Thursday, June 30, 2016

Medical Day June 30, 2016

Today's medical was a breeze until they took my little Ladybug inside a room and shut the door. I was very worried and feeling helpless. It seemed like she was in there forever. I heard her screaming inside. And then it stopped. A couple of minutes later as I was putting the Ergo on and preparing her water bottle, the door opens and a nurse handed me a very stoic little girl. Ah my heart breaks for her. We were at the appointment with another AAC family and a FB friend - Mandy and family. They're adopting two on this trip. We went for lunch after the appointment at a Western coffee shop where they served lunch- sandwiches and pastas. It was nice and we had a good time. 
We headed to the hotel and I started making some soup while Dadsy and Mila went to the gym. Marli comes out of her she'll in the late afternoon so it's something to look forward to. 

Tomorrow we are traveling an hour and shall to vist the orphanage, the finding spot and foster family's home. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Passport Appointment Day

The day started at 6:30 am with Thumbelina wanting out of bed in desperation to run to her beloved Mama. We brought her back to bed and after a bit of struggle and running to the door, she got tired and gave up and fell back asleep. We got dressed and went to have breakfast. After that, as a distraction we went to a mall across the other side of the street and walked a bit. We bought her a new pair of shoes because the ones we brought her were too big. ☺ 
Afterwards we went to Toys R Us to let her pick out something she liked. She hasn’t been playing much, so Luis suggested we let her choose. As soon as we walked in there was a tub full of small inflatable toys. We showed it to her and she immediately picked up a pink one. Nothing else caught her attention. After a bit of exploring, we went back to the hotel. I showered and started getting ready and got the girls ready to go to the Police Station to apply for her passport. Once we got there, the families that had their family day and adoption day the same as ours were there. There’s a Spanish family and we chatted with them a bit. It’s interesting that their guide speaks fluent Spanish. But of course. A French family was also there and their little boy came up to me and put his arms up for me to carry him. I immediately got his little hand and redirected him to his mommy. Children from orphanages tend to have indiscriminate affection and will ask anyone to pick them up. With one or two nannies per shift for a room full of 30 babies or more, there’s no time to pick them all up. And also with the rotation of so many caregivers, they want attention from whoever will give it to them. These babies don’t understand the concept of family. That mom is just another nanny to him at the moment. It’s very important for attachment purposes that only the parents take care of the child’s basic needs for a while. The child needs to learn that parents meet all their needs. They don’t have to rely on anyone else. But that takes a while. Clear boundaries have to be set in order for the child to learn. 
Marli was interested today in sitting close to the Spanish family. Probably to be close to another little girl like her. I wasn’t too concerned as I know that Marli knows the concept of family and wouldn’t be mommy-shopping. The only mommy she really wants is the Foster Mama. Yikes. But she knows we’re the parents. She calls me “Mammy” and her foster mom “Mama”. She makes that distinction. 
It was our turn and I had to pick Marli up and they put a little camera to her face and snapped a passport picture. Go figure! We received our red book with the Adoption Certificate and her Birth Certificate. Then we exchanged information with the Spaniards and were on our way back to the hotel. We dressed the girls in their swimming costumes and went down to the pool. When we got downstairs it was pouring. So much for swimming. We went back to the room and hung out. Marli was doing some funny things. She sat on Daddy’s lap and started slapping him on the chest. Sort of how she did with Mila yesterday. I think this is her way of letting her guard down and awkwardly having contact. She was so cute though. And despite her still grieving and screaming out for her Mama, she’s doing better and attaching ever so slowly to us. We have planned to go visit the orphanage on Friday and also her home. I feel it’s important for her to go back to her home with us. It will be extremely hard when it’s time to leave, but hopefully this will bring closure and she’ll feel less anxious about being with us. 
Tomorrow is our Medical Appointment. All American families’ children being adopted have to do this check before going to the US consulate appointment. We will go to different stations to check for different things. Except one station – where they do the TB test, they take your child and close the door. Then a couple of minutes later they bring your child back screaming, of course. And although I am hating this part; and I can stand my ground and NOT let them take her… I also know from previous families that this step helps the children really come around and bond with you. Let’s see what Mama Bear will do tomorrow. I also know that interestingly, there’s a wine vending machine in the Medical Center. LOL. Um, yes, please. ☺ We all need a little wine after that! 

I Thought I Was So Cool

This was supposed to have been posted last night – June 28, 2016, Monday night. But, our VPN would not work. 

I Thought I Was So Cool.

I thought I had it all figured out. After all, I’ve read the material. I did the training. I’ve been reading up on it for years. Years. I’m in all the informational groups. And hello? I read all the blogs. ALL! THE! BLOGS! Today, I was a sissy. Today, I let tremendous fear creep up on me until my heart was pounding and my chest was burning.  As I carried all of 23 lbs. of cute Chinese babyness on my body, all sorts of horrific thoughts invaded my peace. It was dark. I was choking in fear. My eyes welled up. I couldn’t start crying and hyperventilating right there in the middle of Carrefour in front of our sweet guide. But inside of my head all crap was hitting the fan. I quickly caught up to Luis and gave him the look. He hugged me and asked me what’s wrong and reassured me it was going to be ok. You see, today was finalization day. It was the end of the “Harmonious Period” in which we had the option of not going through with the adoption. Families are given a mere few hours after meeting their most probably very shell shocked child to decide if “this is what they signed up for”. Well, of course you’re signing up for it the moment you agree to adopt. It’s all really unknown. Just like anything in life. You will make an educated guess. But it by no means has to be exactly as you think it will. We sat in an office in front of a judge interviewing us whether or not we were “satisfied with this child” and we also promised to “never abuse or neglect her.” And we were asked to promise never to abandon her. Heavy. Heavy stuff. Of course we won’t. But we really had to promise. What world do we live in? Then we went in front of a notary and answered similar questions. They’re simple answers. But the magnitude of today was just mind boggling. We were back in the same place we were the day before when our sweet girl watched her “Mama” walk out. She was again in silent tears. This is all so emotionally taxing, we don’t really realize it until… 
We were in Carrefour and I was discussing how this is all really overwhelmingly hard. I said I can see why some parents can get so scared that they want to run. Far.  And then all of a sudden, I had images in my head of so many things that I usually don’t sweat over. It just kept spreading and growing inside of me. It was AWFUL! I wanted to go back in time and stay in our cozy home where all was fine in the world. I didn’t want to endure another day in (my beloved) China. I didn’t want to go to the US after. I just wanted to go back home and make some other summer plans. Madinat Jumeirah sounded perfect. And all thoughts intertwined with the fact that it wasn’t a possibility, made me spin. I was sick to my stomach. I just wanted to go to the hotel and rest. We got to our room rather quickly. Our guide said a swift goodbye and I was in the shower (my luxury, my soul food) quicker than anyone can say a word. I washed off make up and the gloomy day. But I was still feeling all the blah-ness. And then I started praying and remembering that when we decided all of this, we did so under specific prayer. We knew that it was only possible for us to get this far because our wonderful God and creator wanted us to. Then why was I questioning all of that? So then I prayed for calmness of my heart and all our hearts and to show us a glimpse of what’s to come. 
I had Mila take her shower while Marli was complaining about being here from the moment we walked in. Refused to remove shoes and put her itty bitty pack on her back. Mila said she had filled the tub for her sister to take a little bath if she wanted to. It was so sweet and it came in very handy. I sat Marli in the warm water and I talked to her. I showed her “splash, splash” and washed her hair. I wrapped her in he cute girly hooded baby towel and then a big comfy hotel towel over it. She was a chunky burrito. I snuggled her and rocked her a bit. I massaged her legs with oil again, dried her up and dressed her. She was ready to go again! LOL. So we decided to go and take a hotel stroll. I stopped by the lobby where I asked a nice attendant if he could provide a baby cot (crib) for our baby. And that when we checked in we had requested a roll away bed and we really needed the crib. We had refused the bed because they were charging us some ridiculous amount. We had ended up bringing the couch over to the edge of the bed and put a king size duvet on it, connecting to where I was sleeping. Made a great little extension with a back. But it didn’t look so nice for everyday use. The crib came in so handy. It’s so cute, appropriate and also gave me that extra feeling of having our baby with us. And, keeps our room tidy by the sofa going back to its spot in front of the TV. After our lobby visit, we went to the children’s playroom. Here Mila and Marli continued Daddy’s game of throwing the foam blocks inside the little house. It was so funny to watch Little One squeezing each and every block with a bit of anger before throwing it. She was really letting her frustrations out. Daddy joined us and we went to visit the gym. It has a sort of dance studio with huge windows overlooking the city. It was nice to be there. While Daddy played with Mila, I was messaging my wonderful childhood friend all of my “concerns”. She was so awesome reassuring me that all was fine and it’s expected for everyone to wig out on this very crazy journey. She really made me feel better and put so much into perspective for me. We went up to the room to receive the crib. After a while of Thumbelina demanding us to take her to Mama to the point of her getting a bit desperate; I decided to tell her that we were in fact going to her Mama’s house. She had been saying “Mammy (me) something something in her language… then Mama (foster mom)” I understood that she was begging me to take her to her Mama. So then I pulled out the phone. Luis immediately said “Don’t show her that.” I said, “I have to. We can’t pretend we don’t know what she’s talking about.” So then she heard her Mama’s voice in the video and came running to see. She started screaming at the screen. I quickly told Luis that it was ok. She needed this. She needed to scream and cry. She needed us to honor her feelings. I let her see her Mama. And watched our itty bitty girl grieve so hard. Her voice was so big at that moment. Then I put it away and hugged her. She cried for a little bit and we distracted her. I carried her lots today in the Ergo. Then I put her down. All of a sudden, she got on the bed to watch what Daddy was doing. On her own. Took shoes off and up on the bed. I peeled a banana and put it in her hand. She ate it all which made me so happy because she hadn’t eaten much the whole day. (She had a few bites of congee and some juice for breakfast. Then she threw up in the way to the appointment. ) Then, Mila and Daddy started watching KaiLan and she did it again. This time, she looked at Mila, smiled and started getting closer to her. Then she reached for Mila’s hand and put it around her and started play hitting Mila’s hand. Mila went along with it and soon they were giggling and laughing. Daddy exclaimed, “she has dimples!” It was the glimpse we needed and a sweet, wonderful reminder for us to trust our Almighty God.  




Monday, June 27, 2016

Family Day June 27, 2016

We walked in to the "Adoption Registry Center of Guangdong Province" at around 2:30. It was on the third floor of a regular business building. We walked in and had all the jitters. Our guide started talking paperwork. I asked her if Marli was already there. She said yes, in the playroom. I know we're supposed to wait for them to make sure they're not just handing a kid over to these foreigners. So we waited. Other families were already there receiving their children. The sound in that room was all too familiar to me. I have watched countless videos of "gotcha day"s and knew it would be like that. Luis and Mila didn't. The emotions in that room were almost palpable. The overwhelming happiness of parents and the fear, loss and grief of the children.  I swallowed tears the whole time. My husband's eyes welled up. I have seen him this chocked up less than a handful of times. Mr. Sunshine makes the best of any situation. But this, friends. This is real, hard stuff. 
Soon later Lee asked us if we wanted to peek in. We decided it would be best no to. But I was curious and wanted to know how Marli was doing. She's very afraid of strangers and she had to travel from her town with people she barely knew. She'd go to the orphanage to get check ups once a month and was friendly with the staff. But, to travel even if a short distance, with strangers... I was surprised not to hear cries coming from the room. Lee checked in on her and told us she was doing great. Playing. 
Then, someone walked out of the room and my head did a double take. It was Foster Mom. I exclaimed to Luis "it's her foster mom! She wasn't supposed to come."  Then I looked all the way down and saw that the tiny little hand that she was holding belonged to our little girl. We started taking videos and pictures and bringing them over to our couch ever so slowly and cautiously. I hugged Mama. We tried offering Juanjuan (pronounced J'wehn - e as egg) treats and water. Toys. Nothing. She was weary although she knew us from video chatting so many times. Also, the foster family prepared her well for this. But who could blame her? She was so scared. We gave gifts to the two orphanage officials that came with them. They gave us a small album with a couple of pictures of our girl. (No baby pictures). I felt so bad not having Foster Mama's gift at the moment. Our plan was to take it when we visit her home. Foster Mama had a few pictures as gifts for us. She brought Marli with a little backpack full of snacks. We took lots of pictures and it was time for them to leave. Lee threw around the thought of them sneaking out. Mama bear came out and I calmly, but firmly asked that they please explain to our girl that they'd be leaving and that it was time to say goodbye. And that she'd be staying with her Mama and Baba (us). They all said bye. I thanked them and gave Mama a big hug. She didn't cry. 
Marli, of course, got weepy. Mila was weepy. So many emotions. We took Juanjuan to a couch that had a fan right in front. We tried distracting her. I asked her if she needed to use the bathroom. Lee said Foster Mom has already asked her and she didn't need to. She's a bit feisty. Our girl was sad though. And we were all super overwhelmed. We left that place and came back to the hotel to finish paperwork for tomorrow's interview and finalization. With China adoptions there's a 24 hours harmonious period before finalizing. On our way to the hotel we realized that Marli had to tinkle again. We had the driver stop and Marli and I rushed towards the hotel. But she needed to go right there. When in China, do as they do :) 

We got to the hotel and started filling out and signing paperwork. The whole time Marli wanted to keep her shoes and back pack on. Homegirl was ready to go! Poor baby. When Lee left, she told her bye and that again, she'd be staying with us. Tears again. Sad quiet tears. Never a big cry. The guide left and Marli tried making a run for it. After a few minutes we decided to take her to the kids play room to distract her. Thank God for my sweet, patient, playful husband. He started playing with the foam blocks then throwing them. She joined in. It was so funny because she was so serious and throwing them things. We said, "with a little hate." It's a joke between us. It was hilarious. They did that over and over. Mila was being such a good big sister. 
We decided to go get something to eat and then pass by a market to grab a few things. The mall is connected to our hotel and also another one on the other side of the street connected underground. We ate at a pizza place. Marli had three small spoons of her corn soup then refused. It's very frustrating for me that she won't eat much. She has been drinking a little more water but still. Anyone who knows me, knows I refuse to let anyone be hungry. But I know she's grieving and will need time. 
We bought a bottle for Marli. She was supposed to bring it with her but they didn't :( 
We came back to the hotel and had Mila shower first so she can see. Then it was her turn. She refused at first but didn't fight it. I had Mila hide her shoes so she wouldn't put them on after the bath. But she got her other ones anyway. Lol
I rubbed her a bit with baby olive oil. She is so tiny. She let me dress her and helped, then ran to look for her shoes (to dip) and settled for the other. I explained to her that she stays with us. After brushing teeth,I prepared a bottle of plain milk and she had some. Progress. 
She fell asleep as I gave it to her but woke up when I put her down. Daddy to the rescue as I needed to shower. 
Everyone's asleep now. It's 1:25 am. Another long day tomorrow. 
Here are some photos of our day:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Oh How I Love You China.

(Editing to add this post was supposed to publish last night - Sunday) 

Hey, China is hard. It's mentally draining. Getting anything done takes so long. It's easy to get exhausted. I'm not talking about folks in general. I'm talking about Mandarin-illiterate ones like us. You have to use your brain three times more than you would anywhere else. 
But China! Oh China is so beautiful. I missed the hustle and bustle. The people walking very quickly to and fro. I missed the beautiful, lush greenery; the gorgeous parks. Sure it is not ultra sleek and modern and tidy. But it's clean. And what amazes me every single time: the lack of graffiti. Ah I missed the people smiling. And when they try to help you with their little English and your nonexistent Mandarin - the giggles. I missed seeing the beautiful children. I truly missed the liveliness of the land and its people. I love it that we're here again. 
We were greeted by our seer guide Lee. We got in a van and drove about 45 minutes into the city. 
Lee helped us get checked in to the hotel then left. She reminded us to be ready at two p.m. 
After unpacking a bit, I took an awesome shower. It felt glorious my friend! Then we went to check out the small supermarket nearby and then we decided to go eat. Adventure time. But it was perfect. 


Tomorrow we will have our beloved daughter and much awaited little sister. We cannot wait. 


(Edited to add: this is the new post- Monday morning. We're 12 hours ahead of US east coast) 

We woke up at 9:45 and rushed around as breakfast ends at 10 😁. Our last little breakfast without Marli. 

Last night was our last night to go to bed as a family of 3. It was Marli's last night without us. The last night as an orphan. But it was also the last night that she slept in her familiar bed, most likely snuggled up to foster mom. Our sweet girl is losing so much. I can only pray that she'll gain much. 

We will meet our guide and driver downstairs at 2 pm. We will meet Marli around 2:30. All her little trinkets are packed. It's almost go time! 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

China, Here We Come

We are finally on our way to our girl. After years, months, weeks, days... we are finally on our way. On our way back to a land I have lived in. Back to a place where we had amazing experiences, made lifetime friends, and where I left a huge piece of my heart. I'm going back for it. Or at least some of it.
We are currently on a long layover in Doha, Qatar. In the craziness that life has been the past few months, we all overlooked just how long this layover would be. We booked our tickets through an agency that works with adoptive families and we were able to get humanitarian rates which included 3 bags each of us. We are not using that up, of course. But it's nice to have those perks. Our air tickets are through Qatar Air and I cannot say enough good things so far. Our flight from Dubai to Doha was all of 45 minutes. Yet, we had pillows and a meal. The airport is the coolest, most beautiful airport we've been to. Even compared to Dubai. I'm sure Dubai's aim is to create something similar. It is ultra modern, ultra clean and full of amenities. You feel like you're in a hotel/indoor town all at the same time. It's fabulous. We've been resting on colorful couches by the play area. The soccer match was just on in the TV area (Portugal won against Croatia). We will be leaving here soon. It's already past midnight for us so it's really Sunday morning already (June 26). We'll be flying Qatar all of our legs so I hope the awesome service continues. We will arrive Guangzhou at around 2:30 pm which is 2:30 am EST. We will rest a bit and explore our surroundings. I'm hoping we'll find the market to buy a few things. Then we will get some dinner and sleep and then it's Marli Day!!! WE ARE SO EXCITED!
One downer that I just found out is that Judy won't be our guide. Judy is the person that confirmed to us that Marli was our daughter by going to her home, spending the whole day with her and foster family and sending me a tons of videos. She also video chats with us so she can translate. I was hoping she'd be with us when we receive Marli so she wouldn't be as scared. Sigh. But, Judy assured me that Marli has been well prepared for her adoption and us, so here's hoping.
Thank you for following along. We'll try to post often.

Riding a cab from our home to the airport.
Poor kiddo, has been THIS excited the whole day. 

Dubai Int'l Airport

Boarding our plane from Dubai

Qatar Air

Doha airport totally ROCKS

This is where we set up camp. Mila has been sleeping for hours. 

Massive installation

Cool dinos

Sitting on a giant KitKat

Our last little outing as a family of 3. We went to see Finding Dory on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the last day of school. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

We're going to China!


We finally FINALLY have our Chinese visas. It was quite the ordeal. But we made it. I went to the consulate (again) last week to apply for the visas. I met a wonderful couple that travels quite often to China. The husband coincidentally used to live in Miami. We had nice conversations.  I told them that we used to live in China. People are surprised when I say that I loved living in China. Who wouldn’t love that opportunity? I still feel that sense of gratitude and awe when I think about all I’ve done while there. I explained that we’re adopting. They suggested I ask for the 10-year visa. I told them that I don’t know if I can just request it. They said, “Sure you do. Ask for the 10 year visa, it’s the same price.” So, when it was my turn to be called at the window, the woman remembered me from the previous time (when I tried to show them Travel Approval from China and they had no idea what it was) and I told her I would just apply for regular tourist visas for all of us. 10 years please. J She said, “ok, let me check with the consul since it’s three of you. Give me half an hour, I’ll call you again.” I was expecting to stay there quite a few more hours like before. But within minutes she called me. I sat down and saw our passports in her hands. She said, “come pick up on Sunday 9:30 am. 10 years!” I was so happy, all I could say was “YESSS!” lol
So hubby went today during lesson breaks to pick them up.

I can’t believe that in exactly two weeks we’ll be in China. Just hours away from meeting our daughter! It hasn't sunk in yet. We are still busy with work/school. It doesn't feel real. That the school year is actually ending; summer is starting and WE'RE GOING TO GET OUR GIRL!
It's amazing. So surreal. 

We were supposed to video chat with her this weekend. But unfortunately, her foster sister had to be at school studying for a big exam and we couldn't. I was totally disappointed. We haven't seen her in so long. I hope she's still excited about us. As much as a three year old can understand anyway. I miss her. I desperately want for her to get used to us before being handed over to us. I would like to minimize trauma as much as possible. I do realize that trauma is inevitable. Her little world is about to turn upside-down. She's about to embark on the rollercoaster ride of her life. Everything will happen so fast, full speed. So many different people, sounds, smells... she's being ripped out of everything she's familiar with. All the people she's ever known and loved will be distant. Her culture, her language, foods, everything. All I can do is pray that God is preparing her heart.
I will try to blog as much as possible while in China. I know that it will be very hard to do so and we'll be very tired. But I also know how important it is to document every moment. I'm scared everything will be mashed together and a big blur if we don't.  Please do follow along. And please do leave comments. Comments will motivate us at such a trying time. Thank you friends. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

All set to travel... (sort of)

Today I finalized all booking for hotel and airlines. It's starting to sink in that we're really going to get our little girl. It's surreal and anxiety inducing. I've been rather calm and patient all this time, especially knowing that our daughter is being cared for by a foster family. But now it's starting to hit me hard and I have a sense of urgency to go get her. But with that comes the huge realization that she will grieve their loss. I expect it. Of course. And I hope she does. This means that she has formed bonds of attachment with them. It's healthy. But it will be really hard knowing that we're taking our child away from all she knows and loves; all that's familiar to her. We're mere strangers to her. Everything about us is foreign. I hope and pray that she will know that we are family and forever.

We're planning to have a "Welcome Party" at the airport in Miami when we arrive. This will give our loved ones an opportunity to welcome Marli into our family/lives. If you would like to come, we would love it if you wore your "Raise a Superhero" t-shirt that we're selling. All proceeds from its sale will go towards the Orphanage donation fee. It'll be fun to see everyone supporting us. Those photos will be wonderful memories. If you'd like to purchase a tshirt, here's the link.

We only have a few days left on that campaign. They do ship internationally, so it does not matter where you are in the world. If you are not in Miami, please do take a selfie in your hero shirt and send it to us.

Thank you for following along. I will try to blog as much as I can in China so that you may follow along daily.
Much love...