Two years ago today I met Belle for the first time. She was 28 month old.
Krystal and I, along with my dear friend Sandy, had flown to China. We spent 3 days touring in Beijing with several other families also adopting a child, and flew into her provincial city that afternoon. We were met at the airport by our guide, who immediately greeted Krystal by name, and she fell head over heels for him (he really was fabulous!). As we loaded into the mini-van for the hour long drive into the city, he briefed us, including the news that we were heading directly to the government office to meet Belle, rather than checking into the hotel first. GULP!
It was a soggy, heavy day, and we learned that it had rained everyday since January. That’s fine, but when you add the 100% humidity, it was just oppressive. The three Americans all had shorts and tank tops, and still were sweating buckets, but the locals all wore long pants and shirts – I don’t know how they did it.
When we got to the government building we were led inside. There was a sad girl sitting on a couch in an office, and in my panic, I turned to Sandy and asked “Is that her?”. No, it was a 7 year old girl who was waiting to meet her newly adoptive mom as well. After what seemed like a long time, a van drove up and a large woman walked in carrying a little sprite of a thing with a Pebbles-like pigtail on the top of her head. Belle. She was the most delicate creature. She had on two pair of pants and two long sleeve shirts. Wonder of wonders, she was sweating.
She mostly looked all around, and it was only when Krystal had a meltdown because she wanted to touch her, that she cried. And what a cry – it was an alto cry, a bass cry. My heart broke for her, thinking of all she had just lost, and the huge unknowns before her that she couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
We came back to the hotel room and Belle charmed us all by taking all our shoes and lining them up perfectly in a row (not sure how we lost that trait!). When she needed to use the bathroom she first tore off several squares of toilet paper and then perched on the toilet. I wish I had resisted my urge to interfere, as obviously she had been doing this long before me, but she was so tiny I was afraid she would fall right in.
Without Krystal with us, I’m sure it would have taken much longer to break through. Krystal had her laughing as they played endless games of peek-a-boo. Because Belle was not a baby when I adopted her – she was over 2 years old – she spoke toddler Chinese, mostly in the local dialect which I could not have studied beforehand if I’d known. But I had loaded a very common Chinese lullabye onto my iPod which I did use, with apparent success, a couple of nights to help her get to sleep.
Belle is a challenging child to parent, but she is no less a miracle than an easier child. She is bright and funny with a sweet heart. Belle – I love you.
We went out to dinner tonight to celebrate our two year anniversary as a family of three. While we waited for our food to arrive we had this conversation:
Belle – Willow’s mom has a baby in her tummy. She’s going to have a baby sister.
Me – Isn’t that nice?
Belle – I want you to have a baby sister in your tummy. <pouts>
Krystal – Mommy can’t. And these are the reasons. One, you have to have a mate to have a baby, and she doesn’t have a mate. Two, we have too much business to take care of another baby.
Me – (wishing I could stop time to write this all down so I remember it to blog about it!)