A lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-you’s

After I sent out the prayer request asking you all desperately to pray for sleep for Charlotte and rest for our weary souls, somehow I ended up napping on the bathroom floor outside the shower wrapped in just a towel. I have no picture of that, thankfully. Charlotte sat on a blanket near me playing with her stacking cups. Having no toys of her own and few chances to ever really play, she can sit for much longer with one thing in one spot than most two-and-a-half-year-olds. I took advantage of it.

IMG_0959

Hittin’ the town.

 

Our plan for the day was to meet in the hotel lobby to go sightseeing. Today we visited the “Chen Ancestrial House” (though until we left and saw it in writing, we thought our guide had told us- because she did- that we were seeing the Chen ‘Essential’ House). Whatever. It was neat, but if the babies would have been interested in sleep, a nap would have been neater. It was a big step for Charlotte today while we were there, though. We took her to a less crowded area of the museum grounds and took her out of my pouch and put her down to walk. She had fun walking while holding my hand and she did great! She hesitates like any new walker with changes in terrain (pavement to grass) and won’t go up or down steps, but she is doing so well! She even let me put her in the stroller for a few minutes and push her around. This was big because she couldn’t actually see me. She thought it was pretty fun until we got into an area with people and a big, scary man (to her)walked by. It’s so neat to get to witness her firsts, but also sad that at 2 ½ years old, basic things like seeing a flower and the wind blowing in her face are new experiences. There isn’t even an outside playground area at her orphanage (yet- our agency is working on helping get one put in), so we were told it’s likely she’s never even been outside until two days ago.

100_2206

A long walk for this little girl. Disclaimer: I have a fanny pack buckled around my waist and the baggy sweater pulled all around it gives the illusion of several fat rolls and muffin top…at least that’s what I’d like to believe!

100_2204

Love the camera!

100_2201

In the Chen “Essential” House.

100_2208

Charlotte’s first time seeing flowers.

Charlotte has had a day full of breakthroughs and breakdowns. After the Chen House, we went to lunch at ‘Bill King’ with the other two families in our group (we weren’t sure if this was going to be ‘Burger King’ or Chinese food, like we’d asked for-it did turn out to be a noodle house) and during the lunch Griffin was screaming his head off. Chinese people do not like to see people let their babies cry. I needed to pick him up and feed him, but with Charlotte on my lap that is next to impossible because she cries, which makes him cry and back and forth. So, I had to put her down in the stroller (no high chairs) and now she was crying big crocodile tears. We decided since she was crying anyway, Joey would pick her up (it couldn’t get any worse, anyhow, so it was worth a try). She stopped crying immediately! He even got her to share a few bites of his noodles (the first solid food she’s eaten- maybe ever!) Joey was so thrilled that he could finally hold her for the first time, and he didn’t put her down until we got back to the hotel room about 45 minutes later. The kicker was that today she called him “dada”, too! She also says “Gaige-y”!

IMG_0951

Food and hugs overcome most boundaries.

And, guess what her third word today was…there were some crumbs all over the floor, which of course was very disturbing to her. I told her it was messy and next thing I know, she’s repeating me and pointing to the crumbs, “messy! Messy!” This little girl does not cease to amaze us!

100_2195

The Guangzhou adopting families at the Chen house.

 

After two awful nights with Charlotte and being unsuccessful in getting her to nap or fall/stay asleep at night, we realize we have to make a plan and stick to it. We know that at the orphanage, she was put in a crib at bedtimes and given a bottle and the workers left. Once bedtime came, she likely never saw another worker (and a different one) until morning. Nighttime was likely a lonely time and crying was probably pointless. Well, after 48 hours of having some good bonding with her, we decided for our own sanity and her best interest long term, we have to get her to go to sleep in her own bed and learn that mommy and daddy are not going to leave her and we always come back. We spent the most miserable 38 minutes during nap time and 62 minutes at bedtime listening to all her pent up anger, sadness, rage, confusion, exhaustion and hurt surface and come out. I don’t think she has probably cried like that since she was a little baby since it wouldn’t likely do her any good. With 6 kids, we have seen our fair share of tantrums, but nothing like this. We sat right there with her and held her hand, stroked her hair, wiped her nose and didn’t leave her side, but by the end of those long minutes, we were about ready to jump out the hotel window from our 26th floor. It was heartbreaking. We cried and prayed with her and she finally gave in and went to sleep. We are sleeping right by her crib in our own bed and we are hoping she will quickly learn that we are still here when she wakes up. The only thing she has experience with is that when she goes to bed, the people who put her there leave and are gone when she wakes up. What she is going through is difficult for us to watch, but after the grief and loss subside, the healing can begin, and we’re excited to be a part of that! If the co-sleeping would have made her happy, we would have done that while we’re here, but she cried in bed with us, too, so either way was going to be a challenge. I just cannot physically walk around the hotel room with her all night long like I’d been doing for two nights- it is a pattern we just can’t keep up. Please pray that each day will get a little better with the sleeping transition for her.

Being here has been a real eye opener and reminder of how big the world is outside the end of my driveway. We’ve only seen a little slice of it here, but it’s a slice that is so difficult to chew. Our friends had told us at lunch to avoid a particular bridge going to the Wal Mart type store because there was a beggar up there with no face (it had been burnt off) and it was so upsetting that her son was too scared to be by himself in the hotel after that. Well, we ran out of bottled water so we had to go to the Jusco (Wal Mart) and I was so nervous about crossing that bridge. I was totally unprepared for what else we might see on our way to the bridge, just stressing about seeing that man she told us of. We had already seen a blind man playing instruments for money and two women with babies on the street with metal bowls begging- things that aren’t totally alarming (they should be, but it’s not unheard of in America). When we passed by a man sitting on his hips in the middle of the sidewalk with his skinny legs twisted and mangled up behind him, I didn’t know whether to look or pretend I didn’t see him. I was not ready for this (the bridge was still a way off) and didn’t think fast enough or have money in my pocket to give him, but honestly, it was so scary that I don’t know I would have had the courage to go up to him anyway. As I was mentally trying to process what I had just seen, a few steps later we saw something even worse. A man lying on his belly on the sidewalk, his limbs completely tangled and deformed, his face crazed and deformed. I have no idea how he got there or who put him there, but it was so upsetting I was in a state of shock the rest of the outing. The Jusco was a big blur and I couldn’t focus on anything else (the man on the bridge was not there, thankfully!) I wish I could say I was like Jesus and went to the two beggars and did just as He would have done. Lord, forgive me!! It felt like we were stepping into the pages of the Bible near the pool of Bethesda. This got me to thinking about how relatively easy it is adopting a cute two-year old. While she’s technically on the ‘special needs’ list, she doesn’t have any real medical problems that we know of. We have seen other families adopting around us here with children that are clearly more moderate to severe special needs. I thank the Lord there are families He calls to do this, and that He didn’t call us to this time, in all honesty. I’d be willing to bet those two men we saw sat on the shared list for years as children, waiting for a family, and never got one. In China, if you aren’t adopted by age 13, when you turn 14 you “age out” of the system with no hope of ever being adopted. The fate of these children are probably just like the beggars we saw tonight. It’s so sad that some of these medical needs are correctable, with the right medical treatment their fate could have been so different.

Another thing here that baffles me is the over-staffed stores everywhere we go. The Jusco literally has a worker at the end of almost every aisle waiting to help with whatever you are looking for. At one point we lost Gaige on an aisle and I went looking for him. I found him with a Chinese lady rubbing lotion on his face, trying to get him to buy a cream and wanting him to pay her for it right then and there. The liquor section had three ladies just standing behind the counter like statues, nodding as we went by, waiting to serve you. The hotel is the same way. The workers stand on guard at each door and nod as you go in. What a boring and pointless job. Here’s the part that is maddening. The orphans, in part, suffer because the orphanages are so short-staffed. We were told Charlotte’s orphanage had one lady for the 16 toddlers that were in her room.

On a lighter note, the unexpected, random incidents continue… we tried the Italian pizzeria, Oggi’s (awesome pizza!) , we had heard good things about for dinner. It is still weird to me when the waiter (s) come to the table with steaming hot water to pour into our glasses. Since the tap water here is undrinkable, it is served boiling hot. Anyway, as we were sitting waiting for our food, watching the crazy traffic out the window, all of a sudden everyone in the restaurant starts simultaneously sneezing, blowing their noses, coughing, hacking…including us. I started feeling really lightheaded and dizzy and immediately thought someone had let off tear gas or something.  I prepared to die and we all wondered what in the world was going on- the waitresses went outside for fresh air, though even directly outside the place the air was polluted with whatever it was. It literally tickled your nostrils and we could hardly take a breath in without gagging. No one else seemed particularly alarmed (no one was running out of the restaurant), so I asked the waiter what it was. The answer: “spices”. We’ve learned in China, there just aren’t sufficient answers.

IMG_0957

No answers, like, who has the right-of-way here and why are two cars sharing one lane and driving on the sidewalk?

We also had to make a quick stop at the pharmacy to get some cold meds:

china pharmacy

Just like Rite-Aid…but different.