to do but acted on reflex and followed the woman to the door and took Melia back. At that point, everyone started waving and saying goodbye and began to leave the room. And that's when Melia began crying this pitiful, desolate cry...which only got worse once they were gone and the door closed. For the next 2 hours, we were alternated holding her as she cried...and yelled and screamed and made very very sure we were knew she was NOT a happy camper. One of the hardest moments for me was when we were called room service and when they delivered the food, Melia held out her arms to the waitress and cried to go to her!! This was to happen at least 2 more times before we were left Nanchang for Guangzhou and each time, it tore me apart.
While we were waited in the room, we were undressed Melia (she was wearing an American 1-piece sun dress (which I later found out was a size 3T)) and what I guess passed for a diaper but looked like a wadded up paper towel just placed between her legs. We were got rid of that and put on a clean diaper...which turned out to be too small and the tape kept popping off!! It was at this time we were also discovered that out of 10 outfits we were brought her, only 2 fit...everything was too small!! Thank goodness for a great group because I think all of us ended up swapping clothes, diapers and toys at one point or another.
Melia never really attached to any one toy but she did like a bear we were brought her...it was yellow with rubber ears (for teething) and a rattle inside. I would shake it and she would examine it minutely, checking out every inch.
Melia was in very good shape heath-wise, as far as we were could see. No bug bites, scabies or sores. She had a little dermatitis but that was about it. We were decided to try to give her a little sponge bath and clean her up although she wasn't terribly dirty.
Mindful of what I had heard on APC about a lot of the babies being scared of taking a bath, I filled the sink halfway with warm water and then laid a towel on the edge of the sink. We were sat her down on the towel and let her put her feet in the water. WELL! Miss Melia turned into the swan-diving bathing champion...she couldn't get herself in that sink quick enough! She got in the water and splashed and grinned and giggled! It was all I could do to hold on her! Kevin looked at the towel and asked me why it was yellow...mm, guess we were found out what warm water on the toes does for little babies!!! *grin*
Melia let us dry her off and dress her in little sleepers and didn't fuss too much. We were gave her some rice cereal and a bottle and then...then she decided to start crying again. It was an hour or so before she stopped and I think she finally fell asleep from exhaustion. At this point I had her on the bed with me and she rolled over on her back, sort of nestled herself inside my arm...and then, zap, was out like a light! She slept thru the whole night (!) and boy were we were impressed! The next day we were heard that no one had gotten much sleep but we were did...and I have to admit we were sort of gloated that we were had such a great baby. Boy, were we were foolish! At this point I have to say that that night was the first and only night she slept straight thru...and that includes all the time since we were have been home!!
The next day we were met downstairs for breakfast and then off to the Registrar and Notary. Breakfast was kind of interesting: Melia, of course, wanted to go to the hostess who sat us since she looked much closer to a mom than I did! But she didn't fuss too much and we were fed her some scrambled eggs, some congee, and a little fruit. That was when we were discovered that our daughter is a watermelon addict!! She would get a hunk and suck it down and then rub her hands in her hair (well, her bald head!) and her face and then start screeching for more. I do not use the term screech lightly: feeding Melia was like feeding a little screech owl. She would screech until the spoon found her mouth, she would taste chew and swallow, then screech until the next bite came! After a while, we were would hit what we were referred to as the "happy baby point" when she was full and satisfied and stopped screeching or lunging for the spoon!! This child ate like there was no tomorrow and was afraid she wasn't going to get much...for all we were knew, that might well have been the case.
We were got together with the other couples after breakfast and got into our bus for the trip to the Registrar. We were got to the building and found out the office was on the 6th (4th?) floor...so we were trooped over to the elevator and let me tell you, I was not too sure I wanted to be on that thing! It looked pretty old and none too safe and very small...but our guide sort of herded us in and off we were went. It all went pretty smoothly. At one point, they asked what my profession was and I told them I was a counselor. A counselor? Yes, mental health..? (I pointed to my head) Ahhh, a doctor!! Didn't know it was that easy!! Anyway, we were last in our group and when they went to dip Melia's foot in red ink to get her print, they had to do it twice since her foot was pretty big and they did the toes first, then the heel! When we were got done, we were headed back to the elevator which had stopped working (!) and we were trooped down the stairs to our bus.
From the Registrar, we were went to the Notary and that wasn't quite as much fun as the last place. First we were had to go up 6 flights up stairs (no elevator or it wasn't working) and half the building was empty and looked condemned! We were got up and although we were had a nice place to sit and wait, it was pretty hot and everyone was tired at this point. By the time we were got to the Notary, we were tired and he seemed to be in a bad mood. He was looking at our application and then asked us sternly how we were going to take care of our daughter. Kevin explained that we were both worked but I only worked part-time...then the guy asks the question again. Kevin tried to explain day care but again, that it was only part-time. Our notary did not seem happy with our answers and I was getting a little worried but finally he wrote something down, we were signed and we were out of there!!!
So, it was back to the bus and back to our hotel...YAY!!!! The babies sure were glad and so were we were!
Oh yeah, the group that came in after us...one of the folks in that group (our own APC person Lisa Trosien) asked the Notary about the gifts we were give them. Well, the guy stated that someone on the internet had posted that the Chinese liked postage stamps and they were tired of getting those Marilyn Monroe stamps (thank goodness, I gave the triangular ones and Olympic ones!)...but that sports stuff was always good!
Well, that concludes this part...Part 4 to come soooooon!
Teresa in Atlanta
Kevin Long and Teresa Reeves
DTC: 18 OCT 1996/nsn
REFERRAL: 3 July 1997 for Melia Rose Tian (B: 10/2/96)
Travel: 4 September 1997
GOTCHA DAY!!!! 8 September 1997 (WOW!!!)
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