Thursday, February 26, 2009

Home Again

We said goodbye to Zhou in Guangzhou and started on our journey at 8AM China time on Wednesday. The plane rides were uneventful and Sarah did quite well. We had a little extra leg room on the really long flight. We were in the first row of a new section on the plane. There were no flight delays or cancellations. When the customs officer said, "Welcome Home!" there was never a more meaningful statement! We were so glad to be back in the good old USA!

After being up for over 28 hours, we finally were home. And it was still Wednesday!

When Abby first came home, she was not phased at all by the dogs and even would point and jabber something in Chinese to them like she was bossing them around. So we were not expecting a big deal with Sarah. But, Sarah is scared of the dogs. She was playing in the play room last night when one of them walked up behind her and she actually screamed. Poor thing! So we're trying to introduce her to them slowly. I'm sure she's never been exposed to animals before and these dogs are bigger than her. If they are in the same room with her, she's on our lap or in our arms. But at least she's not screaming any more.

We'll be getting over jet-lag and time change differences for a couple of days, so I'm not sure how much I'll be posting. But we are so glad that this part of our journey for Sarah is through and we can start the next part of the journey with her in our family!

Monday, February 23, 2009

One Last China Post

My brain is fried and my body is exhausted. Yep, I'm ready to come home. This time tomorrow, we'll be on our way! Yippee!! Everyone is ready. Except for Abby. I think she wants to stay. You know she loves a party!!

Billy and I were talking yesterday evening about the money exchange rate and how it's so confusing for me. It's almost like play money. You want 150 for that? OK! How much is that? I don't know!!

There's a lot of things I don't know anymore:

What time is it? I don't know!
What day is it? I don't know!
How much does that cost? I don't know!
What did he/she just say? I don't know!
What is that on my plate? I don't know!
Can we drink that water? I don't know!
Is she really asleep? I don't know!
Is the paperwork done? I don't know!

The list could go on!

We played hooky from one of the group outings yesterday. I just needed some down time. Belle went, but we had the camera so she didn't get pictures of all the gross stuff at the market. Sorry. Here are some cute ones of Sarah and Abby instead.

My personal favorite from the day!!
She is really loving this new-found freedom of walking around by herself. The plane should be lots of fun tomorrow!

My baby is so strong!
Love her expression!

This morning, we went with the other families to the White Swan Hotel down the street. It is very lovely. Most adoptive families stay here, but not Zhou's groups. He says the rooms are smaller and the price is higher. I really like Zhou!
Our family with Uncle Zhou.
Sisters on the Red Couch. (you're welcome Mama Lily!)
Abby sure does like to pose! I had to catch Sarah before she ran away!
Some of the other babies in our group trying to get them all to look at the same time!
Looking at the pretty fish!
Abby posed while everyone was getting ready for a group picture.
So for now, "So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye!"

Sunday (a real imaginative title, I know!)

Sarah woke up bright and early, as usual. She is really having fun walking around and having a little bit of freedom.
She is all smiles for Daddy!
We went to a museum and she did not stay in this stroller for long.
Here's the family with the little girl they adopted. She and Abby had fun running around. They have been playing games together and laughing a lot.
This is after we told Abby she couldn't run around anymore. The Mamas were getting tired of chasing them everywhere!
Billy and Sarah are taking in all the beautiful bone carvings.
They were truly amazing. They carve the balls from the inside out.
Next, we went to a pearl market. Zhou knows the owner and she gives his groups good prices on pearls. They make the jewelery right in the store while you wait.
Abby wanted to buy this one. I convinced her to get something a little simpler.
After the pearl market and a little lunch, Billy and Belle wanted to play a little ping pong. Zhou is really good at the game and soundly beat everyone who challenged him.
Sarah wasn't too sure about Uncle Zhou holding her.
Getting ready for bed. Sarah is waiting for her night time bottle.
When Sarah is tired, she scratches her head behind her ears. It's so cute.
She sleeps through the night most of the time. She wakes up occasionally, but always goes right back to sleep.

It was a busy day, as usual. I am ready to be home and back to a more normal routine. Eating out is fun, but not when you have to do it morning, noon and night. I'm also ready to have my clothes cleaned in a regular washing machine. Hooray that we're coming home in a couple of days!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Medical Examination

Friday was spent packing our bags and checking out of the hotel in Nanning. Sarah found a new game that fascinated her for hours: taking the hotel toothbrush out of the box and putting it back in. I love it when children play with toys that are absolutely free and leave the toys that we spent money on to gather dust in the corner!

We flew that evening to Guangzhou. It was a short flight of less than an hour. Sarah did great. We had just enough time to mix up her cereal and feed her before it was time to put everything away for landing (the roughest landing to date on the trip).

The hotel we’re staying in is the same one we stayed at when we came for Abby. They have nice big rooms and good breakfasts. The part of town we’re staying in is Shamian Island (the island is surrounded by a river on one side and a moat on the others). The American Consulate office used to be located on this island and all American adoptions have to come through this office to get the baby’s visa. So the island is filled with shops and restaurants that cater to the adoption families. It is nice to be able to walk around outside, relax, shop, and eat good food. The weather is very pleasant. It is kind of like a vacation after the “boot camp” of the first week of getting a new baby.

Today, Saturday, we got Sarah’s picture and medical examination for the American visa. Sarah actually let me hold her for most of this outing. It was great!
Taking her temperature.

Say, "Ahhhhh."
Listening to her heart.

After the medical, we went with another family to eat at Lucy’s. This is the most Americanized restaurant on the island. They have French fries, hamburgers, and quesadillas as well as traditional Chinese food.

Then while Abby was watching a movie and Sarah was napping, Belle and I went shopping!! I’m glad the international flights have a higher weight limit than these Chinese flights! I've already bought one pair of squeaky shoes and another matching Chinese outfit for the girls. Along with some other stuff that I will not mention because it will ruin the surprise!!

After shopping, we stopped at the Starbucks, yes Starbucks!!!, that was around the corner from our hotel. I had to fuel up for the paperwork session that was next. Each family had one parent go to fill out the visa paperwork with Zhou. It took about an hour and a half to finish. Boy, do I love filling out paperwork!!!

Then it was dinner at Lucy's again and bed time for the girls.

Tomorrow will be site-seeing and a pearl market. More shopping! I see something shiny!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some Observations

I want to try to get some of my observations down "on paper" so that I can remember them for later.

Sarah is the sweetest little person ever. Her eyes are beautiful, bright and discerning. If she's looking at me and I happen to catch her eye, she'll look away. But sometimes she'll focus on me, too. She is also gentle.

And she's a good eater! She can and will eat anything you offer her. Even prunes! We just have to make sure it is cut up really well and will basically slide down easily. She doesn't chew very much. Not sure how many teeth she has on the top, but she has a good many on the bottom. She doesn't mind me wiping her face and mouth area. I guess she's used to people fussing over her with her mouth since she had surgery.

She also doesn't mind wearing bows in her hair. Yeah! That makes me happy. She lets me put whatever I want in her hair. Even if Billy says the bow is bigger than her head.

She likes to have something in her hands all the time. Her favorite right now is the phone that has lights and sounds. I turn it off when I put it in the bed with her at night.

Sarah doesn't like to take her shoes off. Once they're on, she wants them to stay on. She does know how to help me get her dressed by taking something out of one hand to put her arm in the sleeve and then switching to the other.

And so far, the bath has been traumatic. I gave her a bath in the sink and tried to do it quickly, but there were many tears! But I was willing to face the wrath in order to make her smell better! When it was over, she was fine again. The orphanage had said she liked her bath and even gave us a picture of her in the sink. I guess the newness of the adoption makes it scary for her.

We've only had one poopy from her in the three days that we've had her. I guess we need to give her some more prunes.

She likes her cousin, Belle. And laughs at her games and antics. Sarah will let Belle hold her and carry her around. Sarah likes her Daddy, too. Billy has been giving her the morning bottle and carrying her around in the carrier. Sarah watches Abby, but is not too sure about it when Abby gets too close to her face.

And me. Well, Sarah will tolerate me holding her but not very well. She cries when I pick her up. She does let me feed her, though. And I try to do that whenever possible. Last night, I determined to be the one to put her to bed and comfort her. She cried for a long while, straining to see others who might rescue her. Mostly, when she cries, it is a pitiful wimper, but this time she was mad! But she finally settled down and fell asleep. She had not had a very good nap that day and she was very tired. I don't think she slept as well as the other nights and woke up several times wimpering. At one point, I heard something and woke up. I looked at her crib and she already had one leg over the side! Oh, no! So I laid her back down and patted her some more. I think she's a lot more mobile than she's letting on!

Today at the park, Belle was holding her and then put her down to walk. Belle was holding her hand and she was walking pretty good. A little stiff, but good. We tried to switch to me holding her hand, but after a few steps, she sat down and didn't want to go any further.

I know this is not a two week sprint... "bounding with baby." Abby trained me well. However, I just want her to know that I'm her Mommy and I love her very much! I know we have months and years ahead of us that will bond us together.

In the mean time, do I just try to keep her happy by letting others take her? or do I assert myself and make her miserable at the same time? I know it is a transition time and her life has been turned upside down. She is unsure of everything at this point. Thankfully, I have been through this before and know that it will get better. I will keep pressing in and hopefully she will learn to trust me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's Official!

Tuesday morning, Sarah woke up crying. She was not sure where she was or who we were. She settled down OK and took her bottle while Billy did the last post for me. We hurried to get breakfast and meet the guide to take us back to the adoption center to sign the final paperwork and make it official.

I dressed the girls in their matching valentine outfits. They were so cute. And I didn't do it on purpose, but I was wearing pink as well.

We wondered when we got the referral picture why she was holding plastic fruit. We now know why. She has to have something in her hands all the time. I think it's a security thing. She loves the little phone I bought her. It plays music and lights up. Thankfully, it's pretty soft and not too loud. It also has an "off" switch!
In the interview room, the registrar asked us some questions and we promised to never abandon or abuse Sarah. We signed our names and then put a red thumbprint over our signatures.
Then it was Sarah's turn. We had to put her footprint on the document.
My hair is covering her face, but she is crying!! She does not like to have her feet messed with!
This is the Director of the orphanage that Sarah came from. We gave him gifts and he had one for Sarah, including a few pictures of her life at the orphanage and some of her nannies.
This is the official document!
This is outside the Adoption Center.
As we were leaving the adoption center, Sarah cried as we were getting in the van. We had to make a couple more stops, and every time, she cried as we were getting into the van. We also had to go to a notary to sign again and answer more questions. I put her in the carrier, and she seemed to do better in that.

Next, was a trip to W*lmart. That was interesting!! They had fish jerky and deep-fried chicken feet. Yum! We bought Sarah a red ball because that was one of the things that the orphanage said was her favorite toy.
And either it is WM or maybe just the cart, but it happened again. Abby fell asleep in the cart. Too funny!
After lunch in the hotel restaurant, we had a few more tears when it was nap time. I don't think she slept very well. We hung out in the room and ate a few snacks for dinner. Belle played ball with Sarah and got her to smile and laugh a little.

Overall, it was a more trying day. Sarah was crying a lot more. Whoever has her, she doesn't want anyone else to hold her. If that makes any sense. If I have her, she doesn't want Billy to take her, but if I have her, she doesn't want Billy. She doesn't like change, I guess. She does like Belle, though. Hopefully, she's getting used to us and will improve day by day.