Thursday, June 14, 2012

Abbey's Mei Mei Reunion

When we traveled to China to pick up Abbey, it had been 18 months of excruciating waiting. We started the process with the expectation of a wait of 6-9 months, which grew to 10, then 12, then 15, then finally 18 and we were on a plane to China to pick up our baby girl.

During that wait, we longed to be able to commiserate with other parents who were in our shoes. We met Battle and Shannon, but besides them there was no one who knew what a dossier was, a LID, or how it hurt to know you had a child on the other side of the world and your wait to get them kept on getting longer and longer. We were put into a travel group of families who were all getting babies from the same province as we were. By the end of the trip, we had been through some trying as well as blessed times together. God had knit us together.

We've kept in touch with several of these families. We've had a reunion every year since we've been home. We had to miss the one last year because of the weddings. You can look here for the reunion for 2010. You can see how much they've grown.

It was difficult to decide whether to go this year, the hosts live outside of Cincinnati and that's a bit of a haul for us plus our car is getting up there in age and gas prices were out of sight.  When we were trying to decide to go, I asked Abbey if she wanted to go. I prefaced my question with the fact that she would be in the car for 10 hours, the equivalent of basically a whole day. Even faced with riding in the car that long, she still was adamant, "Yes, I want to see my China sisters!"

So we decided we would go. We rented a small car that alleviated the car and gas issues. The kids did great on the ride there. I'm sure the portable DVD player that Nana bought deserves the credit for us making it there and back without ever wanting to hit the imaginary "ejector" button.

Have thumb, blanket and DVD will travel!

We missed the first gathering because we arrived late. We wanted to leave earlier, but as things usually happen, we needed to be two places at the same time.  Daniel's Senior Awards Assembly was that morning. His band played and he was recognized. We couldn't miss that! When we reached Cincinnati, we went straight to the hotel. Abbey went for a quick swim and went to bed excited to finally get to see her "China Sisters"!

The next morning we had our reunion in the hotel lobby. It really makes my heart glad to be with these people. We share a connection with them that endures year long absences. At first the girls were a little standoffish.

Our hosts, Dan and Terrie planned for us to go to the Cincinnati zoo.  The zoo had some neat exhibits.

We got to up close get to see a cheetah run.

Feed a giraffe

Well, one of us got to feed the giraffe....

The other one thought that the giraffe might enjoy a game of "catch your cracker, because I'm not getting my hand close to that big black tongue of yours"

They both were quite adventurous with a boa constrictor.

The weather was atypical for the, hot, hot!

So we all welcomed a dip in the hotel pool after our zoo visit.

The girls all started warming up to each other in the pool. Here is Abbey and Ellie sharing a joke.

We then went out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant. Here are all our blessings, both bio and adopted, on the hotel steps.

They made those shirts the night before we got there. They say "friend" in Chinese.

 Elijah fell head over heels in like with the little sister of one of Abbey's China sisters, Emma.

He made no bones about it!

 He even insisted that he absolutely had to sit beside Emma at dinner!

After dinner, we went back to Dan and Terrie's and enjoyed each other's company. The kids rode bikes and scooters, drew pictures and played together. The adults did the same, minus the riding and drawing.

The train of Maddie, Abbey, Dorina, and Esther

Abbey and Esther shared a love of creating art.

On Sunday morning, some of our group went to church. Elijah had broken out in a mystery rash, which we never had diagnosed, and eventually just went away. But, we figured that they might not let him in the children's class. So, we headed back to NC. It was hard to say goodbye again. Both John and I really enjoy all of these families. There was never a lack of conversation or awkward moment. They are each wonderful, godly folks. That, coupled with our shared love of blessings from China, binds us tightly together.

Abbey with Terrie and her daughter, Jodie

Abbey and Brooke
As we pulled into our home town, Abbey and Elijah got to see their first rainbow, an exciting event for them!

We were tired, but oh so glad that we had chosen to go!

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