Tuesday, January 13, 2009

She's officially ours today!

Today we went back to the Civil Affairs Office to have our interview in the registration office and see the notary. For those about to leave for China, don't be nervous about this at all. It's strictly a formality. There is no intimidating official asking you customized questions for your family. It's just a form with three or four basic questions and that's it...the women asking us the questions was very sweet. Soon we will be receiving a certificate stating that she is officially ours. It's so hard to believe that after SO long, we are finally parents!!!

Well, I know everyone always seems to say that each day gets a little easier, but today was worse than yesterday for SURE! I think it's really sinking in for Lauren that she may not be going back to the orphanage and everything she knows. This little girl is really giving us a run for the money and putting us through the ringer. We are holding our own and trying to do our very best, but it's been a VERY hard day.

Lauren slept well last night...from 9pm until we had to wake her to get dressed for our appointments this morning. We woke her up slowly and entertained her with some stacking cups, then she had her first meltdown, then into the bath, another meltdown, then we got her dressed and off we went for a super quick stop at the breakfast buffet and then onto the bus for our appointment. She was very upset most of the time at Civil Affairs Office and had a MAJOR meltdown right before we got ready to leave...screaming, kicking, pinching, arching her back...everything she could think of to get her frustration out. We finally got her downstairs and to the bus where she crashed from exhaustion.

She had a hard time most of the rest of the day too. The highlight was when Joe went out to run an errand...we were playing with the stacking cups one minute and the next minute she was kicking and convulsing her body so hard that she ended up on the floor arching her back and thrashing around while screaming on the top of her lungs for her "ayee" (phonetic spelling for nanny in Chinese). Nothing I did would console her, so all I could do was stop her from hurting herself on the furniture. It was SO hard to watch her go through this...I can't begin to describe how bad I felt. By the time Joe got back, she was doing a little better and I was able to sneak off for a meltdown of my own in the bathroom.

We did have a few sweet moments and smiles throughout the day and you can see those in the photos here. We are trying our absolute hardest to get through this, and we will. Thank goodness we have friends along on this trip and our guide, Alison, has been SO amazingly supportive.

Please say a little prayer for us tonight that things will start to turn around soon. As for me, Lauren and Joe are both sleeping and I seriously need to crash...good-night.

Oh, one more thing...I love this photo and wanted to post it. Don't mind the food around her mouth that we didn't get off in the bathtub. She was struggling and it looks like we didn't get the full job done!


Shannon said...

I think you are doing a terrific job. If it makes you feel better, my Emily had an absolute fit every bath we gave her for the first month. I didn't bother doing them every day when we were in China. Every other day worked fine, was better for her skin, and saved her some major stress. Just a thought. She *will* get used to you. It is going to be ok. Hang in there.
She has a great smile when she flashes one, doesn't she?

Ani said...

She is such a beautiful little girl. Your entire family is in my thoughts today... Here's hoping that you have a better day than yesterday.

Hang in there!

Bobby said...

Official or not - she was yours a long time ago. She is a beautiful little girl. “Lucky Parents!"

chicknboy said...

oh Donna. it breaks my heart to read this post. I'm so sorry things are so difficult for you guys. At least she is grieving such a strong attachment, which means one day-she will be that loyally attached to you.

I will pray for you guys. For you and Joe to have the strength and patience to get thru this, and for wisdom to know exactly what Lauren needs. And for Lauren-for her precious heart to be comforted, for it to heal, and for her fears and frustrations to subside.

Julie said...

You can do this, and you will survive. You have Lauren's best interests at heart and you are doing fabulously! Love the after bath photo too.

Hang in there.

P.S. I unfortunately did get the intimidating official, the only male in the office who seemed to quite enjoy making me nervous!

hiltonsheadeast said...

Awww, guys ....we know what the three of you are going through. I know we keep saying it will get better and honestly, it will. You are doing everything right. She has bonded very well which is blessing for her in the long run. Just remember not to take any of this personally. Just support her and each other through it.

Huge hugs, Lori, Andy and Qiao

Linda said...

So sorry your day was hard.. Remember to just keep her safe and keep your arms open for her to fall into. Her little smiles will soon grow into big ones.
Yesterday was the first real day and hopefully it will get better each day until this all seems like a long ago memory. Sort of like labor, A terrible amt of pain, but one that fades away...
Wishing I could be there for you, but know I am there in my heart and my tears are falling for Lauren's pain and also for yours.... You are doing a great job and I am proud of you.... Love Mom

Sophia's Mama and Baba said...

Donna, I know this is hard and allowing yourself to meltdown and have a good cry is a very good thing. I found that once I let go of my stress and anxiety it helped Sophia. Maybe leave Lauren with Joe and go to Starbucks with Karen or Stephe or someone you bonded with and talk about everything you are feeling I promise this will make you feel better and in the long run will help Lauren. One bit of advice from one mom to another Sophia ABSOLUTELY hated the hotel room in Nanchang. That was the first place we brought her back to. Whenever we would leave the room even if it was just into the hall she would calm down. When we left for GZ and the Victory things started to get better. I know for you that is not going to be possible but maybe they can change your room to one that looks different? Or try yourself to make things in the room look different. We spent a lot of time out of our room when we were in Nanchang so that she would not be stressed. Sophia slept well too I believe it was her defense... I agree 100% with Shannon don't worry about a bath every day at this point she will be fine with a quick wipe down. We went several days with no bath at all. I would agree with you tho things got worse for us before they got better but none the less they did get better and they will for you too. I am sending you a ((BIG HUG))...

Love Ya

Ava Baby said...

Hi Donna and Joe,
Hang in there- you guys are doing great. Lauren is old enough to know who she is leaving behind but the tides will turn and she will come to accept and love you. Don't get discouraged (I know, easy for me to say). Ava definitely felt worse for a few days before she felt better. My hardest day with Ava was either day 2 or 3 and she was much younger than Lauren.

Will check back with you later. Please say hi to Alison from me and Ava and my parents (Janet & Sal- Hunan March, 2007).

Take care and I hope you guys have a better Wednesday. :)
Hugs, Michele

Cora said...

Hang in there. I have no BTDT great advice but it sounds like you are doing a great job and soon she will realize that she can trust you guys. I can't even imagine what a confusing time this is for her, but soon she will be a happy little girl again. I hope you get some rest.
Take Care,

Mike and Rhonda said...

Hannah had meltdown like this when we got home. The IA clinic said to message her arms and feet...not softly and to sing to her. Sing softly even over her screams.

It is horrible to watch. It makes you feel like you have failed her. That is far from the truth.

You may even feel like "what have I DONE". That is normal. Our SW also said not to measure it by days but by moments. That is hard to even think about but....one bad moment and a few good moments, it feels so much better.

I promise it gets better.

Stephanie said...

You are all three in our prayers. It looks to me like you are doing everything right, and getting a lot of terrific advice from everyone who has "been there." Maybe it is a good sign that she is very healthy emotionally and not holding all of these feelings inside and shutting down.

You can see in the pictures and video that you and Joe are terrific parents!

I love the after bath picture.


wellworththewait said...

Donna and Joe,

Lauren is very beautiful and looks healthy! Thanks for sharing some of your intimate moments with us.

Love is very powerful! It is so obvious from your pictures and your heartfelt blogging how much you love Lauren and what wonderful parents you are for her.

Around day 3 for us, Lily realized something was dramatically different for her and we kept trying and trying to comfort her. It got better every day from there. We found that Lily likes to be held and carried around, music including our musically challenged voices, and being strolled around so she could see many things.

I always seemed to have just enough energy when I needn't it even though I was at times exhausted. You'll find enough energy. Just keep perservering.

You are giving Lauren great care! Lauren is starting to realize how much you love her. It'll get better each day as you get to know each other better.

What a beautiful family the 3 of you are! We can't wait to see the 3 of you!


Somewhere In The Sun said...

Donna, you are doing everything right so don't stress about that part. So much of it has to do with Lauren's personality. You already know that grieving is a good thing. She's scared and even though she seems not to like you she is desperate for the security that you are giving her. As much as you can make sure there is routine.

There was a family down the hall from us in Nanning whose child screamed and kicked 98% of the time for a full week. Hopefully Lauren will not do this but if she does, just realize that it is normal and try not to take it personally. I'm glad you had that little time to yourself. Do whatever you can to de-stress because Lauren can sense it. I know that's easier said than done!

I do love that last picture too. She is so incredibly beautiful!


Colleen said...

There are some very precious pictures of both you and Lauren and Joe and Lauren! In the throes of anger, she still clings to you and Joe for comfort and I can think of no better sign.

Anonymous said...

Something else that may work is for the three of you to just get out of the room and get outside - the parks on the island are lovely and she has probably never experienced being outside for long periods of time - remember in your heart that each moment with your daughter is a moment away from the SWI. This is your time to bond with each other and her - It is great to have the other families around but dont compare with anyone and make sure you spend time on your own, just the three of you...this is one of the reasons that we all spend so much time in China - to bond and be away from any "home" distractions..

even though we have 2 sets of twins frorm China, my husband and I bonded all over agaand the screaming, and the diapers and the pears, peaches prunes and peas!!!!

My husband and I looked at the pictures last night and baby Lauren is lovely - and you are lovely, and the pcitures of her with your husband - OMG, they have the same ears:):)

GOD bless you and know that you are not alone and that you are amazing on the inside and out...PATIENCe and love and logic is all you need to be the best mommy you can be -

Jacquie said...

Poor little sweetie. I feel so badly for her. And you too. How hard that must be to watch. But, you've got your head on straight and know what this is all about. Huge step in the right direction. I guess I should've told you when I said it would get better, that I meant AFTER things got a little worse. These little ones who are older are so much more aware of what is happening to them. We had a baby in our travel group who was Lauren's age and the first few days were horrible for her. The tide eventually turned though as it will for Lauren. Keep your chin up and don't forget to take care of yourself. Your baby needs a strong mama.

Lindsay said...

It's tough for you all of course. It seems terrible (and is terribly upsetting) but do remember her behaviour is perfectly normal for what she has been thru. No two babies react in the same way to what is going on. Lauren is being bombarded with more new sounds and sights in a day just now than she has probably experienced in her whole life, and she has no-one familiar around her. Her behaviour may seem extreme, but it is normal. It's easy to say, but try to stay relaxed and don't get too upset by it. Hannah did exactly the same for months after she was home if you tried to hold her: especially when I would try to hold her to get her off to sleep. She could scream, fight, arch, hit and kick for two hours easily. She also avoided eye contact and went into meltdown as soon as food appeared. I couldn't eat in front of her for months after she came home! The very quiet 'overly good' baby can be exhibiting just as many signs of stress as the child having meltdowns: there are many ways to signal distress. Of course it's hard for you to see her going thru this, but remember just by being there, every minute of every day, you are giving her what she needs.

It does get easier but it can take a long time to win trust as I'm sure you'll appreciate. Your daughter is likely terrified both because of her losses and the fear of more loss to come. You will be doing a great job as mom and dad so don't doubt yourselves: everyone will tell you these early weeks and months are very, very tough. We can feel helpless, angry, frightened and isolated. For me, the biggest fear was I was going to make it worse and fail Hannah. But you won't. She will heal and you are doing exactly what you need to do.

Attachment is a journey but it by no means goes in a straight line. You'll be surprised by how quickly you can make progress but also by just how frustratingly slow it can be too. We're a year home and only now for example can Hannah tolerate co-sleeping. I still rarely get to rock her to sleep: having been held so little in her early life it can still be too overwhelming for her to cope with.

Hang in there. Remember she is not rejecting you she is simply expressing her fear and bewilderment in the only way she knows. There are no magic fixes sadly, but your presence in her life, your responsiveness to her pain and distress, your consistency: all of these will slowly help her understand that you are different and you are forever.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. God bless you both, and Lauren too.

Mayken said...

Our thoughts are with all three of you, that your bonding may be swift and her mourning period short. Hang in there. Thanks so very much for being so brave as to share the not-so-sweet part of the adoption experience. I think it is very helpful to would-be parents to see a bit of the reality as well as the rainbows and ponies part.

Deb said...

Lauren is sure showing her spirit! I know it doesn't feel like it now, but truly, it WILL get better. Alot of times, the change of scenery in Guangzhou is the trigger. Praying for y'all! And please do go have your own meltdowns...it is a great release for you too!

Deb M. in MT

Susan, Matt, Mia said...

Hang in there. She will work it out. She has to get used to everything. We had 8 mos olds when we adopted and some of them had the same issues.
That is why you are there for 2 weeks. This gives you the time to bond with just the 3 of you. There aren't any of the everyday chores that need to be done.
Everyday she will hopefully get a little better and trust you.


Kristin said...

It will get better! You and Joe are doing the right thing by being consistent and loving and understanding... I know it must be hard, after all, you've loved this child for over 3 years, but she will come to trust you and love you.

Wendy said...

I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! I hope her adjustment comes quickly and that she will find peace and comfort in you both soon. I have heard that day 3 is the magic turning point. Hopefully that will be true for you too.

Don and Be said...

I just relived our first days in China with Joanna Mei as I read your post. Congratulations on your new daughter and keep on ....

mumma to many said...

Donna and Joe
Lauren is a strong character and that is evident from her Photos! Like so many have said it will get better, well different! This is as much about your reality too and what you pictured these first few days would be like!
Susan(sunflowers) Said she had problems with Miss S and she did she had bad days but within a week things had improved and the real;ity for us all is that often someone else is having a harder time but they are not letting it show! Maybe you just need to remember life is always going to be harder now than before and expect that the meltdowns will happen and sing loudly! Download music from Itunes play them on your computer. Try the TV look for Dora in Mandarin DVD's we bought the series for RMB400 well worth it!
Also so pop music and play that in the room! It is amazing how quickly these girls change and maybe a baby carrier or sling might help Lauren.
Hugs to you all
Ruth in NZ

Do said...

Glad that you have found a nice little girl, congratulations.Be patient, she will miss her nanny less and know you more. Adoption is often a beautiful adventure.

Reneeks@gmail.com said...

Thank goodness you are in GZ...much more convenient place to be....and no worries about moving her.
If I were you, I would use that playroom at the WS as much as you can. There were people from the Vic there all the time...it's a great place to get on the floor to chill and play in neutral territory, and get to know each other. I have many happy memories of being there with Samantha and bonding. :)

Donna said...

I can't imagine how hard it is for you right now...but it will turn around soon and your beautiful girl will love you and Joe like nobody business...hang in there!

Wendy said...

Congratulations Donna and Joe!
She is absolutely beautiful. Just remember to hang in there - it will get easier. May you have a safe journey back to the States and we all can't wait to see your darling little girl!

Alyson and Ford said...

I know you may welcome a wish for peace more but...

I distinctly remember our agency telling us that we could expect one of two reactions on our Family Day. Alyzabeth, as a toddler, would come to us docile or she would come in full melt down mode. You followed our journey, you will recall we got the total melt down for a full week. The second week was no picnic. Aly was never able to sleep more than 2 hours at a stretch during that time. We dreaded each night. Breakfast was our only moment of quiet. According to our agency, the melt down mode was actually a healthy sign. It clearly expressed that our daughter had and would again, form an attachment. Our job was to become the best nannies she had ever had and to be assured that eventually, she would completely accept us as her mom and dad...

Continue as you are to hold and love sweet Lauren. Her pain is now your pain. The pain of watching your own child hurting is indescribable but your love will soothe her and heal her. It does happen. It will happen.
All our prayers.

Sophia's Mama and Baba said...


Well said.....

Anonymous said...

Donna, you and Joe are brave and strong people, hang in there, Lauren will acknowledge your love in her own time and in her own way. This may sound odd, but sometimes when Domi melts down I giggle a little and it becomes contagious. May be worth a try.

May I just say LAUREN is a STUNNING child? Her eyes, cheeks and those LIPS! Such a drop dead gorgeous baby, she will be a heart breaker. Congratulations on the offical paperwork, welcome to Mommyhood. :) Laura

Special K said...

Your daughter is beautiful. As a waiting parent I have no advice to offer... just gonna say hang on to the fact that things will get better.

Tao's Mommy said...

Hi Donna,
CONGRATS on your beautiful daughter!! I'm at work so dont have much time, but I just want to let you know you can email me and I would love to talk to you. My daughter (Channing) who I adopted at age 3 yrs & 7 months had a hard time too...I would love to talk to you about it. my email is kdbowes@sasktel.net

P.S- I'm happy to say that today she is the PERFECT child who is extremely happy, attached, smart and full of life!!

Hang in there....it will get easier ONCE you are home!!

Lisa and Tate said...

How hard! I am not even sure how I would handle some of this... I think I would have just had a meltdown right along Lauren. You are an amazing parent! Congrats on the official parent status. You have always been Lauren's parent since the beginning.

HUGE prayers tonight for you....


Amy said...

It looks like you are getting lots of good advice from all of your friends and family. You and Joe are doing a good job. It is great that you have given each other a break when needed. Remember to sleep when Lauren sleeps - for all of you getting enough rest will be the key.

mommy2gabby said...

Sending lots of prayers for you guys. Stay strong together. Spell each other off as needed. I am sure she is just so confused and just can't comprehend why this is happening to her.

I think she is just beautiful and has such a cute smile!


OziMum said...

I've been trying to prepare myself for similar behaviour. Tari will be almost 17 months old when we meet her (very similar to Lauren?)

Anyway, from what i've read... the screaming etc is a good sign (even though it may not seem good whilst trapped in a little hotel room with her!!). Apparently it means, she HAS attached to her nanny, and WILL attach (quite easily) to another (you!!)

I hope that her grieving eases, as she realises you are there to love and care for her, every minute or every day.


Janet said...

you're doing great. Hang in there. You're right....she's just so confused and scared. But it WILL get better, I promise. **HUGS**

Doreen said...

OIY!!!! It sounds like my first trip!!! I know everyone says the same thing but I have to agree...IT WILL GET BETTER...I promise.Poor Lauren just needs to get it all out. Better now than when she gets home.
My heart goes out to you Joe and sweet little Lauren for such a painful transition. You're doing great and you will look back at this time with awe, as in "Wow! that was tough! Look how far we've come." It's all about baby steps now.
Doreen in Montreal single mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

Shelley said...

Okay, your Mom made me cry! (Darn it, Linda! ;-))

Just had to let you know I'm thinking of you ...again ...and hoping you guys have a great night and better tomorrow. Trust that it WILL get easier. Just stay the course.

BTW, the bath photo ...scrumptuous! Makes me want another one. :)

Oh, also, we did get the intimidating "men-in-black-type" interrogators when we did our interview. It was actually a bit comical, if it weren't so darn bizarre.



Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

I have been thinking of you girly..
You are doing a wonderful job.. Lauren will soon know that you will not leave her and she will not only have little smiles but great big smiles and hugs for her WONDERFUL Mommy and Daddy..
Get some rest when you can..

John & Michelle said...

I don't know yall but you've been on my heart all day. I woke up way early (4ish am) and started praying for you. I long to hold our daughter someday and truely appreciate the info you share. Your honesty is important to those of us waiting to travel.

I am confident that in just a few days that beauty in your arms will be full of smiles for her mommy and daddy.

Know that you are loved in the frozen windy city!

(((HUGS))) Michelle

kelly.eason said...

Your mom made me cry too!! You guys are doing great and it will get better :-)

Kristy said...

Just hang in there, she will soon know that you are her mommy and daddy. She will love you more than anything else in the whole world. I know it is heartbreaking , it breaks my heart all the way here in Texas, and the tears are streaming down myself but I know that we serve an awesome God and he will make it all good. Bless all of you.

Love, Kristy

Anne Marie and Julia Devine said...

Hi Donna and Joe

I'm a friend of Shauna Press's and have been following your wonderful blog -- my heart aches for the pain you are feeling and that Lauren is experiencing. I choked up when I read about you going into the bathroom to have your own meltdown -- I remember doing that -- you try to be so strong -- and you've waited so long for this wonderful moment- and all the reading and prep doesn't always prepare you for how you are going to feel in that moment of what seems such dark time.

another thing to try is to put the clothes that she came to you in in her crib or with you as a little blanky of sorts -- the smell will be familiar to her and perhaps will give her some comfort -- and as many have said -- forget about the baths. I had a friend who kept her daughter (who was 18 months when she was adopted) in the same clothes she had on when they received her for the first three days -- you'll figure out what brings Lauren comfort -- she's finding her way now.

Lots of prayers for you.

Christi and Abbey said...

Oh Donna, sorry this is so rough. I am glad to hear that you are holding tight though and pressing through. When she does get better it will be such a delight to you. I am so glad you and Joe can support each other and that you were so well prepared for this. I'm hoping you will find some keys - things she really loves that will help her bond with you. I had to get in the tub with Abbey at the WS and after a few times she quit crying and clinging so hard and began to enjoy it more. Of course now she never wants to get out, could spend hours in there!

Shannon said...

She is truly beautiful. Meltdowns (for both of you!!) I think are par for the course unfortunately. You are moving forward everyday though and making progress. Be strong and enjoy every little positive moment. More and more will come!

Anonymous said...

i just wanted to send you a quick note - we are in Guangzhou now and i could have written the same post as you did. I have just adopted an almost 4 year old and we are having lots of meltdowns - maybe you saw us tuesday at the park in Shamian-we were quite the scene! I also had my own little personal meltdown but i am feeling much better today. It is so hard to see your child in pain and you can't fix it for them. hang in there and know that it will get better. we are going to Walmart this afternoon to buy some toys to liven up this hotel room. If you happen to see a mom and her 4 year old melting down - stop and say hi!! We would appreciate the company. Kim B - mom to Chun Lan

Rebecca/TarynsJourney said...

Donna, first let me say what a GREAT job you are doing with her...even if it doesn't seem like it! You ARE! Everyone with slightly "older" (than 1yo) goes through this attachment time (or so I have heard!). I have enjoyed watching you on this journey, and I hope you get a chance to read all of the above encouraging words! Keep it up! Your little girl is going to LOVE you and how lucky she is to have such wonderful, loving, parents!

PIPO said...

Your daughter is gorgeous...I am betting you see even more of those good moments in the days soon ahead. I will be hoping for each day a little better.

Such an amazing time but such a hard time.