Friday, November 17, 2017

Post Adoption~ Month 3




We are working our way through our 3rd month home with our Margaret Li Ya. She is a spicy, sweet little thing that makes her {strong} opinions known. I found this little onesie after we got home and thought it was perfect for her. Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce. Shakespeare must have known.

The same day we wore this little shirt, we also attempted to get her blood drawn. This little lady is, hands down, the strongest baby I have. She fought the tourniquet, the nurse, the older more experienced nurse, me, everything. She fought us so hard to NOT get that blood drawn. 6 unsuccessful sticks later, they had to squeeze from the big toe. So hard and so sad, but she is such a strong, fierce little lady. I know that skill will serve her well later in life. (Just hopefully not for our next blood draw)




Attachment: This month we tested our attachment, as both Ryan and I had work trips and were away from Maggie. I left for my bi-annual work trip to VA and was away from Maggie for 4 nights and almost 5 days. Ryan had a two different 3 day trips. One of us was always with her, so these trips tested us all.
Maggie seemed to do well while I was gone. We tried to FaceTime the first night, but she seemed distressed to see me on screen but not in person, so we did not continue those. She is really attached to Ryan and gets very excited when he is home, so I knew she would be good with him. I am her main caregiver, but that also means that I do the hard stuff, like feedings and diaper changes and making her nap. Ryan is the funny guy who plays with her. 
It took a good day for her to open back up to me when I returned, but she is doing great now and will choose to come to me over Ryan at times, and that didn't happen before. While it was not the most ideal timing for the trip, it was necessary and everyone seemed to roll with it.



Growth: Maggie has put on another 10 oz and is growing nicely. The pediatrician is very pleased with  her growth moving up the curve. We are testing some low hemoglobins, but should be finding out the results soon.
She has also popped out 4 back molars, bringing our teeth count up to 10!



Food: She is getting pickier with her food now and definitely has things she likes and dislikes. If she does not like, she will spit it out or completely turn around in her high chair. Knowing her opinion on any thing is never an issue. She clearly makes her wants known! 
We are still working on her drinking from any sort of cup. She is not a fan or anything and has not figured out a straw yet, so that is our next big goal.


Physical Development: Maggie is cruising like a champ, but seems to have put the brakes on any sort of walking or standing. She is getting stronger and steadier, but when we try to practice standing with her, she refuses and pulls her legs up. She will NOT let us try to help her stand alone. She will walk with us, but if we try to do only 1 hand or take our hands away, she instantly sits down. She may just need more time. We are waiting to have an early-on head start therapist come for an evaluation and some next steps to help with her development. She is moving along great, but is obviously still very behind kids her own age.


Verbal: We have progressed to saying Mamma, Dadda, Hi, Ja (Jack) and most recently, shoes! She is pointing and communicating a lot, but not a lot of clear defined words. Her receptive language understanding is really improving. She understands a lot of what I say or ask. Today I was sitting down and she was standing, holding onto my knees. I told her that I needed her to sit down, so that I could stand up. She slowly sat down. So, she is really starting to understand English.





Goals: We are really looking forward to her evaluation and to see what we can do next to help her keeping making progress.

Overall, we are doing well. We are heading into the seasons of first for her. First Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first New Year..and her first Chinese New Year in America! :)



We are all still finding our rhythm, but we are working together as family. And that is exactly what Maggie needs. It is what we need.



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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

China: Coming Home

Maggie's first flight! Guangzhou to Shanghai.

Before our trip to China, I scoured adoption blogs, travel blogs, pinterest, anything that would tell me what to do with a 15 month old on an international flight across the world. Advice, solutions, anything at all.

Do you know what I came up with? Nothing. No tricks, no toys, nothing.

The only piece of advice...survive. Just survive.

And that is what we did. We survived.




Our day started at 3:30am on Thursday, August 17th, China time.

We loaded Maggie up, already dressed for the longest day of her little life and headed to the airport around 5am. 

Guangzhou airport is notorious for being delayed. We had a 1 hour an 55 minute layover in Shanghai before we had to catch our flight to Detroit.

Upon arrival, we found out that we did not have boarding passes for our Shanghai to Detroit flight because we had an infant in arms ticket. Um, what?!?! No boarding pass?

After translations, checking, and waiting we found out that since Delta did not have it's hub in Guangzhou, they could not help us, but that they would print our boarding pass in Shanghai. We also found out that we would need get our bags, re-check them, get our boarding pass and go through security AGAIN before we could get to our gate for Detroit....in 1 hour and 55 mins.

So we made our way through security, loaded up on a tram jammed full of people that drove us 15 minutes away to our plane and boarded our first flight. The first leg of our flight was 4 hours long and Maggie's first flight ever. She did well on the flight and even slept some. Normally a 4 hours flight with a toddler would have intimidated me, but with a 13 hour flight looming...it didn't seem so bad in comparison!



Once our plane touched down in Shanghai, my heart started racing and we were ready to jet off that plane to make our next flight...the flight home. I strapped Maggie in tight and off we ran...literally ran. We made it to the luggage belt and waited. Luckily, Delta had a representative who spoke english who started helping us. She took Jessica and I with all the kids to get tickets and we left the dads to get the luggage. It was nerve-wracking to walk away from Ryan, leaving him in a foreign airport with no passport or identification while I tried to get boarding passes for the 3 of us. After a long wait, we were finally able to get boarding passes and Delta told us they would take care of our bags and check them in for us. They told us that we needed to sprint to our gate. So off we ran...until we got to a security check... and than another one. I showed our passports 7 times in the Shanghai airport. We had to go through International immigration and  security 3 times. There were other American passengers that were trying to make our DTW flight and they ushered us through the expediate line because we had children with us.

Fun fact about security: I filled our thermos full of boiling water at the Guangzhou airport (they have hot water spickets everywhere) for Maggie's bottle..after we went through security. However, since we had to go through security AGAIN and you can't bring liquids on a flight (Even though the only place we had been was in am airport) So, they made Ryan drink it. If you want to bring any fluid through security you have to drink it in front of them. I guess they assume that if it is poison or something bad that you won't drink it?!

So after finally making it out of immigration, with Delta staff waiting with signs for us, we were told that the plane was all boarded and we needed to run to get there before they closed the doors. We told them we had small children and asked them to wait... and then we ran. We ran with Maggie strapped to me in her carrier, her diaper bag on  my back and Ryan with a rolling carry-on and backpack for 40+ gates. In case you were wondering, Shanghai is a MASSIVE airport.

With sweat dripping down my whole body, we made it on the plane to Detroit. We ran or hustled for almost 2 hours, but we made it!! We were on our way home!

So, how do you do a 13 hour and 1 min flight to Detroit with a tired 15 month old? You feed them lots of puffs, one by one, slowly. You switch parents. You stand and rock. You survive.

My only photo from our entire 13 hour flight. Blurry and surviving.

Maggie probably slept a total of 3 hours of our 13 hour flight, but overall, she did well.  I got motion sickness for the last 5 hours and felt like throwing up the whole...but to no avail. Luckily Maggie was comfy in Daddy's arms, so I could try to not throw up on her.

We landed in Detroit around 2pm on August 17th... 23 hrs after we had woken up.

We went through immigration and were put in a separate side room that mostly resembled a DMV. We watched an immigration officer open our precious brown envelope, casually leaf through it and than stamp Maggie's Chinese passport. That single stamp made her a citizen of the United States of America for the rest of her life!

We collected our luggage and helped the Goodpasters look for theirs to connect to their flight home.
It was odd to say goodbye to them. Virtually strangers 2 weeks ago, we walked through some of the most important changes in both our lives together and traveled every step of the way. We were sad to say goodbye, but SO SO happy to be home!


We loaded up our luggage cart and headed to meet our babies. Jack and Colin were waiting on the gate and ran to us. Macy came flying in shortly and finally, we were all together. Home.

Poor Maggie had one more adventure before she would end her travel...the carseat. Having never ridden in one, she panicked at being restrained with the strange faces of her new siblings trying to calm her down.



We left in the airport in a mini-van, all 6 of us for the first time and made one last trip. Home.

Our adoption adventure and trip to China had come to an end...and our new adventure of having Maggie home started.




Home. Forever.


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Saturday, November 4, 2017

China Day 13 and 14


Tuesday and Wednesday were our "off" days while we waited for Maggie's visa paperwork to be processed so that she would become a U.S citizen upon entry.

On Tuesday we had a later morning, as we were waiting for another family to finish their consulate appointment and then we headed to two local historical sites.






The first place was the Chen Family Academy, a stunning and hyper-detailed family home that was turned into a an academy. It is now used to show traditional Guangdong art from Canton blue glass sketching, to ornate bone carvings. We watched an artist create his finger paintings...which look nothing like a finger painting.




 We did enjoy the signage around the place, as the English translations seemed to be a bit off!




The next stop was the 6 Bayan Tree Buddhist temple. The pagoda was beautiful with different buildings that held different buddhas around it. The pagoda is no longer functioning, but monks do live near by and upkeep the temple areas.








Lunch was our favorite noodle place that allows "take away" and little Miss napped. Instead of hitting the pool, we decided to walk around the outdoor pavilion that was part of our hotel. It was a beautiful little getaway on the 3rd floor and we enjoyed it, despite the heat.








Dinner was another Cantonese family style that was located in our hotel. 



Maggie is becoming more and more comfortable with us and is even starting to smile at other members of our traveling group.



Wednesday was our last full day in China and we went the the Chimelong Safari Park.  It was crazy busy, as it was the summer holiday and many people travel from all over China to visit the zoo. We waited in crazy lines to get on a safari tram. It was a fast trek through the natural jungle that held white tigers, lions, zebras and giraffes. And it was not just one tiger, or one lion, it was 10-15 of them in their area, moving around. Maggie liked the ride...and never once noticed the animals!





We separated from the group and tried to see as much as we could while the babies lasted in the intense heat.



They had a large reptile area that had glass floors and ceilings with large snakes moving all around you. It was very cool. All I could think about was how much my boys would have loved that experience!



The main attraction at the zoo was the panda triplets that were born a few years early. They are the only known panda triplets in the world. The panda is a very revered and special animal in China. The fact that they were triplets was a sign of a big blessing. The triplets were a few years old, but still very cute. They were inside due to the heat, but we were able to see them for a bit.

 Triplet #1

Triplet #2 

 Triplet #3


We made our way back to the hotel to rest and finish packing up all our of bags. Ryan took the opportunity to go to a park near by and take some pictures while Maggie napped.




We took the restaurant advice of our guide and went to our last family style meal in China. Part of me just wanted to go get room service and get the burger, as one more Chinese food meal did not sound good. But I knew that I would regret not going out, so we enjoyed one of the best meals we had in Guangzhou together. 


Not dinner.





It was bitter sweet to walk back to the hotel that night. We all decided to stop and get ice cream before we packed up for our early morning flight. I tried to absorb the last little bits of China, the humid, heavy air, the streets being cleaned by buckets of water and the buzz of lights and bugs around us. It made me sad to think that this was Maggie's last night in her home. She has never not known China, the sounds, the smell, the feel. Michigan is a world away, and we were going to take her from all that she has known. We would be giving her two brother, a sister, grandparents and family...but there will always be a side of me that is sad that she does not get to experience her home as well. I know that we will try to bring her back to China, to let her see and experience her heritage, what makes up her DNA and made her into the person she is.



The longing to be home, to hug my kids, to hear them laugh, was strong, but there was a tinge of sadness as we walked that side walk one last time.




Someone was not sleepy...even though we had to wake up at 3am.

Our time in China had come to a close. One more major day and we we would home. Forever.


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Sunday, October 22, 2017

China~ Day 11&12


Sunday was our free day and we were originally scheduled to go to church. I was really looking forward to being in a Chinese church, but our guide strongly suggested that we skip it due to the ages of our kids. They do not have nursery (and we would never leave them in a nursery) so we would have had to keep the girls quiet and still for an hour and half. While we were all a bit bummed that we would not get that experience, it was for the best.



Instead we visited a wholesale jewelry market, specifically fresh water pearls. Our guide taught us how to tell fake from real pearls and brought us to her favorite vendor. It is Chinese tradition to give pearls to daughters at their wedding, so I was really happy to be able to go look for pearls for both Maggie and Macy. After much talking, deciding and bargaining, all the girls left happy and loaded with beautiful pearls...and the husbands left with lighter pockets :)



Another Chinese tradition is passing on jade. Jade is a beautiful stone in variant green shades that is prevalent in Chinese art and culture. It is said to bring a blessing to whatever it touches. A jade bracelet would be passed down from mother to daughter and so forth. A grandmother would wear her mother's and than pass it on to her own daughter (or daughter in law) when she cam or age or married. The daughter would pass it on to her daughter and so forth. I saw these bracelets on many women of all ages. I was really hoping to get one to pass on to Maggie, but the ones I looked at at the mall were very expensive. I told our guide that I loved her bracelet and she asked the pearl lady if she had any jade bracelets. Her husband was a jade dealer in the building across the street. She had a few that she had on clearance and I was able to pick one out for a great price. The bracelets are meant to have a tight fit, so when the one that I liked didn't fit, the lady behind the corner grabbed a plastic bag, slid it over my hand and jammed that bracelet right down. It fit! I was a bit nervous it would not come off, but the same bag was put back on, and just reversed the motion. Success!



Our next stop was at the Shamian Island, a small area that was formally a colonel European developed area. It used to be the hub for all adoptions in China, where families would stay on the island and all government visa and medical checks took place. Now it is mainly a tourist area, filled with statues.




It is really beautiful, but felt more like a European area than China. We took pictures with the statues and enjoyed our lunch at Lucy's, a popular restaurant among adoptees. At one point, it was one of the few non-Chinese restaurants around. I enjoyed having an actual cold Dt. Coke and Maggie and her little friend, Lucy got to hang out together.







We headed back for naps and attempted to swim again. It was also not successful. We got dinner down the street with the other families and Maggie was feeling right at home!




How does this sound for dinner? Any takers?





Monday morning was our big Consulate day! We were prepped multiple times about this appointment and all the many rules and regulations. We COULD NOT be late, we could not bring in ANYTHING, we must not do this or that... I felt a bit nervous for this was our very last, final step in our adoption. (Or so I thought. Turns out there is still a LOT of paper work when you return home.)



We got ready, with our Marriott black bag that we were told we MUST bring and stood in line to enter the U.S Consulate.



I was surprised how good it felt to be on U.S soil in a foreign country. We were greeted with friendly smiles and walked into a cool, air conditioned room that looked just like a DMV. The Adoption agent was funny and friendly and instantly had all the adoptive parents at ease. We did a group pledge before a guy behind a glass window and waited for our number. We chatted with other American families about China and our experiences and just enjoyed being able to understand everything and everyone! Bonus, they had clean western-style toilets!!! With a changing table! Trust me, you don't want to use public Chinese restrooms. It is a bring-your-own-tp squatty or no seat on the western-style type thing. Due to bad plumbing, most use the wastebasket to throw away their tp...so it never smells nice.


We were almost the last family to go through the interview and it was a fun, easy experience. I am not sure why were were prepped for such a serious thing, but it really ended up being a fun, happy experience! Maggie was now our daughter in the eyes of China, the International Hague conventions, Internationally and in the United States of America. It was a wonderful feeling!



Ryan went with our guide to an underground grocery store while I hung out with Maggie at a local coffee shop and then it was back to the hotel for lunch and naps. We opted out of the swimming time, since Maggie hated it and she seemed to get a rash from the chlorine.



We met with the other family who was traveling with us and their 3 year old and had pizza. It was a nice change of pace to eat some pizza after days of noodles and Chinese food!

We picked up a some water from 7-11 and headed home for the night. Does the food look a little different from 7-11 in the US?




Two more tourist days and then we are heading home!



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