Thursday, March 15, 2012

Life After China

I am not on the computer much these days.  Trying to balance three kids and maintain some sort of order in our house is proving to be more of a challenge than expected.  But, after receiving many emails and texts inquiring about how things are going I decided to sacrifice my kitchen and carve out a little time today to add to this blog as it seems the easiest way to update everyone.  I have to warn you that while much of this post is light and fluffy the end is not.  I keep thinking about Princess Petals' first 14 months and all of the children still living that life.

Our last day in Guangzhou, Tuesday, March 7, was spent with our friends Ed, Sandy and their new daughter B.  We met Sandy on the couch at civil affairs when we all had to return to sign the adoption paperwork.  They have a gorgeous baby girl and we were so honored to be there for some of her first smiles.  We had our last lunch together and then Sandy and I went out to purchase squeaky shoes for our girls (where I was discouraged from buying the proper size because it would allow her feet to grow too big).  We were sad to say good-bye to our new friends and are hoping we'll see them again even though we are several states away.

We were also sad to say good-bye to our guide, John, as we climbed into our van that would take us back to Hong Kong.  We met a few other guides while there and feel like we really lucked out with him!  He was so very open with us and our questions about Chinese culture and customs.  We were also able to answer some of his questions about America.  He and Jon had a long conversation about American history (north v. south) and our taxation system.  Our very skilled driver for the week, Mr. Joe, is also pictured here.

On Tuesday afternoon we took a van back to Hong Kong where we would be spending our last night in China.  When we arrived at our hotel we ran into a family from Illinois, Angie, Doug and their new daughter E, whom we had seen a few times at different appointments in Guangzhou.  They had not been staying on the island so all of our previous encounters had been very brief.  Our rooms in Hong Kong, however, were across the hall from one another and although we were all exhausted we decided to have dinner together.  I'm so glad we did!  They were really great and their daughter was very close in age to Princess Petals.  We wished we had met them earlier in the trip as they are another couple we would've liked to have spent more time with.

While Sandy and I were out stimulating the economy on the island earlier in the week, one of the shopkeepers kindly referred to B and Princess Petals as "sisters" because they are orphans from the same province.  I prefer to link their sisterhood through sharing the same adoption day.  I hope that we're able to keep in touch with both B and E's families so that when the girls are older and possibly struggling with their past they will always have sisters that understand.

On Wednesday morning we packed up for the last time and walked to the airport to check in for our 8:00 AM flight.  Everything was on schedule and although we were dreading all the possible problems of traveling with a toddler we were also eager to board and head home to our boys.  Our flight plan took us to Tokyo for a two hour layover (where I got hit with pink eye) and then on to the US.  

On the flight to Tokyo Princess Petals was excellent.  She slept most of the way and when she was awake she was a very happy little girl.

When we arrived in Tokyo the Delta flight crew presented Princess Petals with a "First Flight Certificate" that they had all signed and she got her picture taken in the cockpit.  

Clowning around in Tokyo during our layover...

Boarding our flight back to the USA!!!  Princess Petals is already asleep and my right eye is about to swell up in a matter of minutes...
Thankfully baby girl also slept A LOT during the flight.  I was so uncomfortable and couldn't keep my eyes open so I wouldn't have been much help entertaining her if she'd been fussy.

As I mentioned before, I got smacked with pink eye in Tokyo.  By that I mean I didn't have pink eye, and then I blinked, and I had pink eye.  It was literally that fast.  The Delta flight attendants on the way back to the states were wonderful and brought me hot compresses to keep on my swollen eye.  I went directly to the doctor when we got home.  It has since spread to my other eye but thankfully none of the kids are showing signs of catching it yet...  A few days after we got home Jon got the flu and is still recovering from that almost a week later.  Princess Petals has an ear infection that didn't seem to be bothering her but the puss oozing from her ear was just gross enough to return to the doctor two days after her first well baby exam.  Nothing a little brotherly love and a round of antibiotics can't fix!

Sleeping - This kid is a trooper.  She has slept through the night the past two nights!  We have her in a pack'n'play in our room with us but are going to finish pinking up the nursery and start transitioning her into her own room now that she isn't needing any nourishment or comfort at night.  We made sure to give her plenty of calories during the day and limited her to two, two hour naps to help her get her days and nights switched around.  Then I put a few pacifiers in her crib to help her self soothe orally instead of knocking her head around like she had been doing previously.  It seems to have worked! I hear her wake up a few times at night, fish around for the pacifier and then suck it until she falls back asleep.  Now that she's not rubbing her head to self soothe anymore the hair on her bald spot is starting to come back in!

Eating - This is the biggest challenge we've faced.  So far the only solid food she's really interested in is Cheerios, mashed banana and baby oatmeal.  She spits out anything with even the hint of flavor so I've been mixing pureed baby food in with the oatmeal.  At first glance it appears that she is going to be a picky eater but she is a work in progress and we'll keep plugging away with new foods.  For now she still loves bottles so we are keeping them in the routine as well.  We did switch to soy formula a few days ago.  She never had another solid diaper after we went with the milk-based in China.  For the amount of Asian children that are lactose intolerant I'm surprised that we had so much trouble finding soy formula over there.  It definitely would've made our lives a lot less messy!

Talking - Jon finally conceded today that Princess Petals is indeed calling me "mama."  She says it intentionally and with purpose.  She says it when she's looking at me, crawling towards me and reaching for me.  Baby girl knows I am mama.  Both of our boys said "daddy" first so this is a special treat for me!

So here's where I am, mentally and emotionally, right now as I type this.  I am thinking about this morning when I was rolling around on the floor with Princess Petals.  She loves to climb on us and like most toddlers she is a big fan of being tickled.  I lifted her over my head knowing that it would make her laugh and as I brought her back down for a kiss I caught myself thinking, "what would Princess Petals have been doing this morning if we hadn't adopted her?"  We've had her less than three weeks and as I watch her soak in all of the affection we pour over her in our home it breaks my heart to think how lonely she must have been up until Feb. 27th of this year.  And then I start to think about all of the children that are still there waiting in an orphanage.  Still laying in their cribs 20+ hours a day.  Still having a sponge bath with cold water.  Still scratching their Scabies bites and suffering from diaper rash and bed sores.  Still not knowing the love of a mother.  Still lonely.  Still waiting.

I know it's not part of God's plan that children should suffer.  We are heavily flawed as humans and we created this mess all on our own.  I believe that God's wish is for us to do what we can to help those who need us.  He whispers to us but we have to be willing to listen.  I know full well that not everyone can or will adopt an orphan, but everyone can make an effort to make an orphan's life better.  If it's in your heart to adopt, follow the calling.  It's scary, it's expensive and it's hard work; however, sometimes in life the hardest things we do prove to be the most rewarding.  If adoption isn't part of your story please find a charity that works directly with the orphans.  We donate monthly to the general medical fund for Love Without Boundaries.  They are an amazing organization and we have every confidence that our money is being used to save little lives and provide a glimmer of hope for children that are living with none.  I don't know if we'll adopt again but I can guarantee that we will donate to orphan care for the rest of our lives.

Please take a moment to check out the Love Without Boundaries web page below.  There is a lot of information about the organization and specific children needing sponsorship for surgery, nutrition or foster care.  They also have a general medical fund which is what we chose to do as it allows LWB to use the money where it's most needed.  There is also a blog and a Facebook page if you want to follow their amazing work more closely.

If you can't adopt or donate, please pray.  Please advocate for these kids and get the word out.  You just never know.  Simply clicking that you "like" LWB's Facebook page or sharing someones adoption blog may be what inspires someone else to look into adoption or donate.  We can all do something - no act of kindness is insignificant.

Princess Petals in November 2011
...and just four months later...

 Princess Petals in March 2012
Daughter, Sister, Grandchild, Niece, Cousin, Loved