Friday, August 31, 2007

Comment that made me laugh

I have to share this comment I recieved. I had Finley and Cainan in the stroller when I was picking up Arlington at school today. One of Arlington's teachers came over and asked if they were twins. After I explained our situation, she said, "Well, they could be twins! You never know these days with modern science." Huh? That would be a miracle since Finley is blonde hair, blue eyes, and Cainan is, well - Chinese! :) That made me chuckle. My husband, is a Geneticist, and I told him he needs to work on that in his lab!

ENT visit today

Today I took Cainan to the ear nose and throat (ENT) doctor to check for tubes in his ears. We met a very nice physician and she definitely thinks Cainan will need tubes. He will probably have them for most of his child hood. She wants to do a hearing test, but because he is so young, and doesn't understand much English yet, he needs to have a "play" hearing test where they will determine how well he hears while he plays. Don't know how this works, but hopefully we will have this appointment early next week. I am waiting (of course) from a call back from this clinic to set up this appointment. Sigh.
Anyway, we talked about the tubes. He will have to go under general anethesia, but it is an outpatient procedure and a short surgery. I hope to have it done before the lip surgery or shortly after. I think the ENT would like to do it before, but we can't do much until he sees the cardiologist next week and gets cleared to have any kind of surgery by him. She is going to put waterproof tubes in, but is trying to decide because he will have long term issues if she wants to put tougher, more permanent tubes in, or tubes that will have to be replaced every 6-12 months. The downside to the tougher tubes is that sometimes they can leave a lot of scarring in the ear. But after the hearing test, I think that will help her decide. If she puts the bigger tubes in, we might have to keep his ears plugged during baths and swimming, which may be difficult since he is little and won't understand to leave the plugs alone.
We were also told that he will have some ear drainage that will be noticeable until his palate is repaired. Since fluid will be going from his nose directly into his ears until the palate is closed, the ears may drain. She said not a lot, but she just wanted us to be aware that this was normal when we saw it.
Okay - so I called and got his play audio appointment set up. He will have that next Thursday September 6th at 9am! Yeah. I was told it will take about 1 hour. I was going to keep the girls home from school that day, but I guess they are going now! :)
So a good appointment overall. We are piling up the doctors, and I am going to have to get a notebook to keep them all straight!
Enjoy some pictures from last night:

Arlington turned Cainan into a princess
Cainan goes into the playroom for the first time. Before this he didn't really want to go in there. There are about 1000 toys, so I am sure he was overwhelmed. But he liked it finally!
More playroom activity

Thursday, August 30, 2007

ENT - Grrrrrrrrrr.....

So getting Cainan an ENT appointment and surgery to coinside with his already existing surgery didn't go as planned. I called the office this morning, and got a very rude receptionist that was unwilling to help. She said it didn't matter that he had a surgery already - they couldn't see him in the office until the 18th and surgery would be after that. I tried to explain to her that the surgeon doing his cleft was a collegue of this dr., and wanted them to work together, but she wouldn't hear it. So I didn't get anywhere with her. Since I can't have the surgeries together, I decided to try a different office - one a little closer to home. I did get a very nice office this time, and what do you know??? They can see me tomorrow. Huh. So Cainan has an appointment tomorrow morning at 10am with ENT to look at his ears and decide on tubes. There is a chance they could lightly sedate him and do it in the office and not have to go under general anethesia, but I won't know that until tomorrow.
Anyway, that is where we stand. I will let you know more once we return from that appointment. And here, I thought tomorrow was going to be my quiet day! I don't think I am going to have many of those anymore.
Here are some pictures:

Finley and Cainan playing together - finally!
Cainan enjoying putting the blocks in the giraffe
Finley - being a weirdo. She was walking around with her blankie in her mouth. She thinks she is so funny.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Visit to Surgeon today

First of all, I wanted to tell you that Cainan LOVES the pediasure!!! I knew he would. He drank about 3 cans yesterday so that is good. That should help pack on the pounds and give him the nutrients he needs to be heathly. Especially with upcoming surgery.
Anyway, today's visit went well. We were there about 3 hours. Again, it is good that Cainan is a good boy - my other two would have been crazy in an office that long! But he was very patient. Dr. Stelnicki, the surgeon who will do his repair, was VERY, VERY nice. I have been a pediatric nurse for 10 years, and I can tell you that nice surgeons are few and far between. They took some pictures of his cleft and had a few other people come and check it out (surgeons love a challenge!). Dr. Stelnicki said that because of the degree of his cleft, he will do two different surgeries. First, he will have his lip closed and repaired. This surgery has been set up for September 15 - only two and a half weeks away! The dr. felt that Cainan's chances for infection were much less if he did the lip and palate repair separately. I was a little disappointed with this news because I was really hoping he wouldn't need to go back so soon. But whatever is best, we will do. Then on November 12th, Cainan will have his palate closed. Both surgeries take a few hours, and then about a 3 day stay in the hospital after each. Dr. Stelnicki felt that Cainan was looking at a minimum of 8 surgeries between now and when he reaches adult hood. After these two big surgeries, most are cosmetic, with one more large one around the age of 8 (too much to explain). So not bad. I figured he would have between 8-15 surgeries- that is the norm. But these first two are the biggest, and we are really looking forward to them. I am anxious for him to have the chance to learn to eat properly and speak, etc.
Also, Dr. Stelnicki suggested we have tubes put in Cainan's ears. He felt that kids with clefts like his really have poor hearing due to large amounts of fluid that builds up behind the ear. We already know it is there - he had a hearing test to test ear drum movement on Monday, and there wasn't any. He hears fine, but we probably sound muffled to him. We are going to try and coordinate to have the ear, nose, and throat surgeon put the tubes in his ears while he is under for his lip surgery. We hope so - we don't want him to have to have yet another separate surgery for something so minor. I called the ENT dr., but of course - for those of you who live in South Florida will understand - I didn't get a call back. Try again tomorrow!
Then, the heart murmur. Dr. Stelnicki took a listen, and he said that the murmur seemed very slight, and he didn't hear a click. He thinks that nothing more than Cainan having to be on antibiotics prior to surgery will have to be done, but definitely wanted him to see the cardiologist before the surgery would take place. I was glad to hear from another doctor that the murmur seems to be minor.
Last - the flat head! Yes, everyone, he does have a flat head. It isn't that noticeable because his hair is growing in nicely in the back, but when it is wet, or flattened, you can tell. Dr. Stelnicki - being in the field - noticed as well, and recommended that we put Cainan in a helmet to help round his head out. He will wear it 23 hours a day for a few months until is shapes a little nicer. since he is a boy, we wanted to make sure that he could wear his hair short if he wanted, and he wouldn't be teased. So today he got scanned and measured for his helmet, and it will be in on the 11th, and that is when we will start to wear it. I think he will wear it until about Christmas time. I know many of you have never heard of this, and once we have him in it, we will take pictures so you can see. It is very cute, actually - not like a bike helmet or anything. It forms around his head and is open on the top.
So there you go! That was our appointment. Very successful. He is going to be a busy boy. The last two things we are going to look into is getting a patch for his eye - with tends to be a little lazy and cross, and splints for his thumbs. He never learned to use his thumbs, so he tucks them in toward his palm when he picks things up - he doesn't use them to get small things. A physical therapist friend will make us little soft splints that go around his thumbs to pull them out, so he gets used to using them.
I know he sounds like a mess, but he is TYPICAL orphanage material. Actually, compared to some of the kids of the people Mat traveled with, he is among the healthiest and happiest. We can't complain. One of the biggest reasons we decided to adopt was to give a child a home who may not have had one otherwise due to special needs. His needs are managable by us, and we are so very very lucky that he is ours.
Enjoy some pictures of our crazy bunch!

This is Cainan checking out the camera
The bad babies break into the bathroom. Caina hadn't been in here before and wanted to check it out! Finley is just bad.
Arlington tried to keep them out - but the babies are not match for her!
"That's right, Cainan - go ahead and touch it, you won't get in trouble!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First day alone with both babies

Today Finley was home from school. No she isn't sick - it isn't her day to go. :) Well, she is sick, but nothing that would keep her out of school. It doesn't seem like her sinus infection is all the way gone, so the pediatrician is going to try a stronger antibiotic to try and get her better for good. I think she won't be that until she has been in daycare for about a year!
But I have both the babies home this morning while Arlington is at pre-K. We are picking her up at 11:30, then all three of them will be here this afternoon. Everyone will nap, so it won't be too bad. But so far so good. The babies are playing pretty well together. There is some fighting - mostly Finley fighting to get Cainan away from her toys. But for the most part, as long as I keep their bellies full, they are happy.
Cainan is running a little fever today. He was awake last night for about 1 hour in the middle of the night. Not bad considering! But he was really hot, so I am sure he was uncomfortable. After the tylenol kicked in, he was back asleep. He does have a hard time settling himself down when he gets woken up. He doesn't really have a comfort measure since he really can't suck on anything. I am trying to come up with something!
Anyway, we are getting ready to head out now and pick up Arlington. Bye for now!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Just first wanted to let everyone know that Cainan had a fantastic night last night. Thank goodness! The middle of the night was not the start of something! Yeah!
Well, today was Cainan's first doctor's appointment. We went to the pediatrican. We were there for 2 hours! I am glad Cainan is a good boy - he behaved the whole time. But it was good that we got a nice long appointment in, so that we could get him all settled.
Cainan is really tiny. He is 17 pounds, 4 ounces. He is average height, though, at 31 inches. His weight is well below the percentiles, but that is too be expected. After I feed him enough McDonalds, he will get bigger! (ha) The doctor recommended him to be on pediasure to help him catch up in calories and vitamins. So we are going to start that. Right now he has been drinking a mix of Chinese formula and American formula, and we have been weaning him off that. So I am sure our super good eater will take to the pediasure just fine! His head circumference was also small, but we think that may be due to the fact that his head is flat in the back. The doctor wasn't concerned with that either. Mat thought he had a big head - he was wrong!
We also found out that Cainan has a slight heart murmur. The doctor wasn't that concerned, but wants us to take him to a pediatric cardiologist just to check him out. Since we don't have any history on Cainan, they will probably do an echocardiogram (won't hurt) to see what is going on in there. It is probably benign, but now we know about it.
Cainan also has a double ear infection. Not that we knew it, but with his cleft lip and palate, itis to be expected. So he is on antibiotics for that.
It sounds like he is a mess, but he is a typical orphanage kid. He has already made great strides in his physical development, and we see improvements every day. He will probably get some physical and occupational therapy to help him catch up, and he will definitely get speech therapy after he has his surgery. By this time next year, Cainan will be a very different boy!
So that is the update!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More pictures

Everything continues to go well. Cainan did have kind of a rough night last night, though. He woke himself up in the middle of the night - we think he startled - and kind of was disoriented, and really cried. It took us a few hours to get him back to sleep. Once he was awake, he had already been asleep around 6-7 hours, so he wasn't really THAT tired anymore! So it took us awhile to get him settled, but he finally went back to sleep. Let's hope that is a one time thing! He may still be adjusting, and that is fine. We will deal! :) Finley likes to serenade us in the middle of the night sometimes as well, so we are used to it.
But he seems to be attaching to us well - he fusses a little when we leave the room. He seems very happy to see us when we return, and wants us to pick him up. He and Finley have also been getting along better. I saw them playing well together today. They had a little game going where Finley would stand behind our baby gate, and Cainan would try to get her. It was cute. Cainan still continues to be a bottomless pit, and between him and our already great eater, Finley, I am running out of kid food quickly! I am going to have to readjust my grocery shopping for the two of them!
We are in a good routine. I have figured out how to feed all three at the same time, naps at the same time, and bath and bed at the same time. It is like a little ballet.
So enjoy the pictures!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Home and settling in

Everything seems to be going well so far. Cainan came home with Mat and Aunt Betty on Wed. evening the 22nd. They were all tired, but everyone was happy at the airport. We got Cainan home and he let me hold him and feed him before we settled him into bed for the night. He went down without a hitch and slept all night. I had to wake him at 8am to try and get him adjusted to the time change. He woke up happy and ready to play. He is a little fire ball! He played with Aunt Betty and I all morning just checking out all of his new toys and seeing all the fun things to do. Nap time was no problem - a quick pat on the back and he was out. He slept for 3 hours and I woke him again! By this time his sisters were home from school, and they were ready to play with him. Well, atleast Arlington (the 4 1/2 year old) was. Finley wasn't sure about the person that was going to be sharing her toys. She didn't take too kindly to him and pinched him in the first few minutes of seeing him. But that was to be expected! Given the fact that they are only 30 days apart - there is going to be some rivalry!
Friday -I had all three kids here with us today. It went well, thanks to the fact that Aunt Betty is staying with us a few more days. Finley was cranky because she has been sick, but by this afternoon, she was better adjusted to Cainan. They actually played together quietly for a little while. Cainan remains happy and a great sleeper and an unbelievable eater! He just takes everything in stride, and hardly ever cries. We got really lucky with such a good boy.
He is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed - no adjustment issues at all with sleep. He goes right down. We are right across the hall if he would need us, but he hasn't woken at night yet!
So that is our story so far. He is very sweet, and cute, and we feel so very lucky that he is part of our family. Here are a few pictures of our new little guy. Oh, and by the way - we gave the hippie a haircut. Just a small one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

Mat can't post any more - he has put away the camera and the computer - they are leaving for the airport in a few hours (China time), and will be arriving home at 10:15pm Wednesday night! Once Cainan is home and settled, we will keep up the blog so that you can continue to enjoy pictures of him and especially once he has his lip surgery.
Cainan is doing well. Apparently at dinner in China he had decided he will not eat baby food and did so by yelling until Mat gave him table food. He is a little fire ball! HE should fit in just fine.
We will be in touch!
Thank you for following our journey and all the questions and comments have been great! We promise to keep up our blog!
Also - for those of you who asked - everyone who adopts who stays at the White Swan has their child's picture taken on the infamous red couch. Red is a lucky color in China, and it has just become a tradition to have the children put on their cute little Chinese outfits and have their picture taken! :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

One More Day

We are down to one last hurdle before we can head home. There isn't a person here who isn't ready to board that plane. The silliness of it all is the last four days of our stay here is just so we can stand up at the US consulate and say "I do" to a 5 minute oath. In the meantime, we have mostly been filling our time with trinket shopping (chopsticks for everyone) with an occasional adventure into the city to break things up. Today, we hit the Chen Family Temple and the largest tea market in China. Calling the Chen Family Temple a temple is a little misleading. At the time of its use it actually served as a type of town hall. You would go there to play, to pray, and do your general business. Today, it has been restored and houses art and historical displays.

The tea market was quite a sight. Literally hundreds of little shops that sell nothing but tea and tea related items. What I found most amazing was that for all these shops there was not a single customer within site. Only workers sitting around. Maybe it is just a slow day.

We did accomplish one other required activity of our trip today, the inhumane torture of the adopted children known as the red couch picture. Why we need to put kids who have already had such a difficult life through this traumatic experience is beyond be but apparently it must be done. Of course most of the kids cried. One flipped herself off the couch reaching for mommy. But we all got cute pictures so it was worth their pain.

One quick Cainan story before turning to some pictures of the little guy. Actually more like a sentence. Just yesterday he discovered splashing in the bathtub. Now that is the all he does from the moment his butt hits the water, laughing all the time. Not much experience with baths at the orphanage.

Oh yeah. There is a Chinese version of "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader". Right down to sitting all the kids at little desks. The only difference I could detect (it was in Chinese) was that the host does not tell redneck jokes.

Cainan Enjoying a Trip to a Thai Restaurant - Deep fried pumpkin was a big hit.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cainan Short Stories

We wanted to get a boy when we adopted but apparently we got a girl instead. Six or seven people have called Cainan a girl. When we corrected them, they all tell us that they thought he was the opposite sex due to his hair. Little Chinese boys do not grow their hair out. All the male youngsters we have seen around these parts either have close cropped tops or little tufts of hair on the front of the head. Obviously this isn't just an anecdotal observation since Cainan's long locks have fooled so many locals. Guess I need to get this hippie a haircut.

Cainan is a lively boy but sleeping is definitely a priority for him. We have had no problem putting him down for nap or bed. In addition to the standard sleeping times, Cainan also makes room for one mini-nap in his schedule. Around 9:30-10:00 everyday, Cainan goes into a stupor that results in temporary narcolepsy. At any point during this period, Cainan will drop off to sleep with no hope of waking. Tickling, jostling, repositioning. Doesn't matter he is gone. He has fallen asleep in our arms, in a shopping cart, riding in a stroller over cobblestone. He was out. But then about ten minutes later, he is back up and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

Cainan has definitely enjoyed the increase in diversity to his diet. He especially loves fruit. There isn't a fruit that he hasn't gobbled down, whether it be mushed up into the paste of baby food or still in its original, of the vine form. He also seems fond of meat. He gladly excepts sausage every morning for breakfast, has taken beef and chicken for dinner, and eaten chicken and trout as part as baby food goo. He has rejected ham but that may not have been from taste. As time has gone on, Cainan has started to get a little spoiled. Where as he once gladly took everything placed in front of him, he now picks and chooses and mostly plays with his food. There is one class of food that he has never taken to. For some reason bread products are not something he is willing to tolerate. More for me then. Oh yeah, he has a nearly full set of teeth.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More Pictures, Less Words

The Hunan Group at the Yue Lu Academy.

The Neighborhood Bookstore in Changsha.

The Medical Office for Cainan's Minimalist Medical Exam. Yep, he can hear and has two feet.

Cainan Getting Measured by Two Very Traditionally Dressed Nurses. I think nurses in the US should go back to dressing this way, right Jennifer?

The area in Guangzhou where we are staying is apparently a very popular place to have your wedding photos taken. We saw at least 6 couples doing so just today.

See what I mean?

Young Girl Playing Badminton. The streets were filled with people, young and old, knocking the old bird around.

Hugging the Wall. Cainan really likes this wall. He will get us to help him walk over to this portion of the wall and then he will just latch on to it. Rubbing his face against it. Clawing at it. I think it would make him very happy if we could bring that wall home with us.

How to have Swim Class without Water. There is a pool inside the building (we think). But first all the little kids came out on the sidewalk to do all their stretching and to practice their strokes. In unison.

Some of the Others - Kaylee, her happy Mom, and, down the table, big sis Sydney.

Some of the Others - Addison and Mom

Some of the Others - Fiona

White Swan Hotel

After all the build up over our final accommodations, I have to say I am a little disappointed in the White Swan Hotel. I think we were a little spoiled by the Dolton in Changsha. The Dolton was an overly friendly and accommodating place where as the White Swan is all about business. The staff seem to be much more serious and Western. Even the breakfast buffet has lost a number of Chinese options in the transfer from Changsha to Guangzhou. Also, it is very clear what the primary planned activity is for this last destination just by entering the hotel. The walkway leading into the hotel lobby is lined with Chinese-styled statues, each bearing a very obvious price tag. Guangzhou is about selling trinkets. Don't get me wrong, the White Swan in a lovely hotel, evidenced by the waterfall and Kio pond (a Japanese fixture in a Chinese hotel?) located between numerous indoor stores. It is just lacking the Chinese spirit and personality that we have grown accustomed to.

One neat item that is part of the White Swan experience is a present from Mattel to each adoptive couple - Adoption Barbie. A standard issue blond dollie holding a baby of a slightly different skin tone. Since most Chinese adoptions involve girls, this gift is perfect for the majority of White Swan families. For Cainan, I think he would derive the greatest joy out of this toy by ripping its head off. I am sure his sisters will enjoy it though.

Closing Days of Changsha

We busied ourselves on Wednesday with a tour of the Yue Lu Academy, the oldest university in China. It was a beautifully tranquil place full of natural open space and traditional architecture. It also included a Confucian temple on site that students would present sacrifices at upon graduation. That would make for a very interesting processional. The most informative portion of the tour took place when our guide discussed the history of the library that stood at the center of the grounds. The library is only open to advanced graduate students and not the general student body. I asked if this was due to a large number of precious artifacts and ancient texts. This led Sam to tell us that in fact the library holds very few items of this description because the Japanese stole them and burned the library to the ground. It was very clear from the way Sam spoke that this offense is still a sensitive portion of Chinese history. The Japanese refuse to return any of the stolen items. But the action that Sam found to be most reprehensible is the fact that the Japanese still refuse to acknowledge their actions during this period of conflict. Sam felt that the fact the government of Japan continues to misinform their populance thus producing an entire generation with a biased and wholly inaccurate understanding of the time period to be indefensible.

We again got to enjoy a Chinese meal that evening, this time in the hotel dining room. The meal was delicious but the real story was Cainan. As he continues his coming out party, he is getting more and more direct in demanding what he wants. While we were waiting for our food to come, I fed Cainan a jar of cat food/chicken paste. If I waited too long between bites, he would let out a holler and start tugging on my arm to get me to deliver the next payload. He quickly plowed through the first course and was still yelling around for more. By then, our food had come so I decided to give him some of the beef we had ordered. The beef had a bit of a spice to it but he didn't seem to mind as he started yelling for more once he swallowed the first piece. He ordered me to keep shoveling in the food as fast as he could woof it down. But as he kept eating, we started to notice that he was getting a little color in his cheeks. Soon that pink color turned to a nice bright shade of red. Apparently the spice was starting to get to him although he didn't seem to care as anytime his mouth remained empty for more than a few seconds, he would try to claw himself out of his seat, over my arm, and to my plate, to help himself to more. To his dismay, we eventually had to cut him off for fear that his little head was going to explode.

Before leaving Changsha, we had one more required stop to make. Since it was listed as noteworthy site in both the Changsha and the Hunan province guide books available in our hotel room, we had no choice but to pay a visit to the neighborhood Wal-Mart. There really aren't a whole lot of difference between the Chinese Wal-Mart and our ma and pop store-killing Wal-Marts of home. The food section, that is normally filled with boxed, frozen, and highly processed foods at home at home, is dominated by a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a meat section that offers up any body part one might consider edible in China. In the checkout line mixed in with the usual impulse items like Snickers and tabloids where packaged chickens feet. Just in case you had a hankering. Also, all the products in the Chinese Wal-Mart are made in America.

Visiting Wal-Mart, seeing what the Chinese people buy and utilize in their daily life, and what all the people on the street wear and carry helped me realize anew that the souvenirs that we buy and track back to the states to recall and represent the country we just left have very little to do the modern state of the country. You know who where's T-shirts with Chinese characters? Western tourists. It is like going to Boston, buying one of those Paul Revere three-pointed hats, and thinking this is how Beantowners actually dress. I always imagine that the Chinese characters on our souvenirs that we are told mean "love" and "peace" are actually translated to say, "I can't believe stupid tourists buy this crap." We just don't know the difference.