Hannah Claire Shi Lin

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Wonderful Day

I just wrote the last post this morning, and felt moved to write again tonight.  I had a wonderful day, the best so far since we came home!  Chip was home since it was Saturday, so that helped, and I just felt more relaxed today with Hannah.  We spent the morning around the house, just spending time with the kids, then headed two blocks from our house to Dairy Queen for lunch.  When we got home, we got Hannah down for a nap and then a friend of mine picked me up to go see a movie.  It was so nice to get out of the house with no kids and escape responsibility for 2 hours!  We saw Letters to Juliet, which was a good movie.  I love to watch movies set in Italy, so I really enjoyed it.

I came home to two happy kids and a tired husband.  I am so thankful to have Chip.  My anxiety has been hard on him, and he's willing to do anything for me to help me get through this.  We had supper and then got the kids ready for bed.  Our bedtime routine was when some things different and very hopeful happened.  For the first time, Hannah actually paid attention to the stories, and also sat beside her brother in my lap without  complaining that she was having to share me with him!  It was so nice!  Just the way I'd always imagined it.  Then, even better, she was mostly quiet during the prayer, then listened and fell asleep as I sang lullabies.  Wow.  It touched my heart so much, and eased some of my anxiety over whether or not this would all work.  We are only at one week home, and Hannah has already settled in enough to enjoy her new bedtime routine.  I am so blessed.

I know not every night will go this smoothly, but I do know that many will.  I've been praying to feel God's presence lately during my struggles, and today I did.  I know He's there, and He's telling me it will all be alright.

Home One Week

Today it has been one week since we got home with Shi Lin.  We are now making an effort to get her used to her new name by calling her "Hannah Lin-lin," and it seems to be working.  Sorry I haven't written since day 13 in China.  The trip was really rough for me, physically and emotionally, and I didn't have much time to get online. 

In my last post I said I was over the Post Adoption Depression/Anxiety, but shortly after, I found that was not the case.  It still comes and goes, but I do think it's getting better.  It is something that has completely caught me off guard, as it does with so many new adoptive mothers.  I was so excited to meet my daughter, and when it turned out to be nothing like what I expected, I panicked.  When I'm down, it is a really dark time for me.  When I'm up, I'm not as positive as I wish I was, but I can see little glimmers of hope.  Everyone assures me that with time, everything will change and I will settle into my new "normal" life.  Letting go of my old life has been extremely hard for me, and at times I focus on it so much that I feel like I'm ready to give up.  But then I can see enough of reality to know that things will get better, and in time I will feel the love for my daughter and not be able to imagine life without her.

I debated on whether to discuss this subject.  I don't want to discourage anyone from adopting, particularly older children.  But the fact that I've never read a blog entry about PAD made me determined to talk about it, to hopefully help prepare other mothers of the possibility of it happening to them, that it is normal, and that they are not alone if it does.  On most blogs, post-adoption life seems so rosy, so ideal, and maybe it is for many, maybe for those who are posting.  Maybe those with PAD just aren't the ones posting, and if they are, they feel ashamed and guilty about their feelings so they hide them. I hope that mothers of newly adopted children suffering from PAD will read my blog, maybe someone who would not have even known they could get help otherwise, will reach out to others for support and know that everything will be ok.  I have two friends who have been so supportive of me, I don't know what I would have done without them.  These are new friends of mine; I met each of them only months before we went to China.  They each have a child from China and completely identify with me.  They have reached out with so much love and understanding, to say I'm touched is such an understatement.  I owe these women so much.

One of my friends has a therapist for both herself and her daughter and she says she's helped them so much.  I've asked for her contact information and I'm going to call her Monday morning and see if I can get in to see her.  I want so much to feel positive about my new life and my new daughter.  Hannah really is a beautiful little girl, both in and out.  She is doing amazingly well, and doesn't seem to have some of the problems other parents describe about their newly-adopted children.  She goes to bed easily in her own bed, sleeps through the night, eats well, and seems to have a healthy attachment to me and Chip.  So it's not her fault that I'm going through PAD.  There is a side of me that is still excited to have her home, that looks forward to her learning more English so we can communicate better.  A part of me that can't wait for things like ballet classes and Girl Scouts, and trips to the salon together.

As I was typing this post, Hannah woke up and I heard her voice calling me.  I felt much better than I normally do when I hear that, and I cheerfully went to her room and greeted her with "good morning."  Right now I feel so positive.  I know there will be tough, trying times.  But I know I can get through it with support from my friends and family, and ultimately, God.  Please keep us all in your prayers at this time of transition in our family.

P.S.  I'll post more pictures when I get the chance.  They're all still on the cameras and Chip's notebook computer! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 13

Just a quick update: I'm happy to say I'm over the Post Adoption Depression or Post Adoption Anxiety, or whatever it was.  I'm seeing things much more clearly now and can't wait to get Shi Lin back home and settled in!
We're enjoying our stay here in Guangzhou, but I'm so ready to be back in my house with more space.  Being cramped in this hotel room with two kids is starting to drive me crazy!
My sister is scheduled to be induced on Friday while we're flying back home, so please keep her and her new baby in your prayers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 11

Sorry it's been so long since I posted.  We are really so busy and so exhausted every day.  And for a few days, I was not only physically exhausted, but also emotionally.  So it's been really hard for me to get on the computer and focus enough to write anything.  While Lin-lin seems to be adjusting to us just fine, I was having a difficult time at first.  I had a touch of PAD, or Post Adoption Depression.  If you're familiar with Post Partum Depression, then you have an idea what it is.  It happens to a lot of new adoptive mothers, but isn't talked about very much, because the mothers usually feel ashamed of their feelings.  I talked to our social worker and she assured me everything I was going through was perfectly normal.  Imagine you have spent years imagining your ideal adoptive child, then you see pictures of her and begin to add to the fantasy of what she is like.  You're so excited to finally meet her, and when you do, she is very different, and you realize although you feel love for her, she is still a stranger to you at this point.  She smells unfamiliar, she speaks a different language, and her personality is completely different than what you expected.  This is what I was going through those first few days, terrified that Shi Lin would never feel like my own child.  But after a few tearful phone calls to Beverley, our social worker, and following her advice, and mostly giving it all some time, I feel much more confident, and am so looking forward to getting my little girl home, watching her as she learns English, and settles into her new life with us.

I am really starting to enjoy being here in China, especially now since we are in Guangzhou.  There are so many trees and the area is nice.  We've had some great tours , done a little shopping, and perhaps best of all, we're doing so much walking that Chip and I have lost some weight! 

Yesterday we visited a Buddhist temple, visited a store where we got Shi Lin a traditional jade necklace, then we went to a grocery store.  The grocery store was really fun!  I loved picking out snacks to try.  In China, they love Pringles, and they have so many different flavors we don't have in the U.S.  We got crab flavor, which we haven't tried yet.

Miles and Shi Lin are loving each other's company, and it's so good to see them play together.  She's  definitely a mama's girl right now, always asking for me to hold her, and calling for me when I leave the room or get out of her sight at all.  She has so much energy and can be very loud at times, which is testing my nerves, but she seems to be getting better lately, understanding better when we tell her to be quiet.   In spite of her energy, she goes to bed so easily, thank goodness!  They put a crib in our room, and as soon as we came in, she wanted in it.  So every night, when I say "Gai shui jale," ("Time for bed"), she climbs into the crib, we turn out the lights, and she lets out a few happy squeals, then sings a couple of songs (probably ones her foster mother sang to her), then goes right to sleep.  I'm so thankful bedtime is not a struggle.

I'm missing everyone at home, and missing home, period.  China's nice, but I'm getting more and more homesick every day.  There is no place like home, and even more true for me right now, there's no place like home in the U.S.A.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 5 and More Photos!

Ok, I posted this yesterday morning but it didn't go through somehow, so I'm trying again:

Today we signed all the paperwork to make Shi Lin legally ours!!! 

We went afterward to a restaurant that specializes in dumplings, and they were delicious!  We also got to go to the hospital where Shi Lin was found when she was two days old.  The hospital had been remodeled, but we got to see where the original pediatrics area was where she was found, and also the new one, which they said is very similar to the old one.

Today we also went to the police department to apply for Shi Lin's passport.  While we were waiting, the women around us were delighted to have us there among us.  They continually said "piao lian," which means beautiful or handsome, about Miles and Shi Lin.  One lady gave us a bag of candy for the kids, and another told us that China loves us.  Their response to us was so touching to me.     

So now we are getting lots of attention, not only because we're westeners, but because we're westerners with a Chinese child.  Veronica is going to give us a piece of paper explaining that we adopted her, in case we decide to go out without her.

I finally had a chance to resize some of the photos to post.  For some reason, it seems here in China you can only attach small file sizes to emails, which is why I only posted 2 photos yesterday.  So here are a few from the trip, including us with our guide in Beijing, Grace.

We had a great time with Shi Lin yesterday, and she was even easy to put to bed and fell asleep very quickly!   And she slept all night.  I slept in one bed with her, Chip and Miles in another, and although she seemed to sleep very soundly, she moved around A LOT.  I had to keep moving her over so I could have enough room! J   When I woke up in the morning, the room was still dark, but I could faintly see her sleeping face.  It was so precious.  I've always loved just watching Miles's face while he's sleeping, and I already love watching Shi Lin's too.

In a few days, we plan to have Veronica explain to Shi Lin about her new American name.  We'll have her tell her that she will have a new name, and that we still love her Chinese name and will still call her that too.  In fact, we're already calling her the nickname her foster family called her, "Lin-lin."

Shi Lin continues to be so happy and doesn't seem to be having any problems adjusting to her new family and situation.  I thank God all the time for this blessing.  He has been so good to all of us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 4: Gotcha Day!!!

At around 9:30 this morning, we got Shi Lin!!!  I began to get nervous and emotional, already holding back tears as we entered the civil affairs office.  When we walked into the office where she was, oh my goodness, I couldn't believe I was actually seeing her in the flesh!  I went in there to her and knelt down and said "nihao," as she just stared us silently with a confused look on her face.   Our guide told her who we were and when I pulled out the framed photo of us, she seemed to understand we were the ones in the photo.   When Miles gave her the Bitty Baby doll, she took it immediately and her face just lit up!  She clung to it the rest of the time we were out.  It took several minutes for us to fill out some paperwork, and Miles started acting silly for her while she cracked up.  It was exactly as I had imagined it would be between the two of them.

We had to go to a couple of other places, including one where we got Shi Lin's passport photo taken, and we also got one taken with her, Chip and I for another document.   She was so quiet in the van as I held her so close next to me.

Back at the hotel, Shi Lin immediately noticed Miles's Leapster and reached for it, so I pulled out hers, and she loves it!  She sat on the bed and played games with her ge ge (big brother), and later ate Whales crackers and drank water from her Hello Kitty water bottle.  She never cried or seemed like she didn't want to be there with us.  In fact, a few minutes ago, she came up to me while I was typing and said "ma ma."  My heart melted and I pulled her onto my lap.  And she keeps coming back from time to time to say ma ma or to ask me to do something , like put her hair in ponytails.  So needless to say, this post is taking a long time to type, but that's fine with me.  Shi Lin needs all the time she can get with us, and we need all we can get with her.

Shi Lin is just what I expected and more:  happy, laughs a lot, and has an adorable silly side.  Not to mention she's even more beautiful in real life than in the photos we had of her before we got to China.  She has taken to all of us so quickly and easily, always asking me "bao bao" (pick me up), climbing onto our laps, and telling me when she needs to go to the potty.  She already fits in so well with us.  All of this in just a few short hours.  I know with absolute certainty that this is the little girl God has led us to.  We will go and sign the paperwork tomorrow that will make Shi Lin legally ours in the eyes of the Chinese government.  I'm looking forward to making it official!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We're in China!!!

We are in China!  I had planned to post a little each day we were here, but that was before I knew just how busy we would be, and how exhausted.  Today is the first chance I've had to sit down and think about posting.  So here's a summary of our trip so far:

Day 1:  Chip and I got up at 1 am on Thursday and finished up last-minute packing.  We got Miles up at 3, then the shuttle arrived at 4.  We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to have some breakfast before getting on the plane to San Francisco.  In San Francisco, we met another couple traveling to China to adopt their second child.  I also saw two or three more couples later on the flight to Beijing who were doing the same, though none of them were with our agency. 

The flight to Beijing from San Francisco took about 12 hours.  Miles was such an angel on the flight, and has been on the rest of the trip too.  I just imagined that as a 6 year old, he would be whining and complaining and asking to go home, but amazingly that has not happened.  He sat quietly on the first flight for a while, soaking the experience in, I think.  Then he colored in his coloring book.  On the Beijing flight, we surprised him with the Leapster we had bought just for the trip.  He absolutely loves it, and it has kept him occupied and happy.

On Friday evening we arrived in Beijing.  Our flight had been delayed and we were the last family to join our group.  We met our guide, Grace, who has such an outgoing personality, and is a little bit of a comedian.  She is also just about the most lovely Chinese woman I have ever seen.  She's in

We were also introduced to Chinese drivers and traffic we had heard so much about.  Believe me, it's true!  There seem to be no rules on the road.  Our driver weaved in and out , honking any time cars or pedestrians were in his way.  We came so close to some pedestrians sometimes, it really made me nervous, but the pedestrians themeselves were unphased.  It's so normal for them.

After we got to the hotel, the Poly Plaza, we went up to our room and Chip went down with our guide to a grocery store, and later he went and got McDonald's food for us for supper.  I'd heard that even the McDonald's food tastes different than in the U.S., but I couldn't tell any difference.


Day 2: We got up early on Saturday and ate breakfast at the buffet restaurant in the hotel.  It was an interesting mix of western and eastern style food.  I had pancakes with syrup that seemed a little like honey mixed with something else maybe, a boiled egg, bacon, and a bowl of raisin bran.   They had things like vegetables and fish out too, which didn't seem very appetizing to me for breakfast, so  I stuck to things that were familiar to me.

Around 9 am, we met Grace and our group and boarded the bus headed for The Forbidden City.  On the way, Grace taught us a few Mandarin phrases, such as "bu yao", which means "don't want."  She taught us this because she said we will come across a lot of street vendors trying to sell us things.  And sure enough, just as the bus finished parking there were people waiting outside the door waiving caps with "Beijing" embroidered on them and t-shirts, and other products.  As soon as we got off the bus, a man offered Miles a toy, and being only 6, he took it.  Chip immediately handed it back and used the phrase Grace had just taught us. 

Seeing the Forbidden City was so awesome.  Chi p and I had watched the movie, The Last Emperor , last week, which was actually filmed there on location, and it was amazing to see the actual places from the film, and also to think that the real emperors used to live there.  If you haven't seen the movie and will be going to Beijing soon, I highly recommend seeing it before you go.

After the Forbidden City, we headed across the street to Tian An Men Square.  It was really neat to see this place in person after seeing it on TV so many times.  From the square, you can see the front gate of the Forbidden City, which has the portrait of Chairmen Mao on the front.

Then we went to a jade workshop, where we got a tour of their jade art gallery.  After the tour, we got to see jade pieces that were for sale, and I was so excited to see the very pieces I had dreamed about getting on this trip, little figurines of the Chinese zodiac!  So we got an ox for Chip, a rabbit for me,  a monkey for Miles and a dog for Hannah.  I am so excited about these!  I can't wait to get home and display them on a little ledge on the wall. 

We went out to lunch at a restaurant that was very oriented to westerners, but also had a few authentic Chinese dishes.  We sat at a round table, and all the food was put on a huge lazy susan, and you just turn it and get what you want.  I liked most of what I tried of the Chinese food, although I didn't care for what looked like egg drop soup.  The beef with onions and bell peppers was very good, and the sweet and sour fish was good too.

The restaurant was in the building of a place that specializes in making cloissone items.  Cloissone is a method using copper to make designs  on the surface of an object, filling it in with color, then putting a shiny enamel over it.  You've probably seen vases in this style.  We ended up getting a few Christmas ornaments there, a panda for Hannah,  a cat for me,  a fish for Chip and a traditional knot-style one for Miles, which he picked out himself.

Next, we headed to the Great Wall.  On the way, what was mostly flat land suddenly gave way to beautiful, jagged mountains.  Now this is what I was thinking China would look like, I thought.  When we got to the Great Wall, we realized the part we would be climbing was incredibly steep and that each step is very high, so we didn't make it very far.  But still, we can now say we have stood on the Great Wall of China!

An interesting thing happened for the first time while on the Great Wall.  We had been told that since Miles and I had blonde hair, people would want to stop and take pictures of us.  Well, they didn't seem to care at all about me, but several people stopped and asked if they could pose with Miles while we take their picture.  Many people passing by would look at him and smile.  They just thought he was so cute!  One teenage girl, after having her picture taken with him, knelt down and pinched his cheeks!  It was adorable!

 Beijing Olympics, you'll be familiar with those.  We only saw them from a distance, but they were impressive nevertheless.  We went back to the hotel and just ate snacks we had brought with us, then we all crashed.

Day 3:  After an exhausting day yesterday, we all had to get up early again and have our luggage ready for pickup at 5:20 am.  We rushed to the airport and our flight left around 8.  We arrived in Changchun after only an hour and a half, then it took us about an hour to get to our hotel.  On the way, our new guide, Veronica, talked some with us about how things will be tomorrow when we pick Hannah.  She said to expect a lot of crying and her testing us, and that our body language will be very important when dealing with her, to show her that we love her.

After arriving at the Jixiang Hotel, Chip and I took a nap while Miles colored and played on his Leapster.  Then we met Veronica downstairs and took a walk through the streets of Changchun.  At first, we were in a part of town that was pretty quiet and went inside a fruit and vegetable market to look around.   There were just a few people here and there, but later we came to a shopping area, which was very crowded and loud.  This was our first experience dodging traffic in a Chinese city, and I have to say, it was a little scary, but we stayed close to Veronica, and she was so good about making sure we crossed streets safely.  Then we came to a grocery store, and it was nothing like any grocery store I've ever been to.  It had 3 stories, so it had a flat angled escalator that you can ride up and down on with your cart. And the people with their shopping carts were a lot like those driving cars, expecting other people just to get out of their way, no kidding! J

So here we are now, the evening before we finally meet our daughter.   It is more real now than ever, and not only am I excited, but nervous as well.  I know it will more than likely be hard for Shi Lin, and I hope that Chip and I can be what she needs to help her adjust and bond with us.

I really didn't mean for this post to get so long, but so much has happened and it's hard not to tell it all!  And I didn't even tell it all; I'd need to write an entire book to do that! J

Please keep us in your prayers for tomorrow.  We'll probably be meeting Shi Lin around 10 am China time,  9 pm U.S. Central Time.  So before you go to bed on Sunday night, please say a little prayer for our family.

Hopefully, my next post will have pictures of us with Shi Lin!!!

P.S. I had planned to post pictures on this post, but for some reason, I can't get it to work.  I'll see if Chip can figure it out before my next post.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's Almost Time!!!

We are leaving tomorrow morning, so obviously we are finishing up packing and running around making sure we don't forget anything.  I thought I'd take a few minutes away from all the commotion to do a quick post.  I'm also testing again to make sure posting to my blog via email will work. 

I went to bed late last night, then got up really early, about 4:45.  I just couldn't go back to sleep, so excited about tomorrow and wanted to get an early start on finishing up everything.  So I've spent all day long packing, finishing up the last bit of laundry and cleaning the house.  That is one thing I'm making sure of; that we don't come back home to a messy house.  I want to walk back in and feel a sense of peace. 

I've included photos of what our packing looked like last night.  It has literally taken over our living room!

Last night I was really anxious, not quite as much this morning, but a little while ago, that good excitement kicked in!  You know, like the kind you had as a kid on Christmas morning, waiting to open your presents.  I mean, I felt like jumping up and down and crying happy tears, I was so excited!  To know that tomorrow I'll be up in the air, on my way to my precious angel!  I can't think of many things that are more exciting than that!

If I have a chance in the morning before we leave, I'll post one last time.  Then I'll be posting again as soon as I can once we arrive in China.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Prayer for You

Aside from this blog, I also keep other personal journals offline.  I've kept one for my son since I got pregnant with him, then continued after he was born.  Writing ever so often about little things he was doing at each stage.  Little things I never wanted to forget.  Also how I felt about him and the things he would do, how much I loved him.  I started one for Hannah sometime after we decided to adopt, writing about how I feel about where we are in the process, how much I loved her even before I saw pictures of her, and how excited I am now to see her soon.  I don't normally share what I write in these journals, but I feel impressed to share an excerpt tonight:

My prayer for you at this very moment, my darling, is that they did not take you from your foster parents and put you in the orphanage this past week or any time before we come for you. I pray that right now you are in your foster parents’ home, perhaps eating breakfast or a mid-morning snack, and that you are happy. I hope that they have been talking to you about your new family, and how much we love you, and that it’s a good thing for you to go with us. I don’t want you to be afraid to go with us, but I completely understand if you are. I will cry with you when you leave your foster family, and I’ll tell you it’s ok for you to cry, to grieve the loss of these wonderful people. It will always be ok for you to grieve, and to talk about your family with me, whether it be about your foster family or birth family. But I do so hope that right now, at this moment, that you are happy where you are, as you should be, as you deserve to be.

We are now a mere 7 days away from meeting Hannah Claire Shi Lin.  There really are no words to describe what I'm feeling, so I won't even try.  If you've been down this road before, or are on the same kind of journey yourself, you know what I mean.  There is no describing the feeling of your own, God-chosen child being on the other side of the world from you, while you wait desperately for the day you're allowed to go and get her.  When you're pregnant with your child, even though you can't see her face, at least you have the comfort of having her right there with you all the time, keeping her safe.  But this experience is so different.  Not better or worse,  just different.

My faith has been strengthened so much by this process.  Since I cannot do one thing to ensure the safety and well-being of my child, I've had to completely give all my worries and anxiety over to my Heavenly Father, who is glad to take it in His hands and shape it into something else--the pure belief that He knows what He's doing, that He has a plan for me as His own adopted child, and that that plan includes adopting my own child.  So no matter where Hannah is at this moment, He is still with her, and I believe He will protect her, until He draws us together into a moment where I can finally provide safety for her with my own arms.