I can't really begin to put into words what this day has been. We are in awe of the love for our daughter and our family that we found here today. The minute we got off of the bus that took us to Huining, Mr. Zhang, Emily's foster father was waiting for us. I have never seen a man so happy as he was to see Em. He ran over and hugged her saying, "Ay, Guo Xia!! Guo Xia!!" He held her hand and rolled her suitcase all the way through the station and down the street to the taxi stand.
Mr. Zhang's sister drives a taxi and she greeted us too, hugging Emily and feeling her wrists and hands to see if she was healthy I suppose. Neither of them speak a word of English, but they chatted with us any way. They took us over to the hotel and we dropped off our stuff.
Mr. Zhang insisted that we must be hungry (in typical Chinese fasion!) and he said that Mrs. Ma, his wife, had food ready for us. We were happy to be able to go over to their house and see where Em lived when she was a baby. Mrs. Ma was thrilled to see Emily too and so was EVERY single person in their apartment complex. Many elderly people popped in over the course of our snacks and stared and smiled at Emily. The foster parents are actually grandparents now and you will see their granddaughter and grandson in the photos a lot. (The older girl is the granddaughter and the grandson has a shirt with English on it.) They also foster two children, who have been with them since they were born. They are 3 or 4 years old, one is wearing blue, one orange.
We walked over to see a park built in honor of the Communist Party. Three armies met in Huining after the Long March and they celebrated their victory here. Tom was a serious local celebrity with his bald white head and thick goatee. I'm kind of thinking we made the news, or at least the newspaper, because the man who was taking photos for the Communist Party ran around us for a good 15 minutes, having the mayor shake our hands and so on.
Afterwards, the whole group continued on back to our hotel and we sat and relaxed while the kids watched TV. Again, we sat in awe of how happy the foster parents were to see Emily and hug her and talk with her. As parents, we were thrilled that she was able to communicate somewhat in Mandrin with them! It was a moment I always hoped would happen and this is why we've been hooked on wanting our kids to speak Chinese.
The foster family then took us out to a fancy dinner at the hotel. It was a lovely place, and there were about 20 of us gathered around the room. (Group photos to come!) There were many toasts, many tears, and everyone was so happy that Guo Xia was there with them again. None of the kids ate very much however, they were interested in playing away from the table and loved having the iPhones to keep them busy. None of the adults or the kids knew what an iPhone was!
We came back after dinner and Emily was so tired from all of the excitement, but excited to know that everyone was so happy to see her. They all call her "Big Sister", so she asked, "Mom, is that girl my sister? She kept calling me that?" We talked about how "Mei Mei" (little sister) thinks of her as her big sister because they were sisters for the time that Emily lived here. They still talk about Emily so much that the little brother said, "I know who she is!" In their coffee table the have many, many photos of their foster kids, but the most of Guo Xia! There was even a photo of Mama and Baba!
We can't even believe how amazing this day was...I'm not really doing it justice here...and I can't fit the 294 photos we took on here, but we are thrilled that we get to spend some more time here tomorrow and Sunday. We hope that Emily can leave here with the knowledge that she has a family here that loves here too and that she can come back to this place any time and know that she will be welcomed with open arms.