Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good day, hard night...

Sorry for posting later than usual. I passed out on the bed last night before I had a chance to post, so I'm up early this morning updating the blog. Mom, I know you've probably been hitting the refresh button on your computer ALL day!

Today we had Lauren's visa photo taken and her medical exam done. Last week our group was seven families, but now the families who traveled to other provinces have joined us and now we have twelve plus families in our group. It was pretty chaotic at the medical place, as you will see from my photos, and the exam is obviously just a formality. The hearing test cracks me up...if the doctor squeezes a squeaky toy and the baby turns her head, the hearing is good. All the staff there were very soft spoken and sweet with the babies and make things as easy as could be.

After the medical exam we were on our own until the group dinner, so off we went to Lucy's for some American comfort food. Grilled cheese and fries...

Lauren had some congee and mashed potatoes. Congee is basically super boiled down an mushy rice and they usually add chicken, beef or pork and sometimes corn or green onion. Lauren loves her congee...

Between lunch and dinner we walked around the island, had some tea at Starbucks and then back to the room for some play time. We got lots of smiles today and some giggles and laughter too. It was SO nice to see her opening up.

After our group dinner tonight, some of the guys got together for a pick-up hacky-sack game in front of one of the shops. They started this last night and I have a feeling there will be more to come. It's been a fun way to end the evening and lots of laughs...

Our biggest problem still is when she gets tired. This is the time when she starts to cry and then it turns into that inconsolable screaming and throwing her body down on the floor. This happened once today for about 15 minutes before she fell asleep for an hour nap and at bed time. She was all smiles and playing once we got back to the room after dinner, but as soon as she was tired for bed she went into a full blown inconsolable mode. I'll scoop her up and walk with her while holding her tight and she'll be screaming on top of her lungs and kicking and pushing me away with her arms. If I sit down with her (because my back is breaking), she will stiffen up her body until she slides down. Once she's on the floor, she will thrash around kicking and screaming and when I touch her or move in to pick her up she freaks out. We had two hours of this before we could get her down tonight and it's exhausting. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this? It's heartbreaking to watch her go through this.

Today (Sunday) we go to a church here on the island for service and then to the Guangzhou Zoo.

Oh, here's a little video of the one baby wrecking crew in action...

You can check out all our photos from the day here.


Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Sounds like every day is getting better..
I would say that you holding on to her and just letting her know you are there and love her is the best way to deal..
LOVE the video..Have a great day to day...
I am going over to look at pictures..

Colleen said...

LOLOLOL. She's cleaning up after herself at 22 months? You're a MIRACLE MOMMY! That was tooo cute, and I'm so glad she's smiling and laughing some now!

Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Donna~ I had to come back and tell you that you can see that happy little girl coming out of her..
LOVE the pictures..
Her smile is sooooo BEAUTIFUL..

Linda said...

I may never be able to hit refresh again with this big bandage on my finger.:).... I figured you must have been tired. It is such a pleasure to see the expressions on Laurens face start to show and I have been laughing so hard at that video... At least we know she is smart and can tackle a problem... Now we will see if she cleans up her toys at home so easy. Have a great day today... Remember some of her problems are also the fact that she is coming into the 2 year old thing also... I cannot wait to see you guys.....Mom

Lisa and Tate said...

What a cute little helper! How smart to try to put the TP back on the roll!!! AND to clean up in the trash! SHE IS SO STINKIN' CUTE!!!!


Anonymous said...

She is just beautiful. You'll have such fun with her when you get her back into your own space & can set a schedule so you're not battling this exhaustion all the time.

My girl sometimes has bad tantrums. I find running water, either a faucet or the shower, works well. The shower is a great one at bedtime. I put a few inches of warm water in the tub, turn the shower on - warm - so it's running directly down and she doesn't have to sit under it if she doesn't want to & she'll sit in the tub with her hands under the shower for ages. It's so soothing for her.

Anonymous said...

I adopted my daughter when she was 22 months old too. It was an adventure to say the least! You asked for some advice and here is what worked for us. We completely tabled her American name for at least three months. We called her by her Chinese name exclusively because I realized that if I called her by her American name she wouldn't know what I was talking about. So, to help keep her calm in those really trying moments we played a little game of "round robin," We stood in a circle and I held my daughter. I would tap my husband on the chest and say "baba", then I would tap on my chest and say, "mama" and then I would tap on my daughter's chest and say her name. We played this game endlessly and it worked. After we got home, we continued to call her by her Chinese name for about three months and then slowly added her American Name to the front and used her Chinese name as a middle name and called her by both names. As time went on we simply dropped the Chinese name but I will admit that 10 years later I still will call her by her Chinese name at times. I don't know how I instinctively knew to do this but it worked and it let her keep her identity for as long as she needed it and I think comforted her. Just a thought, hope it helps. Patti

Jacquie said...

I don't have any advice other than to keep doing what you're doing. Maybe adding her nickname that they called her in the orphanage when you're talking to her? Just to help her get to know her American name? I just wanted you to know that as an outsider looking in, I can see that sweet little girl slowly peeking out and showing who she is. I just want to reach through the screen and squeeze her!

Doreen said...

OMG!!!! That smile is worth everything! I'm so happy for you Joe and Lauren, that things are slowly but surely getting into a nice groove. Donna, you have been put to the most important test by your daughter(!!!!can you believe it!) and you are passing with flying colours! You are a great mom and Joe sounds like he's not doing too bad himself! Wonderful news.

Doreen in Montreal single mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

Sherri & Todd said...

OMG!! that was just too darn cute. For just being 22 months and already cleaning up after herself, what a good little girl and sweet at that.


Wendy said...

I don't know what happened to my comment on another post, but I agree to continue with her Chinese name. We adopted our daughter at 25 months and what you are experiencing is normal for toddler adoption. Remember she has had an extremely traumatic event and will be dealing with this for months (and years) to come.
She may be exhibiting ptsd with her "episodes"--these are NOT tantrums.
When she is throwing her body it is best (if you can) to get her onto a soft bed or something that will not harm her, if not, then you have to hold her to prevent her self-harming--this can also become a pattern.
It is very hard as their strength during these episodes is unreal. I understand the back pain!
My best advise for your sanity is to not take it personally, and yet do because it is our "faults" as parents since we are the ones who removed them from their home. When you don't think you can take it another minute just remember her fear, her frustration, and her anger.
Good luck and try to get rest when you can. Those smiles make it all worth it--even though they are few and far between.

Melissa said...


I LOVE the video!! She is so smart and I love her cleaning habits!! I know you are doing the best you can and Lauren will continue to show you her cute smiles. My only advice is to try and get ahead of her before she gets to tired. Maybe try having really calming activities after dinner and start the nighttime routine before she gest exhausted. Its so hard not being on a schedule and things will get easier once you are home.

Mike and Rhonda said...


When Hannah was having her meltdowns the IA clinic told us to sing to her, message her feet and arms, and to hold her. When she gets sleepy she becomes hyperviligent. Why? could be many reasons...such as things happen to her when she slept (as in changes) so she is afraid to sleep. She feels very vulnerable right now because of all the changes. Knowing that gave me insight into what she was thinking and it helped. Measure by moments not by the helps.

Bottom line.....unfortunately, this is NOT going to happen over night. It takes time but you ARE doing everything right. Give it time, I promise it gets better. Just look at the improvement you have made so far!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Donna ~ Personally, I think Wendy and Rhonda gave you great advice. And, when she isn't tired, it will definitely help to continue doing all of the attachment activities that you can, like peek-a-boo, blowing bubbles (she has to look at your mouth to see them come out), passing toys back and forth, massage, etc.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Ack! I wasn't done. Darn laptop. Anyways, hang in there. These first weeks (and months) can be hard, but they are wonderful, too. She seems a very sweet girl. And y'all are doing great. Just keep on keeping on, concentrating on attachment parenting and showing her unconditional love.

Mike and Rhonda said...

One more idea, watch Lauren and how she soothes herself. Hannah scratched the palm of her hands, played with her hair, and rocked. Try those same first while she is calm. It helped with Hannah.

Catherine said...

Cute video of your little TP girl in action!

Sorry to hear of your rough times when your little lamb gets sleepy. I'm going to read the responses to learn things for the future. Hoping togay is better.

Tracy said...

I think you've got some great advice in the comments. I just can't help but think little Lauren's probably had a certain way or thing that helped her get to sleep - and it might be missing right now. Try even a washcloth from the hotel - might seem more like the little blankies some have in their cribs. My little one has had episodes like that, but it's been since we've been home and just here and there. It can be very hard. Always rememeber - it's not you - your daughter is going through a huge change. Blessings. Tracy

Anonymous said...

It is so nice to her in action on the video. She is just darling. I love how you talk to her and your voice is so soothing. I am sure that in itself is helping her. I agree with some other "commenter" to try soothing music and to get ahead of her.

Also, I am a huge believer in routines for these kids. (actually all kids) I know it is probably hard to have a routine in a hotel room, but just try to do bedtime/naptime exactly the same. Ie... bath, jammies, book, bottle or whatever works for you. But do it in the same order. The routine gives them a sense of comfort and knowing what will come next.

Also, I have heard from many of my adopted mom friends that bedtime is when all the trauma of what has happened submerges. Just keep doing what you are. It is clearly working and don't take it personally.

Praying for you!

Lisa in Colorado

mumma to many said...

Yes great comments! All I can say is hold her next to you on the bed when she is having a meltdown!
Sing songs. Also remember we don't know what has happened at sleep time for this little one and that is often when they feel isolated and lonely!
I know our one loves to go to sleep touching us! Even if it is just feet touching feet! She would also not let us feed her her bottle she refused to drink!
We do other attachment activities but sleep 7 months in is still an issue particularly when teething and ear infections!
Hang in there it does get different! I don't think it ever gets easier just different! Each stage has it benefits and hazards! :)
Hugs Ruth in NZ

Project Ni Hao said...

Hi Donna,

First of all, the smiles and giggles and playtime are all wonderful, and they definitely show that Lauren is starting to trust you guys. You're right on track.

Our little guy was 4 when we adopted him in July, and he had exactly the same tantrums you're describing, especially at night or when he was over-tired. He could not be consoled by either of us, and didn't like us touching him when he was at his worst. The best we could do for him is make sure he was safe - I tried to get him on a bed, or at least a soft floor. I stayed as close to him as I possibly could, without agitating him more. I would talk in a soothing tone, and it didn't really matter what I said - I just was reassuring him I was there even when he didn't want me to touch him. Looking back, he was scared and angry and overwhelmed with grief, and just couldn't cope.

When he started to calm down from a tantrum, I gave him some juice or something sweet before he fell asleep - the sweet helps release endorphins and adds to the soothing, and then I would hold him even in his sleep, until I knew he was soundly asleep.

This was one of our toughest issues - it is awfully heartbreaking to see them grieve like this. But, it does get much better as the weeks pass, and one day you'll realize that the tantrums have stopped altogether. Hang in there and give yourselves some time-outs, because it is exhausting to go through. The positive in all this is that Lauren is letting a lot of that grief out, and that will help her greatly in the long run.

Best wishes to you guys...

Anonymous said...

Re: the video. Loved seeing Lauren in action but more so, it so touched me to hear you being a Mom.

Hang in there.

chicknboy said...

so glad to see and hear you're having more and more great moments with your daughter. what a huge answer to prayer.

I don't have any advice on the exhausting tantrums she has-but I will pray for all 3 of you specifically for that.

Anonymous said...

Love the tp video. have you tried purchasing chinese lullabye cd's for her to listen to when she goes to sleep. our little one really enjoyed hearing the music and helped.

Diana said...

That video made me laugh:)
I just wanted to say that you have a smart little girl keep pulling and then try to put it back. I was impressed!!! She is just beautiful.

Gail said...

I don't have any advice but I can't help but wonder if she is missing some routine that she had at "sleeptime".
A favorite blanket, a bottle, a warm drink, a song, whatever and her lack of communication is frustrating to her.

Loved the video. Lauren is very very pretty.
What a great plus that she is tidy!!

JoAnn in NJ said...

I agree with the comments about using her Chinese name for a while...we did that in China and Kelsey was only 8.5 months old at adoption.

Believe me, babies do know their names! At the official adoption (the red stamping) the official called our girl Shuang Shuang and her head WHIPPED around to see who was calling her name.

Can you offer her a soft lovey to cuddle with if she doesn't want to be touched by you during those stressful times?

mommy2gabby said...

That smile is worth a thousand words! She is so beautiful and has a happy soul that will appear in her own time.

Is there something that is missing from her night time routine?

I know our situation is different as we adopted her at 2 days old. This is what helped her when she had problems as she got older though.I always found that a warm bath helped to sooth Gabby with alittle bit of lavendar in it. We also used very soft soothing music that played when she was in the crib. She always had a favorite blankie or lambie that went to bed with her. Always had a night light on. She also seemd to enjoy hearing my heart beat and would fall asleep on my chest. Rubbing feet or stroking her hair seems to calm her.

You continue to be in my prayers!

Annie said...

22 months - 2 year molars????

My children BOTH became challenging from around 20 months until those last baby teeth were through around 24 months. They (my lovely mild tempered babies) were suddenly prone to melt-downs, started throwing things (!!), and basically needed a TON of extra and comforting before they'd go happily to sleep. They went off acidic food at this time too, but came back to it a few months later. Teething stresses the whole body and I think the effects are often underestimated in some children so that's why I'm throwing this out there.

BEST to the three of you!!

Annie (Mummy of two - now aged 3 and 5).

Lindsay said...

Hannah did exactly the same over sleep - when they haven't been held it is very, very hard for them to tolerate it, especially when tired. I've emailed you some of the things that worked for us but just in case you can't pick up your email just now try swaddling (never worked for us, but does for some people).

Try an alternative to the cradling position eg up on your shoulder or with her back to you. The second one (the baby yoga 'something or other tiger' hold with one arm over the shoulder and the other coming up between their legs) was a brilliant one for us.

Hannah is home 13 months nearly and still rarely lets me rock her to sleep. Sometimes sleep - especially for children for whom bed time represented reabandonment every time - is very traumatising. But the main issue is often simply the inability to tolerate being held. It's not just that it is a new experience for her - it's that it is emotionally/mentally disturbing and too intense for her.

Keep her in pyjamas which cover as much of her skin as possible - this was a suggestion I got from another BTDT parent and it worked wonders for us.

Singing, talking continually, walking with her were all good alternatives to when sitting got too much. I could not lie down with her next to me for months. We have only just had some success with co-sleeping. She still doesn't sleep peacefully through the night. But she is much better - a different child.

In all honesty it took several months before we got past 2 hours of screaming, hitting, pinching, scratching, arching and stiffening up at nap/bed time. It was exhausting and for a long time nothing worked consistently.

Hope it doesn't take as long for you, but know you are not alone, and Lauren's 'abnormal' behaviour is normal for children who have been thru her life experiences.

OziMum said...

hehehe!!! Oooo, Donna & Joe... Lauren is gorgeous! So cheeky ~ and DETERMINED!!!

So glad that she is having good days. I hope the night time routine sorts itself out quickly. What time is she having her meltdown? Have you tried putting her to bed, awake? About 1/2 hr before melt down time?

rebecca/tarynsjourney said...

I love to see her smile too! Congratulations...things are getting better...and they will only go up from here!
The video is very cute!!!
mental note...Lucy's=American Food! Thanks!

Shannon said...

If you walk down the halls of the hotel you'll hear the screams (and parental tears no doubt!) of the children at naptime/bedtime. It is horrible to go through, isn't it? I know Ellie is younger but I still use her SWI name alongside her new name. My niece does it ALL the time-too cute! The meltdowns will get better. Personally it was easy at first as we got into our home routine and she was exhausted from jetlag but now it's a bit harder as she doesn't seem to want to give up the excitement of the day. I gave Ellie a pacifier (we are supposed to treat them as younger than they are for awhile) for the plane and we used it at night at the WS as it helped soothe her to sleep. Hey, I'm a speech therapist and I'm not fond of the paci but it's only being used at night/nap so she doesn't head bang, pull hair and scratch at her hands. I'm thinking my hotel room neighbors appreciated the quiet! You do what you feel you need to and work through it. Wonderful that you're coming home soon and can start fresh. Hotel life can be tough! Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

Meltdowns before bedtime is very normal for all babies, both biological and adopted. Part of it is because they don't want to go to sleep because staying awake is so interesting. The more tired they are, the worse the meltdown, because they don't know how to unwind. So my suggestion is don't let her get too tired. With our biological daughter, we start keeping things quiet and relaxed 1-2 hours before bedtime, so that she can start to wind down. The (great!) book "Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child" lists three conditions for children to fall asleep - they need to be Tired, Relaxed and Quiet (TRQ). Might be difficult to do when you're still travelling, but something to bear in mind once you get stateside.

You keep saying that she likes congee. When you return to the US, might be a good idea to continue making that for her. It's very easy to make and very healthy too.

Waiting Mum in Washington

Anonymous said...

Forgot to leave you a link to an article on sleep among adoptees from the University of Washington center for Adoption Medicine. Site has lots of other useful articles as well.

Waiting Mum in Washington