Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honey, she's in the fountain! part 4 in a series

Do you ever feel like it's ground hog day when your in China?? 
We do! Maybe it's because if we find a restaurant,  an activity,  a park, whatever- that we like- we do it over and over again! We latch onto anything that works! Plus the kids become familiar with it and then it is easy for everyone!

Once again we had a tough night Hubby had to sleep next to Emma to control her outbursts of unusual behavior. In the morning they seemed to know what to expect- get up, get ready and go eat breakfast- simple and the same each day!
As we tried to take pictures of the children we noticed that Emma would not look at the camera. If she glanced at it by the time I snapped it she was looking the other way. If she was looking she would not smile.
We asked our guide to talk to the girls. She did but I think she did not understand the extent of our challenges. Her discussion with them was more playful and it happened without us next to them so we didn't know what was said.

We waited in the lobby to meet a friend of a friend. She had a package for us to deliver to a family back in the states.
The girls loved the fountain... the next thing we new Emma was IN the fountain. She was standing in it, wading in the water! I don't know what she had planned to do next but we got her outta their immediately.
This is one of those stories that you could laugh at but at the time it wasn't funny. It was odd and unusual behavior and it was one more thing to add to the list of odd and unusual behaviors that we were seeing... 

When the friend(Hannah) came was asked her to talk to them, too. After all Emma had just been in the fountain and that was after the first guide spoke to them.
Ellie listened intently and responded to Hannah appropriately.
We could tell Ellie was trying to behave, to be part of this new family.
Emma did not listen to Hannah. She ignored her and never gave her eye contact. When Hannah would ask her a question Emma would not answer.

We were leaving Nanning today and heading to Guilin. This was the city the girls were from and it is the #1 designated vacation spot in all of China. Industry is not allowed in that part of the province- everything caters to those coming to see the beautiful sites in the area.
We had a few hours to kill so we went to the park behind our hotel. It was absolutely beautiful!
Except for the heat- we were drenched in sweat -definitely not glowing, more like dripping!

Our first stop were the dancers in the park. At home I think they would have cancelled the class due to the heat but in China life continues. Ellie stuck close to Sarah and did whatever she did. That worked for out well. Sarah had been home for 18 months- And her adjustment had gone very well. We had a few challenges with her but not too many and once we hit the 6 month mark she was "a piece of cake"!

While in the park Emma would stare and stare at people. She did not understand personal boundaries and would often walk up to anyone, stand in front of them and stare at them. When they would talk to her she would just continue to stare and be unable to answer or converse.
Little by little we were seeing things that we didn't understand but that would slowly lead us to "discovering" who she is... 
Staring is acceptable in the Chinese culture. They do not consider it rude and everyone stares BUT was to an extreme...

Everyone loved Katie- and wanted their picture taken with her.
She had fun with it and was pleasant to all the people.

We began to notice the lack of warmth in Emma's eyes. She would blankly stare at us and not turn away. School teacher Katie let us know that is was a sign of dominance and that we needed to out stare her and not look away. It was a challenge- she was very good at this! We managed to be successful and Emma would lower her eyes and look away. We wanted her to know we meant business and we were in control- not her.

 She was very defiant and did not listen to us when we told her no. In fact she just continued to do whatever she wanted to do and when we corrected her she would laugh at us. For us, this was probably the most disturbing behavior.

As we walked along we saw a vendor selling a few little toys at the park. We decided to buy them, it would give the children something to do. They could play with them and share them while we were in the park. Emma and Ellie grabbed at everything and begun opening packages before we had even decided what to buy. We had to stop them and return the items to the counter- they did not like that at all.

 They would change their minds with what they wanted and when we finally bought the toys they were not happy with our purchases and they let us know right away. They became irritable and pouty. When we took the toys away they grabbed them out of the stroller.

We knew things were not going to get better and it was getting late.  We didn't want to miss our train to Guilin so we decided to head back to the hotel. Jim kept hold of Emma's hand and kept her close. WE knew there was a chance she would bolt on us and we then would have a lost child in China...

Ellie began to whine and complain. She was hot, thirsty, hungry and too tired to walk. We understood (all of us felt that way) but we had no choice, we had to get back to the hotel NOW! She slowly scuffed along in back of us.  We ignored much of her behavior BUT would often peak behind to make sure she was still there!

Our guide meet us in the lobby, the luggage was ready to go. FYI- we over packed!

Both pics are of the dear men that carried our suitcases! They had a wooden bar across their shoulders and ropes around the suitcases. God Bless them!!

The girls were quiet now and we were all business. We had to catch a train- we had 18 pieces of luggage (don't judge) and 7 people...
We were so thankful our guide had everything arranged! Whew!

I am sure the girls were scared and confused. So much happening so quickly. Here they are traveling with "their family" and they had only known us 3 days. Sounds very scary to me!

We all made it onto the train but our guide and the driver almost got stuck on the train with us... They just made it out of the doors as they were closing!
We thought the train ride would be 4 hours... it was 8 hours! oops, our mistake!
It's also carry on luggage only... and we boarded with 18 pieces of luggage- 6 were huge suitcases.
People traded seats with us so we could sit together and were very kind and accommodating!

Still smiling! Yes- we still had our sense of humor! Thank goodness!!

The back packs were filled with activities and each girl had a nano with chinese and american nursery rhymes on them! (It was really helpful- the kids loved listening to the music and it gave us a moment of peace!)
We forgot food but had some snacks, by the time we arrived in Guilin we were starving!
We also forgot to give potty breaks before leaving. Anna was petrified of the squatty potty and refused to use it. It was a hole in the floor of the train and the ground under neath was nothing but a blur- it scared me too!
She held it for 8 hours! 

Being on the train was quite an experience for all of us! We probably won't be doing it again(at least not with a large crew) but we are glad to have done it once!
We were beyond thankful to finally arrive in Guilin!
We weren't sure how we were going to manage getting off the train with 7 people and 18 pieces of luggage but we were determined!
THEN a woman came up to us and asked if we were the Mulvahills! Her name was Julia (I think she was sporting a pair of wings if I'm not mistaken) and it was like seeing an angel! She had two large strong men, a large van and we were well taken care if after that- thank you Jesus!

She took us to the hotel, to dinner, a walk around the area and we called it a night!

The girls did better tonight- especially Emma who had been so out of control every other night. 
Ellie was beginning to figure things out. She wanted to be a good girl, she wanted to be accepted by her new parents and family and she wanted love...

Our older child adoption experience deals with children between 8-10 years old. 
We have not had experience with children 11- 14 yrs old. Although there are similarities there are also many differences. I hope that someone with adoption experience for that age group will post about it. There are many things that need to be said about adopting in that age group that would help families that are on that specific journey.

Our journey also includes adopting a child with a disability that we were unaware of...
It was undiagnosed...
There were things written in the referral that we could have paid more attention to but WE chose not too. No one encouraged us to take this journey, it was between God and us. We do not regret it in any way- although we were confused at times. We are so thankful these two are home, with us!

Thank you for letting me write about it! Thank you for your kind comments!


Vicky said...

I am adopting a 10 year old and I have found this experience very enlightening. You can see from their current pictures and smiles that you and God have done a great work in the lives of these children. Thank you for sharing!

Jodi said...

Thank you sooo much for sharing this experience and how far God has brought your entire family!

Angie said...

Sometimes I wonder why God allows these trials, but have comfort knowing that he never gives us more than we can handle, and that through every trial, we grow! Thanks for sharing with us!

Nancy said...

Wow, Jean. I followed your blog when you were in China and knew you were having issues. Had no idea how huge these issues were. Hope you blog soon about how Emma is doing now. I do see that she smiles now in pictures. We always need to trust in the Lord.

Kim said...

Thank You Jean for sharing your trip and being so open and honest about the challenges with adopting older children. We experienced several of the things you describe with our daughter, adopted at 7, from the same orphanage as your girls. At the time, we felt so we were the only ones experiencing these things with our older child. It is so important that parents are prepared to accept the challenges, and that they aren't alone. It is amazing to see the changes and growth these children make once they know the love and permanence of a forever family. I would love to hear more about how you dealt with (and deal with) challenges once you were home.

Liz Tolsma said...

We adopted a 5 year old girl from the Philippines with an undiagnosed disability we were unaware of and weren't expecting. Later we realized there were clues in her referral. God blinded our eyes and the eyes of our pediatrician to them, I believe, because he we known, we would have turned down her referral. I'm so thankful that He did because we are so in love with our daughter (after several difficult years), and now that she's been home 3 1/2 years, we can't imagine our lives without her.

Shannon said...

Oh Jean! I am praying! I just tucked over and did not know you were in China already!!!!!! Looking through your pictures had me bawling. Jean, we met Georgia in that same little room in nanning with the slide and the rocking horse. I sat across from that same desk and said yes to a journey we never thought we were strong enough to walk.
I am praying for you as you wade through these deep waters.
Hugs & Prayers,

Annie said...

Oh Jean, I think posts like this are so important! God Bless you for following the Lord's call to these beautiful girls. I would also love to hear how they are doing today. When the Lord's timing for us comes, we would like to bring home an older child and I really appreciate your honesty! You have a beautiful heart and a beautiful family!

Anonymous said...

Precious Jean: Thank you so much for sharing your stories with all of us. We all love you so are just the greatest. YOU are truly one of God's very special Angels right here on earth. I sound like a recording, but I'm so thankful to God that Emma and Ellie are your daughters.......they needed you, and your beautiful loving and compassionate family - and that's exactly what they have. They are thriving and growing. From the depths of my heart, thank you for your honest and truthful stories. You help so many people. Sending boatloads of prayers and love. xoxoxo

Cari said...

Jean, as you know my only experience with an older child adoption is my daughter that would fit in the 11-14 year old group {she was 12 when we brought her home}. I do plan to do a series of posts about it for educational purposes like you just did, because I think it is so important for other families to research and learn what to expect and realize that they are not alone. This has been a difficult journey for me personally, I think because my expectations were not accurate and it's taken me this last year to realize that and learn how to better parent a child from a "hard place". It's way different than parenting our bio children or our adopted children who were brought home very young.

Thanks so much for your series of posts on older child adoption from your experiences. I would like to read your perspective of privileges for your children from Sarah on down. Do they all have same bedtimes or does Sarah have a little more freedom/privileges based on her being home longer, etc. I would think it's easier to control the influences on your children {therefore helping their behavior} because you are homeschooling versus them seeing what other kids in private/charter/public schools may be doing or talking about. What are your thoughts about that?

Sarah said...

Oh Jean, all that I can say is that I am glad your girls are with you and that you are with them!

Chris said...

Yeah, it is good that God blinds us to some things...and we are forced to take it a day at a time.

Jennifer said...

Thank you, Jean, for sharing this story. I wonder about so many things adopting an older child, especially one who has been in an institution. It's hard to see beyond what we want to see. That was very honest.