This is what I wrote to Zoe about that day:
How do I find the words to describe the most incredible day of my life? After waiting through four months of paper-chasing, twelve months of waiting for a referral, and two months to travel to China, I finally got to hold you!
Our guide, Vicky, told us that you would be at the hotel at 6 p.m. Mimi and I walked around Nanning, bought the bottle and formula we were told you were used to, got everything ready in our hotel room, prepared the gifts to be given to the orphanage folks, and then waited in our room to be told you had arrived.
Around 3 p.m., Vicky said you would be earlier than we thought -- around 4 p.m. What a long hour that was! But, with a knock on the door by Vicky, the wait was over. We grabbed our gifts for the nannies and orphanage director, and our camers, and headed for Vicky's room down the hall.
I first saw you in the hallway being carried in the arms of Mr. Gan, the orphanage director. You were wearing an orange and while outfit, and no socks and shoes, and my first thought was how cute and tiny your toes were! My next thought was how beautiful you were! You were so small and so scared, staring at us with huge dark eyes.
I wanted to hold you right then, but first we had to go to Vicky's room and go through some formalities -- introductions and gift-giving. Then, Mr. Gan FINALLY handed you to me.
You were so scared, and so brave -- you didn't cry at all. You laid your head on my shoulder and snuggled in. I couldn't believe how light you were, and how warm you felt in my arms. I felt overwhelming love as I held you.
Mr. Gan gave you, as a gift from the orphanage, a DVD of children's songs and cartoons in Chinese. He also gave you a photograph of all the staff of the Guiping Social Welfare Institute.
The most precious gift -- next to you -- was a note from your birth parents giving your date of birth. The note was written on red paper, which signifies a wish for good fortune.
Mr. Gan also returned the things I sent to you after getting the referral -- a blanket, a photo album with pictures of your new family, a rattle, and a soft doll. He also gave me the disposable camer I had sent with a request that they take pictures of your life in the orphanage. Another precious gift -- he had answered the list of questions I had sent in that box, telling us about your name and your life in the orphanage.
As we headed back to our hotel room, I suddenly realized that I hadn't given your grandmother -- your Mimi -- a chance to hold you yet! She was as happy as I was to hold you for the first time.
Back in our room, we put you down on the bed with some toys -- that's the first time you cried! You wanted your mama to hold you! I was SO happy to do so! I held you, clasped to my heart, until you fell asleep. What an amazing feeling to have your trusting child fall asleep in your arms!
After about 30 minutes, you woke up. Your amateur mother changed your diaper for the first time -- you hated it! Then I gave you your first bottle. You loved it! Not long after, you went to sleep for the night and slept peacefully through the night. I stayed awake, listening to every rustle, every murmur, every breath, and shivered in joy.
Seven years ago, I thought I had reached the pinnacle of happiness, had felt incomparable love. Seven years later, the depth of my love for this child, my joy at having her for my daughter, makes those feelings at our first meeting seem pale, insubstantial. I can truly say that I would never go back to my life before kids. Zoe and Maya have made me complete.