May 14th

Today was Physical Examination day for the adopted children. It’s required to prove the baby is healthy for travel. We had heard horror stories third-hand that the doctors used the same tongue depressor for every child. That sounded very dangerous, especially with the one child in our travel group who had viral pneumonia and required IV fluids and IV antivirals. She’s doing fine now, but we don’t want our children to get that illness if possible.

We arrived by bus at the Photo center first. We had to have our child photographed, which was done digitally. We found out later that it was attached to paperwork for the physical exam. The weather was 95 degrees with very high humidity, so we were feeling like we’d walked into a sauna, before we even walked into the Photo center, which was even hotter. To top it all off, it was getting close to the typical nap time for most of the babies. Amanda just stared at the camera, as she had in the referral photos we had first gotten. None of her personality showed through. But that’s ok.

Then we walked down the street a few buildings to the Physical Examination Center. It was a clinic with various adults who were obviously patients. We walked past those exam rooms to the back, where it was labeled that exams were done for adopted children. Once again it was steaming hot, the children were cranky, and it was noisy. There was a sign that said, “Please keep quiet” or something like that, which we laughed at, since the noise level was quite high. We weren’t the only families in the exam center. We talked to a few other Americans, but I heard some foreign accents too. The exam was painless, fairly quick, assembly line style, but a little scary to the children. First was weight and temperature. We were told Amanda is 21 lb 3 oz, which is interesting since she was supposedly 19 lbs in October. They weighed her with clothes and one shoe this time (they took only one shoe off to weigh her for some reason), so she truly weighs less than the 21 lbs. Then on to the ENT center where a masked female doctor with a head lamp wiggled things to get her attention, checked her ears, and used a clean packaged tongue depressor for the throat exam. Then on to the general exam, where she had to be undressed and had an extremely quick exam. The female doctor washed her hands in front of us and used a new paper on the exam table, so we had no concerns about cleanliness. One couple’s baby has scars on her buttocks, and the doctor called in our guides to interpret his concern. The parents said they’ve heard some mothers will mark their babies so they can identify them in the future. What… do they walk up to Chinese girls and ask to see their buttocks? Anyway, the family said the doctor was concerned about abuse by the adopting family. Yeah, sure, we pay thousands and fly half way around the world in order to abuse a child. Everything was settled easily.

As soon as the exam was over, Amanda fell asleep in my arms. I’ve learned that singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm” is the best way to get her to sleep. When she seems to be fighting sleep, singing often works. Sometimes it doesn’t work very quickly, though, and I run out of animals on the farm. She also likes Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, raising her hands, rotating them, and singing along in a “yah yah” mode. She must have learned that at the orphanage, since she immediately perks up when I sing it. If I want her to wave to clerks in a store, I start singing to her and she starts waving. Wayne says he’s heard me sing much more in the last few days than he has heard the entire time he has known me.

We’ve noticed that there are many children here. This is the city where adopting families come for the American Consulate and probably the other countries’ consulates to finalize the INS paperwork for taking our babies home. We’ve noticed a different response to the babies here. Rather than overwhelming coos and smiles from the Chinese, we’re noticing some people scowling. We wonder how many women have had to give up their own babies, or how they might feel about foreigners coming to adopt their children. Oh well, we’re happy.

After our Physical Exam, we all came back to the hotel. Amanda woke up quickly, so she really needed a longer nap. Nothing seemed to be working to get her to settle down. I finally put her in her crib. She laid there calmly, looking at me and hugging The Duck. I sat on the bed and put my hand on her crib, and rather quickly she fell asleep. Of course she has been put to bed in the past on a time schedule at the orphanage, not after she falls asleep. It’s nice she can comfort herself in the crib. I did it again tonight, and she was fine.

After her nap, we went shopping at The Friendship Store, buying some groceries and an umbrella stroller. One thing to be said about Chinese shopping is that there are many many clerks. Even today, on a Saturday afternoon, there were 3 and 4 clerks available at each counter. We bought some cool dresses for Amanda. After hearing about the “clothing police” who tell Americans their babies are not dressed warmly enough, I was surprised to find nice light sleeveless pink dresses. It is so dang hot around here that it’s unhealthy to have children overdressed.

Food-wise, Amanda is enjoying the baby food. I have to learn not to laugh at things though. She started squeezing the food back through her lips, dribbling down her chin. I laughed of course, and she laughed back at me. I had to ignore it several times before she quit doing it. She does learn quickly. Wayne has taught her that after a long drink from the sippy cup, she opens her mouth wide and sighs “Aah..”

We had McDonalds for lunch and Pizza Hut for dinner. Yup, we’re Americans. The restaurants and stores are so hot that we’re happy to be back in our hotel room.

Each night I have given Amanda a bath. She loves it. Tonight she was nearly done with the bath when she stopped playing, stared blankly, and started grunting. There were some bubbles as I said “Aah!! Quick, grab a diaper!” I managed to get her out of the bathtub and into a diaper before she did her duty! Oh, isn’t parenthood fun! And I sure appreciate Wayne at times like that!

Both my family members are asleep now. Time to sign off.

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