Though we met her for the first time yesterday, today is actually the official day when we adopt Mara Ruth here in China. This climactic event takes place back at the civil affairs office where we met Mara Ruth on Monday, and it was our only scheduled appointment today…or so we thought. This momentous day turned into quite an ordeal from the beginning.

Heather and I awoke early this morning to the sound of a crying 16-month-old in the crib next to our bed. Our daughter was a bit disoriented, having spent her first night away from the orphanage where she used to live. She clearly didn’t feel well, either. Mara Ruth has apparently been battling a cold for the last few days, and it was clear from one night with her that her chest was deeply congested. We gave her a bottle and got her some breakfast as we prepared to go to her “official adoption.”

When we got downstairs in the hotel to leave for the civil affairs office, we shared with our adoption facilitator that Mara Ruth was not feeling well. Our facilitator decided the best thing to do would be to stop at a clinic on the way to the civil affairs office. Consequently, our “official adoption” was slightly postponed for a quick stop…or so we thought.

On the way to the clinic in the van, I looked over at Mara Ruth as she sat in Heather’s lap. She looked exhausted and weak, and she was about to fall asleep when all of a sudden, she sat up and instantly emptied her breakfast all over her mommy. I immediately went into emergency mode, grabbing every tissue I could find and trying to catch everything before, not 20 seconds later, she decided to empty last night’s dinner on her mommy, as well. On the positive side, nothing got on the seats of the van. On the negative side, that meant everything got all over my wife and daughter. They were literally covered in…well, use your imagination.

This added one more stop to our “official adoption” trip. Thinking that a mommy and baby covered in hurl would not be the best scene to present to adoption officials in China, we found a baby store on the side of the road where we could buy Mara Ruth some new clothes. As a distinct aroma began to permeate our van, we pulled over and found an outfit for her.

Heather’s attire also needed to be addressed, and thankfully, I had brought a hooded jacket with me. As a result, I went into a bathroom on the side of the road to take my T-shirt off so that Heather could then change and put my T-shirt on. It was one of those moments when I found myself standing in a bathroom on the side of a road in China, changing into a jacket, smelling vomit all over my hands, and thinking, “This is not what I envisioned for our ‘official adoption’ trip.”

Soon, Heather and Mara Ruth were both changed, we all hopped into the car, and we resumed our trip to the clinic. The doctor examined Mara Ruth (which she didn’t necessarily enjoy) and then diagnosed her with bronchitis. He gave us a prescription for some medicine and sent us on our way.

Finally, we arrived at the civil affairs office. We were immediately escorted into a room where we waited to meet officials who would finalize our adoption. As we sat there, I asked Heather to give us a little perspective on our day…


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From this room, we were taken to meet with two different officials. It was brief but poignant. They asked us if we would pledge to care and provide for this girl, and we told them we would absolutely do everything we can to love her. They asked us if we would ever abandon this girl, and we told them we would never stop loving her. Then they asked, “Are you willing, then, to officially adopt this girl into your family?” With a resounding yes, Heather and I officially became her mom and dad.

After that point, the rest of the day involved a traumatic (but necessary!) bath, the painful process of getting a 1-year-old to take cough medicine and an antibiotic, and then a nice, long nap. When Mara Ruth woke up, she was a new person. For the first time with us, she smiled…she laughed…and she especially enjoyed playing with her new mommy. There is certainly a sense in which we have come to the culmination of a journey, having waited years to adopt a little girl now officially known as Mara Ruth Platt. At the same time, today was a clear reminder that this journey is only just beginning. I’ll leave you with these short clips of my two girls together…


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