Sunday, August 31, 2014

On Bonding

Admittedly, I haven't read a single book about bonding with an adopted child.  If you know me at all, that may be a bit of a surprise because I am a researcher.  It's usually what I do.  Maybe I wasn't very concerned about researching because I already felt an overwhelming sense of love for Jordan and somewhere in the back of my mind I didn't feel like I was going to need any help in that department?  I don't know.  But though Facebook groups and reading adoption blogs I heard others talk about it and was able to piece together what "cocooning" is and why we should do it.  I thought I'd eventually read up on it and make a game plan, but the weeks leading up to our trip, packing and planning left me little time to think about reading.  About a week before our trip I did purchase one of the experts books on adoptive parenting in hopes of reading it during our "downtime" on the trip, along with my current book club read and, just in case, three other novels I've been wanting to get to.  Well, I was so jet lagged and tired on our trip that I avoided reading altogether in fear of falling asleep earlier than I should.  I guess I was a little bit over ambitious while packing the reading material. 

Anyway, from all of the bits and pieces I've gathered, "Cocooning" is basically taking a step back from the world, clearing our schedule and staying home as much as possible in an effort to help an adoptive child start to understand how a family works, initiate bonding and keep from overstimulating an already overwhelmed child.  Ryan and I talked about doing this but didn't really have a plan as to how long we would keep it up.  I've heard of families doing it for a week or two and some families who felt the need to keep it up for up for nearly a year.  But the most common recommendation is 6-12 weeks.  We decided to give it a try and play it by ear.  It hasn't been easy.  In fact, I was ready to call it quits after being home a week, things seemed to be going fairly well after all, better than I had expected, and I know how eager our family and friends are to meet Jordan, not to mention how good it would feel to get out of the house.  Then came the weekend.  With all seven of us home, there is more to do, more chaos and less one on one time.  I quickly saw much of my perceived progress recede.  It was most obvious while feeding him his bottle, he'd occasionally pull away, avoid eye contact, not wanting me to hold him or comfort him.  That's such a hard thing as a mom, wanting to comfort, but not be able to.  I guess, because for the most part Jordan has fit so well into our family and is overall a very happy child, sometimes I let myself forget how huge of a life change this kid is undergoing.  I can't imagine how hard it would be to be taken away from everything I knew and let strangers, even nice strangers, comfort me.  Remembering this was enough to recommit me to keep things simple for a while longer and I'm glad we did.

This weekend I feel like we are making major breakthroughs!!  The last few times I've put Jordan to sleep, it's been without any tears!!  Our old routine was to sing to him, then move closer to the crib, he'd cry, so we'd sing to him until he was calm again, then after a while we'd lay him in the crib and he'd start to cry some more, and we'd comfort him more.  Then we'd try to sneak away and he'd cry.  If he cried hard, we'd go back and start over, but if it was just tired fussing, we'd wait a minute to see if he'd fall asleep.  It was quite the process.  But now, now he lets me cuddle him and sing to him... then when he's ready, he'll motion for the crib, I lay him down and he goes right to sleep.  It's as easy as that!  It's as if he's learning to trust that his crib is a safe place and that we'll still be there when he wakes up.  And though I still wish I could get more food into Jordan, especially fruits and veggies, feeding time is starting to improve too.  Jordan doesn't seem as anxious while eating.  He is starting to trust that even if I won't give him a whole banana at once, if he finishes what he has and asks for more, I will give it to him.  Again, I think it's that he is starting to trust us more and more.  I'm sure we have a ways to go, but healing and bonding are taking place and it makes my heart so happy.

And now some of the very few pictures we have taken:

More time has been spent playing with old school Little People than anything else.  It's the first thing that Jordan pulls out every morning.

With all of the other kids at school, Mason and Jordan have started playing together.  It's fun to watch them interact.

Jordan loves to be outside.  He like to play on the swing set, chase the cats, point at the chickens and wander around exploring. 

Feeling big in a big kid swing.

We love this kid!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I keep meaning to update the blog, but I told myself that it would have to wait until I finished unpacking.... I still have a duffel and backpack to go... hopefully I'll get around to them today (or at least in the next month or so) but I didn't want to wait so long that I'd forget some of the details of our trip and first few days home.  Anyway, because it was the peak of the travel season in China, and we bought tickets with so little notice, the return ticket prices were crazy high.  That meant for our return trip we could have a really long trip coming home, because of layovers, or pay thousands of dollars more to shave 8 hours off of the trip.  Ryan and I decided we'd tough it up to save the money... because we're crazy tough, or just crazy.  Our trip home, including rides to and from the airport, took 31 hours!  The crazy part was that, because of the time difference, we left early Friday morning in China and got home Friday night.  It was the longest day of our lives!

Jordan, on the van ride to the airport, getting one of his last looks at his birth country before leaving to his new home.

Taking it in.

We had to wake up at 4:45am to make our flight.  In her sleepy state, Kaitlyn put her shorts on over her pajama pants and pushed the pajamas up underneath.  Ryan and I didn't know this until we were walking into the airport and a green polka-dot pant leg dropped out of her shorts.  We thought it was hilarious, but Kaitlyn was too tired and embarrassed to see the humor of the situation. 

After I took Kaitlyn to the bathroom to take her pjs off, she perked back up and was much happier.

2 1/2 hours in, we were already tired.

Our first flight from Guangzhou to Beijing was pretty rough.

After a "quick" 2 1/2 hour layover, we had our long flight: Beijing to LA.  And it was just that... long.  Jordan had a few melt down moments but slept quite a bit and really did much better than we had expected he would.  Of course I can say that since Ryan, being "the chosen one", had him 3/4 of the time, including having to hold him through all of his naps.  I did a lot of walking up and down the aisles of the plane with Jordan, which resulted in two days of terrible motion sickness, but kept Jordan happy.  It also helped me make up some ground in "chosen" status and Jordan even let me feed him a bottle.

Just watching some Chinese Mickey Mouse to pass some time.

In LA we had to go through customs and stop in this room where Jordan was granted U.S. citizenship!

After a brutal 6 1/2 hour layover in LA, in which Ryan and I kept asking each other if the earth was shaking, or if it was just us, (you never know in California) we were so happy to finally make it to Salt Lake City!

This kid was a beautiful mess by the time we got home.

Still smiling 30 hours into the day.  The girls were amazing troupers.

I was dreading the car ride home.  It was Jordan's first time being restrained in a car seat.  And with him already not loving cars, I expected him to hate being stuck in a car seat, not in our arms.  Yes, if you didn't notice in earlier posts... no car seats in China, even if you wanted to, there are rarely seat belts to install them so we were told to leave the car seat at home.  It felt crazy at first, especially considering the wild Chinese driving, but after awhile we didn't even think about it.  Anyway, Jordan was completely chill in a car seat and has been on the few quick trips we've made since then.  Yay!

Watching the reunion of our children was one of the most joyous moments of my life.  The kids ran into each others arms and laughed and hugged and laughed some more.  The boys marveled over Jordan and the girls marveled over how much bigger the boys seemed after spending so much time with tiny Jordan.  I wish I would have thought to have the video camera ready.  I know my kids love each other, but they are typical kids and fight their fair share.  Apparently if we want to see this kind of love, we need to keep them apart more often.  Anyway, here is a picture of the "big brothers" with some of the gifts we brought them.  We told Enoch these were Chinese Opera masks and he belted "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!"  Haha... wrong kind of opera kid.

I was so ready to get home and start eating good food again (oh how we missed fresh produce!) but Jordan had a rough first night sleep and I was so exhausted and still motion sick, so when Maddie offered to make lunch for the kids for lunch the next day, I happily took her up on the offer, even if it was just Macaroni and Cheese.  And who would have guessed, Jordan likes Mac and Cheese?  Someone told me Asians don't like cheesy stuff.  This is not the case for Jordan.

Food is becoming an issue with Jordan.  At first I was amazed at how easily he put food in his mouth, unlike Mason.  But Jordan is getting trickier and trickier to feed.  He will eat, but is very particular about what food he will eat and when and how he will eat it.  He will NOT let me feed him anything other than his bottle.  I can't slip food in his mouth when he is distracted like I have always done with Mason.  And if he sees something he wants, the little stinker won't eat anything else until he gets what he wants and will toss what he does have overboard in hope of getting something else.  Even if he has a piece of banana in his hand, he will not eat it if he wants the banana in Enoch's hand.  Sometimes the problem is that I didn't give him the right amount of something.  If he wants more than the few raisins left on his tray, he won't eat any of them until he has more on his tray. Then he'll eat a few and then start tossing what he has for something new and most of the time it's a guessing game as to what that something new might be.  I get out multiple choices and rotate through asking what he wants for his next bite.  He'll act like he is completely done with one item, but after he gets three bites of something else, he'll be ready for it again.  We're getting better at communication with some signs, but meal times have been drawn out and frustrating because I know how important it is to get a child with Russell Silver Syndrome to eat enough and when I'm this tired, it's hard to be patient.  Finally, after reminding myself over and over that it will be okay and the more we get to know Jordan, the better we'll be able to understand what he wants, I've been able to relax some about his eating.  I mean, really, look at the picture above.  Two RSS kids sitting next to each other, actually putting food in their mouths... if you know anything about RSS, that is pretty amazing.  Mason has come such a long way, and he was much harder to feed than Jordan is now.  I need to remember that!

Upon inspecting our house when we got home, look what we found above our front door... a Swallow's Nest.  Does anyone remember the name of Jordan's most recent foster care organization?  That's right, the Swallow's Nest!!  Seriously!?  The swallows marked his new home.

The Swallows weren't the only ones making themselves at home on our porch.  Check out this impressive spiderweb that went up in our absence.  I think Charlotte herself might have spun it.

Our friends made an awesome welcome home poster, actually they made two.  (and my sweet sister's family heart attacked our garage as well)  Unfortunately, when the garage door opened, it tore them up.  I didn't get around to trying to take a picture until the next day.  Sadly, this was all that was left when I finally got a picture of our fun welcoming.  We were also greeted by groceries purchased by both our home teacher and my parents.  And my dear sister ran to the store for motion sickness medicine and more fruit that night.  It was so nice to not have to worry about running to the store early the next morning! 

Sadly, I've taken very few photos of Jordan's first few days at home.  We've had a lot of fun but have also been completely exhausted.  The first time Jordan went outside and played on the grass and his first time playing on the swing set, I was too tired to run upstairs for the camera.  I've missed a lot of pictures of him playing with and getting to know his siblings.  But my tired self is okay with that.  We have a lifetime to take more pictures, and for now, the fun memories will do.  In China, with the exception of a few nights, Jordan went to sleep fairly easily on his own.  At home, he has really been fighting it and sometimes waking up crying multiple times a night.  I think a combination of jet lag and teething are to blame.  Jet lag is hard no matter what, but it is so much harder to deal with when you are up in the night with a little one.  We're slowly working on getting this kid on a schedule suitable for this timezone and have made progress  He slept 10pm to 10am last night!  I thought I was making progress on getting past the jet lag yesterday so I let myself take a fantastic nap, but it totally backfired when I couldn't go to sleep until 5am... almost bedtime in China.  So I only got a couple hours of sleep before I had to get up to get the kids ready for school.  Ugh.  And on the night that Jordan slept so well!  But I can't complain too much because I at least get to hang out at home and just try to survive the day without sleep.  After only two days at home, Ryan had to go back to work as a teacher.  I've never tried to teach Jr. High School students while jet lagged, but I don't think it would go well if I attempted it.  I really feel for Ryan.

After days of putting off unpacking, in favor of trying to keep the house somewhat clean, the family fed, and playing with Jordan, I purposely left my suitcase open on my bed so I would have to unpack it before going to bed.  Luckily, Jordan climbed in and started to "help" me unpack it because otherwise I probably would have just put it back on the floor for another day, but once he got me started, I finally unpacked that suitcase.  I need to have him help me with those last two bags.  I couldn't ask for a cuter helper!

Jordan found Mason's favorite hiding spot!  He is having such a great time exploring his new home.  We all adore Jordan immensely... okay, maybe not Mason yet, but Mason was thrilled to know that he will never have to sleep in the port-a-crib again and appreciates Jordan for taking his spot as the baby of the family, but other than that, he hasn't paid much attention to Jordan.  The rest of us can't get enough of him.  Jordan is happy and chill pretty much all the time, with the exception of when it's time to sleep or when we can't read his mind at mealtime.  He is quickly settling into our family and now lets Ryan and I both share the "chosen one" status.  Jordan's smiles are contagious and he is generous with his giggles, kisses and affection.  I can't even begin to express how much fun he is and how much we love him.  Even though this transition has been exhausting, we are so very, very happy to have Jordan home!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

China: Day 15 Last Day In China!

This morning Ryan and the girls went to the Zoo with the rest of our travel group.  The weather looked like it might be dicy, so I stayed back with Jordan, intending to start packing for our trip home tomorrow.

The zoo got good ratings from Ryan and the girls.  They said it was large and beautiful and had a lot of fun animals.

After everyone else left for the zoo, while I was blow drying my hair, the power to our room went out.  Just then, housekeeping came by so I told them about the power and decided to take Jordan to breakfast while they cleaned and figured out the power situation.  When we got back from breakfast, the power was back on and Jordan and I played together for a while before I decided to try to finish blow drying my hair.  I don't know why I even try to dry my hair... in this humidity it goes frizzy in within minutes of walking outside and then I end up pulling it up into a ponytail anyway... I guess I just want to start every morning looking like I at least attempted to get ready for the day.  Once again the blow drier worked for a minute and then the power went out.  I called the hotel desk and they sent someone to check it out.  This time they sent a man up a ladder, into the ceiling, where they stayed until after Ryan and the girls got back from the zoo.  Apparently they needed a part that they didn't have and had to send someone out to buy, but the man with his legs hanging out of the ceiling stayed there until they came back with the part.  In the end, I didn't get much packing done.  The picture above is of Ryan, Jordan, and the legs of the man "fixing" our power.

Ryan thought it was silly, but I got a waving cat to take home.   Bargaining for it was half the fun.  The cute sales girl told me it cost more than the other cats in her shop because of the "bling".  I laughed and mimed to her that the "bling" aka "glued on glitter" wasn't worth much because you could just blow it off.  She thought that was hilarious.  Maybe because I still wanted the cat even though I knew it was cheaply made?  Or that I was calling her bluff?  I don't know but we both had a good laugh and I did NOT pay more for the cat with the bling.  The next day, when we were walking past her shop, she saw me and shouted out "BLING!" and we both laughed again...  it was our little inside joke :)

Getting our adoption certificate and Jordan's Visa from our fantastic Rep, Jason.  Thank you again for all of the prayers.  We are so thankful that we got the visa without a delay!! 

We said goodbye to those in our group that were leaving for Hong Kong today, then went out to eat with the remaining family that will be leaving with us in the morning.  We ended up eating at an Egyptian restaurant.  It was actually quite good and and fun experience.  

Maddie was feeling brave and ordered pigeon.  She said it was delicious.

Kaitlyn had a yummy shrimp pasta dish. 

 It was nice to have a break from both Chinese food and McDondalds, both of which we have had more than our fill of.  
On a side note, I have to say that I have been so very glad we were able to bring Maddie and Kaitlyn on this trip.  Overall they have been a huge help with Jordan, very patient while waiting around for us to do paperwork, or while Jordan is napping, and a lot of fun to be have along.  It makes me happy to know what amazing memories they'll have of our trip to China.

A picture of our current hotel... for one more night.  Not looking forward to being jet lagged all over again, but so excited to get home!!  That is if we survive our 28 hour journey home.  More prayers are welcome!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

China: Day 14 Consulate Appointment

We had a very early morning in order to get out the door in time for our Consulate Appointment this morning.  Jordan did really well.  I feel like every day we are together, he relaxes just a bit more.   Even though we felt ready to go home as soon as we got Jordan, I'm now grateful that he's better adjusted before our long flight home.  The consulate appointment itself was anticlimactic.  We took an oath as a group with several other adoptive families.  We were supposed to repeat after a man speaking through a speaker with worse sound quality than a drive through window.  So we all kind of mumbled though the parts we couldn't quite make out.  Then we got some of our paperwork back and Ryan was fingerprinted and we were done.  We should receive Jordan's visa tomorrow afternoon.

We weren't allowed to take our camera to the consulate, so no pictures from there, but here is a picture of the boys taking a quick nap afterwards.

 We had to wake Jordan up to go down to the lobby for group pictures. 

 One of the families in our group is missing because they are adopting two kids and had to be at a medical appointment for their second (amazingly beautiful) child.  I've been touched by the goodness of all of the families in our group.  They are all really amazing people.  

We attempted a baby only picture... 

Jordan may or may not have mauled sweet Mae next to him. didn't go so well.

We tried another... and again... unsuccessful.   

Later, Jordan let me feed him some noodles.  Mostly because Ryan wasn't in the room.  He won't let me give him his bottle anymore.  It has to be Ryan.  He also pulls away sometimes when I rub his little hand or try to hug him.  I know he likes me, he has fun with me, but seems to want me to understand that Ryan is his chosen comforter.  I had prepared myself for him to reject us for days or possibly weeks, but the fact that he did let me do those things and now won't makes my mama heart ache just a bit.  I have no doubt that in time he will understand that I'm his mama, not just another person taking care of him for the time being and that we will build a relationship.  In the meantime, I am grateful that he still lets me hold him and play with him.  We have had lots of great moments together.  

Oh, and this kids laugh needs to be bottled up.  I don't know how to describe it, it needs to be heard to understand how fantastic it is.  

Kaitlyn and Maddie's pen pal has already written them.  They've had fun writing short emails back and forth. 

Ryan and I keep talking about how ready we are to be home.  I've heard other adoptive families say to enjoy the trip while you can because it just gets harder when you're home.   I've been told how overwhelming the adjustment can be when you're still working on bonding with a new child but now have have to cook, clean, run errands and try to get back into a routine.  I keep trying to remind myself of that, and have really enjoyed our time here, but I'm ready to be home all the same.