After a long exhausting flight we made it to Hawaii. We flew via Seoul with a 2 hour layover. The first leg was only 4 hours but seemed like 44!! To be honest if Lexi was not eating she was screaming - and you can only carry so much food with you so you can imagine how noisy it was for those seated near us!
We flew Korean Air which was great. Fantastic service and really child friendly - there was often one attendant attempting to help us with Lexi and another one on the other side chatting or playing with Ella - I guess one could say that Patrick and I must have looked pretty pitiful and in need of help! We are frequent travelers and not new to long haul trips with small children but this was a whole new experience for us and we appreciated all the help we could get.
The lay over in Seoul was a welcome relief to get out and have a change of scenery. We received a slew of questions from inquiring minds of other travellers. "How much did your daughter cost?", "What did you pay for her?", "How can she be 2 years old and not talking? There is obviously something wrong with her - that must be why she was put up for adoption." Yes, ruthless, insensitive and ignorant but we have been warned that we need to be thick skinned and/or have some good responses in hand - unfortunately I had neither so didn't handle the questions well. Not to say that everyone has such comments but we do know there are more to come.
Thankfully with the second leg being a night flight the girls did crash and slept for a few hours.
The lights came on and the cabin started to buzz again an hour before landing. Once we arrived we went to a special immigration line and handed in the sealed brown envelope that we were given by the US consulate in China the day we departed. There was another adoptive family there as well and their brown packet was much smaller than ours. Supposedly has something to do with Patrick not being American and all the background checks that must have been done on him!! The immigration officials were all very pleasant and friendly and had us in and out of there within 45 minutes. They in turn would hand deliver our packet to the Homeland Security (USCIS) office who will be processing Lexi's Certificate of citizenship.
We then recieved a warm aloha welcome fromm our taxi driver who chatted with us on thet way to our accommodation - even pointed out where President Obama went to high school and where his grandmother lived. When we pulled up at the Waikiki Banyan Mimi and Papa were there in the open air lobby waiting for us. Ella was unbuckled, out the door and in their arms before I could blink. Lexi knew something was up and cautiously checked out these two people she has heard about for days.
Waipo and Waigong (Grandma and Grandpa in Southern China) could not be more excited to meet their 10th Grandchild - and as the days go by Lexi is getting more and more comfortable with them as well. As a bit of background on the grandparent names, the English language sees no difference between paternal and maternal relations. “Grandma” is used for both father’s mother and mother’s mother. Father’s father and mother’s father are both called “grandpa”. In contrast, the Chinese language places an importance on the differences between paternal and maternal relationships. The differences mean a lot to Chinese people and determines the real relationships, near or distant, inside or outside, between relatives. Therefore, in Chinese language the words for “grandma” of paternal side and maternal side are strictly distinguished in pronunciation and writing: laolao (northern china) or waipo (southern china), is for grandma on mom’s side, and nainai, dad’s side. Similarly, “grandpa” on mom’s side translates as laoye or waigong, and yeye, dad’s side. So although Waipo and Waigong would be what Lexi would call my parents if she was speaking Mandarin, for the sake of our family, we will stay with what Ella has always called them - Mimi and Papa. :)
After exchanging hugs, we left Ella with Mimi and Papa so P, L and I could head out again for our Infopass appointment at the USCIS office. What a long day - hard to believe that we departed HK on Oct 28 and here we were in Hawaii and it was still Oct 28!!! Thankfully, Lexi crashed again and remained sound asleep for the next few hours. We were able to hand in her N600K application which is what is needed to become an American Citizen and were then told to await a call for our interview. Fast forward to phone call the next day and our appointment is on Monday morning - yeah!!!! This is great news because it means we have a very good chance of getting everything done in time to make our scheduled flight on Thursday as we hoped.
Our time in Hawaii thus far has been great. By and large spending time with Mimi and Papa tops the list. It is so special to share this time with them and to have an extra set of hands to help with Ella or to give us some words of encouragement when we need them. There is a pool and a playground at the complex and that is where we spent most of our fist day here.
We are 1 block from the beach and the Waikiki strip. The beach that we go to is perfect as there is a break wall to stop the waves - we can watch the surfers in the distance while the kids enjoy a bit calmer waters.
We have rented a mini van which we have not really needed other then to go to the grocery store. We did take one drive along the coast although it was quite cloudy it was still spectacular scenery.
Lexi is doing pretty well. We have some really good moments especially when we are at the beach and she is playing in the water and sand - she loves it as does big sis.
But to be completely honest, Lexi is exhausting us with what seems to have become her constant loud piercing screeches and her obsessive compulsive behavior when it comes to food. If she is eating she tends to be happy but at the same time she becomes quite aggressive when she eats. Not wanting anyone near her food and or wanting the food off someone else's plate or from their hands. Sounds a bit funny but it is getting really challenging and difficult to manage and deal with.
The food issue is an interesting one and her behavior with food resembles that which one might expect from a chid growing up in an orphanage where food is rationed and children very often go hungry. Lexi on the otherhand was fostered and by the looks of her she was well fed. She looks quite heathy and well nourished - she weighs 12 kilos, her skin is smooth and has a glow, her teeth look good and she has a full head of shiny hair. Definately not the look of a malnourished child. Yet she wants food constantly - especially if she sees it or knows where it is. Typically she will protect her plate of food and want was is on everyone else's plate. And I should add that this is demanded in a very aggressive manner.
Our evenings continue to be really tiring as well because it takes her hours to fall asleep. And it is not that she isnt tired but she just can not settle down - she continues to swat, scratch, pull and bite - usually accompanied by an incredibly high pitched scream. Last night she went through a few different stages and at one point she let me hold and rock her while she sobbed and moaned into my chest. I shed a few tears along with her because I knew she was remembering her Foster Mom and probably feeling so confused and sad again.
I have to say I felt a bit relieved that Lexi took to me and was accepting of our cuddle because she has been a bit anti MaMa since we left Hong Kong. She adores her BaBa and he is her preferred companion these days but last night she only wanted me and I have to be honest and say it felt good. Lexi fell asleep for a bit - as did I - only to awake again and then moved on to laughter, then aggression and then back to sobbing again.
We are doing our best to follow her lead but are also trying to gain some of the control as well. By that I mean not giving into everything but letting her know that we are there. When she is aggressive with us we tell her that it is wrong and that she is hurting us. I have to believe she knows this and that is partly why she is doing it. It is almost like a jeckle and hide thing because one moment she can be happy and content and showing us some affection and the next moment she realizes what she is doing and she quickly turns on us. Hoping in time this changes and we have some more consistency with the attachment.
Tonight after dinner we decided to check out the pre Halloween festivities on Waikiki Blvd - actually hoping that maybe Lexi would fall asleep in the stroller and we could move her into bed when we got home - no such luck though. That's okay because we had a fun evening.
Ella could not be more excited about Halloween and I am hoping that despite the lack of trick or treating we can have some fun tomorrow.
Lexi enjoyed it for a while but then quickly decided she was done - fair enough - there is only so much new stimulation she can deal with right now.
Tomorrow is a new day and we are hoping to go in search of more rainbows - we have seen many since we have been here - they are beautiful! Pics to come.