Give me a D! Give me an A! Give me a D!

What’s that spell?!? Well, to Iris, it’s actually Baba, the Chinese word for dad.

Yep, folks. He is her hands down favorite. From the moment we met her, she could not take her eyes off him. She kept looking at the hair on his arms and face and just laughing at it. She wants him to carry her, tickle her, throw her around. It’s so cute. Second favorite is Emily. And currently, I’m coming in last. She likes me and will do stuff with me, but then she runs over to show Jon or just keeps watching him while we play.

My sister wanted to know if I was jealous and I said NO WAY! Why would I be? Everyone eventually loves their mom. And let’s be honest. I’m a little lazy and entertaining a 6 year old in a hotel room isn’t easy. I’m totally off the hook.

At one point Jon suggested I fly home early seeing as I’m currently of no use.

We were laughing that she acts like he’s her new puppy. All furry and full of fun, without the biting and peeing on your carpet. He’s perfect.

Then when we were at the Forbidden City Jon was carrying Iris and she said to our guide “Look, he’s like my ox!”

Yep, Iris has a new pet.

It would also be obvious why he’s staying in #1 position if you would look at our google translate list of saved words. His is full of words like pretty, smart, funny, cute, I love you.

And I also have those words, followed by calm down, do not touch, not nice, please don’t do that, quiet down, hold my hand.

She is pushing boundaries without a doubt. I’m sure she didn’t spend her orphanage life galavanting around Beijing, but I still think that walking on tables, spitting on the ground, and grabbing things out of adult’s hands is something that she is just doing to test our reaction. It’s just a theory, but seeing as she doesn’t do any of that when our Chinese guide is with us, I believe I’m correct.

After 3 days of this, I think Jon has added calm down to his google translate list.

Off to the Great Wall of China today. It’s hot and I haven’t been feeling well, so we’ll have to see how this goes. It’s either a 6 hour walk up uneven stairs, or a gondola ride over 3/4 of the way and only an hour walk up. I’m taking the latter, but then I’m sure that’s obvious, as I already stated I am just a little lazy.

She’s ours!

IMG_0934This morning went great!  Unbelievable.  I can not believe how ready Iris was to be adopted.  She didn’t cry and was down right silly.

She LOVES Jon.  See enjoys us all, but it seems as if he is the most exciting for her.

Here is what I have learned about her just this morning:

Either we say her Chinese name wrong, or she just chooses to ignore us. I’m thinking the latter.

She loves the I-pad, naturally.

Apparently 6 year old kids nap in China. Our guide told us to put her down for a nap from 12-2. Ok.

She pushes the buttons on everything. Exactly like Mesfin did….oh wait, I mean still does.

She has shared everything so far. Very cute. And likes to feed us all. Funny.

It took her under 6 seconds to figure out how to take pictures on the I-phone.

She is currently snoring while taking a nap. 🙂

Her orphanage was fantastic. Really. Granted, not better than a family, but so wonderful. She has a backpack of personal belongings. Also, they give the kids an allowance starting at 5 years old, then they take them shopping to buy things with their money in order to teach them saving and spending.

She actually knows some English. Some words not so useful such as teddybear for all stuffed animals and bananas. But she has learned how to count to 5 in English and say things like sorry and thank you very much. She can read well in Chinese too, according to our guide.

So much more to discover about this little girl.

On another note, the mongolian beef in China is not so good. 🙂 And serving it with the actual bone in the bowl….. well, I’m thinking it doesn’t add that much flavor.

Jon is trying to talk me into McDonalds.

the day before…

We arrived in China two days ago and have had a whirlwind travel experience.  We got in late friday night and then early Saturday morning we boarded a train to go to Xian and see the terra cotta warriors.  It was a high speed train that traveled 180 mph, so it was like going from Chicago to Denver in 5 1/2 hours.  Pretty awesome.  Then we toured and took an overnight train back to Beijing.  Each compartment had two beds so Emily and I were in one, Jon the other.  His Chinese roommate left around 10pm after a brief “discussion” with the staff, not to return.  Hmmm….

The terra cotta warriors were amazing, but the experience overall kind of funny.  It is not at all socially unacceptable to butt in line here, so often there is a crowd of people just rushing for the best spot.  We were in line for a tram to take us up to the warriors, and when the tram pulled up, they would open the front of the line and everyone would just run.  You can not even imagine how difficult this was for Jon.  The only Western around and he just kept saying “excuse me.  Oh so sorry.  Oh, would you like this seat.  Here you go.  Please sit.  You can have it” 

No one understood him, but that did not stop anyone from taking the white dude’s seat.

Our guide there was very knowledable and great.  She was all of 4’10 and 90 pounds and she kept saying “It is the busy season.  You must be aggressive.”  I finally told her it was not at all in my husband’s character to push a bunch of Chinese people out of the way just to get the best photo. 

She finally gave up on him and I believe our photos are in the “second best spot” available. 

It was over 100 in Xian, which is further south than Beijing, and we are traveling down to Guangzhou this weekend for our appointment at the US consulate and Guangzhou is at the same longitude as the Florida Keys, so I can only assume it will be crazy hot.  I forgot my swimsuit (our next hotel has a pool) and I’m sorta thinkin’ a suit in my size might be hard to find. 

I would like to say we don’t have jetlag, but I fell asleep at 2 this afternoon and had to force myself back up at 7, and now here I am at 10 wide awake.  Jetlag it is.

We have our “gotcha day” tomorrow at 730 am!  It seems unreal.  Our guide has met our daughter before and she said she remembers she talked a lot. 

Of course she does.  Is there any other way to be a Zabrocki?

Next kid will be a quiet, shy introvert that never talks back.  🙂  Or not.

Looking forward to a blessed day tomorrow as we meet a stanger that is our daughter, try to explain to her how we can love her before we even lay eyes on her, and hopefully show her what family is.

I’m ready!

I went to pick the boys up from camp last week, and as I sat in the parking lot I took a moment to check my email.  There was one from our adoption agency and when I opened it I read something beautiful.  “Your travel has been approved and they are forwarding us the necessary paperwork soon.”

Then I had the most immediate gut reaction where I welled up in tears and this sob escaped me that I didn’t even realize was inside me.  I took a moment to just cry tears of joy before wiping them away and heading out. I was shocked by my reaction.  I didn’t even remember how much excitement and love for my daughter was stuffed deep down inside me.

That’s because I’ve needed to stuff.  And protect.  And hide.  And guard myself.

It’s too hard to love someone and have to wait this long to go and get them.  In order to survive this journey, I’ve needed to push Iris from my thoughts.  I’ve needed to force her out of my mind.  And I can’t even begin to consider what her life is like every day that I wait for some piece of paper to be filed and shuffled and approved.  My friend just said to me the other day “Saying that your child is in the best orphanage is like saying you picked the best turd out of the toilet”  Amen sister.  It hurts to think of my daughter parentless for even one more day.

And then there’s the guarding that I see myself doing, the fear that I am feeling.  Adoption is hard.  There is no way around it.  We did this four years ago with a child almost the exact same age, and to say that we struggled that first year is like saying natural childbirth doesn’t hurt that much.

We struggled to bond with Mesfin, to even like him some days, as he certainly didn’t like us.  We felt like our family was falling apart, when we thought adoption was going to bring us all closer together.  Our marriage felt the strain……I often wondered if Jon looked at me and thought another one of your top-notch crazy ideas jenny.  There was such a sense of nostalgia and longing for the family that we used to be that a sense of loss sent me to sleep amid tears more than once.

It was hard to see what I was gaining that first year when the loss and disappointment was so front and center.

And so here I go again.  Facing this struggle one more time.  And I know that I am more prepared, but I struggle with the balance of preparation that will help me, and fear, that will only harden my heart.

I know there are people out there who listened to me struggle through my first adoption, and are now hearing this again and are thinking “Why are you doing this?”  (I happen to know people are thinking it because some actually say it out loud  🙂  )

I do it because I believe in redemption. I know that I’ve been called to this mission of adoption.  James 1:27 tells me so.  And therefore, beyond the struggles, beyond the pain, beyond the trauma that Iris will go through, I know that God will redeem our story – at. some. point.  There is a rescue from it all.

I think about the story of Job in the Bible, who suffered far more afflictions and pain then I will ever know.  And he cried out “For I know my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth.”

It may not come easy, it may not come quickly.  And it most likely will never look the way that I intended it to look.  But I trust that the greatest story maker of all time is planning the most perfect ending to this chapter of my life, so I guess it’s time to say I’m ready.