Last Day in Guangzhou...and China

We just wrapped our last day in China. We had a relaxing time without anything on the itinerary. A late breakfast and walk through the park and koi pond at the hotel made for a peaceful morning. We spent the afternoon packing...which was so much less stressful than packing prior to the trip. This evening we had one last dinner with our travel group from Great Wall. What an amazing bunch of families and we will miss seeing them every day. 

Tomorrow morning we leave for the airport at the ridiculous time of 5:00am to head first to Shanghai, then to Detroit and finally home to Atlanta. We are all feeling a bit depressed about saying good-bye. This trip has been completely amazing and has exceeded our expectations on so many levels. The kids handled everything incredibly well...the time in airports, the appointments, the late nights...they were rockstars. We do miss some of the comforts of home, but our time here has been wonderful. The authentic answer is that going home scares me a little. We have essentially been on vacation for two weeks. Patrick has been here with me every day and there are no sports or activities or crazy busy-ness. At home, he will go back to work and I will be on my own. I was barely keeping this circus running before we left and I have no idea how to fit a baby who needs naps and early bedtimes into this life with big kids. And since we will be focussing on attachment, I will need to be responsible for meeting Lexi's needs, so leaving her with a sitter will not be an option for quite some time. While I'm sure we will sort it out, it causes a little anxiety. Finding any type of "new normal" usually hurts at least a little and I believe that's why I'm fearful. My prayer is that God will multiply time and resources and that He will fill in those gaps when I am not enough mother for these five little souls. 

Lexi had another great day.  Sweet baby girl is steadily improving. In the previous post I mentioned that we are seeing daily progress in many areas. She has been with us exactly one week today and the transformation is remarkable. She was on the floor playing with the kids this afternoon and was far more mobile than we have seen previously. She has been very quiet, but today we heard her laugh for the first time and she was also babbling. I suspect it will be a while before she makes the language transition, so we are working on some sign language to help ease her frustrations. In just a couple of days she has already learned to sign "more" and "all done." She continues to eat like a champ and she leaves us in awe of the food she can put away in a meal. Today she discovered ice cream and bubbles and I'm not sure who had more fun with that, Lexi...or us?!?

Children who have spent time in institutions or have gone through trauma come with mixed ages and developmental stages. While biologically they may be a certain age, if they haven't had someone loving them and meeting their needs through each milestone, their real or emotional age will not match. Most likely they will be in some combination of multiple ages and stages. For example, in many ways, Lexi is every bit an infant. She doesn't crawl yet and has trouble sitting up for long periods of time by herself. She is behind in her speech and also her fine motor skills. But she has a mouthful of teeth and can eat almost anything, she can drink from a sippy cup, she no longer puts toys in her mouth, she sleeps like a champ and her diaper changes are minimal...all typical traits of an almost two year old. Many times once in a family, kids will pass through the stages they have missed more quickly, but it is still important that they pass through them. You basically have to re-parent what they missed in order to help with healthy development in the long-term. 

Koi pond and garden on hotel grounds. 

Our hearts are feeling a bit heavy as we take Lexi from her birth country. There is such a long and amazing history in China and she is losing not only that, but everything she has known to this point. But there is no hope for her here. You rarely see disabilities or people who look different in China. There are both societal pressures and a lack of accessible healthcare that make life very difficult for those with challenges. In the condition we found her, she would have been lucky to have survived. So while we are sad that it must be this way, it also feels very much like we are rescuing a wounded soldier out of a war zone. Instead of having to fight to survive, she will grow up in a family and community where she will be able to thrive. Instead of feeling discarded and neglected, she will be loved and treasured every day of her life. But the changes are not one-sided. By pouring into her, she will transform the rest of our family as well. Adoption isn't just for the good of the orphan. It changes for the better the lives of everyone involved.

We have a LONG travel day tomorrow and we covet your prayers for safety, patience and that we love each other well along the way.

Dinner with some of the Great Wall kiddos. 

Good-bye Guangzhou

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