Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chrissie's Gotcha Day

On this day last year, October 14, 2009, we celebrated Chrissie's first and only Gotcha Day.  (In the adoption world, that's the day when the adoptive family "gets" their child...hence the phrase "gotcha", as in I got you.)  In Serbia, the orphan isn't allowed to stay overnight with the adoptive family until after the adoption is finalized.  Matt and I were blessed that the orphanage director asked us to allow Chrissie to spend a few nights with us before the adoption finalized because it broke their hearts to see Chrissie returned to the orphanage each day after our daily visitation hours.  Apparently Chrissie would cry and beg us to come back (after we dropped her back off at the orphanage each evening), but it was the country's rule that we could only have set hours of visitation prior to finalizing the adoption.  God's mercy was poured out on Chrissie as the orphanage director made an exception to the rule and actually asked us if we would mind keeping Chrissie with us overnight prior to the finalization since she was so sad not to be with us day AND night.  Mind?!?  We were elated and in total shock that the director asked us to do this.  WOW!

Chrissie couldn't wait to spend the night with us.  She didn't speak English, but we knew by the smile on her face and the constant chatter in Serbian from her lips.  Chrissie loved the hotel we stayed at in her hometown of Subotica, Serbia.  She took several bubble baths each day, which she had never done before.  She took "notes" (in her prestigious and authoritative secretarial manner) on every hotel notepad she could find.  She snuggled between her daddy and me in the king-sized bed, acting as if she had slept there her entire life.  And Daddy fed her chocolate in bed, just like every princess deserves.

Chrissie filled her days with nail-painting and chocolate-eating.  She painted Mommy's and Daddy's nails multiple times/day, and we painted hers.  Only she was the boss, so we were lucky to get to paint hers since she wanted to do it all by herself.  Daddy bought several packages of M&M's each day, and there was never an uneaten M&M around.

The morning of the adoption finalization, we weren't sure if it would actually happen that day.  We got up super early (4 or 5AM) and got all of our stuff packed.  (We had been living at this hotel for about 12 days.)  We wanted to be completely ready incase we got the word that Chrissie would officially become ours that day.  And around 10AM, we got a phone call from Chrissie's favorite orphanage worker, Sandra, letting us know that YES, the adoption ceremony would take place that day in the city where Chrissie was born. 

We had 15 minutes to get out the door.  The orphanage van picked us up (which is not something that normally happens), and the orphanage driver and Sandra (the speech therapist) escorted us to the adoption ceremony, which was about 2 hours from Subotica.  They even allowed Chrissie to attend the ceremony, which usually doesn't happen.  (The ceremony consisted of about 12-15 people sitting around a large table in a tiny room full of smoke, signing papers as we promised to care for Chrissie and love her forever.)  I remember it snowed and hailed during the meeting, and the windows were open, and Chrissie kept saying she needed to go tee-tee, so I left the ceremony about 15 times to take Chrissie to the restroom.  (She never went.  She was just nervous.) 

After the ceremony, the orphanage driver took us to get Chrissie's passport.  Then he drove us to Belgrade, which was another 2 hours away, in the opposite direction.  We had to complete more paperwork in Belgrade before we could go to Texas.  (Medical visit, Embassy visit, obtain visa.)  Sandra and the orphanage driver found us a place to stay in Belgrade, and they didn't leave us until 10PM.  They VOLUNTEERED that day.  And they wouldn't take any money from us.  They didn't get back to the orphanage until around 1AM!  Amazing people with huge hearts.  They were a true blessing.  (And our in-country adoption facilitator and our attorney worked round the clock to get everything done so we could get home quickly, which was another huge blessing.)  And Shelley, the Reece's Rainbow coordinator was working stateside to help us.  And a sweet travel agent from Golden Rule travel (humanitarian travel) worked diligently to secure flights home since the adoption was completed a week earlier than what everyone had planned.  God moved mountains to get Chrissie home; we received huge blessings and witnessed great miracles in Serbia.

And the day after the adoption was finalized, Chrissie crawled into our pink suitcase and told us she was ready to go to Texas.

Oh how I would do anything to unzip that pink suitcase and have Chrissie pop out and say, "SURPRISE!" 

But Chrissie now has a new Gotcha Day.  God sprung her from our lives and into His Home on May 19, 2010.  That's her new Gotcha Day.  And one day we'll be in Heaven to celebrate it with Chrissie. 

Chrissie and her daddy lounging on the bed.  We were trying to get Chrissie to take a nap, but she wanted no  part of napping in Serbia!

Chrissie having a blast in the bathtub at Hotel Galleria in Subotica, Serbia.
She got such a kick out of having the water running and filling her mouth with water, then giggling the water out and down her body.

Chrissie always took "notes".  She spent most of her days at the orphanage in the lap of various office staff, so she thought she was a secretary.  She would put the phone to her ear, take a ball-point pen and click it on her chest to get it ready to write, then take notes as she chattered in Serbian to the make-believe client on the other end of the phone!

Chrissie loved for me to blow bubbles right into her face.

Chrissie SOOOOO wanted to be able to blow bubbles, but she never had enough "wind" to make it work.  She would turn blue as she tried to blow bubbles.
I know in Heaven she's now able to blow as many bubbles as her precious heart desires.

Chrissie painted Daddy's nails multiple times/day!

Chrissie didn't have any problems falling asleep her first night with us, and she didn't have any issues with feeling safe.  She is fast asleep in this picture taken her first night to sleep over with her mommy and daddy.  Amazing.

The orphanage van that came to our hotel to get us, then drove us all over the country of Serbia, taking us to Chrissie's adoption ceremony in the town of her birth, then on to Belgrade where we stayed until God brought us back to Texas.

Chrissie was SOOOO excited to have her passport, knowing that was part of the requirement to get to Texas.

Let's get this show on the road!
I'm a Texan and proud of it!

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