Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Last Day in Guangzhou

Today was our last day in Guangzhou, and the only official business was to pick up Caroline's immigrant visa and passport.  I also have the official envelope to present to the Customs agent in Chicago.  Caroline becomes a U.S. citizen when she passes through Customs...amazing how that happens.   

 Our coordinator took the group to the Pearl and Jade Market one more time as well as Shamian Island.  We had lunch at Lucy's and headed back to the hotel.   Caroline took a nap and we did some packing.  As I write this I'm still hoping that we can get everything packed.  We did buy an extra suitcase for Caroline.  It's full.   

 TODAY CAROLINE WALKED ON HER OWN WITHOUT HOLDING ON TO ANYTHING!!  She is crawling, walking, giggling, acting silly and imitating me.  She is making 'kissing' sounds and I taught her how to blow a kiss.  She is starting to act like a 21-month-old.  To me, she looks like a different person than she did a week ago.     

Today's picture was taken at Shamian Island in Lucy's.  She is doing what she loves to do - EAT.  The next time I post on the blog we will be at home in Marion, IN.   Our flight leaves tomorrow at 12:35 p.m. and we'll fly through Seoul, South Korea, then to Chicago.  Jim and Sue Sonnefield are picking us up at the Chicago airport at 5:30 on Wednesday.  I hope we have some friends and family greeting us at the International terminal of the airport...Asiana Airlines.    

It's been an amazing journey, and we'll be glad to get home. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oath at ACS and River Boat Tour

Today was a LONG day.  We had to stay in our hotel room this morning to wait while my coordinator (David) took all of my important paperwork to the American Consulate.....if there was a problem, I would receive a phone call.  When the phone rang my heart jumped out of my body....but, it was just David telling me that all of my paperwork was fine.    
We had our group picture at noon.....Caroline doesn't pose well with big groups...but we made it.  Then, at 3:00 we traveled to the American Consulate to take the oath.  This was the culmination of such a long process and it was very emotional.  I doubt that I will be able to talk about it without tearing up.  Adoptive families stood, raised our right hand (most of us were holding our children) and repeated the oath.  At the end I cried like a baby because Caroline is now truly mine.  She is absolutely my daughter.  *tears in eyes right now*    
At 5:30 we went on a River Boat Cruise on the Pearl River in Guangzhou. We didn't really enjoy the food, but the cultural experience was fun The big story here was when the food came.  Caroline was sitting on my lap because there were no 'baby' chairs.  They brought a traditional Chinese bowl and spoon with noodles and rice.  I started to feed Caroline but she took this spoon and started to feed herself.....she then took the bowl off of the table.  I tried to put the bowl back on the table but Caroline became hysterical.   She evidently thought I was taking the food away from her.  We ended up putting the bowl in her lap. She then ate from that bowl for the rest of the evening, barely getting any rice or noodles on that spoon.   I tried to help scoop rice on her spoon.   We all realized that this is how she was used to eating.....probably given a bowl of noodles or rice and told to feed herself.  Then, they probably took the bowl away from her when she was still hungry because she wasn't able to get much food on that spoon.   I think that this particular type of bowl and spoon reminded her of her life before adoption.   Learning more every day about this precious girl.  I love her so much.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Day in Pictures

Today has been a good day.  We started the day with a leisurely shopping trip to Shamian Island.  Mom, Anne, Kristen, Caroline, and I took a cab to the island.  We ended up at Starbucks (again) for a snack.  This afternoon I met with the other adoptive parents and our coordinators David and Elsie at the hotel to complete the seemingly endless paperwork that had to be done in order to get Caroline's immigrant visa.   While I was doing that, the girls all took a nap.  We ended the day with dinner in the hotel with another adoptive single mom from St. Louis and her little one.   Oh, and Caroline stood on her own today and started immitating sounds that I was making.  Caroline makes significant progress each and every day.
First time for Caroline to open a book.
Caroline giving us one of her sly smiles.
Evidence that 'Aunt' Annie fed Caroline whipped cream from her
frappucino at Starbucks. Caroline liked it.
Anne, Kristen, Chris, Gerry, and Caroline at the White Swan Hotel
on Shamian Island.
Caroline wearing a hat.....it didn't stay on her head
very long but she looked cute in it. The hat is a bit big, so
hopefully, she'll grow into it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Medical Exam and More Breakthroughs

Today we had to go to Shamian Island for Caroline's medical exam.   This was a bit traumatic for Caroline.  As soon as we walked toward the first exam room she saw the white coats and immediately started crying and hung on to me for dear life.  She has spent time in the hospital and has had to have follow-up tests in her young life so I understood why she was scared.  Thankfully, she did not need to have any shots.  I have to admit that this was just about as traumatic for me because I didn't like seeing Caroline so scared....I had to shed a tear as I watched.  But, the exam didn't take too long and we were 'out of there.'   We had time to do some shopping and eat lunch at Lucy's, a well-known restaurant among adoptive families.   We plan to go back to Shamian Island tomorrow by ourselves and just have some leisure shopping time.    
Kristen Bowman, one of my former students who teaches music in Qingdao at an International School, arrived late last night and is spending four days with us.  She speaks Mandarin REALLY well and so when it came time to 'deal' for a better price on merchandise, Kristen did the job for me. I had so much fun hearing her speak Mandarin and 'work' those shopkeepers.     
Breakthroughs for today:   1) more animation and more expression; 2) more smiles; 3) SHE STOOD UP AT THE SIDE OF THE CRIB.......and this afternoon when we returned from Shamian Island I just let her roll around on the floor and while we weren't paying attention to her, she started to stand up.  Oh my, we were thrilled!   4) she waved at me about 15 minutes ago.    
Here is what I have decided about Caroline.......she is a serious girl who analyzes and thinks about everything.  She observes everything around her.   She has excellent fine motor coordination with her hands....a very precise and neat eater and can pick up the smallest crumb.   Caroline has one facial expression that just kills me....she looks out of the corner of her eyes at me and does this crooked smile - trust me, you'll melt when you see it.  Then, she has a big smile where she shows all of her pretty teeth.   One of these days I hope to get more pictures of both of those expressions.    
Today's pictures are of the line-up for the medical exam on Shamian Island as well as a picture of Anne, our 'sherpa' for the day.  You'll notice that Anne is wearing her Vera Bradley backpack on the front....this is the Chinese way of doing things.....very stylish, don't you think?   Oh, and we found the Starbucks on the island....yes, Caroline loves a mocha frappacino....don't worry, I didn't give her the whole thing....just a sip - but she loved it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hot at the Zoo, and Time to Chill

Our only 'official' activity today was to go to the Guangzhou Zoo. Thankfully, we went in the morning so it wasn't quite as hot....but trust me...it was plenty hot outside today - 93 degrees.  We opted to pay for a 'golf cart' type vehicle and a driver that took us to all of the major exhibits of the zoo.  Boy are we glad that we did that!  It was a nice morning and the zoo was beautiful.   We came back to the hotel, ate a snack, then it was nap time....for all of us.   It takes several days to get adjusted to the 12-hour time difference and we are not quite there yet.    
 At dinner tonight we sat next to a couple from South Africa.  They were such a nice couple and were taken with Caroline.  They have been traveling for a month to different countries and are in China for potential business interests.  They asked question after question about the adoption process and by the end of the conversation they have pretty much decided to adopt from China, even after I told them about the long wait.     
Today Caroline was more relaxed, more animated, and seemed stronger physically.  She is still somewhat withdrawn, but continues to come out of her shell day by day.  She still won't walk, but I'm not stressing over it.  We think that this is just a coping mechanism.   I know that she can walk.  She has definitely been potty trained....so getting the potty chair was a good idea.  She still wears diapers, but I'm guessing that they trained her to go potty at certain times of the day.  We are still trying to figure out when those times are  :)   We are not pushing it, but are giving her 'opportunities' to go.  (This is a whole new experience for me to be writing about 'potty' training!!!).    
Tomorrow we meet the rest of the Children's Hope agency travel group. There are a total of 14 families who have traveled to several provinces in China and are now gathering in Guangzhou for the last part of the process.  I'm anxious to meet them because several of us have corresponded via email as we prepared to travel. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Big breakthrough...and Buddhist Temple

Today, Caroline started playing with a toy.  We have been trying to engage her in toys, books, etc., but she would just sit and stare.  We decided (based on recommendation from Anne's friend) that perhaps Caroline was getting too much stimulus......an overload.   So, this morning I took Caroline to a quiet room on our floor where there is lots of floor space.   I took only one toy and we sat on the floor together. At first I modeled 'playtime' for her....her eyes followed every move that I made.  Then, I just moved back a bit to see what she would do...and she started picking up the toy and playing.  I cried.  This was a big deal.  And, to top it off, she was doing some vocalizing....a quiet hum.  Good stuff.  I am including a picture of Caroline playing with the toy.   
 Our tour coordinator took us to a Buddhist Temple.  This was certainly my first time visiting a place like this.  The incense was very strong. It is an open area with many small temples.    We then went to a shopping area that was quite overwhelming.  The most interesting thing about this excursion is that I was stopped by a group of Chinese teenage girls who wanted to take a picture with me.  Then, a group wanted a picture with Anne.   I've always heard that they like to have their picture taken with foreigners...now I know it's true.   
 Tomorrow....the Guangzhou Zoo.   And, the rest of our tour group arrives tomorrow.  I'm very excited to meet them and their kiddos.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Several Breakthroughs Today!

Milestones accomplished today by Caroline:   1) She smiled at least 10 times and showed her teeth...yay for big smiles; 2) she giggled; 3) She decided to be a big girl and sat up and even stood today....I watched her walk toward me on Gotcha Day so I know she can walk;  4) she is closer to playing with toys today...we are thinking that she was never given toys to play with by herself....she doesn't know what to do with them; 5) she likes to shop (like her Momma)....when we went to the Carrefour (their version of Walmart) she lit up and smiled and was really engaged...she was a little flirt; 6) she is starting to learn the sign for 'eat'....and demonstrated it several times when she wanted another bite....she's a good eater and food seems to be a good motivator for her; and, 7) she peed and pooped in the potty chair....that's a major deal!    
The main thing that Caroline struggles with are 'transitions'......any kind of change cause her to cry.  If I am holding her, but I move, or if we move from one room to another....any change scares her.  That is totally understandable, so we know that with time this will improve. Also, in the picture of Caroline in the high chair, you'll notice that she is holding on to a blue object.  That is an 'egg shaker', a little 'percussion' instrument.   She holds on to that shaker from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed....well, actually, she is still holding on to it and she is asleep.   That is attributed to being a 'hoarder'....very natural in her situation.  If you are afraid that something might be taken away from you....food, or a toy, you hold on to it for dear life.  That is what she's doing with the egg shaker.  We are guessing that food was taken away from her before she was full....and that perhaps she's never had anything that truly belonged to her. Therefore, she holds on to the shaker.  That's OK....soon, she'll learn that she doesn't have to hoard things.    
Today's pictures are from the restaurant at the China Hotel where we eat the breakfast buffet every morning; and the Guangzhou Orchid Garden. Included in one of the pictures is Anne Miller, one of my closest friends who arrived in Guangzhou on Monday just before I received Caroline.  Tomorrow we are visiting a Buddhist Temple and a shopping market.    
Last thing.....our official business today was applying for Carolines registration and visa.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adoption is Finalized....and Transition Time

Today was the day that my adoption was finalized in China.  I had to have my picture taken with Caroline, then I had to be interviewed, fill out a bit more paperwork, then meet with the notary to answer the same questions, and sign papers.  That went smoothly. 
We are thrilled with Caroline.  She is very shy and still doesn't trust....that will come with time.  I am happy to say that she has bonded with me and doesn't want me out of her sight....and she wants me to hold her all of the time.  I'm happy to accommodate her! She can certainly walk, so we are hoping that she will decide to demonstrate that skill in the next day or two.    
Caroline smiled today!   About 4 times today she cracked a smile.....so sweet!   She loves to be touched and caressed.  When I put her to bed, she continues to rock herself to sleep, so she is a self-soother.  so, hopefully, when she knows that I'll soothe her by rocking her to sleep she won't feel the need to rock herself.  She has also attached herself to a little stuffed animal....it is a 'Beposh' brand striped monkey. She has to have that at all times.....so when I return home I better get another one just like it in case she loses this one.  I can recall a certain cousin who couldn't be without her 'Puffy'.....and when that Puffy was lost, there was a mad dash to find another one.  I don't want to do the 'mad dash.'    
Enjoy the pictures from today.  

Monday, September 21, 2009

Words Cannot Describe

So, I'll let the pictures tell the story of my Gotcha Day, Sept. 21, 2009.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Walk in the Park (pictures)

Chris standing next to one of the many statues at the Liuhuahu Park.

Mom sitting by one of the ponds and a couple of ladies who were cleaning the area in Liuhuahu Park.

Our hotel, Marriott China Hotel

Walk in the Park

Today we decided that it was time to venture outside of the hotel again. We thought it best to go right after breakfast due to the heat.   We walked a total of about 4 blocks away to the Liuhuahu Park.  On our walk we passed by some a couple of fish markets (you can imagine the smell).....Mom doesn't like fish anyway, so she really turned up her nose at them!  I will say that there were some interesting looking fish that you won't find in the Walmart seafood department.   When we arrived at the park, there were many Chinese families strolling the walkways. If the temperatures hadn't been so hot, we would have stayed longer. We were drenched by the time we got back to the hotel.....no wonder, it was 97 degrees and high humidity. We did find a luggage shop on the way back where we bought Caroline's suitcase for a very good price.    
As I write this, it is 2:25 a.m. on Monday morning (I'm still trying to adjust to the time change).  I will receive Caroline in just about 12 hours.  My life will never be the same (*big smile*)....please be thinking of us as we meet for the first time.  Caroline will probably be quite scared and apprehensive to go with this blonde-headed lady that she doesn't know....along with two other blondies....Mom and Anne.    
Some pictures from Sunday's stroll will be posted soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

'Chillin' in Guangzhou

Today was a day to 'chill' and catch up on much needed rest.  Mom and I stayed in the hotel most of the day.  We ventured outside for a short walk, but since we really don't know where we are going, and because it is quite hot here, we decided to head back to the hotel and enjoy the amenities there.    
At breakfast I met three American families who had already experienced their 'Gotcha Day'.....such sweet babies.  I asked them a few questions about the eating habits of the babies....apparently they are eating everything in sight.  Also, one of the families that now lives in Louisville are natives of Indiana....the wife is originally from Peru and the husband from Kokomo.  It really is a small world.   
 Two days until Gotcha Day.  I would just like to fastforward to Monday, please.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Made It To Guangzhou!

Mom and I arrived in Guangzhou on Friday, Sept 18 at 11:20 a.m......that's 11:20 p.m. on Thursday night in Indiana.  The 14-hour flight to Seoul wasn't our favorite thing to do....but again, we made it just fine.  We are staying at the Marriott China Hotel in Guangzhou on the 17th floor.  Guangzhou has a population of 12 million people.....that's BIG!      
We were met at the airport by a hotel staff person who took us to our driver.....very easy!   Our adoption agency Guangzhou coordinator's name is David and we also met him today.  He is very nice and we look forward to becoming friends.    
Mom and I opted to get the upgrade to the executive floor of the hotel so that we could have access to an executive lounge area that is always stocked with snacks.  I think this will be nice to take Caroline there so we can sit on the floor and play.....the lounge even as a Wii......perhaps someone will teach me how to play.    
As soon as we arrived in our room, the crib was delivered.  It's really coming true!   Monday at 2:15 p.m. I get to meet my daughter for the very first time!  That's Monday morning at 2:15 a.m. Indiana time.    
OK, time to rest.  We are both pooped. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leaving Tomorrow for China

I can't believe that Mom and I are leaving for China tomorrow....unbelievable. Praying that God will keep us safe and healthly as we travel. Chicago to Seoul, South Korea to Guangzhou.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thank you, Wind Ensemble Ladies!

The ladies of the Indiana Wesleyan University Wind Ensemble held a shower for me....organized and hosted by Lindy. It was so nice to be with them and talk about the adoption process and what my life will be like for the next couple of weeks. They gave such lovely and wonderful gifts! I love my ladies of the wind ensemble.

Leave in THREE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gotcha Day in EIGHT DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Caroline's Room and New Clothes

Caroline's clothes to wear while in China

Caroline's bedroom dresser..and lots of butterflies

The new crib

The rocking chair was mine when I was a little girl.