As nice as it would have been to just hang out for the rest of the day, we couldn’t afford to waste any time in getting all of the paperwork done, or in some cases just started, so that we would be able to leave China on time. So after having a couple of minutes together, we put Ty into the baby carrier and headed downstairs for our first of a slew of appointments.
We really didn’t know how he would respond to being in the baby carrier since he had likely never been in such a device, and if he didn’t want to be in there we probably wouldn’t have been able to force him as big as he was. It actually was a little weird trying to put a three and a half year old into a baby carrier, but we didn’t really have much choice. It is also important in the early stages of adoption to bond as much as possible, so we really wanted to be able to keep him close to us. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to have too much issue with it so we put him in, and took off for our appointment.
This was a pretty simple appointment, or at least we thought it would be, as we were just supposed to get his picture taken for the passport application that needed to be turned in. However, Ty was not really interested in getting his picture taken. First we had to get a family picture taken and he did okay, though he really didn’t want to look at the camera. Once the family picture was done we had to get a picture of Ty by himself, and he simply was not having it.
They have very specific requirements for these pictures in terms of being able to see all of his facial features including his ears which means he had to look straight at the camera. If you think that would be challenging with a three and a half your old, you would be right, and it is even harder with a kid who is now being carried around by a bunch of strangers. He started screaming, and squirming and refused to sit still at all. I am sure this was very reassuring for the other family that was waiting to get their pictures taken. We did ultimately get the pictures done, but it was not fun.
Then it was back to the hotel to try and get him calmed down before bed time and clarifying with our guide what the rest of the week would hold. Our guide was kind enough to go and pick up some pizza for our dinner so that we could just stay in our room. When she came back with the food she also suggested we take some of his clothes off so he would be more comfortable. This may seem a little strange unless you understand what exactly he was wearing.
As you may have seen from the video in my previous post, Ty was wearing some super cute overalls and a sweatsuit. What you need to know about Chinese people is that they always think their children are cold so they put lots of clothes on them. (In fact, we got plenty of dirty looks while we were in China when we put Ty in shorts and it was only in the mid 90s.) As we took off the overalls we could feel how many clothes he had on. As we took off the first sweatsuit you could see in the video, we found another sweatsuit underneath, and you could tell he felt a lot more comfortable without so many clothes on.
It is always a bit of an uncertainty with how well adopted kids will eat initially, and as we have learned in the time since, those behaviors can change very rapidly. Some kids just inhale everything and make themselves sick. Others just cram it all in their mouth and try and save it for later which is called chipmunking. Other kids refuse to eat anything at all, and you find yourself having to almost force feed them just so they get some calories in their body. Fortunately, Ty ate like a champ that first night. He enjoyed what was probably his first ever pizza and some chicken wings. Apparently, he is not much of a connoisseur yet because Crash Uncle and Aunt did not enjoy the pizza nearly as much.
While we were eating, our guide went over our schedule for the rest of the week to make sure we understood when we needed to be where, and what paperwork to bring, and what we would actually be doing at each appointment. Once that was all clear, she left and for the first time for more than five minutes, we were alone as a partial family since our other three kids were at home with grandma.
I should take a moment right now to thank Crash Grandma for staying with our other kids. It was a great relief knowing that they would be well taken care of, and that we had nothing to worry about in that area. I would venture to guess they enjoyed her more than us in some ways since her complete focus was on taking care of them and not work and other responsibilities that we have. I am so grateful that my kids had this time with my mom to make some memories and bond a little more. I only wish I had gotten more time with her, but you take what you can get.
As we finished eating and the night wound down, it came time to get ready for bed, which was the next big uncertainty. Like most things, every kid is different when it comes to sleep, and for every different kid, their is a different self-proclaimed expert who knows how to get them to sleep. Anywhere from co-sleeping to letting them just cry it out until they get so tired they fall asleep. Co-sleeping is out of the question for us since neither of us would be able to sleep ever again, but fortunately we didn’t need to.
Don’t get me wrong, we had our struggles the whole time we were in China with getting to sleep, but once we got him to sleep he slept through the night. Some nights it took an hour or more of talking softly and rubbing his back to calm him down and get him to fall asleep, but we always got there eventually and he would sleep through until 7-8 the next morning. That was a huge blessing because despite all of the other challenges and struggles we would face, mom and dad were always at least relatively well rested. A blessing that I know not everyone else in our group was so fortunate to have. A common phrase that we heard, and used ourselves, was to just focus on getting home from China. You may not parent the same way when you get home, but your number one priority is just to get home. That meant a few nights of melatonin just to help him get to sleep, and it worked wonders.
As I think back now on that whole first day, it seems like moments of complete clarity surrounded by significant amounts of time that are just a blur. I remember people talking, or things happening, but the whole thing was incredibly overwhelming.
I can’t even imagine how overwhelming it must have been for Ty.
I was at least still in control of what was going on, he was just thrust into the hands of complete strangers, granted we are incredibly awesome strangers, but he didn’t know that. For all he knew we were just another pit stop in his life and he would be passed along to someone new. He was sleeping in a new bed in clothes that probably smelled funny to him having just eaten weird western food with people that kept making weird noises and giving him hugs and kisses. I am pretty sure his mind was about ready to pop.
For that matter, I don’t know that the overwhelmingness (that’s a real word, I promise) of the whole thing has even gone down for him even now. I remember looking at him, and even many of the other kids, and being impressed with how well they handled the whole thing. For the most part they were all relatively happy and taking in all of the change incredibly well.
Children are amazingly resilient little things. It sucks that so many of them are asked to take on such trying circumstances, but I am always impressed by what they are able to handle.