While in Chicago last week, Brandon told me how often my stories began with, "When we were in China..."
Well, this story, too, begins....When we were in China....
It was Adoption Day!
The date was Feb. 6, 2004. We were in Guangzhou China, the day after we met Josie-Tatum for the first time. (I am not able to post photos right now, but you can see that moment captured in time in the side bar.)
Stan and I were parents of a baby again. Whitney was 15. Caleb was 12. (It had been a long time since I had prepared diapers, fed a baby, and packed a diaper bag.) Josie-Tatum had been with us just over 12 hours, spent her first night in the crib beside my bed, and we had to go to the Civil Affairs office early that morning to proceed with her adoption.
All of the other families went down for breakfast before the bus departed.
I had forgotten how long it takes to do all of those "baby" things.
Stan and I rushed around the hotel room, getting Josie-Tatum ready, boling water for bottles, gathering baby things, gathering paper work, opening the safe, counting the bills for the orphanage donation, while sending Whitney and Caleb down for breakfast without us.
When it was time to go to the Civil Affairs office, we left Whitney and Caleb with other older children at the hotel, put Josie-Tatum in her carrier, stuffed two cereal bars and bottles of water in her diaper bag, and headed down the elevator with all of the paperwork and documentation we needed. At least, that's what we thought we did.
We hopped on the bus with sixteen other families--seventeen babies, thirty-four parents, a driver and our guide--and rode to the Civil Affairs office. Imagine the noise. Some babies were laughing. Some were crying. And, some, like Josie-Tatum, just stared blankly. A few parents were staring blankly, too.
When we arrived in the large conference room, our guide and adoption facilitator gave us further instructions about the paper work and process we were about to begin. I opened our folder to retrieve what was necessary and asked Stan to get our passports that he had taken from the safe.
Stan gave me the passports.
I opened them.
One belonged to him.
The other was....
It was time to begin government proceedings, and I was holding Whitney's passport.
Stan went into alarm mode---his method for handling crisis.
I went into--okay there's a way out of this mode.
I began to tell Stan. You know, what, if we have to, Shiyan can bring us back tomorrow. No one is going to deny us an adoption because we picked up the wrong passport. Our agency doesn't want this to fail. The China Center of Adoption Affairs does not want this adoption to fail. We'll talk with Shiyan. She'll know what to do.
I don't remember praying.....
But, I do remember Shiyan's reaction.
She stared at me blankly----like Josie-Tatum had for the last 15 hours. All she had to say was, "You tell them what happened when you see the officer." Are you kidding? I was thinking that, but I didn't say it. I really wanted to scream..."Hello! You're the Chinese citizen. You're the facilitator. We help pay your salary. Is that all you have to say?" I didn't say any of that, but THAT was all SHE had to say.
So, Stan and I sat, waiting our turn. In alphabetical order with sixteen other families we had quite a wait. We sat anxiously, while holding Whitney's passport, ready to "tell the officer."
When our name is called, I feel my pulse in my neck. We walk with Josie-Tatum into another room where we sit across the desk from a man in a suit. He begins to ask for our paperwork, and I produce what he asks for. He asks for our passports. I give him Stan's. Then, I give him Whitney's. He looks at me strangely. I tell him what has happened. He doesn't say a word.
He simply begins processing our paperwork.
We visited two other government offices that day. I received the same reaction. The government officials we met with took my word that I had left my passport at the hotel and picked up my daughter's by mistake. Are you kidding? Communist China. No identification. Nothing happened. Try that in an American airport. (Wait, I did. It didn't work. When I accidentally picked up JT's passport on our way to South Africa, the security agent escorted me to our gate.)
We proceeded with all the court business, as if nothing...NOTHING...
Whitney's passport has expired now. So, I'm going to put it in our Memorial Box. I want us all to remember that God can make the crooked paths straight, even in a court room, even in Communist China. When we are in the LORD's will, he can give us favor in the sight of the Egyptians, in the sight of princes, in the sight of judges, in the sight of officials in China. He is THE Almighty, Mountain-Moving God!