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.