Here’s what we already know after spending a portion of a day with our new son.
He has a huge heart. We’re not talking about his physical heart, which will need repair, but the grace of his spirit, the instant empathy and warmth he shows to others, the love and “old soul” understanding so evident in his eyes.
The night before, we had flown in late to Beijing from Tokyo and been met at the airport by a driver and our new friend Caroline, who has chronicled her special relationship with Luke (Ping Nan) while working as travel coordinator at New Day. On the forty-five minute drive to New Day, Caroline told us story after story about Luke and how excited he was to meet us. His nannies had apparently laid out four possible outfits for Luke to wear when he met us the next day, and Luke had chosen the button-down style yellow shirt and khakis—a young prep boy waiting to happen, if ever there was one.
We had been able to keep it together up until the moment we were getting ready to step over into the children’s wing to meet Luke for the first time. That’s when nervousness and the natural questions hit. Will this little guy be everything we have been given to expect? Will he be frightened by our appearance? Will he be unruly? Or will he be overcome with the enormity of the change about to happen in his life, shut down his emotions and refuse to give us eye contact?
Having been through this process so many times before didn’t seem to help. If our experience has taught us anything, it is that each child is totally unique, and each situation unique, and it is sometimes dangerous to try to generalize too much. Better to hope for the best and keep our expectations realistic. So there we were, standing at the entrance with Karen Brenneman, the Director of New Day Foster Home, on pins and needles.
The door had only been open for a few moments and our shoes removed, when from down the hall came a flood of precious children, mobbing us like we were rock stars.
“Ping Nan!” we heard one of the nannies call out. “Your mama and your baba!”
And suddenly there he was, the best-dressed elf in the place, staring at us from down the corridor among all the others, making his way rather tentatively toward us. We almost didn’t recognize him at first, so slight a figure in his clean khakis. He went straight to Bonnie, stopping for a moment to look at her again, hesitantly holding out his arms to be hugged. She hugged and kissed him and looked across at me.
“Mama. Baba,” he said. Simple as that.
In an instant, we had added a new member to our family. There are the necessary formalities of the paperwork yet to come, of course. But leave it to Luke with his little earnest face and outstretched arms to instantly capture our hearts.