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China: Final Day – Goodnight & Goodbye, with a Tear in Our Eyes

Man, these emotions are strange. Sarah and I have been dying to get home, but for some reason today seems hard to leave. Really hard. As the two loves of my life rest peacefully tonight, I’m up late personally struggling with a strong pull in two directions.

On one hand, we absolutely can’t wait to get this little peanut home to Nashville to begin our lives together. We’re thrilled to show her the room we’ve prepared, introduce her to family and friends (and her new friend Duke) who already love her dearly, and fall into a routine that will hopefully generate more and more attachment in the coming weeks and months. Not to mention, these two gluten free, diary free, semi vegetarian health nuts are about to crawl out of our skin in craving some normal food, after 14 days of creatively piecing together healthy meals that are about to break the wallet.

All we’ve wanted to do for 15 months is “bring home the little lotus”. So why are we sad to leave now that the time has come?

Partially, it’s because this is HER first home. Call us crazy, but we know we’re uprooting her from all SHE knows. And regardless of the roles, we’ve been her guests this whole time. It’s been phenomenal learning her culture, spending time with her in her hometown, and soaking up a land we all grow up dreaming of: China. It’s a place with sights, sounds, and smells unlike anywhere else. And it’s sad to think even at 22 months, she’ll be jolted into a new reality back home.

Partially, it’s because over here 7,000 miles away there are no distractions. No jobs. No chores. No obligations, other than us. Only us. The three of us. We’re still getting used to this special connection, and part of us fears that the day-to-day demands of “home” will interrupt this special thing we’ve got going here, even if just a bit. Her, us, family. It’s become so routine that we’re finding ourselves singing her lullabies to ourselves when walking the hotel halls. Bah, bah, bah… bah, bah, bah… Fei Yu, Fei Yu, bah, bah, bah.

Partially, it’s because we’ve seen the need. With our own eyes. We toured her orphanage and saw what we thought were a LOT of kids who need (and want!) forever families. We touched their hands. We saw it in their eyes. Then we heard the horrors of other orphanages nearby with 2,000 kids. Two thousand in one place. 700,000 across the country. It’s hard to leave and not have done more. Julia exceeds all that we could have ever dreamed of, then some. She’s perfect and could fill our lives with overflowing joy, single handedly. But if we could bring her home a brother or sister or two or three or four, we’d do it in a heartbeat. Send us the paperwork for a loan… I’ll sign it on the spot. Rest assured that we’re changed people after this trip, and you just might see our pants on fire for this cause.

And finally, a part of us knows that these tender baby moments are already slipping away, and that our time with her at this age and this stage is limited. This child came to us timid and weak, and in just 10 days we’ve marveled at her progress. Look at these random pictures from today and note the difference from day one. As proud parents, we want these milestones to happen faster and faster until she’s “caught up”. As selfish parents, we want to bottle feed her forever so we can gaze into her eyes under lamp light and listen to her taking deep baby breaths between sips. We want her to “need us” and know that once home, she’s going to take off lightning speed. We just pray that she takes us along for the ride.

Just 10 nights ago, I took a picture of an empty crib below a city skyline the night before we met this doll. Tonight, it’s a sealed envelope below the skyline, packed full of visa documents ready for our port-of-entry (Chicago), when we touch down in the United States tomorrow. Above the envelope, the glass is full of tiny, perfect little finger and hand prints from this bundle of joy standing in the window sill with us this last week in our second “home”. Since when do fingerprints make me cry? Right now they do. These paw prints tell such a story already, and as much as it feels like we’ve arrived at our destination, we know this journey is truly just beginning.

So regardless of conflicting emotions, we board a plane tomorrow (three planes, actually), homeward bound. Throughout this trip, we’ve kept a couple of lullabies consistent… singing to the little lotus wherever we go, to remind her that she’s safe and that we’re always by her side. We apologize in advance to the folks next to us, as I’m sure she’ll need to hear this duo a few times throughout the 24 hours of travel. One lullaby in particular happened by accident the first night when we simply altered the lyrics to “Your Are My Sunshine” to fit her Chinese name, and make it more appropriate for adoption. We've been singing it to her ever since. If you have a second tomorrow, we’d love it if you’d sing along as we fly overhead, heading your way… and pray that this sweet soul not only makes it through a scary day of traveling… but more importantly, adjusts well to her first minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months home with us in the States.

You are our Qi Fei, our only Qi Fei.

You make us happy, all the time.

We’ll make you know dear, how much we love you.

You can’t take, our Qi Fei away…

Goodbye for now, China moon. Goodnight.

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"I am a lotus flower – delicate, fragile, yet strong... floating, unfolding, and blossoming into the life where I belong.”