Botanical Gardens

As you can see, it was a beautiful day. The weather here is amazing, the sun on our faces felt heavenly. The last 2 times I have visited here, I was counting down the minutes to get back on the air conditioned bus, but I could have spent all day there today. It was that beautiful. I am still trying to learn to shoot in manual, trying to ‘see’ the light, trying to learn about exposure. Just know that these pictures do not even begin capture the day. But, if at first you don’t succeed, blah, blah, blah. That’s my current motto.

Okay, movin’ on…
Tip #5: I am not sure if the best term for this is a ‘tip’ or a ‘rant’… but I am, since it is my blog, calling it a tip. At least for today.

When I was waiting for Isabelle, I did a lot of reading. Preparing. Nesting. By the time we traveled for Isabelle I was like a mother bear… to say I was protective doesn’t even come close. My husband and I had decided way before we first held her that I was going to be the one. The ONE. I would be the primary caregiver, perform all the functions of said primary caregiver and would, ideally, be the person she initially bonded to. This all worked out according to plan. And it was good. I carried her, bathed her, fed her, put her to sleep and okay, let Chris pat her back in the middle of the night every once in a while. I am only human.

But ‘bonding’ is tough. It’s hard to know what to do, what not to do. It’s a natural process we don’t really consider when we have a biological child, but it’s a source of much anxiety and concern when we adopt a child. Sometimes it happens without any effort whatsoever. Sometimes it is much more difficult. My advice begins here: do all you can to make it happen. If it doesn’t happen in fairy-tale fashion, you’ll know you did all you could to foster that attachment from the beginning.

Making attachment a priority holds true especially in China. It is a two week time period of being in a bubble… no work, no cell phone, no cooking, no cleaning. It’s a time to devote to your new child in a way you might never be able to again… life should revolve around that budding relationship. Don’t miss the opportunity during those first two weeks of your relationship to treat that child like your newborn, even if they are most definitely not a newborn. Your relationship is brand new, and taking God’s cues for how we bond naturally with our own mothers, it’s wise to treat your new child in a way that a new mother would: carrying, feeding, rocking/holding to sleep, oodles of eye contact and lots and lots of reassuring words.

I know this all isn’t always the case. Sometimes the child resists. Sometimes the child wants the husband other parent. I don’t have all the answers. But what bothers me, really bothers me, is when I see a new child, being wheeled around Shamian Island, with eyes as big as saucers, trying to digest this big, new world. And the new mom and dad shopping, eating, chatting to other new parents, while their little one sits, buckled, and is, for all intents and purposes, alone. Exactly the way they have spent their lives up until this point. I know that some circumstances are unavoidable… sometimes you just can’t carry your child everywhere. But based upon the requirements for China adoption, I think most adoptive parents should be completely competent to at least strap on a backpack for a walk around Shamian Island. Or in a crowded CarreFour.

Don’t take this to mean I haven’t made attachment mistakes. I’ve travled alone, and another time without my husband, and I know how hard it can be, believe me. Believe me. But when I see a newly adopted child forced into this new, scary world, without the comforting embrace of a parent, I see a wasted opportunity, one in which the new child loses out. After all the months (and sometimes years) of waiting for a referral, aching to hold this child in your arms, don’t let shopping or eating or anything else take priority over doing everything possible to make your new one feel completely loved. I can promise you, you won’t regret a moment of it.

disclaimer: this is my blog, therefore it is my opinion. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. If you don’t like my opinion, I am okay with that. Just keep it to yourself. Because I am in China, sleep deprived and currently experiencing some pretty serious PMS.



  1. Those pictures are beautiful. I didn’t get to see those gardens in person when I was in China so thanks for posting them today.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Excellent post. Thank you. It pains me to see so many new little ones pushed around Shaiman Island with the shop to you drop parents! Of course this is also just my opinion!

  3. a Tonggu Momma says:

    As for your tip/ rant… can I just say Amen? Amen! AMEN!!!

  4. I read somewhere that your baby has an emotional age of 0 when they are brought into your home. They ARE like a newborn….they need to learn to trust you all over just like a newborn. Thanks so much for your great tips. Could I ask a favor?? Please add me to your prayer list….I am having a hard time waiting for our LOA….day 115. I know God has a WONDERFUL plan….I just wish I knew the plan.

  5. Virginia and Doug says:

    Beautiful pictures..and thanks for the advice. I’ll remember it when it’s our turn to go.

  6. Patricia/NYC says:

    FABULOUS post!!!! A big ol’ AMEN from NYC!!

    Rock on, sista, rock on!!

    Great photos, too, by the way!!

  7. I am coming out of lurkdom to say-Thank you for sharing my sentiments EXACTLY! We carried our babies everywhere when we were in China and for months at home. Each new situation we introduced them to was from the safety of the Ergo on Mommy.

    Bonding and attachment are long processes that take time. I hate it when parents get home after 2 weeks and think their child is attached and secure…

    Backing off my soapbox now…

    Have safe travels home!

  8. You should publish this advice! It’s all so familiar!

    The photos are beautiful once again. Thanks for taking me back to China! Lovely.


  9. I am also an adoptive mum and I have just found your blog today….I love it!!! We also want a big family but decided to adopt first. Now we have two little boys and are going to try biological next! I love adoption and cant wait to adopt our next baby, but i think we will wait for a bit!!!

    Your family is stunning and I pray that 2009 will be a year of great blessing.
    God Bless.

  10. Duchess of Lanier says:

    Beautiful Day!

    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience (more than “tips”).

  11. I wish I had all of this advice before I went to China, but I do remember you being against strollers so I carried Maggie the whole trip and wouldn’t do it any other way if I went again. Your advice is right on my friend. I know you are missing your kiddos so I am saying big prayers for you today~

  12. *Overflowing* says:

    BEAUTIFULLY said!! I agree with you 100%. You truly don’t have to worry about “spoiling” these precious ones!! I cringed everytime I heard someone say (while in China) they didn’t want to spoil their child by holding them too much in China!

    Uugghhh, HOLD them and LOVE them to pieces…they’ve waited their whole lives for it!! You will NEVER regret it!

  13. Flamingo Mama says:

    Everyday I have been so excited to read about your China tips….what a HUUUUGE help as I hope (oh how I hope) to be traveling to China within a month or 2. We have 3 bio kiddos and this will be our 1st adoption.

    I felt like todays tip was speaking directly “to me”! I have been deciding whether or not to invest in an Ergo carrier even though my little girl will almost be 3 years old. However, after reading your thoughts today, I know I NEED to.

    FOr me, this is a stretch. I am a very loving an nurturing mom. However, I was not one to enjoy the newborn stage because as a nursing mom I felt my kids were ALWAYS attached to me. Some moms love that…I felt like I was suffocating sometimes.

    However, I believe that God has been speaking to me lately that this adoption is NOT about me!!! He calls us with different personalities and different parenting styles to adopt these beautiful children. But regardless our “nature”, we need to do whatever we need to do for this little one to help heal them to allow them to be the person God intended for them to be.

    Wow. I didn’t mean to ramble, I’m just excited about this post and the thoughts it’s created within me.

    Thank you.

  14. Global Girl says:

    Have you ever been to the orchid garden in GZ? I never got there, but wish I had!

    Are you still using the lfam email? I sent you two messages, but then realized you might be using the other one. Let me know?


  15. After seeing all your pictures from your “Cole adventure” I’d say a trip to China is in my future. I want to see the stuff in your pictures in person.

  16. I loved the Botanical Gardens. Your pictures are beautiful. I’m so happy for you to be able to travel with your sister. Cole is soooo handsome! You are only a few days away from being home with your! Hugs. Enjoy your time there.
    PS: I loved my Snuggly in China…and holding my “newborn.” My back..well..that was the tough part.

  17. Party of Seven says:

    Amen sister!! Great post, our ergo was our best investment!! I saw so many little ones so sad and pitching fits about going in the stroller day after day and they just wanted to be held. My hubby and I would just give each other the look, attachment parenting is soooo important. I think we used the stroller that a local store gave us maybe a few minutes but she loved being in the ergo or holding our hands and walking everywhere.

  18. I am awaiting travel approval right now. Your blog has given me so much more info than any other site! Thank you for your post today. There is no doubt I will be carrying my 3 year old daughter EVERYWHERE i go.

    Loving your tips!

  19. Oh, you are cracking me up, Stefanie. You are giving such great tips, I think you SHOULD be a Dr. on TV! :-)

    Oh, I just love Guangzhou. I really didn’t want to leave it, but I know how much I wanted to go home to Leila. I am sure you are counting the days until you can hug your little ones. I’ve enjoyed your posts and pictures and your sister’s MAW updates.

  20. I love the advice!


  21. The Vinyards says:

    I have really enjoyed all of your tips. I feel like I need to write them down for our trip to China (whenever that happens!!).
    I always love your photos.
    Happy New Year!

  22. Love you, love the rant, love the disclaimer! You are right on the money.

    I just wanted to add that even if things seem to be moving along perfectly in the attachment department, things can be a bit deceiving. Attachment takes a long, long time and the first days and weeks are just the beginning so keep it.

  23. This is such wise advice, and I can honestly say now that I wish someone had slapped me around a little bit when I was in China during my second trip – that one-on-one touch was so needed and neither one of us got enough of it, thereby creating a lot of problems later on. Bonding is a two way street, all parties need it.

  24. Oh the pictures are beautiful!!!! Wonderful post. My Addison would not go in the carrier she hated it but she did love the stroller (still does at almost 4). You know me well enough to know that my little one had plenty of cuddle time with me…In fact I don’t think her feet hit the ground for months after she was home with all her brothers and daddy : ) I also would like to add I think it’s important to make feeding time cuddle time. I just loved feeding my Addison her bottle and cuddling her. It was wonderful bonding. I still like to hold her in my arms and cuddle her like a little baby. I also didn’t let anyone come over for a few weeks once we were home. We were on lock down. I think we were very lucky. We had no bonding issues with either one of our girls.

  25. I was almost crying when I read your disclaimer :) too funny.

    Blessings from Australia!

    ps I did a lot of shopping on Shamian
    Island 😉

  26. gwen............ says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I think it’s easy to lose perspective when it’s YOUR turn to travel. The culture, food….and shopping, oh my the shopping sounds fun! I have taken your words to heart today though and when it is “our turn” your post will remind me to savour each and every precious moment with our daughter.
    On any of your trips did you travel with some of your kids? I ask because we are planning on taking our 3 kiddos with us and would love some tips on travelling with the children in tow. Thanks!

  27. Amen Sister!!!!!


  28. i hear you on this. totally. and TOTALLY agree.

    i cannot wait for those 2 weeks with no phone, no cooking, no time but to bond, bond, bond and work on bonding.

    now if someone could just teach me how this Ergo thingy goes on that was loaned to me!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Amen and pass the Ergo!

    A tip to all who will travel and are trying to save money wherever you can: Do not buy a cheap carrier! Do your research and invest in a good one!! One way to do this: let your online orphanage/province group know that you will soon travel and need a good carrier.

    I gave my new one away months after we got home and regretted it when I could see our daughter growing insecure… then I went to my yahoo group with the request. Lo and behold there was another Ergo in the mail to me the next week. The Ergo is worth every cent new or used. :) Leigh

  30. good stuff

  31. Lost and Found says:

    Cole is so absolutely precious I can’t stand it! I have to say my experience is only limited to my daughter but to me there are so many children who go out touring and eating out, etc and they have little down time to take it all in. My daughter refused to walk the entire 2 weeks out of fear. She wouldn’t leave the hotel room until the White Swan and even that was very limited. I saw very little of China but that was okay as this was not a vacation. When I did want to take a breather or buy a few trinkets, I asked her if it was okay and left her with my mom for an hour. I carried her everywhere despite the gnawing pain, the lack of a carrier and the kind offers from several men in our group. I found many but not all of the agreeable kids were the ones who were so shellshocked they were quiet little ones with absent stares who could care less where they were because they were so traumatized. They wore lots of pretty hats and toured all of China. It’s just not realistic in all cases. We had a stroller than we tried to use to see the zoo in Chongqing but E would have NONE of that. She broke it with all 27 months of her little feet. Ahhhhhh the induction of parenthood. Have a safe and enjoyable last week. Sorry we missed you last time in GZ.

  32. Alyson and Ford says:

    I agree, one must have the new child/baby next to the mother all the time. I used a carrier that placed AA facing me. We had to look at each other, talk, snuggle all the time. The entire time in China. I used a stroller only to give me a break in the hotel room and to contain her, but I was right with her, paying attention to her. A carrier is a must and for as long as possible.

    Alyzabeth’s Mommy

  33. I know what you mean..of course in China Annslee only wanted Daddy : ( I finally held her on the 4th day with some “forced” bonding (I made him leave for a while) but she preferred him for the first month…totally Mommy’s girl now though!! Glad you are enjoying your time..your pics are beautiful

  34. Although our hotel in Changsha had a stroller in it, we never used it. We preferred to carry our daughter everywhere, even when it meant that her daddy carried her because she bonded to him first. It was only until we got to GZ that we used a stroller and then only rarely since we felt she was comfortable enough with us to do that. But, I still preferred to carry her. We both felt it was best for her and we enjoyed carrying her since we waited so long to hold her finally.

  35. Rebecca of "China, Baby!" says:

    LOVE THIS POST. Love the pics, and love the tip. I can't believe what you described… I honestly cannot imagine plunking your new child into a stroller and shopping & chatting while they sit there. That breaks my heart to even think of it.

    Hope to see that "I'm home with my kids" post soon!! I know you miss them!

    Praying for you,

  36. Amen to tip #5 Stef!
    Enjoying your blog. Great pics and precious nephew! I know your sister is loving having you with her.

  37. Happy at Home says:

    Right on Sista’

    We spent many, many an afternonn in our room (98% humidty did our little on in) paying with blocks and her musical turtle. It was exactly what she needed and we were more than happy to oblige.

    Thank you for this post.


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