Friday, December 19, 2014

A Park and a Plane

On Thursday, we headed to a children's amusement park in Nanning.  It's sort of one one those time-warp parks, not that kids mind one bit if the rides that they are going on are stuck in a different decade.  At least at this time of year, all of the rides are not manned, so if you want to go on a ride, you have to hunt someone down to come over and run the ride for you.  At times it seemed like there was one lady who was running from ride to ride, switching them on and off for us and a few other kids.  Hong Kong Disney it ain't, but the kids loved it nonetheless.  Frannie did a lot of cautious watching from her carrier as her big sisters had fun.

She ate another great breakfast.
This girl can EAT.

I was a little afraid P was testing the weight limits of this ride.
You should have heard the creaking sound when he squeezed himself in with the girls.

Frannie tried this one.  She was a little unsure of the whole thing.
We tried to sit her on one of the horses for a photo and she wanted no part of that.

Christmas in China.

On Friday it was time to pack up and leave Nanning.  In more way that one.  Friday was the day I would label, "Gets worse before it gets better" in the Adoption Trip 101 handbook.  In part it was bad due to the incredible onslaught of illnesses we have all been hit with.  Rosie was sick with God knows what and covered in hives.  P was hit with a terrible stomach thing.  I continued my China-special illness, and Frannie's cough was rattling her entire body.

Sickness aside, this was the time when Frannie seemed the most inconsolable, the most frightened, and the most like she wanted to escape.  She was crying more than not, and refusing to be in the room with us at all.  As soon as we'd walk in, she'd put her arms up to be held and point to the door screaming.  Our guide's guess was that where she lived was big and that our room was small.  I personally didn't think this was too likely.  Because we went through this with Emmie, I've spent a lot of time thinking about this issue.  What I've come up with is that if a person was kidnapped, they would likely feel terrified at all times with their captor.  But wouldn't it feel much scarier to be locked in a room, out of sight of others with your captor than to be out in public with them?  I think it would, and I think could be how our children feel.

So Frannie was just sad and angry.  She wanted nothing to do with us, yet she wanted me to be holding her at all times, which made packing up several suitcases of belongings very trying.  Every moment felt so tentative with her.  If we managed to find something that would make her smile, there was this pressure to do it over and over again, to keep the momentum up in an effort to trick her into being happy.  It worked a little.

We left our hotel, picked up her passport, and headed to the airport.  It's a bittersweet moment, leaving the place where you first met your daughter, but bringing you one step closer to home.

Getting ready to leave the hotel.

Waiting for Glenn to pick up the passport.

Saying goodbye to Glenn.  Can you tell how SMITTEN Emmie was with him?

What a lucky guy!

Getting ready to say goodbye to Nanning.

Baby takes flight!
We left the plane after yet another Emmie celebrity-style photo session (she is constantly being photographed and petted here!) and a throw-up session from Rosie, and met our new guide, Connie.  As sick and tired and weary as we were all feeling, I still felt a sense of calm wash over me as we headed towards the Holiday Inn Shifu in Guangzhou.  It's a place we have spent so much time--more than we wanted to because we were stuck there on Rosie's adoption trip!  As soon as we walked into the lobby, Emmie remembered it well.  It was like deja vu when we walked into our room and realized it was the same room we stayed in last time.

Now we are just hoping that a change in scenery is just what we all need.  For our health, and for our baby's continued healing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Days 2 and 3

I can happily announce that things are going pretty much as expected.  Not great, not bad, just somewhere in between.  A little person just had her world thrown into a tizzy, and she's sad and confused.  Just like I'd be sad and confused if someone switched my husband, swapped my parents, or traded my house.  And while we go into adoption knowing this will happen, it's still hard.  Hard to watch your daughter suffer when you love her so much it hurts.  And hard to keep yourself together when you are tired, displaced, sick, and stressed.

On Tuesday, Francesca woke up a little confused but cheered up and ate a good breakfast.  We went back to the Guangxi Civil Affairs Office to make the adoption official after the "harmonious period" during which we basically test-drive our new daughter.  The officials asked us if she did well overnight, if she was what we expected her to be, and if we wanted to keep her and why.  After the awkward question and answer session, the CWI caretakers presented us with a few small gifts for Francesca, as well as an absolutely beautiful handmade photo album of her.  When we were done at the office, we said our final goodbye to the caretakers, and thanked them profusely for taking care of our daughter before we could.  I always find it absolutely impossible to convey enough appreciation at this moment.

Goofing around at breakfast.

So pretty.

Rosie planting one on her little sister.

After doing her footprint.  She did not like it at all.

After all of our appointments, we had a little playtime in the room and then we headed to the fancy new mall nearby.  Francesca was OK with riding in the Ergo, which surprised me.  We got her a cute new pair of squeaky shoes to replace the crazy red patent leather boots that were two sizes too big.

The requisite van photo.  There are getting to be so many of us
that we can hardly fit in!

At the mall getting some new shoes.

On Wednesday, Glenn took us to Qing Xiu Shan park.  It is an absolutely beautiful park, nothing like anything I have ever been to in the US.  The weather has been quite nice here, and the air feels dry less smoggy than it has on our previous trips.  I don't remember ever seeing a blue sky in China before.

In the afternoon we rested.  Everyone is sick now, all with something different.  Stomach problems, cough, fevers.  I seem to have the exact same illness as I had on Rosie's adoption trip, complete with the China-special oozing eyes.

Francesca is turning out to be a little like Rosie when we first met her.  She prefers Baba, but not in the extreme way that Rosie did.  She will let me hold her and care for her and play with her.  But sometimes, she won't even let me look at her, and even takes a swipe at me.  She gets very, very angry when Emmie or Rosie try to come near me, even if she doesn't want to be near me herself. She's still pretty hot and cold with her sisters.

She's also turning out to be a little like Emmie when we met her.  She wants to be out of the room constantly, a la Nanning 2012. While she's not exactly hanging on the doorknob trying to escape like Emmie did, whenever we are in the room, she raises her arms to be picked up and cries, pointing to the door.  She wants to be walked in circles around the 20th floor endlessly, which, as we learned on Emmie's adoption trip, is slimming but not sustainable.  She has cried so much that her sweet little cheeks are nearly bleeding.  Night time is hard, but at least she eventually wears herself out.

So, we are having some good moments, but overall things are not easy right now.  And trying to deal with hours and hours of heartbreaking screaming tests your limits when you are tired and sick and feeling like the walls of your tiny hotel room are closing around you.  But we didn't expect that it would be easy.  Luckily, we have experience on our side--we can just look at Emmie and Rosie and know that it does get better.  And not just better...but wonderful.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Party of Five

So, the "Gotcha Day" story.

We left the room in a frantic rush because, you know, we can barely make it anywhere on time with two kids, never mind three.  P and I were so so so super nervous.  When I told this to our guide, Glenn, he said, "It's your THIRD time!"  OK, so maybe this stuff gets to be old hat to some folks, but not us.  Emmie chatted and chatted and chatted the entire ride over there.  P and I just wanted silence in an attempt to calm down.  The Civil Affairs office is only a couple of minutes from the hotel, so there wasn't a lot of time to get ourselves any more in the zone.  It was more like the sweaty, shaky, I-might-puke zone than anything else.

We were the first family to arrive.  We sat in the waiting area, and I asked Glenn if we would see Yiman arrive.  He told us yes, and showed us where to stand to get pictures.  Right about then, I started looking around frantically for Yiman's little Hello Kitty backpack full of goodies.  It turns out, in our rush to leave the room we forgot the bag.  This sent me into a tailspin.  How were we going to meet our daughter who was DEFINITELY going to hate us and have NOTHING to give to her.  I mean, were the four of us just going to sit there and look at her and hope we'd get by on our good looks and charm?  I think not.  So I sent P back to the hotel to get her little bag.  Just as the van whisked him away, I realized that he had the camera strapped on to him, so if she came in while he was gone, we'd miss that first glimpse.  I was a wreck waiting for him to return.

Not-so-patiently waiting for their mei mei.
Thank goodness, he got back in the nick of time.  Not long after, Glenn said, "There she is!"  P started clicking away with the camera and I started rolling the video.  But as I looked through the viewfinder, I knew it wasn't her.  I mean, people often look different in real life than in pictures, but this was *really* different.  Like, a BOY different.  I asked Glenn about 4 times if it was her and he confirmed that it was.  They took her/him into a playroom where Glenn said they would change her, presumably into girl's clothing.  

P looked at me and said I looked disappointed.  Emmie and Rosie seemed a bit flummoxed, too.  I started reviewing the video...she had boy clothing on, but this was totally possible.  She had a whiffle, but this was possible, too.  But it just wasn't her FACE.  I mean, a mother knows her daughter, even the very first time she meets her.  All of a sudden, I looked up, and in walks in a man carrying a precious little baby girl with big eyes and a crazy hat with fake hair on it.  THAT was Yiman!  But, obviously in all of the confusion, neither of us were documenting her arrival as we had been told she already arrived.  As a boy.  Before I could get the video out, the moment was over and she was taken to the back room.  Emmie and Rosie was just reeling by now.  It was like one minute their little sister was a boy.  The next their little sister took Rogaine, grew long hair, and got a color and perm.  I mean, do we EVER do things normally in this family?

I wanted to scream at Glenn but we were quickly asked to come into a back room to meet her.  She walked in with her orphanage foster father in one of the craziest Gotcha Day outfits I've ever seen.  Padded everywhere, red patent leather boots with rhinestones, and a hat with the aforementioned crazy curly hair.  But she was the prettiest sight we had ever seen.  Well, tied with the other two prettiest sights we have ever seen.  She wasn't that interested in the stuff we had in her Hello Kitty backpack, and when it was time to leave the meeting room she started screaming her little head off.  Actually, we were the only family with a screaming child on this particular day.

Rocking quite the trendy outfit.

First meeting.  The man with her is her "in-house" foster father from the CWI.

With Baba while I talked to her caregivers.  Emmie was running out of
tricks by now trying to cheer her up.  "Mama, she doesn't even like STICKERS!"

I went over and reviewed my list of questions with the caretakers.  I found out that she has had a lot of transitions this past year.  Before July, she was in the regular baby room at the CWI.  From July to October, she "lived" with a foster family IN the CWI.  Some of the younger children actually have foster families who are put up by the CWI to take care of children in-house.  From October to two days ago, she was living with a foster family outside of the CWI.  Then she went back to her in-house foster family.  They said she cried for much of the past two days.  The told me that in both of these families, she had a very strong preference for the Baba, because the Baba's played with her more.

Medically, she looked good to us, a little pale maybe, but with all of the anemic people in our house, we sort of get used to pale so my judgement might be off.  She hasn't been transfused since 11/11.  The transfusion before that was two months prior.  It seems as if she is not particularly well transfused, and when she does get blood, she's not getting very much.  This is due to yet another very bad blood shortage in Guangxi.

After gathering as much information as possible, they gave me her finding clothes.  Unless you've done it before, you have no idea how unbelievably sad and empty it feels to hold your child's finding clothes.  There was no note with her when she was found under a bridge, at 3 months old.

During this entire question time with the caretakers, P was trying to soothe Yiman.  Emmie and Rosie kept taking turns coming over to me and saying things like, "Mama, she doesn't like me at all."  And, "Mama, she doesn't like any of the stuff we brought for her."  They were trying so hard to cheer her up, and you could tell that it was bothering them that they could not comfort their new little sister.  It's moments like this when I know that I am blessed with two of the most amazing, compassionate daughters in the world.

And then that was that.  We carried her kicking and screaming out of the office.  She was hot and sweaty and sad and scared and dazed.  Our hearts just broke for her, knowing how utterly confused and terrified she must have felt.

When we came back to the room, she seemed extremely angry with me.  Probably a combination of her strong preference for males (she was even going to Glenn for comfort) and the fact that I didn't do any of the comforting at the Civil Affairs office because I was talking with the caregivers about her.  Surprisingly, she also did not like Emmie and Rosie one single bit.  We were a bit shocked because kids usually like kids, but not this kid, I guess.  Emmie and Rosie were such troopers about it and refused to give up, even though it was clear it hurt their little feelings.

Sad and hot.  Where have I seen this scene before?
Talk about giving us flashbacks!

Rosie:  If she doesn't want to eat these snacks, I will!
(The Snackinator)

One of her first semi-smiles.

So the remainder of our afternoon was oscillating between screaming and sort of cheering up.  At one point, she screamed until she passed out asleep.  We took that as an opportunity to strip off some of her sweaty layers.  When she woke up, we went to the Executive Lounge and she smiled a bit and ate some watermelon.

Emmie still trying!

Definitely not happy with any of the females in this hotel room.

And I cried myself to sleep.

Rosie pulling out all the stops at an attempt to gain little sister's favor.
Not working.

Tonight we gave her a bath with the girls which was a huge hit.  After Emmie and Rosie got out, Francesca proceeded to poop in the tub, which was a bit of a surprise because the caretakers went on and on about how constipated she was and that we had to go to the pharmacy to get some ancient Chinese herbal remedy for this problem.  Emmie and Rosie thought this was both disgusting and hysterical.  P said that Emmie will probably talk about this as much as anything else about our entire trip to meet her sister.  And, for those of you who know Emmie, this is absolutely true.  If anyone from Emmie's pre-K class is reading this blog, I'm sure you'll be hearing about this when she gets back.

Loves the bath!

After cleaning up the poop and re-cleaning Francesca (which she did not mind one bit and I'm sure makes her think she gets a double bath every night), the girls watched Classical Baby.  Now, Emmie and Rosie are pretty serious when they watch Classical Baby, and they were a little miffed with their baby sister grabbing at the screen, putting her face up so close that they couldn't see, drooling on the DVD player, etc.  Emmie kept saying in her Emmie-tone, "Mama, what is she DOING?"  Rosie rolled her eyes more than once.  Ah, sisters.

Why does it look like they are already up to no good?

Rosie, very triumphant that we survived the day!

We love you, beautiful baby.

Sisters forever.