Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baked Beans and Bug Bites

First, Eli had open house at school this week. He and Sidney are posing in the loft in the 2nd grade classroom. She made herself quite at home in the classroom and seemed to enjoy being around all the big kids.

We celebrated 2 months home last week and our first visit from a caseworker. This is required after one month, six months, and 12 months. Our caseworker was longwinded and blessed us with a three hour visit which could have been condensed into 1 ½ hours. I did not care, because it was so great to have a “post placement visit” versus simply updating our information while waiting.

Sidney was her normal hammish self despite receiving 3 wasp bites on her hand a couple of hours prior to the visit. To top it off, it happened inside our house. I ran out to deliver trash to the garbage can where I watched her peeking at mommy through the deck door. As I came in, her smile turned to hysterical crying. First aid came in the form of frozen hash browns. Part of Daddy’s previous bad eating habits. She allowed me to take care of her and comfort her which is a huge step. After about an hour and a dose of Benadryl, she started playing again. Her hand was hot on and off all night but she is frolicking around two days later like nothing happened. It was swollen until about Saturday.

My parents came for a visit this afternoon; delivering photos of my beautiful new nephew Fin. I loved looking at the pictures. Obviously, during this stage, it would be quite difficult to drive to Madison and back for the day with Sidney who has limited long trip experience in the car. We will go to the Twin Cities for an early family Christmas in October; however we will spend two nights in our hotel. It is strange, but when she is with us as a family she is fine. As soon as we step outside of our normal routine, she tends to get a bit stressed and fussy. This takes longer to occur than it used to when we had additional people visiting the house.

We learned how far Sidney has progressed in this short time. My parents came for a visit, looked at MORE photos of China which I was more than willing to show off, and stayed for a meal. It was not until the very last portion of the visit that she started to wind up. As soon as my parents stepped out the door, the fussing stopped instantly. She relies on consistency. Understand the environment which she came from gave her no choices and was basically a regimented routine. Sidney is learning to just “be.”

As I looked at her photos from China with my parents we were again reminded of how much her hair has grown in from scratched off and wispy to thick, soft, and shiny. It will certainly make some of the most adorable pony tails when it is long enough. Amazing what a little nutrition in your diet will do for hair growth. Her skin has cleared completely. I also notice the joy on her face. Gone is the sober looking face and instead is the face of a happy 18 month old. When we smiled at her across the room before the smile was not reciprocated. The smile is definitely reciprocated now and sometimes we even get a big WET kiss! She is also leaning in and holding her arms out to hug her brother. Eli would never admit it, but his usual response is AAAWWWW!

Her diet is also steadily becoming more. She loves her dad’s baked beans and cannot eat enough dry cereal. I said tonight at dinner, she is the only person in the family who really needs bacon in their baked beans, as I ate bacon in the beans for the first time this year.

We continue to enjoy time as a family and try not to think too much about the medical procedures we have coming in the future for her fused fingers. I have decided I do not want to remember her first few months home as me stewing around (something we all know I am good at!) about something that is out of my control!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thank You Senator Grassley!

Today was very exciting! Sidney was officially a citizen when she went through immigration in Chicago; however we were waiting for the official Certificate of Citizenship to move forward with her social security number, an Iowa birth certificate, and several other items. We traveled in a group of 24 and were the last family to receive the document. When making calls I found out her information was in the system but had yet to be uploaded and printed. I thought this was ridiculous but at this point, I said wait a few days. After all, we were dealing with the United States government. After a few days had passed still nothing. I decided it was necessary to contact Senator Grassley’s office. I am elated I made a phone call. I called the Waterloo office and faxed in information on Wednesday. By this morning, or Friday, the Fed Ex man was knocking by 9am.

A 2 cm lift was placed in a pair of tennis shoes for Sidney. Tom and I are blown away at how quickly she was able to learn to maneuver with the added height. In fact, she is walking much faster without the added chore of walking with the longer of her two legs bent, to accommodate the shorter leg. She is ready to put them back on immediately if they are taken off for any reason.

Sidney wears an infant 2 on the left foot and an infant 4 on the right. Again, we think she will grow up to be quite small and petite like many of the Hunanese we saw in her province. Hunanese people appeared to be much smaller and petite than those we saw in the northern part of China, in Beijing. Many women were equal my height at 5’9 1/2 or taller, in Beijing.

Though all this, Sidney continues to thrive. I am learning a girl is much calmer than a boy. Equally curious and into everything, but she sits for a few minutes consecutively. She is still totally enthralled by the cat, and the cat is putting up with her. She has learned that pet does not mean pull.
Tom and Eli are off for a hunting expedition. Tom is an avid duck hunter, and so is Tom’s dad however I think my dad will be joining them for this particular outing. During fall months, my only requirement is that he does not wake me or any sleeping children.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This week was the first time Sidney has left Tom or I for any period of time. For those outside of the adoption world, this is a good idea, to aide in the bonding process. Tom and I make a point of giving one another frequent breaks. I could tell it was a good time for us to have an outing and for her to have time on her own. I am a stay-at-home mom, so it was beneficial for both of us. MOPS was starting this week.

Everything went well dropping her off in the assigned area of the same buidling just around the corner, so this was a great way to see her reaction. I chatted and had coffee with fun women from my group. As time went on, I became growingly curious about how she was doing. Finally at the end of the meeting, one of the childcare people approached me. It seems they had been looking for me for quite a while. What was I doing? Looking at the security camera by the restroom attempting to spying my child and trying to be inconspicuous. So much for that idea!

When I finally came in the room, she gave me the same deer in headlights look that I witness when she is in a new situation. She was great until the end, so I was perplexed and feeling a bit guilty. Turns out she was hungry. I handed her something to eat. Fish crackers were not enough for our little wolverine, and she was only hungry.

We are waiting for Sidney's Certificate of Citizenship. As I told my good friend Jill, discussing our entry into immigration in Chicago, the two words Chicago and immigration officer sound like an oxymoron. After 4 phone calls to the USCIS and getting someone on the line who knew his head from his @#%*$, I got somewhere. It seems our precious little file has not been uploaded by the proper people that be, so we will continue to wait a few more days. I have discussed this with our agency who feels they are doing their job and we should see something. The knowledgeable rep said they have only had the file a short time. Enjoy the photo, Sidney cashed out on the floor playing. Eli and I were making cookies for my Sunday School class, and we turned around to find this!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Unwrapping the Layers of Our Daughter

My mom made a great analogy. She said watching Sidney is like unwrapping a gift layer by layer. We have watched her go from a child who barely uttered a sound during the first two days in Changsha, to learning she is not only developmentally on target but a total ham.

We recently developed a roll of film from a disposable camera from the orphanage. I mailed a package before we traveled. Only last week did I have the courage to finally see what it revealed. I was pleasantly surprised. To someone not versed in international adoption and the conditions of an orphanage, I am certain the building looks quite stark. To someone who has read and heard a lot from other families, her orphanage was clean, well lit, and had new toys. A new facility was built sometime during her 15 months in the orphanage, so we are not sure of what the conditions were prior to her moving into the new facility. We were disappointed not to receive photos of her caretakers who spent so many hours taking care of her, but I know someone took the time to fill the film and get down at her level to take close-ups in several different places in a play room.

We also have a photo of her crib with its small bamboo mat. We know this is cultural and does not reflect on her care. I wonder if they have better lower lumbar health. Her crib was quite shallow. This might be wishful thinking, but when we were in Changsha, she slept in an identical crib. I was constantly on guard watching her stand up and making sure she did not bail over the side. Is this a sign she spent a little less time in the crib? Wishful thinking, I know but a small shred of hope. The photo also reveals a child in the crib next to Sidney’s with an obvious developmental delay. As I look at Sidney bound around our home, I wonder what will become of this child.

In the photos I saw the expression of a girl which was in stark contrast to the smiling happy child we now see. Though the conditions of her orphanage were good, the love is not available with too many children and too few hands to hold, rock, and love. There is not a hint of a smile on her face, and only now have we begun to see the true joy which marks the face of a child. She received necessary care to sustain life and bonded with the children around her.
We have hope that she was part of the Half the Sky program which donates needed items. We saw beautiful toys that we are certain must have been part of this program. I plan on submitting paperwork to the nonprofit to find out if they have growth reports on Sidney. This will take several months but will continue to unwrap another layer.

A quick update on Sidney’s medical information. We gave a great pair of New Balance to an orthopedic office in Waterloo. A 2 cm lift will go in the shoe until her appointment in 10 months for the full 4 cm. Again, we see the hand surgeon in November.