Monday, February 27, 2012

Sterling Mei: (14) Crazy & Dangerous Perfection

First moment in her mother's arms… every moment worth it.
The lights of the city had blinked off. It was only 0700, but I could no longer stay in bed. This was uncharacteristic for me, since I will typically sleep in as late as possible. Today  one of those days though… one of those types of days that only comes once in a lifetime. Truthfully, for most a day like today probably comes not at all in a lifetime, and yet… this is our second time.

Today is the day we are given to our daughter (she smiles at me now as I type).

Our appointment to see her would not be until 0230. And so, we had to occupy our time as our minds reached towards the appointment. We had breakfast, we toured the hotel, we even took a walk and explored Wal*mart in China.

Finally… we met Simon, our guide, along with the other couple who had survived the 5.5 year wait with us. I think of us as Team Tenacity. We handed over our currency and waited for the exchange. 
We all laughed nervously as he walked away with our cash, joking that this would be the perfect scam… he takes our money, tells us to go check out the playland on the 6th floor, and then he walks out the door. Maybe we will never see him again?

To our relief… Simon indeed comes back, and he has a black leather briefcase now filled with bundles of Chinese Yuan (cold, hard cash). We load up into the van, and we now take the ride that we have dreamed of for years. We were largely silent as we stopped and started through the traffic. I only remember snippets of our conversation… I smiled as Dave, the other father-to-be mentioned the word that had been forefront in my own mind. Surreal.

Kellie turned to me and asked, "Is this real? Are we really finally doing this?"

My mind raced through the events of the past 5 and a half years. I strained to remember what we were doing back in August of 2006. I was humbled by the memories. I am so grateful that God has carried and sometimes kicked my butt through the time between then and now. I am unworthy to ride in this van. I am determined to measure up.

I will be "daddy" again to another young life. I will have another set of eyes watching me, another set of arms reaching to me, another small set of feet following me. I feel the magnitude of this pressing on me. And I am grateful. This child… this future woman who will touch the world… was abandoned to die, premature and without hope… and now, her hope resides with us.

The van stopped at the sidewalk as the uncharacteristically cold wind in this sub-tropic climate blew the sharp rain against my freshly shaved head as we bustled to the doorway. We crammed into the elevator and rode it to our floor. The doors opened and we stepped into the lobby of the Adoption Registry Center of Guandong Province.

I saw her as she was carried through the door at the opposite side of the corridor in the arms of her orphanage director. I recognized her from her photograph. She was older and bigger now… and yet, still tiny. No-one else noticed—there was commotion on the other side of the room… but I was frozen, I simply was unable to speak. I just watched, captivated as she went through the room and then passed into adjacent doorway.

Minutes passed. Emotions were running high. We were in a waiting area full of adopting parents. Everyone was nervous. Many were overwhelmed with emotion… tears were everywhere. When things get tense, time slows for me. I notice every tick of the clock. I see every nuance. I feel oddly at peace. I watched the other fathers as they allowed emotion to overwhelm them… and briefly wondered why I wasn't affected the same way. I contemplated this briefly and then simply shrugged it off. I just am not made that way.

My self-evaluation was abruptly and thankfully ended as our name was announced. Our daughter was being carried to us from across the room. This was the time. Kellie reached for her and took her in her arms. We were complete.

I want to describe this moment for you, but it is still too powerful in my mind. I'm not sure I even breathed. Time slowed… and I just remember watching the faces of my wife and my daughter as their eyes met for the first time. 

Eternity was present in that moment. 

For a few brief seconds… I was immortal. I saw forever, and I lived there. God held me in his gaze, and I knew this moment was everything.

I hold in my hands the translation from Sterling's caregiver. I have read it over and over. It still makes me smile, laugh, and cry. How can she be so perfectly ours? We listened as the nanny comments were read for several of the other children, and most of them were the same. The girl was "healthy, smiled, and likes snacks."

And then, our guide read the translation from Sterling's nanny:

Luo Ying Chen is outgoing. She likes to smile and can walk by herself. She knows words such as mama and jie-jie (sister). She can understand what the nanny says and likes snacks, biscuits, and cotton candy. She has rich facial features. She was spoiled by the nanny. If Nanny wouldn't hold her, she would cry. And without Nanny's eyes looking at her, she would try to climb over the bars of the crib. She is crazy. She is very dangerous. She is a clever, lovely little young girl.
I think I laughed out loud! My daughter is a crazy, dangerous, clever, lovely little girl. Yes… that is right. We are a perfect match. I have never been so thankful for 5 ½ years.

The orphanage director made her way over to us, and said goodbye to Sterling with a hug and a look to us. And then she was out the door. Sterling is in our care as we work to finalize her adoption.

The week still has much to bring to us.

The lights are back on in the city. Goodnight love.


  1. I am so excited that your wait is over! She is beautiful and she is perfect for you....but you and Kellie are also perfect for her. Can't wait to watch her grow up in her forever family.

  2. Kellie and I just read through these words today, a year later and we laughed and cried with thankfulness and the added memories of the past year. Sterling is perfectly summed up in these wise words of her nanny, and tonight we remember her in our prayers. There are no coincidences in our life. We are in awe of the God who holds us all.