Brian and Bernie Neff

Well all, this is my first attempt to try and decipher what happened on this journey. I am doing this from my head so please excuse me if it doesn't run smoothly.

We received my travel approval for June 1, 1997, but we decided to go do the Beijing thing first with some of the other families. We meaning my Mother-in-law and me (big mistake, more later). Before I begin, I just want to let everyone know that all trips and experiences are definitely not the same. My adoption went smoothly paperwork wise, but other things did not.

I found really low fares on Asiana Airlines to and from China, originating from Honolulu, Hawaii. My mother in law lives there, so on May 23, 1997 I flew stand-by to Hawaii to spend 4 days before our trip there. The reason for this is that this time of year it's hard to get in and out of Hawaii as a standby passenger, so I went when I knew I could get there. I knew from the very beginning that this would be a long trip and tough to take, especially without my husband. But I knew I could handle anything as long as I could bring our daughter home. Spent 4 days in Hawaii, most of you say that would be wonderful, but remember I go to Hawaii all the time and I was at my in-laws house. It wasn't too bad. I walked on the beach each morning praying to God not to give me more than I could handle.

May 27th we began the journey to China, arrived in Seoul, Korea for a overnight layover. Asiana put us up for the night........hmmmmm......10 hour flight then a 2 ½ bus ride to our hotel............we were beat. The next morning we were up bright and early for our 10 am flight to Beijing. Everything went well, our guide Susan met us in Beijing and took us to the Novotel Hotel and registered us. She seemed very nice and was quite young (22 yrs old). We were a day early because we couldn't get a flight the next day into Beijing. So we did a tour of the Summer Palace and it was well worth it. What a beautiful place. A must see place if anyone is thinking of going. Then we went to the Jade factory, and the Cloisonne factory.........very interesting. It was a long day and some of the other families were arriving today so we returned about 5 pm. The next day we met 5 more families. It was great........I met Alisa Blum and Marc Staimer, who I had been conversing with on this list. We then went to Tianemmen (sp) Square and the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. Absolutely breathtaking, the history, the art and much more. The next day with another family arriving we went to the Ming Tombs, Sacrifice Row and The Great Wall of China. Again a great day........of course there is much more detailed information but I wanted to get this out of the way for our journey to our daughters....................til part 2...............

Finally I can write some more on my story........BTW Happy 4th of July everyone.

On June 2nd we all check out of the hotel in Beijing and waited til 2pm to go to the airport to fly to Nanchang. Everything went well and we arrived in Nanchang at about 6 pm, arrived at the hotel, which was absolutely astonishing. This was a beautiful hotel. I've spent half my last 6 years in hotels and I was quite amazed.

We checked in and hurried to our rooms because we had to go eat dinner and receive our daughters at 8:30 pm. Everyone was very nervous and could hardly eat.......well some of the families couldn't eat. The more experienced families knew that they should eat for energy. I picked at my food and at 8:30 went up to our floor with the Staimers and watched while they received their daughter Julia. Then they called me over and handed me Miranda Grace....aka Wan, Jinxia. I thought I would cry.......I was overwhelmed by this teeny tiny little girl they handed to me. She was suppose to be 11 months old and she was no bigger than a 4 month old child. But she was absolutely beautiful!!! She just quietly looked at me and wondered what was going on. I handed her to my Mother-in-law and she just screamed. Immediately, we knew that no one else could hold her. Hmmmmmmm...........I can't believe she bonded this quickly.....but it happened and from this day forward for the rest of the one could hold her. I couldn't go to the bathroom, take a shower, or walk across the room without her screaming furiously. It was all so overwhelming for a new Mom......then the Mother-in-law was upset because she couldn't console her and of course it was my fault that she didn't go to her. I didn't know that this was the beginning of the end of my decent relationship with my mother-in-law.

That first night I changed her and fed her some formula........then it was off to bed. She was fine........but she made this sucking noise all night and I stayed awake all night thinking that she was so hungry. Come to find out all the babies did it and she still does it right before she goes to sleep or if she's in a restless sleep.

The next morning we awoke and went to breakfast........she was a dream.....she laughed and giggled at the table. Of course that changed when I went to get my breakfast off the buffet. She screamed til I got back. The emotions swarming inside of me were very mixed. I was sad because my husband couldn't be here with us and I was the only one without my spouse. My mother-in-law was complaining at every turn, but with everyone else in the group she was a delight. That irked me more, because they didn't know what she was saying and doing to me. She threatened to fly home the next day because the baby wouldn't go to her and here I was trying to console my child and my mother in law. Okay, I thought I brought her along for emotional support, but I was dead wrong.

We went after breakfast to the local authorities to interview and get the paperwork for the Chinese Passport going. This was a breeze for me, but for a couple of our families it wasn't so easy. Apparently, two of the babies names and pictures had been switched and they wanted these couples to switch babies. It all worked out in the end and they didn't have to switch. But stressful all the same wondering what was to happen.

Then we returned to the hotel and spent a the afternoon there. Then we were called into a hotel room to interview with the local authorities from Wanzai County. This also went very well and I received the final adoption papers here. Wan, Jinxia was now legally ours. Yeah!!!!! I took some time to myself to reflect on what just happened and couldn't wait til I could call my Husband-Brian. After dinner that night I called and just cried and cried.........I was so overwhelmed with emotions of happiness and anger (towards his Mom). She has added so much stress to this trip in just the first day that I couldn't believe I had to spend another 10 days with her........well it wasn't easy.........til Part 3....

Well if I remember correctly I stopped at the end of the first 24 hours with my daughter. She is now legally ours, paperwork and all.

Now that the legalities are done, all we do is wait for the passport. Well the guides have certain excursions that we can do, if we choose to.

At this point Miranda is giggly, and happy most of the time. That's as long as I'm there next to her that is. I take a trot across the room and she screams very loudly. But she is a good eater. She eats and being the New Mother.......and her being so tiny for her age.....I feed her as much as she wants........big mistake. First of all she is not properly disposing of all I'm feeding her. After the first 48 hours I begin to talk to the other parents and they are all having the same problems. I decide to wait til the next day. One of the other more experienced parents have brought an enema ball and it will be used if need be. I didn't want to go to that extreme yet. A doctor our guide brought to our room gave me something to help her pass her food and I backed off on feeding her as much as she wanted. At only 10 lbs I decided to feed her 2 to 3 oz at a time every 3 to 4 hours. She was drinking 6 to 8 oz of formula 3 times a day. To my joy she had her first movement that afternoon (it was Wednesday by now, 2 days in my care). I thought everything was going to be okay.

The next day on Thursday, there was a bus tour to a mountain that was said to be so beautiful and they had to have a certain number of people go or they wouldn't book it. I originally said I didn't want to go because a 2 ½ hour bus ride there and back didn't sound like fun with a new baby. But at the insistence from the Mom in law I went.......BIG, BIG mistake. Miranda awoke cranky.........she drank a bottle with 4 oz of formula and some cereal. She seemed to perk up but was a little sleepy by the time we got on the bus to start our adventure that turned into a nightmare. She was still hungry so 2 hours after breakfast with her screaming I fed her another bottle of 5 oz and she went to sleep on the bus ride up the mountain. This was a roller coaster ride with no safety rails...I learned not to sit at the front of the was pretty scary. There were 14 of us with 4 babies.....we made the first few stops on the way up the mountain and Miranda was a happy camper after her first morning nap. We walked around with the other families looking at sights. Then it was lunch time and we stopped at the restaurant and ate and Miranda played and ate some rice. She started getting cranky again and I wasn't able to console her this time. She cried and cried and cried on the bus, we then stopped at a beautiful lake on the mountain and everyone left the bus except Miranda and I, she just cried and cried and screamed. I rocked her and held her and tried to console her to no avail. A Chinese woman (a stranger) walked onto the bus and tried to take her out of my arms and I shoved her away. None of my group was around and I was pretty mad that this woman thought that she could do something that I couldn't. It was very hot and unbearable. I felt like a failure at this new Mom stuff and Miranda finally tired of screaming went to sleep again. She only slept for about 20 minutes and then continued to scream as we went on to another destination on the mountain. I got off the bus this time and tried to rock her back to sleep while the rest of the group went on a short jaunt. All the other tourists would come up to me and try to play with her and it was beginning to annoy me. Even though I knew they were being curious, I was peaking at my stress level. Of course the two guides kept telling me to feed her, she still hadn't had a bowel movement on her own and I didn't want to feed her too much. BTW my mother in law didn't offer a finger to help, everyone else on the bus offered to help, even though there wasn't anything to do. My mom in law basically didn't say a word to me the entire trip. I gave in and she took another 4 oz of formula, this was about 2 pm. As soon as she finished and I sat her up in my lap on this bus ride (worse than the Big Bend roller coaster at Six Flags in Arlington, Texas) she proceeded to initiate me into Motherhood and threw up everything I had fed her all day and probably most of what she ate the day before. Luckily, for everyone else I caught the projectile vomit and it only destroyed me and the seat. Then she screamed and screamed and we then stopped at another beautiful sight that I couldn't see and I asked my mother in law to please video tape something of the mountain for Miranda's sake. So she would know what some of the countryside and mountain's were like in her country. She did. I cleaned myself up and Miranda too and the bus driver helped me clean up the seat and floor of the bus. I was absolutely at my wit's end by this time and poor Miranda was in so much pain. Her belly was ridged and it was decided when we returned that she was to have an enema to flush out her bowels. She screamed 1 ½ hours of the 2 ½ hour bus ride back. I proceeded to the room immediately and within 10 minutes the other mom came over to help with the enema. It took 2 enemas to help her........within minutes after, she was the same giggly baby as before. I went down to dinner and she slept in her stroller, I felt so bad........I'm the one that fed her too much....I just wasn't thinking. I finished dinner quickly and went right up to the room to put her to bed for a good nights rest. Little did I know the worst was yet to come..........until part 4.......BTW the mountain was beautiful from what I saw.......but I would not recommend that bus trip with these new babies.....1 of the 4 babies did fine......the other 2 babies were just irritable......minor stuff compared to Miranda. If anyone out there is offended by the content then please don't flame me like you did with it and don't read the rest of my story.

Well I think I left off after Miranda's day at the mountain.

After dinner I went back to the room and put Miranda to bed, she was sleeping already and very exhausted after the long, miserable day at the mountain. She slept for about an hour.......then she woke up very cranky and crying......I couldn't do anything to console her. She was very hot and I took off her sleeper and tried to put cool rags on her to cool her down. Meanwhile, my mother in law told me I was being silly and she was fine. Miranda screamed for 2 hours and I finally called for a doctor. The doctor came and said she had a fever and I gave the doctor the story of the days activities. He said she probably had a little toxic waste infection......I was given medicine for the fever....and also the cough she had started that morning and other different medicines such as antibiotics. I gave them to her throughout the night. Miranda or I did not get any sleep. Grandma however, seemed to sleep through it all.........I know because she was snoring. The cough mainly kept Miranda and I awake......she tried to sleep but couldn't because of this cough. By morning we were both very exhausted and Grandma was upset because I wasn't going with the group to the porcelain factory or the village tour they had arranged. She left and Miranda and I tried to sleep........we both slept from 9:30 am til 12:30 am when Grandma returned to the room and started to talk to me. I had not eaten and was not hungry........I gave Miranda clear liquids and planned to give her clear liquids until she began to function properly.......her stomach was still rigid and full from any food left in her from the previous 4 days of feeding........I just wanted to make sure she could function on her own before I began formula and cereal again. This was a sore spot with Grandma, because she said I was going to starve her. I argued that I had caused the infection with the overfeeding that a couple days of clear juices, water and tea was not going to starve her. Another stressful argument with the mother in law, plus I was tired and hungry too. All this while Miranda tried to sleep and couldn't because of the horrible cough she had. We both slept again in the afternoon for about 2 hours.....Miranda seemed to be doing better.........I was crying furiously after my mom in law left, I was terrified that something was wrong with my child and I had caused it and the comments and digs my mother in law made didn't do anything but confirm my fears. I decided that Miranda and I would take a walk before I went to dinner.....I was starved by dinnertime and Miranda seemed happier. We went down to dinner and she was a giggly baby and promptly fell asleep before he end of dinner. I went up to the room at about 7:30 pm and put Miranda to bed and proceeded to go to sleep myself. She wasn't coughing quite as much and we were both very tired. She only slept about an hour before she decided to wake up and cry.......again I couldn't console her......I finally rocked her to a half way sleep and put her back in the crib.......she cried....furiously and with no tears.....this time my picking her up didn't help.......she was mad and throwing herself back into an arch and her face turned red........I recognized this as a tantrum because she was so overtired from not getting any sleep the night before.......I told my mother in law that she was just overtired and I was going to sit in the hall and do crossword puzzles.........she got mad and said something was wrong and picked up the baby to no avail......she called in the guides and translators and said something was terribly wrong with this child..........they said she just had to get used to us. I was in tears because my mom in law did not consider me at all in these decisions.......she called another about 10:30 pm and woke them up to come help.....the same family that was so prepared with the enema ball and helped us. They came to our room and carried the baby around and proceeded to confirm what I had said. Miranda was a very smart little girl and was just overtired......they told us to leave the room and stay close by.......she would eventually cry herself to sleep. This relieved me that someone else confirmed what I had said. My mother in law never apologized......she just proceeded to make me look like a fool who didn't know what I was doing. All I could think many more days til the end of the trip. Within 30 minutes of us leaving the room she fell asleep. I went to bed without another word to my mother in law. We woke up and I didn't say a word to her then either......I proceeded to feed my daughter clear fluids and pack to go to Guangzhou......I then went to check out. I didn't say a word because I knew I would blow........luckily she didn't say anything to me either or I would've sent her on another plane to Hawaii that day.

We loaded up with the others and went to the airport. On the bus ride Miranda was in a Snuglie and was very giggly and had rained and the town was flooded. We watched as the citizens of Nanchang drudged through lakes and rivers that had formed in their streets. It was interesting and amusing.....we wondered if we would make it to the airport on time. Miranda decided she didn't want to be in the Snuglie and started one of her tantrums again. I felt so bad for the rest of the group because I know she was annoying....I was pretty much immune to her cries....they didn't bother me as much. The guide came to sit by me and told me to feed her.....I already had and then she told me to take her out of the Snuglie.....I refused saying if she was hurting she would have tears. We were having a power struggle and I was going to win. After 45 minutes she stopped and oddly enough was happy and giggly again. We proceeded on the plane where she slept the full hour we then arrived in Guangzhou with no hitches.......I know our bags were overloaded, but we were not charged........We arrived at our hotel knowing that in just 4 days it would be all over. BTW Miranda had her own bowel movement when we arrived at the White Swan hotel......yeah.....this was a great sign.

The next four days were a dream compared to the last 6 days. Until part 5 the conclusion to our journey.................

Brian and Bernie Neff

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