Six months ago today I took an elevator to the 6th floor of the our hotel in Nanchang, Jiangxi province in China. The two other families I was traveling with were giddy with excitement to get their infant daughters but their joy only added to my guilt. I was on my way to meet my new 2 year old son and I was filled with fear and dread. I knew what was about to come.
When I got to the conference room my new son hadn't arrived yet. Julia and Jenna were beyond excited but my stomach was in knots. Within a few minutes a small group rounded the corner and there he was. Ling DeLong.
I saw my solemn new son. His eyes were wide with fear and confusion. He looked at his new family apprehensively, not really realizing who we were. After a few minutes of me kneeling down to talk to him, I asked our facilitator if it was okay for me to hold him. She told me yes.
This was not what he wanted. I looked like no one he had ever seen before and he was very frightened. Soon after I picked him up, the orphanage director and her family who had brought him on the 3 hour train ride, left. He then realized he had been abandoned.
I took him back to our hotel room. The next several hours were mixed with more crying and then somber watchfulness. He was interested in Jenna who made silly faces and sang songs to him. He was also interested in Emma, a baby who seemed okay with us. But he latched onto Jenna. Probably because of her cheerfulness, perhaps it gave him some comfort, and I'm sure because of her face. She looked like him.
The next day we went to the civil affairs office to make the adoption official.
On July 14, 2008 Ling Delong became Ryan Delong. We are with the orphanage director on the 23rd floor of an office building that had no central air conditioning in the middle of July. While I was thrilled to finally be holding my new son, now officially my son, Ryan was not.
The next week found us in Guangzhou waiting for Ryan's United States visa. This is a standard procedure but after my ordeal with Emma in Vietnam, I was taking nothing for granted. Ryan's face is more relaxed here but I can see in his eyes how unsure he is. To see these photos now breaks my heart and brings me to tears. To imagine the pain my baby went through... It brought us together but I wish it could have been easier for him.
Two months later he was fitting right in and becoming the silly boy we learned he could be. I was thrilled to see Ryan's personality emerge and show true happiness with his new family.
But when we put in new situations, he shut down. This was our trip to the "pumpkin patch" at the beginning of October. I realize now that anytime we took him somewhere he wasn't familiar with that he might have been wondering if we were passing him on to someone else.
But by November, some of that fear seemed to fall away. He was still apprehensive of new situations, but once he realized he was okay he would relax. Here he is after Julia's vocal music performance.
Last Friday Ryan and I met with Nancy, our social worker. She came to perform Ryan's 6 month evaluation and see how he's adapted to our family. It was interesting and encouraging to see how far Ryan has come in 6 months. He went from a very frightened little boy to a mostly happy little guy who loves his new family. He walks up to me now and spontaneously kisses me and says "i waa oou" (I love you) and often comes up to me and wants me to pick him up or hold him on my lap.
I won't lie, the first month of two I would look at this child, and while my heart ached for his pain, it felt like I was watching him until his real mother showed up. It didn't feel like he was mine. But I was prepared for this too. So I went through the motions. I hugged and kissed him. I told him that I loved him even when my heart didn't truly feel it, hoping it would come. And it did. That seed of love germinated in my heart and grew and blossomed into an overwhelming, all encompassing love. And now it feels like he has always been my son. I can't believe he's only been mine for 6 months. This little guy has brought me such joy, more than a mother deserves. My life has been forever blessed.
I love you Ryan Delong.
1 month ago