Chinese Weightlifting Team

We are now official members of the Chinese weightlifting team, being the smallest parents and having the heaviest of the children. But having said that, this is indeed a match made in heaven.

Li Zhong, NanchangDeb and I have decided that we are now official members of the Chinese weightlifting team. We seem to be competing in the flyweight division. We find it interesting that as the smallest people in this adoption group, we were matched with the heaviest of the children. By the end of each day, we are exhausted and every muscle in our arms, shoulders, and backs is incredibly sore. I’m still trying to figure out how to say “ibuprofen” in Mandarin… but having said that, I look at her and I see God’s hand in this match between her and us in so many ways. She’s beautiful and she’s perfect and we are so blessed to have her as part of our family. This is indeed a match made in heaven.

Evenings are still very hard on Li (and therefore on us). There clearly are some areas there where we hope things will smooth out over time. Other than that, we are all adjusting well. Li is eating, pooping, drinking well. She is much more active and extroverted now — her smile and her laugh just light up a room. (Those cheeks are so big, she has about 4 dimples on each side when she smiles!) She got a waiter in a restaurant in trouble yesterday at lunch because she was smiling and laughing at him so much that he just stopped and was playing with her until one of the older “aunties” working there came over and scolded him to get back to work. She’s cruising the furniture around the room now, too, which brings a whole new set of challenges since it is really hard to kid-proof a hotel room you are trying to live in.

Tang Weng Pavilion, NanchangWe visited Tang Weng pavilion yesterday morning and spent several hours just wandering the grounds and exploring the pavilion before sitting in on a musical performance with traditional Chinese dance, singing, and music. Li was enthralled, particularly by the dance. The pavilion dates back more than 1,400 year and it is amazing. The grounds are beautiful and Li seemed to particularly like the ponds and plants on the grounds surrounding the pavilion itself.

This morning involved a trip to Porcelain Street (the Jiangxi province is known for its porcelain) and a Chinese book store for a bit of shopping. It was pouring down rain this morning — something we haven’t seen since Monday — so we didn’t get to spend much time outside and it showed in Li’s demeanor this afternoon. She did take a bit of a nap early this afternoon which made for a much more pleasant dinner for all of us. As soon as we were back in the hotel room, she went into scream mode again until she just plain wore herself out, at which point she simply collapsed asleep in my arms.

Li Zhong and Deb, NanchangTomorrow morning, we leave Nanchang for Guangzhou, which makes me sad. Nanchang is an amazing city and it will always be a special place for all of us as this is where we got Li Zhong. It is a city of extremes: extreme poverty, extreme traffic, extremely bad air, extraordinary beauty, incredible history, incredible food, and the people here have been more open and friendly and curious and supportive that we would have thought possible. The looks on their faces when they find out why we have these girls is such a blend of excitement and joy. We will leave here with an incredible gift and with fond memories of this city and a strong resolve that we will come back to show Li this place that is now such a special place for all of us.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers; please keep them coming. We’ve got lots of travel ahead of us, more appointments with the governments on both sides of this particular equation, and we are all still definitely working through this process.

Wednesday Update

It’s Wednesday evening, and we’re all doing well. Li is an amazing, beautiful girl; China is an amazing place; Ian is an amazing big brother; and each day brings big changes.

Li Zhong and Deb - Nanchang, TuesdayEach day brings big steps. Monday was an early start, which was really hard after such a tough evening on Sunday (“gotcha day”). We had early appointments at three different government offices to get the paperwork started for Li Zhong’s travel visa and to finalize the adoption. She did great, however. She was up early on her own, which helped even if she wasn’t really rested. She ate well — she loves fruit (which helps in lots of ways, if you know what I mean!) and she loves riding in the bus. By the time we left the last set of appointments and got back to our hotel a little after noon, she was well past her point of no return and she went into meltdown mode as soon as we were back in our room. And the meltdown lasted pretty much until 9pm when she collapsed exhausted. A tough afternoon on all of us.

She did sleep most of the night, though, waking once to briefly take a bottle and then sleeping until almost 8am.

Tuesday was much more relaxing, with nothing specific planned in the morning other than a quick checkup with a doctor here in the hotel room — she is completely healthy. The doctor did comment with a laugh on her cheeks and her thighs (she is by far the heaviest of all of the girls in our group). Li Zhong and Ian - Nanchang, TuesdayThere’s a temple and pagoda with their entrance to the grounds about a block from our hotel, so we walked down there in the morning. Li seems to like being outside and the temple grounds are fenced, so they are much more peaceful than the bustling city around us. Lots to look at and see and she really did enjoy being out. Ian and I climbed to the top story of the pagoda (he got some pix I will post at some point) — imagine 10 stories of ladders to get to the top (and then back down)… an amazing view of the city around us.

In the afternoon, most of our group went to Peoples’ Park, a huge park here in Nanchang. Fish ponds, paths, lots and lots of people out enjoying a grey but not rainy day. Ian attracted quite a crowd while he was juggling his soccer ball, between being pretty good with the ball and being blond and blue-eyed. Our group attracted lots of attention with our bunch of girls. The people of China are amazing: they are so open and friendly and curious, and their reaction when they find out why we have these little girls is touching. They are so excited for these little girls, it is hard to explain.

The park has a pond where they will zip you inside an inflated ball about 2 meters in diameter and then send you out on the pond. You have to try to stand up in the ball and sort of run inside it to make the ball move around on the water. It is hilarious to watch. More photos of Ian coming on that one, too…

Again, Li just loved being outside and watching things going on around her…

Evening was tough again, though, as she started screaming pretty much as soon as we were back in the hotel and didn’t let up until she collapsed around 9pm. She did sleep pretty well, though, waking up around 4am when she drained two whole bottles in about two minutes, and then slept until about 7:30.

Li woke up pretty happy, had a bit to eat and drink and was content to sit on the bed playing and looking at books while we got ready to go eat breakfast — which is a huge change from the past couple of days where she has been very clingy, demanding to be constantly held (Deb and I refer to this as the Chinese weightlifting program, as we are both exhausted from this by the end of the day, as she is a solid 24 pounds and very strong!). Along with a couple other families, we caught taxis to go to a local market (Evelyn, our local rep, wrote out directions in Mandarin to give to the drivers to get us there and back again).  Traffic here is unbelievable — I will write more on that at some point, too — but we made it. The market is a huge building backed with little bitty stalls where people sell stuff. Again, the girls got lots of attention and the people were friendly, curious, and amazing in their reactions when they found out why we have them…

Li Zhong - Nanchang, WednesdayThe afternoon was very low key. Li was perfectly content again to sit on the bed and just play and is becoming much more verbal — both good signs. She is also much more willing to be held by any of the three of us, which is again a good sign (and a welcome relief for my aching arms and back!). She really did have a great day, she’s eating and drinking, pooping — all the things we love in babies. She’s smiling more, she’s ticklish, she gives kisses. The only bad part today was the pre-bed meltdown, which again was an hour of uninterrupted screaming…

Li is beautiful, strong, healthy, curious, becoming much more verbal, clearly becoming much more secure in her relationships with all three of us. She is also very strong willed, and each day so far she has clearly been happier. She is very attentive, and is very coordinated. And yes, those cheeks are every bit as big as they look in the pictures, maybe bigger — she has three sets of dimples.

Each day of this phase of our journey has shown big changes… and there’s more to come.

Nanchang

We made it to Nanchang. Grey and rainy. Grace will be here at 5pm. More to come…

We made it to Nanchang and to our hotel here. The hotel is very nice, much nicer and newer than our hotel in Hong Kong. Very low clouds, very grey, very rainy… and I’m very sure you don’t want to hear about the hotel. We have a meeting at 3pm with our group and our local agency rep, Evelyn, and then all of the babies in our group are being brought here to the hotel at 5pm. I’ll write more later.