Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Half the Sky Memory Book

Half the Sky has a Infant Nutrition Program that is a lot more then just food. They hire local women to be nannies or mother figures to 2-4 children but call themselves grandmas. This program is in place for children from birth to 2 years of age. It is designed to promote all areas of development, but with a strong emphasis on social-emotional development. Half the Sky believes that very young child should have at least one person they could trust to consistently meet their needs. This help the child build an attachment with at least one person. A Record the child’s development and a history of the child is written in a Memory Book for each child. Annalise’s Half the Sky Memory book is 23 pages long all hand written in Chinese. It is currently being translated. Here is a little peak into her life in Shenzhen. Thank you Half the Sky for everything you did for Annalise and for all you do for so many orphans you touch in China.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Walking down the hall to my room for the first time

First look in the Toy closet

I knew I bought this high chair for a reason

Falling asleep sitting up (first night home)

I love my Lau Lau

and my Pop Pop

Grandparents are the best

She looks like my Mom but she's my Aunt Linda

So good to be home

It’s sure good to be home to sleep in my own bed (boy are the beds hard at the White Swan Hotel). Annalise woke up the first 3 nights and I brought her into my bed and we slept together until morning. I think she slept but for me getting kicked just does not fit into my normal sleep patterns. This girl is a bed thrasher and I am afraid she is going to roll off when I’m asleep. She did roll off on day 3 when I put her down for a nap on my bed. That is the end of that. By day 4 she was sleeping through the night and waking up around 9:00 am way cool! My parents were here and it was a big help to have them around the house. Annalise is crazy about her Lau Lau (my mom) when she sees the photo album I sent to her in China she says Lau Lau. She also points to the computer now to see Lau Lau don’t you just love Skype. Annalise would crawl in to the computer if she could just to kiss her Lau Lau. It was wonderful to watch Annalise fall in love with her Lau Lau and Pop Pop that first week. Linda my sister and her son David came up at the need of the week. Annalise loves David and I can’t wait to get them back together. So Annalise did well with the jet lag but it was brutal on me. Not sleeping on the plane and then not getting a full night sleep for days when we got back just whacked me out. Will on the other hand was back to work the next day. I almost forgot to mention Will’s 2 brothers and a friend showed up for Hot August Nights a car show with 2 classic cars also the first week. Ya I was way whacked out! We are now into our 4th week home and have only had a few days without company and I now know why people say you need time once you get home. We are looking forward to things quieting down. Now that Labor Day is over. This little girl just cracks me up all the time she is very busy and loves all of her toys but still her favorite are the stacking blocks we bought for her Birthday in China. She is picking up more English every day and understands more and more. As for eating I have given up on the American baby food and have her on an Asian diet of rice porridge also known as conge, rice or rice noodles mixed with chicken, fish, beef, tofu and veggies. It’s just not worth the battle to get her to eat American style. It will come soon enough. Our other big challenge is getting her to walk on different surfaces like grass, sand, tanbark and dirt. She will have nothing to do with any of these and coils up like a snake when you get her close to them. But the good new is she is coming around faster then I would have expected but we still has a long way to go. As for mother and daughter we are bonding incredibly well. She definitely knows who her Mama is. I think she wanted a Mama more then anything in the world and she got one now. He eye contact is great and she loves to feed me and look me in the eye when she does. She will now let me hold her bottle or sippiy cup I have to give credit to Half the Sky for the incredible work they did with the getting her prepared for adoption. She was ready for me as much as I was ready for her. I love this little girl more then anything. She is my world and I am hers.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Trains Planes and Automobiles

Play Ground at the California Kids Club

Resting on th Subway

The subway through Shenzhen

One of the few moments she sat in her own seat

Air Bed

Yes she fits


Who said sleeping on a plane is easy

In imigration with the official Brown Folder (got yelled at for taking this picture : )

Welcome to the USA
After working all morning at the California Kids Club in Shenzhen evaluating some of there more difficult children and speaking to their parents it was time to head home and I mean home to the good old USA. Our flight was taking off from Guangzhou at 9:00 pm. Will tried to cut his finger off just minutes before we headed out the door on a kitchen knife opening a bag of crackers for Annalise. We did our best to clean it up bandage it and get our butts out to the taxi waiting to bring us to the subway station. It was a Friday afternoon and the subway was packed we felt like sardines as we when though the 14 stops that brought us to the Train Station in Shenzhen. Once we found our way to the train and got our tickets it was time to board. Annalise was a trooper up until that point and she wanted to get out of her stroller. I don't blame her. But you have to push your way anywhere in China. We were the last to get on the train because Annalise kicked of one of her shoes and Will ran back for it but they closed the gate with the shoe on the other side. (dang I liked those shoes) The train too was packed. I havd a nice conversation with a lady that only spoke Chinese. You can only imagine all the gestures we used. When we got to Guangzhou we had to find a taxi to get back to the White Swan the first guy I asked wanted 150 yen I told him he was high and walked away we stood in line for a taxi like everyone else and it was only 45 yen. When in China do as the Chinese. When we got to the White Swan we had 5 minutes to shuffle the bags I was stuffing things everywhere I could and the Bell Men were helping me try to close the bags. By this time we were only an hour behind schedule, not too bad for world travelers. We made it to the gate in time to change cloths. I had to go to the bathroom and could not fit Annalise and the stroller in the stall with me so I opened the door, faced her to me and squatted she was quite amazed to see a squatty potty in action. During all of this Will is yelling from outside the bathroom door that they were boarding. We just made it on. I felt like we should be home but the journey was just beginning. We got in bulkhead, which I highly recommend with a baby. China Southern has baby beds that hook to the wall they are for children from 1-4 months but I asked for it anyways. It was great to throw all my crap in. Annalise fell asleep in my arms and I put her in the wall bed and when she tried to roll over and woke up she freaked out so I held her again she wanted to lay down so I put her on the floor. She hated the humming so I put he back in the wall bed and she decided it was the best option and slept the rest of the way in the wall bed with her feet hanging out. However I could not sleep thinking she may come flying out of that bed any minute. I can’t sleep on planes anyways. We landed at LAX around 6:00 pm and Annalise’s first reaction was to shiver the minute we got off the plane. She was missing her blanket of humidity but Will and I were so happy to feel the dryer air. We had been instructed by our agency that there had been some difficulties at LAX and they gave us an additional letter just in case. But we did not need it as the official walked us to the new immigrant area he got all chocked up and congratulated us and welcomed Annalise to America it was a very special moment for both of us. I throw her up into the air touched her feet to the ground and gave her the biggest kiss. We had made it home well almost home. Elisabeth, Bridgette and Katie met us at the imigation gate and we when to a hotel for the night. The next morning we met Will’s daughter Heather and it was so wonderful to have the girls together. Annalise just loved Heather and even let her hold her. Then it was time for the last leg of the journey LAX to Reno. When we got to Reno my parents and good friend Jacqueline was waiting for us but for Annalise it was the middle of the night and all she wanted to do was sleep. Welcome to America now let me introduce you to you constriction device. After all of the traveling she had done in my arms now she was strapped into her car seat and screamed at the top of her lungs from Reno to Minden about an hours drive. I just sat next to her hand held her handand rubed her face. By the time she fell asleep she opened her eyes just in time to pull into the drive way we were home!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Finding Spot

On our way through Shenzhen

Annalise was found on this corner

View from across the street

A moment of prayer

What a big day!

We drove across town in the pouring rain to roadside #2 where a government building stands. It was a police station. There is a small medal fence around the grass. The rain was still coming down but I needed to get out and be there for myself. I bent down and said a prayer thanking God for saving Annalise and helping her find me so I could give her the love her parents to desperately wanted to give her. I felt closer to her birthparents then ever before. I know they loved her so much and wanted to help her and this was the only way they could, hand her over to the Government and hope that someone would save her and get her the medical care she so desperately needed. It was such a busy street and I can only think that they placed her somewhere in the grass on the inside of the fence to keep her safe. As we stood there Annalise pointed to the grass and it was like she knew that she had been there before. In the car on the way back we snuggled together with Lucy. This had been such a big day and a day I will never forget.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bye-Bye Shenzhen SWI

We will never forget those that are left behind and those that are to follow us home.

It was an incredible experience I am so glad we when to say good-bye you can read more about our visit below.

Shenzhen Orphanage Visit

I have to start off by saying that this visit was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. I was scared to bring Annalise back to the Orphanage. Afraid that she would reject me and want her Nanny more. That this could be traumatic for her. My insecurities were thick and I was having trouble sleeping thinking about our visit. But there was something even stronger inside of me that made me want to make this journey back to Shenzhen Social Welfare Institute with Annalise to say goodbye. Emily the director of the California Kids Club called for a driver and CCAI arranged for a Rep that lives in Shenzhen to accompany us as the translator. (CCAI ROCKS!) In the car on the way over I had Kathy our rep explain to Annalise in Mandarin that we were going back to say goodbye to her Nannies and her friends. That she was going to leave with Mama and live with Mama forever. That I was not going to leave her. She seemed to understand.

I recognized the building from the picture once we arrived. It is a 6-story building with 2 big entrances and a meadle fence all around and bars on all he windows quite the fortress. We weren't sure how to get in. I could see the court yard though the bars where Annalise’s referral picture was taken. Once we found the right door we went to the elevator. Annalise was pointing and gesturing to the play area just outside of the elevator. She wanted to go there and play. She knew exactly where she was. We went up to the 4th floor to an office were we asked to see and have the original note that was left with Annalise. There was much discussion in Mandarin and our rep said they did not want to give it to us. Annalise was very serious at this point and so was I. Our rep pressed them and said this is the only thing this child has from her birth birthparents and it belongs to her not in your file. They made a copy and brought me the original. I did not have a pocket to put it in so I folded it up and put it in my bra as close to my heart as it coud be.

The word was out that we were there and as the note as handed to me Annalise’s Grandma from Half the Sky came running down the hall. Annalise reached out to her and they both embraced I could see love they had for each other. Her Grandma was crying we were all crying but Annalise was all smiles. We all embraced and they asked me if they could bring her to the playroom where there were many more nannies that wanted to see her. Of course I said, and they carried her up the stairs to the 5th floor where she lived for the past 2 years. Nannies took their turn tossing her into the air and giving her big kisses and hugs. I wanted to honor this time and I just checked in with her but she was so happy and having loads of fun with all the attention. You could see how much they love the children in Shenzhen. This gave me time to look around and touch and kiss as many children as I could. The first child I came across was blind. I could tell from the minute I set my eyes on him. I picked him up and held him close and spoke to him softly. He settled down and did not want me to go. I asked about a little girl that I know her family is still waiting for her and they brought her to me. She is so beautiful and was not so sure what all he commotion was all about but very happy to be apart of it. I also asked about her best friend they told me about on Gotcha Day. It was a little boy they ran off and found him and brought him in. They put both of them on the floor and they leaned over and gave each other a big kiss on the lips not just one but three. Don’t be mistaken regarding his pink shirt he is a little boy. I broke out lollypops and the children were flocked to me. I took in all their little smiles and looks for attention. I wanted to take them all home and then Will busted out with the same feeling. The Nannies crushed up lollypops and were putting them into the baby’s mouths. I made my way around the playroom that had bright colors and lots of things hanging from the walls and the ceilings. My attention was on the children and trying to touch and see as many as I could.

But it was time to have Annalise come back to me. I walked up to her and her Grandma and said it was time and she did not want to come at first and her Grandma spoke to her and told her this is your Momma and you need to go with her. She fell into my arms and berried her head into my shoulder and cried. She would not look at her Grandmother again. I walked her around the playroom one more time and we waved goodbye and she stopped crying. I asked to see her bed. It was just a few doors down the hall. When we walked in a few of the Nannies tried to take her out of my arms but I would not let them. We walked up to her crib and I waved bye-bye but she did not wave until we got to the door and then she said bye-bye and blow everyone kisses. We had a very special moment and I promised to keep in touch with her Grandmather and give her pictures just like she did for me through the 23 page Have the Sky progress notes. During our final farewell Annalise was solom she touched her Grandma’s face but did not want back in her arms she knew I was her Momma and she was suppose to be with me. I carried her down the 5 flights of stairs and held her so tight as the tears streamed down my face.

We had a few parting photos and we were back in the car off to her findings spot. On the other side of town. I did not care where it was I was going to see it for myself.

Friday, August 15, 2008


She loves these staking blocks that she got for her Birthday. They provide loads of fun.