Taiwan day seven13 Mar 2023 | Adoption
I slept restlessly in the musty hotel until 6, when I reasoned it was acceptable to get up. Becca shared my restlessness–in just a few hours, we were going to meet our adopted kids for the first time in person and then drive away with them. The anticipated moment was so close.
I took my laptop and went across the street to Starbucks and learned that they opened at 7. Fortunately, the McDonald’s next to our hotel was open 24hrs a day. I went in and (again) struggled to convince them that I wanted a hot mocha. Sipping on another small victory, I worked on blog posts and figured out how to make the google photos public links function for my markdown blog–meticulously replacing every image link in the first three posts with new (and functional) ones.
The hotel breakfast breakfast would have been enjoyable for me, but they didn’t have the types of foods my children would stomach. After a McDonald’s breakfast with the whole family, we packed up, checked out, and hopped in an Uber. In retrospect, we had the 4 person Uber thing down pat. We could enter and exit Ubers with two kids as smoothly as elementary school drop off.
meeting our kids
We arrived at Good Shepherd Sisters a little early just in case we needed to figure out paperwork, and after filling out a few forms, we walked up to a room with a big u-shaped couch and plenty of toys.
Noah met us at the door and a chaotic mess of hellos, hugs, and clumsy attempts at first pictures ensued. Once we had all our shoes off and luggage in the door, he started playing with toys while the social workers and his foster parents started showing us the contents of his backpack, bag, and suitcase. They had multiple photo books full of baby pictures through to the present.
Abbie arrived next with her foster parents. Her tiny backpack, large duffel, and suitcase contained new clothes, snacks, and photo books like Noah’s but with far more pink, tinsel, and barbies than our family of boys had seen.
We took pictures with every combination of group we could think of and exchanged gifts with the social workers and foster parents. It was joyful and tearful. Abbie’s foster dad and I cried together. He said in English through tears, “She’s my little daughter. Every night when I put her to bed, I say, ‘I love you, do you love me?’ But I know she will have such a wonderful opportunity in America with you.”
Reviewing all the last minute habits, personality quirks, and food preferences felt surreal. Luckily, it was all review from the last 1.5 years of correspondence.
And then with brief goodbyes, the foster parents left. My heart broke for them, and even more so that Noah and Abbie didn’t seem to grasp the weight of the moment, the finality of this last goodbye.
The six of us ate chocolates together, played a game of Uno (numbers and colors are pretty easy to translate), and waited for the social workers to return with the last pieces of paperwork. They gave us a USB drive that we later explored: it contained pictures and video from over a year of skype calls and more pictures of them growing up. We hadn’t expected such a wealth of moments from their past–and I wouldn’t want to give false hope to any other family in the process. It was a testament to the social workers and foster parents to have them all gathered.
“Do you have any other questions?” No. We were questioned out. We had been asking questions since June of 2021 about these kids, and now they were with us.
I forgot my question about eggs, it didn’t seem relevant at the time, but I did ask about my pronunciation when ordering hot mochas. She said it was perfect.
The final paperwork was delayed, and a spike of fear shot through me. They didn’t seem worried though, I’d be able to pick it up at a handoff hours before it was needed for their immigration visa appointment the following day. No need to worry.
back to Taipei
They offered to order us two taxis to get us to the HSR, but we hoped to get an UberXl to keep us all together. No UberXls were available, so we ended up with two Ubers instead. We hadn’t planned on splitting up the party so early, but there we were: Becca with Jack and Abbie and me with Than and Noah. We each took a deep breath.
Hand-holding was very helpful, and surprisingly, so were our two older kids. We found a place to eat lunch together, and Becca ordered nuggets and fries for everyone. Our first meal together was uneventful but somehow significant with greasy fingers, refusal of french fries, kicking under the table, and a mass of luggage blocking that whole section of the restaurant. We split up for a bathroom break (which didn’t seem fair because I had a party of 4 while Becca took just Abbie) before purchasing reserved-seat tickets for six from Tainan to Banqiao Station (correctly the first time) before holding up the whole line to file 4 children through the turnstiles with all our luggage in tow.
The kids watched shows on their tablets and Becca and I checked in with each other on occasion to make sure we were all ok. The UberXl picked us up from Banqiao Station, miraculously fit all the luggage, and took us to our AirBnB in Taipei. Relief washed over us as we arrived “home.”
It was still hours before dinner, so we went to play tag and swing at the park. In the apartment, we played many rounds of hide and seek (with limited options and varying skills). Still, the counting, giggling, and laughter began the process of binding them together with us. It also gave our older kids a glimmer of hope that these kids could play with them.
We broke out Mario Kart and sticker. Abbie proved to be very digitally adept and picked up the racing with ease.
Pizza Hut provided food that everyone gladly ate. Abbie picked off the cheese and slid the piece so it was overhanging the plate before taking bites then ate some of the toppings. Noah just ate his pizza like a normal human–more normally than Than, who insisted on eating the crust first resulting in 100% greasy hands.
We watched part of Frozen 2 in Chinese to wind down (Disney+ allows whole profiles to be in Chinese). We did pajamas and argued about sleeping arrangements (the kids, not the adults).
In the dark, Abbie quietly cried herself to sleep with Becca. Noah fell asleep quickly but ground his teeth and kicked me through the night.