Sunday, September 30, 2012

Life Lessons

Wednesday night we went to the Praise service.  I figured Claire would have the best chance of getting used to church in a service that was going to be mostly music.  She did well, but she did add a new phrase to her vocabulary, "Too many people!"  If that is how she feels about a Wednesday service, I wonder how she will like Sunday morning?

We didn't eat before church so came home to have a snack/supper before bed.  While she was eating I noticed blood running down her chin. A quick check showed me that there was a loose tooth.   Another new phrase, "Eat on this side, ouch.  Eat on this side, no ouch."   Very useful thing to figure out.

By mid-morning Thursday, I had had enough of drooling blood and complaining, so I explained, "Bye-bye tooth, no ouch."   Hey, with our current vocabulary, this is pretty awesome communication.

She agreed and I pulled the tooth.  We put it in a red envelope to save til bedtime. 

Biting on a piece of gauze until the bleeding stopped.
Next morning, wouldn't you know it, the tooth was gone and the envelope held $2.  Claire had to call her Daddy and let him know.

"Bye-bye tooth, hello money!"

Guarding that envelope with the money that belongs only to Claire.
Of course, the rest of the day we had to discuss that this was indeed Claire's money.  It wasn't Daddy's money.  It wasn't Mommy's money.  It wasn't Ben's money.   You get the idea.  I don't need to run through all the children from the Foster Home.  :-)

Since this was Friday morning and the social worker was coming for our first post-placement visit, we made plans to go to the store to buy something with that money as soon as the "lady" went home.

To fill in the time, we baked some cookies.  Claire loved squeezing the dough out onto the pan, although she thinks that squeezing is "too heavy" because it taxes her hand strength.  It was fun to make cookies together, and to share them with Ms. Lydia later. 

The mixer is "too noisy."
Mixing is hard work.  "Help you please."
As "heavy" as that dough was, Claire wanted to squeeze out every single cookie.  It was quite a workout, but she didn't give up!
Our post-placement was actually quite enjoyable.  Lydia asked questions and we answered while Claire did fun things to amuse us all and keep herself center of attention.  The one question that made me hesitate was when Lydia asked if Claire was using 50 words.  Well, I hadn't really counted, but that seemed low.  I said she has a vocabulary of at least 100 English words.  (I was wrong.  Saturday morning, I started a list of each word or phrase she used correctly all on her own. I didn't count things she repeated after hearing someone else say it, and I counted phrases of 3 to 6 words as just one word.  For example: "Dry your hands on a towel" got counted as one word.   She has at least 300 words in her useable vocabulary After being home just 2 weeks!  I am so, so, so impressed!)

Our family shot for the post placement report.  Taken just 2 weeks after getting home.
Of  course, the minute Lydia went out the door, Claire told us to get our shoes on to go to the store.  She never forgets anything she wants.   A little questioning revealed that she wanted to buy ice cream with her money.  Introduce Dairy Queen.  So what if it was 4:30 .  We could just eat supper a little late.  We had money to spend.  

Claire picked up that lesson quickly, too.  She ordered her cherry sundae and handed over her newly acquired money.   As we walked to the table to sit down and wait for Daddy to bring our ice cream over she summed it up well, "Bye-bye tooth, hello money, bye-bye money, all gone."

At least she still had the ice cream to enjoy.   Some lessons can be learned sweetly.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Day of Contrasts

It has been a most amazing day.  I wish I had eloquent words to share all the things God is doing.  I keep thinking of  Mary who "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart"  (Luke 2:19).  I can't help thinking it was because God was revealing things about Himself that were just too grand for words. 

My heart is so very full, and my brain is so very tired, so these words won't be elegant, but I hope they will convey the fact that our amazing God is still intimately involved in our lives, and in the business of restoring all that is broken and making something beautiful.

The morning started with Claire Kaichen bouncing onto my air mattress and telling me that you don't sleep at daytime.  If the sun is just slightly up, it qualifies for day in her eyes. We ran through our usual routine of getting her wet bedding into the laundry and cleaning her up and getting her dressed.  Then we go to my bathroom where she serves as my audience as I get ready for the day.  Well, today the routine altered because she brought her babydoll along.  The baby was dancing on the counter, the side of the tub, the ironing board, and then in the shower.  Uh-oh.  The shower was still wet and the baby's dress got wet.  So, Claire took the dress off and then left.  She went to get another dress for her baby.

After not leaving my side for days, she went out of my bathroom, through the bedroom, through the kitchen, across the living room, down the hall and into her room to find a new dress!   She was brave enough to walk out of my sight!   She didn't drag me with her. She didn't stand and cry at the door. She actually went alone.  AND...I later found the wet dress on top of the washing machine!  Oh my, she also went down the other long hall to the laundry room all by herself!  
Most folks don't get why I'm even mentioning this.  Well, I'll tell you.  She clings to me out of fear that I'll disappear and she will be left alone.  When she has the courage to walk out of sight, she is showing that she believes I  will stick around.  She is starting to trust me not to leave her. This is a wonderful, amazing, joyous development! feels really good to get dressed without an audience. 

But that isn't all.  My title is about contrast.  First, she walked away. 
Later, she pulled in closer than ever.

I was showing her how to hold her baby when feeding it a toy bottle. She took the bottle and crawled into my lap and pretended to drink from it while saying that she was the baby.  We talked a little about her drinking the baby's milk all up.  Claire Kaichen then suggested that we go to the store and buy two bottles for her so she wouldn't drink the baby's.  I said, "Later" and we went on with folding laundry and watering plants.  But, she didn't forget.

I wanted to avoid this bottle thing.  The attachment people had urged us to give Ana and Jenny bottles when they came home.  All that accomplished was getting me some painful bites and creating really negative feelings in me. 

But Claire insisted. So, we went to Walmart and bought two small bottles. We also picked out a toy. When we got home, I sat the toy down hoping to distract her.  Nothing doing.  She wanted the bottle.  I suggested we eat lunch first.  No.  She wanted that bottle.

So, we washed the bottle and filled it with milk.  She crawled in my arms and snuggled close and drank. For the first time, her little body stopped being stiff and on alert. She relaxed into me and drank her bottle.  It was so peaceful. It was so right.

My heart swelled with love for this precious girl and for the God who is allowing me to to be her mama.  I don't know why.  I don't deserve this treasure.  I don't feel adequate to meet all her needs.  But, God picked me. He will enable me to meet all the challenges. For right now, I just sit and ponder the love of God that can put so much love in the heart of strangers and weave us together into a family.  And I'm amazed by the picture of adoption that reflects God's love for His children.  Oh, tonight my heart overflows. God's love is so much bigger than my thoughts usually allow. 

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  (Ephesians  3: 17-19)

All dressed up, with nowhere to go!

Snack time is a very important time of the day.  She prefers ice cream, but will settle for Ritz crackers with Nutella and bananas.  Oh, and chocolate milk.   Hey, bananas are healthy...and the crackers are whole wheat!

Bubbles in the bathtub become all kinds of interesting things.  This was soup with bubble rice.  Want some?

Baby enjoys an occasional ride outside, but she really likes to dance on the counter tops and fly around the house.  She is some baby.

Bubbles, the easy way.

This is a lot more complicated than it looks.

Like the castle I built?   I'm going to live in it when I get little.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Something New to Celebrate Every Day

Each new day brings changes that amaze me.   The more Claire settles in and feels safe, the more we get to see of her personality.   She has a great sense of humor and loves to make us laugh.

Dumplings are still our go-to comfort food.  She can eat more dumplings than anyone I've ever seen.
After 2 weeks, she has mastered counting out 4 objects.  She managed 4 knives, 4 spoons, 4 forks and 4 napkins at supper.  I'm so proud of her.

Helping empty the dishwasher is one of her favorite things.

Most times, she is able to sort out the two kinds of silverware and put them in the right place.

Today is the first time she played with her doll.  She fed it, talked to it, and used her "cell phone" to take a picture.  She also had a long conversation with Dan on her toy phone.  After two weeks of ignoring her toys, it is a delight to watch her play.  I love the way she mixes Chinese and English.
The most amazing thing of all is that this little girl who wasn't supposed to live, and wasn't available for adoption now finds a safe place to rest in her Daddy's arms.   My heart swells every time I see her move a little more securely into  her place in our family.   What an amazing God we love and serve!   Who else could write a true story that is so amazing and full of so much love and grace!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prayers and Special Moments

I have the greatest friends in the world!  After I posted about how tired and discouraged I was, I got dozens of  messages from friends promising to pray. What a difference those prayers made!  God's strength and peace were so evident today.  Thank you to all the prayers who are helping us through these first days.

Claire slept through the night last night, and I only woke about 3 times when she was talking in her sleep.   Getting sleep makes such a difference.

My sweet girl seemed to be here today.  There was no sitting and doing nothing.  She was busily engaged all day.  She even started teasing Ben, whom she had virtually ignored up til now.  She tried to steal his lunch and shoot him with a Nerf gun. 

We even found out that she loves  Mr. Rogers.  She kept asking for more each time an episode ended.  Sorry, two a day is the limit, but she really watched and talked about the ideas with me.  I'm so happy to see her little mind at work.

Singing the ABC song while making random music on the piano.

Enjoying the "toot-toot" game with Ben.  Don't worry, he is very gentle.  If he passes by without tugging the ponytail, she goes after him to make sure he tugs, tickles or does something to make her giggle.

Loves riding in the car.  She is still amazed that mommy can drive, although she has been insisting that I am too little and should let her do the driving.

We planted lots of fall flowers today.

And, finished by cleaning up all the dirt we spilled on the driveway. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bathroom Issues

No, this picture has nothing to do with this post.  You didn't think I was going to put a picture of either one of us in the bathroom, did you?

It is funny the way new parents of newborns and toddlers  talk about diapers and bathroom issues all the time.  I didn't expect that to be a big issue since we were starting with an 8 year old.  Was I wrong!  It isn't just her lack of potty training that is creating my issues, though.  I have bathroom stories of my own.

I've gotten spoiled over the years.  It has been a long, long time since any of my children have followed me into the bathroom.  I just prefer going potty by myself.  But, Claire is never more than a few inches away.  With a quick step and twist, though, I can close the bathroom door before she gets through.  Then she stands there twisting the knob hoping to get it open.  To avoid panic over my disappearance, I carry on a dialogue that goes something like this:

Who is at my door?  Is a zebra at the door?


Go away zebra.  Who is jiggling my door?  Is a giraffe at my door?


Go away giraffe.  Who is at my door?  Is an elephant at my door?

Who is at my door?  (Continue with every animal I can think of until I'm ready to leave the bathroom), Then switch to:

Who is at my door? Is there a girl at my door?


Swing door open and say, "Don't go away girl.  Stay.  I like girls."


(Wonder if I'll miss this routine when the day comes when she doesn't follow me into the potty anymore?)

(I wonder how old I'll be when that finally happens?)


Home to us, but she isn't so sure.  She kept her backpack ready by the door just in case we were going back soon.

Survival Week.

Exhaustion.  Illness.  Depression.   More exhaustion.  Discouragement.

Yes.  These are the words that describe our first week home.

I'm not surprised by this, just weary and ready to move on to another stage.

There was very little sleep on the plane.  Claire didn't want to wear her seatbelt so that became a battle we had to fight occasionally.  The plane served special children's meals to her, but she wanted mommy's food.  I didn't really care.  With my fever and sore throat, food wasn't really on my list of things to care about. 
It was cute food, even if she didn't want to eat it.

Happily, we only had one wet diaper.  The rest of the time, the desire to have an excuse to get up and walk around kept us running to the bathroom.  Of course, the favorite time to declare an urgent desire was when everyone had food on his or her tray table. 

I was so thankful for Mickey Mouse videos.  Those at least kept her attention for a few minutes here and there.  

Hannah said she could color or cut for hours.  We haven't seen that.  She does nothing for more than 2 or 3 minutes, and most of the time she just refuses the books, crayons or puzzles.

The plane just touched down and Claire became a US citizen.
The first few nights were miserable.  She slept an hour or so then woke up.  We quickly gave up trying to sleep in our own beds.  I put an air mattress on the floor next to her hoping that would help.  For several nights, she had to check in with me every 20 minutes or so.  The last few nights, she has slept 3 or 4 hours at a time before waking up.  She will usually go back to sleep for a few more hours if I insist that she get back into bed. 

I'm not sleeping much.  The air mattress isn't comfortable, and Claire is a noisy sleeper.  She talks, moans, and makes all sorts of odd noises while sleeping.  So thankful that Kelly took a shift last night so I could actually sleep through the night.  Things actually looked a little more hopeful this morning after I had slept.

It is weird around here because we are all in bed by 8 p.m.  Kelly and I are still coughing and having sinus issues along with general aches and tiredness.  Claire seems fine physically.  I'm praying that she was already immune to whatever bug we picked up.

Our goal for these first weeks is potty training.  This may take a very long time.  She will need to recognize the need with enough time to get someplace.  Besides that, she will not go into the bathroom without me yet.  My goal is for her to be potty trained, not me.  Time is on our side.   It will also require lifting the lid, pulling down pants, etc.  Right now, she prefers to stand in front of the toilet and wait for someone else to do everything.  Sigh…don't know what this is about, but she basically does nothing right now.  I'm still holding out for wiping, flushing, washing hands and turning out lights.  Maybe in 10 years????

We must have some major regression going on here.  I looked at all the developmental charts that tell me she can function in the range of a 4-6 year old depending on the skill.  What I see in front of me is a child functioning like a 2 year old.  She can't go up or down stairs or walk on sloped ground.  She isn't dressing herself, even struggling to pull on socks and getting them upside down.  I'm struggling to resist the panic of thinking, "What if this is all she ever can do?"  

I know better, but I’m sick and very tired.  I think I’m regressing some, too.  All I want to do is sit somewhere and cry.  But, I keep on fixing food, cleaning up messes and trying to help Claire feel safe.

The most exasperating thing is that she will not do anything.  She sits on me, or next to me, or stands staring at me, but will not play with anything.  She eats when I put food in front of her.  When I try to build with blocks, do a puzzle or play with playdough, she just says "no" and pushes it away. 

I know she is homesick.  Her only topic of conversation involves where every child she knows is.  If they are in America, she doesn't get why she doesn't see them.  How do you communicate to her that our house isn't all of America???

We tried sidewalk chalk, but after a couple of scratches, she was not interested.
Yes, this week is about survival.  It won't stay like this.  I'll get better.  Claire will start to sleep.  We will all find ways to have fun together.  It is just going to take time.  We have time.  You just watch.  A year from now, I won't even remember how miserable this week has been.
At least mommy and daddy can have fun building with blocks while Claire watches.
She did like trying on mommy's watermelon socks.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Long Journey

Day 16

We woke early to finish up last minute packing and eat breakfast before the Lifeline group headed to Shamian Island to do some  shopping.  The island was beautiful in a very colonial, western sort of way.  It was built for foreigners to live during some period of China's history.  All the adoptive families used to stay at the hotel there, and all sorts of shops sprang up to cater to them.  Then the hotel closed, the consulate moved, and the shopkeepers are closing up because there isn't enough business.  So, our guide took us there to help the remaining shopkeepers stay afloat.

If you know me, you know I hate shopping.

I especially hate it in a group, when it is hot, and there is no place to go to the bathroom. 

Kaichen goes to the bathroom very frequently after her 11 a.m. meds.   I'm so thankful for one shopkeeper who took us back through the shop and  through a maze of courtyards of the living areas to a place with a bathroom when we desperately needed it.

The only thing my girl asked for was a pink t-shirt with pandas on it.  How could we refuse?  We also got a traditional Chinese style dress and a chop (stone stamp with her name in Chinese on it).

We spent most of our time sitting on a bench and eating some crackers while waiting for our group to finish. Then we rode the bus back to the hotel where we had a very short time to put our purchases in the suitcase, use the bathroom and get in our cab to the train station. 

Dragging a tired, hungry girl along with all the luggage up escalators, through security and through gates was not pleasant.  Fortunately, our guide, Simon, eventually came with Kaichen's visa and helped us check the luggage through to our destination.  Once that was taken care of, we had a little time to sit.  Claire drank a box of milk and had a few snacks out of my purse.  Her friends May and Luke were also at the train station and she was very concerned about where they were every minute. 

Finally we got on the train.  We were in car 2 and I didn't see where anyone else ended up.  We did lots of coloring on the train and had one wetting accident, but it was mostly uneventful.  I think Kelly slept most of the way. He was seated in the row ahead of us, so I couldn't see for sure.

We arrived in Hong Kong around 7.   We dragged our luggage to the taxi stand line.  A middle eastern man came and asked if we would rather go in a big taxi instead of those little red ones.  He had a van that looked like you might actually get all our suitcases in it.  Kelly asked me what I thought. I said a quick prayer for protection and said, "Let's go for it." 

Turned out to be good.  Nice, comfortable ride to our hotel and it was cheaper than a regular cab.

We were so exhausted that we ordered room service.  It was actually wheeled in on a table with tablecloth and silver covers over our noodles and fried rice.  Looked like we were living in a movie. 

By this time, my fever was going strong and I was shivering.  As soon as we got Claire to bed, we organized luggage for the morning flight and rushed to get our 4 hours of sleep before we had to leave.

The hotel took us to the airport.  We flew from Hong Kong to Narita, where we had to go through security again.  They didn't like the scroll and it created a tizzy while they checked and rechecked it and asked us questions.  Finally, they sent an official to carry it through the airport for us. The people at the gate held it until we boarded the plane.  I never did figure out what all the commotion was about.    I do know it prevented us from getting any lunch. 

No, worries, though.  Food on the plane was plentiful.  Just the water was in short supply.  With a fever, I was really battling dehydration.  My nose kept running all the way home.  I ran out of tissues, so we started pulling out wads of them from the various bathrooms.

Claire's food was cute. She got child's meals served in cat shaped plates and fun stuff like that.  Of course, she wanted whatever I had to eat, so I go child's meals and she had mine.  I feel like a real mommy again.  Doing whatever it takes to keep the kid content on the plane.

We were so thankful for the individual screens on the back of each seat. She actually liked Mickey Mouse Club.  Hurray.    She really only slept a couple of hours of the 28 hour travel home.

I'm not sure if this should be DAY 17 or not.  When Thursday lasts more than 24 hours, do you get to count it twice?

I'll try to finish our coming home story tomorrow, and add a few pics.  Right now, I need to sleep because Claire has finally decided to sleep.  It may not last long.  She hasn't slept more than a couple of hours at a time since we got home.  Last night she was up every 20 minutes. Kelly and I are feeling like we are living in that foggy space you enter when you have a newborn.  This too, will pass.  But it will pass so much better if I go sleep a few hours.

Good night.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wow! A Two Post Day!

Day 15

As if going to the Consulate wasn't enough for one day, this evening we went on a dinner cruise on the Pearl River in Guangzhou.   Kaichen was so incredibly excited once she figured out what we meant when we kept saying boat.

She got even more excited when her daddy brought a plate of dumplings and a big bowl of noodles to her at our table.   She added some fried rice, zucchini, bread, watermelon, and a bowl of sweet potato ice cream to that first batch of food.  I have never, ever seen a kid so tiny eat so much.  She wolfed it down like she was starving, even though we had eaten a late lunch and had a snack before going to the boat.  On the boat with food = happiness.

After dinner we went topside and watched the colored lights of the city.   We all had a really nice time.  

She is quite nervous about the fact that we were packing up suitcases today.    We have been over tomorrow's schedule a million times, at least.  I'm not sure how much she understands.  I know that  any water bottles or snacks she could reach in our room managed to get packed in her backpack.  She also borrowed our Ziploc bags and tried to squeeze all her balloons into them.  I'm afraid we won't be able to pack blown up balloons, and I can't get the thin plastic to untie without making holes. 

It has been a long day, but good. 

She twined her fingers through mine and snuggled up close for the bus ride back to the hotel.   I savor those precious moments when fear, confusion and anger take a backseat. 

Thanks for praying.   The journey home is going to be very long and tiring. Kelly has been sick, and my throat is miserably sore tonight.  Mostly I pray that Kaichen doesn't catch it from us.

A few pics in whatever random order they decide to load and then I"m going to sleep.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Staying Focused

 After being startled awake VERY, VERY early this morning by a little hand patting me and letting me know that she had wet the bed again (do they make Huggies that don't leak?), I am tired.   Kaichen ran into a sweet baby she knows from New Day at the Consulate. (Luke)  Apparently that was very upsetting because we then endured new-to-us battles over using a toilet and washing hands.  She even refused to get on the escalator when she normally wants to ride it over and over.  She suddenly started naming all her friends and wanting to know if they were going to America.

I'm tired  Did I say that already?   At Starbucks, where her Daddy decided to corrupt her early as a celebration of our swearing in at the Consulate, she managed to crumble muffin all over herself and the floor.  Part of what she chewed came back out of her mouth with long strings of drool.  (Haven't figured out why she is fine sometimes and goes slack mouth and drooly at others.)

Then we came back to the hotel and Kelly went to take a nap.  I've been coloring and cutting and doing puzzles while answering a constant stream of questions a thousand times each:  Where is Daddy?  What is Daddy doing? Where is Mommy?  What is Mommy doing?  Where is Wendy?  Where is Luke?    This is America?   Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then the airplane?  This is Guangzhou?  

It is all lovely conversation, but it makes me tired after about the 100th time.  Have I mentioned how tired I am?  
Anyway, she is currently sitting at the desk next to me doing puzzles.  I've memorized this conversation, so I can carry it on while typing...please be forgiving if I make typing mistakes.  I was probably naming the weeks--again--and talking about airplanes on Thursday.  

I decided to check email.  I have signed up for the Empowered to Connect Resource updates and today's post was just too good not to share.    Notice that line that says,
 I'm so not perfect at any time, but when I'm tired (have you noticed this theme  yet) I really start messing up.  Just ask Kelly how quickly I am offended when tired, or how fast I can run out of patience.  It isn't pretty.  
And this road isn't easy.  Kaichen is wonderful.  We love her.  But together we have many challenges to overcome.  We have lots to learn about each other in order to become a family.  Pray for us, if you think of it.   God has given us a big job to do.

Posted: 10 Sep 2012 06:08 AM PDT

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1
As adoptive parents walking a journey of healing with our children, we have an opportunity to enter into their world with empathy and compassion in a way that points them to the hope of the Savior. God has given us the divine honor of being mom or dad. We have the privilege of nurturing our children’s hopes and dreams, giving them goodnight kisses, wiping away their tears, teaching them as they grow and mature, and being the ones they look to for acceptance, security, and love. Parenting is holy ground, and we are allowed a front row seat as we watch their stories unfold and God does His work in and through them.
But as amazing and wonderful as being a parent can be, it can also be exhausting and at times terrifying. Our children have been touched by loss and grief, neglect and abuse, abandonment and rejection. Many of them have physical limitations both in body and mind that make typical daily tasks difficult and engaging in relationship overwhelming. And far too many of our children live under the fog of palpable fear and pervasive anxiety. Even so, they are our children, the dear ones the Lord of the universe, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, has placed in our care.
The daily demands of parenting coupled with the temptation to believe the lie that we have to be perfect in all that we say and do often leaves us defeated, weary, and running on empty. In these moments, we must remember that THE God that knit our families together is the same God who is our OUR strength and refuge. He will, as scripture promised, give us strength by His grace. “You then, my child be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). We can stand confident that as His children, covered by the grace and forgiveness of Christ, He will give us the strength we need. We are treasured by Him, we are loved by Him, and we are valued by Him. If we abide and rest in Him, He “will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).
Lord, I thank you for the promise that you will be my strength every morning. May I sense your presence as you strengthen me through the power of your Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). Amen.
Tona Ottinger has been married to Mark for 15 years and they live in Tennessee, where Mark serves as the Pastor to Families at Fellowship Memphis. They have four children through adoption and regularly train other adoptive and foster families through the Empowered To Connect Parent Training.  Tona blogs at Delighting in Dirty Carpet.
*Adapted from …And They Lived Faithfully Ever After: Devotionals for Adoptive & Foster Families, due out by December 2012 from Empowered To Connect.

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Day 14

We had to be ready to go get the TB tests read at 9:30 this morning.  Our first battle was that Kaichen did not want her hair pulled back.  I insisted because she drags it through the food and when you are eating at a buffet and in a crowed dining room, no one wants her hair in their space.  She made it abundantly clear that I am supposed to let her have her own way all of the time, and if I don't she will be very angry with me.  Oh well, I can handle anger, and she needs to start learning to submit to authority. 

After getting the TB test read, our adoption group went to the zoo.  The heat index was hitting 105 degrees and it was less than fun.   We did enjoy the pandas.  Kaichen only wanted to see the giraffes, so as soon as our obligatory group  ride on a small cart around the main exhibits ended, we hoofed it for the giraffes.  Of course, they were at the very back of the zoo, and she didn't want to walk anymore after seeing them. 

There was a man selling balloons and Kaichen wanted one.  He was in your face about it and actually put the balloons into children's hands while the parents were telling him to go away.   She was not happy that she didn't get a balloon but we promised one later.  She didn't forget all afternoon.

After the zoo, we stopped at a restaurant for a group meal ordered by our guide.  It was a good variety of Chinese food, but I've been feeling a little queasy since then.  Not sure if it was the food, or if I just got too hot being outside all morning. 

While I played with Kaichen in the hotel, Kelly hoofed over to Trust  Mart to get more diapers...and of course, balloons.  He did a great job of finding some that look like a rabbit, a caterpillar and a little blue man. 

We spent a little time in the outdoor pool on the 4th floor.  Kaichen was nervous in the water, but got better about resting in my arms and jumping when holding on to me.  She finally walked a little on her own. She slipped and fell.  Instead of just standing up, she just sat there under the water waiting for rescue.  I was right next to her and pulled her up quickly, but it was so weird to see her wait rather than move a muscle to help herself.

We went for Thai food tonight.  Got some good noodles again.  Most noodles in Guanzhou have been disgusting compared to the noodles of Taiyuan. I also got some sort of turnip and egg dish that was a nice change.  Kaichen had dumplings, too. 

For the second night in a row, she just sat in her chair and peed.  She never asked to go to the bathroom, even though I know she can ask clearly because she often does.   She stood up and tried to brush the puddle off the chair when we were getting ready to go.  When we told her to leave it, she put her hand in her mouth.

Okay, Karen Purvis, or some other adoption guru, how do YOU handle this?  I think my voice lost that gentle, playful tone and my eyes weren't saying loving things at that moment.

All while we walked back to the hotel and while I was showering Kaichen and washing her clothes (pull-ups only stem the tide when an 8 year old is filling them), I kept thinking that she may not have any idea what it feels like to have to go.

Her nannies took her to the potty on a schedule.  The kids were lined up in a row and went one after the other when it was "time."  The night nannies told us they got her out of bed at night so she wouldn't wet.  They also kept her in diapers a lot.  She was always wearing diapers when we were there visiting.  And, the awful rash in her diaper area indicates that she wore those diapers more often than our visit.  (Good news is that that ugly, raw rash is almost entirely gone after only a week of keeping her clean and dry!)

She has asked me to take her potty often.  However, as I think carefully, I see that she asks when she is bored, or tired of waiting for something.  Or, she says she has to go potty when asked to do something she doesn't want to.   I'm wondering if she has ever asked me to take her to the potty because of an actual need to go? 

  I can't wait to get home where I have a washing machine and don't have to eat every meal out.  Then we can work on this problem.

Well, I don't suppose anyone but a handful of moms our there will appreciate this post about potty issues.  I guess I'll post a few pictures from today and get to bed so I can do a better job of keeping my eyes smiling tomorrow.

Waiting for the little zoo cart to give us our preliminary tour.  You really could not see any animals from this cart.


Daddy found the best balloons.

This one is sleeping on Daddy's pillow.

Until Daddy decided to take a nap and fling balloons away. It just doesn't get any funnier than this.  She was giggling hysterically.

Walking in the deep brave.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wo Ai Ni, Kaichen

Day 13

Today with my girl was so much better.   She let me tuck a napkin over her at breakfast so we didn't have to change clothes again.  She tasted a few new foods, like my purple sweet potato.  Of course, she also kept up with her staples of noodles, dumplings and watermelon. 

We had to do a group picture for Lifeline in the lobby this morning.  While we were waiting for everyone to arrive, Kaichen and I went up a really tall escalator.  Then we went right back down.  She was beside herself thrilled with this fun ride.

Picture taking gets long when everyone wants a picture taken with their camera.  Kaichen took off and wouldn't come back so I ended up chasing her and holding her arm firmly to complete the pictures.  BUT...she did stay with us the rest of the day without a problem.  She didn't fight about holding hands on the streets, and even gladly let her Daddy carry her over the craziest roads. 

We climbed a big hill with 90 some steps to see a statue of goats.  She was a trooper in this heat, counting the steps all the way up.   Then we went into a park to watch the people exercising with hacky sacks.  It was fun.  Kaichen tried to kick one, but she just isn't coordinated enough.   Kelly got some video of this so we will try to post a clip when we get home.

Next we took the bus to the pearl and jade market.   We did pick up a couple of items.  Kelly bought Kaichen a lovely silver chain with a single pearl on it.  She beamed when everyone told her how pretty she was.  Of course, she wanted if off after a couple of minutes.  She can't seem to stand anything touching her wrists or neck.

We got sick of shopping long before everyone else--yup, she's my girl--so we found a quiet corner on the sidewalk to eat some sunflower seeds.  A lady in a nearby shop brought some stools out so we could sit.   When we were away from the big adoption group, people would come up and talk to us.   We made friends with a little boy riding on his daddy's lap (Dad was in a wheel chair) and a grandmother with her little girl who wanted to talk to us.  Kelly also went in the shop and bought a couple of items.  How could we not buy something when she let us have her stools for a long time.

This afternoon we hung out in the hotel room.  Kaichen was very talkative today.  We pushed the chairs into a row and played "bus."  We also used the bedroom door as our "outside" door and took turns being each other's company.  You might say, "Who cares?"  But this sort of play requires a level of interaction we haven't had before---and, she initiated it. 

We went to an Italian restaurant for supper.  Spaghetti and ravioli pass muster with Kaichen.  They are just a different style of noodle and dumpling.

A bubble bath topped off our evening.   She had so much fun piling mounds of bubbles on her head.  The best part was that she trusted me enough to tilt her head back onto my hand and into the water tonight so I could wash her hair.  She totally relaxed and let me do it, instead of struggling to hold herself up by herself.  It may be a tiny step, but I felt such love for this brave little girl who is willingly beginning to trust me to take care of her. 

Sometimes there are surprises when you open the door!  Lots of giggles, too.

Here comes company.  Can you hear them knocking on the door?

Group photo time:  just the newly adopted kids in this shot. 

The statue of the five goats.

Watching the lady string the pearl necklace.

A sunflower seed break outside a shop.  Stools compliments of the lady next to the shop door.

Did I mention that we were too tired to go out for lunch so Kelly went across the way to a "fast food" place and brought home stir fried rice and some noodles.  These are the bits we picked out of our lunch.  No worries, though.  There were plenty of bits that we liked.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Medical Exam Day

Day 12

What a lovely start to our day!  First, it was dark in our room.  The air conditioning works, so we actually slept last night.   Sleep helps a lot.  And...we didn't waken to the prayer call from the mosque like we did in Taiyuan.

Breakfast here was a huge buffet that had Chinese foods, and western foods.   While I have loved steamed buns with meat and stir fried cabbbage, zucchini, carrots, and noodles for breakfast, this morning I enjoyed scrambled eggs, watermelon, and a cinnamon roll.  Not only was the food really good, the hotel has a special room in the dining area for adoptive families.   We got to be in there with lots of other families  in the same situation.  It was so nice not to be stared at the entire meal...and to talk to people!

One family did stare just a little.  But, they stopped and asked if we had adopted from New Day.  They recognized Claire.  They had prayed and prayed for her while she was so sick.  It was an emotional moment for that mom to see our little girl enjoying her breakfast and looking so happy.

Claire has been quite confused by the families with Chinese children who were adopted a few years ago.  She doesn't know what to make of these kids who look so much like her, but who speak and act so differently.  She tried hanging out with a couple of the girls in our group today, but they soon asked me to get her because she was bugging them.  Her developmental delays make her behave like a child much younger than she is and these girls weren't up to tolerating that difference.

After being on our own for the last week or so, it is weird to have to go in groups.  Simon, our coordinator here, had a bus ready to take our group for the medical exam.  This isn't a fun event.   The waiting area is packed with adoptive families from lots of agencies.  You move like cattle from one exam area to another as the Chinese doctors mark off their part of the  paperwork.  Claire passed the ear, nose and throat exam with flying colors.   Then we had to do an eye exam.   She totally refused to do the distance chart.  On the colorblind chart, they asked her to trace the shapes with her finger.  She can't make her finger do that.  She has tried all week to trace letters, but she always goes backward.  They wrote down that she is colorblind even though she clearly said, in English, that she saw the circle and the triangle shapes.

Things got worse in the last exam room.  Claire would not answer any of the doctors questions.  Then, the doctor looked at all her scars.  Our coordinator had gone to help someone else and the doctor was trying to find out what was there, but we couldn't communicate well.   She tried to get Claire to count to 5 in Chinese.  She wouldn't.  She counted to 20 in English when we were going up steps today, but that doesn't count.

When Simon got there, I explained the scars from her surgery.  I also said the mental delays were because she had limited education because of spending so much time in the hospital.  The doctor was still concerned about this.  Finally we got Claire to talk about brushing her teeth, brushing her hair and putting her shoes on in English. She named the colors of several items in the room and named the numbers on the measuring tape.  The doctor was finally convinced that she was smart enough to be adopted. 
Then came the worse challenge.  The medical records say she has a heart problem, but that problem is gone.  God healed her, but the records don't indicate that.  The doctor didn't like the discrepancy.

Finally, we were able to show her the list of meds that Claire is taking and explain that all her medical issues were "resolved" so she could be free to sign the okay for immigration.

For a few moments there, I thought I was not going to be allowed to leave with my little girl.  Get back, tears.  Such emotions aren't appropriate in very crowded waiting rooms.

Finally, Simon told us that the doctor agreed to sign a favorable report.  Such relief.  Getting the TB stick didn't seem like a big deal at all.

After everyone was finished we took a brief tour of the area of Guangzhou that China created for the  Asian Olympics.  It is incredibly beautiful, but today there was a heat index of around 105 so it wasn't comfortable.  Claire kept wondering off and fighting with us if we tried to hold her hands.  Once she sat down next to a baby in a stroller and took his shoes off! 

Once back at our hotel, she settled back into being friendly with us.  We went out for noodles, but the noodles here are disgusting com paired to the excellent ones in Taiyuan.

Kelly had to go to a paperwork meeting this afternoon, so Claire and I hung out and played til he got back. Then we went to Trust Mart (Chinese Walmart) and picked out some snacks, some puzzles and some sticker books.  It takes lots of stuff to keep a little girl happy in a hotel room for a couple of weeks.

For supper, we went to a Mexican restaurant.  Claire didn't care for spicy things, but ate the rice and beans.

 She wet herself again on the way back to the hotel.  So thankful for pull ups.  When you are away from home, it is so hard to find a toilet when you need one in 5 minutes or less.

Today we met people from Australia, Israel, Great Britain,  Japan, and Kenya.  It is fun to be in an international hotel.

We had planned to take Claire swimming this evening, but they said we can't go in the pool until after her TB test is read on Tuesday.  So, I turned on the rain shower in our bathroom and let her play in there with an umbrella.   She thinks I'm a bit crazy, but her giggles make me think she is having fun.

So tired again tonight.  I love China, but I'm ready to be home where I can fix my own food and control my own schedule.  Only a few more days as we wait for Claire's immigration paperwork to process.  

Thank you to all the friends praying for us.  Only God's grace will carry us through these last few days when we are starting to feel so worn out.  Kelly has a bad cold which doesn't help.

Here are a few pics from today:

So thankful for a puzzle app on Kelly's phone.  It really helped with the waiting.

Crowded waiting room.

The library.

Trying to figure out why some of the girls speak English even when they look Chinese.

Very beautiful, modern city.

Anyone want to bungy jump off this tower?   It is an option.

Our hotel.  We are on the 13th floor, not even halfway to the top.

The grocery section at Trust Mart.

Hotel entrance.

Happy with new puzzles.