Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Packed up and calling it a night

8:30 p.m. Guangzhou (Tuesday)
That's it.  I can't believe I fit everything this girl talked me into buying into the 2 original suitcases that I brought to China.  I'm a little melancholy tonight.  I'm so excited to get home and see everyone and make the introductions, but I've also really enjoyed the last few days here with Meiying.  This trip to China was so different from the first trip in 2006 for more than the obvious reasons.
I really felt like I was seeing China through Meiying's eyes and through her language and it made me appreciate it in a different way.  I enjoyed watching her, so confident and spunky, make her way around the streets, the vendors, the restaurants.  I also enjoyed some really, really good Chinese food this time.  If you're coming to China, don't settle for Lucy's on Shamian Island every day (though it still provides the western comforts of a good hamburger and french fries as you sit and listen to Journey, Air Supply, the BG's, etc...)  Go to JM Chef and ask for the peppered beef on sizzling platter.  It's out of this world good!
Today, we walked...and walked...and walked the streets of Guangzhou through the local markets, alley ways and into their more western mall area.  We quickly left that mall and headed back to the more authentic streets.  I did this same thing in '06 w/ Derek and Eliza, but honestly, couldn't handle the smells and sights back then.  Today, I was soaking it all in.  It's an easy walk across the canal on Shamian Island and down a few streets once in Guangzhou.
Meiying was hilarious.  If someone would try to sell me something, she'd wave her hand "no" at them very emphatically and say, "Mommy-ahh, NO."  She had me try canalope icecream on a cone and it was fantastic (w/ raisins sprinkled on it).  Really, really good.  We bought and ate dim sum, all different varieties.  We bought some moon cakes to bring home for the Harvest Moon Festival coming up at the beginning of October.  At one point, our group broke up and our guide walked some of the group back to Shamian Island..  The rest of us were w/out our guide.  Well, Meiying turned into our little ambassador-translator.  This is how smart this girl is, the vendor would tell Meiying the price and she would hold up her fingers to tell us how much.  Of course, now that I think about, we think she's smart and were hoping that she gave us the right amount?!  Either way, she was so cute and thoroughly enjoyed her role.  It was raining for most of the walk and so we got filthy and wet, but it was so fun.
We spent the rest of the afternoon w/ Lieba and Amei finishing our shopping on Shamian Island and eating one last meal at Lucy's, which we lingered over and the girls played and drew pictures.   I've uploaded Meiying's drawings so you can see.  The first one is Mommy and Meiying and we are holding hands (she made sure to point that out to me and to point out my earrings).  The next one is our house, down to the detail of the chimney and a horse in the yard w/ someone riding it; oh and also Eliza's bike.  The next one is our house w/ a bird and an airplane flying above it.  Lastly, she wanted Lieba to draw a picture of me next to the house so she could copy it.  Well, Lieba's verson has me "thin"; Meiying's version has me quite plump.   Lieba being in the field of early childhood, tried to convince me that that means I'm warm and full of love.  Hmmm, yeah, ok.  She also has me very "teethy", which was so funny, and very interesting because I had gotten a copy of a "certain" report on Meiying, from a "certain" can't-be-named person before I left for China.  In the report it said that all the drawings by Meiying of her foster family, didn't include herself in the family and the foster mother was never smiling in the drawings.  So, apparently, my teeth and smile is worth drawing!
Lieba and I were both feeling nostalgic about leaving and were so thankful that we had each other to hang out with for the last leg of the adoption.  Amei is so similar to Eliza in many ways and it was good seeing Meiying interract with her.  She seemed to ground Meiying and bring out the calmer side of her.  I liked that.
After we said our goodbyes (which Meiying gave Lieba a big hug all on her own), Meiying (who I keep calling Eliza???) and I came back to the Marriott to begin packing.  Now, here's where it got really funny.  She was trying to pack everything in the room.  Yes, the mini bar, the bathroom toiletries and towels, the desk accessories, piling up the pillows.  Her Daddy would be proud of her!  I tried explaining that these things didn't belong to us.  Fortunately, our guide stopped by to drop off Meiying's passport/visa and the brown envelope (!!) and was able to explain to her.  I was laughing so hard.  Just wait 'til Meiying realizes that we're not going to live in a house w/ an elevator, breakfast buffet, soda, shopping, taxi rides... She is so excited to come home and has been looking at the photo album and practicing everyone's names.  Though she started getting giddy and was interchanging names (i.e. Eliza became Daddy; Daddy became the dog; ha, ha, ha, etc.)
Well, tomorrow (Wednesday), I'll be arriving at 9:05 p.m. on American from JFK.  I'm so excited.  Anyone that wants to come (Cheryl, Christa, Marisa, Judy, Kim, Tarra, Jen & boys, Jeff, Carol...) please come.  You can call Derek if you need more details.  If it's too late being that it's a school night, I totally understand and we'll make our rounds meeting everyone as soon as we're able, which will proably be soon since Miss Spunky-Pants-herself isn't into hanging around the house for very long.  Thank you everyone for all your prayers and support; I couldn't have made it thru those tough days without you all.  I look forward to being able to publish all your comments to my blog from my e-mail once I get home and then I'll be able to respond, since I can't access your e-mail addresses right now.  Enjoy today's pictures and videos!  Next update, from the States!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Last day

8:40 arro.m. Guangzhou (Tuesday)
I opened my eyes to our last full day in China this morning.  Ah.  As Meiying and I walked the hall to breakfast this a.m. she wanted to be carried again.  Oh boy.  She kept hugging me.  Very baby-toddler like.  I wasn't expecting this, but I had read about it happening some times.  I thought it would happen more once we got home, driven out of insecurity.  Maybe she's insecure now?  I can't tell; it doesn't seem motivated by insecurity, but rather a deep longing.
Anyway, so I was walking, she was being carried and I said (without thinking she'd understand), "This is our last day in China.  Tomorrow we will get on a plane and go home to America."  (I did hand gesture a plane taking off into the sky.)  You know what she did in response, she smiled, hugged me and clapped her hands.  Huh!  Yes, she's miss happy pants still today.  No request for a phone call since Sunday afternoon.
She said, in english, "Good morning Daddy.  How are you today?"  So, we're off to Shamian Island to meet the group and go tour some authentic China markets; collect our children's passports and visas and then I guess just hang out for the remainder of today until we pack our bags tonight.  Wooohoo!

Our "day 5" happening on day 8

8:00 p.m. Guangzhou (Monday)
Most families will tell you that day 5 is the magical day of your stay in China, when your child becomes the happiest and things start clicking.  Well, because Meiying didn't start grieving really (and rejecting me) until our day 4, today...day 8...was our day 5.  Miss happy pants, ray of sunshine, still full of herself-firecracker ARRIVED.  Okay, so I did allow an Orange Crush and about 3 lollipops today, but that was the limit, I swear.  Talking about swearing...
We had a surprise today.  They moved our Oath Ceremony up one day to today!  So, at 4:15 p.m. 48 families gathered at the US Consulate's Office, stood up and raised their right hands to be sworn in and repeat the Oath.
I have to say, we've been blessed with two very exciting Oath Ceremonies for both of our adoptions.  At Eliza's in 2006, we had a visiting US Consulate who had been previously responsible for statistical analysis of Chinese adoptions for the US, perform the Oath Ceremony for us.  She was so honored to be able to be present for her first Oath Ceremony and talked all about what it meant for her after being responsible for the data all those years.  She made it very personal.
Most families experience a very anticlimatic Oath Ceremony that lasts 1 minute.  Well, today, was as exciting and personal as Eliza's, but for a different reason.  They had a play area set up in the back of the room that I didn't remember last time and the children were all having a wonderful time, all ages.  It was quite chaotic, but fun to watch.   A few times, through all the crowd and voices, I heard Meiying call out Mommy-ahh (which is what she calls me most of the time).  I'd turn my neck and wave and she'd wave back with a happy smile.  I told Lieba, "Okay, I know my daughter's voice now through the crowd".   I think all of the children could feel their parents' excitement, relief and the finality of the occasion.   Our guide had told Meiying ahead of time what today was about and what would be happening.  When it was time to be sworn in, Meiying came up and sat on my lap.  Hmmm. She began hugging me and pressing her cheek against mine.  We then stood up and she held my hand very tight as I repeated the Oath with the other 47 families.  We all hooted and applauded and congratulated each other.   The Consulate congratulated us on completing the long, grueling process under the new requirements and we all laughed about that...grumble, grumble.   I then looked down and saw the happiest face ever looking up at me and I gave Meiying a high 5.  She raised her arms indicating that she wanted me to pick her up.  So I did.  She gave me the biggest squeeze around my neck and said, "Mommy, wo ai ni"  (translation, "Mommy, I love you").  Can you imagine my tears?  I was in shock.  I actually thought, did I hear that right?  I turned to our guide and quickly repeated it; Meiying grinned at her and my guide confirmed that that's what she said.  I was crying for so many reasons, the emotions of having done this trip by myself, the end of all that paper processing that took so many hours to complete and that I have this happy, beautiful, loving daughter accepting me and ready to move forward into a new chapter in her life.  Meiying sat on my lap the 45 minute drive back on the bus.  She wanted my arms wrapped around her waist and held them there.
She's definitely going thru the stages right now.  She wanted me to carry her a few times like a baby.  Shockingly, I think she's lighter than Eliza!  LOL  It was kind of an odd feeling for me,  at first, feeling her getting so close and lovey, but I understood where she was coming from and wanted her to go through these stages securely, blissfully, and so I just hugged and squeezed her back.  She'd kiss my cheek, then she started touching my face; almost like tracing it.  I still can't find the words to explain what I was feeling.  It was a mixture of awkwardness, but also tenderness and humbling and awe.
I must tell you though that we started out the day with her watching everything I did to get ready in the morning.  Then she repeated each step from applying moisturizer to her face, my deoderant, my eye shadow, even the mascara, my gel for her hair, perfume and lipstick.  She was dolled up this morning.  Of course, by the afternoon, the mascara had smudged and the beautiful lilac colored eyeshadow was half way down her face.  She is such a cutie though; such a charmer.
What a day.  I'll upload some pics and some video so check them out.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the last couple of days and being in China this time w/ a child who can speak the language and seems so confident and "street smart" has made this a lot of fun.  I love listening to her talk to the locals and our guide.  I've even enjoyed the food more these last few days too, if you can imagine that.  Our guide took us to JM Chef on the Island tonight and their beef is out of this world.  I asked Lieba if she thought we were eating the tongue or some part that we don't eat in the states because it was so tender.  She said she was afraid to ask and so was I.  But it was sooooo good.  BTW, Meiying sat there at the US Consulate repeating every word, every hand gesture, every raised eyebrow of mine.  She was cracking herself up over it too.  Then when all the kids were in the back of the room playing in the playhouse, she was right in the middle of everything telling everyone where to sit or play.  She's going to have no problem going to school.  She might get in trouble for talking to much, but she'll love it, I have no doubt.
One last factoid to share that I think is pretty cool.  Derek and I met at the Minneapolis airport when both the companies that we worked for at the time were both based out of Minneapolis.  So, when we adopted Eliza, our first child together, the  "port of entry" into the US was the Minneapolis airport, which is where Eliza became a US Citizen.  Well, this time, I've traveled alone.  I was born and raised in NY.  Guess where Meiying's "port of entry" will be?  NY's JFK Airport!  Pretty neat, huh?  Also, when I was leaving out of JFK for Beijing, the projection screen inside the airplane showed the route of the flight as it was leaving JFK.  We flew right over Poughkeepsie (where I'm from) and I smiled, teared up and felt like that was a message from my Dad in heaven that he was with me on this trip.  So when I was having those few very difficult days with Meiying's grief, I kept imagining that screen on the airplane and the word "Poughkeepsie" and it gave me comfort and strength to endure Meiying's pain and look forward to a happier time.  Today was definitely the happier time.  I know there will be moments of grief still to come, but Meiying's spirit wants to be happy and this I learned and felt today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Something else

Oh and this a.m. when we walked down to breakfast.  I kept saying good morning to the hotel staff and Meiying walked behind me saying, in english, "Good morning, how are you today?" with a big smile.  It was very cute!

Happy girl

9:50 a.m. Guangzhou (Monday) Quick post this a.m.  Meiying woke up happy for the first time.  Thank God!  To make things clear, she hasn't spoken to her foster family since Friday morning.  When I say that she's tried calling, just understand that the outside calls have been blocked by the front desk, so she isn't actually speaking to them.  Make sense?
Jean, would I have done anything different w/ regard to calling foster parents?  Definitely, I would have set a limit right up front.  I would've had the guide tell her she could call a set number of times and at a specific time (boundaries and expectations).  Then I would've made it clear that there was a last call.  You live and learn.  I do think it was a battle that we would've endured no matter what though, yes.  I think it will be easier on your girls when you're in China because they are sisters, both leaving the foster parents together.  It'll be alright.
I look around at all these babies and toddlers being adopted and while this was really, really hard for several days and I missed the connection you feel with a baby who "needs you", I am so happy to be doing this w/ a child who can play, who is self-sufficient, no diapers, no naps, no fear that they're sick and can't tell you, etc.  I am also so happy to see Meiying playing and I mean, appropriately playing, with dolls, games, toys, coloring.  Having Eliza's autism dianosis, we missed out on her being able to do so many of these things.  Still, I do miss the quiet and snuggly Eliza terribly!  Especially yesterday when Meiying was on such a sugar-hyped up high!  LOL  It's going to be a fun balance; I think my life will definitely be more balanced now as a mom to my kids.  I would definitely recommend an older child adoption.  I'm sorry if my blog scared some of you waiting parents.  You'll get thru it; if I could do (alone), you can do it!
I'll post again tonight...continued prayer requests for another good day.

Turning the corner, continued...

She has changed a setting on my camera, so just about every photo from today was blurry.  She also has been deleting pictures, so I'm missing some of the good ones that I had taken!  Urgh!!  I uploaded the few that were remaining.  Also, I uploaded the video from Metcha Day, the video of the Ayi looking thru the Guilin Family photo album I delivered, some video of Meiying swimming and the video in the store on Shamian Island today.  So, go to the video's section at the bottom of the Shutterfly page to watch.
Also, she's friends again with the 2 bears that I bought her and w/ her pillow that I bought her for the plane; as you can see in the pictures from tonight.  She made the bed for the bears again; first time in 3 days, and she is asleep with the pillow.  These items have been piled in the corner of the room for the last 3 days.  Progress!  The photo of the doll was taken by Meiying at the pool.  She had undressed her, taken out every braid and ribbon from the doll's hair, and brought her into the pool with her.  So this is the doll, dressed again, and lounging in the sun.  LOL

Turning the corner

8:30 p.m. Guangzhou
First...drum roll...TB test was negative.  Hooray!  All 5 kids in our travel group were negative except 1, sweet Amei, Leiba's daughter.  $30 (U.S. dollars) and 10 minutes later, she got a chest x-ray and it proved negative; so she was a false-positive, which are apparently happening at a rate of 60%.  So, we all marched out of the medical exam building with a skip in our step!  Why can't we get x-ray's done in the U.S. for $30?  Also, the US CDC has now granted waivers to families who are testing positive so that they can bring their child home for treatments.  So, if you're traveling soon, print out the waiver and have it with you just in case.
Second...drum roll...tomorrow is the Consulate Appointment with the Oath Ceremony the following day (Tuesday) and then flying home Wednesday.  Okay, we're in the final stretch!
Third...it's 8:30 p.m. and Meiying is still out here in the living room playing with some of her dolls; building them houses and showing me what she did.  I just blew her a kiss and she giggled.
So, I'll fill in the gaps of the day.  It was a big one.  She woke at 6:20 and snuck out to the living room, picked up the phone and tried dialing.  I stayed in bed and heard the wimpering and a few more attempts from her.  Headed out of the room for an early breakfast; still a bit sulky, she only ate a few pieces of fruit.  Came back into the room and she started calling again.  I went in to shower and she apparently got on my computer and launched all the videos of Eliza again (riding her bike, doing cheerleading with Allie, jumping on the trampoline and a few more).  She left them all open on my computer so that's how I knew she had watched them...6 in total.  Amazing that she can find them.  Hope she's not screwing up something on my computer?
Anyway, after I showered, she came into the bathroom with a package of Oreo's that she got out of the mini-bar and started engaging.  (Ah, yes, feed yourself some Oreo's when you're depressed...Go fot it.)  She must've eaten about 6 Oreo's and was feeling the effects of the sugar.  Getting silly and very animated.  I made her look at her Oreo teeth and we cracked up together.  She began watching me get myself ready.  I avoided eye contact to just let her have her time to watch me, non-threatened, and kept the intimacy out of her interraction with me.   She wanted to hold the blow dryer and help me with my hair.  I thought that was pretty cool.  We then headed off to the White Swan to meet the group for the TB results.
This girl was a firecracker all day.  Could've been the package of Oreo's, 4 lollipops at the Medical Exam, a Sprite, a Coke.  I know, I'm a crazy mom.  I just wanted her to go with it all today.  She was a hoot.  Meiying is already a people magnet because of her curly hair and infectious smile.  She's very comfortable talking to anyone.  Today, however, she was a trip.  In one of the shops, the clerk kept asking her where she was from and where her mommy was.  She told the clerk, "My mommy's right here" and said that I was her mommy.  The clerk asked her where her first mommy was and she said, "This is my first mommy."  Wow.
She was wheeling and dealing with the best of them in those shops on Shamian Island.  She wanted a jade budda necklace and told the shopkeeper that she didn't want to be cheated by getting some short string like a boy would wear.  The shopkeepers were cracking up at her.  Then, I started negotiating prices and said "no" to a few of the items.  Well, Meiying caught on to what I was doing and started dealing with them.  They would translate to her that Mommy said no, too expensive, and she'd drive them down to a better price so she could get what she wanted.  I started thinking, "hmmm, this could work".  So, I just kept shaking my head no and she kept working them and we walked out of the store happy with our price!  It was a hoot.  I got some of it on video.  I'll try to upload it.  They told me she is spicey, I was actually thinking ADHD.  LOL... She was definitely full of herself, full of sugar and over the top today.
Fed her some more sugar at lunch to keep the pleasant and firecracker mood going.  LOL...Then we headed to the pool.  After only 3 times of swimming in her life, she already put her head in the water and started learning to swim backwards.  She told me to take my sunglasses off...???  ...So she could push me in the pool.  Ah, yes, that was funny...'til I pushed her in.  Okay, so not to get her in a bad mood, I fed her some more sugar and let her continue pushing me in.
After a long and exhausting day of fun, we ate dinner at Lucy's (ate there for lunch too) and half way thru dinner, she said she was done and signaled that she wanted to make a call (ugh) and began whimpering and softly crying.  Leiba and I ignored her.  I patted her back for a minute, but then ignored the rest of it.  The chinese people in Lucy's were being all sweet and kind to her and bringing her tissues (she can work people, let me tell you).  I said to Lieba, "I feel like the insensitive American adopting this girl against her will."  LOL    Whether it's Meiying's personality or the fact that she isn't sure I'm understanding her, when she wants something, she is insistent about it over and over again to me until I do or get whatever she wants.  No patience.  A whee bit annoying.  So, when she started crying at dinner, I just didn't want her to think that we were going to get up and leave the restaurant because she was ready to or because she was having a sad moment.  She tugged on my arm indicating, "Let's go" and I looked at her briefly, indicated thru hand gestures that I was still eating.  She nodded and finally stopped crying and began playing with her doll.  When we were walking back to the White Swan to get a taxi, she started whimpering again.  I made her look at me, I pointed to my eyes and said, no crying.  She nodded yes and stopped.  That was it.
She did not try to make a phone call at all when we came back into the room tonight!  Hooray!!  She happily played with me here in the room tonight and then finished the night playing by herself on the floor next to me.  It's 9:00 p.m. and she is asleep.  Success!
I'm still wondering who posted the comment updating me on the Young and the Restless?  I'm still wondering how these people can drive so fast, playing chicken the entire time, and no regard for the lines that are painted on the road.  It's chaos.  It works.  How?  Alright, I'm going to get started uploading some pictures and attempt to upload the video if my connection is good enough.  Loved all the e-mails and comments; keep 'em coming.  They're lifesavers to me!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cracking up...

Okay, who was the anonymous person who left me the comment updating me on the Y&R???  So funny.  Please identify yourself!

Feeling like her mother and baby steps

Saturday 6:37 p.m. Guangzhou
Dear friends and family, my gosh, I can't tell you how many, so many, thoughtful, encouraging, prayerful e-mails I have gotten and from some of you that learned of Meiying and I through someone else.  The China adoption community is amazing.  I am so appreciative of your sharing your own experiences in older child adoptions, your wisdom, your attachment advice and most of all that you simply reached out to me.  I wish I could meet each and every one of you and give you the biggest hug and thanks.  My friends and family, you are amazing.  I love you all so much for your tenderness and your support.  Marisa, thank you for skyping w/ me and letting me cry.  Thank you to Kelly and Cheryl and Adriana for also offering to skype with me.  You're all so wonderful.
The moment that Meiying woke today, she was still sad and angry.  Didn't want to Skype with "Daddy" and immediately started signaling for the phone again.  I got us dressed to go eat and then she wouldn't budge and started crying again.  I literally picked her up and carried her to the bed to try and jump on the bed together (Adrianna).  She was like a rag doll and wanted nothing to do with it.  I somehow managed to get her to stop crying and we went to eat.  She was still making eye contact w/ me, but was very distant and clearly detached from me other than the eye contact.
We returned to the room and it started all over again.  I thought, nope, we've got to get out of this room so at 8:00 a.m., we left for the White Swan and Shamian Island.  I hooked up with another mom from our group, also traveling alone, and the 2 of us decided we just needed to band together and keep ourselves busy and away from the hotel rooms for as long as we possibly could.  She adopted an 11 yo girl who is deaf and spent 9 years with her foster family in a very remote northern village rarely leaving the village home they lived in; dirt floor, no schooling.  She is hesitant walking on different surfaces and up/down stairs.  Her name is Amei (pronounced ahmay) and she spent the last 3 weeks at the orphanage in shock and grief before Metcha Day.  She then slept for 20 hours over the first few days with her new mom.  What these children endure is, well, I can't even find the right word for it.  It's just heartbreaking.  Hard to wrap my brain around this country too.   Apparently there is a big wave of opinions happening in China regarding American's adopting; it's negative.  I won't get into here, but when you see these children who have no future and that they are being adopted into loving and devoted families, it is hurtful to hear the locals sentiments about adoption.  Anyway,  Amei turned the corner on day 3 with her new mom and she is doing really, really well.  She is such a sweet, "little" girl; 11 years old and only 46 lbs.  Oh my.  She loved watching me talk w/ my hands going and my facial expressions.  She just kept watching me and laughing.  Her little nose crinkled with her smile.   Her smile is contagious.  And because she is deaf, she is non-verbal, but watches everything and smiles constantly as she is taking in her new world.  She had a good day today with us.  Meiying was hot and cold today.  There were moments of playing and interracting well w/ me; calling me Mommy again and coming to me, holding my hand again like earlier in our week and really holding, not jump limp-fish.  And then after those moments of intimacy, she would withdraw and signal for phone call.  I took it all in stride today.  I feel much stronger.  I would just somewhat detach, but stay smiling, happy eyes and connected by trying to redirect her attention.
We did a lot of walking around Shamian Island; ate at a good restaurant, had some Starbucks, went to a Park (more like the Duke Gardens) and just visited with the Oregon family that finally arrived on Shamian and many other Americans that were wandering the Island as well.  It was good to have Amei's mom, Leiba, to spend the day with too.  She is a good energy person.  We stayed focused on our mission together today.  Strong women banning our energies and convictions to become even stronger!
The moment Meiying and I arrived back at the hotel, Meiying began crying before we even got on the elevator.  I walked the hall as stoic and calm as I had been all day.  She has continued crying in the room and dialing probably 50 times attempting to make an outside call (still blocked) and wailing in between her unsuccessful efforts.  She did allow me to sit calmly next to her and gently rub her back acknowledging her pain.  So, that was good; she didn't shrug away from me.  She is one smart, strong, scared, sad little girl right now.  My heart hurts so much for her.  I actually started (finally) feeling that motherly love towards her today; probably because I had my own emotions in check.  It's 7:00 and she's already gone into the bedroom; no dinner, refusing to eat.  That's okay.
From all of your emails, I feel that we're going to get thru this.  Baby steps and much time and much help from an Attachment Therapist.   I can't remember if I mentioned in my last post that she was processing a lot yesterday; showing me the picture of her foster brother and showing me the picture of her bed at her foster home.  Both of these pictures were her way of processing the pictures of her new sister and her new bedroom that we spent a lot of time talking about earlier yesterday with the translator.  She definitely is making the connection to her what her new life will be and processing the grief and detachment from all that she knew.   I think it's so good that she is processing everything, crying, detaching, slowly reaching out to me; even if she pushes me away again.  It's all so important to the healing.  She's a tough cookie.  I told Derek that she's going to give us heck.  She's super smart, super independent, very athletic, knows how to play with everything and everyone so normal-like.  She's stubborn.  Of course, opposite of everything that I thought she'd be...LOL
I got a few pictures today and will upload them soon.  Beautiful orchid garden, Judy.  Unbelievable.  I sort of felt like I was a little outside of myself today though, going through motions, but that's okay.  One more day checked off.  Oh and we met another family who has one of those translation (calculator things).  We tried it out, but Meiying didn't seem to be able to read the pinyin...so I'm not sure that would help.  Trust me, she's going to learn english really quick.  We were playing mini-basketball in the White Swan hotel playroom and I was counting, 1-2-3 go and she was repeating it right along with me and all the way up to 10... in english.  I was singing Doe a Deer and later I heard her singing it using the right words...in english.  She's going to be fine once she let's go a little more.  Thanks again everyone.  I will try to answer the e-mails as time permits.  Xie xie everyone!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

How deep is the barrel?

8:00 p.m. Guangzhou.  Well, I thought last night was the bottom of the barrel.  I was wrong.  I don't even feel like typing about the day we had here, but what else is there to do?  Today was bad.  After my last update (around 10:30), the persistence by Meiying to call her foster family continued.  She threw herself an absolute fit that was quite scary to be on the other end of.  I called down to the front desk and told them to put a block on any outgoing calls.  When she figured out that she couldn't call out, she figured out how to call the operator (or someone) and ask them to help her dial the number.  3x's I had to intercept and say "no thank you" to whoever was on the other end.  She became mad as a hornet's nest.  Throwing her shoes, trying to throw the phone.  She packed up everything that she had; put aside the things that I had given her and decided she was going to leave.  Yeah.
I called my guide, who's name is also Sarah, and fortunately, she took a cab over from Shamian Island, arriving w/in about 30 minutes.  In the meantime, Meiying was crying and screaming and crying.  It was horrible.  She still wouldn't let me console her.  When guide-Sarah arrived, she talked and talked to Meiying.  I'm guessing this was around noon.  She was here for almost 5 hours.  Seriously, this went on all day.  The crux of the problem is the language barrier so Meiying says.  The guide says that Meiying is afraid that I won't be able to meet her needs (for ex. what she wants to eat).  I explained to the guide that for 3-4 days previously, Meiying and I managed to be able to figure things out.  I explained about the upsetting phone call to her f-parents last night and then another one this a.m.  I think what has happened is that it all became real yesterday, taking the flight away from her province.  To add salt to the wound, this morning, I had to put limits on her.  She kept taking soda from the "free" concierge area during Wii and she didn't like it.  Then, when we came back to the room, I told her no about calling her parents.  The authority became the "salt".
So, basically, she told guide-Sarah that she wants to go back to her foster parents.  When Sarah tried to explain to her that that couldn't happen and that if she went back, she'd have to live in the orphanage and her foster parents wouldn't be able to take her back, she said to call the orphanage then.  I know, what a terrible conversation to have to have with a child.  True, but terrible.  So, she felt that we were telling her lies.  On top of it, we found out that she never left the f-parents ahead of time like most children do, and return to the orphanage for a transition (scary, but true).  Instead, she left her f-parents home the morning of meeting me, got on a train for a 5 hour ride to show up for the adoption.
After about 3 hours and feeling like I was going to throw up, I had to go into the bedroom area of the suite and close the door.  Leaving the guide and Meiying to continue talking things thru.   After a while, she sent Meiying in to get me.  One thing I've learned is that when Meiying wants something or needs me, she can pull herself together in a second flat, but when the answer is no...the crying starts all over again.  So, I followed Meiying back into the living area and they had set up Jenga.  We played about 3 rounds.  Then we started looking at pictures from home (my album) and she was asking lots of good questions about every picture.  A definite interest and obviously lots of things she has been pondering, but couldn't ask because of the language barrier.  Then we moved to pictures on my computer and the many videos of Eliza and Allie.  She watched, laughed along with some of them and asked questions.  She even looked at pictures of the bedroom and asked which bed would be hers.  Aha, I thought we were making some progress.  About this time, the guide had to leave to take some families to the airport.  (She even re-arranged her schedule for the afternoon to be with us by finding another guide to help a family with another appt.  She is really good.)  So, after some back and forth and Meiying telling her that she wanted to leave with her and have dinner, etc., she talked Meiying into staying and having dinner with me (JOY)!  As the door closed behind the guide, don't you know, Meiying asked to call her f-parents.  And it started all over again.
At 7:15 p.m. tonight (no lunch, no dinner), she stopped crying, got up off the couch, put her pj's on and went to bed.  She's asleep.  The guide has some tours planned tomorrow for the group and suggested we go.  Honestly, I don't know?  She thinks it will be good for Meiying to be out with other kids and having fun.  The thing is, that's what we were doing in Nanning, but look at how she crashed last night and today.  I almost feel like she needs to just stay holed up and grieve this out.  I feel like the other things are distractions, she doesn't have to deal with reality.  Plus, she'll just hang with the guide and not have to learn to communicate.  That's what she did while in Nanning and yesterday during all the med appts.  I never thought we were going to get thru today and I certainly didn't think she'd get up and put her pj's on and go to bed.  So, that's why I'm thinking she might need to continue to grieve and work this out tomorrow w/ me so we can get to the point of starting to meet in the middle?
As most of you know, my fears coming into this adoption were centered more around worrying that Meiying was going to have an undiagnosed special need, similar to what we went thru w/ Eliza.  I had prepared for the grieving aspect.  I guess I wasn't prepared for the all out rejection.  I understand all the psychological aspects of her behaviors and emotions, but it doesn't make it any easier.  This day sucked (sorry) and I'm seriously worried that she will not accept this or move forward because of her grief, her fear and her lack of understanding.  I'm tired, but I don't want to go to bed because I'm afraid to wake up to tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Not a graceful dance

First of all, thank you to each and everyone of you for all your comments and e-mails.  I can't reply back because I have a slow connection and I'd be on the computer forever and would surely look like a neglectful mom.
To answer some of the e-mails:
1)  We are skyping home to Derek, Allie and Eliza.  She's wearing the headset to say hi and bye.  She's drawn some pictures for Derek this morning while I was skyping with him and had to show them to him thru the video.  These are all good things; she wants to attach and wants to be a part of the family; but she is letting go of another one at the same time.  It's all understandable.  She has been "abandoned" 3 times in 7 years; once at birth, once at 3 by the orphanage to her foster family; and now by her foster family.
2)  Don't let Meiying's story discourage you from adopting an older child/older child who was with a foster family.  I'm probably painting a more bleak picture than what we're experiencing the rest of our days together.  She is a heartfelt child and full of passion; not at all a withdrawn, isolated child.  This is part of the journey.  Now, I'm here alone so that is making "my emotions" more sensitive and I'm just an emotional person anyway.  So, I would recommend (if I had it to do over again) to have another family member with you if you are adopting an older child.  They act as a buffer, a distraction, etc.
3)  She is so normal and so 7 years old; she knows how to play, color, whine, pout, she's independent.  So, miss smarty pants figured out how to make an outside call this morning, after my last post.  I went into the bathroom and she called her foster parents even though I said no.  Hmmm....this is the challenge of today so far...accepting my authority on limits.  But that's okay.  So, yes, the phone call was another loud, screaming at them and crying call.  I came out of the bathroom to this.  I told her no and showed her no tears and she shoved me away.  I said (pardon the expression) screw it.  I went to take a shower.  Well, every time I leave her sight, she comes calling "mommy".  I heard her say "bye" and came after me.  I told her I was going to shower.  While I was showering, she helped herself to look through my photo album (good sign) and came in while I was showering trying to tell me something.  I realized after I showered that she was talking about the picture of Eliza riding her bike.  Then I found that she had some how found the videos on my computer and had tried to launch the one of Eliza riding her bike.  So, I let watch some of them.  She even watched the one of Hogan (my dog) and Eliza running thru the puddle after the snowstorn and she pointed to the dog and said "Hogan".  She's got one foot in China and the other in our family and that's how it's going to be for quite a while.  I know that.
3) Here's some funny things that happened this morning (on the lighter side of our journey together).  I was reading the US News and there was a photo of a congressman.  She pointed to it and said "daddy"...yes, all us white people look alike!  LOL...  The remotes to the Wii needed new batteries so she took off running to the Concierge desk yelling "ayi, ayi"...yes, all women in service are ayi's (nannies)!  LOL...  She was beating me in Wii bowling and I needed to take out some frustration, so I made her play Wii Golf...I kicked her butt and that felt good.  LOL...  Allie filled me in on my secret, guilty pleasure Young and the Restless and I felt a world away, but also reconnected for a moment.  She told me that the character Victor was dead and I told her he's been dead about 100 times over 30 years!  LOL...  Derek filled me in on my other fav Survivor and it sounds like the dislikeable obnoxious guy this year is going to be a favorite?... Again, ah, a slice from home...trivial, silly, a distraction! LOL
Lastly, I have had the guide talk to her; about the cost of the calls and the limits.  She wants nothing to do with that and I get it.  She's been crying for an hour, screaming at me and is pure MAD right now that she can't call them.  I've got to let her cry this out since she won't let me touch her.   The guide tried talking to her over the phone and telling her that I understand and I miss my family too.  I'm hoping that eventually, having the same conversation with her foster family and not hearing or getting what she wants, will eventually lead to dissatisfaction and separation.  Who knows?  Again, thanks for the prayers, comments and e-mails.  Love and miss you all.

This child's heart

7:30 a.m. Guangzhou.  I have a headache, but I slept through the night finally.  First, I'll get the pictures uploaded as soon as I can.  Since Meiying discovered my camera, it has become part of her coping (or avoiding).  She clicks away all day and I'm going thru batteries and deleting about 200 pictures a day so far.  So, I haven't had the chance to delete the latest 100 before choosing the ones to actually download!
Medical exam went fine I suppose.  Meiying is a social butterfly.  She was quite the ham for the passport photo too.  The nurses and dr's chuckled away at her.  Like Eliza, she refused to open her mouth for them to look inside of it during the "medical inspection".  She also wouldn't let them stick her w/ the TB  needle.  I bribed her w/ another "keyboard" type toy.  She's going to need to take piano lessons for sure.  Because, we're non Hague, she didn't need vaccinations like the Hague children are required to get.  Some of them yesterday had to get 6 shots.  Can you imagine?   Otherwise, she was fine and seemed pretty happy yesterday.
Last night was rock bottom, however.  It went like this...She wanted a bath and I told her I was just too tired last night (had been up since 4:00 a.m. for the flight and still had been living on only about 3 hours a night).  I was so wiped out last night that my eyes were closing during dinner.  So, she prompted me to call her foster mom to say goodnight.  I did that for her.   They chattered on, pretty upbeat; probably about riding in a plane, having to get a shot, playing Wii, etc.  After that, she got in bed and then I went into the bedroom to sleep (we're in a suite).  I could hear her softly crying.  I went to check on her and I immediately started crying myself.  I touched her face and tears, trying to tell her I was sorry and I understood, nodding my head.  She pushed my hand away and gestured for the phone again.  Ugh, I said ok.  That phone call turned into the deepest crying, screaming at them...on and on.  I can imagine that she was asking them why they couldn't come get her, couldn't adopt her or why she just couldn't stay with them.  It was very loud.  I thought someone was going to come knock on our door.  She was crying so hard and screaming out.  Awful, awful.
I went into my bed and started sobbing; having one of those moments of just wanting to go home myself and back to the life I knew too!  (Like her.)  I had my photo album of pictures from home and I sat there looking at it and crying.  She was watching me while she was on the phone w/ them.  After a while, she got quiet, but I could tell she was still on the phone.  Finally, she hung up and she came into my room.  She said, "Mommy" and pointed to my bed.  I nodded ok.  I was still quietly crying myself and she turned towards me and said, "Mommy" and pointed to my photo album telling me to put it on the nightstand and then pointed to my eyes and said, "no" (as in stop crying).  I shook my head no and held my photos to my chest.  Next thing, she sat up and she said, "Mommy", pointed to herself and her eyes and said "no" (as in, I won't cry anymore).  I nodded yes and then we both fell asleep.
First thing this a.m., she came out of the bedroom asking to call them again.  I told her no, and pointed to her eyes and demonstrated crying.  She shook her head no, with a faint smile and said "won't cry".  I just smiled and said, later.  We'll see how this goes.  I'm so exhausted.  We're going to eat and go play some Wii, but I'm at the point where I feel like we can't get home soon enough to begin closure and healing.  I understand everything she is going thru.  I feel as powerless as she does in this situation with her heartbreaking and that's not a good place for either of us to be right now.  She won't let me comfort her.  She shrugs away my hand when the touches are anything outside of just braiding her hair, helping her in the bath or helping her w/ a button or something.  If it's intimate in anyway, she doesn't want it.
I think this is the part of all of this that I was not fully, fully prepared for.  Well, I guess how can you be when you're in the throws of it.  I'm a huggy, loving person, so this is very hard for me.  And of course, Eliza is such a love bug, I miss the intimacy.  Oh well.  We're making out way together as best as we both are equipped to.  I'll try to upload some pictures later.  There's not many since she's been controlling the camera.  Actually, there's a few of me, taken by her...ha, ha, but I know you don't want to see me!

Arrived in Guangzhou and starting to dance

Quick post as we have to get over to Shamian Island for Meiying's medical exam and TB test.  To clarify, we had to leave Nanning even before her passport was ready (i.e. before the provincial processing was done) because of the US's new rule that all children over 2 yo get a TB test.  It takes 48 hours before they can read the skin result.  So, now you have to be in Guangzhou for the test and allow the extra time.  It's a shame because it really interrupts your time in your child's province.  I am so upset that we couldn't get to Guilin, Meiying's hometown.  That was the most memorable part of my trip back in '06 for Eliza to her orphanage.  And this would've been even more meaningful because of Meiying's age and her foster parents living there.
Okay, so she loved the airplane ride (her first).  It was quick; 1 hour.  Guide-less and lots of locals talking to Meiying and pointing to me.  I'm not sure I want to know what they were saying.  She stood tall though.  She started out withdrawing from me again as we drove to the airport.  On the plane, she was challenging me big time.  Ignoring me, as I would tell her to put her seatbelt on, for ex.  I told the flight attendant to tell her and after she walked away, Meiying took it off again.  So...being a mom to a child w/ autism, parenting Eliza, I have to be in control and learned a lot of techniques for redirecting and getting cooperation.  I pulled it out on Meiying on that flight.  I immediately took away the coloring book, told her to fasten her seat belt and then gestured that I would give the coloring book back.  Well, she finally complied.  We had a few other challenge moments like that, but she's starting to get me.  So, you could say we're starting to dance.
At the hotel (I love this Marriott in GZ), we're in a beautiful suite; already spent an hour on the concierge floor in the game room playing Wii bowling.  She caught on quick and had a blast.  This will be a great outlet.   There was a new mom (single) sitting on the floor with her very withdrawn babe.  Well, Meiying lit up that child and the child started engaging before all of our eyes.  She was enthralled with Wii and of course, Meiying's giddiness.  She's been very happy today, hugged my waist during Wii very spontaneously and has been interchanging english.  We're both starting to understand each other; I'm picking up on mandarin too.  Life is getting better.  (p.s. if I type a word in mandarin, I'm spelling it phonetically!)  Still exhausting with the ups and downs of her mood, but being in GZ has helped start anew.  Enjoying some Ramen noodles that were in my beloved suitcase and she's enjoying them too.  Okay, pictures later...gotta scoot to Shamian to get up with the other fam's and do the medical stuff. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not yee-haw...edit last post

"Hi y'all"...(Read the previous post first and this will make sense to you!)
Also, forgot to mention, when my suitcase arrived, it was like Christmas for both of us.  She was right next to me as I unzipped it and squealed "ohhhh" right along with me when I opened it.  She dug through everything I bought for her.  Immediately taking the clothes off the bear I bought her the other day and putting them on the bear I had packed in my suitcase.  Immediately opening the nail jewelry (stick on's) and decorating each fingernail  Then I put 1 on each of her ears as if they were earrings; she said, "Mommy kolaa" (which meant, come here).  I walked back over and SHE put 1 on each of my ears.  Then she called me over again to help her put in a new hairband that I had packed for her.  And again, reciprocated by putting one on me.  It was very sweet and a rather big gesture.
Lastly, I had lost my expensive Ralph Lauren sunglasses somewhere in the hotel lobby (a birthday present and the first expensive, non-drugstore glasses I've ever owned).  I was frantic on the bus to the zoo and couldn't believe I left them somewhere.  You know I'm tired when I'm leaving things behind?!  Not like me at all.  She was so sweet and offered me her sunglasses when she realized what I was looking for.  That's the goofy photo of me in her sunglasses.  When we returned to the hotel; they had them at the front desk.  Someone turned them in.  Ha!  In the US, those would've been long gone.  Finders keepers!  Okay, good night!  (Forgive my typo's...)

A full day

10:34 p.m. in Nanning.  Meiying is zonked out.  I've just finished packing up the room.  We have to be checked out by 6:00 a.m. to fly to Guangzhou.  My luggage finally arrived about 2 hours ago if you can believe that.  I'm planning on taking a nice long shower, shaving (lol) and putting on some clean clothes!
So Meiying started out happy today; we went to the zoo with 2 other fam's.  Somewhere into the first part of the zoo, she got really quite, started lagging behind and didn't want anything to do with me again.  (You'll see the pictures; shot 1 on the van, all smiley; shot 2 at the zoo posing w/ me and not happy; shot 3, happy again.)  Anyway, we came upon the white bunny rabbit exhibit and she turned around, shouted "Mommy" and pointed and then had the biggest grin on her face.  (In Meiying's report it said that her favorite thing is a white rabbit.)  Well, I took advantage of the situation and put on my charm.  I nudged in and took a photo, then showed it to her.  I showed her how to take one.  Well, she was off and smiling and being quite the photographer the rest of the day (118 pictures later and dead camera batteries)!!  And boy were we the "exhibit" at the zoo.  The locals were following us, taking our pictures, taking pictures of themselves with us.  What's the fascination?  It is so funny.  I'll try to upload one of the photos 'cause it just cracks me up.
When we came back from the zoo, she wanted to call her foster mom.  I politely said, "no", pointed to my watch and to her bathing suit.  She nodded yes and was okay with that.  She and I swam alone in the pool.  Yes, I had to buy a hideous bathing suit since my luggage still hadn't arrived and all swimmers must wear a swim cap now at this pool.  So, picture this.  I walked into the shop at the pool and pointed to the 4 ladies bathing suits they had on display; 3 of the 4 were ok.  The sales lady pointed to the rather matronly looking one and I said no, pointed to the other 3.  She said no and took her hands, spread them way open to indicate that I'm too heavy for those!  Ha, ha, ha... Whatever, give me the darn bathing suit, I have a 7 yo who wants to swim.  So, then I asked for the cap.  She gave me the tightest, ugliest cap.  When I got into the pool (keep in mind I also haven't shaved for 5 days), I said to Meiying, "For the love of a daughter, a mother would wear such a ridiculous get-up for the pool."  I don't know whether to save the get-up for humor or leave it here in the room?  Later, the other fam's all joined us and we had a great time laughing about how silly we all looked and that no doubt, they pawned all the "no-sellers" onto us.  They all stood in that little shop, watching and laughing.  We were definitely a sight.  Anyway, Meiying had a great time swimming and "needing" me to help her.  It was the start of a good mom-daughter relationship building.  (Thanks Elizabeth or Adriana for that suggestion; sorry I can't remember which one of you recommended me swimming with her.)
After swimming, we left the hotel room door open and played Jenga in the hallway for a while and visited with other fam's.  She was very happy.  I thought we needed to move out of the room a bit; the guide told me that Meiying was fine, happy, but that she just wanted to play and not rest in our hotel room.  So, that's why I did that and it worked.  Later, she wanted to call her foster mom again and I said "no" again, pointing to my watch and demonstrating "eat".  I told her she could call them before bed (all this thru mime, of course).  She nodded yes again and was okay about it.  So tonight, as I packed she made about 5 back to back phone calls.  After the last one, I said no more, and pointed to her bed.  She smiled and got into bed.  She was watching me for a few minutes.  I looked at her and smiled and gave a thumbs up; she did the same thing back and then fell asleep.  (My guide did tell me that Meiying told her today that she wanted "us" to go to Guilin so I could meet her foster fam and say goodbye with her.)  Oh, I wanted to be able to do that sooo bad and I was so glad that she wanted to share that with me.  Unfortunately, with the new TB testing rule enacted by the US, we just don't have the time.  I think the back-to-back phone calls while I was packing was all about nerves, but as long as she went to bed looking at me and smiling, she's okay.
So, I felt a little more motherly today; I also took some charge today, which she seemed to respect.  Baby steps though.  She called me mommy all day long and honestly, a few times, I didn't acknowledge because I'm not used to her voice yet.  You know what I mean?  I laughed and would say, oh yeah, I'm your mommy and that's your voice calling to me.   One of the dad's taught her to say "yee haw"...he thinks that's what we say in the south.  I told him to teach her 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hunger and ramblings

I slept 'til 3:30 a.m. again and woke feeling so hungry.  Of course, all the snacks (Ramen noodles, etc.) were packed in my luggage.  I had a couple of banana's that I brought up to the room from breakfast yesterday.   So I ate one of those.  Wow, they are so sweet and so less banana tasting here.  Oh and I love these hard China beds!  I remember I loved them last time I was here, but you never get used to plopping down on the very puffy duvet only to feel a thud.  LOL...   I don't feel like I've slept soundly yet; it's like I can't turn off the sounds or conversations in my head and I'm only having a "surface" sleep.  It's as if, my eyes are closed from exhaustion, but more like when you're trying to sleep when a tv is on in the background.   So far, there's been no wimpering coming from Meiying during her sleep, but twice she called out (in a light, happy way, but definitely asleep) "mommy".  I think that's good.  She doesn't refer to her foster mom as mommy...that's always "ma-maa" (sounds like an italian).  So since she said "mommy" she must've been calling to me or dreaming about me, right?
The comments from you all are giving me strength.   Mom, Jennie, Cilla, I was so happy to finally have heard from you.  I started crying, of course, but your words did give me strength.  I was laughing about your not-so-subtle name hint of Vera mom.   Many have asked how I'm holding up.  That's not coming thru in my writing?  Ha, ha...  I'm doing ok.  I really am.  I just got a phone call from my caseworker at our adoption agency (all the way from the US). She had been following my blog too and she was checking in on me.  That was sooo nice of her.  She reasurred me that this is normal and even my feelings are normal.
Meiying is awake now, we're going to eat.  This breakfast buffet is not very western and there's not much I can eat off of it.  I better lose weight this trip.  I'm absolutely starving.  The McD's is tasting good though and the Pizza Hut last night was delicious.  Ha, ha...I took a flight to China...to eat American food!

End of A-Day

So, 5 phone calls to f-mom today and she has fallen asleep peacefully, no tears, tonight.  I am so tired.  I'm at that point in the China travel where your body clock still hasn't adjusted so you're waking after only a few hours sleep and your hungry at wacky parts of the day/night.  I'm also getting punchy...at the taxi driver's, the organized chaos on the roads, the language and translations errors, the food...   After surviving so long on hand gesturing with Eliza as a vehicle for communication, I'm amazed that so many universal signs are just not understood here (even with Meiying).   We took a walk, just Meiying and I, to find the People's Park and I took a wrong turn.   I walked along the congested sidewalk holding her hand, all the stares from the locals and I just started talking out loud to myself.  I knew Meiying couldn't understand me, but I felt so alone.  The conversation that I was having with myself was pretty funny.
We did go to the pool and Meiying seemed to enjoy it.  The Oregon dad was so great to play in the water with her and his boys.  Keep checking Shutterfly for all the pics.  Blogger loads to slowly.
A few things that I wanted to mention in recalling the day.  During the "emphatic no" conversations w/ Meiying at the Adoption processing today, the official said that she noticed Meiying yesterday during Metcha and that she seemed so happy to be with me.  She said that one day Meiying will be grateful to us for adopting her.  She was a wonderful woman.  I remember at Eliza's appointment, the official spoke no english and it all seemed like such a silly meeting that they just needed to check off.  This was different today.  This official did speak english, quite well, and we had a conversation about Meiying's life here in China and what her future would've held.  It was very poignant. 
The other thing is that Meiying (I can't bring myself to calling her Ava yet, tho she definitely looks like an Ava to me...I just feel that I need to honor her name because she is so deserving of respect from me, I just can't get over it.) ...I digressed...Meiying is something.  She is genteel, she is strong, but so scared too; she definitely is a child who doesn't like change and knows what she wants.  Her face shows her heart and soul; when she's happy, the world knows it.  When she is sad, the expression on her face and the heaviness of her heart feels like you can see the weight of the world in her.  She is all girl.  She told me today, "only skirts and dresses".  Though she loved running and jumping in her new sneakers.  She has enjoyed dressing her stuffed bear and putting her sunglasses and watch on the bear.  That's been fun to see.  I've caught her a few times singing so sweetly.  She really wanted this big electronic keyboard today in the store.  I had to keep reminding her thru the guide that we can't take things like that back on the plane.  She is definitely looking at me and watching me.  She is smart and remarkable.  She seems so mature to me, but also so very childlike at other times.  When she does something by herself that I showed her how to do, she yells "Mama" then does a thumbs up and signals for me to take a picture.
Also, I don't remember feeling like Eliza was an "orphan", but rather my baby right away.  With Meiying, I keep looking at her hands, her toenails that seem to have this dirt that doesn't even come off in the wash, her thin body that appears almost gaunt when she is sad and the word "orphan" cuts through my heart.  I don't know if I explained that right?  I mean, I do remember visiting Eliza's orphanage and walking away shaking, so thankful that was in my arms now.  Maybe it's just the age of Meiying vs Eliza at adoption...the obvious.  I can't really explain what I mean.  The "firsts" seem so much more relevant with Meiying; not necessarily exciting and a wow moment, but more like she's just taking it in and processing it.  She's very tentative in trying anything new.  And how she takes care of her things is amazing.  She has been wiping her sunglasses clean and then she will wrap them up so gently and place them in the holder.  She puts all her things away, folding just right and with such an elegance about her.  But when she has pushed me away, it has been so purposeful, so abrupt, so unlike these other characteristics.  It's astonishing to observe all these personalities in this young lady.  She doesn't let me hug her and my touches she will only tolerate for so long before waving her hand at me to say "no more".  She looks right into my eyes though when she is telling me.  It's wild.  I nod and say okay.  It's hard for me not to just smother her with love, but again, because she is making that eye contact, she is asking me for the respect she deserves.
I have a feeling that Meiying's going to be a complex girl, but I also have a feeling that she is brilliant and has an accomplished life ahead of her.  What other 7 year old do you know that can go thru this and stand up straight,smile, cry, all while looking the adults around her right in the eyes?
I can't believe it's only been 1.5 days together.  I'm whooped.  Tomorrow is a free day; no guide.  I'm kinda happy about that, no interference so to speak.  I'm kinda nervous too though.  Well, I'm hoping to sleep thru the night tonight and get my luggage tomorrow.  I think one thing that keeps resonating is that I don't feel like I love her in that mother way yet, like I did right away with Eliza.  I love her for what she's going thru, but I respect her more than anything.  Does that make sense?  That is weighing on my heart.  Maybe it's also because I feel like she's not ready to accept my love and so I'm keeping my love at bay.  I don't know?  Very complex...

Adoption day (edit)

Yes, they went ahead with the adoption.  That was what was so heartwrenching...when I said that her words didn't matter.  She had to ink her  entire hand in red and stamp the page w/ her hand.   The red ink on her hand was an awful, fright and later she kept staring at the stain.  I can only imagine.  She doesn't want to walk by that office either.  We pass it on the way to the gift shop.  We are heading to the pool so she can swim now.  All is still good this afternoon.  Sorry if I confused any of you by my first post.  So, yes, the adoption is official.

Adoption Day

Well, she said no.  Quite emphatically.  Let me start at the beginning.  The guide told her what would be happening first thing in the a.m. and she got very quiet.  When we were led into the conference room, they went thru asking me all the standard questions.  Now, when you adopt a baby or toddler, the adoption is official after they go thru all the questioning of the parent.  When you adopt an older child, however, they are then asked the question: "Do you wish to be adopted by this family and go live with them in America."  Well, she said no.  The guide, the official, the orphanage representative all started bantering at her.  She kept saying no and then shut down.  She sat there sitting up as straight as a board and cried, cried, cried.  Pushed everyone of us away from her.  Me included.  She didn't want me touching her arm or putting my arms around her shoulder.  She refused a tissue from me.
This was one of those real moments of understanding just how powerless an orphaned child is in this system.  It was terrible.  I could care less about her saying no to me; can you blame her.  She doesn't know me; she doesn't know what kind of life awaits her in our home, our life, our country.  I was so upset for her; for the loss, the grief.  The fact that in that moment, she felt she didn't matter in the decision-making.  She knew.  She knew that it didn't matter if she said no.  Well, she was spitting mad for about an hour.  We had to go to the passport office after that.  She chose to just sit out in the hall.  On the cab ride over to that appointment, I had to shut off my emotions just to keep myself from bawling my eyes out for her.  I felt it was best to just chill out and give her space to process it all.
After the appointments were thru, our guide offered to take us shopping (my luggage is still not here).  I told her to ask Meiying what she wanted to do.  Well, shopping it was.  And wouldn't you know it, she wanted a watch just like mine; she wanted sun glasses just like mine.  Then she wanted a sunglass case just like mine.  She wanted, wanted, wanted.  Get the picture.  It was exhausting.  I held my ground and said no more than yes.  We then went to McD's, it was the only thing my stomach could handle today.  She had never had McD's before and like Eliza, she's hooked on french fries.  And she loved the coke (never had that either).  So, new sneakers, a new outfit, both of which she had to wear out of the store, she was happily skipping along and holding my hand again.
Back in the hotel room, we've been playing Jenga (the wooden puzzle game) and she's very good at it.  She is so smart.  She really is.  She just called her f-mom again.  My guide said that I should limit that, but you know, I just feel in my heart that right now, I need to give her that.  So, I know she listed off all the things that were purchased today, which really wasn't that much (so don't panic Derek).   Okay, here's a funny translation error.  There was a children's clothing store Jeep (yes, Jeep) and had all the Jeep logo's.  So I told my guide to tell her that is what I drive back home, a Jeep.  Well, they started talking and laughing, the store clerk too.  I realized that they thought I drove a military Jeep (think tank with artilery firing off the top of it).  They pointed to a toy model of that and wanted to know if many American's drove a "jeep".  LOL...I then found a toy model of the Jeep that I drive and corrected them.  Oy!!
So, to my family and friends back home, I want you to know that Meiying doesn't reject us as much as she is a fighter and wants to be heard.  She desperately wants to be loved, accepted and have a family.  She is genuinely happy and very loving.  (These are all my impressions and not what I've been told.)  She is just very smart and an old soul.  (Right now, she is dancing and rocking her baby "bear" that I bought her today.)  She will be happy and love all of us.  Time will heal her heart. So, don't worry or be afraid.
I just heard that my luggage is in Beijing.  Will come to Nanning tomorrow.  Ugh!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New day

The sun is shining; we're both awake.  I heard Meiying wimper a few times in the night, but she slept thru and is all smiles again this morning.  She's on the phone w/ her foster mom now and her voice sounds much brighter.
I forgot to mention yesterday that Meiying came w/ a backpack stuffed with things and another bag stuffed with things.  She started pulling out all the contents as soon as we got to the room; some socks, underwear, 2 hand-knit scarves from her f-mom; some favorite foods that she had to share on the train (and wasn't too pleased about that); gum, candy, toys...and an enormous photo album (small in size, but large in quantity) of pictures from the beginning of her days w/ her foster family up to recent pictures.  Beautiful.  I haven't dared go through the bags on my own.
We're getting ready to head down for breakfast.  She just asked me to comb her hair and re-braid it with 1 braid today, "xie-xie mommy".  So sweet.  Her hair is AMAAAZING.  It is so soft, so long.  I had to take some pictures.
..Okay, back from breakfast.  She had to call her f-mom again when we came in the room.  I wish I knew what she was saying, but it sounds and looks like she's just talking about what she had for breakfast and what we are doing.  When she hangs up, she always comes over to me and smiles and nods her head.  I feel bad that we can't talk about the things she is talking to her foster mom about.  I know in time we will, but for now, it's hard.  She's a trooper though.  She loves to call me mommy, which is a hoot.  We had breakfast with all the other families; so many young babies and toddlers; reminding me of those first days with Eliza.  When we get to GZ, we will be with other older children and I think that will help.
Still no luggage.  I know she's getting bored with the few toys we have here.  Hope to shop later in the morning...


ugh, I hate that I can't see my blog or edit.  I meant to say "convergence" if that's even a word.  Not "conversion".   You all know what I mean, right?!  LOL... I'm exhausted.  I'm going to bed.  She's a beautiful flower for sure.

Tears of a heart aching...

So, I thought I was going to sleep.  I got Ava all tucked in and got myself into the bed next to her, setting myself up to read for a bit.  She kept staring at me; moving her water bottle so that she could see me.  I'd look at her and she'd smile back.  I started feeling akward, thinking about my routine w/ Eliza and wondering what was Ava's routine?  So, I got out of bed and sat on the edge of her bed.  I hummed a few tunes that came to my head and touched her forehead softly.  I told her (in english) that everything in time was going to be okay; that I was very happy and she was a wish come true.  I leaned down and kissed her forehead.
A moment later, I saw the first tear creeping from the corner of her eye.  I wiped it away.  She sat up and went almost rigid.  Her arms fell limp and her gaze shifted away from me.  The tears, silent, no sound coming from her.  I pulled her into me and tried my best to put her arms around me (thinking the sensory effect would soften her).  She took deep breaths and I knew she was crying, but again made no sound.  Oh my dear.  She was so strong and so happy all day. (Maybe I should say she was being respectfully strong and happy.)   I was glad to see this happening.  It still breaks your heart watching it and knowing that you are the one person that can't make things better right now.  I felt like I was failing her; that my dream and wish pulled her out of the life she was quite happy with.  I felt guilty for that.  This went on for a few minutes and I said her name a few times, taking her by the chin genlty and having her look at me.  Her eyes were not the same that they were this afternoon.  It was as if it was painful for her to look at me.
I made the universal sign for "phone call" and she nodded yes.  She knew what I was offering and in that moment, I felt it was the only way for her to know that I truly understood what she wanted and needed.  So, again, she called her foster mom.  Crying and shuttering her way thru the call.  I could hear her f-mom's voice, tearful as well, reasurring her.  I continued to wipe her tears and hold her hand keeping myself close during this phone call.  Thinking that maybe she would feel the conversion of 2 mother's loves for her.  After a few, she hung up and tried her best to fall asleep.  She wouldn't look at me and after I finally got her to look once, she rolled over.  She is now asleep. 
Bless this child's heart.  I'm glad for this happening, but oh how hard this must be on her.  She was doing her best all day and afternoon to be strong, polite...oh my.  We'll see what tomorrow will bring.  I know it's a process.  Okay, now I am saying goodnight.  (p.s. my shutterfly page is linked behind the picture of Ava to the right doing her dance move.  Just click on the picture and it will take you there.)

Matching pj's

We didn't have time to go shopping.  So, we headed to the gift shop in the hotel and I bought us each a small men's grey t-shirt as pj's for the night!   Our first mother-daughter outfit?  Yikes!  Of course, I said no to about 30 other things that she picked up and yelled "mama" across the shop to me with a very sweet smile.  I did end up buying a puzzle and a little toy piano/keyboard thing.  She has been listening and watching me play Mary Had a Little Lamb and has mastered it.  She's a smarty!  Other than that, we're batting around a balloon at each other and doing lots of smiling.  She had no problem stripping down for a bath and wanted me to wash her back.  We then put lotion on and brushed our teeth together until she squirted water out of her mouth by accident and we started laughing so hard we coudn't finish brushing.  The funniest thing is that she has this very sweet, soft voice until she gets on the phone w/ her foster mother.  Then she starts talking very loudly.  Even our guide was cracking up.  I love listening to her talk.  It's such a beautiful language.  Okay, I'm sure I'll keep thinking of things and have to post.  I uploaded the photos, but I'm not sure I uploaded the video.  It takes too long.
Oh, for the Guilin families.  The photo album brought many tears and many smiles to the faces of the staff.  They looked at the pictures for about 30 minutes talking back and forth.  One particular nanny, kept crying over the photo of Jiang WenKang.  Apparently, she had taken care of her from the time she first arrived and she said she misses her so much.  She cried so hard.  It was very touching.  I tried to take a video.
The other children and babies are doing well.  Lots of crying, but settling in nicely tonight.  I like having everyone on the same floor.  I have no doubt that Meiying will start making the younger ones smile more tomorrow when she gets dancing down the hallway.
Good night from Nanning!

She's beautiful!

I took a flight to China...to become a mom.  So unbelievable.  I've uploaded today's pictures to Shutterfly because my connection is so slow and that seemed to go faster.  I will post one picture here though 'cause I know you're all anxious to see Meiying.
I came down the steps from the elevator in the hotel to a crowded lobby of babies and toddlers.  And there she was, tall, dancer-like, in a beautiful pink dress w/ the sweetest pair of dress-red shoes ever.  She was beaming amongst the babies.  She was dancing and looking for me.  I stopped in amazement at how beautiful she was.  I started crying and grinning from ear to ear.  She looked right at me and waved.  I waved back and then she pulled the staff member over towards me.  They had some exchange of words and he ushered her back into the crowd.  She kept peeking around the column waving and smiling at me.  She finally just shouted mama and hid her face behind the column.  At that, my guide ushered me into a conference room, but before I could even get all the way into the doorway, Meiying was running behind me.
I took a flight to China...to become a mom.  I will write more later.  Meiying is taking a bath and she's calling for me.  She has been happy and wonderful.  She's doing her best to help me fumble my way at being her mom when I don't understand most of what she's saying.  She just smiles.  She is very good; she turns the lights off behind her; folds the towel after drying her hands.  She holds my hand on her own doing everywhere we go.  She has already called her foster mom twice since about 4:30, but that's okay.  They were together 4 years and I want her to feel secure.  It's part of the process.  The first time she called, our guide was in the room and told me that she mostly telling her foster mom about she had done so far and that she was with her American mommy.  The second time, the guide wasn't here, but she said "Mommy and pointed to the phone."  I could tell by that conversation that she was telling her all about the things that she got today (some toys and books).  Both times she hung up the phone very happy.
Gotta scoot and get this beautiful flower to quiet down for the night!  Thanks for all your comments.

Luggage update and shopping

Thanks for all the comments; I am publishing them, but apparently they're not uploading to the blog.  I so appreciate hearing from you all!
Here's some photos; views from my room and what a hairdryer looks like in this 5 Star hotel?!  Anyone having flashbacks to he early 70's?  Haven't tried it yet, but it makes me laugh when I go into the bathroom.
Also, I bought this all-natural motion sickness oil for the plane ride; you dab it behind your ears.  I have to tell you it works great even for nauseau and headaches.
I had the wonderful pleasure of getting a Skype call from Kelly this morning!  Kelly's daughter Katie was in Yangdong when we went w/ Eliza and I took a few pictures of Katie for them.  That Skype call was so special and made me feel closer to home.  Thank you so much Kelly.  I've enjoyed being able to Skype home to Derek, Eliza and Allie too.  I miss you all so much.  And Judy, thank you for walking Hogan or should I say, letting Hogan walk you.  Derek told me you came by on Sunday to do that.  Awww...I know Hogan loved it.
Luggage was still in NY at JFK.  It's supposed to be on the flight to Beijing today (last night for you back home).  We'll see.  They said it could be tomorrow still or later than that before I get it.
Okay, so I've got 2 hours 'til Ava time and I really need to shower.   I am staying at the Majestic (kind of a dump for a 5 star) and have met 3 other American fam's here for adoptions.  (I can't remember if I already posted this and since I can't look at my blog, I don't have the editing ability.)  One of them is adopting a 2 year old boy from Ava's orphanage and they will ride the 5 hour train trip together.  They've put all of us on the same floor, which is nice.
One of the families has a 3 and 5 yo boys and are adopting a toddler girl.  They are here with both sets of their parents and I'm jealous (that their parents are here witnessing this).  They are having a blast.  They're all from Oregon (south, I think, Julie).  Anyway, they're cracking me up and have taken me under their wings.  We just got back from a very long, hot walk all over Nanning just to find the Walmart.  Keep in mind, I'm in jeans and it is hot and so steamy from humidity.  I'm craving my skirts that I packed.  Can't stand when I'm this sticky...you know what I mean about that ladies!
So, apparently, I wear an XL or 2XL in a Chinese Walmart!  LOL...seriously.  I'm not itty-bitty, but I'm not an XL.  I bought a cute pear of capris at a little shop for about $7 and the size was US 8.  Got back and couldn't even pull them up on my leg.  So, that's when we decided to head out looking for the Walmart.  Not a Walmart like ours at home.  They had hardly any clothes and everything was winter wear.  So, I bought some sweats that will be cut off and a long sleeve shirt that will be cut off (the sleeves that is).  It was so nice to have this family to join up with today.  They made me feel like I was part of their family and took away some of my nerves.
They will be bringing the children to the hotel; no more Civil Affairs Office I guess.  It's now done here in the hotel.  We're all anxious.  Me, from NC; a family from Rochester, NY; a family from Ohio; and the Oregon clan.  OH...AND I BOUGHT A CAMERA cord at a little shop so we're all good to go in getting you the latest in pictures!!  Okay,gotta get ready for Ava!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Can't sleep

Okay, so I did sleep on the plane off and on.  I might've ??? slept for minutes at a time here in the hotel after my last post, which was 4 hours ago.  My body feels tired, but everytime I closed my eyes, words, voices, faces from the aiplane just kept whizzing through my head.  I can't seem to turn it off.
So with time on my hand and it being only 6:30 a.m. here in Nanning, what would I normally find myself doing?  Reading everyone's blogs, of course.  Nope, can't do that.  I feel sort of like an addict, trying to figure a backdoor into blogger, all while having the shakes from being tired. LOL...  So, looking through my list of "favorites" stored on my computer, where else can I spend familiar time?  Craigslist!  So far, FB is also blocked.
Not to get too personal, but to answer some of your questions, I did manage to bring some meds on the plane with me for the "then" next 48 hours.  I also had a pair of "under" garment packed in my carry-on.  I also had all my photos of Ava, home; and the album of Guilin family photos in my carry-on.  No, I didn't have the camera cord though.  So, I'll have to hunt that down.  I know that's all you are all interested in anyway!
I honestly have no idea when my bag will arrive since they couldn't tell me for sure where it even was.  Good advice, Adriana, about the laundary and the camera cord.   Unfortunately, I wore jeans and a black shirt and it's HOT in Nanning.  Plus, you all remember, after you've been in your travel outfit for that long, you're ready to burn it!   Let me know if your comments are appearing on my blog.  Just curious.
Toodles for now!


Ni hao!!  Okay, I'm here in Nanning.  Blogger is definitely blocked.  I can't access it so I'm updating my blog from within my e-mail.  I'm getting your comments though. I'm not sure when I say "publish" the comment whether it's going thru to my blog or not.  So either way, keep sending the comments for me to read and also to let me know that my e-mailing of posts to my blog is actually working!
The flights were fine.  My bag didn't make it to Beijing thanks to lovely JFK and American Airlines.  So, after 22 hours of flying, I'm sitting here in the same clothes.  I guess my idea of showing up to meet Ava-Meiying looking like a fairy-princess-godmother isn't going to happen.  Instead, I'm going to show up, wrinkled, disheveled, smelly, wearing black and exhausted.  Everything was in that bag (my clothes, her clothes, toiletries, gifts, the wooden bowl, her backpack of things I bought for her, etc.)  Basically, what I have w/ me now is my camera, my laptop and the adoption papers!  Um, I'm thinking my camera cord that sincs to my computer was in there too, so I might not be able to upload pictures?!
Skype works.  I already called home and saw Derek and Eliza; and of course, started crying.  I feel so far away, duh.  During the long 13 hour flight, I thought so much about Eliza's adoption, Eliza's life, all the while getting myself more and more worked up and homesick.  I finally had to turn off the thoughts and emotions.  But getting to Beijing and finding out my bag didn't make it, somehow made me feel even more isolated and lonely.  They're just material things, but they were from home.  Oh wawwww!  I'm just tired.
So, in about 9 hours, I'll be meeting Meiying.  I'll feel better once I can go into mommy mode.  By the way, Air China was very nice, food wasn't bad and Beijing airport is beautiful.  It is so efficient.  I got thru the temp check for Swine Flu, Immigrations, Customs, Baggage and Lost and Found, and checked in for the next flight all within 1 hour.  It took me 1 hour just to get thru security at JFK!!!  Ridiculous.
More later...