May 29, 2006 - Gotcha Ellie!

The morning started bright and early, but it's not like I could sleep anyway... I was awake before the alarm clock could do the job. I simply wonder how sleep could elude someone so exhausted, but all I can think about is what today holds...

I am as excited and anxious as I was the first time. This surprises me. I thought that I'd be far more calm and composed this time around, but my emotions are proving my theory false. There are so many unknowns and I am worried about how Ellie will handle the sudden separation from her foster family. The Lord calmed my heart through some beautiful songs on trusting Him and resting in His faithfulness when fears prevail. It was a sweet gift from His hand and I was grateful for a reprieve from my anxious thoughts.

We arrived in Changsha and were greeted by our guide, Peter, who informed us that we would meet Ellie at the Changsha Civil Affairs Office at 3 PM today. I had hoped that they would bring her there, as this is the exact place we met Kate a year and a half ago. Doug and the girls went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant across the street from the hotel, but I had a strong urge to "nest" and prepare our room for Ellie's arrival. Besides...who can think of food at moments like these???

We left promptly at 2:30 to go to meet her. It was again a very surreal experience as we pulled into that familiar parking lot and headed up to the 3rd floor waiting room. We arrived to find 10 families there who had all met their girls today as well. I was thrilled to discover that they were all from Yiyang CWI (Kate's orphanage) and were all the same age as Kate was when we first met. Chatting with them kept the wait almost "bearable"!
Moments later, I turned around to see a little girl in a polka dotted dress being carried in by an orphanage worker. She sat down and stood her next to her chair. I looked at her and instantly knew that it was Ellie. Mostly because I thought she looked so much like Kate! I had thought, too, that I would not cry this time... wrong again! Just seeing her standing there set me off!

We were not allowed to approach her, as the "officials" had not checked our paperwork and our guide was not there. She stood there tentatively and looked at all of us as if wondering who we were and why we were there. After what seemed an eternity, our passports and approval were checked and they summoned us over to Ellie. The moment she realized that my intention was to remove her from her caretakers side, she made it clear that she wanted no part in that! :( Her cries were the most pathetic I have ever heard. When she started calling out for her "mama", I could hardly take it anymore and joined her in her disintegration. No one could calm her breaking heart. We tried bribing with food, balloons and bubbles. She lunged toward the windows where she could see her caretakers walking away. Finally when she decided that her crying was in vain she settled down a little bit and took an interest in Kate. We were ushered back unto the van to head back to the hotel. Just leaving the building seemed to help a lot and she actually almost smiled as she watched Kate's antics in trying to make her happy. 

I was completely blown away by how beautifully Kate handled those stressful moments. She gently stroked Ellie's arm and softly said-"It's OK Ellie...Don't cry!" Finally tonight, as we walked to supper, Kate took Ellie's hand and walked her down the hall in front of us. This, too, brought tears to my eyes. Which should not surprise anyone, as EVERYTHING seems to bring me to tears these days! :)

I was also very surprised by how unsteady Ellie is on her feet. Almost as if she just learned to walk weeks ago. At 22 months I expected her to be an experienced walker, but assume that she has had very little opportunity to strengthen her legs. That will surely correct itself in short order.We had only received a snapshot of Ellie's hand, taken at 8 months old, so we were uncertain as to how affected her left hand really was. Unfortunately, her little hand is far worse than we expected. She has no wrist, no palm, and absolutely no use of any of her fingers. It appears that an amniotic band attached itself just above her wrist and hindered the proper development of her wrist, hand and fingers. to the hotel. Just leaving the building seemed to help a lot and she actually almost smiled as she watched Kate's antics in trying to make her happyI feel strongly that the best solution for Ellie, may well be a prosthetic hand, as I can not imagine how surgery would be able to make up for the damage already done.  It does not seem to bother her though, and it is precious to watch her work around the "disability" handed to her at birth.  She tucks everything under her little arm and uses her right hand to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.  Sadly, Ellie is really having a difficult time with the monumental events of this Gotcha Day... I thought that I had done the whole- "hope for the best, prepare for the worst"- thing pretty well.  But I feel sadly unprepared for how to comfort a little girl in her terrifying position.  I am struggling to watch her grieve so deeply, but stand in awe of a God who is big enough to see us all through this difficult change...

I saw the face of Jesus
in a little orphan girl
She was standing in the corner
on the other side of the world

And I heard the voice of Jesus
gently whisper to my heart
Didn't you say you wanted to find me?
Well her I am ~ Here you are
So what now?
What will you do, now that you've found me?

What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected
But this is right where I said I would be

What now?
  Steven Curtis Chapman ~ "What Now"
There's the smile we've been waiting for!

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