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All posts for the month February, 2013

The Guilt

Published February 21, 2013 by megchristo

No one could have prepared me for these feeling.  No one could have possibly explained how visiting the orphanages where your daughters spent their lives previous to you would change me. Not just change me….gnaw at me…scream at me….wake me up in the middle of the night with a tears in my eyes.  The simplest word to describe it is guilt.  Here we are back in America living a life that is like heaven compared to those circumstances, and it seems all of us take it for granted.  We don’t appreciate how beautiful, extravagant, fruitful, dare I say easy our lives are.  We don’t have to worry where our next meal will come from.  We know what meat tastes like.  Our diet isn’t limited to what is the cheapest, quickest and easiest to prepare, or what someone has donated to us.  We know what it feels like to have a family’s unconditional love, support, and bond.  We have heat in our homes in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.  Our children have toys, clothes, and beds that our theirs.  Every child is given an education.  We have huge lavish gala’s to celebrate and raise funds for people with Down syndrome, so they can be the best people they can be.  Here we can be anything we truly want to be.

For children without a family, there life is covered in a thick haze of grey, and it is hard to see the sun both literally and figuratively.  There is no heat or air conditioning in the orphanages.  That is a luxury they can not afford.  Meals are made for more than 600 children, and must be done so cost effectively and quickly.  What few toys there are belong to everyone.  Cribs are shared with 1 or 2 other children.  Clothes are community property, and most have been donated.  Education is something only a few may receive.  In Elle’s orphanage there were six floors.  We were only able to see one floor.  We were told by our guide that the other floors had “unadoptable children”.  I asked what would make someone unadoptable because surely everyone deserved the right to have a family and a home.  She said those were the children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc.  It is almost impossible to find families for them especially if they are boys.  I cried after seeing Elle’s sleeping room, and she was deemed worthy of a chance.  Can you imagine what those floors would have looked like?  I shutter at the thought.  Then there are those that have minor special needs or healthy, and have never been adopted.  They will forever have the title of an orphan.  A social stigma that will haunt them even once they are able to leave the walls of the orphanage.Once they leave the orphanage the government tells them who and what they will continue to be.  Many will become cheap labor in factories, and work 12-14 hour days 7 days a week for the rest of there life.

These children have become silenced, voiceless people.  Their only real hope is for someone to open there hearts and their homes, and call them their daughter or son.  I am haunted by the faces of the other children I saw in the orphanage.  Their sad eyes looking up at us begging to be held, to be loved, to be saved, to be someone, to have a voice.  I am guilt ridden by the fact that I took my two beautiful daughters out, and turned my back on all of them still there.  How do I continue my life “as usual” when I have seen this level of injustice in the world?  These children don’t want perfection.  They want to matter.  They want to be loved.  They want a family.  It really is that simple.  So what am I to do?  Sell everything, and move to China?  Do I start a non-profit here that will help fund these orphanages?  Maybe I can start a GiGi’s Playhouse in China.;)  None of those things seem to really solve the problem.  I guess I will continue to tell my story.  I will hold my daughters high for the world to see.  I will show people that they can do this.  I will keep sharing the progress my girls are making.  I will ask people to once again to look into their hearts, and find a place for one of these children.  Image

Here we are outside of Mae’s orphanage in Kaifeng.

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This is one of the two sleeping rooms we saw in Elle’s orphanage in Luoyang.

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Here are two incubators with 4 babies that we saw in Kaifeng orphanage.  The smallest baby was so tiny.  I would say 2 pounds.  These nannies were not only taking care of 35-40 0-2 year olds, but also these tiny babies.  Clearly they should be in a hospital NICU, and not an orphanage.  I don’t know how these nannies even begin to try to meet all of these kiddos needs.

My Little Genius

Published February 18, 2013 by megchristo

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Elle can count to ten. I have no idea how she has learned this already. For the most part, she still is talking to me in Chinese. Then tonight she starts counting out of the blue! I love how she corrects her pronunciation.

Tender Moments

Published February 16, 2013 by megchristo

The last couple of days we have had several tender moments as a family that has set my heart singing.  The first one happened two nights ago in the middle of the night.  Elle woke up next to me, and I was sleeping on my stomach.  She leaned over me, kissed my head, and hugged my back for a long time.  I rolled over to give her a hug back, and she collapsed her head on my chest.  I whispered down to her that I loved her, and she lifted her head to give me a kiss.  How could a mother ask for more?  It was a perfect Valentine’s night present!

Last night Griffin, Elle, and I went into the hot tub.  Elle wasn’t sure she was up for it at first, but quickly started enjoying it.  Elle and Griffin laughed and laughed and laughed.  They even went in for big hugs together.  Afterwards they both jumped in a bath together to continue the fun.  To see two of your kiddos enjoying each other so much, was fabulous!

Today at a friend’s birthday party (happy birthday Chase!), Mae and Carsten crawled up on a swing with me.  Neither one cared that they were sharing my lap.  Both were totally happy in my lap, and enjoyed swinging together.  Mae Mae continues to be my social butterfly!  At the birthday party she went up to my friend Amy, and held her hands up for Amy to hold her.  I think it melted Amy’s heart just a little! 🙂  

After naps, Gabe, Carsten, Elle, and Griffin all went outside to play on our swing set.  They were laughing and running and chasing.  It was great.  Gabe is so great and patient with all of his siblings.  Right now we are watching Mulan, and waiting for our pizza.  Elle is happily perched on big brother Gabe’s lap.

Did I mention that Mae Mae is becoming more of momma’s girl?  All I needed was for daddy to go to work, and I knew she would come around! 😉

 

Valentine’s Day

Published February 14, 2013 by megchristo

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Our first family dinner around the table was a huge success. I made spaghetti and meatballs, cheese bread, and puff pastry appetizers. Everyone had something they loved! Matt and I even got to enjoy a glass of wine!

After dinner we put Carsten, Elle, Griffin, and Mae in the bath together. They all enjoyed playing and splashing in the tub. This was the first bath Mae took without screaming through the whole thing.

I even got both of the girls down for naps in time to make it to Carsten’s Valentine’s Day celebration at school. I felt like mother of the year. It’s kind of funny how low my bar has become for that award! 😉

Another day of progress! I love it! Is it time for bed yet?

Turning Point!?!?

Published February 13, 2013 by megchristo

It feels great to be home!!  It feels great that my girls are now American citizens!  As soon as they stepped foot on American soil, they were officially Americans!  How cool is that?!?!

I won’t lie.  The last four days have been tough.  The flight back was not a piece of cake with Elle not sleeping for over 24 hours, delays in Chicago, and MJ and I not sleeping then as well.  Once home, the fun had just begun.  Elle melted down at the DSM airport.  MJ and I had severe jet lag.  Mae and Elle were still on China time, and the boys were solid on central time.  Elle regressed a little with all of the uncertainties of her new environment and family life.  Did I mention she is terrified of dogs?  Including our little 4 lbs dog, Frodo.  She clung to me like glue, and had several melt downs.  The lack of sleep was not working in her favor either.  Mae continued to be our social little butterfly through all of this.  She wanted to greet everyone with a smile and a two handed wave, which melted everyone’s hearts.  On Monday night, Elle, Mae, Griffin (one never to miss the fun!), MJ, and I literally did not sleep.  In China, it was day time, and the girls were ready to roll.  Somehow MJ and I limped our way through Tuesday shrouded in a dense fog.  Needless to say we didn’t see any huge progress in our transitions.  I decided on Tuesday that I would have 2 or 3 “big” goals for the day.  If I accomplished those or made progress on those goals, it would be a successful day.  My goals for Tuesday were to get the girls (and boys) baths, go to the Asian grocery store, and accomplish a trip to Target.  By the end of the day, I had accomplished all of those goals, and all of the kiddos were in bed asleep by 9:30.  Progress!

On Wednesday morning I decided that my goals were to get my gala dress altered, work on Elle’s fear of Frodo, and work on meshing the kids’ relationships.  First thing in the morning Elle let Gabe hold her to read her a book.  That was a great first step in the morning.  Mae cried and waved when her brothers got on the bus.  Ok, that was another good step.  When Gabe came home from school, Mae ran up to hug him.  Gabe LOVED that!  Elle was having a tough afternoon.  I couldn’t peel her away from me.  However, she was allowing Frodo in the same room….as long as he didn’t move.  Not huge progress, but it was a step.  I mentioned to my mom that I couldn’t wait to start to see her true personality emerge.

Then tonight happened.  Cousins came over to play, which I think started the ball rolling.  After the cousins left, it just continued.  Before I knew it, Elle, Carsten, and Griffin were running around the house chasing each other and laughing.  They were even going to the 2nd floor, so Elle couldn’t even see me.  I then was getting ready for bed, and the three amigos come running in my bathroom chasing each other.  Elle stops, looks at me, and says, “Hello!”  She had a huge smile on her face.  I answer back, “Ni Hao!”  Her and Griffin then answer back in sync with, “Ni Hao!”  It cracked me up.  Then Carsten yelled, “Hi Elle!”  And all three of them then ran off.  It brought pure joy to a momma’s heart to see this!  I couldn’t believe what a difference a few hours made.  It’s amazing!  I hope we keep on this trajectory!

Goals for Thursday?  I think I am going to aim to get post adoption paperwork done, continue to work on the Frodo/Elle situation, work on finding a Chinese tutor for Elle (it would be a pity for her to lose all of this Chinese she knows), and play hide and seek with all of the kids after school.  Got to keep it fresh!

Here’s to progress, turning points, and having a happy, laughter-filled family!  I LOVE this journey as difficult as it sometimes is.  The great moments wash out all of the difficult ones, and leave my heart buzzing with joy!  Life is good!

PS.  Elle is lying in bed without her shoes!  This is a first too!  Who could have ever thought that a child going to bed without their shoes on would be a moment of celebration?!?  I even took a picture of it!  Maybe we should celebrate with cake!  Carsten will love that! 😉

Truly Couldn’t Ask for More!

Published February 7, 2013 by megchristo

Things have gone remarkably well this week. MJ and I took the girls out and about quite a bit. We explored parks, shopping, more shopping, and more shopping. Do you all know how long I have waited for lil shopping partners? It’s been wonderful! Mae goes along for the ride. She loves seeing new things! Elle loves picking out new clothes, new shoes, jewelry, sunglasses, tea sets…. Love it! The girl knows what she likes! Mae likes dressing up and wearing accessories too (no hair bows though). Have I mentioned I am in heaven! MJ is on estrogen overload. After having a testosterone filled house for years, I think I am entitled to a week or two of indulgence with my girls! It’s been great spending fun time with other adoptive moms and their kiddos too.

The girls are truly doing great! We couldn’t ask for things to go any better than they are! Do we have melt downs, and fear of abandonment issues? Yes, but we all have days that are better than others. Why should our girls be any different?

We see more of their personalities everyday. Mae cracks us up. She either wears this super serious, curious face, or this ear to ear smile that is contagious. Elle has changed so much in the past 10 days. There is now a twinkling light in her eyes that wasn’t there before. She is understanding English more everyday. She is one smart cookie! One of my new friends, Rachel, said she looks like a completely different child. 🙂 I love watching these two blossom! I am so glad we are on this journey, and that it led us to two beautiful daughters!