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September 06, 2005

Adoption Day

Today, Xiao Hai became Gwendolyn Claire -- our daughter!

We returned to the Civil Affairs Office where we met her just one day earlier. The first time around, the room was full of screaming babies and overwrought parents-to-be who were incapable of signing their own names. Maybe for this reason, the process has evolved so that the babies are handed to the potential adoptive parents for a 24-hour trial called the "harmonious period." Today, we returned to see how the harmony went and, if all parties agreed, to sign papers.

We waited our turn then snapped a few pictures and sat before two different officials who made us promise not to abandon or abuse our new daughter. A signature or two later and she was ours!

It should have felt more ceremonious but it wasn't. In fact, we were on the bus before a member of the China Team made it real by congratulating all of us!

Here's the new addition with her Mommy and Daddy! It will be wonderful to get home and take a picture with her big brother, Michael, included. Our family is almost complete but not until all of us are together under one roof!

We headed back to the hotel and took a little nap then got ready for dinner. Gwen was dressed up in her very best dress so we set out a few minutes early to get some pictures (before dinner 'decorated' the dress).

Here's Mommy and Gwen on the bridge in the private garden area of the Garden Hotel. It looked so beautiful and inviting from inside the air-conditioned lobby of the hotel so it seemed the perfect spot to snap of a few pictures of our little Empress Gwendolyn wearing the dress Grandma and Grandpa bought her.

Don't let the pictures fool you: In spite of the great picture and the smile on Mommy's face, this was a miserable Kodak Moment. It must have been 95 degrees out there and the nearby waterfall boosted the humidity just enough to make you feel like you were actually inside a spa. Mommy was constantly worried that Gwen would take a head first dive into the pond or a knee first dive onto the ground! In the end, she did neither and the cute pictures made the 2 minute photo shoot worth all of the angst.
Gwen walks very well on her own. But, like Mommy, she's not so good about directions. She's happy to run in any direction for as long as anyone will let her. The best way to get her to walk the direction we choose is to have her hold our fingers and guide her. She's also really good at fetching us and grabbing our hand and pulling us to let us know that she wants to go into the hall and play. Many of our traveling families are on the 7th floor of the China Hotel and you can just about always hear at least one baby crying. So we don't feel too bad about making some happy noise out there at play time.


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