Anna's Adoption

We adopted our daughter in August 2005. Take a peek at the process!

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's So Easy (Not!) To Fall in Love!

What a difference four months makes!

Believe it or not, I had a hard time falling in love with this little girl! Before Gotcha Day, I had spent months reading books, blogs, and anything else I could get my hands on about adoption. People gushed about their adoption day, and how they instantly feel in love with their child. Someone mentioned how God was more real to them on their adoption day than at any other time in their life. Wow. That was not me, and it racked me with guilt.
I felt more like a caregiver than anything else. Having had two biological children, I was not prepared for the differences I would feel. They were not bad differences, but they were things I was not prepared for. As a result, our first 24 hours as a family were filled with tears and guilt. I wondered if this little girl deserved better, and would someone else be a better mother for her. My husband was a rock, and reminded me that "we were not brought this far to fail! She's the one God saved for us!" What a great man and pillar of strength.

The only thing that "saved" me was a talk with a friend prior to leaving. She shared her feelings about how things had been different for her as well. "I spent our first 24 hours in shock!" As I became more honest with my feelings, others in our group opened up as well. "I was just going through the proper emotions on Gotcha Day" lamented one of our travel mates. "She looked little like her referral photo and I was not prepared for that", she continued. As we started to share, I began to realize I was not the only one with mixed emotions.

Emotions continued to pour out once we got home. People in our DTC group discussed difficult emotions as bonding and attachment issues arose. Most of the issues revolved around just getting used to having a baby in the house. She may be from China, but by golly she tears up the house just like any ol' kid!

Anna would reach for strangers and cry when I held her back. It broke my heart to think that she preferred a stranger over me! What was I doing wrong!?! This continued for a month or two after we got home.

I spoke with another friend last week who mentioned celebrating Gotcha Day. She said she never wants to remember that day as it was awful! Her 20 month daughter had been in foster care, and was grieving for most of the trip. She cried, screamed, and wanted nothing to do with them. "No one in our group wanted to be with us as well as she was always crying and screaming. I just wanted to come home. I was not prepared for this at all!" What she said, and others have mentioned it as well, is I just wish someone had told me!

Please understand that I am not trying to scare anyone, but rather prepare you. It's hard to imagine anything but love and relief after months/years of waiting for your Gotcha Moment. But, I wish others had shared with me so I had an idea about how different things could be. Not bad, but different. People I've talked with regarding bonding issues have all said the same thing; I wish someone had told me it's not always peaches and cream! I hope this knowledge will allow you to enjoy and treasure your Adoption Day no matter how you may feel! In the end, it will be one of the best days of your life!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Medical stuff

I was surprised to get such a nice vaccine record for Anna. There is one other page that I did not scan that listed her Mumps, Measles, and DPT. We had her titres checked when we got home to check her immune levels. I was hoping this would save her an extra stick. It actually would have caused more because they would have to recheck the levels after additional vaccines to make sure they go up to the new appropriate levels.

Awful picture of me, but this was taken after we had been home for about 8 hours after 30 hours of traveling. I made an appointment for us before we left for China. The apt was for the day we got home, and I'm so thankful we had this! Anna developed a rash on the flight home called impetigo. Not a big deal but very contagious. With two other kids running around I was glad to get it treated as soon as possible! Anna had a bunch of blood drawn to check for everything under the sun. The only issue she had was low iron so she took a supplement for four weeks. Besides this she had a clean bill of health and was 40% for weight and 50% for height on US charts!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Send me an Email!

I've got a handful of friends who are getting ready to travel and would love some more help with travel prep! If you are a BTDT and have a minute, drop me an email with some "I'm so glad we did or did not do this" advice and a picture. I'll post it and I know people will be glad to read it! Thanks so much!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Don't Be Afraid To Hit the Road!

I know the idea of heading out on your own can seem a little frightening, but it was one of the best things that we did. With another couple, we would often get a taxi and cruise around town. It gave us the chance to see many other sights, get something to eat besides hotel food, and get a better feel for Chinese culture. Taxis are CHEAP - around 2 dollars round trip.

Ask the hotel front desk to help you out. They will give you a card like this with the name of where you want to go. Show your taxi driver this card on the way home to get back to the hotel. Always make sure you have a few spares with the hotel address. We had a few close calls where we weren't sure what happened to our life line!
You have to love the Chinese way of driving. I don't believe we ever saw a traffic light, and it's pretty much a free for all.
Scooters are everywhere as well. Many of the parents would ride with their babies in front. There's no age limit. Babies would go for rides in front carriers!
It was great to get out and get a feel for Chinese life and culture. We have great photos to share with our daughter.
We stepped out on our own and went to the Guangzhou Zoo. It was neat, and worth the trip if you have some downtime. Bring a stroller as it is large and you'll do plenty of walking.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Splish Splash! Anna's Takin' a Bath!

Anna did great in the bathtub from day one. I know a few in our group had some issues for the first few days, but after that all the babies were lovin' the water! People talked about bringing a blow up bath tub to make things easier, but no one in our group used one. It seems like a lot to bring, dry, and repack. If they are scared, I'd jump in there with them. We brought some toys from home, but she was more into the bubbles I would blow with soap on the washcloth.
Someone in our group mentioned that they bathed their baby in the sink. I tried this once, and as you can see, Anna loved it. She loved it so much that we did not do it again because it was so messy! She splashed and water was over the counter, floor, our toiletries, etc by the time we were done. But she had a ball! This may be a good option is your baby is not keen on the bath tub.
Before I forget, you may want to bring something for motion sickness. I have never had much of a problem with this, but for some reason China did me in. Riding on the bus, looking at Anna rather than out the window, and the constant smell of diesel had me feeling sick. Our guide was able to get some medication for me, but non-drowsy did not translate very well! This medication made me so tired that I chose to be nauseated rather than knocked out. Just a little something to think about!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Gettin' Around Town

The other thing we talked about often on our DTC group was how to carry our babies. Most people in our group rented strollers. A few had front carriers and wraps. I think the time of year you travel plays a part as well. We traveled in August and it was so hot. We were all happier with some space. Ummm . . . I also have no idea why this is underlined.

We brought a Hip Hammock that I won on Ebay. I hate paying full price for something that I don't know if I'll like, baby will like, etc. As you can see, Anna had no problem getting comfortable. My hubby, on the other hand, was so hot. You can see that his shirt is all wet and sweaty. Sorry. I know it's gross. We did not use it much after our first few days.

We finally sucked it up and rented a stroller for five dollars from the hotel. They were really nice - most had shades. We took this out to go shopping and walking around town. Much more comfortable for all than the hip hammock. She could see better and use her hands to eat, drink, etc.

Formula Please, Shaken not Stirred!

One of the frequent topics of discussion on my DTC board was formula, what type of bottles to bring, fast or slow nipples, soy or cow's milk, etc. Let me share what we, along with other members of our group, found out!

We did have to "eat on the go" most days. We premeasured formula in the bottles, and brought two with us during the day. We did bring a thermos, and my only word of warning would be to not put in HOT water. We did this, thinking that it would cool off throughout the day. It truly did not which was a fun discovery the first day out. I think my hubby suffered second degree burns on his leg as we poured water on a bouncing bus!

We were so worried about what type of formula to bring, and it was never an issue during the trip. I brought all these nice, Enfamil, single serving, and we left them all in China. We were given two bags of formula on Gotcha Day, and we purchased more at Walmart. The formula comes in nonresealable bags so we purchased a Rubbermaid for storage. We tried Ziplocs but they were just too messy.

There was a lot of talk about fast versus slow nipples. We brought the fastest we could find, and it was too much for her. I had to borrow a medium flow nipple from a travel mate. Keep this is mind when you are purchasing and packing.

We brought a bottle brush which was great. When it was time to clean them, I would mix a few drops of dish washing liquid in a hotel cup with water from the hot plate. All three of our rooms had "heat up water things" that produced boiling water in a few minutes. I would soak our nipples in the hot water, pull them out with the bottle brush, and rinse them with bottled water. We used our bottle brush instead of bringing tongs.

We bought Playtex Bottles with the clear silicone nipples. These worked great. We also brought sippy cups with handles. We used these for water and juice. Not only did they make traveling easier, but it was another source of entertainment for her!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hey, This Does Not Look Like Chinese Food!!

There is a lot of talk about food, what to bring in terms of snacks, etc. I can say that we never had problems with the food in China. Yes, there were things that we did not want to eat, but you find that everywhere. Almost every group meal was a buffet type setting where we could pick and choose. Many times you could visit your meal before you sat down!

The hotel food was always good. A friend took pictures of a more "exotic" buffet, something that would scare most people! That is octopus in the background!

Many of our meals were like this, a "spinning" circle with all sorts of yummy dishes. There was always rice, a good filler for anyone.

A little more of the exotic buffet. Can you guess what this is!?!?

This is another one of my favorite photos. It was very Griswald of me to take it, but I could not believe this was a "salad"! The Great Wall of Cucumbers! We found a Pizza Hut in Guangzhou, and there was a great salad bar. You paid per trip so people really got their monies worth! I would encourage you to eat here one night. It was great and the cab ride was cheap (two dollars).

We did not bring a suitcase full of snacks, and we were never hungry! We did bring a few things, and I would suggest something along these lines. There is a good chance that you will catch an early morning flight to your baby's province, Guangzhou, and the day that you fly home. I'm a breakfast person, and we did not have time to eat at the hotel before the bus pulled away. I had Oatmeal on the Go containers, and they were great. Not only did I like them, but Anna enjoyed them as well. You can tell an adult that breakfast will be served on the plane, but a baby could care less! They want to eat NOW!

I brought a couple Cup O' Noodles, and we ate them when we were too tired to go out. This was our first meal in Beijing!

We had cheese filled crackers that were great snacks for the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. After we got Anna, I mostly ate Cheerios and Rice Puffs. I have developed quite a taste for Gerber Banana Rice Puffs!

There are little vendors all over that sell ice cream bars. I had an excellent chococlate and almond dipped vanilla ice cream bar at the Summer Palace. Yum. It was so hot and it tasted sooo good.

There is coffee in the mornings at the hotel breakfast buffet. I was told to bring coffee on one of the lists, and I'm glad we did not.

Yes, soda does not taste the same in China. I loooove Diet Coke, and it's different in China. Oh well. I had the child I'd been dreaming about for years. I could handle it. Sprite was served at our buffets and it tasted great. Water was everywhere and as we all know, it's the best thing for you! :)

The breakfast buffets in the hotels were great. Plenty of everything you could ever want: fruit, cereal, juice,eggs, pastries, etc. I was plesantly surprised.

We ordered room service a few times and it was typical of what you would get in the US. It was good, but a little cold. We were able to get things that we "missed"; a turkey sandwich and a hamburger.

We often had dinner in the hotel. Sometimes it's easier to stick "close to home" when you have a baby. The food was fine, and in Nanning, I developed quite a craving for what they call a hamburger. In the US, it would be called Black Pepper With Some Ground Beef. Speaking of black pepper, don't forget your Pepto!

In Guangzhou, there is a place called Danny's Bagels that serves "American" food. They deliver, to your hotel room, pizza, hogies, spaghetti, soups, etc. It tasted great, and it was nice to not go out for every meal. We ordered the potato soup for Anna, and she loved it!

Food- wise for baby, we brought little. If I had to do it again, I would add rice cereal with formula to our list. A friend let us borrow some, and Anna loved it. She gave it to us because her daughter would not eat it. So it's really a guessing game until you actually get your baby. We brought Bitter Bisquits because my boys loved them. Anna would not touch them so we let them in China. The Cheerios and Rice Puffs are a must. Think about what you want to feed them on the plane ride home. Oatmeal would be a great option. Add some hot water and you have a great meal.

So relax and enjoy the dining in China! Bring your camera because you never know what you may see!

Girls Just Want to Have Fun!

One of the my concerns was "How do I entertain this child in a hotel room, on an airplane, etc!?!?" So we brought all these wonderful things and guess what? She was mostly interested in the liners we had for her bottles. So we would hide them in our suitcase and play a game of "hide and seek". I know it sounds rather lame, but she loved it!

I love this picture. Notice the toys around her and what does she have? The wonderful bottle liners. I bought that purple ball at Walmart in the pet section, which is rather tiny. There is actually a dog in the zoo in Guangzhou!

Ok, back to the subject! Anna loved those DK Touch and Feel books. The farm animals is still a favorite. Most of these children have never felt varying textures so this sort of activity is not only fun, but excellent for them developmentally. Some families brought stacking cups which went over well. A blow up beach ball is a good toy and easy to pack. You can buy lucky drums in China and those were fun for the babies. Bubbles are neat and easy to pack. Anna did like the toy cell phone we had for her. I think she was more into the fact that she could open and close it rather than push the buttons. Enjoy! Shopping for baby toys is so much fun!

A Safety Issue

Being third time parents, we saw the cribs and were a little uncomfortable. I'm not real anal about crib slat widths, but this was a little much. So we asked for more blankets and draped them over the sides. Kept her arms, legs, head, etc. in and was also nice padding. I would think about bringing a few extra baby blankets as well. When we got to Guangzhou, we could not get two extra blankets so we used our bath towels (did I ever tell you that my hubby likes to call us the Grizwalds?). The blankets were also nice for propping her on her side to help with the flat head issue. Not only was it flat, but she had a "lump" from laying on her back with her head to one side. Rather unflattering for a little lady! So packmate a few extra blankets for the trip!

Never Fear - There is Always Walmart!

When we were packing, I was so worried about forgetting something that would make our trip miserable. Well, despite printing off every packing list on APC, DTC yahoo groups, etc., I forgot things. We got to China and realized there were things that we needed. So we went to Walmart! I really liked the place! Some people shun the store, saying it's not the "true cultural experience". Well, the place was always packed so we had quite the cultural experience. Just walking up and down the aisles and seeing the foods they sell is an experience itself! I was able to snap some pics and was later told "NO PICTURE!"

Nanning, Guangxi

The meat department

Isn't he great? They sell so many foods that we have never heard of!

Walmart is two stories with an escalator to go up and down.

What amazed me the most is how picky we are as Americans. Walmart sells it all - I'm talking aisle freezers of bulk meat parts. Take the tongs and get ears, feet, etc. There is no waste which I don't think is a bad thing. I'm a "no white meat? Ok than I'll have something else" kind of girl. Not something to be proud of!

On a more important note, you can get all sorts of baby things here. They sell formula, baby food, cereal, and juice. I would recommend bringing Cheerios or those Gerber rice puff things. We did not see those in China, and the kids loved them. If you bring the whole Gerber canister, it also serves as a neat shake toy. Anything to keep them happy on a 15 hour flight home.

PACKMATES - Could Not Have Traveled Without Them!

The other piece of advice I would have to give you soon to be travelers, is to buy packmates. Yes, you can get them at Kohl's, Walmart, Target, etc., but this is by far the best deal. You will get 15 medium bags for $30.00. You can't find a better deal than that!
We "packmated" our clothes in outfits. We put into one packmate what we would need in Beijing, and that was all we needed to take out during our first stop. You thinking packing the first time is tough! Remember that you have to unpack and then repack at least two other times!
We packmated diapers and that shrunk them up perfectly. You can get diapers in China, but we had the space so we purchased them here.
We packmated all of our stinky clothes for the trip home. It was summer and we were hot and sweaty. Not the prettiest picture but I'm just being honest. The packmates seem to seal in the smell as well. :)
There are not many things I would swear by, but even my hubby was sold by the end of our trip. Soooo . . . .
Call Linda at 1-800-432-7517 and ask for the adoption special. Happy packing!

A little about us!: A Great Idea!

A little about us!: The Radison in Beijing