Unfortunately there was no celebrating (or blogging) yesterday because... Brooke was SICK. She caught her sister's bug and crashed big time. I knew we were in trouble when she woke up with a fever. When I gave her 1 teaspoon of liquid ibuprophen and she puked it right back up (on an empty stomach) I knew it was gonna be a bad day. But she did ok, surviving on popsicles, her most favorite food in the world. It was quite exciting when her fever hit 105 in the evening and she, again, could not keep the fever reducing meds down. She went into a tub of lukewarm water and I got on the phone to the doctor. She pulled thru and seems to be almost her old self today, thank heavens.
The little green bowl is for when her tummy got "upset". This is the first time she's been sick since we brought her home and we found out that she HATES being dirty with any kind of sweat or icky stuff. So, she kept her bowl with her at all times.
Even when she's sick she's so beautiful!
I'll catch up the blog with my memories of Family Day. This will probably be the last "recap" posting since it was all Chinese and US paperwork after this. We stayed in Zhengzhou for a week doing the Chinese stuff. It was HOT. I think almost everybody just stayed in the hotel the whole time because it was so hot outside. Boring. It was all heavy traffic and office buildings around us. I don't have bad memories of Zhengzhou, I was just way too hot and bored stiff. I was happy to leave. Sorry, Zhengzhou. We flew to Guangzhou the next week to complete the US visa paperwork and then we finally headed home. We really liked Guangzhou. It wasn't as hot, was very pedestrian friendly and there were lots of neat shops to look at. Plus, there was a place, Lucy's, that served plain old American food like hamburgers. Thank the Lord for Lucy's!!!!
So, Family Day had arrived!!! After 15 months of applications, paperwork, waiting, traveling, it had come down to THE DAY. Olivia woke up happy and fit, so we made the decision that all 3 of us would go to meet Brooke (Ke Xin). We hopped on the bus with 7 other nervous families and headed for the big event.
We pulled in at a very newish office building and filied in. I was just setting down my purse, paperwork, gifts for the orphanage workers and gifts for Brooke when I heard her name called. At first it took me a second to realize she was alreday standing right there, because we had barely stepped into the building and didn't expect the kids yet. I just dropped all my stuff and whirled around. And there she was. This little tiny thing, standing there with her head down and her eyes peeking up. Her face was expressionless and she was silent. Very stoic. I know it sounds dumb, but I almost couldn't believe it. This little person I'd gotten used to just seeing in photos was real and standing right there in front of me. I knelt down in front of her and smiled. I knew better than to try and grab her. Our guide, Yisha, and the other office women kept pointing at me and saying "mama! mama!" and some other things in Chinese (I don't know whether they spoke Mandarin or Cantonese), like that was going to make a difference to Brooke. She looked about as happy as a prisoner of war. I turned to walk her over to our table and realized partly why she was so silent and stiff - she was the first child to be brought out and all the other waiting families had jumped in back of me and were taking pictures like paparzzi. The other children began to come out and we were left to ourselves. Debbi had really been on her toes and was able to grab the camera without any warning and snap our first pictures together. Yisha is the lady with the pink bag, closest to Brooke. The headless guy in the brown t-shirt standing in the picture was the orphanage worker who drove her to the office. It was a 3 hour car ride from her orphanage. She never looked at him a single time. He never offered her any comfort. So, it was obvious she'd just been pulled from the orphanage (we think she was pulled from her foster home and sent back to the orphanage for a time before the adoption), stuck in a car with a guy she didn't know, for a 3 hour drive, to be handed off to more strangers in a place she'd never been before. I can't blame her for being unhappy and stiff. I think she was actually doing great.
She really liked seeing the pictures of her foster parents. Bringing those pictures really helped to break the ice with her. She got very animated pointing at them and smiling. We still have framed pictures of them around the house and in her bedroom. She always smiles when she look at them.
These are a few of the other families meeting their new kids that morning. Jenny and her daughter were from New Jersey.
Heather and Eric are from a town just north of us.
This family was from Michigan.
And this family was from Florida.
We hung out at the registry office for about an hour with the kids, just getting to know them and letting them adjust a little before we hit the road to start the Chinese paperwork. There were some tears from the other kids, but not a single one from Brooke.
Brooke was already comfortable with the play cell phone. As time went by, we found she was comfortable with lots of things we didn't expect - western silverware, eating at a sit down restaurant, using a western toilet, the TV, the phone, etc. I think her foster family was fairly well-to-do by Chinese standards. The man standing in the picture below was a lawyer from California. He wasn't going to be able to meet his new daughter until later that afternoon, so he'd come along to help get pictures of everyone else. He took my two favorite pictures of Brooke that morning (sorry Debbi!). He was obvioulsy an experienced photographer. They are posted farther below.
We had to hop on a bus and go get our pictures taken. Brooke sat next to me like a sack of potatoes. The bus actually stopped near the hotel because the California family couldn't have their pictures taken yet. They hopped off and went to get ready to meet their little one at the hotel. Debbi (the smart one) asked me if she should take Olivia and get off also. I (the dumb one) said, no - you can come along. It's not supposed to take long. WHY didn't I listen to Debbi????????? The bus took off again and we drove, and drove. (uh-oh.) All of a sudden, Yisha starts yelling at the bus driver. No one could understand what was going on, but it was obvious that neither one of them was happy! It turned out the bus driver had shot right past the photo studio by about 2 city blocks. Did he go back??? Nope!! We had to get off and hoof it back. By the time we got there, we were soaked in sweat - and Olivia was starting to wilt again. The "photo studio" was just an open shop with a cash register and a space in back with a camera - no air conditioning. We tried to stay in the shade of the store front, packed in like sardines. We finally got the pictures done and then had to walk all the way back to the hotel. It was not pleasant. It was horrible hot. There were crowds on the sidewalks, and there were mopeds on the sidewalks running at full speed going the opposite direction. It was like playing chicken!!!! It got to where we just kept our heads down and walked as quickly as we possibly could, trying to get back to the hotel as fast as possible. Debbi was lugging Brooke, who never made a sound and never sweat a drop. I was lugging Olivia who, by the time we got to the hotel, had basically passed out. We were both so sweaty I had a hard time keeping ahold of her. I was so furious with myself for not letting Debbi take her off the bus earlier, but I had no idea we'd be in for an experience like that. Yisha had said the photo place was "just around the corner" from the hotel. HA! What an understatement!! It was at least a 1/2 mile! Olivia had finally gotten better from her horrible flight and heat-exhaustion, and here I'd gone and ruined every bit of progress we'd made with her. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was get out of Zhengzhou.
After getting back into our air conditioned room, we all laid down and cooled off. We offered Brooke fresh clothes, but let her decide to put them on in case she was attached to the ones she had on (some kids go banans if you take their clothes away). She had absolutely no emotional connection to her clothes and stripped them off without any hesitation. She pulled on a fresh diaper and her new comfy shirt and shorts without any help. She put her sandals back on without any help, either.
After skyping with Mark so that he could see his new daughter, we all took a much needed nap.
We mostly lived off room service in Zhengzhou. It had familiar food for Olivia, Debbi and me (like club sandwiches) and it had food familiar to Brooke. It wasn't any more expensive than going out into the restaurants, so we took it easy and had the food brought to us. Brooke loved the congee (chicken and rice soup). This was her first meal with us. Belive it or not, she ate almost the entire bowl!!!! We thought she'd burst!
Olivia bounced back after her nap and we spent the rest of the day just getting to know Brooke. She immediately took to Olivia and Debbi. She made it clear she had absolutely NO use for me. Oh well - I was prepared. It happens sometimes. I didn't push her and figured she'd come around eventually. It took about a week, but she finally accepted me. Actually it worked out in a strange sort of way - Olivia got wayyyyy cranky and wayyyyyyy clingy/jealous, so I had to spend alot more time with her than I had expected. Brooke was very happy just to hang with Debbi and not bother with me. Again - thank heavens for Debbi.
And she finally cracked a smile, and then LAUGHED!!
Here are my favorite two pictures taken at the registry office:
And here she is at the Renaissance Festival a few weeks ago. What a difference!!
I hope Brooke will consider Family Day a good day in her life. She'd already been through so much - she lost her birth family (and we will likely never know the details of that). Then she lost her foster family and foster brother, then she was pulled from the orphanage, losing her nannies, and handed off again to complete strangers, us, the likes of which she'd never seen before. We lugged her from hotel to hotel and finally brought her "home", another totally strange place. But, she seems to be very resilient. She has embraced us and become part of the family as if she's always been with us. She knows she's "adopted", but I doubt she really understands what that means yet. We read children's story books about adoption and I have mentioned her birth parents in passing a few times, but she doesn't seem to have any interest in that matter yet. Time will tell. All I know is, she had a tough time before we ever came into the picture. Hopefully, she will look at June 29, 2009, as the day she began a new chapter in her life - a chapter which brought stability and permanence and love.
Here are some new pictures from the present: Olivia's self portrait.
Olivia watering her tomato crop while Brooke was zonked on the sofa with her fever. She has two tomatos under construction.
The sprinkler is a good way to keep cool. Brooke is NOT a big sprinker fan, so I knew she wouldn't mind if Olivia did this without her.
Olivia made this by tracing her's and Brooke's hands. What she wrote phonetically says, "Little hands can make a big difference." What a great outlook!!!!!