Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Now a Family of 10!

(I started writing this on Tuesday the 14th, but it was after midnight here in China before I finished. For the sake of continuity, I wrote the whole post as though it were Tuesday.)

Let me rewind and pick up where Kristie left off in her last update. Our luggage did arrive at our hotel Sunday evening, which helped us relax a lot. It would've been better for it not to have been lost in the first place, but at least everything we packed is here, including all of Jonathan's things. Neither of us slept great Sunday night, but we both got several hours of deep sleep, setting us up well to meet our new boy.

Yesterday morning we arrived at the Civil Affairs office, expecting Jonathan would be there waiting for us. Unfortunately, his orphanage is so far away (a 4-hour drive!) that he didn't get there until we'd been waiting for well over an hour. By that point, the room was sheer chaos. There are 21 other families—including 16 families from one agency moving around in one large group—here adopting from this province this week. It's so good to see so many kids coming home to their forever families, but putting those families in one room to meet their new children at the same time sure made things interesting. A few of the kids had near total meltdowns when they were handed off to their new parents. Others ran around the room with superhuman toddler energy, while others were quite calm in spite of everything going on around them. We wanted so badly to tell the parents of the screaming children that this was a good thing, that it likely means they're already lamenting the loss of their former caregivers, that they can form meaningful attachments with people, and that even though the near-term is going to be very hard, there's great hope that they'll start forging a strong bond before too long. But all we could do was sit there and pray for them as we waited for Jonathan to arrive. As we played out our meeting with him in our minds, we pictured him either being completely indifferent to us or stubbornly refusing to have anything to do with us. Well, we were wrong. When they carried him in through the door and brought him over to us, he walked right over to me and started interacting with Kristie. He didn't cry or show any emotion when the orphanage worker handed him over to us, and that suggests to us that he didn't actually have strong connection with anyone at the orphanage. He seems to have been more dependent on his routine than anybody specific, but more on that later.


One of the advantages of being the only family from our agency here this week is that we can move around a bit more nimbly. We left the Civil Affairs office not 15 minutes after getting Jonathan, and our guide came back to our hotel room with us to fill out some paperwork in preparation for today. Boy, are we glad she did! (Again, more on that later. Spoilers!)

After she left, we fed Jonathan some lunch and got ready to put him down for his nap. That's when he had his meltdown. He was completely fine with the idea of us playing with him, feeding him, even taking him to a strange new place, but he really didn't like the thought of sleeping in this strange place. When we laid him down in his bed, he cried so hard and fought to get out of bed. He never once tried to hurt either of us, though. His thrashing and fighing were all in an attempt to get away; he never struck us. In the end, after about 15 minutes of crying tears of fear and sadness, he gave in and fell asleep. We thought he'd wake up scared all over again, but he was surprisingly calm when he awoke a couple of hours later. Our plan was to walk down to the local Walmart to pick up a handful of things, get some dinner at Pizza Hut, and get back in time for a quick bath before bed. When it came time for us to put him in the stroller, he had another, smaller meltdown. He did NOT want to be in there, poor guy. Eventually he accepted being in the stroller, but only as long as he could hold onto Kristie's hand while we walked. So we set off to find Walmart, and by the time we got there, he was comfortable sitting in the stroller even without holding her hand. I think he wanted to make sure we weren't going anywhere, and especially Kristie; we have another Mommy's boy on our hands here, to be sure! We got to Pizza Hut expecting him to love the food there—he's a great eater—but he ended up eating almost nothing. There was just a little too much noise and commotion in there, and combined with the emotional upheaval from earlier in the afternoon, it proved too much for him. He did drink some wather, though, which is good because he seems slightly dehydrated. He has the oddest drinking motion we've ever seen. Every time we offer him a drink of water, he eagerly accepts, but he just opens his mouth wide and tries to tip the cup to pour water in his mouth. He won't close his lips around the rim of the cup, no matter what we try. We've tried straw cups and sippy cups and several other things—Kristie came prepared with multiple drinking options—but he will only try to drink out of a regular, open cup. He ends up spilling almost half of his drink on himself because he won't use his lips to help contain the fluid. So strange, and we wonder how on earth they were getting him to drink at the orphanage. But, at least he's taking in some fluids now; that gives us something to work with here.



When we got back to the hotel room, it was time for his bath. Past adoption experience taught us to be prepared for the worst, but he surprised us again. He didn't fight us when we took his clothes off or when we put him in the water. He was nervous, though, and at first would only stand in the bath tub. So funny! I helpedu support him while Kristie washed him, and after a few minutes we had him sit down. He didn't resist at all, although he wouldn't let go of the handles on the sides of the tub. He has very weak core muscles and sits with his back rounded pretty badly, so I think he didn't feel quite stable sitting in the tub. He did, however, release his grip with one hand a couple of times to splash in the water with me. He laughed a lot but could only bring himself to participate a couple of times. This was so much better than either Isabelle's or Hallie's first baths that we counted this as a major victory and moved on to bed time, which we expected to be hard. It was. We tucked him in and he cried and twisted for a lot longer than he had at nap time. Finally, he tired himself out and fell asleep. He woke up distressed two more times before midnight, and only after that did he fall into a deep sleep for the rest of the night. Kristie didn't sleep much at all, so we're hoping and praying everyone will sleep more peacefully the rest of the week.

This morning we had to go back to Civil Affairs to finish some paperwork. We arrived before any of the other families, but it wasn't long before the others started trickling in. Jonathan did really well as we waited there, and the variety of toys Kristie packed for him made it possible to get him through this morning. After about an hour of waiting, though, he couldn't take anymore. So Kristie took him outside to get out of the cacophony, but of course, that was about 30 seconds before we were finally called over to sign the forms for the day. Another 5-10 minutes of waiting, and we were out the door. Jonathan calmed down considerably while we were in the van, but unfortunately, we were a long way from done. Our next stop was the notary's office. This is not a notary as you'd imagine back in the States. It's actually an office building where certain official documents are prepared and signed. Similar idea; very different implementation. Again, Jonathan did well as we sat at the desk in one of the offices, but as soon as two other families showed up to wait in the same room, he starting falling to pieces all over again, poor guy. Thankfully, this stop didn't take as long as the one at Civil Affairs, and this was our last stop for the morning. We got back to the hotel and ate a quick lunch (so glad there's a Subway just across the street from the hotel!) before having to head back out for some more paperwork in the afternoon. Poor Jonathan! When he finished lunch, he actually crawled up into his bed to try and take a nap. What a change from yesterday! He was NOT happy when we told him that he couldn't go to sleep because we had to leave again. He'd already had way more than enough by this point, and he cried when we picked him up to walk out the door.

Thankfully, the afternoon errands went by quickly enough, at least for the most part. The first stop was to have his passport photo taken, and when we got there, we were surprised to run into Michael, who was our guide in Guangzhou when we were here adopting Isabelle & Hallie! It was so good to see him again and to catch up a bit on how he's doing. We never expected to run into him here, of all places, but there you have it. Once again, Jonathan started out handling himself very well. He was very good for his passport photo, but while we were waiting to sign the last couple of documents after that, he got a little antsy. Before things got any worse, we signed the papers and were on to our last stop of the day: the police station, where we applied for his passport. Here they had to take yet another photo, this time of the three of us together. The woman there was using a webcam to get the picture, and after several minutes of fighting with the computer, had us move to another computer station to try again. After what seemed like an eternity that was probably more like 6-8 minutes—if you've ever tried to get a child, and especially a newly adopted special-needs child, to look directly at a camera for any length of time, you'll know why it felt like an eternity—they finally got a satisfactory picture and let us go. That was the end of our errands today, and he was so very happy to be back in our hotel room at the end of it all. I found Finding Nemo on TV and let that play while he wandered around the room, exploring things and unwinding from the day. He ate a great dinner, took another good bath (no standing this time), and then went right to sleep tonight. No crying, no fighting, just peaceful sleep. It might be the case that he was so worn out from the day that he didn't have anything left to cause a scene at that point, but I don't think that's what happened. It seems to us that he's already deriving comfort from being with us, and he's already learning what his routine is like here. He really seemed like he wanted to fall asleep, and to fall asleep here in the room with us.

Even though the day was long and hard, Jonathan is now officially our son! The adoption decree was handed to us at Civil Affairs this morning, and his adoption is now complete! We're officially a family of 10, and all that's left now is to finish all the paperwork necessary to allow him to leave China and enter the US. In just over a week, we'll be boarding a plane to come back home, and we can't wait for us all to be together under the same roof!


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