Friday, February 18, 2005

T Plus 48 Hours: All systems nominal, mostly

It is just now 48 hours since Dada was placed in our arms. It's been a busy couple of days, with everyone adjusting to a new situation, more paperwork to do, and lots of things to buy.

I know everyone is eager for more news but we've been very busy and not getting as much sleep as we might like so y'all will just have to be patient. I'm writing this during a quiet period while we try to have some nap time while the Grans are out shopping and running errands.

First I must say that having the grandparents with us is a great blessing. They are making everything so much easier for us and for the other families. We have an embarrassment of riches and we're trying to spread the wealth where we can. I watch the other families who are here on their own and it's clearly harder for them. Part of it is having wisdom and advice close to hand, part of it is having help with mundane chores, like getting the laundry done or hunting down Chinese baby bottles, and part of it is just having family around to laugh and cry and help make a family. It think of John Ruebke here by himself to get Kelly and I marvel at his bravery and strength.

Dada is doing ok. We had to take her to the clinic today to address her constipation--she had not yet to pooped at all by the time we got back from this morning's shopping for baby trip, so we went to the clinic here in the White Swan. The doctor, who was very kind and very good with babies examined her and the nurse gave her a little baby enema and we had a very trying but successful resolution. It was especially hard for Mama. She also has a mild repiratory infection--no fever but inflamed tonsils--and a mild case of scabies. We got some medicine for all these things. Dada is pretty sleepy from the benedryl (for the scratching) but seems to be comfortable.

Breakfast with Baby

Yesterday was a very busy day. We had to spend the morning back at the adoption office doing the final paperwork, which involved the checking of passports, the taking of the official family photo, and the answering of questions posed by various officials. It all went smoothly enough but involved a lot of hanging about waiting to be called. We were in the last pair of families to be called, probably because we had one of the calmest babies. We got to see the Orphanage Lady again and ask her a few more questions. Finally we got through the question and answer process and got our official certificate of adoption, which meant that Yu-da Amelia was now really and truly ours.

The back on the bus and off to the police station to apply for baby's passport. This was mostly an exercise in standing in line in a very businesslike and imposing room with severely-uniformed officers behind counters talking to people. We stood around for about 20 minutes and finally got the chance to hand over our paperwork to the nice officer. She looked like she could have stepped out of a manga comic--very stylish hair, compact, pretty face, and almost stylized black and grey police uniform. She was very nice. We had to sort of prop Dada up (she was still sleeping) so we could take her picture with this little Web cam. Then back on the bus to go back to the hotel (finally).

We had a good but expensive lunch in the hotel then up to the room to make more formula, sort out laundry, take naps, and try to have Baby's First Bath.

This did not go smoothly. I think we made the mistake of trying to bathe her before feeding her but in any case she was not having any of it. So we gave up on the bath and had a nice family snuggle and nap. We were all wrapped up in our White Swan bathrobes and fluffy white bath towels so that we looked like some sort of laundry detergent commercial.

When we got to our rooms after lunch we discovered that Housekeeping had delivered our "Going Home" Barbies. These are special barbies made just for the White Swan and given to all members of adoption tour parties. This means that we got three among the five of us, one for each room. This was very cool because these came out after Brianna and Kelly were adopted and they really wanted one, but they aren't for sale (except possibly on eBay). We have worked it out that Granpa Bill is giving his Barbie to Dada, Dada is giving her (now extra) Barbie to Kelly, and GranJudy is giving her Barbie to Brianna. This makes us very happy.

After our nap we went out for a little walk in the now chilly air. Over the course of the day an unseasonably cold weather system had moved in and it was definitely jacket weather (it had been about 75 and humid the day we arrived). Dada likes walking around in the sling. We wandered over to this little chop shop that Bill had found in an earlier wandering (a chop shop being a shop where they make the little name stamps, or "chops", not a place that parts out stolen cars {although I'm sure there are plenty of those in Guangzhou as well}). We ordered a chop for Dada (to be given at some later date, such as when she starts school) and then wandered back to Lucy's Bar and Grill to get a drink and wait for the mom's, who were out doing stuff but knew to look for us there.

We had a pleasant dinner and then back to the hotel for an early evening. Neither of us had gotten a full night's sleep (even though Dada did). We kept waking up to make sure she was still breathing. So we were pretty exhausted by the time 9:00 p.m. rolled around. Julie was able to stay up long enough to give Dada her ten o'clock bottle, but after I got Bill set up with the computer so he could (finally) review the gotcha day video, I came back to the room and pretty much passed out.

We are starting to appreciate the value of having a mixed marriage (night person and morning person).

Last night was a little better--we slept a bit more soundly. Dada woke up about 2:30 and I walked her a bit and then we were all back to sleep. No crying particularly, just wanting a little attention.

We had a relatively easy and relaxed morning as the shopping for baby trip was not until 9:45.

Bill and I got to spend some time playing with the video. We took a stab at putting together the gotcha video for the Cunningham family. The Cunninghams are Jan, single mother, and her parents. They had brought a video camera but she discovered that her father just couldn't hold it steady enough. So we had said we would try to get their gotcha moment. Bill did a great job and I'm sure they'll be very happy with the result. As it happens Bill was able to capture the key moments for many of the families. The video went together really quick and we even had time to put in a title screen and do some fades. Looks really good, even for raw footage. Now the challenge will be distributing the videos as they are too big to fit on a single CD-ROM, which is all I have the equipment to write here in China. When we get home I can burn DVDs.

Shopping was fun--I strolled around with the baby in the sling while Julie and the mom's bought stuff as fast as they could. Bill went off on his own to video the shopping area we were in--turns out that Guangzhou has all these life-size bronze statues of people in everyday activities scattered about.

After a bit I took Dada out onto the street to wander around and show off the baby. I found a food stall selling all sorts of interesting things on sticks, including tiny little birds (about the size of a doll-house turkey), clams, and tentacles. I bought some tentacles, which were really tasty, being covered with some kind of yummy sauce. I started to realize that I'm probably the only member of the adoption tour party who would buy and eat tentacles on a stick when it wasn't on a dare. But I like squid and octopus, so I mean really. But it did make me start to appreciate just how different I am from our fellow travelers. More for me, that's what I say.

We finally got back on the bus and, after a detour to a big drug store for formula just like they used in the Guangzhou orphanage, back to the hotel, where we took Dada straight to the clinic.

This evening will be a group dinner at a local Thai restaurant, which is advertised as one of the best Thai restaurants anywhere. We'll see.

As for paperwork, for now we wait. It will take five days to get Dada's Chinese passport and only then do we do the U.S. paperwork. So we'll have a few days to just kick around Guangzhou and hopefully get a bit better rested.

Tommorrow we have a 1/2 day sightseeing trip and then who knows what the day will bring us.

Also, I'm trying to get all the pictures up on Ofoto but the sheer volume seems to be causing some problems. For some reason, my priorities seem to have changed from a week ago....


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