Monday, June 29th, one of the best days of our lives. Our family is complete and we are all over the moon in love with our little Lila Mei.
Our day started off with a big breakfast at our hotel. Every morning this place bustles with business men and women and many adoptive families. They have all sorts of yummy items- waffles, pancakes, bacon, croissants…we can all find something yummy to enjoy! There are also lattes, so this girl is happy to go down to breakfast every morning since our hotel room doesn’t have a coffee maker! We finished breakfast and went back up to the room to get ready.
Our guide met us at 11am in the lobby. Her name is Kelly and she is so great! She took us on a walk around our hotel to show us what all is near us and how to get to different restaurants and grocery stores. She pointed out many restaurants that the American families she works with have recommended. Noodle shops, pizza, and yes, even TEX-MEX!!! I am sure it’s no Chuy’s but you know we’re trying that place as soon as we can! Then Kelly took us to a noodle place for lunch that was really yummy!
After that, we headed back up to the room for a little while before we were leaving to get Lila. I told Trey I felt so much like I did the mornings we went in for my c-sections. Nervous, anxious, excited, worried…all of it! I just keep trying to pray through all of it, and I kept hearing God saying “I’ve got this!” Trey and I spent a few minutes praying together and it was precious time we will never forget. We did talk about how up until that point we didn’t think we were crazy, but in that moment, we couldn’t believe what we were about to do!
We packed a little bag for Lila with toys, diapers, and snacks, and then we met Kelly downstairs at 2pm. She said the drive would take 15-20 minutes, but it really only took about 5-10! We pulled up, walked up a long alley, and into an office building. We waited with some other adopting families for the elevator, and then we were in the Civil Affairs office. There were many other families there- some had their children already, some were still waiting. There was really no where to sit except a small bench, so we sat down while Kelly did some paperwork. We decided to move to another bench that had two together, and as soon as we moved, we looked up, and Lila and her nanny were in the room! We couldn’t believe it! I stood up and watched her for a few seconds until her nanny realized that we were her family.
She brought her over and put her down on the floor for her to come walk to us. She wasn’t sad at all, and came straight into my arms. I stroked her beautiful hair and told her how much we loved her, and that she was safe. After a few snuggles, I handed her over to Trey. She really liked him and just put her head on his chest. She started sucking her two fingers and we couldn’t believe it because she sucks the same two as Chloe did when she was a baby. She is a Clemens through and through! Next the kids came around and her face lit up. Jack got her first smile! She was just so calm the whole time.
I held her again as Kelly translated so I could talk with her nanny. Someone else described this part as feeling like a babysitter taking notes on how she sleeps, how many bottles, what time she goes to bed, etc…it was all so surreal! We talked for around 10 minutes or so, and she described Lila as a very calm child, she likes to play with others but also does great on her own. She takes 3 bottles a day (it is common in China for babies to be on a bottle until 3 years old) and eats many solid foods. Here we are right before we left- our first picture as a family of 5!
The whole process of getting her only took about 20-30 minutes, and then we were back in the car heading to the hotel. Kelly came up to our room to help me with paperwork, and that is when Lila really started lighting up! She laughed and laughed and smiled and just had the best time with Trey, Chloe, and Jack while I watched as I finished signing papers. We can’t get over her laugh- it is a full-out belly laugh situation! We all get huge smiles when we hear it!
We gave her a quick bath (she was used to having them in her orphanage so she did great) and put some lotion on her and changed her clothes. She has flea and mosquito bites all over her, and many scrapes and bruises too. It is hard to imagine what her living conditions were like, and it just makes us even more thankful she is ours. She also came to us with a fever, and when we checked it again it was over 100, so we gave her Motrin. She did not like that, and it was the first time she cried, but she was over it quickly! She looked so cute in her new clothes!
After hanging in the hotel for a while, Trey ventured out to get us some pizza for dinner. While he was gone, we played chase with Lila. She LOVED being chased down the hall by the kids. She would laugh and laugh! Trey came back with pizza, which thrilled Chloe and Jack! Lila ate some blueberry and banana puree, and the mushrooms off my pizza! She started picking at one, and before I knew it, she was having mushrooms for dinner.
We played for a little more after dinner, trying to keep her awake so she would sleep all night! We put her pjs on and let her play with the kids for a little bit, and then it was time for her nighttime bottle. She drank most of it, and then we tried giving her more medicine because her fever was still high. She hated it again, and then it took her a while longer to calm down. She didn’t want us to comfort her. Instead, she sat up, sucked her fingers, and rocked herself. Our guide says this is typical of orphanage kids, especially in her orphanage where there are at least 16-17 kids for 2 nannies all day, every day. They have to learn to self soothe, and so she isn’t used to anyone rocking her or soothing her to sleep. It was hard to watch her be so sad and comfort herself. After a few minutes, she laid back on me and fell asleep in my arms. It took a long time for me to be ready to transfer her to the bed, but we finally did and she slept all night! I didn’t hear her at all, even though I kept waking up to check on her.
It was such an amazing first day with our girl. It went beyond any of our expectations, and I know that is because we have all been praying for this day for so long and God is faithful in answering our prayers.
One less orphan in the world. One more Clemens. Our hearts are full!