We are now officially a family of eight! Isabelle's adoption was finalized yesterday ( Tuesday), and the process here in Guiyang was much easier and more direct than it was in Jinan. When we went to Civil Affairs to get Isabelle on Monday, we went ahead and prepared all of the paperwork that would be needed. So, when we went back there yesterday, we only had to double-check the information one last time to make sure that there were no mistakes, and then sign in a few places. That was it. And everything happened right there in that office. In Jinan, we had to go to Civil Affairs, the police station, and the notary's office in order to complete all the steps for Hallie's adoption. This time around, the notary came to the Civil Affairs office, and the orphanage had already taken care of the paperwork at the police station. In fact, once we were done at CA, Lucy stopped by the police station and picked up Isabelle's passport. We had no idea that it would be ready so soon. Now, all we're waiting for are the books from the notary, which should be done by Thursday. Assuming that there are no mistakes in those books, we'll be clear to leave for Guangzhou on Friday.
At CA yesterday, Isabelle got to say goodbye to the director of her orphanage, which was really good for both of them. It seems like she was very close to him, and that came as a surprise to us. In fact, she called him "Baba," the Chinese word for Daddy. When we left CA on Monday, she kept saying, "Baba bye-bye?" and looking kind of sad. Amazingly, when we got back to the building yesterday and stepped into the elevator, she put everything together, recognized where we were, and said, "Baba bye-bye?" She had never seen the building before this week, so we were blown away that she could recognize it so quickly. She continually impressed us with ow smart she is. And when we got to the office, she almost leaped out of my arms to go see the director. She played with him for quite a while, and we now know why she feels like all smartphones are her personal playthings: he let her play with his, and it clearly wasn't the first time. We let her play with him since she would never get to see him again, and we were very glad when she came back to us without protest at the end. She was clearly sad to see him go, but she was also happy to be back with us. Oh, and after she played with the director for a while, she spent a long while scrubbing the couch, first with a tissue. But when we noticed that she was wetting the tissue with her tongue, we gave her a wipe instead.
Hallie had started to withdraw again while we were at CA, and she clung to Kristie for dear life while we waited for the driver to come pick us up. She resented everything about Isabelle, and she was upset that Isabelle was coming back home with us. I think that Hallie had been hoping that we had gone back to CA to return Isabelle. No such luck! On the way back to the hotel, Isabelle reached over towards Hallie in friendly curiosity, and Hallie grabbed her hand and opened wide to bite her! Thankfully, Kristie and I both saw it happen, so we intervened in time. The look on Hallie's face showed that she meant business, and we're convinced that she would have drawn blood if she had succeeded in biting her sister. This resentment continued throughout the afternoon, but then we saw things starry to change suddenly. After I had bathed Isabelle and put her lotion on her, Kristie started getting things ready for Hallie's bath. (We can't bathe them together because of the possibility that one or both of them has parasites. We won't know for sure until we get back home and have them checked, so they'll get separate baths for now.) The girls were sitting on the floor just outside the bathroom, and we saw them pretending to put lotion on themselves, clearly doing it together! That was great to see, for a couple of reasons. This marked a dramatic change in Hallie's attitude towards her sister, and it also marked the first bit of actual playing that we've seen from her. She doesn't know what to do with any toy, no matter what kind, and we're both encouraged greatly by this sign of imagination. Then, as we were praying with them, Hallie reached up to stoke Isabelle's arm! Gone was the malice on her face from earlier in the day, and in its place was gentle curiosity. Not quite sisterly love, but we'll absolutely take it.
Isabelle continues to amaze, amuse, and baffle us. We brought along a baby doll for each girl, and Isabelle loves hers. She calls it "Mei Mei," Chinese for little sister. She'll entertain herself for long stretches of time by feeding her baby (she very clearly requested a spoon and bowl for her baby right away), swaddling the baby in it's blanket, and putting some of her own things—sunglasses, shoes—on the baby. All life's a comedy to this girl, too. When we went out to the store and to dinner, I put her in a baby carrier on my back. She spent nearly the whole time leaning back so that she could stare straight up at the sky. Then, as we returned to the hotel, she discovered that if she leaned back far enough, she could see Kristie. So, she did. And when I turned to exit the elevator, I bumped her head into the wall. I was afraid that she'd been hurt, but no. She started chuckling. And I think she might have wanted me to do it again. Goofy girl.
The orphanage workers told us that she ate rice and porridge, and that's it. Wrong. Dead. Wrong. She eats everything, and that's not an exaggeration. Yesterday morning, she ate an entire sausage link and some banana bread. And that was after having eaten her own breakfast of cereal and juice. At lunch, she ate almost half of my French fries and most of my cantaloupe, again after having eaten her lunch. But that's not all. We discovered after we got back to the room last night that she had eaten a small chunk of the baby carrier! Who's ever heard of that!!! She also ate some of the rubber coating—and the plastic underneath—off of the baby spoon we'd given her for Mei Mei!! And, to top it all off, we found that she'd chewed off most of the rubber bristles from the NUK teething brush that we'd given her!!! We've never had a kid explore things so ferociously by mouth before, so we have some work to do here.
Her adjustment continues to go well, and we are thrilled to have both of them with us. Today (Wednesday), Lucy is going to take us to a more authentically Chinese part of Guiyanf, and we're looking forward to that. We enjoyed seeing so much of Jinan while we were there, and it'll be nice to see Guiyang's culture, not just the Westernized portion of the city where our hotel is.