This is our last night in Zhengzhou, the capital city of the province in which my daughter was born – our last night in which we are probably within comfortable driving distance of her birth mother, the woman who gave her life, and comfortable driving distance of the orphanage in which she has spent the majority of her life. We’ll be moving on to Guangzhou – a much more western city, supposedly more comfortable and familiar to those of us from America (also warmer and less smoggy), but farther away and increasingly different from the life my little CaiQun is used to. I’m ambivalent about that. I want her to have ties to her past, but I am also so enjoying her presence in our family and am looking forward to our life together.
These last couple days have been a blessing. Yesterday was another low-key day at the hotel. My mom and I took the girls swimming in the morning; the girls napped in the afternoon, so my mom and I did more laundry, and I got some one-on-one play time with Miranda when she woke up about an hour before CaiQun did; and in the evening we all went out to the yummy noodle place in the hotel next door.
Today we went with another family and one of the dads from our group (plus a guide) to the Shaolin Temple. The drive took us 2 hours in a slightly different direction than the one we traveled to go to CaiQun’s hometown on Tuesday, so we enjoyed seeing more of this area around Zhengzhou. At the temple, we saw the Pagoda Forest…
…walked around the temple buildings themselves…
and enjoyed a good lunch (in a building that was not heated and thus was colder than the outside air…brrrr!) and then took in a kung fu show. It was a fun outing in the midst of our waiting for paperwork to be processed! It was rather exhausting, though, carrying both girls and all their supplies – I have re-entered the days of needing to carry a diaper bag, and it’s not my favorite part of being mommy to two! – around all the grounds. The girls were worn out too!
Other than our trip to the temple, we’ve been continuing to build relationships and get to know each other, and I really think things are going quite well 🙂 Miranda seems to really enjoy CaiQun – she shares better with her than she does with any of her friends in Missouri and proudly announces several times a day that she is the jie jie (big sister) and is a good big sister to CaiQun. And these past couple days, CaiQun has really started to seem to care for Miranda. Yesterday morning while we were swimming, she kept wanting to be near Miranda, and she had a great time last night learning how to throw a ball and then throwing it back and forth with Miranda. She starts yelling and pointing any time Miranda walks away and gets very excited when Miranda returns. Here’s another matching sisters picture 🙂
I was super excited this evening that CaiQun seems to have learned the sign for “more,” AND I think I may have gotten an intentional “mama” from her! These are huge developments.
Do you know that there are about 600 kids living in CaiQun’s orphanage? And do you know what it sounds like when you walk in? SILENCE. I mentioned in an earlier post that babies in an orphanage who express their needs are often met with no response at all…so they simply stop expressing their needs. Orphanages are generally eerily quiet places. Babies there have learned that crying does them no good, so they do not cry. And the silence of the babies turns into the silence of the toddlers.
We’re not really sure how many words CaiQun can say in Mandarin. We have some reports from the orphanage, but while she’s been increasingly verbal every day, we don’t speak enough Mandarin to distinguish words from baby babbling, and she doesn’t respond to our guides’ questions and generally does not speak much at all around them.
Communication really has not been a big issue – for big picture things, yes, it would be wonderful to be able to communicate clearly with her what is going on…but she’s too young to grasp much of that, anyway, even if we did speak the same language. And in terms of day-to-day functioning, nonverbal communication plays such a huge role in all communication with toddlers that there really has not been any difficulty at all. Pointing and guesturing have served us well 🙂 But if she is increasingly understanding us, able to pick up on some signs, and even able to use some words, that would be amazing 🙂
Our relationships also seem to be growing more and more. We are getting to know her more – her routines, her facial expressions, what she likes (Cheerios and being tickled) and dislikes (vegetables and unfortunately, so far, the Ergo…we’re going to work on that, though!). Instead of preferring only Matt or me for a full day, she’s willing to go between us more easily and seems more comfortable with both of us. She laughs and smiles and generally engages with us much more than she did just a couple days ago. Tonight, as I lay between her and Miranda as they were dozing off to sleep, she actually reached for my hand to hold onto my finger as she fell asleep!
These first few steps in the dance of building relationships and attachment really seem to be going well. We will, I’m sure, hit some roadblocks and make some missteps, but for now we are rejoicing at how well things are going!
Please pray for our travels as we fly to Guangzhou tomorrow – our in-country flight to get here was one of the roughest flights I’ve ever been on, and it was not fun. We’re all hoping tomorrow’s flight is smoother (and not delayed for 3 hours like our last flight was). Please pray for all the new kiddos in our group…8 little ones about to be on an airplane and restrained while traveling (there aren’t carseats or often even seatbelts in China) for the first time…there are a lot of things that could go wrong in that scenario! And please pray for our time in Guangzhou, that we’d be able to get out and about and enjoy warmer weather and that CaiQun (and Miranda) would not be too thrown off by our move to another place and that all of our official appointments would go well there. We’ll keep you informed as we’re able 🙂
Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed or sent us Facebook messages or comments or posted comments here or on Matt’s blog to encourage us on this journey and celebrate with us. We’ve read them all and have been so blessed by them! We’ll try to respond to everyone, but please be patient with us, as we’re prioritizing our family time and are dealing with slow and inconsistent internet access here.
And now I better try to finish up more of this packing I have left to do!