Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good-bye Nanchang

After a night of on and off grieving, morning came and my little one is feeling a bit better as the day wears on. I had my guide ask her why she was crying last night and she did say it was because she missed her Po Po. I'm very glad that she can put words to her feelings.

We are leaving in one hour for the airport to catch our flight to Guangzhou. I have loved being in Nanchang and the people have been wonderful, but my little girl is ready for a change of scene. There just isn't a lot for a little girl to do, no parks or anything nearby.

As we prepare to leave the province of my daughter's birth, I have a spot of sadness in my heart for what she is leaving behind.


Well, she may be 7 years old, but mama gets some pretty good firsts. Today we had quite a list. First peanut butter sandwich (I tested her first with just a tiny bit), first new shoes, first carosel ride, first time going on a slide!

Our only order of business was to pick up the notarized adoption papers at the notary office. Then we went to the People's Park where there was a small manmade lake, rides for kids and exercise equipment for adults, gardens, etc...

On the way to the park we finally found a pair of shoes to fit her. The shoes she arrived in were way, way, way too big and the pair I brought were a size or two too big. I've been putting two to three layers of socks on her every day to hold them on her feet! She was thrilled with her shoes and her gait was tremendously improved. I tried looking at another pair, but she didn't understand why and was impatient with me since she said she already has a new pair. LOL!

I have a little daredevil, that's for sure. She was beside herself with excitement when she saw the rides at the park. She wanted to do them all, but I only allowed her to do three of them then showed her a little playground thing they had like you'd find in parks all over the USA. She was excited and tried to walk up the slide, and when I told her to go to the stairs and the guide said the same thing, I could see that she looked a little confused. I took her up and then sent her down the slide and she laughed and laughed and still didn't know to go back to the stairs and then I had a thought, confirmed when the guide asked her. She'd never been on a slide before! It made perfect sense since she always skips over the picture of the backyard play structure I have in the picture book I gave her. She didn't know what it was.

We had dinner with the Straights again and then the "girls" took a walk. We bought ice cream and let the little girls ride some little rides. My daughter started doing acrobatic tricks on them while they were moving. She's really something. At the park, she went up-side-down on the bars and was simply unstoppable on everything. Her special need doesn't slow her down at all and she's going straight into tumbling or gymnastics classes when we get home and I've never been so thankful that I have trampolines at home. She's going to need them.

She's been growing a little impatient all day, her grief ready to burst and tonight she tried everything to avoid going to bed. I finally insisted and she had a grief tantrum, worse than the first, with thrashing, hitting and kicking (not me, but at the bed and everything else), but it was much shorter than the first. She's continuing to cry and thrash in her sleep periodically, poor thing. I've just tucked the blanket tightly in and placed pillows around her. She's super strong and very acrobatic and can flip right off the bed despite the chairs I've got up against it. She's really something else physically. She likes to jump down stairs and started by holding my hand and jumping down two steps. Now she's doing three and contemplating not holding my hand so I'm always near her. I wouldn't hover so much if we were home, but, again, I don't want to end up in the ER in China with her.

The picture of all the ladies gathered around Donna's stroller isn't about the celebrity the stroller is getting. These old ladies are The Clothing Police. They were very concerned that Donna's daughter had short sleeves on while we were out and it's night. However, it's very pleasant, temperature wise. One woman tested my daughter's clothes. Luckily, she has her bib with sleeves on, but it's thin and the lady did say dian dian, which meant thin in this case.

The little green wreath my daughter is wearing was made by one of the waitresses at the hotel using real greenery. I don't know why she did it, but it made my daughter feel happy and that warms my heart.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 4 in Nanchang

It's true, things are going so well that I would go so far as to say that this has been easy. Honestly, the hardest part was being at the mercy of the beaurocratic schedule on adoption day and not having a clear plan for meals. However, as of yesterday, I took care of that and the other I can't do anything about.

My daughter is wonderful! She is so happy! I have received spontaneous, sincere kisses and hugs and she asks to be picked up when she wants. My favorite kiss was in a taxi. The window was down and she loved the feel of the wind in her hair and she was dancing and smiling with joy and turned around and kissed me on the cheek then turned back into the wind.

I had my guide try and talk to her about her treatment. Just the mention of it makes Jei Jei hysterical, turning her from a happy child into a tiger fighting for her life. I have decided that there will be no treatment until we see a doctor. If I hold her down and force her, I'm sure I will damage our relationship and possibly physically harm her, so Mama has decreed that there will be no treatment, come what may. As a result, bedtime was fantastic and she had a great night and is still sleeping!

So, our day went like this:

First, a shower with mama. In our tiny shower, I put her little plastic bathtub and we both washed our hair. She was very good even though she wasn't sure about how leaning the head back to rinse off the shampoo worked. She allowed me to do, though, without any fuss at all. Then, the hairdryer. I showed it to her on low and she was super excited, no fear, so I dried her hair. Later, when it was unplugged, I saw her trying to get it to work and then pretended to dry her hair. Cute doesn't even begin to describe her.

After breakfast, we went to the People's Pavillion, built in 1650 and restored 20 years ago, it's a sort of park, though one pays to get in. It doesn't have any religious meaning, it's just a gathering place. It seemed to be a tribute to the writers and philosophers of this provence. It was a little boring for a little girl.

We tried to go to the flea market and ended up at Walmart again. Just a small miscommunication with my guide, Karen. She is the niece of my agency's main guide, Chris, who is in UK right now with his son, Michael. She is great guide and aided by her mother, who was raised in an orphanage after her parents died.

Once back at the hotel, B, my travel companion, took a nap and I took Jei Jei to the temple that we can see out of our window. I didn't know one had to pay to enter and I got yelled at by the ticket lady, but once I apoligized and bought my ticket, she was very friendly. On my daughter's first night, she joined us in family prayer, like she'd done it before. At this temple, she knew how to do the Buddhist 3x bow and asked me to do it. I said, "Mama isn't Buddhist, mama is Christian," and she said, "Oh," just as though she perfectly understood.

It was dinner across the street again with the Straights and that's where we will go again tonight. We have our order down pat now and have invited another family who is staying at our hotel, a single mom and her parents. We hope they join us because this mom is not well-connected at all to the online community and Donna and I think she's a little clueless right now about a few things and her father is a real downer all the way around.

Bedtime was wonderful and my darling girl is still sleeping soundly. She slept so well all night, I'm sure she's going to feel wonderful when she wakes up. I tucked her in, read a little book I bought for her in Mandarin (can't say if I did it right, but she was very satisfied) and then after a few minutes, she took the book from me, turned over and in 30 seconds was fast asleep. I know how blessed I am and know that this is all part of the miracle surrounding her.

I have to say that I love China! I love the people. Last night at the temple and coming down the little alley back to the hotel, I met and spoke with many, many people who were so friendly and genuine. One elderly man spoke very good English. He told me that he'd never been abroad and that he taught himself English. He thanked me for taking one of China's daughters and understood when I told him how priviledged I feel to be her mom. He also translated for another man. I am amazed at how far my tiny bit of Mandarin has gotten me and will continue to study the language with my daughter.

The only time I felt the government influence was at the airport in Nanchang when I had to go through customs. The uniforms are definitely attention-getting and caused me a tiny bit of anxiety. However, the officers were VERY helpful and friendly and guided us through the process.

The most common question I was asked by the non-adoption community was, "Does my daughter speak English and how will we communicate. Well, we do so well, even I'm blown away.

Ah, she's just woken up!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orphanage Visit

Today went very well. We went to Jei Jei's orphanage. The drive was though the countryside and just under two hours. Our guide explained to Jei Jei that we were only visiting and that she would leave again with mama and she was fine.

The orphanage staff was very happy to see us. They had made a fantastic lunch! We ate everything Chinese style and loved it. Afterwards, we had a look around. We only saw a few children. I let my daughter run around as she wished and she always came back to me and halfway through the visit, grabbed my hand and said that she wanted to go wait in the car. I marvel that she has a deep sense that we belong together, despite the love she has for those who have raised her and cared for her. However, I will admit that I wanted to do as she asked and snatch her up and run away from there and never look back. I'm still sorting out my feelings about the orphanage. The squallor is, of course, evident, as with most orphanages, and the caretakers truly love these kids, but the children cared for my my daughter's Po Po were truly filthy, despite that aside from having long dirty fingernails, my daughter and her clothes were perfectly clean when she came to me. Anyway, enough said until I have time to ponder things.

My daugher's foster brother has dwarfism. He is five years old. His brain is healthy, only his body is affected. He cried and cried and cried. Partly, he was shy and obviously he missed her. He tried following us at one point and we didn't know it and he couldn't keep up. We went back for him, but his shyness won over and he turned from us. I approached him and did what I normally wouldn't, me being a stranger, I picked him up. He didn't like that so I put him down right away, but the staff thought I'm mama hao, a good mama. The little boy did let me feed him candy, but his heart is clearly hurting as the loss of his foster sister.

I saw my daugher's room, her bed, her pile of clothes on it. I learned that the first night I had her, her Po Po couldn't sleep and missed her and cried all night. I received my daughter's finding ad and saw her finding place, right outside the main gate. I also received a copy of what I was told is the note she was found with, but I don't believe it's real, for a couple reasons, and my guide is going to call and ask them more about it. If it's not real, I know that their heart is in the right place in giving it to me, so I don't feel negatively about it.

We went to the post office where I mailed humanitarian supplies to Beijing and while there we saw a baby in a basket on her mother's back. The basket had a little piece of wood across it inside that made a bench for the baby to sit on.

Last night was very hard for my precious girl. It was her first long, long, hard cry of grief. I just held her and let her go through it. Sometimes I sang and she slowed for a tiny moment, and sometimes I murmured soothing words, but it was heartbreaking and reassuring at the same time. I hated to see her go through it, but it's important that she let it out. For those of you reading this who aren't in the adoption community, our children, regardless of age, mour the loss of their life and loved ones and it's not an event, but a process. This was the first of more to come and it usually comes at bedtime when they are tired and feeling more vulnerable.

She isn't allowing me to do her therapy. The orphanage staff said that she does cry, though it's supposed to be painless, but she's fighting me like a tiger, even in her sleep when I've tried. She has one more month to go before discontinuing the treatment and I don't know if not doing it for two weeks would be bad. I'm going to have my guide come up to our room and with just my daughter and I, talk about this with her. She clearly shuts down when I've had my guide talk to her about this before, so there's clear trauma here. She has suffered great pain with her surgeries so I'm not surprised. Please pray that she will allow me to do her therapy.

She fell out of bed last night. She sort of slid, there wasn't any thump, so she didn't even wake up. I am sleeping with her and she lets her legs dangle over the edge. I spend much of the night scooping her away from the edge. Tonight, I'm putting chairs against the bed.

She loves music and dances in front of the mirror. She's extremely well-coordinated, can catch a ball, jump, skip, etc... As I get to know her, part of me is also beginning to mour the loss of how she would have been without her special need. She is amazingly graceful, but due to her need, there is a limit to how far this gracefullnes shows. I guess I can be frank and say that when she stands here and dances in front of the mirror, she is exquisite! But if I put her in ballet class, she'll have fun and enjoy it and look cute, but will never be the prima ballerina that she otherwise could have been. Please know that as I say this, I don't need comments of how she'll reach her potential, because I know she's going to do wonderfully well just as she is. But as a mother, as those in the same position know already, it's natural to mourn this loss as realization comes with getting to know our children, and then we pick up our steely resolve and help our kids reach their potential, no matter what that turns out to be.

Brushing her teeth! Yep, she does it over the toilet like a pro.

Can you see how tiny she is?

A little pouty because mama won't let her lean down into the fish pond and pull out the floating lillies.

Welcome to Yugan! It's a rather new city, clean and well-organized.

Orphanage gate.

The woman seated with us is Po Po, grandmother, Jei Jei's caregiver for the past 5 years.

Foster brother who shared the same Po Po.

Jei Jei's bed.

In the office where I gave my donations. This scale is where the incoming babies are weighed.

On the way back to the hotel. How I treasured this moment of her asleep in my arms. She also asked to be picked up for the second time while at the orphanage.