Well, the days are flying by almost as fast this year as they did this time last year! The first couple of days we had Caroline went by so quickly, and it was difficult to find time to post to our website. I remember getting several emails from family and friends, begging for photos of our new little girl...I'm sure they were all going crazy! It was well over 24 hours later that I found time to post! Messages like this one made me realize that her fan club was not so patiently waiting:
OK Martens... Here's the thing... Time's up... COUGH UP A PHOTO!!! We can wait no longer... Just tell me... Is that GORGEOUS, chubby cheek princess on the freeman's website wearing the blue pooh bear sleeper in the picture with Marisa on the FEB 6 posting... Is THAT precious Caroline??? My money is on YES!!! Is that her???? Just email a yes or no back to me... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! I just have a feeling it is her!!!! I also saw and read about your camera situation on their FEB 5 posting... I hope somebody was able to take pix for you... Now... Do NOTHING ELSE till you email me YES or NO... Is that her???????????? Note: the photo mentioned on the Freeman family's website was not actually Caroline...it was Kristin...poor Amy lost her bet.
Our first full day with Caroline we had to go back to Civil Affairs to finalize our adoption. After she slept through the night, we thought we were on easy street...yeah. Well, it started with little tolerance for breakfast, the high chair or a bib...it progressed to outright protest upon boarding the bus. She was not so pleasant all the way there...by "not so pleasant" I mean squawking, arching her back, smacking us in the face...and it didn't get any better when we got off the bus. It was downright humiliating, in some respects. ALL the other babies were calm and quiet, perhaps a bit withdrawn, but manageable in that they were taking their bottles, playing with toys in the playroom, falling asleep in their new mothers' arms. We look back now and outright laugh at the way Caroline completely rebelled against our presence. She didn't want to be held, and she didn't want to be put down. She didn't want a bottle, and she didn't want to be walked. She wouldn't even look at a toy, and she refused to go to sleep. Jon and I were at a loss as to WHAT to do, and we were more than a little mortified that, as "experienced parents", we could not comfort our child. I'm pretty sure Jon muttered something like, "I hope they don't want to take her back." It was that bad.
Each family had to get their photo taken, and that idea really didn't appeal to Caroline, either. She fussed and arched her back and refused to sit still...so much so that they finally asked us to leave and come back later. I remember our guide taking her and talking to her in Cantonese...I wonder what she said! We took her back into the conference room, and, desperate to do something to satisfy her, I pulled out a jar of baby food. She had obviously never had food from a spoon before. It was like feeding a newborn, but she was very interested! Finally, something to appease her! Jon and I took turns feeding her, and she was momentarily calm. As I wrote in our journal that day, she was perfectly behaved through one of our two interviews. It was like holding a loaded weapon. Jon and I talked later about wondering when she would go off again! We didn't have to wait long...she wildly ripped anything she could reach off the desk during our second interview, and that guy was not amused. I imagine he thought we were not only somewhat incompetent, but completely crazy for adopting our fourth child! "Why you want more???" was what I remember him asking...I have no idea what we said in response. We were able to finally get a photo that has the appearance of a happy family...she almost looks like she was laughing at us....she probably was.
By this time, we were both sweating profusely, and I had a raging headache from the stress and a serious lack of caffeine. We left Civil Affairs and stopped at the Friendship Store. By this time I think Caroline was just plain worn out. I took a photo of her outside the store, and the look on her face says it all. As soon as we got back, I put her down for a nap and collapsed on the sofa. My most poignant memory of that day was the time we spent with Caroline after that nap. She seemed to turn a corner. She opened up and started playing with the kids...we got a few smiles out of her...she sat on Jon's lap as he read a book to her...it was completely amazing.
Although she continued to protest the bus on almost every occasion, Caroline slowly but surely adjusted to her circumstances...the fiesty persona melted away and revealed a smart, sweet, lovingly affectionate baby girl. Oh, we still had the live wire of the bunch, but we found out just how much fun that live wire could be!
A year later, we are so deeply in love with this little girl, more than we ever could have imagined! Oh, we LOVED her before we even knew her, but we love HER now. She is such a joy, even when she throws a little bit of her fiesty attitude around! In fact, it's part of what we love so much! It's why I find moments like the ones in the photos below so darn funny! She is exactly who God designed her to be, and she fits perfectly into our family. Only those who have adopted a child into their lives can completely understand that...SHE'S the one...the one God planned for our lives. The blessings we receive from loving her are one reason He allows such a circumstance as her abandonment. He truly brings beauty from ashes.
Caroline wanted to watch "Little People" before she went to bed.
When we told her "no", she got so mad she bit off a piece of her favorite Little People brochure!
More photos of our days in China are on our website!