No foolin' on this day! We were told to be downstairs at 8:45am and "don't be late!". We managed a super quick breakfast snack (sleepy girl didn't leave us much time to eat and wasn't very happy with me about that...ahem) then we met up with our guide and the other family traveling with us to adopt their precious daughter. Present in the conference room was the orphanage official from the day before, a notary, our guide, the governor and all of us adopting. Still emotional from being so far away from the rest of my family and husband - especially on this important day - I found myself fighting back tears. Stella glued herself to my lap. What a nervous mess we both were. They brought me more paperwork to fill out and Stella sealed a paper with her red handprint. The governor asked me "Are you satisfied with her?". "ABSOLUTELY!", "Absolutely, yes", I answered. And with that China lost an orphan and she became our beloved daughter.
We spent the rest of the day with our sweet girl, just playing and getting to know her. A visit to the grocery store and our first non-solicited hug ((((group hug)))) from Stella down the snack aisle. Love! She played and was happy all day long. As evening approached we braved a taxi ride to visit a special American family working to bring more love to orphans with their New Day North project. We were thrilled to be able to bring some supplies to them and enjoyed our time with them immensely. Stella stayed glued to my lap for the evening, finally relaxing with a huge sigh on the taxi ride back to the hotel as she knew Mama and Jie Jie were not leaving her. Night time brought tears once again, but for not as long and she slept all night in her crib after taking her nighttime bottle.
Glued to Mama's lap.
Sealing the adoption paperwork with her little red handprint.
The official red book holding our adoption decree.
Wednesday was our only day to sleep in a little so we sure made good use of it! Stella was able to sleep until she woke on her own and we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the hotel buffet. She relaxed and trusted us a little more as we were able to do her hair (quickly!) but the shoes couldn't be changed. Trust takes time.
We received her passport after visiting the notary office and very official passport office which concluded our paperwork for Stella's province. The rest of the week we could sight see and learn more about where she is from. Our guide took us to the Inner Mongolian Museum where we learned about the land (dinosaur exhibits, the grasslands) and the people (space exploration, ancient nomads and the famous Genghis Kahn). The last exhibit we went through was titled "God's people" which of course perked my interest. Wondering what exactly we would see here... It was an exhibit on Genghis Kahn and our guide told us that the people looked to him as a God and worshipped him.
The Inner Mongolia symbol which could be seen on many buildings. Very pretty.
Genghis Kahn exhibit.
The Inner Mongolia symbol again.
Stella let me carry her in our carrier for the first time - as long as she had a snack. Baby steps!
Leaving the museum we saw kites in the sky everywhere. In Springtime, it's something the people like to do and they were everywhere. The highlight of the day was our dinner at a local "hole in the wall" dumpling restaurant. Melissa wanted some authentic food so we asked our guide to take us somewhere. What we will remember most about this dinner was the man who owned the restaurant and his hospitality. The food was delicious and the vinegar (he brought out his special bottle just for us - "the good stuff") was incredibly yummy. As we were leaving and thanking him, he gave me a bottle to take home. We will also remember the driver, who took us to all our appointments, museum visit and joined us for dinner. How he snapped a selfie on his phone with all of us in it (many people wanted to take pictures with us on the trip) and how he played the same song over and over - finally serenading us on the way back to the hotel! Such a fun evening. The sights, sounds and smells on that street in Hohhot... that is what I will always think of when I think of China.
Our last day in Hohhot, Thursday, we spent visiting the orphanage and Stella's finding spot.
Two very special places - deserving their own post.