Great Wall

Great Wall

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Made in China, Loved in America--One Year Down!!!

One year ago tonight, we were so nervous with anticipation about what the next day would bring when we finally got to meet our Lidi Wu.  She represented years of trying to make our dreams come true of having a child we could call our own.  It had been such a long journey for us already, first trying to get pregnant on our own and then with the help of doctors.  And finally having to realize that having a biological child was not going to be for us.  Then starting the extremely long process of trying to adopt.  First local in Delaware only to be confronted with dead ends and more disappointment.  Finally treading into uncharted waters of adopting internationally.  What would it be like to have a child from a different culture?  Would they feel accepted, how would they be treated in school?  And the paperwork!  Oh boy the paperwork just seemed daunting with no end in sight.  Would we ever be able to get to the end and hold our little child in our arms? Luckily, there were awesome moments to get us through...our placement!  The first time when we got to see her and know that she was real but living on the other side of the planet from us.  She was so cute!  We were elated!  But then more waiting, and now we knew what she looked like which made it even harder.  But finally, the time came for us to pack our bags and travel to a far away land to meet our little girl.  The moment was the most intense of our entire lives!  We had been preparing for it but she had no idea what was about to happen to her.  Would she like us?  What would she be like?  How the heck do we take care of a toddler!?!  Our hearts we beating a 1000 times a minute!!!

The first meeting was oh so precious!  She almost seemed too good to be true.  And then began the real journey...trying to bond as a family.  As amazing as she was and as ready as we were to have her, the adoption process was difficult on all of us.  First, her mouth infection in China which was incredibly difficult for new parents to have to face.  Then her rejection of Bobby which was very hard for us to not be hurt by.  Luckily that didn't last long.  Next, the transition back to America, her being in a totally unfamiliar place and us not truly understanding what having a toddler full time would mean to our lives.  The first months were rough.  Dealing with getting her poor little mouth attended to was a major feat in itself.  No dentist would see her because she was so young and needed to be put under to have the work done.  Then finally, we found someone...out of network but who cares!  A dentist that would finally help ease her pain.  There were other doctor appointments too...most of which were at AI Dupont in Christiana.  She had to have so much blood taken and we had no way to explain to her what was happening.  We could just hold her and hope that her discomfort would pass quickly.  All this on top of dealing with a new toddler with a language barrier.  Dealing with multiple wakings in the night, temper tantrums, not eating, changing diapers, watching kids shows all the time, hitting, pinching and not playing nice with other kids.  How do we teach her? Are we doing the right things?  So much stress of just worrying about how she was doing.  It really got to us.  The first months were tough. We missed our old lives of being able to relax after work or go out for a nice dinner on the weekend.  Those days were gone but we had a hard time letting them go.  Larkin developed post adoption depression, common and similar to what birth mothers experience which makes it hard to bond with the child.  Bobby just trying to get through from one day to the next trying to help his wife and his daughter at the same time but not knowing what to do.  And both of us continuing to work, necessary for Larkin to keep her sanity but difficult because it kept us apart since Bobby works during the day and Larkin during weekday evenings.

But slowly, ever so slowly things finally started to change.  Almost unnoticeable from a day to day perspective but looking back its obvious that we all started to bond.  Her understanding of English came on quickly and her words came more each day.  Rather than spending the last few minutes of the day complaining about what bad had happened, we found ourselves talking about cute things she had done.  Problems that seemed to be earth shattering at first seemed to melt away into the background to the point where they were much more manageable or even totally disappeared.  Her eating improved, her understanding of how to play with others improved, our ability to cope with stress improved.  And we grew as a family.  Doing what we had loved before we got Mila, now seemed awesome to experience for the first time through her eyes.  Going to the beach, seeing a movie at the theater, visiting family in Kentucky, and all of the holidays.  Everything seemed refreshed and exciting now that we could introduce Mila to the things we loved.  We enrolled her in preschool which has turned out to be such a blessing.  She loves school! And her teacher!  Both of which have played a part in helping Mila to grow.  She has been going to church.  First to nursery and then the transition to Primary.  To hear her sing "Follow the Prophet" puts this whole thing into perspective and makes us glad that our first year is behind us.  Though we would never wish her life away, we are so glad to be in the place that we are now.  This little girl is truly amazing!  Her spirit has been what has won us over.  And we know that she was meant to be ours.  What does the next year hold?  We're not sure but we do know that we are united as a family and that we can tackle whatever comes our way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Home 3 Months

I know we haven't updated the blog for awhile and we've gotten a few requests for a post.  Home for 3 months!  We can't believe it.  In some ways it feels like we just brought Mila home and in other ways it seems she has already been with us for a year (in a good way).  She is an amazing little person and is doing remarkably well considering everything that she has been through.  We feel like we have a well established routine with her now.  With Mama going back to work last month at nights, there was some worry about how we would all adjust to that but it is working out pretty well.  The only minus is that we are basically like single parents during the week with Baba going to work during the day, the handoff at 4:30 when he gets home, and then Mama working 5:00-9:00.  Its good in a lot of ways because it gives Mama a break from home life and she can get out and see her friends.  It also helps us out money wise.  So we try to see as much of each other during the weekends.  Its funny how each night we compare notes to see how our days with Mila have gone.  Mostly we ask the Big 3 questions: did she eat, did she poop, how did she behave.  Most days those answers are all good.  But we have the typical things that "all toddlers go through".

Mila is eating a little better but you never really know from meal to meal how she will do.  We have learned we can't make her eat something and everything has to be on her terms.  We try to do the best we can and then supplement with formula and vitamins.  Her favorite foods are yogurt, noodles from Sarku in the mall, and tortillas.  She will happily eat all of those.  Everything else is kind of iffy if she likes it.

We try to keep her active as much as possible.  We do lots of play dates at the playground and take her to church often and the nursery when Mama goes to the gym where she interacts with kids her age.  From time to time we have to remind her about not hitting and that she needs to share her toys, but for the most part she does pretty well.  Her favorite toys are her iPad and her Superman doll.  She also serves us tea from time to time and likes this yellow car we gave her.

Several major things we have done are going to Kentucky to visit family (which Mila loved!).  She is a good traveler and handle the 10 hours in the car both ways pretty well.  Her eating picked up in Kentucky.  She got to see a lot of family and they were just over joyed to meet her.  Of course she worked her charms and won everyone over instantly.  We also went to the Strawberry Festival at Fifer Orchards.  There she was able to ride a horse, pet some bunnies, and ride in a long train of wheeled barrels pulled by a tractor.  She also absolutely LOVED Easter and being able to hunt for Easter eggs in the yard.  Plus the Easter Bunny made a visit to the house and left her an Easter basket filled with toys.

Mila is a constant source of amazement.  She seems to be saying new things everyday.  She is starting to put together phrases and sentences.  She can now point out 5 colors.  At first she could only get "YELLOW" right and everything to her was yellow.  But she has recently learned pink. red, green, and blue.  Mama reported that when taking Mila clothes shopping, Mila would pull out a dress she liked and exclaim, "Oh so pretty!".  She also likes to don her Princess attire and run around singing "Let It Go!" from Frozen.  We have made arrangements for Mila to enter preschool in the fall.  We feel that this will really help her to grow even more.

We are continually grateful that we have been blessed with this little girl.  Oh there are definitely days when we question if we are doing things right like after she's stuck her hand in the fish tank for the tenth time but we feel that we have gotten a really special girl here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"All toddlers do that..."

Sorry to all the fans of Mila...its been a few weeks since we've done a blog post.  Honestly, with her its tough to find a few free minutes to sit down and do anything.  But we know a lot of people out there are wondering how we are doing so we made it a goal to get a post out this weekend.

We wanted to give an update on her teeth.  Unfortunately we haven't made much headway yet.  It seems that it is one step forward and 2 back.  We have had a hard time finding a dentist that will work on her because of her age.  Because she needs so much work done, she will need to be put under and that requires the dentist to do the work at a hospital.  What we are finding is that most hospitals aren't equipped to sedate kids under 3.  So we are kind of stuck trying to find a dentist that will work out of a children's hospital that can do the sedation.  We are now on our 4th dentist and we think she will be able to help us.  Unfortunately, the dentist is out of our insurance network so we aren't sure how that will work out cost wise.  But at this point, we just want to get her seen.  Both dentists we've seen so far have expressed that her mouth is pretty bad and are betting that she is probably dealing with mouth pain on a daily basis.  We just hate how we feel we were totally unprepared for this.  And she had another flair up this week like she did in China.  We noticed she was acting like she wasn't feeling good and then she started holding her jaw like she had when she got her infection in China.  So we got her to the doctor right away who put her on an antibiotic.  These types of infections will probably keep happening until we get her mouth fixed.  But she has bounced back after taking the medicine so that is another one down.

The other side of this is the formula that she is pretty addicted to.  Its really a double edged sword because on the one hand, her mouth is so bad that she can't really eat food normally so the doctor told us to keep her on the formula so she can get nutrition.  But then the dentist told us that if we have any hope of saving some of her teeth then we at least have to get her off the formula at night.  This was a pretty big blow to us because Mila is pretty needy at night usually requiring us to go in and attend to her several times in the night and usually end up in the bed with her.  Every time she wakes up, it is because she wants her formula.  So it was pretty daunting to us to now hear that we must get her off the formula immediately.  So this week has been all about that.  We have been making sure she has a bottle at dinner time, then we brush her teeth, and then switch her over to just water for the rest of the night.  It has been pretty traumatic.  Almost every night she has been having major meltdowns.  It has been trying on us.  And to top it off, Bobby got sick this week with bronchitis and Larkin has been taking all of the night duties.  So that hasn't helped.  But we do feel good about doing whatever we can to preserve what teeth she has left.  At least Mila has taken to letting us brush her teeth.  She happily goes into the bathroom and opens her mouth awaiting us to come in and brush her.  Its a little heart wrenching though because she whimpers in pain when we got over her top teeth so we have been going really easy.

We suspect that her teeth situation is also affecting her eating as well.  We do know that Miss Mila is a pretty picky eater because we give her tons of soft options that she should be able to handle but she often spits most of her food out after one bite.  We aren't for sure if she is using food as a way to control her situation.  Because we know some of the foods we give her she likes but she will spit them out just to spite us.  That is why we are glad she is at least drinking the formula.  But we have found that when we complain about this to other parents we often hear "all toddlers do that..."  Except we aren't sure if this is true or not because we see plenty of other toddlers eating just fine.

Mila's vocabulary seems to be growing.  She now says "I love you" except she has a hard time with "l"'s so she says "I wove you".  She also says "Mina" for her name.  She says "stop it" and "bottle" and "please".  We also feel like she is understanding us more.  We can ask her questions and she will nod her head yes or no.  She seems to be really attached to both of us.  In public, she will often look for us when she is off playing with friends.  If she can't readily find us, she will start asking for Mama or Baba until we are found.  She has been to a friends birthday party and visited both Lowes and ILC to see Mama's and Baba's friends.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

One Week Home

Hard to believe but we have been home for one week now.  We think things are going pretty great so far!  We are settling into a routine with Miss Mila now.  On Thursday after a lot of tears and "see ya soon"'s, Bobby's mom took off and headed back for Kentucky.  She was a great help while she was here and helped us get home and transition back to normal life.  We really enjoyed our time with her and getting to see her enjoy her new grand daughter and getting to see Mila enjoy her Nai Nai.

It seems that Mila has settled into a better sleep routine now after a few nights of being up all night.  She typically wakes up around 8 and then takes a nap from noon to 2 or 3.  Then she is usually in bed by 9.  She is very clingy to us and usually wants us to be in close contact with her as she is sleeping.  Luckily, we started off having her sleep in her bed right away.  But we have been taking turns sleeping with her because she usually cries when she wakes up if someone is not there.  She is very sweet to sleep with.  If she wakes up in the night, she lays quietly in bed and gently moves her hands around including stroking our faces and patting beats on her tummy.

We have found that Mila has 2 distinct personalities.  One is when she is in a great mood and gets along with everyone.  In this mood, she laughs a lot and wants to play.  When she is laughing hard, she will cover her mouth with one hand or even two.  She also is very talkative and speaks in Mandarin a lot.  One morning when Baba was gone after sleeping with her all night, she woke up and spouted off a long sentence ending with putting her hands in the air and saying "Baba?".  We are wondering if she was asking where Baba was.  She is also starting to say some English words.  She knows "hi" and "bye" and her name.  She can also sing the ABC's up to the letter F.  She is also getting very attached to our cats and knows that our one cat is named Maggie.  She will gently pet Maggie and give her little kisses on her face and body.

The other personality of Mila is when she is a bad mood.  In this mood, she is often quiet and wants to be held.  If any one else approaches, she will moan a bit and hide her face.   We never really know which version we will get and the funny thing is that she will change on a dime.

This week we had her first appointment at AI DuPont Children's Hospital to see her International Pediatrician.  We wanted to have her seen there first just to have her looked over and make sure she got tested for anything that the Orphanage may have missed.  She was really great at the dr even when they were drawing blood.

We also had our first post placement interview with our local adoption agency, Madison.  China requires that several follow up interviews take place to make sure the child is being taken care of properly.  Our social worker is very nice and gave us some good advice about what we should be doing with Mila in these first few months to help her bond with us.  After having several care givers in her life, we need to make sure she knows that we are her mom and dad and that we aren't going anywhere.

Other than that, Mila is enjoying playing with her toys.  She likes stickers the most and likes to peal them off and put them on Mama and Baba.  We have a had several good visits this week from people from our church who have stopped by to bring food and gifts.  We feel so blessed to have such a great support group to help us along.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Home Coming

Well we've been home a few days now and just wanted to report how things are going so far...and things are going pretty great!  It took over the weekend for us to all get over our jet lag.  Luckily, Bobby's mom was here to help when Miss Mila was wide awake in the middle of the night.  Unfortunately, we all came down with a cough/cold from the flight home so that has been an extra thing we are dealing with, but even that has not stopped Mila from being a great little girl.  The first time in the house, we were nervous that Mila would be ok with everything.  Of course we were just ending an epic 24 hours straight of travel so anyone would be in a mood after that but Mila still seemed to like the house just fine.  Mom had decorated the house with streamers and balloons welcoming us home and had Mila's room extra clean.  We took her into her room and I think at first she was kind of unsure.  But then we started showing her all the toys we had for her and then she really started to get into it. It was so nice to see her playing in her room after so long of waiting to get her!  The first couple of days were just spent trying to get all of us on the same sleep schedule.  But it seems that now on Tuesday, we are all getting on track.  For the past two nights, she has slept through most of the night with Baba starting off sleeping with her and then Mama checking in on her the next night.  She is also taking a pretty decent nap around noon everyday.  Eating has been a little challenge.  We are finding her to be a bit of a picky eater, she has to decided when and what she wants to eat.  But we have been experimenting with a bunch of different things to see what she likes.  She has really taken to our cats and is very gentle when petting them and lets them smell her hands before she starts petting them.  She is enjoying playing with us and likes her stickers the most.  She also enjoys coloring.  A few of our friends have stopped by to look in on her.  Varinia brought her daughter, Olivia, over Sunday to play for a few hours and Mila really enjoyed that.  In all, we would say she is doing amazing for all that she has been through.  She is an amazing little kid and we really are glad that we get to have her in our lives.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Day 13-15: Coming Home

So, so happy to be writing this one from the comfort of our own couch!  That's right, we made it home last night!  And we're not going to lie, this trip was probably one of the most intense experiences of our lives!  So much happened that we have to be grateful for and we are so happy to have Mila home and safe.  Hard to believe that she is actually here with us in the house.

The last couple of days of the trip were very difficult because of Mila's infection.  It was tough on us as new parents to know that she was in pain and not be able to give her immediate relief.  Luckily, the Holt staff was great in helping us get her to a doctor so that we could get some antibiotics for her.  Luckily, seeing the doctor was actually quite easy.  Just a short cab ride through the city to his office.  He was a nice man from Singapore.  By the time we got there, Mila's face and eye were very swollen and red from the infection.  After a quick examine, he determined that an infection had started in her upper gum where her molars will come in and spread up into her sinus cavity which is why her face was so swollen.  They gave us two different strong antibiotics and wanted us to check on her fever to make sure she was ok by the time we had to start traveling home.  So the rest of that day (Wednesday) was spent in the hotel room, trying to get her better.  And poor thing, she was such a trooper through the whole ordeal.  We just couldn't believe we had to deal with that on top of everything else.  It took us some time to figure out how to give her the medicine.  It was pretty traumatic the first couple of attempts.  But we finally got a good dose in her and then just played the waiting game while the medicine did its work.  Thank goodness we live in a time when such things are available.  She slept really good Wednesday night which was a relief and woke in good spirits Thursday.  And luckily, her fever was down so everyone felt ok about her traveling.  Good thing too because we were scheduled to take a train to Hong Kong at 10am and we would have had to delay that if she still had a fever.

Thursday morning, we said goodbye to the China Hotel (we were ready to get out of that place) and took a car to the train station where a guide helped us get onto the train.  The train was actually pretty cool.  It was really nice on the inside and provided a quiet, scenic ride out of GZ and into HK.  It was about a 2 hr ride.  Once we arrived, it was a little hectic figuring out where our bags were and we had to go through immigration, but we got linked up with our last guide for the trip who took us to the Regal Hotel which was connected to the airport.  That was so great BTW and saved us so much stress because we were able to just sleep at the hotel, and then walk through the hotel right into the airport.  The hotel was pretty nice but no free wifi in the room which is why there were no blog posts.  Mila was doing a lot better by this time.  Her swelling had gone down a lot and she ate a really good dinner (one of the things we have struggled with her).  At 9am Friday, we checked out of the hotel and into our flight on United.  The airport was really nice in HK and from what we could see out the windows, a really pretty city (but there was smog).  Our plane was a bit delayed at the gate but by noon we were heading out for the VERY long 15 hour flight home.  Mila was really good on the plane and caused us little stress.  She mostly watched The Pleasant Goat on her iPad and slept.  Because of the time difference, we took off at noon on friday and landed at 2:30pm the same day because we gained all the time back.  Kind of nice but made for a long day because mama and baba didn't sleep much on the plane.  Getting back into the country was actually really stressful only because the immigration lines were REALLY long and there were only like 2 clerks working the windows.  Plus, since Mila had extra immigration paperwork, we had to go off into this side office while they finished processing her.  This was making us really stressed because of the already long flight.  But finally we got outta there, got our bags and then finally got to introduce Mila to Ni Ni (grandma) who picked us up at the airport.  It was a great reunion to see those two finally together!  Even though the ride home was brutal (3 hours with a lot of traffic) we were so glad to be back on American soil and know that Mila was finally home.

Getting to the house was exciting.  Our friends, the Clays,  had come and left a special Welcome Home poster on the front door, and Ni Ni and done a really good job prepping the house for us including balloons and streamers all over the house.  Miss Mila was a little intimidated/fussy when we first came in, but she quickly came around as we showed her the house and all of the new toys in her room!  Now it will be so fun to get to experience all the firsts with her as we start our new lives as a family together!

We want to thank everyone that has shared in this journey with us!  It was a long time in the making and the reward is so worth it!  We thank you all for your prayers, concerns, and comments that helped us get through this crazy time in our lives.  More to come!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 12: US Consulate, Miss Mila Gets Sick

This is a tough one to write today because we are currently waiting to take Mila to a western dr to be seen at 9:30 which can't get here fast enough!  We had suspected a few days ago that maybe a tooth or something in her mouth was bothering her because she cried a couple of times and grabbed her jaw.  We debated about whether to take her then but Holt recommended that we watch her to see how things went.  And honestly, the next day see seemed ok, hardly cried at all, and never grabbed her jaw.  The only other sign  something was up is that she basically ate nothing the whole day.  Really she only had liquids the entire day.  But with kids, especially newly adopted ones, we had no idea why she wasn't eating.  It wasn't until yesterday afternoon when we noticed that her cheek was swollen up and then she really did start to cried and hold her jaw.  We gave her children's ibuprofen and that helped her out a lot.  The swelling went down and she started acting ok.  Another trip to the Holt office and they said to watch her during that evening and see how she did.  So we had a river cruse scheduled and we decided to go ahead and stick to that plan.  Unfortunately, the medication must have worn off on the boat because Mila started feeling poorly again and this time her cheek swelling got worse.  We told Holt right away that we wanted to see the dr.  Unfortunately, he's not going to be in until 9:30 so we knew we were in for a long, painful night as we held Mila in our arms and tried to give her comfort.  Poor little thing!  And we HATE not being able to talk to her and tell her what's going on.  Luckily, we did have our tour guide explain to her last night that Mama and Baba knew that her mouth hurt and that we were going to make it better in the morning.  That seemed to help her some.

Other then this health news, yesterday morning we had our US Consulate appointment to apply for Mila's visa and participate in the oath taking ceremony.  We were a little worried about this because we were told security at the consulate was extremely tight and we would only be able to bring in a diaper and some treats for Mila.  But it ended up being fine.  We went with some of the other Holt families and there were families from other agencies there as well.  It was kind of like going to the DMV where you take a number and then talk to someone through a thick piece of glass.  Luckily, there was a small children's play area that kept the kids occupied while we waited.  The oath taking was pretty cool.  We just all stood and raised our hands and repeated words in behalf of Mila that said she would be a good citizen.  It was really cute because Mama was holding Mila during it and when she saw us raise our hands, she raised her hand too.  She was the only kid that did that.  We both commented that we liked going to the consulate.  It was nice to see "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" written in big letter on the side of the building.

Thank you so much for all your prayers.  We know that the difficulties were are facing are but a short time and ultimately they are making us stronger as a family.  It will just be so nice to get home and be able to tackle these things in familiarity instead of out of a hotel room in a foreign country.

No pics today because they are hard for us to look at because of Mila's swollen jaw.