Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Still hanging in there, but barely...

Well, it's 10:30pm on Thursday night here in China and Lauren has been asleep since about 8:30pm. Since she's been down we got the room cleaned up, the dishes washed, our paperwork filed and now we are ready to collapse. I didn't want to go to bed without a really quick post.

Lauren is still having a really hard time. We had about 4 short spurts of time when she was awake and not in meltdown mode...the pictures today are from those times. The rest of the pics are from around Shamian is really pretty right around the Victory Hotel. Huge trees, cool old buildings, and a nice park area. There are also some pics of the Victory's breakfast room...for those of you who may be staying here soon.

Please keep us in your prayers as we try and get through these next couple of days. Even Joe, who has the patience of a saint, is getting VERY frustrated...I would definitely say that this is the hardest thing we've EVER done and blue skies don't look like they are in our immediate future.


Chrissie said...

I will continue to pray for you, Joe and Lauren -- hoping the adjustment starts getting better.

Hang in there ~

John & Michelle said...

still praying in Illinois!
(((((HUGS all around)))))

Kim G said...

Sorry to hear about the ruff times. Since Lauren is older she is more aware that life as she knows it has been turned upside down so it will take her time. On the brighter side she is sleeping all night so you can get the rest you need to take care of her during the day.

Catherine said...

Love, hugs and our team is still praying for you. I've heard that 72 hours is the magic number and that will happen very, very soon. Praying tomorrow will be a better day.

Loving and supporting you from afar. Already praying for tomorrow and for your sweet baby girl. May her heart heal a little more tomorrow and her trust begin to grown.

You're doing great mommy and daddy! We're praying for you too.

Linda said...

My poor babies... all of you. I keep thinking of a little girl who has never been out of an orphanage having to experience so much at once and how frightening for her. My heart is breaking for her. I can see on her face how overwhelmed she looks sometimes... She will come around, just you keep hanging in there..Don't get frustrated or discouraged...Just remember how brave your Lauren is, and how she is able to still eat and sleep and have moments where she is still a baby.. The sun will come out and Lauren will be giggling in her playroom and this will be a moment in time you will be proud that as parents you got through. After this you will know you can get through anything together as a family.
Please you and Joe take care of yourself so you can take care of our girl... Frustrated here that I cannot help you and Lauren, but I love you and have faith you can do this..... Love Mom

a Tonggu Momma said...

Still praying for y'all. Hang in there! I know how very hard this is. It's nothing you are doing or not doing. It will get better. We all become families in an instant, but it takes a long, long time to "feel" like a family. Praying that you see more glimpses of that very, very soon.

PIPO said...

My heart is with you...I hope the path eases a bit soon as you all travel through this adjustment.

JoAnn in NJ said...

Hi Donna and Joe,
Our experience was different, so all I can say is hang in there and know you have the support and love of our entire adoption community!

Lauren will get to the place where acceptance and trust will bloom and eventually this will be a dim memory. She is a little sweetie and you both are doing a great job. There is a reason that you were chosen to parent this can do this!

I will pray and cheer you on simultaneously!

Sandra's Dreams said...

I'm praying for yall!! Just remember once the bad times get over, all the smiles, and pleasures of having her for the rest of your lives!! Just thinking of that brings tears to my eyes!! God Bless!! :-)

Tami and Blair Masenhimer said...

Hello Joe, Donna, and Lauren: I have had the privilage of following your journey that is starting to sound all to familiar. In 2007 we adopted our Maonan beauty when she was 17 mos. We too had a very , very unhappy daughter and a frustrated pair of parents. Please know that our hearts go out to you as a family as you make this adjustment. A few things that were helpful for us: we tried as much as possible to keep her on a schedule, this was a comfort to her in that she could predict something in her topsy-turvy new world. During the worst of the screaming I picked a quiet song that I would sing very softly in her ear. She had to be calm to hear it, and for the next year it became 'her' song. I found that a short lullaby that you can repeat over and over was the winner. We learned that the nannies had given them a sort of napkin to sleep with to calm down so we 'borrowed' a washcloth and had it with us always to wipe away tears and noses. Yes, sometimes ours! It does get better. I know that is not much help when your heart is breaking for this little girl. When you get home, look at the book: Toddler Adoption the Weavers Craft by Mary Hopkins Best. This was our lifeline to understanding Alie for many months. Blessings to all three of you. And thank you for letting us follow your journey to becoming a family.

Blair, Tami, and Alie

Cheryl said...

Donna, just sending you big ((((hugs))))!!!
You're all 3 going to make it through these early rough days, and I know it will get easier soon -- just know I'm thinking of you :)
Love ya,

Kristin said...

You all are in my thoughts and prayers... I am sorry this is such a rough time and I can only imagine the frustration but remember, it's not you or Joe and there is sadly no magic... you are loving her and supporting her through this and she will learn that she can count on you.

Cara said...

We adopted a son just about Lauren's age and he also had a hard time at first. You are doing a great job! It WILL get better, it just takes time. Nighttime was his worst. He had night terrors almost all night long and would scream, hit and be totally out of control. It's been 6 months and he is a happy precious boy. Praying for you!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your story and my heart is breaking for all three of you! I just wanted to write and tell you that I've been where you are now and I truly do understand how difficult this time has been for you. The constant crying and tantrums are something a lot of people can't understand unless they've seen it themselves. My daughter was 18 months old at adoption and is now 8.5 and FABULOUS! But it sure didn't start out that way. She grieved similar to Lauren in that sometimes she'd be ok, and then something unknown to me would just set her off. I remember leaving her on the floor one time while she screamed and I had to walk out of the room because I was so scared I would lash out at her. I just felt so out of control and not even myself. Mentally I was distancing myself from her and by the time we got home I self diagnosed myself with post adoption depression. I'm only telling you this so you can beware of that happening, and there ARE some things you can do to help Lauren bond and continue your bonding process as well. These are only suggestions, so just take them for what they are and I truly hope and pray it helps.

1. Hold her. LOTS, you need this and she needs it. Lose the stroller and take walks holding her, even when your back screams out. :-)
2. Sleep with her. Forget the crib for now, they'll be time for that later.
3. Sing and talk to her often, she needs to hear your voice and think that's the new "normal", but use simple words and the same words over and over, and the same songs over and over. You've heard the phrase "music calms the savage beast". Yep, that applies to babies too. :-)
4. Decide who will be the "feeder", who will bath her, who will change her diapers. She needs to depend on one of you for each task to keep her confusion to a minimum (looks like dad from the pictures), and make that consistent.
5. Keep your stress at bay. And I know personally this is the hardest one, but when I looked back on my relationship with my own daughter, I know she saw my stress in the situation and that caused her to act out and continue to push me away.

Again I hope any of this helps, not every meeting is the fairy tale we want it to be, but if Lauren felt so strongly about her caregivers, she will transfer that to you in time as well and her love for you will be unconditional, just as yours is for her. Hugs and prayers to all of you!

Lindsay said...

But the progress is in the times you did not have meltdowns, the fact that she has slept for 2 hours (we took a long time to get to that - weeks and weeks).

It is so, so tough, I know. My heart goes out to you guys. There is no straight, easy path thru this, no easy answers. One of the hardest things is not having a time frame or calender to look at to know that "we only have to get to this day or this week" and it will all be better. Sadly it's not like that. But it WILL happen.

On the plus side I doubt Lauren can physically keep up the scale of the emotional meltdowns for too many days, so you may quickly start to find that she has less long lasting or intense fits of crying/screaming etc. The intensity of the grieving will lessen, though she will still grieve and you will need to work hard on attachment. (I know you know this stuff too, but it is so overwhelming at first it can be hard not to feel grief yourself that your child is in pain). It's not just the hand over that traumatises the children, but the whole move from the orphanage and journey to the hand over point. She has a lot of shocks to come to terms with and a lot of loss to grieve.

You WILL all get thru this and Lauren will heal. You are only at the start of your journey together and one day you will all be making it hand in hand.

Prayers for you all.

Allie's going to be a Sister said...

Thinking of you all at this
difficult time. I know things
will get better very soon! You
both are doing an AMAZING JOB!!
Lauren Elizabeth will see these
pics one day and it will make
her even LOVE YOU BOTH MORE!!!

Linda, hang in there your kids
will be home soon! What an
amazing Mom you are!! It makes
me miss my own mother so much!!


Kelly, Sindy, and Allie

Sophia's Mama and Baba said...

Donna just big hugs to you and Joe today from us and of course our continued prayers for Laurens transition. She will get there and you will be there to help her every step of the way even when you feel like you aren't helping her you are..


Shauna said...

Hang in there things will get better but I know it is hard. Things always get worse before they get better. I know it is hard but you are doing a great job. Hang in there and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Love and prayers to all of you.
Shauna and MacLean xo

Katie said...

It sounds like you are getting some great advice. One thing I wanted to add - taking a bath with her might help - or just some skin to skin contact.

You all are doing a great job. I'm sure you feel like you are at your wits end.It will get better.

Also - your Mom's note was one of the most supportive notes I have ever read. With a mom like that of your own - how can you go wrong. What a wonderful role model for us all!

Deb said...

Keep hanging in there..I know you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as you can see from the other great advice from the BTDT folks, it won't be forever. More hugs and prayers coming your way. Thanks for posting even though I'm sure it is difficult.

Deb M., MT

Amy said...

I have a strong faith that things will get better. Just hang in there, give each other short breaks when you can, and get as much rest as you can.

TimandKim said...

I'll be praying for Lauren and for patience for the two of you. I guess if it is any consolation, they say if they grieve harder at the beginning that means they have at least learned to bond so far. So someone has loved her and she knows how to love back. She will eventually learn that you love her and will accept your love.
I think you have already received tons of good advice. I agree with them.
We had a song we sang to her at first. First thing that popped in my head was "Jesus loves me." We sang it to her a lot when she would get upset. it helped calm her. Something about having the same song sung helped with calming her.
Also, if you have lotion, rub lotion her and massage her if you can. After baths or before bed, I would start at her feet and work up. I would do as much as she would let me and try to increase the next time. Sing or talk softly to her when you do this. Let her rub lotion on you.
God will be with you and He is with Lauren too. Love her!

M3 said...

Sending huge hugs and keeping you in my thoughts!

Gail said...

I am so sorry it has been such a rough time.
I understand as my dgt. Loren was much like your Lauren for the first 3-4 days.
I started to have second thoughts!
I was very tired and a bit disappointed to be honest.
Hang on. It truly does get better.
My prayers are with you for an easier transition.
Gail B.

Anonymous said...

This is so heartbreaking to hear! Although easier said than done by far, try to keep your stress and frustration levels down (at least around Lauren). Lauren can sense that and she is feeding off of it thus fighting you. Blue skies will come...soon!

Cupcakes and Hairbows said...

I know I don't need to remind you that she will come around. Usually by the end of the first (long)week, you will begin to see a different child... the one you dreamt of! IT will happen. She is so little and has no way to express her fears except for crying and fighting you! She WILL Love you and know that you love her!!!!

Christi and Abbey said...

I am glad you were able to go to the playroom and very happy that she is eating for you all and not on "hunger strike". Hoping for your breakthrough moments to come soon! So glad your loving mom is waiting here to support you as you come home. My little words of advice...rejection rejects. It's very easy when all this rejection is coming at you to start feeling your heart do some of the same...but you have to go the opposite direction and pour on the love, regardless of how you feel, which I know is just what you are doing. I'm sure you know about holding time, but it really is important. Right in the middle of the kicking and the screaming you have to hold on tight, probably from behind, until it subsides. Not that you have time to do any reading, and hopefully you are already familiar with these...
Big hugs to you and Joe! I know you will do and be everything she needs. You are doing the right thing for her, she needs a family! All the time you've been thinking and planning for her, she's known nothing and this is all a huge shock, so she's doing the right thing too in protesting. I know it's hard but try not to compare how she is doing with any other babies around you. Every situation is so unique and there is light for you at the end of the tunnel.

Stephanie said...

Patience, patience, day you will look back at your trip to China with only fond memories and she will grow into a wonderful, happy child. Just give yourself and Lauren some time.

mommy2gabby said...

Thinking about you guys and praying for all three of you.

Hoping that things will calm down a bit. I can not even imagine...

Hugs and prayers,

Love her adorable shoes and the polka dot blanket! So cute....

3D said...

Hugs to you all! 72 hours is the magic number by all accounts. Hang in is going to get better and be just amazing!

Keep smilin!

Michele said...

While we've never met I have been following your journey for a while now and every day I have been so excited and eager to hear about your new adventures as parents. Many people have given you wonderful advice. I remember being exhausted attempting to sleep with all of the different sounds and smells..not to mention the hard beds and worrying if I was going to be a good parent, or if I was doing everything the way the yahoo group suggested or the attachment therapist suggested. Hang in does get better. From my experience the babies that grieved in the beginning had a much easier time toward the end of the trip. Our baby did not grieve until day 4 and I fet was even more difficult. I'm not going to give parenting advice, but I would advise you to get a massage in the hotel while Lauren worth the time and you will get rejuvinated and refreshed. My husband and I took turns with the massage was wonderful. You are asleep while I type this. Hope that the sun will bring a warm glow and a calm day. I am praying for your family. Hang in there....I promise it gets better -much better :)

Nancy & Brian said...

Hang in there Donna & Joe. I know this is really hard. It will get better. We are praying for you and you all are in our thoughts. You are doing a great job. There is light at the end of this tunnel.
Love, Nancy

Lisa~~ said...

Hang tough because it will get better. We had the screamer of our group and we were exhausted and thought that things would never improve, that we'd never sleep again or have a happy child. It took time but it did happen and it will for you too.

chicknboy said...

I will continue to pray for you guys. Your mom is right -you can see the sadness and frustration and fear on Lauren's face in the pictures.

I'm so sorry you guys are going thru this.

You've received alot of great advice already -but I have to agree with Anonymous about sleeping with Lauren and ditching the stroller and carrying her everywhere. As I was thinking of and praying for you today-those 2 things came to mind.

Sleeping with her and carrying her everywhere may not be easy nor convenient-but they will REALLY help in bonding. If you use your carrier, she may hate it-because she's not used to it...but keep using it. She will come to LOVE being so close to you.

Sleeping with Elizabeth was so hard cuz she was/is so squirmy-but I know it made her feel safe. She was transitioned to her own bed within a few weeks of being home

hang in there-this will get better.

Cora said...

I know this is redundant but hang in there, there is a light at the end of the tunnel even if you can't always see it.
My thoughts are with all three of you.
Take Care, Cora

Anonymous said...

We don't know each other but I've been following your story. Believe me, I feel your pain. Six months ago, I met my 2 year old in Guangzhou. Like your Lauren, my Abby was not a happy camper. She was angry and sad and just miserable. Since this was my second adoption, I thought I was all set - but nothing really prepares you for the stress of dealing with a child who's in so much torment. There were times when I thought "what have I done?". It was tough seeing the other families with their giggling, happy babies when my little girl either wouldn't look at me or would have these world class meltdowns. Still, as others have assured you, it does get better eventually. Maybe not right away. Maybe not unitl after you're home for awhile. But, at some point, you'll realize there are more good moments than bad. For now, it's ok to feel frustrated and disappointed; just keep telling Lauren you love her, even when she's screaming her head off, and one day she'll love you back.

kelly said...

Thinking of you! Your new family is in my thoughts and prayers!!

Anne said...

My heart is going out to you. So sorry this is such a hard transition. I'm predicting starting tomorow, things will start getting better. Lauren is absolutely adorable:)

Ani said...

sending you my prayers. hope thursday is a better day than yesterday... all the best.

Eliza2006 said...

Things Will get better! Eliza was Lauren's age when she started daycare. The change was bad and I thought we'd never make it through. It was a terrible few weeks and a rough few months...but it all worked out. This is probably the worst age for transitions. Stay'll all make it! Congrats!!! She's gorgeous!!!

Anonymous said...

YOu and Joe have each other to get through this and you will - every one of us hits a bump in the going home process and yours is now but she is an angel and she doesnt understand what she is putting you through - - you will get through this and you will be ok -

tomorrow is a new day and so is the day after that and you will be a lovely lovig family - hold each other tight and know it is going to be ok

think of what you went through to get her - all the tears you cried - now it is her turn....she is worth every kick, scream and punch - she will provide you with endless amounts of love you will see - you are in our prayers and all our duaghters 1st grade class as well....:):)

ps dont look here for answers ...look in the mirrow - you are brilliant and loving and kind:):) and you are the mnom and daddy:) you will find the strength from inside>

Doreen said...

Praying really hard over here. Lauren will be one big Mama & Papa's girl at the end of all this.Just keep doing what you're doing and before you know it, the meltdowns will become less frequent.
What alittle spitfire you got there!!!!

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

Lisa said...

BTDT. So HARD! Keep doing what you're doing. It wasn't until 6 months in that I felt like we had a pretty "normal" mother-son relationship. said...

Sounds so wierd but at least what she is doing is healthy, she is sleeping, eating, playing somewhat.....she is very sad, and she's not pretending not to be. She is facing it head on. Soooo much better to do it that way. Take care of yourselves as she goes through this, and it's ok whatever feelings you have too, cut yourselves a lot of slack. Great job, hang in there.

fuzzandfuzzlet said...

I am sorry things are so hard. I don`t think anything really prepares you for adopting a child when they are old enough to be aware of what and who they are missing.

The only advice I will give is to trust yourself, trust your gut instinct ( even if it is different than everything you have read) and trust each other.

No matter how hard it is keep telling yourself "this may not be pretty, but we are bonding right now" because you are.

amyinbc said...

Blue skies are in the future! Just keep on doing what you are doing. She will soon come to love and care for you, trust in this. This is just a very rough patch to get through, and you WILL.

Be good to each other, sleep when you can and know things are going to get better.

Big hug from a new reader :))

Anonymous said...

You, Joa and Lauren are in my prayers. Things will get better, one day at a time. I know it has to be so hard for all of you, but the most important thing is that you have your sweet little girl in your arms. Aunt Linda, you made me cry, what a beautiful note.

Jacquie said...

I don't know who I want to hug more.... you or Lauren. Oh Donna, my heart just breaks for that poor little girl and you. If only we could make her see into the future so she would know that everything will be ok. Ah, if only. Until then hang in there and keep your chin up. The clouds will part and you WILL have blue skies again. Just keep telling yourself this is all very normal and healthy. You'd have many more problems down the road if she wasn't grieving at all. If you and Joe are both getting frustrated, try tag-teaming her. One stay with Lauren or take her out while the other gets some time alone to collect him or herself. Not sure if she'll tolerate being alone with only one of you but if it's the only thing that will preserve your sanity, give it a try. Sending lots of thoughts your way......

Yen973 said...

Shealin was 13 months old and instead of melting down, she just shut down. She slept all the time in China. She had one really rough night and my heart broke into a thousand pieces. I highly recommend co-sleeping if she will do it. I did not do this until we came home and it really helped. Keeping her on a routine will help too. Shea still does so much better when she knows what to expect each day. Change is really rough for her. You will get through this! We are keeping you in our prayers.

Trudi said...

You are in my prayers. Know that this is NOT unusual. My daughter and son in law experienced much of the same thing for the first several months but now their baby is Miss Sunshine. But it was hard.
They patiently worked with her and used the regression method where they regressed her back by treating her as one would an infant (lots of holding, rocking to sleep etc) - I was in awe and it worked. But I know how trying it is so know our prayers are with you.

mumma to many said...

Joe and Donna
Just hang in there! The last photo of Joe walking with Lauren is priceless! The Crying is about meeting needs and building trust! Lots of skin on skin contact worked well for my very upset baby! So strip down and shower with her or feed her or just lie with her and hold her! Are you wearing the same perfume each day? If so great if not start wearing the same perfume and spray some on the pillow and bedding too! That way she senses the same smell!
Carrying her in a sling or front pack is a great option. Remember it is about getting to home and then the real work starts!
Hugs Ruth in NZ

A Waiting Cousin said...

危机 means crisis in Chinese. 机会 means opportunity. notice that 机 is used twice. In every crisis there is some opportunity. Think about that every time Lauren has a meltdown. I'm praying for you.

Diana said...

The look in her eyes reminds me of my sons. It does get better but it takes time. I can remember crying as I knew he "hated" was not me he did not like he just missed all he knew. Just keep loving her as that is what she needs. Sending lots of hugs and prayers to you.
And by the way..SHE IS JUST BEAUTIFUL!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello Donna and Joe,
We would like to offer you a prayer of comfort. Dear Heavenly Father, we ask for comfort, peace,and wisdom for the two of them. We ask that you comfort and give peace to Lauren. That you would speak to hear and assure her that she is safe and loved. Father we ask that you surround them with Godly angels to help them, give them comfort, and a peace that can only come from you.
Thank you for joy, peace,and VICTORY!!!!!!
Hang in will get better and you both will get through!

Kayce said...

All of you are in our prayers.

Karsynn's Mommy...Sammi said...

Hang in there Donna. The changes in her little life are just too much to handle all at once right now. She'll be fine. Trust God. Trust your yourself as a mother. She will come around and things will get better. Love can conquer anything! For this child you have prayed!!! :)

Anonymous said...

wow, I just looked at her pictures...she is beautiful! Congrats and hang in there!

Kelly and Matt said...

Praying for you all. I hope that things get better and your little one realizes the love you feel for her. God bless and hang in there.

Kelly and Matt said...

Praying for you all. I hope that things get better and your little one realizes the love you feel for her. God bless and hang in there.

redmaryjanes said...

It's going to be ok. Unfortunately, this phase is like a kidnapping for them. She doesn't understand what you are saying, she has probably seen very few Americans. This is a very stressful and scarey time for her. But she will work through it and she won't remember it later. In 2 months, she will be a completely different girl and loving her home, mommy daddy and living the life of true love and happiness.
Stay strong, sleep when you can, try to take it personally...she will love you with all of her heart soon.
I will pray for you all tonight.
Take care of each other.

redmaryjanes said...

I meant try not to take it personally. Don't let your hearts break, there is true love at the end of this rainbow.

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for sometime now. I am so sorry this beginning is going a bit rough, but as everyone else said, it will get better! Our daughter was also very attached to her her caregiver and morned for about a week. We had a really hard time but she got through it and so did we. It took lots of time, tears all around, exhaustion etc... mostly patience and understanding,
Just keep on doing what you are. Your pictures look so tender and you and Joe look so patient natural with her.

The best tip mentioned, but I agree whole heartedly, is to ditch the stroller. Carry that girl everywhere and sleep with her if you can. You can break those habits later. She needs to be close to you physically. also, try not to let her see your stress. I remember our guide told us that and it really did make a big difference. One more thing that helped us, get some chinese lullabies or download them if you can. We downloaded ours and played them on the computer.

I will be praying for you! Hang in there.

wellworththewait said...

It'll get better! If you and Joe get too exhausted, perhaps you could always try to sleep when Lauren does. Also, you can take turns taking care of Lauren while the other one rests or takes a break. Mark and I used both of these techniques. Sometimes, I went shopping while Mark and Lily stayed in the room. It re-energized me.

We are praying for you. Sending much positive energy your way.

Mark, Ann and Lily

Christie said...

Oh Donna, just wanted to send a big hug and prayers your way. I cannot imagine how difficult this is for you and Joe. I do know that once you get home, you will be able to breathe again. Right now, just take it one day at a time and try to get through it. Sometimes in Africa, I took it one hour at a time. Heck, even ten minutes at a time. There was nothing, and buddy I mean NOTHING, that I wanted more than to get back home. You can do this - you CAN. Even though it seems like it will never end - it will. Even though it's probably the hardest thing you've ever faced, I promise you, it will get better with time.

So hard to say it, but stay strong. You and Joe are all she has in the world - one day at a time...

Big hug

Made in China said...

Hang in there, it will get easier. Poor thing. Her life as she knows it is changing forever. She must be terrified.
Naomi was much younger but what helped for us was the baby carrier. Also, sing or hum a repetitive tune.
For mu son, he wanted to hold onto packets of cookies and quickly attached to a blanket that we toted everywhere. Keep a schedule, keep familiar objects around. She has to learn to trust you so try not to loose patience.
She is such a doll!!!

Scott and Hope said...

Donna an Joe, oh my heart goes out to you. We had a single mom who went through the same thing and give her some time, I would bet she will turn before you get home. I know her little girl did by the end of the trip. You all look worn out but I can still see the happy gleem in your eyes!! You are are going to be great parents and Lauren is so lucky to have you too!! Love and Hugs, HOPE