The Darling Girls

The Darling Girls

Friday, December 30, 2011

Home, thankfully.

Made it home. Our last two days were started early at the US Embassy in China for application for Drew's Visa, a swearing ceremony and leaving all the papers we have worked on for many months towards getting Drew to immigrate into the US as an adoptee. Once she touched US soil she became a citizen, but she couldn't touch soil until she was granted a Visa. Anyway, that was Wed. We shopped a little (big mistake, Drew wasn't into it in any way) had a last dinner with our friends the Rolfs, at "Tekila's" a local Mexican place that was actually good. The next day was spent waiting for Drew's new Chinese passport, complete with said Visa to be delivered. The littles and I went to Shamian Island to have lunch with the Rolf ladies and we played at their place and the playground there. Great fun for the older girls and good for Drew to run around and wear herself out. We barely made it back to the hotel in time to meet up with Ron, Cory and Jamie (shopped some more) threw the last of the clothes into suitcases, and grabbed the shuttle to the airport. Drew started to explore the room at the hotel more, waved bye-bye, and was really enjoying playing with Kelly, great to see.
Our trip home was really very good in the big picture. Drew had a hard time at the airport, threw one nuclear-level fit just before boarding, just to make EVERYone waiting for our plane really, really nervous about where they were sitting in realation to us, then was really very good the rest of the flight. She was restless on the plane and we all counted the hours till landing, but all in all it was a great flight considering the level of "aweful" it could've reached.
We made it home, collapsed at home, and tried to sleep through the night. Drew was up at 3:00, but fell back asleep later. Saturday went better than hoped, she loved the freedom of the house and all the toys. Was playing and moving all over and exploring like a normal 2 year old: wonderful!!! Only fly in the ointment is the poor dogs. She is TERRIFIED of them, screams bloody murder if they come within 6 feet, so poor things have been banished from the house if she's up. They are so sad and pathatic, but with all the other adjustments going on, they'll just have to tough it out for a bit.
Tomorrow night will be our Christmas Eve and Kelly is excited. Can't wait to do all that, should be a kick.
Lastly for tonight, I want to rave about my family. First off: Cory spent the whole trip being my personal "Sherpa". She carried, fetched, found, whatever I needed. The most common words out of her mouth were "I'm here to help, what do you need Mom?" Amazing huh? And boy did she help. Jamie was our trip photographer. She also lugged the pack full (and I mean full) of the electronics all over China, along with lifting, carrying and taking care of the luggage. Both girls took over the duties of minding, and entertaing Kelly, who loved the big girl time. Kelly was "big sister extrodinare" to Drew and was a great traveler. All three girls had hardly any entertainment available, and the two olders were spending their precious, short, break with us, not their friends, and we really appreciate it. Not only were they a huge help, but it was special to spend time with them and the only way for them to really bond with Drew. I also want to sing my husband's praises. How many men would answer their wife's question of: "what would you think about adopting again?" when they are 50, working like crazy to put 3 girls through college and still retire, with "I was wondering when you'd ask. Sure."? Amazing.
Anyway, we are thrilled to be home. It's a tough 14 days, very tough, but as we have found, very well worth it.
I'll post some pictures tomorrow, promise.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day at the Zoo

Today we ventured to the Zoo. The same Safari Zoo we hit 2 1/2 years ago when we were here for Kelly. We knew it was a risk, all of us just feeling better, and Drew making it for a few hours at a time without meltdowns, but we had already arranged it and the "bigs" wanted to go again and the "littles" seemed ok for the moment. We went and had a ball. The "zoo" was as amazing as last time: more white tigers than you could count, scary animals so close you could touch them, and lots and lots of baby animals. All features you wouldn't find in a zoo in the U.S. Cory and Jamie fed giraffes, lions, tigers, and elephants. We saw the tiger show and lived to tell the tale (both times I've done this, I spent the whole show thinking how easy it'd be for all those really big tigers to push down the measley wire fence they are in for the show and eat my kids...ok, I'm crazy, but you should see this place...ripe for lawsuits and mayhem.
Anyway, it was a beautiful day, hardly any people for the first few hours, Drew had only one meltdown, and Kelly came back to the hotel now a tiger instead of a Lion King. And for those of you who know Kelly, Lion King is the best of the best, so these tigers must've been pretty cool! The other great part of the day was that Drew continued to open up, smile, laugh, feed me and Ron, and actually enjoyed being kissed!!! She now loves her bath with Kelly, loves to put on her shoes, and loves to be naked. She knows a few signs, has shaken her head "no" and pretended to make food. Amazing. She is as cute as a button when smiling, and can tease too. Whew, while she still has no language at all, as least we can see that she understands and is interacting, all great things. Now off to bed early, as tomorrow is an early day at the Consulate for some final stages of paperwork, maybe a little shopping then the next day pack and leave...yippee!!! We are ALL really done here, really really done. Want to be home and with our family and friends. Soon.

7 and 8, good and bad

Days 7 and 8, Christmas and the 26th were spent in the hotel room for the most part. We were all hit hard with a bad head cold, and our only excursions were for food and to the local pharmacy (the Chinese one) for drugs and more tissues, which we were going through at an alarming rate. We Skyped with family on Christmas and watched movies in the room, blew our noses, and played on the floor with Drew. And guess what? Drew became Drew. Not completely, but slooooowwwly over the two days, she stopped clenching, crying and started to play, relax and enjoy. She laughed a little, not just when running, and babbled. It was the first time we had heard noise, other than crying, out of her...intentional noise. It was so wonderful to see and hear, and so encouraging. Sadly, we also got a taste of the heartbreaking institutional behaviors too. We knew she rocked, when standing, and clenched her fingers, clossed, but had not seen any other self-soothing behaviors that were disturbing. Both of these nights, on being put to bed, she was so angry she not only rocked, but engaged in head-banging. Horrible to see, and of course we stopped it at once, but it was still so disturbing. We are all so happy she is moving forward, but it's hard to forget how far she must come.

Red Couch gone bad...

Ok, I'm finally posting about day 6 with Drew, which was Sat. Christmas Eve. We had to get up fairly early to hit Shaimian Island for Drew's TB check. Started out ok, with Kelly happy to see her friend Arden (see the cut photo of them holding hands while on their daddy's shoulders) but Drew wasn't buying into the happiness stuff, and started her first meltdown of the day at the Exam center. It went South from there. She did have fun playing in the Play Room at the Victory and we actually saw some "playing" which was wonderful to see. She had fed herself that morning and was engaging more with eye contact, all encouraging stuff. We tried to shop while on the Island for the traditional outfit for the time honored "Red Couch Photo". Drew cried through that. We decided that lunch might help, so we trooped (our family of six, and our friends family of 4) to the Starbucks there and managed to annoy most of the patrons there with Drew's crying. Didn't stay long, but hussled off to the White Swan, and managed to REALLY annoy a lot of people with screams, instead of crying...good, full lunged screams. So our Red Couch photo is priceless...Kelly squirming all over and not helping, Cory trying to get Drew to shush, Jamie laughing at them all, and Drew kicking and screaming...lovely. The family had had enough, so they threw me into a cab with Kelly and Drew and they took off to shop while I took the littles back to crash at the hotel. Thankfully they did crash and the shopping was successful as you can see by Jamie's strange double zippered jacket. We all fell into bed realizing we were all coming down with a cold and slept.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Orphanage visit

We got up early and met our other family in the van and took off for the orphanage the both girls were living at. It was certainly an experience we will never forget.
The facility is very large, houses some 800-odd kids, yes, 800. Many buildings and most of it very new, shiny and clean. The washing machines are enourmas, and it is run like a hosptial really. Sadly, very sadly, it is NOT a hospital, but a "home" ...somewhere that babies are brought to, and brought up at. The play ground was empty as were all the play rooms. The kids we saw were all eating at the time, all dressed alike, eating their rice. We visited the 3-4 year old area for the other family. It was the newer area. Then we exited the building and went to a street within the compound that had many 3 story small buildings that were for the babies and toddlers. Drew's house was a very small main room (the size of our living area in our hotel suite) were they ate and played. Then a small sleeping room that had the cribs in it, the a kitchen/bath (?) area. That was their world. There were 12 children there (including Drew) and 2 caregivers. This set-up is relatively new, where there are only 12 kids, who stay together and the same group of care-givers. The idea is that it "mimics" a normal household. I have to be honest here and say that in all that we have done and seen this week, seeing this was what made me break down. To think that my little one had lived here, in this small, bare, cold environment, with 11 other little ones (who were staying there), broke my heart. The other little kids (1-3 yrs) were so sad, and most were obviously very delayed and or had such big explains a lot of Drew's behaviour and will shape her for many years to come. I am not big on advocating for many things, but this day convinced me of the life-changing and truely wonderful work of the charity called "Half the Sky Foundation" in China. The extreme diffence of this institution, who has money for food and buildings, but no Half the Sky, and the orphanage that Kelly was in, who had to scrape by on food and a brokend down building, but DID have Half the Sky working there is heart wrenching. The difference in theses kids, these human beings, is night and day. If you are ever in a situation where you think you would like to support a charity in any way, I can honestly tell you that you will change a life, heck change many lives, by giving to them. Drew's orphanage has declined Half the Sky's services, and have condemned many, many children to a life where love, attachment, normal developement, and stimulation

will not happen. For some of them ever. Sorry if this sounds like a commercial, but after being there and seeing it, I can not keep is just too needless.
Our drive home was uneventful, Drew continues to make baby steps forward, 3 forward, 2 back, but the overall is definately forward. She is a very sad, angry little baby, but she will understand soon enough.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Medical Exam

As all adoptive parents know, you must do the "medical" exam here in GZ. I use itallics because it is soooo much a show and not a real exam it is almost funny. Of course our princess didn't think it was funny in the least. It all starts with a photo for the passport, a few doors down from the exam, and she started with the fits then. Drew still adamantly refuses to be carr

ied, gets really worked up if she can't walk and HATES to be restrained in any way (Ergo, seat for photo, arms, small rooms like a medical exam room....) So we get thru the photo with some ear splitting screams, and make it to the exam- hurray, the place is empty except for us and the one other family in our agencies "group" whom must do all this fall-da-rall with us everyday. They are troupers and great people and have been very patient and sweet about hanging with our mini-screaming-tornado. Anyway, back to the exam. We have the place to our selves so I'm hoping Drew will get thru this with only a few tears. Nope, nada, nothing doing. She starts her ear-splitting screams, thrashing leg, kicking, flailing, I'm being tortured routine at the get go, and keeps it up for the whole exam, which lasts about an hour due to the entire world coming thru the door for exams 15 mins after we get there. But, I am convinced we sailed thru all the actual exams quickly because of her screams...the look on all the Dr.'s faces was priceless and you didn't need any Mandarin to know what they were saying to me and those around them..."lady, make this kid STOP, Ok, fine, I'll wave the flashlight once in front of her face, now please GO!!" Perfect. All I wanted was out, which was Drew's intent all along.
We then tried to shop, and check out the local "medical market" but we were too exhausted by the smallest of our bunch to do much, so home we went. The rest of the day was spent at a local noodle place for Kelly's favorite, and playing in the room. Well, really Kelly and the bigs playing, Drew sitting and watching us. Sadly she still was not interacting or relaxing. Still terribly tense and sad. She demonstrates some pretty strong institutional behaviors: stands and rocks for long periods of time, sucking her fingers, and/or with her fingers crossed and clenched. She cried with her teeth gritted, and arms clenched tight to her sides, and doesn't get up and walk the room, just sits where you put her in front of the toys. We are seeing small flashes of loosening up and that elusive smile when running, but after spending a half an hour trying to tickle her, and be silly every way I could, I never got even part of a smile. It'll come, just not yet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3rd day

Finally we got to sleep in, and we all actually slept! Had a long breakfast, and hung at the hotel for a bit, and got our first glimmer of a smile out of Drew. She is still very reserved, quiet, and crys easily with any and all transitions, from moving to a different room from the elevator to the hall, even from one position in your lap to another. BUT, we found out that she LOVES to walk in open spaces. The lobby is a big, open space and she spent a while just "running" in it. She can't really run, but fast walk, and started to swing her arms, got a bit of a smile and giggle going....SO nice to see. That was it though, we put her down for a nap, broke the cardinal rule of parenting and woke her in the middle to go off for paperwork, and she cried the rest of the day. Ah well, good to know it's in there somewhere, we'll keep working at it! Tomorrow we must wake up early and go for the medical exam and some other things, so should be a busy day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2nd day for Drew

It was a full day of paperwork, and trying to get to know one another. Drew is still very traumatized and very unsure of the situation. No smiles or words or even much movement, but getting better. She had Pizza at lunch and LOVED it. We found a great place within walking distance to the hotel and had a nice, but late lunch after formalizing the adoption. Smoothies, pizza

and beer (for me...tells you I must've needed a drink if I'm having beer) made everyone happy. We hit a typical Chinese grocery store after that. Crazy. Had most everything you might need from live turtles for dinner to stovetops. Got a few necessities like M&Ms, Chips Ahoy (oops, picked up the Coffe flavor ones...) and Pringles (NOT the shrimp flavored ones). Headed back, napped, Skypped, wandered the hotel then dinner of snacks in the Executive Lounge, where Drew ate spicey shrimp on a stick, a whole banana, and French Toast. Back to room and she slept the night through. Her cough is improving thanks to the antibiotics, and Scabies clearing, but still has a fever, but think that will improve too. She is walking now too, like Frankenstein, but walking, and shows glimmers of wanting to play, but hasn't done it yet. Watches Kelly always, and Kelly is being a GREAT big sister. All good.
Now for the pictures:

Monday, December 19, 2011


After a few long day of "hurry up and wait" we arrived at the Civil affairs office and Drew was there waiting. She was NOT happy to see us, as we expected, cried and cried, but didn't put up too much of fight. We did a few formalities and came back to the hotel after a long ride in traffic. She is tiny (or so it seems now that Kelly is four) and came dressed in the traditional many layers, so hot and sweaty. She's got a bad cough, most likely scabies and hasn't cracked a smile or word, but is very alert, watches every thing and everyone, and enjoyed her bath. Thankfully she gulped down a bottle and crashed for (hopefully) the night. We are all exhausted and off to bed too, to be up early for a day of paperwork and offical to try to post some pictures: they probably are posting before this post.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Made it

We all made it here in Guangzhou this morning. Well...all the people made it here, somehow Cory's and my luggage didn't. And as China Southern only makes one flight here a day, we wait till tomorrow morning to see if they will bring our bags. It was a good flight all in all, but we landed China time at 6am and tried hard to stay active and awake all day, but failed. Kelly did great, but crashed hard tonight before dinner. We managed to get some food down her, and off to bed, and the rest of the crew is not far behind.
Our hotel is very nice, the rooms very spacious and the girls are anxious to put the workout rooms to good use, and have already. The rooms have great tv with a DVD so Kelly got in a movie, and we are set. We travel to the Civil Affairs office tomorrow to get Drew at 1:30pm, so will spend the morning tracking our luggage and finalizing some papers and money.
Thanks for all the good wishes and thoughts, we are very excited for the coming week and hope the challenges can be met with humor and grace!
Will try to keep you posted tomorrow as soon as we can.

Friday, December 9, 2011

SOOOOO close!!

Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted...I am terrible at this I admit, but there always seems to be so much going on in our lives, this is usually pretty far down the list of things to do.
Enough excuses, here's what you want to know: We have finally, and successfully, conquered the mountain of International Adoption paperwork. For the most part. And right now we are set to travel to get our little girl Drew!!! Yippee! We will ALL (yes, all 5) be going to China on Dec. 16th, the day both olders get out of school for break. We'll all race to the airport (from different directions), fly direct, non-stop into Guangzhou in the the Guangdong province of China. Think Southern and very close to Hong Kong. We will only have to stay in one province this trip, one city, one hotel, which will make for a long two weeks, but much easier with no in-country flight and no changing hotels. Kelly is prepped, as much as a four year old can be, and Cory and Jamie are very excited to be going. The whole trip will take about 13 days, two of which are travel.
I am going to try to post on this blog as much as I can, but with China's "great firewall" and spotty internet service, you never know, so don't be concerned if you don't see a post for a while, it's pretty hit and miss while there.
I have no new pictures to share. It's been a really hard thing, no pictures or updates...I've tried, and still hope to hear, but it's not looking good. Heck, in 10 days I'll see her for myself! Still, I'd love to know at least an updated weight, or height, or something. Such are the joys of I.A.
For those friends of mine who are part of the I.A. community, we will be at The Garden hotel, and would love to see you. Our CA is 12/28.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More on Drew

Well, we didn't tell anyone we were adopting again untill we had a referral. This was because for Kelly, the timeline extended soooo long, and we didn't want to keep having to tell people "not yet" any more than we knew we'd have to. So, in Jan. of this year, we started the paperwork to adopt again. We changed agencies, had a better idea of what the paperwork would entail and knew that the wait time for a Special Needs adoption was shorter than it was with Kelly, but with China you never know what will come up. Our dossier would've been finished in record time, but for a big bump named Cory. Our Home study agency originally told us that with Cory in college, she didn't need to be treated as a member of the household, so no extra paperwork and approvals were needed. After we were done with all the work for the home study, our agency changed their mind....yup, had to start from scratch with Cory. Our sweet, barely 18yr. old, now has been fingerprinted by the State, had a child abuse background check and the FBI has her fingerprints on file, among other things. yikes. Can't say I was pleased to have the delay... Cory was a trooper and accomplished it all from Berkeley. So with that done, and a few more approvals with the government, we sent our dossier off to China in June and got a call on June 30th about Drew. Ron was in China at the time (yes, odd) and it was a tough time trying to connect with each other to discuss, as we had only 72 hrs. to committ to her file. We did and could finally tell everyone our great news!
These were some of her referral photos

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Welcome to our new blog!

Welcome, I am starting a new blog, as the last one was mostly about our journey to adopt Kelly. Well, we are now in the process of adopting another little girl so we needed to have a "family" blog, to record Kelly's continuing adventure and our newest addition.
So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Drew Zhen Darling. Born 12/7/09, lives in Dongguan SWI, in the province of Guangdong, where we hope to travel to in Dec. to meet her and bring her home.
We are so excited to have her join our family, making our total numbers of daughers: 4. Poor Ron, terribly outnumbered now, but he doesn't seem to mind! Kelly is happy to hear about a "baby sister", but I'm pretty sure she doesn't have a clue how Drew will rock her little world, for good and bad. No problem, she'll clue in soon enough. The "big" girls are really excited and insist they come to China too to get her. Add Image