The plan was to meet with the social workers in the lobby at 10am. We had an agenda with times and places we would be going each day. So we kept the conversation short with the girls and went back to our room for the Bijorn-so excited to need this again-and went downstairs to wait. A few minutes after 10 I was a little concerned that no one was there because you would think that this would be something important enough to be on time to, right? I decided to ask the front desk if we had any messages because for some odd reason Josh and I thought there was no phone in our room-there was- and so we thought the only way for us to get a message was for them to leave it at the front desk.
I am so glad I asked!!! Let me just pause to say that this was the Lord's leading because as it turned out we were supposed to meet the social workers at 9am not 10am. The note stated that they had waited 20 minutes and decided to go back to the office. My heart sank. So many thoughts ran through my mind but all I could do was ask the front desk lady to please call them for us. It wasn't long before they returned and I apologized to them about hundred times for our mistake. These ladies were so understanding and it didn't seem to bother them.
We finally set out on our walk, through the busy streets of Hong Kong, to the train station where we would start our journey toward Jed. I tried to get a picture of the view of the train from our seat but this picture does not do it justice. The train looked like it went for a mile. It looked really cool.
Here we are taking the train on our way to meet Jed! Since I'm not good at hiding what I feel it is clear by this next picture that I was feeling both happy and nervous for what the next hour would bring.
I wondered if Jed would like us? Would he recognize us from the video? Would he cry? Would he let us hold him? I also wondered what his foster family would think of us. It kind of felt like meeting the In-Laws for the first time or having your parents meet your finances parents. You get the point. I wanted Jed's current family to feel good about us and be assured in their hearts that we were the best for Jed.
We finally got off the last train and entered a mall that lead us to the street where Jed lived. I don't know how to explain what I felt as we walked closer to Jed. It was like I had no feelings but at the same time I had so many, it was just tucked away because I did not want to walk in with any expectations. That's the best way I can explain it.
We walked past not one but two security guards before we made the elevator ride to Jed's floor. As we neared the door one of the social workers asked us if we were ready. I wish I could tell you that I screamed with utter joy, "YES OF COURSE WE CAN"T WAIT!!!!" but all I did was shrug and say yes. The doorbell was pushed and I could hear the quiet noise inside. When the door opened I could not see Jed so I peered around until I saw him laying in his foster mom's lap.
Can I just tell you this was a very awkward moment. There was our son in the arms a woman I have never met and now I am in her home with her family all around, two social workers and the foster care worker. The up side to having all these people around was having people to take pictures of all that went on while we marveled at our sweet boy.
Jed woke up pretty quickly and snuggled into his foster mom's chest for love. I knew that watching Jed love his family so much was going to be the hardest part of the trip. Not because I was jealous but because separating them from Jed would be so sad. I will talk more about this another time. Jed's foster mom came over to us pretty quickly so we could have the opportunity to meet our son.
Because I have to be very careful not to show Jed's face I can't show you all the first's (first picture, first time we held him etc. because he is looking at the camera). So without further ado here are some of our first moments with Jed.
I look like I am making a big commotion but really I was just saying Hi.
It is so hard to love someone so much yet need to be reserved with our affections because the reality was Jed really didn't know us and although we could have easily grabbed him and lived happily ever after Jed needed us to move slowly into his world. Well as slowly as you can in a day.
I think this picture better describes what we were feeling...complete joy mixed with uncertainty for what to do next.
This is me waiting for Jed to feel comfortable enough to let me hold him. I grabbed a toy so unsure of myself and what I was doing, hoping it would attract Jed's attention. Honestly there is no way to plan an experience like this. No way to set up a perfect scenario. Especially when your embracing a 14 month old.
As I remember and write about these days my heart is so full of emotion. This day reminded me of what tomorrow would hold for Jed, both the joy and pain that would come with it.
Here is Josh trying to get his first hug from Jed. We do not have a picture of this but just like with each one of ours girls Josh got to have the first kiss with Jed.
We knew the girls would want to see Jed so we asked Jed's foster family if we could FaceTime them. They graciously said yes. So here we are talking with the girls and bringing them into our first encounter with Jed. The girls smiles were priceless!
As our visit continued we became very comfortable with the Fosters (this is what I will call Jed's foster family for the rest of my posts since I can't use their names). They are a great family and their children are so sweet. It was very clear that Jed was very loved by everyone in this family. We decided to go out for lunch and I am so thankful the Fosters were able to join us. I was hoping to have an opportunity to get to know them a little more. We went out for Chinese food-imagine that-HeHe.
Josh found it interesting that instead of just saying were going to eat at the restaurant across the street, assuming chinese food would be eaten, they labeled the restaurant like we label Mexican food or Italian food. It seemed strange since we were in China and when we go out for burgers we don't say, "Let's go get some American food tonight." Their son even exclaimed, "I love Chinese food!"
We had so much fun with the Fosters, the social workers, and of course Jed. He was so much fun to watch and I got to feed him. It was like I was getting a new doll at five years old. We do have pictures of our meal together but again Jed's sweet face is too clear in these photos so all I can show you is what we ate. Please don't ask me to name anything on this table because I have no idea. Thankfully the social workers ordered for us so all we had to do is eat (after asking what each item was).
The Fosters were great too. We had such great conversations and throughout lunch I realized more and more how God answered my prayers. When I first heard that Jed might end up with a foster family I prayed that they would be a family that looked like us. By this I mean have kids our girls' ages, speak English and most importantly love the Lord and attend church. Not only did everyone of these prayers get answered but Jed's foster mom and I have similar hair and skin coloring. Josh and the foster dad both have gotees and are tall and slender. As we got to know this family I felt like we were looking through a mirror and the reflection was so familiar. It was very apparent that the Fosters have a huge heart for kids with special needs. I really love this family and hope to stay in touch! (We are not allowed to have contact with them for six months for various reasons.)
After lunch we walked back to The Fosters' home, took some pictures of us all together, gathered Jed's huge suitcase and said good-bye for the night. You may think it was hard for me to return Jed to the Fosters after spending some time with him but it wasn't. Honestly I felt no rush to get Jed because I knew that tomorrow he would be ours and this would be the last night the Fosters would have with him. I wanted them to have this night. This last night of rocking him, feeding him, watching him play, listening to him babble and getting as many sweet baby snuggles before they had to say good-bye. I wanted the night to move slowly because the pain of tomorrow was going to come no matter what. We would be back to pick Jed up and that would be it for them. I put myself in their shoes and I ached for them.
We left the Fosters home full of what we experienced.
You might assume that after such a morning and afternoon our day would be over, but no it wasn't. We decided to check out the Ladies Market, a shopping area similar to what LA locals know as "The Alley". To make this trip more exciting we rode on top of the double decker bus. It was so fun and we had a great view of all the businesses below.
The Ladies Market was both stressful and very fun. I loved the busyness of it but hated the bargaining. I was informed that bargaining was expected and so I should ask to pay half of whatever I price I was quoted. My first purchase was a mustard yellow purse that I really like and almost didn't get except the lady at this store was so persistent, she literally took my hand and brought me back to the store so we could discuss lowering the price. My walking away was not an indication of wanting a lesser price but rather a decision that I did not want to pay what she was asking. She then lowered the price again and we payed for the purse and went on our way. A few blocks down our social worker said her good-bye and we were on our own. I am proud to say that we bargained well and got some great fun items to bring home. The problem with bargaining is 1) I don't want to cheat the seller and 2) I don't want to be cheated. See my dilemma. Here is one more photo of a street near the market. Who ever told me Hong Kong was like New York on steroids...you were more than right.
After such a long day and an eventful shopping trip, Josh and I headed back to the hotel. We decided to walk the busy streets and enjoy the warm evening in Hong Kong. It was a good decision!