July 11, 2007

Happy Michal and Kenna Day . Happy Family Day.

July 11, 2005 was a very good day.

At 2:15 p.m. we met our guide and our group in the lower lobby of the White Swan Hotel. We were all loaded down with cameras, diaper bags and assorted baby paraphernalia. Some of us were about to become first-time parents, while others in the group were a little more experienced in the parenting department. Our group included eight sets of waiting parents, two soon-to-be big brothers, two soon-to-be big sisters, two first-time grandparents and one about-to-be great aunt.

We boarded a bus and XiXi, our guide, started talking about what was going to happen when we arrived at the Civil Affairs Office. I don't think anything can really prepare you for what's about to happen though. I laugh when I watch the video of myself outside the Civil Affairs Office first nervously laughing and then hunched over like I'm going to be sick. It's really an apt picture of how that moment feels -- overwhelming joy mixed with nauseating anticipation.

We all crowded into the elevator in shifts, rode to the fifth floor and gathered in a conference room. And then we waited. It wasn't long before XiXi let us know that the babies had arrived. Someone – I'm not sure who – figured out the babies were just across the hall. Some of us went to look and there, only a few feet away, were our daughters. It was so surreal. Almost as if the referral photos we'd been carrying around had somehow come to life. Kenna was being held by a nanny and another nanny saw us and went and got Michal, who was toddling around. I've always wondered how she knew who we were and which babies were ours. Our peeking didn't last for long though and we were soon sent back to the conference room to wait just a little longer.

There are no words to describe the moment the babies finally started coming in the room. As the first baby was handed to her parents, the flood of tears started. It wasn't the babies who were crying though. Not a single one of them cried and one was actually sound asleep as she was put in the arms of her new parents. The once-quiet room was now filled with noise and everything seemed to happen so quickly. In what felt like just minutes, eight families met their new daughters and nine little girls, who started their morning in Maoming -- blissfully unaware of what the day held for them -- met their families.

To say the moment we first held Michal and Kenna was awesome or amazing or life-changing somehow fails to do it justice. There really are no words that accurately capture how it's possible to become a family in such a remarkable way. The moment we were handed Michal and Kenna was simply nothing short of miraculous.

Today, on the second anniversary of the day we met our daughters, the day our lives completely and forever changed, I'm happily remembering that really hot July afternoon we spent in the Guangzhou Civil Affairs Office; the day two unbelievably beautiful, pink-sundress-clad little girls toddled into that room and straight into our hearts. The amazing, crazy, never-to-be-forgotten day when, more than 10,000 miles from home, we became a family of four.

It really was a good day.

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