Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 2: Adoption Finalization, Notary, Passports and a trip to Anyang

Hannah slept very well on her first night with us.  After I rocked her to sleep she slept in the crib (the non-broken one!) without making a peep.  We finally had to wake her at 7:30 so we could get downstairs to eat breakfast and load the bus at 9am.  

Ready for the day!

At breakfast Hannah ate hard boiled egg, bread, scrambled eggs, watermelon, a small container of yogurt, some rice, bites of pancake— basically anything we offered her.  We only quit eating because it was time to go! We are thankful she is eating but expect her appetite to slow (and for her to start rejecting some foods) as she learns that a) food is always available and b) she can have an opinion about things! 

Our new group of 47 people loaded the bus at 9am.  We are 11 families adopting 13 children under the age of 2 1/2!  We are quite the group!!  We traveled back to the Civil Affairs office to officially register Hannah’s adoption.  In that small ceremony she went from being An Ping to Hannah Elizabeth Ping Pickett!  We took pictures with government officials and received our adoption certificate.  

Waiting at the Civil Affairs office in my hat made by Lisa!

It's official!

The next stop was the Notary Office which was just a few minutes away.  When we arrived we had to trudge up 6 flights of stairs all while carrying babies! Hannah is only letting me hold her most of the time so I got quite the workout!  We gathered in a conference room to sign more paperwork and take more official photos.  When we were finished we loaded up and made the short drive back to the hotel.

By that point it was noon and we had to be ready for our next adventure by 1pm.  We quickly got reorganized in the room, changed Hannah’s diaper and ate some lunch downstairs.  Hannah loves noodles and congee and we both felt like she ate enough.  Bryan’s lunch never arrived in the 30 minutes we waited so he had to cancel the order and get in the van after only eating some fruit.  We could tell the restaurant staff felt horrible.  

We traveled by van with another family whose daughter is from Anyang.  They are adopting 2 children who are unrelated, ages 21 months and 18 months.  The van was spacious enough for us to have some leg room and to let the babies stand on occasion if they were restless.  No five-point harnesses here, folks!  All 3 babies quickly fell asleep as we drove down the highway to Anyang.  Hannah slept for about 1.5 hours before waking up.  We kept her happy with puffs.  We are trying to have Bryan feed her most of the time so she associates a happy thing like food with her Baba :)  

We arrived at the passport office which was unheated inside.  Our goal there was to apply for Hannah’s passport and take her official passport photo.  We expected things to take 15 minutes based on what our CCAI rep told us.  Unfortunately there was a longer line for passport photos and then the workers could not find either of the Anyang babies information in their system.  An official from the orphanage was there and managed to sort things out.  While we waited I needed to use the bathroom but was afraid Hannah would scream and feel afraid if I left her.  Bryan held her outside the bathroom door and gave her puffs while I was inside and she stopped crying and then let him hold her for about 10 minutes after that.  A huge victory!!  She still prefers me but felt safe enough with him to not cry which was great.

Some lovely pictures of the mens' bathroom - a great place to store bikes!

Holding Hannah on the counter, waiting on passport paperwork.
The man with the funny haircut in front of me is an official from her orphanage.

We finally left at 5:15pm.  We were hoping to make a quick stop at the orphanage and were glad when the official said it was ok.  The other little girl from Anyang never lived at the orphanage other than maybe a few days so we were grateful that they were flexible and willing to make the stop with us.  

I have to admit I was very torn about whether or not to take Hannah in and how to handle the whole thing.  It was important to us to see where she had lived and to know first hand what she had been through.  We also wanted to try to check on three babies who are being adopted soon for their families.  Update photos from families who traveled before us were such a blessing.  

When we got out of the van the orphanage director met us at the gates.  She immediately wanted to hold Hannah who we were told was a favorite of the nannies.  Hannah seemed ok at first, then another nanny took her and Hannah burst into tears.  I reached for her and the second she was back in my arms she stopped crying.  From that point on in the visit nobody else held her and she would turn away from any one talking to her or reaching for her.  It felt so good to see her reject those people and want me! This is a huge step for her attachment.

We walked through the orphanage grounds to her building.  We were taken inside the complex of buildings for younger children and led up a flight of stairs.  The hallway was closed off by a large metal gate with a padlock, similar to the criminal bars we see in rough neighborhoods in the US.  All I could think as I saw that locked gate was how symbolic it was of the situation there, the lack of hope and freedom the orphans there experience.  

We walked to Hannah’s room and there were maybe 4 other babies in there.  We were told that 2 of the 3 children we came to check on had been moved to foster care which was news to me and to their parents back in the US.  We were able to see one bright eyed little girl who has a family in the US working on their paperwork.  

Hannah's room

Hannah's crib- EMPTY!

Outside Hannah's orphanage 

Overall Hannah’s room was warm and clean.  We do feel like the nannies cared about her but there is absolutely no way it was in any way comparable to a family environment. We took some more pictures and walked back to the van.  As I held Hannah and carried her down the long, snowy walkway I whispered to her, “Never again.  You are free!”.  

Leaving for good-- Never again!

When we drove back to Anyang Hannah was hungry and ate puffs, bread, most of my granola bar and then saw the snickers bar and had a few little tastes of chocolate :)  We also got her to drink some water from my water bottle which was huge! We have had a hard time getting her to drink.  She would not take a bottle, sippy cup or a regular cup.  I had managed to get some juice and water in her with a straw, feeding her like a baby bird, but we knew that was not enough liquid.  We were trying to get her lots of watermelon and congee since they both have liquid in them.  

After eating I could tell she wanted to stand and explore.  Up until that point she had been like a little statue with no expression on my lap.  She stood with some help in the bumpy van and explored our backpack and loved it when I made her jump up and down.  We could see some little smiles and small giggles.  Another huge victory!

We arrived back at the hotel around 8:30pm.  I changed Hannah into some pajamas with a glittery bow on the shirt and she loved checking herself out! She is definitely a girly girl and likes pretty things :)  She got to work putting bracelets into stacking cups and reorganizing all her toys while we had a quick FaceTime call with the boys.  They love seeing their sister! Joshua said “Ni Hao, An Ping” completely unprompted and even pronounced her name right! (Here in Henan it is said “On Piyang” rather than how most Texans would pronounce it!)

We ordered room service and Hannah gladly ate more congee, some potato and several bites of my pizza.  We put some apple juice in a bottle and she guzzled it! We were so glad to finally have her drink! After dinner she was ready to play again! I could tell she wanted to get down and stand so she played with some toys on the arm chair.  She even cruised around a little bit from the chair to the ottoman!  Unfortunately the orphanage did not brace her feet at all. In fact, they never mentioned her brace or even gave it to us.  Her feet have completely regressed and are clubbed again.  We will have to do serial casting as well as bracing on her feet to correct them back again. It is frustrating but we were expecting for her feet to have regressed due to lack of treatment.  The good news is it is not slowing her down too much!  Hannah wants to stand and can even take some small steps even though she is supporting her weight by walking on the outsides and tops of her feet.  To me it looks painful but she seems thrilled so we are letting her have every chance to be mobile and get stronger.

After some play time Bryan made her a warm bottle with just 4 oz of american formula in it.  We had been told she did not take a bottle or formula but she has been drinking so little I thought it might be worth a shot.   Baby girl snuggled right into my arms and drank the entire bottle! We were thrilled! While we know most babies in the US don’t drink formula at 18 months,  we are thrilled to have her do this because feeding her a bottle is great for bonding and attachment.   I cuddled and rocked her for a few minutes and she started looking at her crib.  I tucked her in and she was asleep within a few minutes with no tears.  

Bryan and I both got a great night’s rest and Hannah is still snoozing at almost 9am.  We will wake her soon so we can go down to breakfast.  We are officially done with paperwork here in Hannah’s province and will be waiting until Friday for her passport.  Many families in our group are traveling to their children’s birth cities today to apply for passports.  We are looking forward to some great play time with Hannah in our room and hope to see her come out of her shell even more.

We are so grateful to have such a strong ‘cheering section’ as we go through this process.  Your encouragement, excitement and most of all your prayers are so wonderful.  This trip has been a million times easier than Caleb’s adoption trip for a lot of different reasons.  We see that as a sign of God’s faithfulness to equip us!  Thank you for reading and praying for us!


  1. So glad, you're already seeing some smiles and bonding! She is just precious!! :-)

  2. So precious Betsy! I love, love, her hat. And I love these updates. Can't wait to hear more!

  3. When it comes to eating it sounds pretty typical. We have now had Avery 6 weeks now and have now been told from the pediatrician to be careful with her eating. She is 27 pounds and only 31 inches tall. One fat baby. It doesn't seem like she eats that much each day to have had her gain over a kilo in that time, but I think maybe her body is storing the calories as fat because she was deprived so long. Just like when you do extreme dieting and then put on all the weight. So happy it is all going so well. She will warm up to your husband. Just give it a few more days. Love those dimples! She is going to be a total princess with her two brothers.

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