I think I've imagined this night for a long time now...it just never felt like it would actually get here. The last few days have flown by, and I cannot believe this is our last night without Ayla. Words can't describe what I'm feeling right now. It's like lots of emotions all mixed together into one big knot in my stomach. We have been counting down by months, then weeks, then days, and now hours, hoping they pass quickly. We are so excited we can hardly stand it!
On the other hand, I could just burst into tears for how her nanny must feel tonight. I know how it feels to say goodbye to kids you love with all your heart. She has loved our daughter and cared for her for the first 22 months of her life. I'm sure she has been counting down over these past few weeks too. Only, she has wanted time to pass slowly. My heart breaks for her as I know she must be thinking about how this is her last night to tuck her in. We are so grateful for this woman we've never met, but yet has taught Ayla how to bond. She has helped prepare her for us.
And then I think of our precious girl, and how she has no idea what's about to happen. When she wakes up tomorrow, she will be whisked away from everyone and everything she knows and placed in a van for a 4 hour drive...maybe her first time in a van. Maybe even her first time out of the orphanage. How scary for her. Then she'll enter a building she's never seen before and be placed into the arms of complete strangers who look, smell and sound completely different from her nanny. We've been looking forward to this day for the past 18 months, but for her it will be traumatic.
I think this is the reason for a lot of mixed emotions tonight. Ayla won't understand what's going on, and she won't know that she can trust us. It will be hard to watch her grieve, which we know will happen at some point over the next few days. We don't know what that will look like...if she'll cry, kick and scream, shut down, or all of the above. What we do know, is that God has very clearly led us to this moment, and He is faithful. We don't know what tomorrow's story looks like, but we know the Author. And He is good.
We have been so blessed by friends and family who have been walking this journey with us and lifting us up in prayer. Even in the midst of lots of emotions, there has been an overwhelming peace. Please continue to lift us up in prayer. There are 9 Lifeline families in our group, and we will all be meeting our children in the same room tomorrow. A few of the moms are close friends of mine (if I'm not blogging fast enough for you, you can read their stories from my links on the right), and it is so amazing to be going through this life-changing time together.
Earlier today, we all sat in a conference room to hear about the schedule for tomorrow. Normally, families prepare a list of questions for whatever representative from the orphanage is there. Since there are so many of us, they went ahead and requested some of the information up front. We learned her schedule, how she likes her formula, and then a little bit about her personality. She can say a few words in Chinese. I will be asking what those words are tomorrow. Apparently, she likes birthday cake and candy. She also loves music, colorful toys and the rocking horse (her original paperwork said she "likes to ride the trojan"...I'm guessing that's the rocking horse). They also said she's shy.
So, the schedule for tomorrow...Gotcha Day! Our whole group will leave the hotel at 2:00 (midnight Sunday night Alabama/Central time). We should get to the civil affairs office around 2:30 and then one by one, we will meet our children. They will unite families from other agencies between all of us because our guides need to be available with each Lifeline family, so this will probably take a while. Once we're done at the consulate, we all go straight to the store to buy some things we'll need. I say all this because it may be a while before we'll be able to post anything. Some of you had mentioned waiting up... realistically, you may just want to check early Monday morning! If you do wake up during the night, please pray for us!
Ok, I am going to attempt to get some sleep before our big day tomorrow. I cannot wait until our next post...I know it's the one you've really been waiting for. Us too!!