Most days, you wake up in the morning to start your predictable day’s agenda. Or, you wake up expecting predictability but surprises pop up along the way unannounced.

But on certain days in life, you wake up in a predictable way, KNOWING that everything is about to change in just a few hours in an unpredictable way. And you are committed to that unpredictable turn of events being a permanent way of life!


Breakfast at the hotel, just one hour before we left to meet Eden.

The only thing I can think of that comes close to this kind of highly unpredictable yet highly certain life change is a scheduled c-section. On Monday at 8am, you’re pregnant. On Monday at 8:15am, you will no longer be pregnant. You have a time, you have a date, and boom – life changes. YET, babies are born to be molded and there is a certain level of reasonable expectation that the child will cry, act a certain way, will want to be fed, will be totally vulnerable and helpless and need everything to be done for him/her.

In a toddler adoption, expectations are thrown out the window. On Tuesday morning at breakfast, before going to meet Eden Ruth, we had no idea if in one hour she would cry, smile, scream, or laugh when she met us. Would she hug us? Would she cling to her caregiver and hate us? Would she want to eat and sleep for us or not? So many questions. It’s easy to get caught up in the wonderings, but at some point you just have to know within your heart that this is what you’re meant to do, devoid of expectations, and just go do it. Otherwise, you can sink into a puddle of anxious stress and worry which is never helpful.


Eden’s backpack and new blanket & doll, all ready to go


This is the look of uncertainty. Everything is about to change…

With our camera charged, bags packed, and documents in hand, we met our guide in the hotel lobby and climbed in a van to head to the government building where we would meet little MeiMei.

As soon as we got into the lobby of the building, I looked down to some chairs on the side and saw the tiniest little girl sitting on a bench with the most adorable little Minnie Mouse shoes on her feet. She stared at us. We did not think we would meet her this way, in a public lobby!! But I gulped and tugged on Gabe’s sleeve, “Look down there! That’s her!” Our guide ushered us into a playroom (where we were supposed to have met her) and the woman with MeiMei brought her in behind us.


We believed we would have time to meet Eden formally as a family, but due to her expedited process there was a lot of rushing and distractions. Right away our guide and the civil affairs worker were asking Gabe for our original documents, asking him to look at details on a piece of paper, verify identifying info, having him sign things, etc, etc. It seemed important and urgent, so he spent some immediate time trying to help these ladies sort some things out while I walked over to MeiMei to say hello. Julia hung back, watching everything going on…


Gabe, in the middle of the real struggle to be fully present in the moment but fully comply with what paperwork was being thrown his way! What a good dad. 🙂


Julia, documenting MeiMei’s slow meeting with mama 🙂


Meeting BaBa (daddy in Chinese) and JieJie (big sister) for the first time


A little smile in there somewhere…a little one?


Not so sure about this guy…

Sweet girl did not cry, but did not really smile. She looked us over very cautiously, curiously, while her caregiver and SWI director spoke to her in Chinese. She looked like an absolute doll, in her beautiful blue chambray blouse and red polka dotted leggings with her Minnie Mouse shoes. Her face was peppered with bug bites, which the director said were mosquito bites. We did not really want to hug and hold her until she seemed ready, since a quiet and pensive MeiMei would be better than an inconsolable MeiMei if our moves were interpreted as alarming. This was a time to build trust.


Our guide and the foster home director, showing me a bunch of photos that they were kind enough to print off for us to keep of Eden’s early years.


Us with the SWI director from the region where Eden was originally found, and the director of the foster home where Eden has lived for the past 4 years.


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Sitting for our official adoption portrait, taken by the government photographer. A photo very similar too this one is on Eden’s adoption certificate as ID for her and for us.


The most adorable hair…We were told by other adoptive families beforehand that all of the little girls from her foster home have their hair done like this ❤

We were handed a backpack with some precious items inside – Namely, Eden’s special blanket and some medicine that she needed. Photos, a memory book, and some diapers for nap time. The director informed us that Eden was told to “take down your pants whenever you have to go potty so your parents will know that’s what you want. (I Yikes! 🙂 We are glad she was a fast learner and did not have extreme urgency, or random stripping down in public could get a bit crazy! )

After papers signed to begin our guardianship period with her, we stepped out into the hallway where we met another family adopting two older kids from Eden’s same foster home. INSTANT SMILES when she saw them!!


All three of these beautiful children, orphans no more on the same day from the same foster home. Joy!



On our way to the notary’s office! Eden loved coloring with water in the little book we brought with us


Eden watched the whole finger-stamping procedure very carefully.


Soon we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. Once we got into the room, Eden started to come out of her shell a little bit and enjoyed a story with Baba & Julia, a little movie with Julia on the tablet, and some potty time, too! Julia and I slipped out so Julia could go swimming in the pool (er, hot tub) while Gabe put Eden down for a nap.




After naptime and lunch, Eden discovered our bag of hair pretties and added more to the growing hair pretty collection on top of her head. We left the hotel and headed back to the civil affairs office in order to officially adopt her. Typically, families do not assume custody of a child and adopt him/her in a matter of hours. But because her adoption process in China needed to be expedited in order for us to get to Guangzhou by Thursday, we did all official business in one very long day. 🙂







Having fun in the lobby while waiting our turn for the adoption finalization process to take place. We were the last family of the day, so we did a lot of waiting!




With footprint, thumbprints, signatures, and pledges to always care for Eden, protect her, and never abandon or harm her….we were officially her parents! Praise the Lord!



Learning Julia’s name and loving her big sister!



Saying goodbye to Ms. Luyi in the lobby of our hotel (the medical director at Eden’s foster home who took excellent care of her!)


We had a truly fabulous adoption guide who was on-the-ball, fun, and went the extra mile.

We were only “home” for a few minutes before Eden went back over to the swimmies and goggles she found before naptime. She was so out-of-her-mind excited. So off to the pool we went! She is a little fish. A wrigly, squirmy, headstrong fish who does not like to be held onto but also has no real swimming skills to be let go on her own! High on enthusiasm but low in swimming competence. 😉





With full hearts, exhaustion, and joy, we did bathtime, teeth brushing, potty time, story time, and bed. Eden went to bed very easily, sharing a nice fluffy bed with Julia. What a day!! So thankful that at least Eden did not see us as a threat (yet), we had some positive bonding moments throughout the day, and her adoption was finalized. What a whirlwind day! So thankful.