One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Epilogue | Acknowledgements
Chapter Three: The Moment of Truth
We ascended the stairs to the Second Floor, and ended in a hallway that pointed to a waiting room. The hallway had a showcase of pictures on one side, pictures of babies who had just met their new parents. More smiles and tears than you could count.
As we walked forward into the waiting room, we were greeted by Maan, with whom we had been in contact with for the latter part of our adoption proceedings. Maan is the daughter of Carmela, the lady who started the nursery. Sadly, Carmela had passed away on the Friday before we arrived. We had hoped to meet her, although we knew she was very ill. Last November, Carmela and the St. Lucy's Center celebrated their 1,000th adoption, quite a feat indeed. Maan has taken up many of the duties of the Center, though she herself lives in the United States. She has followed our case (and this web site) closely, and was as interested in meeting us as we were interested meeting her.
Maan came forward and greeted us with a warm hug. We were glad to finally put a real person to the name and email address of someone who had been so important in Paden's life, though he would never know it or her. She asked if we could sit down and "discuss the paperwork" first, because it would be to difficult once Paden was brought out (Actually, I think it was partly a stall. Knowing now how much this kid poops, they were probably checking beforehand to see if the bilges were clean).
There was also another couple in the waiting room, Mike and Magda, from California. They, too, had adopted a baby from St. Lucy's, and they, too, had the same obstinate judge we had had so much trouble with. Fortunately for them, Mike has relatives in Taiwan and they had been staying in Tainan since November. As we also could have done, you can take your baby from St. Lucy's as soon as you want, you just can't take them out of the country until that all-important Second Decree is issued. But what a chance to spend that early time with your new baby! Mike and Magda are great people, and Mike quickly volunteered to take over the videotaping of the events so that we would have a record of this with both of us in the picture.
Maan asked us to sit down on the couch of the waiting room and we went over Paden's paperwork: medical records, birth history, sleeping and eating habits, etc. She also gave us photocopied picture of his birth mother, a very pretty but at the same time sad-looking girl of nineteen. The story of Paden's birth is a very personal and sad one, and his birth mother did not come to visit after he was given to the Center. We know all the questions about her will come up, and we will give Paden all the information and support we can give when that time comes.
We also were given "chops", stamps of our names translated into Chinese. These are VERY cool!! Not that Lynne or I could ever write them freehand, but perhaps I'll start signing my checks this way. Maan said that we might need these for legal documents in the future.
And then, it happened.
We turned, and there behind us was Paden's Nanny, Shiou-Rong, the woman who had been caring for him during the day for the last few months. And there he was, in her arms. Time stopped. It was no more pictures, no more video. It was him.
He was dressed in a pink and purple jumpsuit, and had on a hat, one we later nicknamed his "court-jester's cap", a dark blue wool cap with colored balls on the top. And those eyes, the eyes we have been looking at, and now were looking into. Yuan handed him to Maan, who handed him to me. I turned and handed him to Lynne, who was already crying. That, of course, set me off, and immediately I was crying, too, at such a beautiful sight. This image is burned in my mind forever.
The next hour was spent talking with Maan and others at St. Lucy's who had come to join us, many of the administrative workers in the offices by the waiting room, pretty girls who spoke no English. Had not Mike been handling the video camera, I would never be able to recall what took place. There was much animated conversation and laughing, mostly smiles and a few more tears. We had waited so long. My frustration at the judge and missing all the holidays we had hoped to have evaporated; it didn't really matter anymore. He was here. He was ours. I was holding my son.
He never once showed any sign that we were strangers. He was comfortable from the get-go. And I'm sure he was appreciative, we introduced him to his favorite food right there: bread sticks!! (Expert Hint: Bread sticks are the BEST things in the world, especially if you have a teething baby!!). To him, it seems as if it were just another day with Mom and Dad, he never once showed any sign that his life was about to change forever.
We learned about him in so many ways in that first few minutes. Definitely, the term that HeartSent used to describe him when we first learned of him back in April, "spunky" applied. This kid is incorrigible! He wanted to touch as see everything! He was interested in the table, the toys we brought, the doilie's on the couch, the video camera, the buttons on my shirt... it never stopped! And he attacked his bread stick like a beaver takes on a redwood to stop a river. Yes, there was "bread shrapnel", but for the most part, the bread stick was inhaled. That's my boy!
All the women there were calling him by his original name, Yin. With the language pronunciation differences, it sounded to me like "yeen", and he would turn to them as they called. I wondered if this would be a problem later; how old is one when they know their name? Would that confuse him? Should we also call him Yin for a while?
We took tons of pictures of him. And suddenly, we realized how hungry we were. It was almost 1:00, and we were famished! So Mike and Magda offered to show us a Japanese Restaurant only a couple blocks away. Eating in a Japanese Restaurant while in a Chinese country is a bit like eating Mexican food in Northern California; it's the same, but different. So, we put on a sun hat that we brought for him, and for the first real time, we grabbed the diaper bag and headed outside.
As with everything else, Paden was fascinated with everything to see outside. Perhaps this was his first time outside that wasn't a trip to the Medical Clinic for the routine examinations. Or maybe he was plotting his escape from these unknown people who were clinging to him so dearly. Indeed, we were holding onto him like a soldier carrying live ordinance, taking in his smells and little noises. We were so engrossed in him that we almost forgot to watch our feet over the uneven terrain of the Taiwan sidewalks.
We arrived at the Japanese restaurant, and soon found ourselves looking at a menu filled with more miniature games of Hangman. Fortunately, Mike and Magda had been here before, so we let them take the lead. Lunch for us was Shashimi and other assorted unknown dishes, lunch for Paden was formula and another bread stick. And we learned three very important things in that restaurant:
I also started to learn that I had superpowers that I never knew I had. Those superpowers were:
Dad Superpower #2: Another superpower that appeared was the ability to fend off hunger. Though the meal was tasty, it was a bit light for me (sushi has never really filled me up to satiation), I discovered I was really not hungry any more. This would be true for the next few days, and there were many times when I felt famished, yet a small, unfinished meal would still see me through to the next small, unfinished meal.
Mike and Magda very graciously treated for the lunch (Thank you again!!!), and we were on our way back to St. Lucy's. It all seemed so unreal and magical, and a bit disconcerting. Both Lynne and I discussed this later, how the whole thing (until we arrived home and had been with him for a weekend) felt as if it was just temporary. It was like we had gone to Rent-a-Kid, just playing Mom and Dad for a week. Would it really keep going? Was it real?