Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday 10/21: Medical Appointment

Today was Lydia's medical appointment.  This is a required appointment in order to qualify for a US visa.  Lydia slept well last night, only whimpering 1-2 times in the night and not truly waking up.  We had breakfast in the hotel and were able to meet more US families who recently arrived in GZ from other provinces to finish their adoption steps here.  After breakfast we met our guide and 2 other families in the lobby.  Little Miss was ready to go! She loves to go, go, go in that little red stroller.

At the medical appointment each child has to go through four stations: ENT, measurements, general physical exam and TB blood draw (if the child is over 2).  We knew what to expect since it is our third time to do it.  Lydia handled the ENT station fine so our next step was measurements.  They took her height and weight and then her temperature.  She's around 25 lbs-- bigger than we expected her to be but still a peanut.  She's wearing size 18 month clothes and a size 3-4 shoe.  It was at the measurement station that we were informed that Lydia had a low grade fever.  At first they said they would retake her temperature before we left but we couldn't get her to drink any water and weren't convinced that her temp would go down that quickly.  It was decided that we would return on Monday to recheck her temperature before our visa appointment on Tuesday.  At the general physical exam Lydia was cooperative and the doctor asked us about her transfusion requirements and when her last transfusion was.  Lydia refused to show the doctor that she can stand and bear weight on her legs--- something Hannah also refused to do at her visa medical appointment!  The last station was the TB blood draw.  Sadly they do not let the parents go in the room with the children for this part of the appointment.  When Samuel went in for his blood draw, he was in there screaming for at least 10-15 minutes while they tried to find a vein (likely foreshadowing to him needing a port!).  Thankfully when they took Lydia back (screaming!) she was out in 3-4 minutes and they had completed the blood draw successfully.  We chose to pay an extra 23 RMB (about $4!) to have a CBC run so we can check her hemoglobin before we fly home on Friday.

With the ENT doctor

Cuddle + play time in the room while we waited for lunch to be delivered

Lydia has become quite opinionated about HER things and how to play with them.  She wanted to read Brown Bear Brown Bear but *I* turned the page instead of her which was deemed highly offensive!  Hence the temper tantrum Bryan documented below.  Clue #1 that Lydia was ready for her nap!!  ;)

We ordered room service.  I was lame and got pizza and Bryan got a soup dish with chicken, rice and vegetables that he shared with Lydia.  She loved it.  After lunch Lydia and I both took naps. Bryan attended a meeting with our guide to prepare all of Lydia's paperwork for her visa appointment on Tuesday.  After Lydia's nap, we decided to walk about 10 minutes to Liahuahu Park.  Lydia was excited to be out and about and was fever free and feeling good! The park has a large lake in the middle with a pathway that goes all the way around.  The weather was great so it was nice to be out! We ran into another US family and visited with them for a bit before heading back to the hotel for dinner in the executive lounge.  

Horrible backlight on this pic-- but there was a large building at the park near the lake. We are not sure what the purpose of the building is but it was really pretty!

We sat with other adoptive families during dinner and enjoyed visiting with them.  After dinner, Lydia was in a great mood back in the hotel.  She got brave enough to start taking a few baby steps while holding our hands.  She is so proud of herself when she accomplishes these things! She also crawled maybe 1.5-2 feet to Bryan today.  This is huge considering she did not want to move her body at all a few days ago! We are so thankful to see her making such quick progress.  She also continues to do lots of imaginative play and tonight was pretending to collect something from under the table, mix it up and feed it to herself and to me.  It was so cute to watch!

We are kind of at the stage of the trip where you are just ready to be DONE and go home.  We've had a good trip that has been relatively easy compared to other trips, so we are thankful for that. I'm trying to focus on enjoying this time with Lydia and enjoying China because we truly do love our time here.  We just miss our kids and the ease of being at home.  I'm trying to remember that in the early days of being home with us, Lydia may have moments when she is just DONE and ready to go back to China where things feel familiar.  She is about to experience some huge changes in the next week once we are home, and many of those changes will not be easy for her.

Me trying to stay warm in our cold hotel room.  We have no extra blankets so I am making do with a bath towel! 

Tomorrow we have plans to attend a church on Shamian Island with another adoptive family.  It is a different church from the one we went to last week.  The church tomorrow can be attended by people from Mainland China unlike the church last week.  We are excited to visit there and then enjoy the island a little bit - a trademark destination for all adoptive families. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday 10/20: Baiyun Mountain

Today was another 'free day' with no adoption related appointments for us.  The appointments start up again on Saturday.  Our sweet girl continues to go to sleep relatively easily at both nap time and bedtime.  She does whimper a few times in the night but doesn't seem to truly wake up.  Bryan and I have been taking turns going to the pack n play to rub or pat her back until she quiets which doesn't take long.  She seems to choose different toys to cling to each day-- last night it was a baby doll bottle and baby doll spoon which she clung to all night while she slept.

Sweet sleeping princess

After breakfast we made plans to go to Baiyun Mountain with our guide.  We have seen many of the sights of Guangzhou before on our previous two adoption trips so we are trying to go to places we haven't seen before.  We took the Chinese version of  Uber to the mountain park and purchased tickets to go to the top.  You can hike, take a golf cart/tram or take a cable car.  We elected to take the tram up and the cable car on the way down.  Once we arrived at the top it was so green and pretty! The weather in Guangzhou was gorgeous today.  It is not common to see such blue skies in most parts of China so this was a real treat!! Our guide said people were going to think we had photoshopped our pictures of China ;)

Heading to the observation area overlooking Guangzhou

It was a really pretty view of the city.  Guangzhou has 14 million people! Our guide, John, was pointing out 'downtown' to us when the whole thing looks like 'downtown' to us!  The climate here is similar to Houston although slightly more tropical. There is a lot of lush vegetation and flowering plants that remind us of bougainvillea we have seen in Mexico.  It was really pretty and a view of Guangzhou that we haven't seen before!

Before we left the hotel our guide showed us a picture of a local dessert he said we must have at the top of the mountain.  He said it was only available there and a local treat! We had told him about some of our eating adventures in Zhengzhou (the capital of Hannah's province) so I think this inspired him to give us a good story from this trip!  We soon found out that the desserts he wanted us to try were gelatin desserts: tofu ginger flavor and another made with brown sugar and TURTLE SHELL.  Nope. Just no.  I told Bryan I would be an observer not a participant in this dining adventure! 

Bryan & John studying the menu. 
John gave Bryan 3 choices: pickled pigs feet, chicken feet or turtle shell jello.
Bryan thought the turtle shell jello sounded the least offensive.

A picture of the menu

Lydia and I awaiting our fate

Lydia LOVED the tofu ginger dessert.  

Bryan eating the turtle shell jello.  He said it was definitely not the worst thing he's ever eaten but he wouldn't order it again.  He is such a good sport!

Happy girl in her stroller after some tofu jello!

We rode the cable car down to the bottom of the mountain where our guide had another Chinese Uber driver waiting for us.  The views from the cable car were pretty although I have to admit I'm not a huge cable car fan!

Getting tired and being a bit wiggly and wild

We ate take out from the Cantonese restaurant in our room for lunch and Lydia took a nice long nap.  Bryan and I enjoyed the downtime watching movies (or in my case a series I downloaded before we came here).  After nap, Lydia played some in the room.  She is starting to move more and try to cruise around the coffee table and even squat down to pick up toys she drops.  We also saw her maneuver over to the coffee table and pull herself up on her knees.  All of these things may not seem like a big deal but we are thrilled to see her moving and strengthening her muscles which just haven't had the opportunity to be used much.  We suspect she spent a lot of time in her crib and didn't have the chance to get down and play on the floor and master those gross motor milestones.

There are no cute pictures from dinner as Little Miss was being a bit ornery :/  We are thankful for another good day in Guangzhou and that Lydia is adjusting so well to life with her new Mama and Baba.  We are officially halfway done with our time here in China (hang in there, grandparents!!!!!)  We wish we could speed up the other appointments we have here but it is what it is.  We are going to try to savor this time bonding with Lydia and enjoying China with her.

Tomorrow is Lydia's medical appointment to qualify for a visa.  After that, we only have one more appointment left (her US consulate appointment) on Tuesday!

Thursday, 10/19: Shopping with Ann

Thursday was a free day for us in terms of adoption appointments, sso we had breakfast and then made plans to go shopping at the local wholesale markets.

Happiest when food is involved!

We have noticed that Lydia does not close her mouth around a spoon when being fed.  Based on how she acts when we do spoon feed her, we suspect that the food was kind of poured into her mouth maybe to help things go faster.  :( She also does not understand how to drink from a straw or an open cup.  

We made plans to shop with a local woman named Ann.  Her business is to take adoptive families shopping at wholesale markets in China to help them get better prices on souvenirs and jewelry.  I went shopping with her in 2014 and knew she helped me save a lot of money compared to prices we saw in other stores.  I definitely wanted to shop with her again! We met her in our hotel lobby at 9:30 after breakfast.  Ann has an amazing, bubbly personality and is also one of the fastest walking people I have ever met in my life.  We trailed behind her to catch a cab to our first stop, a large wholesale market pictured below:

She took us to a number of shops to get traditional Chinese clothing for our kids as well as other souvenirs on my list.  It was fun to watch her bargain with the shop owners when she felt we were not getting a good deal!

This shop looked like I was in the wholesale Chinese version of Hobby Lobby...

...and this one was like the Chinese version of Pier 1!

Our next stop was the jewelry markets.  We stopped at a couple of jade dealers first and then went to two different pearl vendors.  The pictures and video below are from the vendor that sells 'wedding quality pearls' as Ann calls them.  I got Lydia a baby sized bracelet and necklace that will be a keepsake for her.  Hannah also has a set that we bought for her in 2014.  They are so much cheaper than US prices and SO pretty! It was amazing to watch the ladies hand string the pearls after I chose the strand I wanted.

Happy girl while we were buying her pearls! Bryan was so helpful keeping Lydia happy while I shopped.  She seemed to really enjoy being out and about. 

We shopped with Ann for 3 hours and then came back to our hotel.  We ate take out from the Cantonese restaurant downstairs in our room and then put Lydia down for a nap.  Before her nap we tried to get her to crawl or scoot around to get to snacks or toys and girlfriend was not having it!  She did enjoy playing with the bracelets we brought though! :)

After her nap we went to eat dinner in the executive lounge.  Lydia sported one of her new bracelets and was thrilled to eat and eat.  We made the mistake of letting her eat a ton of dragon fruit which subsequently ended in a horrific diaper the next morning.  #lessonlearned

I also realized you can get wine in a to go cup from the executive lounge and enjoy it upstairs in your room!  #winning

 Thursday was a great day in Guangzhou with lots of great shopping deals and time out in the city.  Lydia continues to be more and more comfortable with us.  She's shown us that she enjoys being out and about and going for rides in her stroller.  Being able to get out and do things is a blessing and helps pass the time as we wait for our next set of appointments.

Wednesday 10/18: A trip to Aeon, Passport office appointment and Hot Pot

I've gotten a little behind on blogging about our daily activities so I'm going to try to play catch up! 

On Wednesday our only adoption related appointment was in the afternoon so our morning was free.  Lydia slept well the night before which we are SO thankful for.  We got her dressed and ready for the day and headed down to breakfast.  She gets so excited to ride in her stroller and when she realizes our destination involves FOOD!  

Ready for the day

Time to drink my juice... Bottoms up!

We went to our hotel's taxi stand after breakfast and took a taxi to Aeon, which is a multi level store that is a combination grocery store/department store.  Lydia did great in the store.  We got more diapers and wipes, some gifts for the kids at home and some hair bows for Lydia.  She was so excited when I let her hold the things we were buying!!

As we left the store she had been holding a laundry soap bar that I decided not to purchase once I saw how long the lines were in the first floor check out stands.  I took it out of her hands and she started to throw a fit in the stroller.  Cue many people staring at us as we tried to exit the very crowded store with a sad, screaming baby in the stroller.  I reached in Lydia's backpack and grabbed one of her favorite treats-- a traditional rice cracker -- and she instantly stopped crying.  Several older Chinese women immediately started laughing at her because it was clear the fit was all drama!!!  :)

Enjoying her post-tantrum rice cracker in the taxi 

After shopping and lunch, Lydia played in our room for a little bit before her nap.  Bryan has been putting her down for nap and I have been putting her to bed at night.  She is drinking a bottle both times, primarily for bonding purposes but also so she stays hydrated prior to her blood draw on Saturday and prior to transfusion once we get home.

Sweet baby feet!

We had to wake Lydia up from her nap to go meet our guide for our passport office appointment.  We took a van to the main police station in Guangzhou.  Lydia's passport photo and application had already been submitted, but for whatever reason she needed to appear in person in Guangzhou and have her picture taken by a web cam.  We don't always understand what the processes are here, so we just go along and do as we are told.  We also received a copy of Lydia's adoption certificate while we were there.  Lydia did well at the passport office and it was a relatively easy and quick appointment.

We made plans to meet up with our guide John for dinner.  We took his suggestion and went to a new hot pot restaurant that recently opened near our hotel.  I was a little leery but it ended up being really good! As you walk up the stairs at the restaurant all the meat is hanging there on display.

Once seated, you select which cuts of meet, noodles/dumplings and vegetables you want to eat and which broth you want to cook them in.  They put a large pot in the center of the table that has a heating element in it and your selected broth is poured inside.  Once it is boiling, you cook the food you ordered in the broth.  There is also a buffet where you can mix your own dipping sauce.  Bryan made one with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, etc.  Lydia and I mostly stuck to beef dumplings :)  She figured out how to sign for 'more' while at the restaurant and was so proud of herself that she clapped each time she did it!

After dinner, Lydia was amazed to see herself on video!! :)

She played a bit more, then took her bath and was ready for bed.  All in all, a good and rather uneventful day in GZ!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday, October 17: Adoption Finalization

Lydia slept amazing the first night we had her. We had to wake her at 7:30am so we could get her dressed and fed before our appointments. She seemed very pleased with her new shoes! :) She is also very attached to the soft stuffed panda that we brought for her and carries it with her everywhere we go.

We ate breakfast in the executive lounge and she mostly ate dumplings and scrambled eggs. We have noticed that she will not pick up her cup to drink. She will only eat when we suggest to eat and drink when we suggest to drink. :( We don't think she's had many choices during her time in the orphanage and was used to a very structured and small life. When we suggested drinking the orange juice she guzzled it!!

We met a new guide in the lobby and went back to the civil affairs office where we met her the day before. Tuesday's pictures were much happier in that place! We went through a short formal interview with a civil affairs official and signed our name many times to finalize her adoption. We also posed for our official adoption decree picture! Our next stop was to drive to the notary office where we had to wait for a bit and then go through another short interview in order for our documents to be official. The notary asked many questions (a lot which seemed out of curiosity) about our family size, meeting our children's special needs, why we are adopting again. It was nice to be able to share with him about our love for China, our honor in raising all of our kids and our willingness to provide medical care for our children. We are so thankful to have the resources we need in America to give them a life of happiness and HOPE. Life in China with thalassemia is not a life of hope due to limited medical resources.

After the meetings we drove back to the hotel and then ate lunch in the Cantonese restaurant in our hotel. This is the first time we really saw Lydia start to use imaginary play! A waitress gave her a plastic bowl and spoon to use while we waited for the food. Lydia was pretending to mix food and then feed multiple imaginary people near her. Honestly, she was most likely mimicking how the nannies in the orphanage feed all the babies and go down the line giving them bites. Kind of sad if you think about it, but we are choosing to be thankful that she knew how to use her imagination and mimick things she has experienced in her life.

After lunch Bryan put Lydia down for a nap. She drank a small bottle and he laid her in the pack in play. She fussed a little but he patted her back and held her hand and she quickly went to sleep. I took a nap also, and she and I both slept for over 3 hours!

When Lydia woke up she was so thrilled to sit on the couch and play with all of her little toys. She can be very possessive of her new belongings like any other two year old-- but we also suspect she has not had many things that were truly HERS. She happily played on the couch for 45 minutes. I've never seen a child her age sit still for that long. Bryan then moved her to standing up next to the couch and she stood there for at least 25 minutes. We have noticed that when we put her in a position it does not occur to her to move. She can move her arms and legs normally like any other child- but it's almost like she hasn't had the chance to explore and play. We suspect (and our guide also confirmed) that she likely spent most of her time in her crib at the orphanage, both because of the sheer volume of kids there and because they viewed her as fragile due to her thalassemia. When standing she didn't know how to bend down to pick up something she dropped or transition to a sitting position. We are hopeful that with time, experience and maybe a little physical therapy she will make great strides.

We loved watching her feed her baby, pretend to distribute food into different little cups and talk on the phone. When we FaceTimed my mom she pretended to talk on the phone to her! I even taught my mom how to say "wei" when she would 'answer' her phone because that is what they say in China! :)

Bryan in total 'Dad mode' protecting her from hitting the corner of the table while she plays and he watched football!!!

Daddy listening to her lungs and heart- she is still battling a bit of congestion and sounds like a purring kitten.

I gave Lydia her first bath with us and thankfully she did not cry. Again - she mostly sat still and clung to the new stacking cups I gave her. She tried to play with them a little but she was mostly concerned with not losing them. You can see in the bath pictures and when I got her out of the tub just how distended her belly is. This is from her untreated thalassemia (her spleen and liver are enlarged) and should get better with time as she gets more regular transfusions. It could take up to a year or more to get completely better, though. It is hard to see some of the physical characteristics of untreated thalassemia in her and know that all of those things could have been avoided :(

Baby girl played more after bath and repeated the previous nights routine of happily drinking her bottle in my arms, then laying in her pack n play and peacefully falling asleep! She slept all night except for a small whimper or two, and is still sleeping now as I write this. It's almost 7am here.

Today (Wednesday) we are free all morning and only have to go to the passport office at 3pm to apply for her passport.

Thank you for reading along as I document our time here (mostly for my benefit and the benefit of Lydia's grandparents!). We appreciate your prayers and support for us and feel so encouraged to know how many people care about our family and our new daughter. <3