Saturday, November 05, 2005

Final Post and Pictures from Home

Well, all good things must come to an end. This is our final post. We will be short but include lots of pictures!

The blog has been a wonderful tool to help keep family and friends up to date on our journey to find Chloe and the family's trip home. We plan on printing out the blog in its entirety, along with comments and E-mails, and then spiral binding it for Chloe to look back on in years to come. We have so very much appreciated everyone's support, love, and wishes during this process.

The family is all home now, and we are doing great. After the first couple of days where Chloe was on sensory overload, she is settling in and making the place her own. We think Chloe adopted us rather than us adopting Chloe. She loves the pets, and they seem to have taken to her too. They are a little sad that she seems to get the lion's share of our attention, but they have been very gentle and kind with her. Chloe has taken to the jogging stroller and enjoys walks where she can see the world. She also enjoys her play times on her own and with others. The grandmothers have been a great help and family and friends are fattening up the entire family with their kind gifts of food.

We can't tell you how blessed we feel to have Chloe in our lives. Thanks again for all of your support and kindness, and we wish you the best!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Journey Home

This post is a little bit late coming, but we've been struggling with jet lag. Still, we want to piece together the end of the trip, so we have a record for Chloe.

On October 27th, we finished up in Guangzhou with our appointment with the US Consulate. This appointment took place on the bus, due to the issue with chicken pox within our group. We had a very quick meeting with the representative where we swore that all of the adoption information was true, and we learned that Chloe would become a US citizen upon landing in Newark. After our appointment, we took a three-hour ride to Hong Kong that included two border stops. After arriving in Hong Kong, we made our first major parenting error. We thought our hotel was only 20-minutes from the city center, so we decided to take a quick trip into the city before bedtime. We heard such great things about Hong Kong, so we didn't want to miss it. We left at 6:00 and finally arrived at the city center at 7:00. Chloe was extremely fussy at this point, given that bedtime is at 7:30. After walking around for 30-minutes, we returned to the hotel directly and got to the hotel at 9:00. At this point, Chloe was furious. It took another hour to get her down. The whole time we obsessed about our horrible parenting in this situation

The next day, we woke up at 6:00AM and snuck around packing and repacking for the flight home as Chloe slept. She got up at 7:30, and we were at the airport to leave for home by 8:15. The trip was a test of perseverance, but Chloe did extremely well. She slept for much of the 15-hour flight from Hong Kong to Newark and was regularly admired by fellow passengers and flight attendants. Upon arriving in Raleigh, we were all ready for some rest, but our body clocks were shaken. It was nice to arrive home, but we already missed China.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hanging Out in Guangzhou

Yesterday we spent the day hanging out in Guangzhou. We are staying about 45 minutes outside of the city at the YuanYang Hotel. We are not in the famous tourist district on Shamian Island known in Chinese adoption circles, so our shopping on this trip has been a bit scarce. Our guide (De) tried his hardest to help the group find a few trinkets to take home for, but there was not much around here. As we looked, De entertained us by singing Chinese lullabies and playing with the babies.

More important than shopping... Chloe has a fun new game. When she's propped up on pillows, she waits until she thinks her parents aren't looking and shimmies down into a laying position (grinning the whole time) and then lets out a cry, so her parents will run over and set her upright again. She's completing tests of the Chloe Emergency Broadcast System. We love this game because we see that she's realizing she can depend on us to come through for her.

After shopping and playing, we went back to the Chinese restaurant in the hotel last night with a family from High Point (Rob, Stacy, and Mia). We had a great time, and then I went for an hour-long foot massage. As I soaked my feet in a wooden tub, the masseur rubbed my shoulders, neck, and back. After that was done, he massaged my feet and lower legs as I drank tea and ate watermelon. The process took about an hour, and then I tripped back to the room and fell instantly asleep. It was a nice break after a long day of walking, shopping, and playing.

We're headed to Hong Kong today by bus after we get travel documents for the babies. We'll be home soon. We're excited about getting home, but we'll miss China and can't wait to come back to spend more time in Chloe's homeland. We have added some photos of Guangzhou. It is a sea of skyscrapers with well over 10 million people living in it. We can see about 15 large cranes working on construction projects out the view from our window. China's economy truly is booming as they begin to explore capitalism and the emergence of a middle class begins.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Forced March Across China

Well, if you have been following the blog you know we got a little behind and are now going back and catching up. Tuesday basically was a forced march across China. We woke up around 5am, packed the bags, got the baby ready, ate a quick breakfast and then left for the airport around 8:30am. All of this was in preparation for a flight back to Guangzhou that was scheduled to leave at 10:30 am. Once in Guangzhou the plan was to go get the baby's visa physicals and also complete some consulate paperwork before checking into the new hotel.

Never having flown with Chloe before and not really knowing how long the day was going to be, Heidi and I were strapped down like sherpas supporting an Everest expedition. Diapers, wipes, changing pad, cheerios, toys, cameras, crackers, changes of clothes, medicines that we didn't want to lose, etc.

The funny thing was we only has one backpack and had to put the rest in plastic shopping bags. The Chinese citizens must have thought we were lunatics. I mean - they don't even use diapers for their children. Just pants with a split through the bum. When junior has to go - you just take him over out of the way - let him go on the floor if need be and then wipe everything up. It basically means you travel with just a couple of wipes. A much lighter load than what Heidi and I were bearing.

Chloe was asleep at takeoff and we just let her sleep. She woke up about 15 minutes into the flight and we put her on our laps and let her play with toys and paper on the folded down tray table. She was a joy. During the descent we fed her Cheerios to help make her swallow so the pressures would not hurt her little ears. Seemed to work like a champ. She was very interested in watching the landscape once we were close enough to the ground to see.

Another 45 minute bus ride and we were at the doctors office. It was a production line with about 5 different doctors checking heights, weights, hearing, heartbeats, breathing etc. Super efficient and the whole physical took about 15 minutes. Chloe was 15.9 pounds in a onesie outfit and 23.6 inches long. Everything else appeared to be in good order. Before we got back to the hotel it was close to 4pm and we were pooped. We rested for a brief while, took an afternoon stroll with Chloe, and then had a nice authentic Chinese dinner with another family. The pigeon was a little gamey tasting, but all in all the food was excellent. Flash fried pumpkin was awesome!

Chloe's rash has dissipated now that we are limiting her solid food to noodles. Must have been a food allergy of some sort and we are holding off on further experimentation until we get back in the states. We have started feeding her with chopsticks and she loves using them. Much easier than feeding noodles with our fingers!

Sorry for not posting sooner - we will try to get back on schedule!

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Orphanage Visit

I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Chloe's orphanage today, but I can't yet articulate the range of emotions moving through me as I reflect on the day. Instead of trying to sum up the meaning of the day, I'll simply share what I learned about Chloe. First, Chloe spent all but the last month in foster care on the outskirts of Shangrao City. Her foster mother's name is Xia Shu Feng. When they received notice that she was going to be adopted, she was taken back to the orphanage. Her caregiver there is named Xu Bao Gin, and I'll post a picture of the two of us on the blog. Second, I learned that they called Chloe Yiao Yiao in the orphanage. It's a term of endearment. Third, they said both her foster mother and her nanny are strong women, much like Chloe. Both are about 50-years old. Fourth, Chloe's last name Ling is the name of a beautiful mountain nearby. This name also means soul. I like this because we decided that Chloe would have two last names (just like her mother), so her full name is Chloe Frances Ling Loflin. Finally, they said that Chloe is a very strong baby, and she rarely gets sick.

Right now, there are about 60 girls living in the orphanage and another 100 living in foster care around the city. The orphanage is struggling to care for all of the children because they only get $12.00/month per child. They need more clothing, walkers, money for formula... The Nannies seem very loving, and they deeply care for the children. In fact, it's very important to them that we send periodic pictures of Chloe when we return home. They want to know that she's okay. While the workers are kind, they do not have the resources to provide individualized attention to the children, and the babies spend quite a bit of time on there own laying in cribs.

After visiting the orphanage, the orphanage staff took us to lunch (I traveled with one other parent.) The food was quite good, and we tried many unfamiliar dishes. It was hard to figure out the eating customs, but we bumbled through. I was disappointed when 1/2 way through the meal, they gave us forks, but neither of us used them.

At the end of the day, I'm still processing the fact that in just nine months my daughter has lost her birth mother, spent time in foster care, moved to an orphanage, and now is with her parents who look, smell, and sound like no one she has ever come into contact with before. She is a very strong baby to be handling this transition with such curiosity and sweetness, and we feel grateful to be given the opportunity to parent this little one.

Call Nanny 911!

This is Chris..

I know what you are thinking...there is no way that something with such a sweet angelic face could ever be any problem. Well let me tell you... God just sent some demon to possess my child in order to seek revenge for all of the trouble I gave my mother growing up. And I had to raid the minibar just to calm my nerves afterwards!

The day started well enough with a family breakfast followed by Chloe and Chris seeing Heidi off. Heidi is going with one other parent to see Chloe's hometown and her orphanage which are about 2-3 hours away. Hopefully she will also see her "finding spot" and get lots of good information from her nannies. Afterwards Chloe and Chris went to the park again and met lots of nice citizens of China who were all duly impressed with Chloe. Then we went and meditated at the Buddhist Monastery for about 45 minutes. Again meeting lots of nice folks and even received some fruit presents from one of them. I had the regular camera - so I can't load the pictures - but suffice it to say the monastery was amazing today. Colorful prayer flags in all of the courtyards with lanterns and incense burning in all of the offering pots. The statues were amazing - both Buddhist and Hindu. We looked through the gift shop and even saw some Christian memorabilia. It was a neat melding of many different religions all in one place.

We came back for a quick bottle and a diaper change then ran off to get Chloe's Chinese passport. No problems there - she's got a passport and can travel. Coming back to the hotel we walked to the store and picked up some children's Chinese folk music and "happy song" CD's and also some general necessities. Then back to the room for a bottle and a nap.

That's when the fun started. Going to sleep wasn't a problem until dad started eating his fried rice noodles with beef. The chilies used in the dish were quite hot and as soon as dad started eating, Chloe went into a sneezing fit in her crib. 15 minutes later I got her asleep again, went back to eating, and another sneezing fit. I thought it may have been the bedding in her crib so the next time she went down I put her in the middle of one of the double beds. Then I went back to eating and another sneezing fit from across the room. I may be thick headed, but by the third time I finally figured out what was going on and promptly put the unfinished noodles in the hallway.

Problem was, I had worn out all of my charm with Chloe at that point. No going back to sleep - so I put Chloe on the bed and let her play for about an hour. We had some baby food and Cherrios as our solid mid-day meal. I put her on her belly some so she can start building up her pectoral muscles and then put her on her back so she could practice rolling over. That is when the real fun started completely out of the blue.

It started out as a whimper, then a soft cry, then a large roar, and ended in blood curdling screams. We tried Cheerios, we tried looking in the mirror, we tried walking, we tried the computer - all of which have been found to be reliable Chloe distractions. Finally I decided the Baby Bjorn (think baby backpack) and walking might be the ticket. I knew she had gotten overtired because of missing her nap but I wasn't ready for this.

So I got Chloe dressed - something else that increased the terror levels, put her in the carrier and started walking. By the time we got to the end of the hall several housekeepers had come out to see what I was doing to the baby. I started to fear I would be reported to the authorities and they would take the baby away before Heidi got home. There was no way I could walk out in front of the 2.5 million people in Nanchang with a baby that was letting loose piercing screams and throwing herself wildly against the baby carrier. So it was back to the room.

Last ditch effort - bottle. She had had one only a couple of hours previously - but I would try anything at this point. She took it instantly and like the passing of a hurricane all became calm in the world. She took it while still in the baby carrier and promptly fell asleep. I unhooked the entire carrier front rather than pull her out and laid her gently on the bed. That was an hour ago and she is still asleep. I have taken the phone off the hook and put the do not disturb sign on the door. And now I am writing this so it will be saved forever as a memory. The harshness is already starting to wear off and she is looking beautiful in her sleep.

I don't know what I did to my mother to deserve the episode that was presented to me today! Karma can be a rough thing. The only good thought coming out of the whole experience is that if that was what I got for the way I behaved in my youth - I can't wait to see what my brother's soon the be son will put him through! :-)

At 5pm, Chloe and Dad are off to have dinner with Allena Moody (cover girl earlier in the blog) who is celebrating her 3rd adoption day today with her parents. We will be celebrating at Pizza Hut and hopefully Mom will get back from the orphanage in time to join the festivities!


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Traveling Baby

Today our group visited a village that is probably quite similar to the one where Chloe was born. It was a small farming community about 20-minutes outside of the city, and we walked through with the children sticking close by because we brought candy and toys. The people of China continue to be gracious and kind. The juxtaposition of the new China with malls and shopping, and the old farming communities is striking. You can feel the growing middle-class here, but the poverty is also overwhelming.

This trip continues to be amazing, and we feel a little guilty having such a wonderful experience in early parenthood. We so enjoy starting this family and learning about Chloe's homeland at the same time. Our travel leader, Der, has been wonderful throughout the entire trip. He understands that families need to get out of the hotel, just for sanity's sake, but he only has outings or paperwork, etc. last for 2-3 hours at a time. Then it's back to the hotel for family and nap time. He is also great with the kids - constantly checking on them to see how they are doing and given recommendations where they are needed. He has a ziplock bag full of Chinese medicine that he will give you and tell you how to use ensuring that everything goes well.

Chloe is just up from her nap now, so we're going to head out into the world for a bit of a walk. Tomorrow Chloe is getting her passport and staying in town with Chris, while I visit her orphanage. It's about 3-hours away, and I'm going to try to see her finding spot as well. It feels important to try to fit together these little bits of Chloe's past.

Again, we appreciate your kind emails and warm wishes and can't wait to view the comments on the blog when we are able to access the blog again in Hong Kong. We've tried to send some emails back, but we don't think they are going through.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tears and the Fashion Police

While we're still avoiding the chicken pox, Chloe has a rash on her face. We're wondering if we are doing too much food experimentation and need to stick with formula, steamed eggs, and rice congee for a while. Those are the tried and true foods for this little one. We also had our first major crying jag today. Dad went to fill out paperwork for a few hours, and I tried to put Chloe down for her 10:00 nap. That was a big mistake because she wanted to have nothing to do with it. I tried just about everything to sooth her. We tried reading, Cheerios, a bottle, the Baby Bjorn... (fill in other options because I tried them). Finally, I broke out the computer and let her bang on the keys for a while. When Chris got back, she gave him a big smile, and he looked around the room and burst into laughter. Now she's sleeping peacefully in his arms. You can tell who has the magic touch in this family. (This is Chris, and it's not touch - it's just timing)

After nap time, we're going to grab some lunch and walk around the back streets of the city. It's fun to see all of the food vendors andaction in the streets. Chloe also seems to be happiest when we're on the move, and she's snuggled up in her Baby Bjorn. We have to buy her a full-coverage suit before we walk though. We were reprimanded by a lady on the street this morning for having a tiny(!) bit of Chloe flesh showing. It's a good idea to bundle her up for other reasons than to avoid reprimands from the baby-fashion police. The temperature has dropped considerably in the last day. It is down from about 80 degrees to the mid 50's, and we want to keep her well.

Chris finishing out the blog here... We didn't have time to post earlier, so we will fill out the day here. We think the rash now may have been related to a shirt Heidi was wearing that had been dry cleaned. We've given Chloe a little Benadryl and things seem to be clearing up. Her skin is just so fine and sensitive that any little irritation really jumps out at you.

We got the nice winter suit with built in feet and now all the ladies of China can rest assured knowing that one more baby is covered! We went walking for several hours exploring China both the back streets and the main shopping streets. Saturday seems like a day for young couples to go out and walk the streets and spend time together.

The older ladies in China remind me of my grandmothers. They remind me off my Grandma Loflin because they are all shorter in stature and never fail to smile when they see little ones like Chloe. Then they remind me of my Grandma Lindsey because they are little activists and the only ones who openly give us the "thumbs up" sign for adopting Chloe. You get the sense that they are not big fans of the one child policy in China, and the impact it has had on the culture and treatment of women. They try to talk to us, but we can't understand what they are saying.

It turned out to be a good day, and tomorrow we are going to a farm on the outskirts of town to see what life is like in more rural settings.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Got Up and Went for a Stroll

Last night was a great night for sleeping. Down by 9, up at 12 for a quick bottle and then back down until about 6. A quick bottle in mom's lap and then we did what Gailor-Loflin's do - went for a walk to see the world first thing in the morning. The culture here is so amazing - there is nothing like it in the United States. We went back to the park alone and Chloe was a hit with all of the locals. They love her lite skin tone and her precious smile. They all comment on how beautiful Heidi is and how much Chloe resembles her! One person even thought she was our own baby until his friend straightened things out.

We'll post a few quick photos now as we are getting ready to go on a short tour to a historic pavilion nearby.

Be back soon!

Hitting Our Stride

We're starting to really settle in today as a family with lots of smiles and laughs. Chloe is starting to nap easily and seems to trust that we'll be here when she wakes up. She even is starting to play on her own a little and helped Chris read the paper this afternoon. The two of them are now napping, and then we are headed to Pizza Hut for dinner. While we are getting pizza for this meal, we've enjoyed the Chinese food on the trip. In fact, we've been regular chow hounds and are checking out lots of new foods (the littlest member of the family included). Chloe's favorite foods are spicy noodles, steamed eggs, cherrios, pork and sea weed baby food, and mashed bananas. She is truly a spicy girl being from the Sezchuan region known for its spicy food.

Okay, what are we noticing about Chloe? She likes to stand up on your legs when you hold her and is trying to role over from her back to her stomach, but she isn't quite there yet. She loves to vocalize and her favorite sounds are vah, vah, vah and bah, bah, bah. She likes to hold Cheerios, but doesn't even think about putting them into her own mouth. Finally, she is more into paper, tags, and whatever Chris and I are doing than in any of the toys we brought except for the stacking cups and the books. They are great fun. One last thing, Chloe hates it when her parents pay even a bit of attention to another child, so we're watching our p's and q's and focusing on just Chloe during this transition time. This is important not only for Chloe's attachment but also because chicken pox are spreading through the group. Right now, three out of the ten kids have chicken pox and we are trying to keep Chloe well.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Today -- The Park and a Temple

What a wonderful and overwhelming journey we've taken. The first thing I have to say is that we cannot believe that we requested twins. This one little person is keeping both of us on our toes, and I don't know how we could have handled two at once. Second, I want to thank everyone for the emails. We love reading them, and we're sorry that we don't have time to reply individually. Third, we are having a strange issue with the blog. We can post, but we can't visit the blog ourselves. We hope everything is coming through and can't wait to read any comments when we get to Guangzhou.

Right now, Chloe is napping on Daddy's lap, so I have a bit of a breather before we head out for an afternoon walk. After a long night and some good cuddling this morning, our guide (Der) took us to a local park. At the park, there were groups of people practicing ballroom dancing, tai chi, and kung fu, others playing mai jong (?sp), some badminton games going on, and an array of other community activities. What I appreciated most was that all ages were in the park literally dancing, singing, and laughing together. We so enjoy these little peeps into Chinese culture. After the park, our guide took us to a Buddhist temple. We had the chance to walk through and even saw another group of adoptive families from Spain.

It's a little hair raising to walk around here because we don't understand the subtle traffic rules (or perhaps the lack there of), and we end up feeling as if we're about to be run over by a bicyclist, someone on a scooter, or a tiny van zooming by. As soon as little one gets up, we're off to brave the traffic again, so we can pick up more bottled water. If Chloe is up to it, we may check out the Walmart down the street and pick up some Chinese children's books. We'll post again tomorrow.