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9.02.2013

picture perfect

[exhale deeply]

I'd love to tell you that this morning was picture perfect.  That she walked in, saw and recognized us and ran with open arms for a hug.  But that would be far from the truth.  And in the interest of remaining transparent, I'll tell you the real story...

After a lousy night's sleep, the entire family was up earlier than necessary so we had time for a leisurely breakfast downstairs.  I'm sure I should have been hungry, but the butterflies in my stomach kept me from enjoying much of what I ate.  Finally it was time to meet Amy in the lobby.

Just as Ian snapped a "selfie" of the two of us in the van, Amy got a phone call and her expression changed.


Apparently Natalie's train had been "delayed" and instead of arriving just before six this morning, it was to arrive closer to ten.

No choice though but to go with the flow, so on we headed.


Upon arrival we were the only family at the civil affairs office, but as we checked the paperwork, two other families joined us.


We were still expecting Natalie to be the last to arrive and then I happened to look out into the hall.  Just like that, there she was.  No longer a simply a picture but a living, breathing child.


It took what felt like forever to get Ian and Amy's attention, but they finally joined me near the doorway and Natalie walked in.  And it all got fuzzy from there.


We came to find out that not only had she taken the night train, and it was late, but also the care package we had so carefully put together for her never arrived at her orphanage.  So for the past two months while I've imagined her carefully studying our photographs, she's only been told that her mama and baba were coming.  She had no idea what we looked like.  Those things together created the perfect storm to frustrate and terrify a child who had never seen Westerners before.

It went from bad to worse and in that time we learned that she's loud, crazy strong and has a nasty right hook.  And that's all we'll say about that.

How bad?  Well, Amy decided that it would be better for us to fill out all the paperwork stating that we wanted to begin the harmonious period in our hotel room instead of staying at the office.


As Ian dutifully filled out all the parental information and wrote a paragraph stating why we wanted to adopt another child, our sleepy girl finally relaxed enough to doze off for a few minutes.


It may have only been about ten minutes, but that tiny little rest gave her a bit of spunk.  And then just as I was getting ready to scold the boys for getting a bit wild with a foam pillow, one threw it too far and instead of the other catching it, it beamed Darcy in the head.

And her stoic face cracked into a little grin.


And then that "spicy girl" with the sparkle in her eyes began to emerge.  Oh my y'all, we're gonna have our hands full with this one.  Because this huge smile...


...came about from bonking her daddy in the head with a punch balloon.


 Over.  And over.  And over.

Things started looking up at that point.  She let both of us feed her some green beans, eggplant and rice.


She was amused by her new thermos.


And she began interacting with her new siblings...taking down her closest in age sibling with her wrestling moves...


...posing pretty with her closest in age sister...


...laughing with her oldest siblings...


...and giving her eldest sister a kiss on the nose.

if there was ever, EVER, a moment i'm thankful we bring our entire family along when expanding, this is it!
And so I present to you the M kids.  It's not going to be all sunshine and roses from this point out.  I know that as well as the next guy.  We'll have good days and bad days, good hours and bad hours, good minutes and bad minutes.  But over time the good will outweigh the bad.


After a rough start, we have seen hope in where we are headed.  Perhaps the initial chaos made us appreciate her smile even more.

Maybe today was picture perfect after all...

28 comments:

Melissa said...

Love you for your truth and open heart, Kristi. I think it's amazing how the kids and your big kid Ian relaxed her - and did it while in her Mama's arms! The pictures, every single one, express so much and they are all so very special. Will keep praying that Natalie's smile gets bigger and bigger each day, and that the transition into the M7 goes well! Much love to you all!!!!

Melissa said...

I also need to tell you I just love how Kylie is so nurturing holding her hand in the one picture and touching her belly in the other, how Daniel and Caleb have their arms around Natalie, and how Darcy does the same.....what amazing kids you have, Kristi and Ian.

Learning Together at Home said...

Oh her heart and yours! You are an experienced Mama and you see the truth. Her smile has hope in it though. Praying for the !M7!
Shelley

Jaclyn said...

Lots of tears! Wow! Congrats on your daughter. She is beautiful!

Ashley said...

Oh so happy for you!!! I think the day was "picture perfect" for your family...the first of so many forevers! We continue to pray for Natalie's sweet heart, her four big siblings, you, Ian and the rest of the family!! Hugs!

Shannon said...

What a beautiful weaving of her into the family!!! What a beautiful smile!!! FULL of hope and maybe a little mischief!! Yes , the airline tickets for the big kids look like they were worth their weight in gold!! Love seeing them love on her!! So precious! So sweet to see them ALL together in one frame! Praying you through these next few days... That she won't develop her left hook :) and the smiles will outweigh the tears but knowing that the tears will be necessary for healing her sweet heart allowing her to bond to you completely! Loving you from a far!!

jennifer b said...

Hooray for the M7! Have been keeping close watch on you, and looking forward to seeing these pics. So glad to see smiles appear! You'll all get a good laugh out of the "right hook" someday ... my son never gets tired of hearing about how he beamed me in the head with his rattle! Prayers for a safe journey as you all grow together.

Mike and Leticia said...

SO excited for you all! Love that you take all the kiddos with you. There's something SO special about those sweet first moments.

Lots of prayers and hugs for you all from this side of the world! :)

Heather said...

So excited to see the M7 all together. That picture of her and Kylie, oh how sweet. Praying for the rest of the trip. (and I think your guide Amy, was our guide in Changsha too. :) )

Laurie said...

I have chills. I just LOVE reading about your growing family. I had to get to the very end to see my favorite part... Daniel with his arm around his new sister. Priceless!!!

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

So sorry for the confusion and sorry that she didn't get the packages you had sent. Praying that she will have a peaceful night and enjoy the love of her family. Yeah, you have her! Congratulations!

prechrswife said...

Congratulations on your new addition! Praying for you as all of the transitions take place.

Amy Murphy said...

So happy for you, and praying for you!!!

Traci said...

This is just amazing! So glad that she is happy (at least for now!) LOVE those smiles! That picture of she and Kylie is priceless!!! Both of my kids just sat and smiled at the last picture of all five for a long time! We like the one of her wrestling Daniel! Is she a spunky one? So precious!

Pierson is upset that they cut her hair. He said that is not nice! (The 'first glimpse' picture of her he noticed the woman with her had long hair. He said "that woman has long hair. If they are going to cut the kids hair they should cut their own hair so they no how it feels!"

KarenB said...

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

I love seeing your family grow both in numbers and in love. Seeing Kylie holding her hand for the final picture just melted my heart. I know that you guys are going to go through some big transition ahead but what peace it must bring to your heart to know she is with you. Hugs to all of you!

Julie Shively

Jennifer Taylor said...

I am so thankful that you are all together now! Praying for everyone!

Gramma said...

Since Natalie had never seen Westerners before, had no idea ,really, of who you all were and was stressed and tired from the whole travel adventure, I think I LOVE that she was feisty and fighting back. I think that personality trait will take her far . Doesn't mean it will be easy for,you,though!
No matter it all though,she seems to have surveyed the situation,loved what she saw and gave you all smiles! I am so impressed that she opened her little mouth to let you feed her!
I can feel the love in your family just as a stranger reading online. That makes me know for certain Natalie felt your family's love around her. What amazing adults your amazing children will be.
Congratulations on your new baby girl!

Sharon said...

One of the best starts to a morning is checking a sweet families blog and seeing what transpired as we slept. Her introduction to her family sounds like it when down much like ours with Hudson, which led to a very secure boy later...as you well know. She is beautiful and can't wait to watch those eyes brighten and her smile grow bigger as the days go by. Praying you thru those ups and downs!!!

Lorna said...

This post brought tears to my eyes! Your description of the day is beautifully done, and the photos are priceless! Seeing the M7 together for the first time was a great way to start the day! Natalie fits right in, and I love her spunk!! Such a strong, brave little girl!!

Emily said...

Congratulations on your spicy girl! Love seeing the photo of the 5 children TOGETHER! I also LOVE your facial expression in the close up photo of Natalie on your lap on the bed. Right after she bonked Ian and smiled. And thank you for your transparency.

We've had Amy for both of our Hunan adoptions and LOVE her. If you have a chance, please tell her hello from our family.

Praying for the adjustment for ALL of you. :)

Pam

Rita and John said...

Congratulations! What an amazing first day together. Praying for all of you as you head into the second day and every day ever after.

Jenn said...

Tears!!!! Her smile is precious!!!! Praying for quick and sweet attachment and bonding for everyone!!

Jen Barbee said...

Congratulations on your spicy girl. We me out little spicy girl in that same room 6 years ago. Natalie is beautiful! Congratulations!

Heather said...

Oh Wow! Loved seeing the picture of them together. And nothing like bopping Daddy in the face to get a smile. Dad's always know how to take one for the team. From the looks of it, she'll fit right it! She's adorable!

Glenda said...

So sweet to finally see Natalie with her family! I'm so glad that your others are there, not just for them, but for Natalie. Praying that today will bring more bonding and smiles. Love you!

Peggy said...

What a precious sight to see your whole family together, and know that the wait is over!

Anne said...

I have read your post over & over and I get teary-eyed each time. Natalie is just precious. I love the picture of her kissing Kylie's nose. What a treasure! God bless you all. Praying for a smooth transition for Natalie (and the rest if your family).

Anne in Colorado