Friday, October 28, 2016

Home

No one's social media account ever accurately portrays real life, and ours is no exception.

Here's the deal.  Madeleine comes from a really hard place.  She is not your typical 20 month old child who has always known the love of her parents and of a home.  She has likely had multiple caretakers and has probably never truly attached and bonded with anyone.  The concepts of warmth, love, and home are completely new to her.  Guys, she slept in a sterile room with nearly bare walls, cold tile floors, and with 15 cribs, each with only a thin mattress. She was one of 600 children in her orphanage.  Her caretakers did their best with the resources they had, but it's simply not the same.  While we have a happy child during the day, Madeleine's fears and anxiety clearly come out at night. This place, while better, is just not the same.  We knew nighttime would probably become difficult and while we certainly don't look for pity, we need you to all know where we are -- and where she is.

Before it gets too far gone, I'll call it -- we need some help.

First, even if we may not do a whole lot outside the house (and let's be honest, we never really did anyway), please don't let us become isolated.  Don't assume we're busy with Madeleine and don't need to stay engaged. We are busy and she will remain our priority, but we still need our friends and family.  Please send us texts, encouragement, prayers.

If you're willing, food would be of great help.  We're fighting jet lag, for starters.  We have a new toddler who probably needs 11-12 hours of sleep in addition to a daily nap.  While she gets a nap in, she's been averaging 4-6 hours of sleep every night - which means that mama and baba are getting even less.  This means there isn't a whole lot of energy to even think about meals or grocery shopping at this point.  So if you'd like to help, that would be a huge blessing to us.

And if you would like to stop by and see us, we'd love to introduce Madeleine to you.  But because we're trying to attach and bond with her, we do need your patience, understanding, and respect on a major rule: please let us parent her.  If she wants to be picked up, please redirect her to us.  If she needs a diaper change, please let us do it (and you're welcome).  If she wants food, even if it's just a little puff, please let us give it to her. If she needs a drink, let us give her the sippy cup.  This may sound a bit extreme, but we believe that over time, these small steps will allow her to attach to us as her parents, which will in turn make night time hopefully that much easier.

And one last thought...  I highlighted a few points above -- Madeleine's former sleeping situation and the fact that she lived with 600 other parent-less children.  I don't say this to get your pity for Madeleine.  I say this to spur you to action.  What can you do about this?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

China in photos

Now that we're home, I have more reliable internet, and I have my laptop, here are more China photos.  If you're on facebook, you've seen some of these already, but some are new.  Enjoy!

Getting ready to leave for China and this guy picked himself up some greasy Chinese-American food.  Yum.

Our hotel in Beijing.  It was...something.

Beijing

These were in every hotel room.  Really glad they didn't get any use.

Oh, the electric mess.

Beijing

Tienanmen Square overlooking the Forbidden City 

The Forbidden City.  Everyone always said you couldn't imagine how big it was and after looking at their pictures, I didn't see what the big deal was.  Turns out, pictures just don't do justice.  It just keeps going and going and going.  

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

So many people, we could only see inside by looking at CJ's pictures.



Forbidden City

Loved this little touch on most all of the buildings.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Still the Forbidden City.

Ride on a rickshaw.

This is a rickshaw.


There may have been several times during this ride where I held my breath and prayed we weren't going to hit a curb, tip over, or get wheels tangled.  This is a good example of one of those times.


Beijing

A self-confidence booster: when your rickshaw driver has to get out and push your cart.

Traditional hutong - housing where several apartment homes share a courtyard and bathroom.

Hutong

"This is what I've always wanted to tell you:  Flushing timely, you are the best."

We hiked up here to get a picture of the Forbidden City. This isn't fog, but it's smog and it was so thick we couldn't see anything.

We went to an acrobatic show.  Notice anything weird about the seat numbers?

Our first trip to McDonald's in Beijing.  It was rough.  I initially thought the touch screen ordering would be great for us, but it wasn't in English and we also learned that it wouldn't accept any of our credit cards.  Turns out no where in China would accept our credit cards.

Oh, Starbucks.

Tour of a cloisonne factory.  I'm pretty sure this was just for show, but it was cool to see the intricate work that these ladies do.



This cloisonne elephant cost USD $75,000.

Great Wall.  Again, this is smog, not fog.  We're still getting the smog out of our system.

I don't think the pictures really show just how high up we were.

 
I don't like hiking in general and I definitely didn't like hiking on uneven steps without a handrail.

CJ is hiking up to the top here.  This is where I kind of regret I didn't go all the way to the top, but if I hadn't, I would have missed out on my conversation with Han about Indiana (Jones), Disneyland, and how rich I was.

CJ's first train ride.  We took the bullet train from Beijing to Jinan, Shandong Province, where Madeleine is from.  I may not be a huge proponent for mass transit here, but I do love bullet trains everywhere else.


Jinan, Shandong Province.


When your branding is so good, I can spot it several stores away in another language.

"Bruschetta" from Papa John's.  It was great.

In a Friends episode shortly after the gang returns from London, they talk about Boddington's beer.  I thought it was made up and it's not!

Meeting Madeleine for the first time.  She came to us quietly and didn't cry, but would not make eye contact with us.  She has come leaps and bounds in the past few weeks, but eye contact can still be a struggle for us.




View from outside M's orphanage.  Isn't it beautiful there?

She fell asleep shortly after leaving the orphanage.  Even though she came quietly, you can tell by this photo that she was clearly stressed, and rightfully so.


After we got her back to the hotel, freshly bathed, and out of her multiple layers of clothes, we started to see a different little girl.

Black Tiger Spring - Jinan

Black Tiger Spring - Jinan

Black Tiger Spring - Jinan.  This was one of my favorite places in all of China.

Black Tiger Spring - Jinan

Black Tiger Spring - Jinan

CJ the Celebrity.

One person stepped up to take a photo and then a larger group formed.  During our time in Madeleine's province, we saw 3 westerners the entire 5 days.

It looks like they're talking, but CJ said the guy faked it, probably to tell his friends about how he spoke English to the American.

Black Tiger Spring - Jinan

Daming Lake - Jinan.  Also a very pretty place, but all those photos are on CJ's phone.  We also got followed around and our photo taken quite a bit here too.

Madeleine's passport.  Now that we're home and she's an American citizen, it's no longer good.

Thanks for the beach ball, Aunt Linda!

Watching tennis with baba.  It was too hot to wear the footie pajamas I packed for her (the AC only "cooled" to 75 degrees) and the only other pj bottoms were 1-2 sizes too large, so she spent quite a bit of time without pj pants....or pants in general.

Checking out her city.

A few days in, Madeleine started to cuddle a bit more with us.

Waiting to board our plane from Jinan to Guangzhou.


Madeleine loves take-off -- giggles, laughs, gets very excited.


Settled into our hotel in Guangzhou

Get your child's visa photo taken, get your child's medical exam taken care of, and then grab some wine on your way out!

Madeleine's medical exam.  This was a requirement for her US immigrant visa.  There are four stations, but as she is under 2, she didn't have to do the TB test.  They basically took her measurements and then she visited an ENT and general practitioner.  The report was sealed and the US government now has it, so no idea what they ended up writing (and it was in Chinese anyway).


My biggest disappointment was that we didn't have the opportunity to go to Walmart.  We went to another grocery/department store instead.  I think there were 4 floors full of clothes, workout equipment, Halloween decorations, and groceries.  It was crazy.

Pink explosion.  By this time in the trip, clean clothes were a premium, so we were doing a lot of re-wearing and mixing and matching.

Um, guys? I'd like these pigs off my feet.

Skyping with Aunt Megan.

We love her and like her.

Sunday we visited Shamian Island in Guangzhou for some shopping.  This statue is typical for adoptive families to stop for a photo with their child in this same spot.  Madeleine was not into it.

Guangzhou from Shamian Island

Remember I nicknamed our trip The Whiteheads Sweat Their Way Through China?  This was the breaking point.  At 9 am, CJ had already sweated through his shirt.  Madeleine was hot and sticky and I was too.  It was probably 90 degrees with more than 90% humidity in Guangzhou and I didn't pack appropriately.

These people doing exercises on Shamian Island, not sweating.

She wasn't sweating either.

We stopped at the pearl market.  It was my intention to buy myself a strand of pearls and to buy Madeleine a set for when she is older.  It was so overwhelming.  There were 2 buildings, each about 2 blocks long with 5 floors full of beads -- pearls, jade, and others.  I managed to buy myself a strand of pearls and some jade bracelets.  I'm telling myself they're real.

First time swimming!


'Merica!  This was on our way back from the US Consulate appointment.  Cameras aren't allowed inside, so this is the best I could get.

I think we ate McDonald's every day for lunch in Guangzhou. I'm definitely over McDonald's for the next few years, but I did appreciate this little quirk -- their to-go drinks come in these little bags.

Dinner at a Muslim Chinese restaurant.  Two entrees, an order of onion bread, and two Cokes cost us $6.50 USD!

McDonald's delivers in China.

Not sure what this was.

That mobi wrap is great for naps.

Fried chicken at McDonald's. My first thought was how great it was...and then that it was the spiciest thing I've ever eaten in my life.

Loaded down, leaving Guangzhou.

Tuesday night, we left China for Hong Kong.  After not seeing the sun much for two weeks, this was a welcome, beautiful sight.

Spinning in the chair while we waited for room service.

The newest American citizen!