Friday, May 30, 2008

Saturday Morning

Just a quick post. Presley slept great last night!! We went to breakfast and let me tell you.....we have an eater!! I'm not quite sure what to do with an eater, we have never had one. She ate omelets, a little sausage, fried rice, noodles, congee, and she LOVED mandarin oranges. She basically ate all of my breakfast! We came back to the room and played for a while. I have her a bottle and it took her forever to drink it. I finally ended up putting her in her crib with it. She slept for about an hour which gave me enough time to handwash some clothes. Her report says she crawls, though she clearly doesn't. She takes some steps with help. I have her on the floor playing with her toys and she doesn't know how to roll on her belly and crawl towards her toys. I think she will figure it out very quickly though! She loves to imitate anything I do, blowing kiss, clapping my hands, clapping my legs. I was worried when we went to breakfast because she was smiling at everyone and I was hoping that she didn't just bond with everyone. But when we got back to the room she screamed everytime I went close to the door. She obviously does NOT want me to leave!! Her are a few pictures. My guide will be here soon to help me with the money for the orphanage and notary. After today, she will officially be ours according to China!!

Presley Claire Xue Ries

We finally got her!! I won't post much since I don't have time, but it has been a day full of ups and downs (like this whole trip)!! She was delayed getting here because the highways were damaged from the earthquake. She screamed the first time she laid eyes on me and I thought we were in for a long haul. I tried the doll and the bubbles with no success. Finally I got out the Cheerios....success!!

She is from Baoji, Shaanxi, which is a small village and she was in foster care. She has the flatest head I have ever seen with a divit in it. It is hiliarious!! She is very big for a 13-month-old, much heavier than our 19-month-old son and she acts much older too. She will pick up one of her stacking cups and bring it to her lips like she is drinking, make drinking noises and then say "Ahhhhhh." She started smiling after we gave her the Cheerios and hasn't stopped smiling!! She LOVES her Chinese baby doll, though I don't think she has ever seen a doll before. She was picking it up and throwing it around and then was putting her face up to the doll's face and kissing it! She is so incredibly cute and has the most wonderful laugh!!! She is so tired right now, but is loving all of her new toys that I put in her crib with her. I think eventually she will just fall asleep sitting up. She is a wonderful little girl!!

It is definitely a bittersweet day. We do miss our Lexi so much. But we are very thankful that our adoption agency is working hard to look into some sort of longterm care for her. She will be taken care of and that gives us great peace.

She was just taken from her foster home today. There is a foster mom out there that is crying herself to sleep tonight for sure. You can tell how loved she was. Enjoy the pictures of our precious new daughter!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I wanted to post the pictures that I have of Lexi. I don't have very many. We got her late at night and then we had to get up early the next morning to go to the Civil Affairs Office. I wish I would've known what was going to happen, I would've taken many more pictures. I didn't even get a picture of her with her daddy. He was the only one that got her to laugh and smile and she loved the way he held her. You can see on the pictures of when we first got her, she would hook her finger around her front tooth for comfort. It is hard to look at these pictures. I realize how much I really do love her. Thanks so much to my CHI family who are working hard to get her the care that she needs. I don't know how much longer she will have to live, but I am so thankful for caring people that want to make sure she has the best life possible.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A devastating day ending with a bit of hope.....

This will be a very long post, but we need to include every detail. I will start from the beginning.....

We woke up Sunday morning in Guangzhou filled with excitement. Today was the day we were getting our new daughter! We walked around Guangzhou that morning. We met a wonderful group of preschool children. I started to take pictures of them and their teacher stopped us and wanted us to talk to them. The kids were all 3 - 5 years old. She told us they had been learning English for a month and they wanted to ask us questions. The teacher called up about 3 students one at a time. She us ask them their name, what their teacher's name was, what their favorite color was etc. After we asked them the questions and they answered, they would get a little gift out of their backpacks and give them to us. We received some custard pies, a pack of gum, and a cute stuffed Olympic mascot. They sang us a few songs and they were soooo adorable. That was such a wonderful experience. Now we were more excited than ever to bring a little child from China into our lives.

We met our guide in the lobby at 11:30 and we drove to the airport. It was POURING rain outside. I'm not sure if we have talked about the driving in China yet. At first we thought they were just crazy drivers, but now we realize how good of drivers they are. The cars get within inches of each other. People walk across the street and we are sure they will get hit. We haven't seen one accident yet. If that huge rainstorm had happened in America, we would have seen at least 3 wrecks on our way to the airport.

We arrived at the airport and went through security. Since we weren't allowed as much baggage, we took some of our luggage on the plane as carry-ons. I bought lots of gifts of deodorant, lotion and lipstick to bring for gifts for the different people we were expected to give gifts to that were involved in the adoption process. Security took them all away. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. Little did I know that that was such a minor set back compared to what would come later.

When we got to our gate, our plane was delayed about 2 hours. We finally boarded our plane and sat there for a while. There was an announcement made in Chinese. We understood none of it, but several people moaned and there was quite a bit of loud chatter going on. We sat a while longer, another announcement was made, and this time there was much louder upset chatter and people were getting up and getting their bags. The girl next to us had limited English and she told us we had to get off of the plane, but not to go far. We exited the plane and at least 25 people swarmed the airport workers at the gate. They were yelling and screaming. Derek and I thought for sure a riot would break out. Derek got out the camera and started filming. Several Chinese men stood behind him and looked at the screen of the video in amazement. That was odd to us. ALL of the Chinese people have super high tech phones, but I guess video cameras are just something they don't have.

We got back on the plane after about 20 minutes, but we still sat there. They served us a meal and that seemed to calm the masses. We waited about another hour and it looked like the plane was ready to take off. Then down the aisle comes this lady, probably in her 20's. She started speaking to the flight attendant, and the flight attendant started yelling back. By this time the plane had started moving out of the gate. The girl next to us told us that she was wanting to get off the plane. People on the plane started yelling at this girl. Then the pilot came out of the cockpit and started screaming at her. But the plane kept moving and the girl returned to her seat. Derek and I just looked at each other in amazement! We were now 4.5 hours late. We were getting Lexi that night and we knew we would have no time to settle in before they brought her to us.

Our guide Christine met us at the airport. She took us to the hotel and told us Lexi would meet us in the lobby as soon as we got there. I arranged the video camera and the camera. This is not the way I had planned on meeting my little girl, but that was okay!! We were almost there!

We waited in the lobby and the orphanage director and a nanny walked in carrying Lexi. Lexi was asleep and woke up as they handed her to us. She was quite limp and could hardly hold her head up. We took her and then signed all of the paperwork. they handed us a bag of formula and a bottle, that's it. No cameras that we had sent to the foster family to take pictures and give back to us. And what about the other things we sent in those 3 packages. No blanket, cute ladybug sweater, books....none of that was given to us. We went up to our room, but felt sick inside. Lexi was quite small, just 12.5 pounds according to the bathroom scale. She was like a newborn. We were quite worried. The first thing I did was email my adoption Yahoo group. I knew they would help. Sure enough, we got 40 responses to our email, many filled with encouraging words. Many families had been there and assured us that she would come around and she would catch up quickly. She slept well that night, only waking up a couple of times and then going back to sleep on her own.

The next morning Stefani from our agency called. I was still very worried and she talked to both Derek and I and tried to calm us. It was wonderful to talk to her. We got everything ready to go to the Civil Affairs Office where we would pay our money and Lexi would be ours forever. I got Lexi dressed and had to put her in the clothes she came to us in. Nothing else fit. She also had a dry diaper. All night with no urination. We knew that was a horrible sign. She wouldn't take a bottle. I finally got a syringe and started feeding her formula with that. She lapped it up and took about 2 ounces.

We were angry. Angry at her foster parents. How could they neglect this child? She was obviously not stimulated. Angry at the director. How chould she just hand us this baby with a bottle and not tell us how to feed her? We realize now the circumstances and are no longer angry. I'm sure the director and tried to feed her and couldn't. We realize now that our little girl was not capable of feeding herself.

We walked into the office and there were other families there with their new babies. Derek and I admitted to each other later that we were jealous of the other families. Their children seemed so healthy and full of life, our child seemed lifeless. We were the last into the office. The director of the orphanage and our guide went in first. Our guide Christine came out to get us and she showed me a picture of an MRI and asked if I had seen this. I told her no and then we sat down. There was a lot of discussion. Apparently a few months earlier they had taken her to the hospital to have her lip operated on, but Lexi was too weak to proceed. Christine told us that on May 20 Lexi had her final examination at the orphanage in Yan'An before they brought her to meet us. The doctor had a question about her brain. He didn't know, it was just a question. We had 3 options: Adopt Lexi, decide not to adopt, or take her to the hospital to get her checked out. I decided immediately that we should take her to the hospital.

The Xi'an Children's Hospital was an experience in itself. I wish I had had my camera. You walked into the hospital and it was like a train station. Many people, all of them with 1 child, mostly boys. It was crazy. There buckets all around with liquid in them where I am assuming people threw up or the little kids peed in them. We went up to the second floor and passed by a room with children getting IV's. There were many hard chairs set up like a classroom. Kids were sitting on their parent's laps and there were IVs hung from the ceiling and the children were getting them. There were little ashtray-like things on the ground. We weren't sure exactly what they were for until a little boy started to squat and pee on the stairs. A nurse went running over to them and pointed to something. The parent took the child over to one of these pots on the ground, the child squatted and went to the bathroom.

Finally they took Lexi back into the examining room. We waited for a long time and then Christine called us in. The doctor was examining her and then Christine told us the diagnosis. There were 3 things wrong with. Her cleft lip, palate and there was something wrong with her brain. She told us her brain was "very bad." The doctor said she was "hopeless." Derek and I just broke down. We just held each other and sobbed. How could this happen? We knew we couldn't adopt her. All of the Chinese people were looking at us in amazement. People were coming in from the hallway to the examining room. They were gawking at Lexi and her unrepaired lip and staring at us and wondering why we were sobbing (Chinese people hardly ever show their emotion).

Christine took us back to the hotel and Lexi went with the orphanage director. We had about 3 hours in our hotel room. We had housekeeping take the crib out of the room and I started to arrange our room, since it was quite a mess since we got in so late, got up very early, and tried to take care of Lexi. I packed away all of Lexi's stuff we had brought for her. That was so very hard. We had lost our baby. Derek picked up a hat he bought in Guangzhou. It said "Ba Ba" on it, which means daddy in Chinese. He turned to me and said "What am I going to do with this?" and then sat on the bed and sobbed. I cried the whole 3 hours. Though I do not know what it is like to experience the death of a child, I got a very small taste of it.

Christine picked us up at 3:45 and took us to the Civil Affairs office. We had to write a letter stating that we chose not to accept the referral of Yan Fu Jia and the reason. She also told us that if we wanted another referral, we could ask for that. Of course!!! The pain was still so raw, but we knew we still wanted another child.

They called us back to the office and there was more discussion. They told us the Civil Affairs Office agreed with our decision to not adopt Lexi. In China, everyone has a grace period where they can decide to adopt or not to adopt. If you decide not to adopt and there is no medical reason why you are not going through with the adoption, then you are never allowed to adopt from China again. If there is new medical information and you decide not to adopt, you can ask for another referral. They told us they could not promise us anything, but would try and find us another child. We tried to give our suitcase full of donations to the orphanage director, but she refused. She said that we needed to give those donations to the orphanage we adopted from. Christine said she couldn't promise anything, but our chances of receiving another referral were quite high. I am so glad now that we never got angry about Lexi's presumed neglect. Lexi was not neglected that we know of, she is just incredibly disabled.

We went outside and to the van where Lexi was sleeping. They handed her to us to say goodbye. We held her, kissed her, told her how much we loved her and how sorry we were. It was so hard to say goodbye, yet we knew it was the right decision.

Christine walked us over to the famous dumpling restaurant and ordered the dumpling banquet for us and then she left. We had an incredible dinner. They brought us about 20 different kinds of dumplings. I still wasn't hungry, but managed to eat.

This morning we are going to the Terra Cotta Warriors. I feel so much better. There are no more tears left for me to cry, though the bags under my eyes are huge!! If we get another child, her name will not be Lexi. There will only be one Lexi. We feel we will always be her parents. They told us they are going to take Lexi back home and get her the medical care she needs and possibly be able to put her up for adoption in 1-2 years. We think they were telling us this to make us feel better. Christine seemed doubtful also. We believe that Lexi will never know any better. We wonder about her future and how long she will live. The pictures of her taken just 3 months ago of her show so much more life than she has now. She is going downhill. We will probably never know what happens to her, but we will always love her.

We will update again as soon as we find out anything else. Thank you all for your love and support. We feel it strongly all the way on the other side of the world!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Spending Money

I am having a hard time saying no to everyone that wants to sell me something. My problem is that if anyone starts talking to me I feel like I need to talk back. That leads to me to buying things. Last night after the dinner cruise a lady gave me a piece of fruit to try. Dumb me ate the fruit and before I knew what was going on she had put together a bag of the fruit and was telling me I needed to pay her 20 Yuan. Of course I paid and took the fruit. Luckily 20 Yuan is about $2.50 so it wasnt like I spent all of our spending money. While this transaction was going on a bunch of guys outside the cruise were shoving cards into my hand. They never asked if I wanted the cards but the were literally just stuffing the cards into my hand. Of course the cards were for services that would make a sailor blush. I had to laugh though because most of the cards had the worst english grammar. Where was Amy while this was happening? She had jumped into the van and left me alone to fight off the vendors.

Hot and humid again today. Fortunately there is a 7-Eleven by our hotel and coke there is cheap. We took a long walk again today and by the time we got back to our room we were worn out. Of course during our walk we were stopped by somebody on the street and before I knew we were in a store spending money again. I got a tie that has panda bears on it and we got two pairs of shoes and two dresses for less than $20. A good deal but I am spending money again! Derek

Saturday in China

It is now 4:00 Saturday afternoon and it's Amy's turn to blog! We got into the airport last night at 11:00. The airport was very modern and I'm sure Derek has already mentioned how impressed he was that the luggage carts were free to use! Driving out of the airport there were so many apartment buildings crammed together. It was dark outside and they all were lit with one single flourescent bulb. Most of them had their clothing hanging out to dry. The apartments looked small and dingy and they didn't seem to have anything on the walls. I was amazed at how many buildings there were in such close proximity. They just went on and on.

We got to our hotel and we love our room! We are staying in the Victory Hotel Annex. It is huge and has a king-sized bed, couch, big tv, 2 desks, refrigerator, and a computer! It also has a cool chandelier that we are now using to hang our clothes from to dry (though they are not drying here in the humidity and we will probably have to pack wet clothes tomorrow or use the blow dryer to try and dry them). It took us a while to figure out the lights. You have to put your key in the holder and that keeps the lights on. When you leave, you take your key and then the lights turn off. Pretty clever!!

We slept all night last night and got up around 8:30 this morning. We went down to the breakfast buffet and it was great!! Lots of yummy food! We got back to the hotel and got ready for the day. We got an adapter from the hotel, but I didn't notice that it was 220 instead of 110. I plugged in my curling iron and the thing started to smoke and the velour part of the curling iron turned black! I'm surprised we didn't start a fire! Yikes!! We met our guide Connie in the lobby at 10:00 and went to the Six Banyan Temple. It was really interesting. Lots of people were there burning incense and worshipping the different buddahs. Connie explained how they worship different buddahs for different things. There was a female-like buddah that people would worship for fertility. We were back at our hotel around noon.

We went for a walk and found a great place to eat. There was a TON of food and we have plenty of leftovers. It was the best Chinese food we have ever eaten (maybe because we are in China?)! We walked around and looked at all of the shops. We spent about an hour in one of the shops just looking at everything. Derek realized that we will probably need to buy another suitcase for the things we want to bring home! Derek got a hat that says "Ba Ba" on it, which means father. They had the cutest little squeaky shoes for baby girls. They have a little squeakers in the bottom that squeaks when they walk. The shoes are only about $4 a pair! They would make excellent baby gifts. We are now back at the hotel and Derek is relaxing, trying not to fall asleep. Connie is picking us up at 5:45 for the Pearl River Dinner cruise. I will report on that when we get back!!

We're having a great time here in China!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

From Derek

I have a quick second so I thought I would post my initial thoughts of China. The airport coming in was beautiful and very modern. Security was very light and people could park their cars right up against the terminal. Plus the luggage carts were free but it took some time to figure it out because I was looking for the place to pay. It was a nice convenience that you would never get back in the states. The hotel is very nice and would be considered high end back in the states. The breakfast buffet was very European and compared quite favorably to the buffets I had in Europe last fall. I was surprised at how good the danish and breads were. Did I mention it is hot and humid. The heat I can handle but the humidity is something I am not used to. I am totally excited to be here after such a long day on the airplane yesterday. 24 hours in airports and airplanes is quite an experience. So far so good and I will keep everybody posted!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Made it to Portland!!

We are in Portland right now waiting for our flight to Tokyo. So far so good. We stayed up all night last night and only slept about an hour on the flight to Portland. Our flight leaves Portland at 2:30. I will take some Tylenol PM on the plane and hopefully I can sleep at least a few hours! I will try and post again when we arrive in Guangzhou on Friday night!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time to Go!!!

It is now 11:00 pm. We leave for the airport at 3:45 am. Derek and I are trying to stay up until we leave. We are having a great time!! We have been eating ice cream, watching tv, and playing on the internet. I haven't stayed up all night since college!! I can't believe we are leaving for China in just a few hours!! And in 3 1/2 days we will have Lexi!
See the big green suitcase in the back on the right side? That suitcase is FULL of donations to Lexi's orphanage. Thanks so much to my friends Pamela, Buffy, and Michelle (and her wonderful office!!) who donated things for the orphanage. They will be greatly appreciated!!
It was so hard to say goodnight to our kids. Landon was overtired when I put him in bed and was throwing a tantrum. Not exactly the snuggly, kissy goodbye I was planning on. Poor guy won't know what hit him when he wakes up. He will wonder where I am and then think I abandoned him. It makes me so sad to think about what might go on in his little head!! Kendall and Carson were just hugging me, but excited that we were bringing home Lexi and that Grandma and Grandpa Ries were here. Carson will probably have the hardest adjustment of them all. Landon will just think he has a new mom and Kendall understands exactly when I am coming back. Carson has a hard time adjusting to new things. It is going to be so hard being away from my babies for two weeks!!! But it will be really good to have the one-on-one time with Lexi.
I am off to try to clean up the house a little bit so my mother-in-law won't wake up to a disaster area!! I will post as soon as I can when we arrive in Guangzhou!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cutest doll ever!!

My mom got this Asian doll for Lexi. It is 12 inches long and quite cuddly. I think it is adorable!! We are taking this with us and will give it to Lexi the first time we meet her! It is 3:30 in the morning and I can't sleep! We leave here in 5 days!!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Virtual Baby Shower

A friend of mine is doing an online baby shower for me!! To join in the fun, go to Thank you Jodi!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Going crazy!!

I have so much to do in the next 2 1/2 weeks, I can't even think straight! We won't know our travel dates until next week when we find out our US Consulate appointment, so we still aren't sure who will be with the kids and when. I have dentist, doctor, and school appointments this week for me and the kids. I need to talk to my pediatrician and see if they will give me antibiotics to take to China in case Lexi gets sick. I still need to call my doctor and see what, if any, vaccinations I need before travel. After I arrange my travel and have receipts for airlines and hotels, I mail those to the courier so she can hurry and get our visas. I have to pack for a country I've never been to and for a daughter whom I have no idea how big she is!! I made 10 freezer meals yesterday and still need to find some time to make some more. I need to order a new camcorder battery and make sure the web cam is set up and working on the lap top so we can talk to our kids while we are gone. I have to gather documents, make copies and double check that I have them all. I need to make Landon a photo album with pics of me and Derek so he knows we haven't left him. Though I am still preparing myself for screaming when he sees me and doesn't want me because I have abandoned him for 15 days AND I bring back a little sister just his age that he will think has replaced him!!!! Plus, it looks like we might be flying out on the last day of school and Carson might have a preschool graduation the night before!! Of course he can't miss his graduation, but what bad timing!! Well, I need to get to it!!!

Presley's Adoption Timeline

  • 8/15/2007 - Received referral for Geneva!
  • 9/13/2007 - Sent LOI (letter of intent) to our agency
  • 9/29/2007 - LOI was sent to China!
  • 10/08/2007 - LOI was delivered to the CCAA in China
  • 10/29/2007 - PA (pre-approval) was issued!!
  • 1/15/2008 - DTC (dossier to China)
  • 1/18/2008 - Dossier delivered to CCAA
  • 1/25/2008 - LID (log-in date)
  • 4/1/2008 - LOA (letter of acceptance)
  • 4/25/2008 - CCAA issues TA (travel approval)
  • 5/22/2008 - Leave for China!!!
  • 5/25/2008 - Met our sweet Lexi!
  • 5/26/2008 - Discovered Lexi had brain damage
  • 5/30/2008 - Met precious Presley!
  • 6/7/2008 - Arrived home

My Family

My Family
My favorite people!!