In August of 2009, we found ourselves on an airplane headed to Taiwan. And what surprises God had planned for us!! Due to bad weather in our city, we were several hours late arriving at our connecting flight in San Francisco. We were running through the airport in the middle of the night. Long story made short: they had already given our seats away because the plane was fully boarded and ready to pull away from the gate by the time we arrived at the counter to give them our tickets. They had to put us in first class, and first class on an international flight was even beyond our wildest expectations!
To get us onto Taiwan time, they served us dinner at 5am (5pm Taiwan time). This was one of the best meals we had on our trip. Notice that in first class, you get real dishes and a tablecloth!
Here is the sun coming up over the ocean, shortly before we arrived in Taiwan the next morning. It was an indescribable feeling to know we were so close to our new daughter!
Taiwan's flag was a pleasant site for our tired eyes.
Our driver took us to our hotel in the middle of Taipei. God blessed us with this sweet man who drove us all over Taiwan and became a dear friend to us.
Taiwan's streets were very confusing to us. There were signs everywhere, and we couldn't read any of them. The hotel encouraged us to take one of the hotel cards with us at all times so that if we ever became lost, we could hand a taxi driver the card that told them to take us back to our hotel. I hadn't even imagined getting lost, but sure enough, we did get turned around every time we left the hotel because all the streets looked similar.
God had another surprise for us. For reasons that were never explained to us, they put us on the executive suite at our hotel but only charged us for a regular room. It was beautiful, and they treated us like royalty. That TV is on a rotating wall so that it can either face the bed or the living area.
Taiwan was breath-taking in its natural beauty. Our driver took us on a day trip to Keelung.
The sites and smells of Taiwan were new and interesting. I'll admit that this photo was taken while trying hard not to breathe in the smell. This was a little shop with dried STUFF everywhere...dried fish, pork, etc. They have little fan things that worked to keep the flies off (but failed).
And then there were delectable things that we STILL crave. This was a passion fruit drink we discovered at a little stand on the street.
Again, God had amazing blessings in store for us. Our driver took us to his apartment in Keelung, and his wife taught us how to make Taiwanese noodles and some other dishes. In this photo, she is cutting squid (which, by the way, our driver bought ALIVE at a roadside fish market just 30 minutes before we ate it!).
This is their apartment. Taiwan is too small and too crowded to have houses, so everyone lives in apartments.
Then the day arrived when our driver took us to the orphanage. It smelled like cleaning solution and was quite nice. This was the first floor where we checked in. They took us in an elevator up to the floor where our daughter was.
When we got off the elevator, the very first thing we saw was our daughter playing with toys on the floor. The caregivers kept saying, "Mama and Baba," and they asked her to wave at us.
The next hour was spent trying to begin the bonding process. They wanted her to get her snack from me, but she was quite uncertain. We tried many things to get into her world, but she was very clear that we were not welcomed. She had grown used to the orphanage, and we were strangers about to turn her world upside down. Have you ever had to do something that you know is best for someone but at the time causes them immense pain? My heart was breaking this day.
She found herself having to say goodbye AGAIN. In her short 3 years of life, she had said goodbye to her birth mother, foster mother and now her favorite caregiver. This was a painful day for her.
They finally put us in a room alone with her in hopes that she'd at least begin to accept us to a small degree. But she was not the least bit interested in us or any of tricks they wanted us to use (food, toys, etc). After 2 hours, they finally asked my husband to pick her up and hold her while she resisted. She cried the most pathetic cry I had ever heard...a cry of complete defeat...a cry that reminded us how helpless she was in this situation. Again, she was having to say goodbye. Again her world was changed without anybody consulting her about it. When she fell asleep crying, they asked our driver to come quickly to take us away from the orphanage before she knew she was leaving. This was very hard on all of us, but it was the only thing we could do.
The next day, she was beginning to come out of her shell just a bit; but for the most part, she would sit with her hair hanging down in her face to avoid eye contact with us. She pulled out all bows we put in her hair and would let her hair cover her face. Her daddy played his guitar for her, and she'd tilt her head slightly to see but wouldn't come out of her little sad world.
Slowly but surely, she began to give us little smiles. We went to get her visa so that she could leave the country. Here she was sitting with her Chinese passport and all her important paperwork. She had no idea what all this meant.
And by the time we left on our plane to go home, she had warmed up significantly. She never flinched as we got on board that huge airplane (and we even left in the middle of a big typhoon!). She was the picture of peace. Here she is asleep in her Daddy's arms on that long flight home. Guess who was the only person on the plane who couldn't sleep??!! (Mama took pictures instead!)
This is the journey of just one orphan. From orphan to cherished daughter by the miracle of ADOPTION!