Our "Gotcha Day" experience certainly ranked very high on my list of "Things I've Never Done Before". I have physically birthed four children, and make no mistake about it, birthing Eli was harder.
There were 6 adopting families in our Travel Group including us. To say we were blessed and honored to travel with them would have been an understatement. We truly enjoyed being with them including the sweet children they recieved...Lucy, Ellianna, Mia, Jake and Ahn...3 girls and 3 boys.
On our fourth day in China, we flew from Beijing to Zhengzhou, the capital city in the province where Eli's orphanage was located. Our hotel room at the Crown Plaza was very nice -- and a much needed refreshment from the chaos of downtown Beijing. That evening a hotel employee showed up at our door with a crib. When they wheeled it into the room Billy says, "Why do we need that?" It hadn't registered yet.
First thing the very next morning, July 13th, we were all bused to the registration building to "get our babies". The plan was simple. All 6 families would wait in the conference room -- and the babies would be brought in one by one and handed to the right family. They would call out the child's Chinese name -- and you had better know your child's Chinese name! All the while, we'd be video tapped for a Chinese news show.
Before we made it to the conference room, I realized I left Eli's gift on the bus -- so Billy ran back downstairs to get it while me and a couple other moms decided to visit the ladiesroom. When we returned about 5 minutes later, one of the moms babies had already been brought in and was in the arms of his father. She gasped...and cried. It was a great moment. Layered on top of this, Billy walks in the room holding Eli's hand. They had met in the elevator coming back from picking up the gift on the bus! He says the nanny recognized him from his pic and ran up to him with Eli saying, "This your papa!" He had certainly never met one of his children in this way before. Eli was calm for about 10 minutes -- and then the waterworks started flowing. Infact, shortly thereafter, there were 6 crying babies in the room!
Eli cried for about 30 straight minutes, we asked a couple of questions of his nanny, and walked back to the bus. "Congratulations! You have your child," our guide says. We made friends over a cup of Cheerios.
The rest of the day, we slept and got to know one another...just a little. Eli has a mommy and a daddy....it was a profound experience that's difficult to process all at once and certainly hard to put into words.