The A Team!

The A Team!
Aaron, Amanda, Adrian, Adam, Asa, Aidan and Ava
"Most people don't know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don't get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life." ~ Brian Andreas

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Final days in China!

I'm finally getting to wrapping up our trip in China with a few pics. Mostly of us killing time, and just goofin' off in the hotel in Hefei City and then on Shamian island in Guangzhou.

Trying to get as close as we can to the fish, while not falling in.

Playing with friends.

Figuring out what Amara will eat. Conclusion: Not much.

Mama's breakfast. Yum! Adrian was not happy with my selection of breakfast food every morning. But I couldn't take the strange knock-off American food. When you're in China you eat Chinese. And boy was this delicious!

Finding my much needed Zen at the top of Hefei City.

Amara is wondering how she lucked out to have such a cool big brother!

Leave it to him to find a nice girl in every city...

Such a Romeo.

Flashback to Ava who also did not like these little people. For Ava, I used my ring to lure her into the line. With Amara I used a cheerio. But it didn't last long. Run in and get out!

Dancing around the hotel room! Why yes, we were losing our minds. Living out of a hotel room will do that to you!

Chillin', eating ice-cream and getting to know her reflection! Or maybe she's going to make a break for it as soon as that door opens up...

Shopping for pearls. Yes, she's begging with her eyes. "Adrian- please free me!, this woman may never stop..."

Drinking tea with our guide, Ann.

Yep. And there he goes again... 

Eating cuddlefish- Adrian loved the food. The stranger- the better!

Here you can see that Amara had a few mosquito bites over her left eye that swelled up and looked horrible. Everywhere we went women pointed, questioned it and looked at me with a raised eyebrow and puckered lips in judgment for allowing it to happen to her...Truly I didn't see it happen people! They attacked while we slept! They each had a suggestion for prevention and treatment for our guide to translate to me. Our guide gave us tiger balm to put on it. Which only burned it more and made it look much worse. Ahh, yes, they joy of being a mom under a microscope in a different culture. Good times ;-) 

US Consulate Appointment Day! Let's hear it for the red, white and blue! One more thing to check off the list!

Our view from our Hong Kong airport hotel. We were finally going home!!!

Hong Kong from above. Next stop, New Jersey and US Citizenship!

Thumbs up! Sweet baby did such a good job staying in her seat for 15 hours! I was skeptical about whether she could do it but she was a trooper and took it in stride! 

And then we were home! Amara Forbes was going to meet the rest of her family. Time for the real fun to begin!!  :-)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm still here...

Many times I've followed blogs that suddenly stop with posts like "We are on our way to China!" or "Tomorrow is gotcha day!" and boom. Nothing. No more posts. I hang on, checking every day, wondering how their travel went, what their child's reaction was upon meeting their new family, how was the adjustment? And nothing comes. Eventually you stop checking, but always wondering if everything was going ok. Hoping it was.

I've become one of those moms. And I can speak from experience. One of those reasons, at least in my case, for just stopping is that it just became too H.A.R.D. Hard. My friends, both online and in real life, keep checking in wondering if everything is ok. And it is. I'm just working really, really hard to make it all work. I have had to dig really deep, going into myself to find the energy for all of the new emotions as well as just plain old daily life of going to work and trying to make life good at home for my husband and children, while not losing myself in the process. It isn't easy. And frankly this isn't stuff I've felt good enough about writing about on my blog. Thank you friends for checking on me and pulling me out of myself. Reminding me I'm not alone.

Amara is precious and beautiful, and we love her dearly and in line with her tenacious and mischevious personality she literally never stops. She is like a little energizer bunny. And so I never stop. Never. So since becoming a mom of six, one of which is the aforementioned bunny, I'm mourning the free time I once had (albeit limited). I'm mourning the clean house I used to achieve (albeit short-lived). And I'm mourning kids going to bed without two hours of convincing (one hour was plenty). Basically I'm mourning the semi-control I've since lost completely. My sweet Amara is mourning so much more- her "family" in China, her predictable schedule and the only home she ever knew. And yet at the same time, despite the turmoil, we undoubtedly are growing closer; finding joy in one another; calmly rejoicing in the amazing process of getting to know and love each other as family. Gradually we are coming to the knowledge that all of this mourning and trying to cling to control is temporary for both of us and we will come through the other side richer. We just need patience. We are simply still waiting for the dust to settle.

And so with that I also know I need to start blogging again. It helps me to be present in the joyous times. The times that far outweigh the rough ones. To remember what I should be grateful for. And to document my view of our life together for my kids. We haven't chosen the easy path, but it is an honest and rewarding one. And so I will, beginning with the remainder of our trip in China with my wonderful eldest son Adrian (whom I'm so appreciative to for sharing this experience with me-and supporting me in China- thank you Adrian with all my heart and soul- you are truly special) and my beautiful new daughter, Amara.

Great Wall- July 30, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Introducing the newest member of our family..

Amara Grace Yuhe Forbes!

Yes, I finally named this child! Even upon being presented with the form where I had to write her name on Monday I still hadn't decided. There were a few bouncing around my head and when they placed the form in front of me I panicked, counted to three, and when I put the pen to the paper it just flowed and this is what I wrote. I was waiting for a sign of some sort all along and in the end it was letting the decision go that made it perfect for me and her. It fits her. And Amara means unfading and eternal. Given everything she has been through I think Amara Grace is very fitting. And very mighty!

Monday we went to the Civil Affairs office where all of the other families (I think there were 7 of us total!) met their children that day. I came in later because her orphanage director's train was delayed. It was beautiful to watch all of the other families get to know their children. Amara watched quietly and then the wait got to be too much and she cried for about an hour and a half after the families left. We had arrived in Hefei at midnight the night before so the poor baby was exhausted.

Our guide, Ann (who has been amazing!) was very calm and sweet and tried to distract her and make her happy by reading her book to her. Nothing worked until the director came in and she was instantly quiet and moved over to him. Men seem to calm her. From what I have been told this is normal because she feels she is being disloyal to her "mama" (or nanny) if she allows me or any woman to take care of her. He made her so calm, in fact, that she fell asleep on a chair. Standing up.

We went back to the hotel after this and we all took a much needed 5 hour nap!

Amara officially became a part of the Forbes clan as of yesterday morning! Yesterday she and I also had to travel back to her birth city Huainan City to verify her identity with the local police station and apply for her passport there. Hers is one of only two cities in Anhui province that requires this extra step. With travel it took us 7 hours. We got back at 8 pm last night and crashed hard. Adrian decided to stay at the hotel as he hasn't felt well for a few days. He is starting to feel better now though! But still may be suffering from a case of culture shock... We have been nonstop for a week now and today is a free day for all of us. It feels great to relax. We did some swimming in the kid pool earlier and she loved it. A bit timid at first but by the end she was very relaxed and happy. And I daresay, even showing off a bit!

It is very hot here, in the 90s and oppressively humid. Except for the adoption stuff we are choosing to stick around the hotel. The Hefei Hilton is a very nice hotel and the staff speaks English well. I am hoping to visit Love Without Boundaries Anhui Healing Home tomorrow if it works out and Amara is having a good day. We fly to Guangzhou on Friday. I'm looking forward to the Victory Hotel and Shamian Island.

I'm happy to report that Amara is doing much better with me! She is asking to be picked up, will hug and kiss me if asked, and will hold my hand easily. She doesn't shake her head no to everything I say and will even look at me now when I speak to her. She loves to say "ni hao" to everyone she passes but if they engage in conversation with her she will look to make sure I'm right there. With her becoming more comfortable also comes some testing behaviors. Normal toddler stuff but we are working on being on the same page. I'm not sure but I'm sensing she may have been a little bit spoiled :-) She is starting to get a cold so that might make things a little more difficult in the next few days.  She does sleep soundly through the night which has been a great gift that I hope continues when we get home. But when she has had a good night's sleep watch out! 'Cause this girl runs circles around us. She eats like a bird and only likes fruit and dry corn flakes, and of course, cookies ;-) I've got to find a way to get some weight on this girl! She is tiny! I'm hoping Ava will give her some lessons on how to eat!

Until we post again! 

Will catch up on final days of Beijing and our Great Wall Trip later!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

We have YuHe!

We began our 2 hour trip to the edge of Beijing where the New Hope Foster Home is located.  When we walked in the door YuHe came running to greet us, grabbed our maple button cookies and then off she went to give each child and nanny one.  She knows the cookie routine!

Sharing cookies with me and Adrian!

She never really directly acknowledged me though and every question I asked was an emphatic shake of the head "no" response. She was not happy standing next to me for a picture here, as you can see... :-)

Her nannies told her why I was there and when I asked if she understood they told me that she routinely went on rides with the visitors so she was excited to go for a ride. Just be prepared, because she does get car sick. Ah yes, another one with car sickness.  So glad for the heads up on that one! But I was sad because I knew that we weren't just going for a ride. I was taking her from this place that she obviously loves and from the people who have loved her for all but 4 months of her life. I know it is all part of the process, that she couldn't stay there forever, but it was very sad for me.

I got to meet her preschool teacher who gave me a lovely alphabet book she had been working on with little YuHe feet and hand stamps. It is so beautiful and you can tell they worked very hard on it. She told me she did know both English and Mandarin and she knows some basic signs. She knows her ABCs and loves to sing "If you're happy and you know it" and especially loves to shout out the "hooray". We met some of the other children and gave beautiful Jenny her care package from her mom. New Hope is an amazing home and I felt so welcome and a general feeling of happiness there. YuHe is so lucky to have lived there.

And YuHe was the star. Showing off, being a ham and flashing a big grin to all of her caregivers.

When we headed out the door YuHe grabbed my hand and we walked down the walkway together to the car. I was so pleased that things seemed to be going so smoothly. No kicking or screaming. We got in the car and she sat in my lap, crossed her little feet and laid back comfortably. But again, she thinks she's going for a ride and she will be back...

We drove back into the city and she yelled hello out the window to people, waving happily. Yet, every time I talked to her or asked her a question she shook her head no :-)  

We stopped for lunch and she insisted on having a little bit of everything and then soaking it in water on her plate. Angela thinks that she may have added water to her rice and other foods. I'm not going to push her but I tell ya, I really hope she grows out of this habit soon. Ugh, her plate was disgusting and ultimately she didn't eat all that much so it just ended up grossing me out the whole meal. While waiting for the food she kept herself busy folding napkins and...

get this.. when we first got in the car she saw me tuck a plastic bag (umm, you know, the just in case of car sickness bag) under my thigh so it wouldn't fly out of the car. So look at where she was tucking her napkins!

I know, right?! A small victory for this mama- she DOES see me! She's even copying me! Yayy!

She ended up on Adrian's lap back in the car, not sure how that happened..., I'm trying to be her primary caregiver so we can bond... but I lost focus and it really was so cute how she asked to sit on his lap and he put his hands out and she climbed right in. He put his hands around her feet and she laid back and promptly fell right asleep. It was such a precious sight.

When we got back to the room she was all smiles- mostly with Adrian- but continued with shaking her head no every time I spoke to her. 

Then bed time came and yes friends, it was total and complete meltdown. She grieved. And hard. She cried for an hour and a half. Deep sobs from the center of her. She cried "mama" over and over. Her nannies are her "mamas". Right now, I am the imposter. Ugh. I had heard about this kind of grief but I hadn't experienced it before. Ava had a couple of quick cries after we picked her up from the orphanage but nothing like this. This is the difference between an orphanage and a foster home. And while New Hope is sort of a mixture of both she definitely bonded with her nannies and they were like her foster mamas. So I held her and eventually got her ready for bed and Adrian distracted her enough to stop crying. She watched me from the bed as I typed this. Quiet and thoughtful as she drifted off peacefully into sleep.

So while she doesn't particularly like me right now I'm going to dig deep, try not to let it show that I'm really, really bothered by it and fake it until I make it. Let's hope it is a quick process and she determines that I'm not all that bad...because I think she is pretty amazing! Just wait until you meet this kid- when they said she was a pistol they were not joking! She is going to keep us on our toes, that's for sure! And she had Adrian and I at ni hao!

Tomorrow is the Great Wall and the train to Hefei!!