Monday, December 8, 2014

Friday, December 20th!! Headed HOME!

    Here I am, trying to see if I can actually finish up the chronicles of Emily's first days with us BEFORE we hit the one year mark!!!  Truthfully, though, it was almost exactly one year ago this very hour that we first had Emily in our arms (screaming loudly!!)  Due to the time difference by China being on the other side of the world, even though it's still Dec. 8th, 2014 here, it is December 9th in China right now!!  What an incredible year it has been!  But, first to end the journey......

   Friday, December 20th, 2013 --  We got up early and went quickly through the shower routine, packing all the last-minute items as we used them for the last time.  I was feeling a lot better, but still trying to take it easy so that I'd be able to last all day--- (this was going to be a LONG day!)  We took all of our luggage down to the lobby and checked out while it was still dark outside!  Then, we went to the restaurant for our last breakfast buffet in China!!

      After we finished, we took one more little walk around the lobby and took some pictures.

We got someone to take this one of the three of us--

  And, then, almost before we knew it --- we were off to the airport.  There was one special family who would be traveling all the way with us.  They were back in China adopting the little friend of their sweet Chinese daughter that they'd taken home one year prior!!  They were with us for both legs of our journey-- from Guang Zhou to Korea, and then Korea to Atlanta.  From there, they would take another short flight back to their home state, but Dan's parents were going to pick us up in Atlanta to drive us back home to Alabama.

  We'd predicted much of Emily's behavior and were right on target!  She wanted nothing much at all to do with me in the airport, sticking VERY close to Dan, but still giving him fits at times.  She knew that something was up, and she wasn't sure what it was, and didn't like the fact that she wasn't in control of it!

   Emily hated the seat belt and screamed when we made her stay in it!  (We had certainly anticipated that one!!)  We were able to get her interested in a few snacks that she had proven to enjoy.... one being raisins in the cute little snack boxes.  She loves to pick them out one by one (which takes LOTS of time, and we certainly had lots of time on our hands!)  Cheeri*s and Fruit L00ps were another thing which she finally had discovered were yummy once she got over her stubbornness and decided that she'd give them a try.  We also had come armed with several snack milk boxes that she liked, as well as some pretzel-type crackers.  And, when the airline food arrived, she was interested in what was in all the little packages.  So, food itself kept her busy a good part of the time.

  When we got to Korea, we walked around a LOT.  There were several kids' play places, and we spent time at each one of those.  We hung out a good bit with the other adoptive family as well.  Our lay-over was about 6 hours, which certainly was not ideal.  We were quite worn out by the time we could get ready to board our second and last flight.

Here's the plane that would take little Emily to her new country!!

   The flight from Korea to Atlanta is more than 13 hours long.  That seems like an eternity when you are in the middle of it!!   But, in our years of going back and forth across the Pacific, we'd chosen that flight more than once, and it has come to be our preference.  At least you don't have to clear customs on the west coast and then STILL have another flight or 2 left staring you in the face before you see Alabama again!!!

   We were so tired that we all 3 did sleep some.  Once we all fell asleep at the same time, and Emily rolled over from our laps where she was stretched out and fell in the floor!  She did her share of fussing a good bit, and of screaming some..... but over all, it could have been much worse, I guess.  We basically tried to do as much pleasing her as possible!!  One of the social workers had reminded us that you can work on dealing with behavior issues later..... the name of the game on the plane was survival!

   We were overjoyed to touch down on American soil!!  Going through immigration took a good long while.  Finally we proved that all our paperwork was in order and that we were legally bringing a new child into the country!!  So-- we headed out to find Grandma and Grandpa!!!

In this picture I was hanging on to Emily to keep her from following Daddy
 into the men's restroom!!  She did NOT like having him out of her sight!

Here we are -- somewhat haggard and worse for the wear, but back in America!!

  Adoption agencies warn parents that there is a great temptation to think that-- now it's all over!!  We have achieved our goal..... the adoption is FINISHED!!!  All the hard work is done!!!

  The truth is, it is just beginning!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thursday, December 19th

     When I woke up this morning, I could tell that I was improving.  I had not developed any more symptoms, and I wasn't quite as weak or dizzy.  We moved slowly through our morning routine, getting a late breakfast, because there was nothing planned for the day.  Miko had given us a specific time in which we must be in our room so that she could contact us.  It was a great feeling when we met up with her and took possession of every last document that we needed in order to leave China.  We are finally done  with everything we need to do before we exit China with Emily, and enter the US with the newest little Jacobsen!!!

    Once we were sure that all was in order, we repacked the suitcases.  We had organized them in the hotel room to be able to find our things easily, but now we packed up for the ease of getting home... (what a great word!!)

    I didn't really have the strength to be out and about much, so I was really glad that we'd seen all the sights we wanted to see, as well as bought all the things we needed to buy!  We basically stayed around the hotel all day, playing in the room.  Emily stuck very close by Daddy!


Oops -- here's an unguarded moment when we let her get
too close to the computer!!  

Her cold left her with a bad fever blister on her lip.  
It looks pretty swollen in this picture, but it's not quite that bad.

For some different scenery, we went to the hotel kids' play room for awhile.
She's not really comfortable in places that she doesn't know well,
 so she didn't really want to play that long----
 but it gave us something different to do.

  Several of the families who had consular appointments before us have already left.  The rest of us got together for supper as a farewell dinner.  We went to a Chinese noodle house that was very close by.  One of the other couples had discovered it, and Dan and I had never been there.  I wish we had found it earlier!  It's funny how you get set in your ways.  The hotel had several entrances and exits.  When we were leaving on the van or bus, we always went out the front.  The main shopping centers we went to were out the front as well.  Directly behind the hotel was the garden area where we often took walks. We got used to heading one particular direction out of one side exit whenever we were going to eat.  It was just easier to get across the street that way.   As a result, we never really explored the area out the opposite side of the hotel.... which was where this noodle house was.  Emily was not being cooperative at all, and it was a stressful meal for Dan.  I couldn't really help much, because she was even less cooperative with me!  But, I needed to eat to get my strength back, so Dan pretty much just let me eat and visit a little bit with the other families.  Everyone was so excited about heading home!  I wish that we all lived closer together so that we could meet up every now and then.  As it is, of our 4 families that were eating together tonight, we're in 4 different states--- not close at all.  :(  

   Emily started throwing a fit, so we left before the others finished.  After taking it easy all day, I really am doing better, but just walking across the street  (briskly, -- in order not to get hit by the crazy traffic) left me out of breath and weak, and I had to stop to rest before we could get into the hotel!  I can tell that I won't be too sick for the plane ride home, though!!!  --- and, that's the main thing at the moment!!

  We skyped with the kids for last minute instructions on how to have the house ready for Emily's arrival (take anything breakable or valuable off shelves, protect the lamps, have the computer room door closed, etc.!!!  ha ha!!  Well, we were laughing, but entirely serious at the same time!

  One more night, and we're on our way!!!

Wednesday, Dec. 18th

   The entire trip to China for all adoptive families is built around the important appointment that you must have with the US consular at the embassy before they issue your child's US visa (that obviously we must have to re-enter the United States!).  Our appointment was set for today.  Everything has been revolving around this big day -- the medical exam is required by the embassy, and the reports from the doctor must be given when we turn in the rest of our paperwork.  This basically is the last step..... a very important day----
   And, I woke up feeling horrible.  I was very weak, dizzy, and ached all over.  We made it to breakfast, but Emily's diaper leaked while she was sitting in my lap, and the 2 of us had to rush back to the room to change clothes.  She did not like it at all that we were breaking the routine, OR that we left Daddy in the restaurant, and it was I rather than Daddy who was carrying her back to the room.  She screamed so loudly all the way from the restaurant back to the elevator and then all the way back down our hallway that we were making very big enemies of people who were wanting to sleep in a little later.  The fact that I had to be moving extra quickly to change both her clothes and mine, and run back down to the lobby in order not to be late for the van taking us to the embassy did NOT help my weak-and-dizzy feeling at all.  In fact, when we finally got into the embassy and were waiting for our turn, I felt so bad that I almost lay down on the floor.  I was trying to stay away from people in case I had something that was contagious, so I avoided all the happy conversations of families who were all there "in the same boat"..... getting so very close to the end of the entire process!!!

  When we finally finished, we had to walk a block or so from the embassy to meet Miko and the driver.  I was having to work really hard just to keep one foot moving in front of the other.  As soon as we got back to the hotel, I went to bed.  I did take the time to email some people at home with a desperate plea to be praying for me!!!  I basically stayed in bed all day --- which honestly suited Emily just fine!  Ha!  My being "out of commission" further cemented her attachment to Dan and rejection of me.  For supper, I was too weak to walk anywhere, so we just went to the Cantonese place in the hotel.  Even though "the routine" would have called for Emily to be in my lap for the meal, I couldn't hold her.  That was OK by her, since Daddy had been her sole playmate for the day!!  You could just tell that she wasn't so sure if she could trust me or not!  Seeing that in her face definitely didn't help to cure my feeling rotten!!  But, there was nothing we could do about it then.

   Dan was very concerned that I had picked up some weird Chinese virus that would get worse before it got better, and that I wouldn't be well enough for the flight--- just 36 hours away at this point.  As soon as we ate, we went back to the room, and I went back to bed.  It was a great day to get past the consular's appointment milestone, but an awful day otherwise.  Thankfully, I know I have lots of people praying for me, and we've seen God answer lots of prayers throughout this whole process!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tuesday, December 17th

   In spite of the fact that I closed off last night's thoughts with how Emily is in the beginning stages of building trust, it is so interesting to see her wake up every morning.  Dan and I are still waking up early due to jet lag.  We are sleeping better each night, but we generally wake up before Emily.

   Her behavior first thing every morning is exactly the same.  She wakes up groggy, but somewhat startled, opens her eyes to see us either in bed with her or in the room with her, and immediately crawls straight out of bed and gets as far away from us as she can.  She goes into the living area (the hotel room is like a suite), sits down on the floor and stares through her grogginess until she fully wakes up.  It definitely is a statement of her LACK of trust in us still.... there are no good morning smiles and no cuddles (she doesn't give any affection at all, and I can only give her tiny kisses if she is in my lap already --like when we are riding on the bus-- and I'm coming at her cheek from behind her line of vision!  She tolerates it that way, and might even be starting to enjoy the closeness!  But, NOT in the morning.)  I get up and fix her milk and tempt her into my lap with that.  She is making good eye contact most of the time, which is great!!

   I have to wonder, too, if her getting out of bed so quickly might have something to do with the fact that the kids were not allowed to get out of bed by themselves.  This might be more freedom than she has had before, and --given the freedom, she'll opt for getting up before the freedom is taken away.  I don't know for sure what the orphanage morning routine was, but she was still sleeping in a crib.  There is a crib in our hotel room, but she screams mightily at the very sight of it, so we actually never even tried it!!   It's quite obvious that she does NOT have a good relationship with a crib!!  --Most likely she spent lots of hours in one, having to entertain herself, or wait for someone to come get her out.  If we had been planning to put her in a crib when we get home, we would have tried making her sleep in one here, but since we aren't, there really is no point!

  Today brought more rain.  It rained yesterday as well, so we've had some dreary days.  Again, we are SO thankful for a large hotel with lots of walking space inside.

  We still met up with everyone in the lobby and got our seats in the big bus!!  Today's outing was to Shamian Island, the place where all adoptive families used to be required stay while in Guang Zhou.  Families who are here for their second adoptions (or maybe third or fourth!) have fond memories of their prior time in China.  Many have wanted  to revisit the shops and restaurants, so a trip was planned there for everyone.  It used to be full of souvenir shops, coffee shops, etc. that would attract Westerners, and quite a few of them are still there.  Now that China doesn't restrict the foreign visitors so much, though, and also now that the American Embassy has moved, some of the shops have moved or closed altogether.  One place that has stayed open and is famous with all adoptive families is a restaurant/cafe called "Lucy's."  It has good Western food!  So, we went in a few shops, and I bought a few more gifts that I wanted to pick up, but then headed to Lucy's to get out of the rain.

Emily is enjoying a snack... she wouldn't eat any "real" food,
but she loved this chocolate!!  It was a Chinese version of Nut*ella
with wafer-type dipping sticks!  We'll be buying some of these
to help keep her happy on the plane trip home!!

   While we were here, we visited more with several of the families that had come in for lunch, too, as well as met some other families with different agencies that were there.  It's amazing to see the camaraderie that exists between people who have come from so many different places, but are all here for the same reason!!  We get a chance to glean advice from those who have done this before, we offer encouragement (or at least some sympathy) to those whose children are struggling, we all laugh together and share stories of the funny things we're all doing in "survival mode!"  You have an immediate kinship with all of the adoptive families, and we all do as much as we can to help each other make it through these days.  Everyone has their own personal adoption journey story to share... how God worked in their hearts to get them to this particular place at this particular time.  It's incredible to see how He works!

  The afternoon was just the same as before--  the bus took us back to the hotel (this time we'd already had lunch, and the lobby pastry place missed us!) and we had a naptime for Emily in the room.  Emily had managed not to have any major meltdowns..... of course, we'd done our best to ward them off as much as possible.  She still acts out a lot in the room (still intent on tearing up the TV, breaking the lamp, etc.)  She is really starting to be quite clingy to Dan and not want to have much to do with me.  If I try to play with her in the room, she walks away and goes to get in his lap.  She won't look at the toys unless he's getting them out, and then she'll play nicely.  She wants him to hold her and doesn't want me even to hold her hand.  We try to get her to do some of her favorite things with me, but she even refuses most of them now if it's not with him, too, -- or just with him.  It can be frustrating, but since we were forewarned, it was definitely expected.  Our main tactic is to continue to have me be the one giving Emily her milk every morning (with her in my lap.... she doesn't get it if she won't stay in my lap.... and thankfully, she has shown that she really loves her milk!!).  She also still sits in my lap at all mealtimes; even if Dan has been holding her, he puts her in my lap before he sits down.  She sits in my lap on all bus rides-- and since these 2 things have been the routine basically from the beginning, she doesn't balk too much.  

   Tonight we went back to the Malaysian restaurant that is close by.  I wasn't feeling 100%, but I'm hoping that it's not a big deal.  Emily came down with a cold/bad cough a couple of days ago, and hasn't been completely up to par, either.  We had an adventure trying to buy children's cough syrup in a drug store where the salespeople knew only a small bit of English.  They were very helpful, though, and it has seemed to help her.  Since she doesn't like to eat most things we try to give her ---even things that are yummy -- I took one look at the nasty brown cough syrup and told Dan she'd NEVER swallow it down.  We tried mixing it into a Chinese porridge-type stuff in an attempt to camouflage the taste, but she spit it right back out.  I wasn't surprised a bit!  Finally, we poured it straight into a little medicine cup, held her locked in Dan's arms, and I stuck it up to her mouth.  She opened her mouth and drank it right down!  My jaw dropped!  Oh well --- God's divine intervention, I suppose!!  Or else she has really strange taste buds!  We're praying that her congestion gets better before the plane ride home.  We're learning her little quirks -- and one is that she likes rubbing kleen*ex on her nose!!  She's not really that great at blowing it when the tissue is there, though!

  So, we went to bed hoping for the best.... tomorrow brings the day we've been waiting for:  the appointment at the US embassy!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monday, December 16th

   One week down!!  And, we'll be home by this coming weekend!!  On one hand, it seems like Emily's Gotcha day was WAAYYY longer than one week ago, and on the other hand, we realize that we still have a long way to go with Emily's adjusting to us.  While we'd love to be at home and settled right now, Dan and I have both said that these next days while still here in China will be a blessing to have, -- for her to get a little more used to us before we have to cross the Pacific Ocean in an airplane with her!!  If we had to get her on a plane today.... oh dear.  We just don't want to go there!

   Today was another shopping day -- taking the big bus along with the other families!  The mall was made up of all kids of Chinese things for sale, and I did have souvenirs that I wanted to buy.  This was obviously the best day to get it done.  But, not only was it intensely over-stimulating for Emily, the tight aisles between shops and the crowds were difficult for us big people as well. If it had just been one of my teen-aged daughters and me.... well, then, we could have done some serious shopping!  But, add a 3 year old who was reacting in fear and then defiance to the big crowds, and it was a recipe for disaster that ended in a great big tantrum.  If it hadn't already been so noisy, we might have been embarrassed by her screams.  As it was, her screaming was pretty much drowned out by the crowds.

  For the second day in a row, we were NOT up to a lunch outing when the bus unloaded everyone at the hotel.  The people in the pastry shop downstairs will know us by name if this keeps up!!  The pastry didn't fill me up, and I had some milk in one of Emily's little milk boxes (like juice boxes in the US) along with the Cheeri*os I had brought from home.  If Emily won't eat them, I will!

  After nap time, we played in the room again like yesterday.  Emily is definitely starting to relax more in the room and show signs of actually enjoying to play.  She definitely likes to play with Dan a lot more than me.  In our travel preparation, we were told that it was very common for the child to reject one parent and bond more quickly with the other.  Emily will watch Dan play with the Dupl*o blocks that we brought along.  She had no idea what to do with them at first..... she didn't see how to make them fit together for a day or two, but now she'll watch Dan build things and start to put them together herself.  They'll add a tower onto one large block that has wheels and make it roll.  Dan makes truck sounds, and "beep beep" sounds, and she has started imitating them!!  Great progress, we think!!  Then, she'll take them all apart and put them into a little purse/backpack that the orphanage sent along with her on Gotcha day.

    She also loves to climb up in Dan's lap and will sit there unbuttoning his shirt, and then buttoning it back up.  It's another one of those "paying attention to detail" type things that makes me happy to see.  Her hand-eye coordination is wonderful.

  In the evening, we met up with all the other LifeLine families in the lobby to board our big bus again.  This time we were off to have a dinner cruise on a riverboat.  All of these sight-seeing trips have been previously arranged for us.  We enjoyed seeing the night lights, and actually passed by the tall building that we'd seen last week.  Its lights were beautiful, as were several of the bridges that were lit up.

After the buffet meal, there was entertainment for the kids---  a clown, juggler, and music.

    Back at the hotel, we got ready for bed right away.  Emily is finally agreeable about taking off her clothes.  She gets really attached to various things-- one of them being this red jacket.  Sometimes it's a challenge to get her to take it off!  But, now that she's feeling more comfortable in the hotel room, it's become a routine to go right into the room and put her jacket on the chair, and her shoes on the floor under the TV.  She definitely takes comfort in the little routines!  She still despises bed time, so basically right now, we're just letting her sit in my lap on the bed with the lights off, but with a cartoon on the TV.  Usually, she's so exhausted by all the stress of the day that she falls over sound asleep within 10 minutes, and I just ease her down onto the bed and crawl out from under her!!

   It's really amazing to think about how overwhelming all of this must be for a kid who basically never left the orphanage..... and here we are going all over Guang Zhou every day.  I'd certainly be ready to shut down.... and I doubt I'd be very cooperative with the people making me do all these new things!!  It's hard to keep remembering her perspective, because we know much better her life can and will be, but she just has no clue!  But, we can see that each day, she is definitely bonding more tightly with Dan, and she's tolerating me!!  It's good to see her slowly letting down her guard, and start toward the beginnings of trust.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday, December 15th

( Yes, I know that it has now been 10 months since Emily came home, but I am determined  to get this down for us all to be able to look back on..... especially to see how FAR Emily has come in these months!!  So, after many months of silence--- I'll continue the story!  The only way that I could manage to remember any details is that I started making some notes of things I didn't want to forget about our trip as soon as I realized that I wouldn't be able to post much of anything while we were in China.  So, now I just refer to things that I jotted down to help me remember!!)

   After our normal morning routine, we joined all the LifeLine families downstairs in the lobby and went out to board a bus.  Today was a day for souvenir shopping and sight seeing.  First we went to a large shopping center/mall that was devoted entirely to jewelry.  You could buy pearls, jade, and about any other stone you could imagine in any quality you could imagine.  It was impressive.  The place was several stories high.  We didn't buy a whole lot, but we did enjoy walking around with the other families and getting to know them and their stories.

   Emily was captivated by the kids of several of the shop owners who were enjoying the aisles of the shopping center by zooming around on their scooters and other riding toys.  They were her entertainment, and when they saw that they were getting attention, it made them even more daring!!

  It started raining as we were boarding the bus again, and so our next stop was sight-seeing in the rain.  We went to the Chen Clan Academy Museum.  Emily had made it to the end of her rope, and between her being difficult, and the rain not allowing us to enjoy the pretty sights, we were slightly strung out by the time we left.  
  Had the circumstances been different, I would have really enjoyed watching some of the local artisans at work, and reading more about crafts and the history of the Guang Dong province.  As it was, if we let down our guard for one second she would have grabbed anything in sight and would have been set to destroy it.  That was just too risky, so we really couldn't relax.  Emily was obviously tired, so we were very ready to go after a short time of looking around.

This is almost a smile!!  

  Emily was so tired when the bus took us back to the hotel that we just quickly bought some raisin buns and another pastry from a shop on the main floor, and ate a quick lunch in our room.  Neither Dan nor I were up to trying to handle a lunch outing!  Emily took a nap, and then we had a snack in our room.  We right away found something else that she will eat.....  vanilla cream cookies!!

   And, she obviously had eaten them before, because she knew to take them apart and eat the yummy cream part out first!!  :)  Whatever might be the reason that she is mostly refusing to eat---  it stopped when she saw the vanilla cream cookies!  No refusals there!  :)


  We spent some time playing inside while she was in a happy mood.  I brought all of these girly hairclips thinking that I could try to make her look a little bit more like a girl in spite of the boyish short hair.  Well, with the exception of a few hours on the first day, she has absolutely rebelled at any girly hair things going into her hair.  HOWEVER, I am most happy that we brought them along, as they've turned out to be the best play thing ever!!!  She loves to pay attention to detail (which is a really good sign along the attention span side of things!) and she will spend quite a lot of time taking them all off this piece of fabric, then arranging them back onto it.  Hey -- if it works to keep her occupied with something that is not destructive, we love it!

 As always, we spent a good deal of time going up and down the escalators and stairs, and are about to wear ruts into our trail around the lobby.  We pretty much had to stay indoors, though, as it was still raining.  For supper, we ate local Chinese with the V. family at a nice restaurant in the hotel. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday, December 14th

   Today was another day that allowed us to continue following our designed routine for Emily.  After the early morning part of the routine, we went down to breakfast.  While there, we met several of the new families that had arrived in Guang Zhou yesterday.  Getting to know these other families has proved to be a highlight for both Dan and me.  There are SO many incredible stories, so many inspiring people, so many sweet kids that you look at and just rejoice that they have seen the last of orphanage days!!
   Because we knew that we had to meet with our local agency staff at 2:00 for a paperwork process meeting, after the typical walks around the hotel, and some play time in our room we opted for lunch in our room and an early nap time.  This afternoon, we got to meet another one of the translators that we'd heard lots about.  She is a real sweetheart, too, and certainly knows the ropes as well as Miko.  Both Dan and I went to the meeting room with Emily, but we decided that I would be the one to stay, while Dan and Rebecca took Emily and 2 other little girls to the hotel activity room for some play time.  I met the other "paperwork people" -- one parent from each family, as we tried to organize and get ready for the days ahead.  The 2 other little girls that went to play with Emily belong to the same family.... and this brave lady came over without her husband to adopt 2 sweeties at the same time....  from two different locations, so she's already been in China for awhile!  She is absolutely incredible--- a family friend came over initially to help her, but the friend got VERY sick in the first 2 days and had to return to America, leaving this mom to handle it all herself!  She went back to her room after the meeting, but we called her later to see if she wanted to have supper with us.  We had  felt like we'd been somewhat challenged in dealing with Emily.... but we quickly gained a new perspective when we watched her for awhile.  There are 2 of us to 1 Emily.  Our new mom friend is 1 adult to 2 little ones (one of which can not walk, by the way!)  So, we ventured out together, and Miko, who was still at the hotel, came along with us.  We opted for close to our hotel, so we went back to the same Malaysian place we ate at last night.  Emily did much better this time around.  She had 2 different adults and 2 new little kids to look at and keep her interested in something else besides seeing how much difficulty she could cause at the table!!  :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Friday -- December 13th

  Day Five with Emily ---  We are getting into a little routine, and Emily really seems to do better with having anything be a little bit predictable!!  After last night, we are looking for anything that helps Emily to "do better."

   Things work best when we wake up when Emily gets up and all take showers after that.  Way back on Monday night, Emily was too traumatized for a bath, and even to have her clothes taken off!  She screamed unbelievably so much when we simply took off her sweatshirt, that we put it back on and didn't try that again!  She slept in her clothes that night.  And, while we'd thought that she might consider a bath quite fun, we knew enough by Monday evening that it would definitely push her over the edge!

   So, our routine became --- bath time in the morning!!  We brought along a couple of things that could double as tub toys, but I actually left behind the best ones accidentally.  However, another family came to our rescue....  their little boy was terrified of the tub toys that they'd brought, so they gave them to us.  Emily isn't too excited about them, either, but she tolerates a couple of them.  Dan and I have to do all the playing.  She pretty much just watches us squirt water with the toys.  We let bath time go as quickly as she seems to want it to go.  She is very subdued and is completely unsure of what's going on, but she's not too scared of the water, so hopefully she'll make good progress when she feels more secure.

   After Emily is dressed again, and Dan and I have showered, we head down to eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  This, too, must have it's own routine.  Dan is often carrying Emily, but he puts her in my lap when we get to a table.  She gets too nervous if we're in the crowd getting food, so Dan "takes my order" and goes to get our food for us.  He gets Emily a banana and a container of yogurt.  She will eat her banana if I feed it to her while she is sitting in my lap, but when we tried to put her into a high chair/booster seat, she screamed.  So, my lap it is.  When we've tried to give her watermelon or any other fruit, she spits it right back out.  No pastries, no cereal (even Cheerio*s I brought from home!), no nothing else.  She will take some yogurt that you drink with a little straw.  She actually likes to drink things with straws -- she'll drink milk from little half-cup sized boxes like juice boxes, but we can forget about the sippy cup we brought along for her!

   After breakfast today we went back to the room to Skype with the kids at home.  Today has been a laid back day for us... but not for Miko!!  The rest of the families with our agency are arriving from various provinces and gathering here in the Guang Dong province to do the last paperwork and necessary things for getting our children's visas.  It is nice to be able to have been in Guang Zhou already---  it seems that the fewer transitions we have to make with Emily, the better!!

  We played in the room for awhile, and went for a walk around the hotel, then more time in the room, and finally went for lunch at a local Chinese place down the street.  Dan and I had been here alone Monday at noon before Emily joined us.  I think the waitresses recognized us and realized that we were in the adoption process!!  Dan and I have to take turns eating because Emily stays intent on spilling the food she can reach.  I eat with all the plates and cups on my side of the table out of her reach while Dan holds her.  Then we shove everything to his side while he stands up away from the table and we switch off with Emily.  He shovels in his food, pays the bill, and we leave.

  Yesterday's nap went pretty well, so we decided to make that part of the routine as much as we're able.  As soon as we got Emily asleep, I jumped up and got out the computer to try to read emails and write a few responses.  She didn't really sleep long, but a nap is a nap, and since she seems to act out  worse when she's tired, any rest is better than none.

  Later we went for more walks around the hotel.  There's a kid's play ground area that others had told us about, so we went to check that out.  Emily looked like she was excited about the slide, but when she went down, apparently it scared her, and she cried every time that we even looked at it thereafter.  So much for the playground!!  She's the happiest going up and down the escalators.  Good thing there is more than one in the hotel!!  We go up and down a LOT.

  This one goes up 2 floors, from the lobby to the business center.  Another one goes from there to the spa and pool.  There are also stairways -- one from the right side of the lobby up to the second floor where there are restaurants.  Then there is a spiral staircase that goes from the left side of the lobby to the second floor and on up to the third floor lounge area.  

We have just about worn a path on our "walks" indoors.  We go outside, too, to the garden.  We had saved a piece of bread so that we'd have food to feed the fish.  Emily had never seemed interested in feeding the fish herself, but watches as we feed them.  Today she surprised us.  She took a piece of bread like she was going to throw it to the fish, and promptly shoved it into her own mouth and ate it!!  :)  How ironic!!  She'll hardly eat anything when we TRY to give it to her, but here we were trying to feed the fish stale bread, and she gobbled it!  Ha!

   At supper time, we went to a different place close by-- a really good place that serves Malaysian food.  We've devised a new strategy for meal times.  I sitt down first and take all the breakable stuff off the table.  Then, Dan sits down, we get a menu, and order our food.  When it comes, before Emily can try to grab it and throw it off the table, Dan takes her for a walk.  Tonight he took her out into the mall/shopping center place where the restaurant was and rode the escalators.  I ate quickly and when he came back, I took my turn with Emily.  It's not ideal, but it mostly keeps her out of trouble.
  Survival mode at its best!!!

Thursday, December 12 - Part 2

  Once we were back at the hotel, we decided that it was time for supper.  We walked down the street to a local pizza restaurant.  We'd actually been there last night, too, with the Varnons.  It was good, and it was close, and the price was reasonable --- so we decided for a repeat!!
  Were we ever in for it!!  I don't know if it was a reaction to the day of having been back at the orphanage or what....  but little miss Emily was a complete terror.  Dan and I were completely exhausted by the end of the evening.
   She started by ripping the paper place mat into little pieces, and laughing with her way of letting us know that she's attempting to get negative attention.  When the place mat was in bits, and that didn't get too bad of a reaction, she started throwing things at the glasses with our drinks and at a vase that held flowers.  We gave her the drink box and straw that had her milk in it, and she popped the straw out over and over, making sure to make milk fly each time.  She stood up in the chair repeatedly trying to scare us with the possibility of her taking a nose dive, and she'd scream if we tried to hold her down.  We'd try to distract her with a toy, and Emily would throw the toy in the floor with gusto and laugh when we went to pick it up.  She would put food or drink into her mouth, only to spit it back out and laugh when we tried to wipe it off her clothes.  As soon as we could finish enough of our own bites to feel decently full, we left in a hurry.  -- Not exactly a relaxing meal.  It seems that the more tired Emily is, the worse she acts, so it was obviously past bed time!!  Since we were so tired, and mentally worn out, too, we went to bed almost as soon as she was asleep.  Nobody said that adoption was easy....  Emily is out to prove it!

Thursday, December 12th -- Part one

   Today was bound to be an emotional day --  It's been on the schedule as, "Visit the orphanage" day.  First, though, Miko had planned a little outing for sight seeing.  After breakfast, we and the Varnons boarded the van again with our friendly driver, and headed off to the Natural History Museum.  It's in the newer section of Guang Zhou, and we first walked around an area developed for the Asian games several years back.

The building in the background here is one of the tallest buildings in the world.

   The museum was full of things that Emily's province is famous for.  It was really interesting.  One of the most interesting things happened with Emily's behavior, too.  You can tell from these pictures that Emily does not look happy at all.  That is so very true.  We've never seen a true smile, I don't think, and she was still clinging tight as velcro today.  We continue to be so glad that she doesn't run to every stranger, though.  We'd rather have her cling to us than run off to every person in a crowd.  She is still VERY intimidated in crowds.  However,  in the museum we met up with one crowd that she did try to join up with.  There was a group of Korean kindergarteners that were having a field trip.  Maybe they reminded Emily of her group in the orphanage.  But, at any rate, she definitely would have left us to go with them!  That actually supported what the orphanage care takers had told us--- that she wasn't attached to any adults, but liked playing with children her age.

   We went back to the hotel for a lunch in the room, and a quick nap before we had to head to the orphanage.  It's so nice that it's close by, and we can make the trip easily.  While I knew that it would be difficult, I did very much want to see the place where she'd spent her first 3 years.

   We had no idea what to expect from Emily.  She could have screamed the entire time, or been so glad to see familiar faces that she left us and wouldn't want to leave with us again.  Dan and I made our "game plan" on the way.  We decided that he would carry her, and I'd take the camera and the gifts for the orphanage that we'd bought earlier.  If she got upset by being there, he would just take her quickly back to the van, and I would take as many pictures as possible as quickly as possible.... and then we'd just leave.  Before we went in, Miko told her that we were going in to see her friends, that she would say good-bye to them, and then we would all leave again together.  I couldn't tell how much -- if any -- that Emily understood of that.

  When we got inside, she did, in fact, start to cry.  We were ready to make our escape when one of the caretakers got her to calm down.  I wish that I knew what was going on inside her head.  They distracted her by asking if she wanted to show us where she slept.  She ran to the kids' room where her group slept, and I was clicking pictures.  Once we got in there, though, she really started screaming.  I wonder if she thought we were going to make her take a nap.  She thoroughly despises naptime and bedtime.

  I think it's OK that I post this shot.  I took lots.  At first they said that I could take pictures of the rooms, but not the children.... but then they didn't mind a few shots of the kids in her group, too.  I won't post those, though, as I know that's not allowed.

  We went back into the room where her group was standing together, and took some pictures of us with them, and us with the staff.  We got to interact with the kids for a little while.  It completely broke my heart. We really didn't want to stay too long, though.  Once Emily got comfortable with her friends, she wasn't too sure about us anymore.  She had her two "security" toys in her hands and all the kids gathered around to see what she had.  Other than those 2, we didn't see another toy in the entire place.  The strangest thing happened that I still don't know how to interpret.  The kids all plopped down around Emily in a tight little circle and looked at her toys.  But, not ONE of them reached out to grab them, take them away--- or even touch them.  WHY?  It totally blew me away.  Is she a dominant kid and the others "knew their place?"  Are they not used to playing with anything and weren't even sure what to do with the toys?  I certainly can't imagine that they've been taught to wait their turn -- And, Emily wasn't into sharing.  You would think that if they don't have many toys, - that whatever  they saw would make them want to grab it and cling to it like Emily was.  She sort of held the toys, pushed the buttons on the one electronic toy, and they sat there and watched her without a sound, without pushing, grabbing, or really even talking.  So strange.

  We went outside to take a couple more pictures of the compound with the director.  One of the caretakers was holding Emily, and Miko told her that it was time to leave.  I was very worried that she would pitch a fit to stay.... and that would just break my heart (of course I know that it would be perfectly natural since this IS the only familiar place she has.... and familiar is nice and comfortable.)

  However, Dan and I got in the van, I held out my hands, and she came to me---  very solemn, but then she is almost always very solemn.  

  From there, we went to the hospital where Emily was abandoned by a mother who felt she couldn't care for her daughter.  One day Emily will have questions about her past, and while we won't ever know all the answers to her birth story, we'll have some pictures and she can see places and faces of her first days and years.  

  She went to sleep on the way back to the hotel...... and I cried on the way back to the hotel.  I was overwhelmed with the whole day.... with the plight of those sweet little children.  The orphanage was very clean....  but what struck me the most was that it was just an existence.  And, that had things been just a very little bit different, (if we had not gotten her file but rather a different one, if we had felt that we couldn't handle her needs, or if she had not been on the registry) --   Emily would have been existing in that place today, too, with no knowledge of any place else.  I was overwhelmed with my care for her in just these few short days of being with her.....  but overwhelmed with the thought that NO one was caring for those others in her group.  

   On the top of a blog that I frequently visit is a quote, "How do you return from China and go back to your normal everyday life?  The answer might be that you just never do."  The family whose mom is the author of the blog has returned to China several times, and also to Bulgaria (I "met" her in an adoption group online during Jonathan's adoption).  They now have one biological daughter, 3 Chinese daughters, and 2 Bulgarian sons.  You can't miss being impacted by looking into the eyes of those children who remain.  The first part of Proverbs 24:12 says, "Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”   Once you are there, you know.

Friday, February 14, 2014

So, I left you hangin'

  Here it is -- the middle of February.  I've often wondered if I'll ever get the journal of the weeks in China recorded.  I have really good intentions, and it might take a really long time, but I'm determined to do it!!  :)

  However, just to let you know that we ARE still alive...  Here's a quick post!!!

  On New Year's Eve, Dan came down with the flu, and a couple of days later, I followed suit.  We both had a full week of fevers, chills and body aches.  Emily got a lighter version, and 2 of the other kids came down with it, too, before all was said and done.  I didn't feel well enough even to sit at the computer most of the time, and then when the time came around again that I did feel well enough, it was time for home schooling to start back up.  So, that ended any of the dreams that I'd had for some free time to get some blogging in!!

  Suffice it to say that our China Doll is loving life in Alabama.  She is doing EXCEPTIONALLY well.  She's gone from being almost non-verbal in Chinese to saying more than 70 words and phrases in English.... some of which have the cutest Southern accent ever!  We are ever so thankful and blessed by our sweet girl.  Dull moments are completely non-existent in this household!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wednesday - Part 3

    Back at the hotel again, we played in the room with Emily.  She had felt a little more comfortable yesterday, and was loosening up even more today.  It is very interesting to see her in action.  She still doesn’t smile at us, doesn’t want to be touched (except for being held) or tickled or have any peek-a-boo type games ---typical things that might bring a smile or laugh.  What DOES make her smile is being “naughty.”  She basically goes around the hotel room, finding anything to do that gets a reaction from us.  The biggest reaction so far comes from Emily’s trying to vigorously knock the lamp off the coffee table and watch it crash to the floor.  The next thing is when she climbs up in the chair beside the window and grabs the pull “pole” of the curtain sheers, swings it back and flings it hard against the glass.  And, finally, if the laptop happens to be on the desk from when we last Skyped with our family at home, she will throw anything at the computer, or if all else fails – make a dash for it and try to smash it off the desk herself before we can reach it.  I’m pretty sure that if we leave this hotel in 9 days without owing them money for damage to windows or furniture, it will be nothing less than a merciful act of God!!


   Immediately following all of these behaviors, she breaks into a huge grin and laughs and laughs at us while we are running to make a grab for the lamp, remove her from the chair near the window, or quickly put the computer away.


(Side note here --- This is one of the main reasons that my blogging came to a big halt while we were in China.  If we wanted to keep the computer intact, we basically had to keep it put away while Emily was awake.  And, when she was asleep – I was usually asleep, too!  The only short exceptions were when I would Skype briefly with the kids back at home from one end of the room while Dan would keep her occupied about 15 feet away.  He would take out any toys that would interest her and work to keep her interested while I pointed the laptop’s camera toward them so that the kids and grandparents could see her play!!  If we didn’t keep the Skype sessions short enough, she’d get bored with what she was doing and the computer was highly at risk!!!)


   In watching her in antics, I just have to wonder if maybe the only attention she would ever get at the orphanage was negative attention.  It seems SO clear that she is trying to do anything she can that gets a negative reaction from us.  It can be draining!!  We began spending a good bit of time OUT of the room, walking around the hotel (out of crowds so that she isn’t scared.)

Here's a video call snapshot that the kids took from our computer at home while we were on Skype.  The lamp that is in the foreground is the one that is currently in constant danger. 

Here's another one.  We were getting a little bit braver in allowing her a closer range, but Dan wasn't letting her out of his lap, and I was sitting even closer to the computer to ward off any flying objects if she managed to throw anything!!!