One year ago today the lives of Hannah and I changed forever. We boarded a plane in Beijing, China and in all too short a time, a ride down the runway, the wheels lifted off and the country that I had quickly fallen in love with was behind us. I remember feeling excited, scared, happy and yet at the same time sadness also filled my heart as I was taking Hannah away from the country where she was born. From the people who had loved and cared for her in Dao Xian. From her language, food, culture, birth parents, nannies and so much more. All she had ever known in her brief 8 months of life was behind us and yes, I felt guilty.
Was I doing the right thing for Hannah and for I? Yes. Was this what God had planned for us? Yes. Would she have a better life in Canada with me rather than being raised in an orphanage? Yes. And yet, I wished there were some way to bring some of her friends, culture and country with us. As she grows we will talk of China often and it will be a part of who we are as a family as not only is Hannah Chinese, I also hold China and it’s people close in my heart and we will forever be linked together. Hannah’s birth country. Hannah’s initial foundation. Mommy’s thankful heart that I was blessed by God, chosen by Him, to have the honour of raising my daughter whom He chose to be born in China. China in our hearts….forever.
This post of the day we flew from China to Canada is one that I’ve found challenging to write. After all, it’s taken me a year to do so! I think that besides the busyness that took over when we got home, I was also struggling with how to capture in words all that my heart wanted to say. I just couldn’t figure out how to share the myriad of feelings and emotions that I experienced that day. I’m still struggling with what to say but we’ll see how this goes. What I do know is that I want to capture for Hannah memories of that wonderful, amazing day!
Saturday, November 14, 2009 dawned bright and sunny in Beijing. Wanting to soak in the final moments of our time there I procrastinated in packing (oh yah….that’s me for sure!) and together with Mom, Dad and Norma, Hannah and I went for a walk near our hotel to envelop ourselves once again in China’s beautiful people and community.
As we went downstairs in our hotel there was a beautiful bride and groom entering the hotel and I remember being surprised that she was wearing a traditional western bridal gown. For some reason I had thought she would be wearing a red silk dress.
After that we wandered down the street for a final time and visited a little tea store. We purchased some last minute souvenirs and gifts for ourselves and others.
From there Hannah, Mom and I returned to the rooms while Dad and Norma went on a photo taking adventure.
It wasn’t until weeks later that I realized how neat it was that that was the day I chose to take those pictures. Saturday, November 14, 2009 Hannah Catherine XiaoFen woke a Chinese citizen and when she went to bed in Canada many, many hours later and yet still that same day, she was a Canadian citizen!! How cool is that??!!!
After packing our suitcases and writing a final blog post, our travel group of 10 families went to the Beijing airport. After a little mix-up about the babies’ tickets we were all set.
(I had a nasty eye infection for the last few days of our trip and by this time the dryness of the plane nearly drove me mad. Sorry for the yucky looking eyes, especially as the day got longer and longer….and longer!)
Nap time for Hannah. She did so well during the flight! There was playtime, snuggles, cuddles, bottles, a few walks to stretch our legs and visit with others and then she also had 2 good naps. It’s really neat how they work the lights on these flights as the airline attempts to help people with jet lag. We took off in the evening which meant it was close to bedtime and the lights within the cabin mimicked evening then were a bit brighter and a snack was served then they got very dark for a number of hours and then mimicked a sunrise and breakfast was served. During the darkest part of the flight Hannah and I both slept for 4 hours which was wonderful!
All in all, Hannah was amazing on the flight!! She had a couple of short crying spells but truly was a trooper through it all!
This picture holds precious, wonderful memories as this was how Hannah chose to sit as we were landing in Canada. Her precious little hand was on my face while the other was on hers. A moment of trust and peacefulness as we embarked on our new journey together as Mother and Daughter. At this moment I was praying for us asking God to go before us in our lives together as a family as well as thanking and praising Him for bringing Hannah and I together.
By this time we had been through Canadian customs, collected our luggage and the next thing to do was to step through the doors to awaiting family a friends. The moment I had dreamed about for almost 5 longs years was about to happen! My daughter and I were about to meet those who had loved, supported, prayed for us, encouraged us and so much more. I think I could feel the excitement through the doors and I felt like we were floating! Excitement and anticipation filled my heart!
There were many, many people at the airport to greet us and I am still overwhelmed to think of all those who came to share this most precious moment with us! Family travelled 5 hours, friends and more family travelled an hour or so, all to welcome Hannah home!
This first video makes me giggle every time! Norma came through the doors first and I was supposed to be right behind but I stopped for a quick moment.
As I came through the doors and heard family and friends calling Hannah’s name I was completely overcome by emotion to know that my sweet, amazing, wonderful baby girl was finally home and so many had come to welcome her!!
I will forever be thankful that Norma was able to share this amazing journey with us. As we were meeting with family and friends she was reuniting with her hubby too. Hannah’s first opportunity to meet Uncle John who so willingly allowed Norma to share this experience with us.
Checking everyone out from the safety of mommy’s arms.
Another one of the precious moments was introducing my cousin Bridget to Hannah. Bridget and I are very close and she was a huge cheerleader the entire time I was waiting for Hannah to come home. Never once did her faith that this would happen falter and on those days when I needed an understanding, supportive voice, it was often Bridget I called. Thank you Bridge. Love you!
Some of the many ‘Hannah Fans!’ To all those who came to the airport to welcome us home….THANK YOU!!!!!! Thank you also to Auntie M for all the great videos and to those who captured pics of this amazing moment!
After things quieted down at the airport and Hannah’s amazing welcome home party had headed home for the night, Dad picked up the van and we prepared for the final part of our journey…the drive home.
First ride in her car seat and she did great! I’d been concerned how this transition might go as she’d never been confined in this way but I believe the previous 2 weeks of her being in the Baby Bjorn much of the time helped her feel more comfortable in her new car seat. Hannah slept about half of the drive home and then after a few wake-up tears I was able to comfort her from the seat beside her.
We arrived home to a wonderful surprise of a welcome home sign on the garage, made by the loving hands of special friends. Nana had the tea on and Hannah was able to meet Nana and a couple of her honourary Aunties for the first time. I can’t believe I didn’t take any pics of that but I think by that time I was bushed as the day was nearing 36 hours old.
Hannah and I were home. The journey God had begun 58 months earlier was complete. He had led me on January 11, 2005 to begin the adoption of a precious baby girl from China! Now, on November 14, 2009 Hannah and I were home and a whole new journey was before us. God is still with us and He has a whole new plan for us. Day by day we watch it unfold and I am continually awed and overwhelmed by how blessed I am to have Hannah as my daughter. She is absolutely amazing, sweet, precious, loving, happy, smart, caring and so much more! Thank you Lord for blessing me with Hannah XiaoFen…forever, we are a family.
As I write this, it is now November 15, 2010 and yesterday Hannah and I flew home from Florida. No, there weren’t 50 people waiting for us at the airport but it was still neat that it was the same date that we were on an airplane.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming feeling of love and appreciation that engulfed me once again. There were tears of joy and thankfulness as Sharon and I talked of Hannah who was sleeping soundly in my arms and tears of gratitude once again to God, for choosing me to be the mother of the most amazing baby girl in the entire world!! I will be forever grateful to Hannah’s birth parents for choosing to give her life. I pray often that somehow they will know that she is safe, loved and happy. I am also grateful to the country of China for allowing me to raise one of their precious children. I am forever blessed and forever thankful!
God is SO GOOD!!!
‘The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.’