Sunday, May 31, 2009

The last two days










Yesterday we started the day with paperwork in the hotel. We then went to the Beijing zoo, Lilah had a blast and everyone loves her sqeaky shoes, she can't run far in those... not that she does. She has made best buddies with Bradyn from Thunderbay, he is 6 and was with his family (mom, dad, brother, sister and grandparents) in Guangzhou with us, he dotes on her and she follows him around and wants to be near him whenever he is around. We had supper with Yulin, our coordinator and a few of the families... very cheap 50 yuan (less than $10 for all of us, more food than we could eat, water, beer), it costs more to eat for one here at an American fast food restaurant, yuk.

Tim continues to be the go to guy for comforting, etc and doesn't seem to have enough energy to always keep up with a two year old and their temper tantrums. Lilah did reach out for mommy today at the store, when she wanted to be taken to see the magnets. She will play with mommy, give mommy kisses, feed mommy and walk holding hands. She is very loud and loves her bath and wants to stay in the water for an hour.

We make a daily trip to the supermarket down the street for food for snacks in the hotel. We get a lot of stares and comments from people. Not as many as the blond people in our group though!

Today we started the day by going to the jade factory, then went to the Great Wall. It was very amazing and of course we challenged ourselves by taking the harder route up. Tim went all the way with Lilah, I made it almost all the way, but with a broken toe decided not to go quite as far. The scenery was beautiful! We then went to the Cloisonne Factory where they make all the porcelain replacements. Because the Emperor was smashing all the porcelain, his son commissioned the artisans to create something he couldn't smash, voila Cloisonne - copper vases with intricate onlay and then rounds of firing to add color and polishing, quite an elaborate process, now they make all sorts of creations using this process. On the way back to the hotel we stopped to see the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. It was a very long day, especially for the children who have lost all routine!

We also had a tailor come to the room to measure Tim for a suit ($200 Cdn) and a dress for Lilah. Tomorrow they will come back with the pinned pieces to see if it fits and then the next day they will deliver it finished.

Friday, May 29, 2009

We are now in Beijing









This morning we visited the Chen Clan Academy in Guangzhou and it was amazing. It was raining today, but not quite as hot. The kids in our group played and ran around and had a lot of fun and Lilah jumped right in with her squeaky shoes. She seems a lot more relaxed today and willing to be put down a bit more to walk. We then went to Shamain Island for a walk and Starbucks! That made my day! After a nap and some packing we headed off to the airport. The flight went well and fairly quickly, she had a few meltdowns. She always tells Tim (in Cantonese) "No sit!" very adamantly. Her ears hurt a lot landing and she was not happy.

In the airport waiting to board, Tim left to buy water and she stayed with me and didn't freak out. Everyday, she seems to be a little happier and a little more comfortable and a little more open to me. Hopefully, she will let me carry her soon.... I am waiting....

Our room in Beijing is so much nicer and so much bigger. The other hotel was so tight, there was no room to play. Right now Lilah is in the bathtub (alone) for the first time and very happy. Hopefully, we can get her to sleep in a crib on her own too.

Beijing has a totally different feel than Guangzhou. Very modern and a little more sane. We loved Guangzhou and the whole feel of China there, it was exactly what you would think when you think of China. Fascinating. Tomorrow we start with paperwork and some touring. So far we have met three other couples in our group and one of them has been going through the exact same issues as us, so that was reassuring for us both.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our first fun together

Today was the best yet, although we had a couple of meltdowns when Tim didn't get it right and didn't have the energy to keep trying. Being tied to her, and not putting her down is fine, it is the not sitting down and not standing still that is exhausting and an arm breaker. We went for coffee today and then shoe shopping. Lilah had a great time and played and even left the comfort of my arms and ran around the coffee shop with her squeaker shoes. She fell asleep and I unfortunately had her out of the carry thingy so by the time we got back my arms were lead. I then proceeded to lie down with her for a break...big mistake. We all had a melt down as I couldn't keep carrying her and was too stubborn to do what was required to keep the peace. One we got over that we went shopping again had another minor melt down and went for a swim, nice and cool. You just sweat here all the time, just sitting doing nothing, and not just your arm pits your whole body soaks your clothes in a few minutes if you are not in air conditioning. Our best purchase was a folding basket with plastic balls we spent a long time this afternoon playing with it. Best interactions with Mommy today, she even got to hold Lilah for a bit. I have no idea how she does it and I am not a big help because Lilah is on me nearly 24/7. When she wakes, she grabs my face to make sure I am there or climbs on me and strangles me. I have edited some footage to show Lilah at her best: this girl is very smart, very intuitive, and when we get to...a lot of fun. - tim

Wednesday, May 27, 2009



This morning we went 1 1/2 hours to Dongguan to visit True Children's
Home. For anyone adopting from this home, I would highly recommend
visiting while you are here. The home is very small and in a big
apartment complex next to a very nice hotel. The home is bright and
clean and the children are very obviously happy and loved.

I went with Jenny to the hotel to meet the foster family and was very
glad I had a chance to meet them and talk to them. The mother,
father, daughter and son all came and all were very emotional. The
mother cried the entire time. Our translator asked them what good
memories they had of Xin En and they said she is very very smart.
She copies everything and everything said. She would go to the gate
to open it when the father or brother came home. One day she had her
backpack on and when a neighbor asked where she was going, she said
she was going to Canada. She was very loved! They seemed very
worried that they would never hear or see anything about her again.
We reassured them that they would. They gave me pictures of them
with her and a note on the back with a phone number and QQ number.
We will always tell Xin En about them and hopefully one day she can come back and see them again.

The children are all beautiful! We met and took pictures of two
children (one being adopted to NS Canada and another to Atlanta)
both of these girls are gorgeous!

At the supermarket yesterday, Lilah chose snacks to take and share.
She handed them out and then took a bunch back. Lilah became more
and more tense the closer we got to the home and clung to Tim while there, but opened up and played for a bit while I was gone.

These past two days she has not played or laughed like she did the
first night, but calls out for her mama less and less. Now she calls
for BaBa. She doesn't want me near her right now and I understand
why, but it is very hard for me. This was the one thing I didn't want
her to do. But we will be patient and I know I will gain her trust
and she will want me soon. She did let me dress her today and
tonight she blew me kisses and gave me a kiss before Tim and her went
for a walk. Maybe she was glad to say goodbye! She sleeps a lot
and I think she is emotionally exhausted. Last night she slept with
us all night. She is very confused and scared. Mama's go away, but
this one will not.

China is an amazing experience to see. The crowds, the driving, the
bikes loaded with things, the people, the buildings and buildings and
buildings! Our guide said today "this is the countryside" it was
all buildings and cars! The food is great, today we went with our
guide to the fish restaurant and a good things she was there. It was
three stories high and you walk around to chose your food. I mean
chose as look at a tank of fish, crab, alligator, crickets and chose what you want cooked and how.

Hopefully, each day will bring more peace and trust to Lilah. It is a good thing she was so attached, it will be better for her in the long run, but right now she is traumatized.





The countryside


Moving furniture


The toy market

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We are hers!

Last night Lilah made a sudden turn around when the stacking cups were
pulled out. We all sat on the floor and played with those and also
some playdough for quite awhile. She then cuddled with Tim until she
fell asleep at about 10pm. She woke up at 5am and wanted BaBa. She
slept with us until 6am.

Today she is very quiet and once again very sad. She only wants Tim
today and screams if he tries to put her down for even a second. We
went back to the adoption office to do the official paperwork and now
she is ours and we are hers. She was very quiet and serious in the
van and going to the office, I am sure she was wondering what was
going on! She fell asleep and so the proceedings went by smoothly.
We then went to a huge supermarket with our guide and the other couple in our group to buy some supplies and Lilah pointed out exactly what
she liked and wanted. She will not take a bottle, but tells us today
when she needs to use the potty (the big white throne potty is a bit threatening but thats what we have).

She talked with our kids on Skype last night and loves being near the
computer. She will copy english words. Ducky, froggy, Abby, Joe,
Eli, Micah. She likes to feed us her food and play with cheerios and
her baby enstein bowl. She loves congee and porridge and boiled
eggs. She loves to wave bye bye and say Ni Hao. She hated her bath
this morning. She loves the plush blanket we brought for her. And
like I said, the stacking cups are a hit!

We get a lot of stares from the locals. The other family here has a
waiting child as well, and people will come up to her and talk to her
and touch her. They just look at Lilah. I was warned to expect this.

Tomorrow we go to Dongguan to visit TCH in the morning. We will
visit the home and meet the foster family. Hopefully this won't be
confusing for her. She hasn't been at the home for a long time and I
expect only I will go to meet the family, since she will want to be
with Tim. She is hurting and confused and I understand why she
doesn't want me to hold her right now, especially when everyone is
trying to tell her I am mama. She thinks they are crazy! Hopefully,
she will begin to trust me and attach to us both.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Here I am!

Lilah Mei Xin En Riegel is not happy, she thankfully was very strongly attached to her foster mother, this bodes well for the future, just not the immediate future. The next few days will be tough. Jenny from True Childrens Home came out ahead of time to give us some of her belongings and to warn us that she was having a very hard time. The time at the Adoption Centre was mostly tears and more tears. She tuckered out by the time we left.

We then spent an hour with Becky doing paperwork. We were finally able to engage and get a couple of smiles and Lilah even fed ma ma (unfortunately for Paige Lilah associates 'ma ma' with her foster mom right now). She fell asleep at 5pm local time and we expect her to wake up screaming. Becky didn't understand most of Lilah's 2yr old Cantonese so we don't feel too bad.







Sunday, May 24, 2009

Update from China

We are now in Guangzhou and it is hot and very rainy. We were in Hong Kong for the first 24 hours and had no problems getting there. The city is amazing and the high rises are everywhere. We spent the day with a Canadian Chinese friend from Edmonton who took us out to eat and we tried some amazing new things. Ummmm.... stomach being one of them! Last night we took the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and once we reached the terminal it was quite an adventure. We were immediately pulled aside because we are Canadian, taken into a small room, asked questions, had our temperature taken ONCE AGAIN, and they proceeded to swab the very back of our throats and way up in our noses! For this very reason I am glad our children are not here. It was awful and invasive and I wouldn't have wanted that done to them! We are getting Lilah at about 3pm China time (1am Edmonton time) and are nervous and excited and ready! We will try to figure this blogger thing out so we can post tonight!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leaving tomorrow morning!



I am posting now because tomorrow will be a little bit rushed! We will be getting our kids off to school and then heading to the airport right after that. Please pray for our safety, that we all remain healthy (including everyone on our airplane so we don't end up quarantined!) and that Lilah's adjustment will go as needed to have the best outcome for her. Pray for our children here and the caregivers that will be with them.

We are so excited. It is finally here!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Mcdreamy



It is a good thing I am married to this man. I say this every time one of the kids gets hurt or needs stitches. It is rather convenient having him around. I was especially thankful for him this morning, when I stubbed my toe on a chair, looked down and saw it was completely sideways, that I am married to him. I went to the hospital where he froze it, straightened it, wrapped it and sent me for x-rays all within an hours time... I should still be able to walk fine, I just need to wear good shoes and put up with some pain!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Itinerary

May 22 - leave for Hong Kong
May 23 - arrive in Hong Kong
May 24 - leave in evening on train to Guangzhou
May 25 - get Lilah
May 26 - 8:30 Family picture, registration at provincial government office and notarization of documents
May 27 - Go to True Children's Home
May 28 - Receive Lilah's documents
May 29 - Fly to Beijing
May 30 - Children's pictures in the hotel, group picture, assembling documents for Canadian Embassy and the Beijing Zoo
May 31 - Go to The Great Wall, Jade Factory, Cloisonne Factory and Olympic grounds
June 1 - Children's medical exam, the summer palace and the silk factory
June 2 - The Pearl Market and the Indoor Market
June 3 - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Receive Lilah's Canadian documents and goodbye party
June 4 - Free day
June 5 - Come Home

Saturday, May 16, 2009

2 years old



Today is Lilah's 2nd birthday. I had really wanted to be with her on this day, but only six days until we leave and eight days until we meet her for the first time!

I am very anxious and excited. There is still so much nervousness with regards to the swine flu in China, that things could change in an instant and I know I won't have peace until I am on that airplane on my way to China. Our bags are almost packed, I told Tim everything needs to be done by Sunday night, so that my next week can be focused on cleaning and preparing to leave the other children here. Our travel package was incomplete and we are still waiting for our itinerary and to find out how to get our tickets for the in-China travel. As a planner, this stresses me out! I know it will all come together...

Today I find myself thinking about Lilah's birth mother. Wondering what she is feeling today, wishing she could know that her child is about to be adopted and loved for life, hoping that she has peace.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lilah's Birthday Party

On Saturday, TCH had what they call "Friends in the Park". All the children from TCH and the foster families get together for a fun day in a park. Two of the children had birthdays around the same time, one of these being Lilah, and so they celebrated both birthdays at this event. Each child gets a special birthday hat, a cake, a balloon and a gift.

I love her sweet little dress and she looks so big!

Jenny said that there are more pictures on the way of her opening our gift. She also wanted to let us know that there are people all around the world praying for Xin En and the transition soon to come! Amazing!





Monday, May 11, 2009

Do's and Don'ts for Family and Friends:

I had found this list online a long time ago and wanted to post it shortly before we were to leave to get Lilah. I have had people ask me what they can expect when we get home and how they can proceed with getting to know Lilah and we want her to get to know all of our friends and family, but she needs to attach to her new mommy and daddy and then her siblings first. Lilah has been loved immensely by the people who know her and she has attached to her foster mother, which is a good thing, it means she knows how. We are expecting her to mourn deeply for the first while, but hope that she will attach fairly quickly. She has known many changes and many homes and many caregivers. She was in her birth mothers care for a month, she was in an orphanage for a month, she was then placed at TCH for eight months and was then placed with her foster parents. That is a lot of change in two short years!

We would love for people to talk to her and touch her and show her how special she is. I want everyone to know that all they need to do is ask first if something is okay to do.

Do

1. Trust the mother's instincts. Even a first time mother may notice subtle symptoms that well-meaning family and friends attribute to "normal" behavior.

2. Accept that attachment issues are difficult for anyone outside of the mother to see and understand.

3. Be supportive even if you think everything looks fine to you.

4. Allow the parents to be the center of the baby's world. One grandfather, when greeting his grandson, immediately turns him back to his mom and says positive statements about his good mommy.

5. Tell the baby every time you see him what a good/loving/safe mommy he has.

6. As hard as it may be for you, abide by the requests of the parents. Even if the baby looks like he really wants to be with Grandma, for example, he needs to have a strong attachment to his parents first. Something as simple as passing the baby from one person to another or allowing others, even grandparents, to hold a baby who is not "attached" can make the attachment process that much longer and harder. Some parents have had to refrain from seeing certain family members or friends because they did not respect the parents' requests.

7. Accept that parenting children who are at-risk for or who suffer from attachment issues goes against traditional parenting methods and beliefs. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.

8. Remember that there is often a honeymoon period after the child arrives. Many babies do not show signs of grief, distress, or anxiety until months after they come home. If the parents are taking precautions, they are smart and should be commended and supported!


Don't

1. Assume an infant is too young to suffer from emotional issues related to attachment. Babies are not immune.

2. Underestimate a new mother's instincts that something isn't right.

3. Judge the mother's parenting abilities. What looks like spoiling or coddling may be exactly what the child needs to overcome a serious attachment disorder. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.

4. Make excuses for the child's behaviors or try to make the mother feel better by calling certain behaviors "normal". For example, many children who suffer from attachment issues may be labeled strong-willed by well-meaning family members. While being strong-willed can be seen as a positive personality trait, this type of behavior in an attachment-impaired child may signify problems.

5. Accuse the mother of being overly sensitive or neurotic. She is in a position to see subtle symptoms as no one else can.

6. Take it personally if asked to step back so the parents can help their child heal and form a healthy and secure attachment. You may be asked not to hold the baby for more than a minute. This is not meant to hurt you. It is meant to help prove to the baby who his mommy and daddy are. Up until now the child's experience has been that mommies are replaceable. Allowing people to hold the baby before he has accepted his forever mommy and daddy are can be detrimental to the attachment process.

7. Put your own timeframes on how long attachment should take. One mother was hurt when she was chastised by a relative who couldn't understand...after all, the baby had been home six months. It could take weeks, months, even years. Every child is different.

8. Offer traditional parenting advice. Some well-meaning family members will tell a new mother not to pick the baby up every time he cries because it will spoil him. A child who is at-risk or who suffers from attachment issues must be picked up every single time he cries. He needs consistent reinforcement that this mommy/daddy will always take care of him and always keep him safe.

9. Fall into the appearance trap. Some babies/toddlers with attachment issues can put on a great show to those outside of the mother/father. What you see is not always a true picture of the child. Even babies as young as 6-months-old are capable of “putting on a good face” in public.

10. Lose hope. With the right kind of parenting and therapy, a child with attachment issues can learn to trust and have healthy relationships. But it does take a lot of work and a good understanding of what these children need.

Monday, May 4, 2009

STILL GOING TO CHINA!!!!!!

Yulin from FOI called me tonight to let us know that we are still going as planned. She talked to the Embassy regarding our visas and they are still issuing them. I know of one other couple in our travel group that is also going (they are from Calgary) and so we won't be completely alone!

What a huge relief this is!!! I am so happy! I am going to get my baby girl! Leaving in 18 days. Holding her in my arms in 20 days!

Answers from TCH

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I had sent Jenny at TCH a list of questions for TCH and Xin En's foster mother to answer, so that we could understand and meet her needs better when we get her. These are the answers to those questions.

Orphanage will answer for you questions 1 – 3, 5 & 6.

How do you know her age?
TCH was told by the orphanage.

Does she have a nickname?
TCH staff and foster family call her En En.

Has she had any illnesses, accidents, or injuries?
She has had the typical childhood cold, fever, cough and diarrhea and minor bumps and bruises.

Does she have any allergies?
Not that we are aware of.

Has she had immunizations?
Yes, you will receive a copy of her immunization record on adoption day.

What kind of food is she eating now?
Rice, pork congee, chicken or pork soup, apples, bananas, pears and bread.

How much does she eat?
She is good eater but not a big eater.

When does she eat?
Refer to her daily schedule below.

Does she drink from a bottle or a cup? It is a regular bottle or a cleft bottle?
She drinks formula and water from a regular bottle and also a cup. Approximately a week before surgery and a month after surgery Xin En drank from a cleft bottle.

Does she use her hands or a spoon to eat?
She uses a spoon.

What are her sleeping habits? How much does she sleep and when? Does she sleep on her stomach or on her back? Again, refer to the below schedule. Before going to bed she likes to have about 150 ml of formula. She likes to be held and will fall asleep in your arms. She likes to sleep on her back but sometimes sleeps on her stomach.

Is there anything in particular that she likes, makes her happy, dislikes or is sensitive to?
She likes to play outside with other children and answer the phone. She dislikes firecrackers and sitting still.

What is her personality like?
She is a lively and active child who smiles often and likes to have fun. Around strangers she will act a little shy.

What makes her angry or upset?
Taking off or having to change her clothes.

How do you calm her when she cries?
Change the environment that is upsetting to her or give her what she wants.

Are there things we should buy in China for her to take home?
Not that we are aware of.

Is there anything else you or the caregivers would like to tell us about her and would like to tell her when she is older?
Notes from the TCH staff and her foster family will be provided on adoption day.

Mao Xin En

7:00 Wake up
7:30 - 8:30 Goes to vegetable market with her foster mother
8:30 Breakfast - rice noodles, meat porridge, bread and formula
9:00 Have a bowel movement
9:00 - 11:00 Play time
11:30 Lunch - rice with chicken/pork/beef, soup (any kind)
13:30 - 15:00 Nap
15:00 Snack – apple, banana, steam bread or congee
15:00 - 17:00 Play time
17:30 Bath time
18:30 Dinner - rice with chicken/pork/beef, and soup
20:00 Have formula 150ml
21:30 Bed Time

When Xin En is thirsty she will bring her bottle or cup to ask you to get her some water.

During the day Xin En does not wear a diaper. She may say “O Di Di” (urinate) or “O Em Em” “O Be Be” (BM). She can squat. During nap time and at night Xin En wears a diaper.

By the way, I was at the Adoption Center today with three adoptions of children that received care at TCH. They randomly checked children’s temperature. I will be back to the Adoption Center next Monday for another adoption. Looking forward to seeing you at the Adoption Center Monday, May 25.


I sure hope we do get to meet Jenny on May 25th! I think I better make some congee and put it in the freezer!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Josiah



Today Josiah is 11 years old. We were in Calgary for the weekend for Tim's sister's wedding on Friday and then to spend the day today at the zoo. Josiah loves animals and the weather was beautiful. It was a great day, with a really great kid!