Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Art of Baby Bundling

Baby bundling is no laughing matter in China.  It is serious business.  I mean, serious.  As the mother of three children prior to adopting Hannah, I went into the whole process feeling pretty confident about my skill set.  Sure, there would be adoption specific things that would be new to me, but in the general art of mothering, I felt secure.

Then I went to China.  And I suddenly felt as though I had it all wrong.  All the time.  I wanted to wear a neon sign that said, "I've only known this child for three days!  Give us all some slack!  I cannot be responsible for her behavior, nor do I really know how to respond to her behavior."

Being in  China with a brand new child....it is just hard.  It is the perfect storm.  You don't know them.  They don't know you.  You draw attention because you are white...and in China.  And for us, our child had a cleft, so that drew attention.  People in China stare.  Not like casual sideways, are they staring at us, staring.  Nope.  Blatant, in your face, I don't care if you see me staring, stares.  Stop the motor bike staring.  Turn around and walk backward staring.  We got stares everywhere.  And we were making all sorts of cultural mistakes.  Daily.

The primary one was in how we dressed our child.  Hannah was from a southern province.  In January, when we were there, it was warm.  Like 75 degrees warm.  Chris and I were comfortable (if not hot) in short sleeve shirts.  We packed clothing similar to ours for Hannah to wear.  Oops!  Should have packed the heaviest winter items I could find!  Daily, our guide would ask me if i had a heavy coat for her to wear or a thick blanket we could cover her with.  Daily.  Like make you feel stupid, daily.  So now people are staring at us because of all those other things and we are failing to keep her adequately covered.  Ultimate fail!  If you plan to travel in the winter, regardless of what province and climate you are going to, pack a thick, heavy coat for your baby!  Even if they turn red and sweat, this is what will be expected of you!

Things were challenging and sometimes we just didn't leave the hotel room because we were tired of being stared at.  I had to keep telling myself that when our biological kids were her age we didn't eat out at restaurants with them and we knew what to expect from them!  Here we were, in a foreign country, trying to eat our meals out in restaurants with our brand new child, who was rather volatile at the time.  We didn't know what she wanted to eat, how to feed her (which I often just did with my fingers....another big cultural no, no!).  Stress.  Lots and lots of stress.

So, let this be your lesson.  Bundle those Chinese babies!  Enter Hannah's hot pink coat, that she wore every single day we were in China, which was the heaviest item I'd packed (and almost forgot...so glad I threw it in last second!!).  So, along with her token snack cup in every photo, you will also see her token hot pink coat.
Take note of the thick vest she came to us in, long pants, long sleeves, and insulated shoes.  Then look at how Chris is dressed.

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