When we finished breakfast we headed back upstairs to grab everything that we needed to meet David. Then we met our guide Susie in the hotel lobby to drive to the Civil Affairs Office. Last time we did this we were with a group of 10 other families, and there were families from other agencies in the office too. It was more than a little chaotic. This time it was just us and one other family, who appeared to be Chinese. We were joined later by another couple from Vancouver who were Chinese-born. Our driver pulled the van off the road and we entered the back door of a building kind of at the entrance to an alley. I don’t know if we went in the back way and there was a more formal entrance, but this definitely didn’t look like a government office. We went up three flights of stairs and entered the office. Susie led us down the hall to a room with a huge table where we would wait for David to arrive.
At this point everything happened really quickly. We were sitting there waiting when all of a sudden my dad said “I see him!” and we got up and walked toward the door. He walked in with the orphanage director and one of his caretakers (who were both male, woohoo!), they spoke to him in Chinese and pointed at me, and he reached his arms out to me for a hug with a huge smile on his face. I scooped him up, and he just kept smiling! I took him back to the table so that the kids could see him better and Brian could have a turn holding him. They were all beside themselves and couldn’t get close enough! Caroline, true to form, kept giving him hugs and kisses. Lily was talking about everything and giving us a running narrative. Matthew was showing David all the cool toys he had in his backpack.
Our guide started completing the paperwork with the two men from the orphanage while we played with David. She told us that they told David he was going to meet us today, and he was very excited! He definitely was! Since he was sitting on my lap he couldn’t see me, but he kept turning around when I talked to him and giving me the biggest grin. I fully expected him to cry and kick and scream and be upset, and boy was I surprised. He went right to Brian, no problem (yay for having been around men before!) and was just so sweet and happy. The orphanage directly obviously cared for him, because he kept looking over at us and tearing up.
We signed a few papers, handed over our passports, and about 30 minutes later we were done. In all the rush I forgot to write down questions for the caretakers, which was a bummer because now I won’t get that chance. It turns out we won’t be able to visit his orphanage while we are here. I tried to ask a few things about his city but I think they were lost in translation.
Once everything was done we drove back to our hotel for a little while until lunch time. The kids had a great time playing together in the room. David just walked around, checking everything out. Matthew said this was the best day of his life, and kept commenting on how cute David was. Caroline loved all the sounds he made and echoed Matthew’s thoughts about him being cute. Lily seemed to take to him pretty quickly too. Soon it was time for lunch and we headed back down to the lobby. Susie took us across the street to a noodle house. Everything was in Chinese, so there is pretty much no way we could have navigated that ourselves. She ordered us dumplings and bowls of noodles. David claimed an entire steam basket of dumplings for himself and went to town! He has been taught how to eat and also how to clean up after himself. Every time he something got on his chin or his clothes he’d wipe it up with a napkin.
After lunch we got some money from the bank right down the street and then took a walk to the plaza, which is basically like a mall. Susie showed us where there were some American restaurants for dinner so we could return there later. Then she headed out and we decided to walk around and explore a bit. We found the fanciest Haagen Daas on the planet and got everyone some ice cream. During the walk back Lily started holding David’s hand. They quickly became little buddies, and at one point Lily looked over at me and said “David my friend”. He sure is, sweet girl. I was really expecting her to have a tough time with everything because she struggles with being jealous at home. Well a lot of you must have been praying for her, because she has really risen to the occasion and formed a quick bond with him. My favorite was when they were walking down the street hand in hand and singing together.
The rest of the afternoon was supposed to be family time. Since pretty much no one in Chengdu speaks English, that pretty much meant that we spent the afternoon in the hotel. It was during this time that I noticed the first sign of grieving from David. Earlier he had spilled water on his shirt, so we put on one of the shirts we had brought him. He had been fine with it all through lunch and most of the afternoon. Then all of a sudden he started getting upset and trying to take it off. His shirt was still wet so we offered him some other shirts to wear, but he kept shaking his head and pushing them away. I had put his sweater and jacket in a bag to keep them safe, so I pulled the sweater out and showed it to him. He grabbed it and wanted it on. Then he was happy again. The kids continued to play well together. So well that I decided I was going to take a little nap. Brian hooked David up with some Chinese cartoons and we let the others have some screen time. When I woke up two hours later Lily was asleep on the couch (she passed out watching Daniel Tiger), Caroline was asleep on the bed, Matthew was still playing with the iPad, and David was entertaining himself with my old phone. It was already 5:30, so the debate became do we try to wake everyone up and get out for dinner, or just stay here and have the guys bring something back. I could have easily gone back to sleep, but we decided we should try and bring some life back into everyone or we’d be awake half the night. So off we headed to the plaza and Pizza Hut. Turns out that even in an American chain restaurant, no one really speaks English and not much of the food is American. After we were seated we quickly realized that the only thing on the menu that was familiar was Hawaiian pizza. Guess what we ordered. Well, what we thought we ordered anyway. We attempted to order a Tsing Tao, 2 Coronas, 4 lemonades, and 1 large Hawaiian pizza. What we got was a Tsing Tao, 1 Corona, no lemonades, and 2 small Hawaiian pizzas. Matthew and Caroline both passed out at the table while we were waiting for our food so they didn’t eat. Lily was standing on the bench and serenading us with Bingo. And David kept trying to play the drums with his plate and utensils. We ate quickly and were ready to get out of there, but no one would bring us our check. We get lots of stares when we walk down the street, but in restaurants people don’t even make eye contact. Eventually we just stood up and started walking out hoping that someone would realize we wanted to pay and leave. They did, so we paid for our food and headed back to the hotel. We made it across all the scary busy intersections and managed not to lose anyone in the dark! Success!
We decided to let Lily sleep in the room with us and David, since she had been with my parents last night and they had bonded really well. He had no problem putting on pajamas (I kept using Google translate to tell him what was happening) and loved brushing his teeth. We tried to read him a story, but he doesn’t want to sit and listen for long. He has been doing well going to the bathroom on his own, but the poor guy is a little scared of the toilet. He is used to the Chinese version of the squatty potty and holds our hands with a death grip because he thinks he’s going to fall in. Once we got him all ready for bed, we ran into our first rough patch. He had been holding onto my old phone, and when I told him it was time to put it away and go to bed he did not like that idea. He started hitting himself on the head, falling backward, kicking his feet and crying. Thankfully he was on the bed so he didn’t hurt himself. I had anticipated bedtime being tough, since that’s a time when most kids start to grieve. I just held him and whispered “Wo ai ni” (which means I love you) in his ear. He settled down but still didn’t want to go to bed. We kind of just let him be, and for a while he sat on the floor between the two beds munching on an apple. Next thing I knew he climbed in bed with Lily and the two of them were giggling under the covers. A few minutes later they were both asleep.