As we mentioned, we have been thinking of Zoe as our daughter since the day her picture came to us through email from our adoption agency. We said "four", when asked by strangers in the US how many children we had. "Four….but only three are with us right now!" She has had, for quite some time, three brothers and sisters, and a very unique and loving family, filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, and grandfathers….all excited to meet this little girl who lived on the exact opposite side of the world.
'Gotcha Day', is, as you know, a term used for the day that we got Zoe. I believe that it is also a term that she will use to describe the day she got our whole family! Our adoption agency, and probably many others, uses the the term 'Forever Family'. Zoe has been part of a couple of different families before yesterday. She has endured a great deal of pain, disappointment, fear, confusion, and emotional stress that no individual, let alone one under the age of three should. However, God has a plan for her…and we are so happy that her plan includes us! Zoe truly has a Forever Family in us, and the large crew waiting back in the US. Her Aunt Cathy has a saying on a picture in her house that says something like: "Home is Where Your Story Begins". I believe that as Zoe understands that she has a home now, a protective and loving family, she will begin to write her own great story….just as her sister, Sofi, has done. It's really not HOW you arrive at your Forever Family. It's just important that you are there.
Day one with Zoe brought another round of paperwork. We got up early….Chrissy and I at around 4am, while Zoe slept from 9pm to when we woke her at almost 7! A great breakfast was followed by a nice already 95 degree temperature walk across several busy streets to a government office. They have crosswalks here, but I think they are actually signs on the street to tell the drivers to speed up, lay on the horn, and aim for people in the road! A family picture for the adoption certificate, a photo for Zoe's paperwork, and we are onto a bus toward the local notary office.
At the notary office we are sworn in that we will love, protect, and provide health and education for little Zoe. It seems a little surreal. "Of course, why would we be at this point in the process if we weren't sure about this??", is what I was thinking! "Yes, we will", is what I said. Then we boarded the bus again, and drove to the Chinese Immigrations office where we had Zoe's picture taken for her passport.
On the way home, the bus dropped us off at this amazing store, which had two floors, and everything you could ask for: washers and dryers, baby items, toys, power tools, dried fish and other great foods. Yes, this must be Walmart. After some local shopping, we enjoyed a local meal at KFC, and a long walk back to the hotel. Along the way we saw dozens of street vendors selling everything from iPhone cases to puppies. Yes, you read that right….real puppies.
The rest of the day was bonding. Zoe giggled and laughed a lot as she played with the boys and Sofi, did playdoh with mom, and repeated everything we said. She was able to see a picture of mom, point to it, then point to mom and say "ma ma". The couple next door to us adopted a sweet 12 year old boy named Kai. They took him, Noah and Jackson out to play basketball for a long time in the afternoon. It's been nice to have some things for the kids to do in the down time.
The highlight of the day had to be bath time. Sofi was extremely patient in the tub, as Zoe looked like she was at a water park! She loved it!