After following blogs for several years now, I have discovered why some of them fall of the earth after they come home.
They are either:
A) Too Tired to Tango
B) Overwhelmed with handling their new addition
C) Are "China-ed" Out
D) Don't think anyone is watching their blog anymore so they stop
E) Have SO much to do that they forgot they even HAD a blog and only use their blog to check on other people's blogs
Well, mine is a combination of A (the first couple of weeks), B (the new addition was great, but adding that one into the mix with 4 others was the tough part), C (let's just be honest), and E (I didn't exactly forget . . . ).
So, I am trying to be back on top of this thing because I do enjoy it. Since I don't make time for scrapbooking anymore this has become my scrapbook and I need to post the memories.
Let's start with the obvious . . . Avery. She is a remarkable little girl. She is a part of our family and there has been no question in HER mind or ours since day one. She came into this house and acted like she knew where everything was. The dog did not cause her fear except for maybe 5 seconds. She quickly learned to love baths and all her brothers and sisters. She comes to me for comfort when she gets hurt or just when she needs it. You would be amazed at how she has so quickly adapted to our family. She knows a few signs and learns about 1 new English word a week. She loves to dance, the dishwasher, and the dog water bowl. She gets along with Carlie pretty well - just like a typical sister relationship, sometimes they are partners in crime and sometimes they fight. She's kind of whiney, but we are getting better at that (I don't like whiners:), I'm sure it's because of her inability to communicate and the fact that she is coming down with another cold.
Shortly after coming home she developed an upper respiratory infection and needed some anti-biotics. The medicine not only helped her infection, but also cleared up this little rash she had on her torso that she was scratching so bad she was bleeding (poor baby). We had a follow-up appointment 2 weeks after the initial pediatrician's appointment and she gained almost 2 lbs. in 2 weeks! I knew she was putting on a little weight because her chubby little feet weren't fitting into her pink metallic flats so great anymore!
This adoption process has been rewarding, difficult, brought us closer to God, challenging, amazing, and I would do it all over again to get Avery. We had to go get our daughter and she just happened to be in China.
She's a true joy. God knew exactly what He was doing.
Our grueling trip home . . . (the pictures will explain themselves in a little bit:)
We started home very early on Dec. 24 (China time), we checked in to get our boarding passes, went through immigration, and I realized that Avery had wet clean through her pants. We needed to find a bathroom but still had one more line to go through with no bathroom between one line and the next. This should have been my first sign. We finally get through that line and still have security to go through. Great, still can't stop to go to the bathroom. The security line wasn't too long, but still, when you have a baby who has wet pants any line is long. Finally a bathroom. No changing table. Ugh. I was afraid of this. I try to change her standing up, but she's very wriggly. I do NOT want to lay her on the ground. Huh? Look at how clean the floor is? Diaper changed, but jeans still wet because I, the dummy that I sometimes am, did not pack any in our carry-ons!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING??? I was thinking that I needed to pack light and that she had never wet clean through her clothes before. So, to save space, why pack any?! We'll be home in less than 24 hours and we'll get all scrubbed up when we get home. See the logic? It's all there in my head. Again, this should have been my first sign.
Not an hour later and she does it again, and MY pants even have the pee pee on them. You have GOT to be kidding me. This time I go behind some rows of seats and change her. Now to shop for some new clothes for Avery in the Guangzhou airport! I love to shop! Nothing except these cute little satin traditional Chinese dresses. Totally NOT practical for a trip where the weather will be very cold. Ugh. They have every other store in an airport WHY NOT A GYMBOREE OR CHILDREN'S PLACE - A N Y T H I N G!!! That should have been my second sign.
Now we are finally on our first of four legs of flying (yes, she peed through her jeans TWICE before we ever left China). Off to Hong Kong, maybe there will be clothes for kids there? The Hong Kong airport is huge and we have over a 2 hour layover. Surely I'll be able to find something. They have every fancy shmancy store you can think of in that place, it's like a mall! I could spend a lot of time here! But not one single store with any sort of children's clothing! Not even the Disney store had any pants! Am I in the twilight zone or something? Has no one else had this problem? Am I the only one? Where can I file a complaint, give a suggestion, SOMETHING! No, we don't smell bad. Back on the plane for the 10 hour flight to San Francisco. This is the part I've been dreading, but at least it's only TEN hours instead of the sixteen on the way To Hong Kong (has something to do with the Jet Stream, I don't know, I just want to go to America). Let's just get it over with! At least we will land on more familiar territory for Lyndal and I - the strangeness will soon begin for Miss Avery. So far so good, no more wetting completely through the pants because we bought more diapers and are changing her every five minutes.
For future reference, Chinese diapers do not hold as much as American diapers. And you need them to hold a lot because you can't always change the kiddo when you most need to.
By the way, despite our slight odor and the ugh of travel, Avery is doing so good. The long flight was a little rough, but not as rough as another family had it where their child cried for 9 of the 10 hours. I kept saying little prayers for them because they needed it! Avery was a trouper the entire time! She is a go with the flow kind of gal and we are so grateful!
San Fransisco! America! Land of the free and home of the brave! We are closer to home and we can speak English to anyone without playing charades!! YAY! But our flight is delayed. This should have been my third sign (how many do I need?) So, I call the house, check in with everyone there. By this time my sister and brother-in-law and their two kids have joined our others and my mother-in-law for the big welcome home/Christmas bash of 2009. The phone call went something like this: Ice storm, snow, OKC, coming this way, do you want us to book you a hotel in Dallas 'just in case,' no. Those were the phrases we blocked, but still heard. I kept saying a little prayer that we would get home before the storm hit please God! Our flight from San Fransisco was delayed for 3 hours and the SF airport stinks! It was crowded, there were not many shops to browse through (still no kids clothing, except maybe a t-shirt, but I needed pants!), it was arranged wierd. I guess the Hong Kong airport spoiled me. So, we camped out near our gate listening to announcements. Another adoptive family we had met in Guangzhou was there also. They had all 5 of their kids with them so we chatted and the kids played (can you imagine a family with FIVE kids? Who would do that? Crazy). As the kids played I noticed something. What is that brown stain on the back of Avery's pants? That wasn't there a little while ago. Huh? Seriously? Here we go. Pee now poop on the jeans that we have now had on for almost 20 hours (what was I thinking when I didn't pack her an extra outfit or two or three? Shut up). Thank goodness she had on a long sweater over her jeans that hid the stain, that was my saving grace from being banished to the corner and sneered at. What is it with these Chinese diapers?
Let me stop and explain another thing. Avery had never been in diapers until the day we met. In China they use something called 'split pants' which is exactly like what it sounds. They do not use diapers, the children wear pants that are split in the crotch and they take them to the bathroom every 2-3 hours. No joke. Avery wore split pants and was 'potty regulated.' Her body was trained to hold it until it was time to sit on the potty. So, whenever she would 'go' she would 'GO'. Lyndal saw a little boy in the zoo squat and 'go' right in the middle of the sidewalk. Trail of stuff going down the path. We were in the restaurant at the hotel in Hohhot and this about 2 year old came up and was looking at Avery, smiling and playing (you cannot tell if a child is a girl or boy by the color of clothes they are wearing). The child turned around to run back to his mommy and fell with his hiney in the air - it's a boy! They will 'make note' of the fact that your child has no tights on under their jeans, indicating you have not dressed them warm enough, but they'll let ALL their nether regions be out there for all glory to see so they can more conveniently take their children to the bathroom. Makes no sense to me, does to them.
Finally we board for Dallas! The flight was miserable because I was just done, but we were getting close! My motto at a time like this is 'just keep moving.' Our plane is approaching Dallas and we are informed that we are waiting to land because there is only one runway open because Dallas has ice. Yes, my fourth sign. I didn't know it iced in Dallas?! What in the world? Is this the twilight zone or something? We circle, trying to land for over an hour. Let ME land the plane! LOOK an open field! I just want to go HOME!!!!! I'll walk! Finally, we land, we deboard, it's very crowded. Why is that golf cart thing hauling in cots? No. My heart sinks. It is as bad as Sean and Angie were saying. We may have to spend the night in an airport. Dear God. I am about at my breaking point trying to hold back the tears. We have been traveling for about 26 hours with no sleep for me and very little for anyone else. Lyndal calls the house and, praise God!!! Sean did not listen to us when we told him NOT to book us a hotel! We have a bed and a sink! We can shower! We can be warm! We can have a good night's sleep! Thank you God and Sean! But I still want to go home real bad. I cannot believe this is happening. It's Christmas Eve and we are bringing home this baby girl to present to our friends and family and we have to stay in Dallas?!
By this time, I am just trying to keep it together and 'just keep moving.' After wandering around for a little while we finally figured out where to go to catch the shuttle to the hotel. I call Angie to explain some Christmas hiding places and Sean answers the phone. He says, "Hey, how's it going?" And that was all it took. I couldn't hold the tears back any longer (it still makes me cry!) and had to hand the phone to Lyndal. Right after I handed the phone to him a young guy standing next to me asks if I have change for a $5. I am quietly sobbing, saying that I think I do *sniff* *sniff* just a second and let me *sniff* *sniff* check. Him and his wife ask me if I'm OK and I explain our situation through tears, but I had the change for the $5!
Come to find out we could not access our checked luggage. It would be on the first flight to Tulsa the next day (why can't WE be on the first flight to Tulsa?). We, however, will be on the 5:30 flight. Yay, all day in another airport, we can't wait. So, if you see that picture above of the suitcase you will notice that all we had that night was a camera, a pair of Converse, some travel pillows, a workbook for the adoption education to refer to (does it cover spending the night in a hotel on Christmas Eve with your toddler after waiting for 3 years for her? didn't think so), some infant formula, some snacks, our empty money wallets, and NOTHING else. No toothbrush, change of clothes, nothing else, did I mention that it had NOTHING ELSE? I do not want to travel EVER AGAIN!! But, hey, I can at least take Avery's soiled jeans and wash them with a bar of soap in the sink. It's the LEAST I could do, right? Jeesh, what kind of mom do you think I am? As you might have guessed, the hotel was crowded with people but we didn't care. A little American food and a good night's sleep and we will be like brand new in the morning. See that other picture up there? That's Avery in the morning. She is a bit of a grump in the mornings :)!
Oh no. I'm not done with our trip home yet! There's more!
Back to the airport first thing the next morning with a fresh attitude! Lyndal and I have decided that we are going to pretend like we are in a hurry to get to our gate everywhere we go (actually, I don't think Lyndal agreed to this idea). We are going to look concerned and rush! Rush to nothing! We do get our name on the stand-by list, but we are numbers 127 and 128. Oh yea, we are SO getting on a plane before our booked 5:30 flight! So, we didn't get on the first flight out. Lunch and there's a CHILIS! I have never wanted to eat at Chilis more than I want to right this very minute! Chicken quesadillas! Chips and salsa! I am going to eat the whole plate! It was the best meal I have EVER had! Chilis in the Dallas airport on Christmas Day with our newly adopted daughter from China in our pee/poop clothes! Heaven! This is just how I pictured it :)!
The rest of the day is spent 'rushing' from one gate to the next. We are getting to know the other people trying to get to Tulsa who are on the stand-by list. One of them is this little elderly lady with a walker, all hunched over from her back. I felt horrible for her. Why wasn't she on the first flight out of here? Why is she going from gate to gate? That is absurd! Do they not have priority for people like that? That is inhumane!! I think she finally got out on a 3:30 flight thank goodness. We did meet this one guy who had to spend the night in the airport. He said that they - listen to this - turned the heat WAY down at about midnight and it got real cold. He was walking around in the middle of the night and walked by a lighted up wall billboard thing and noticed how warm the billboard was, so he cozied up to it for while to get warm! Are you serious?! You turn the heat down on Christmas Eve during one of the worst ice storms in history? Who does that?
I know this a long post, but I have to get it out of my system. I'm close to being done. Not done until we are home.
So, 5:30 rolls around and it is time for us to board. YAY!!!! We are going home!! Only one more hour of flying and we are HOME!!! YAYAYAYAYAY!!! "We have a warning light on the control panel. We are just going to have maintenance look at it and then we'll have you in the air," the pilot says (in nonbroken English I might add:). I'm thinking, 'OK, cool. Not a problem. Probably just need to replace a windshield wiper or something.' Twenty minutes later. "Uh folks, we are going to have to send this plane in to have it looked at. We'll deboard and have you a new plane here pretty quick," our English speaking pilot says. Thank goodness I had a decent night's sleep at a hotel. Otherwise, I might have gone postal at this point. Deboard. Call home to tell them not to come yet.
So, 9:30 rolls around and we finally get on our plane for home. Is it really going to happen this time? Who cares, right? I'm a little sick of this story, aren't you? But, yeah, we are on our plane flying through the air heading to Tulsa. F I N A L L Y. We land and are taxiing to our gate. "Uh folks, we are just waiting for a plane to be moved before we unload at our gate. It will be just a few more minutes," pilot says. I can see the freakin' gate. I can see the people moving around inside the airport. The LAST airport I need to be in for the rest of my life. I am going to bash my head through this window and crawl out and walk to the car. I am so glad I am not a violent person. And I am so glad I was around other non-violent persons at that time. "The wheels on the plane that is at the gate we are supposed to deboard from are frozen. We are waiting for another plane to be moved so we can let you all off," pilot says. Well, of course! Of course! We have been traveling from the other side of the world for a VERY long time (almost 50 hours counting the time in the hotel, and, yes, I do count those hours) so why shouldn't the planes wheels freeze on Christmas Day? Why not?! I'm OK, seriously, I am.
So, we deboard, see my sister and brother-in-law and our oldest son (it was so icy outside that the other kids stayed home with my mother-in-law just to be safe), grab our luggage and go home. HOME!! There IS no place like home. I can testify to that!
I am a wife to a wonderful man, and a mother of five beautiful, healthy children. If I had time, I would get organized, read, research stuff, exercise (pressing on!), and take more naps. We live in the great state of Oklahoma. Life is good. God is great!
A List of Common Adoption World Abbreviations and Terms
SWI - Social Welfare Institution, the orphanage, but also sometimes an orphanage and a home for the elderly
SN - Special Need, some of the families request a child with a special need, we have chosen not to
LID - Log In Date, the date your dossier is officially logged in in China
Travel Group - All the other families who have the same DTC/LID date as we do and we will all travel together unless one of them chooses a child with a special need. Usually all the referrals in a group come from the same orphanage, which will be another thing we will have in common with our travel group.
I-171h - a PPP that we waited 6 weeks on so we could finish our dossier
USCIS - United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Bethany - Our adoption case worker at Dillon who is very patient and has a great sense of humor
Dillon - Our adoption agency, which we love, is based in Tulsa, but serves many parts of the country, and it's Christian based
PPP - Pretty Peace of Paper, once you have received the pesky one it becomes the pretty one ;)
PPP - Pesky Piece of Paper, which is any piece of important paper you are waiting on
Referral - The first picture you see of the child you have been matched with and a brief medical history