Thursday, January 5, 2012
Before I get into the last two weeks, here are a few more photos from our trip. Now that we are in a fixed position and I have all the pictures we took together in the same folder, I can finally find them! Here is our 'red couch' photo, taken at the White Swan Hotel where many another group of adoptive families has taken their new child's photo. Usually the group of babies is sitting on the couch together. Inevitably there is one or more who is crying, slumping, uncooperative. We had one of those in our group. No crying, but no sitting prettily either. There's always one.
Lunch at Lucy's on Shamian Island. Turns out spaghetti is a big hit with our newest. She's a noodle girl no matter how you fix 'em.
Hanging at the hotel. We did alot of this. Found an empty corner on the 4th floor of the Garden Hotel where we could burn a little energy without disrupting guests or staff.
We've been home almost two weeks now. Things continue to go very well. Faith continues to seem to be delighted with her new environment. She was enthralled with the house, her room, the things we had waiting here for her. It made me aware all over again of just how affluently we Americans live, even those of us who are striving to 'live more with less'.
We all seemed to get over the jet lag within five days of being home. The first night home (after 25 hours of traveling) we slept from 8pm to 8am. The kids would have slept longer, but it was Christmas morning and we wanted to be to church by 10:00, so I woke them all up. They stayed up all day, went to bed late (with a aid of little melatonin) and slept until after 10 the next morning. One of them may have slept until noon. From there we were on regular bedtimes, and they gradually woke earlier each day. We had no trouble being up for school on Tuesday after more than a week of adjusting. This seemed so much easier this time than the last time, when Melinda and I seemed to spend a good two weeks up from 1am to 5am before she finally shifted her nights and days. One of the benefits of older child adoption. :)
We are seeing alot of the expected regression behaviors and I am surprised to find myself gritting my teeth through them. I know the behavior is all completely normal. I know it will pass. And I am surprised at how hard it is for me to be at peace with this stage and this process. When she finally started speaking, every other word uttered was 'No'. We're now to every 4th word, so progress is being made. But oh! how it grates on me to hear her telling me no endlessly. Her: Momma? me: Yes? her: No! Me: Hungry? her: No! Banana. Her: Game? me: OK her: No! My mantra has been "ok we're in the 2 yr old stage now...smile and say Yes!" She also calls Mama mama all. day. long. I've started responding with Faith! rather than Yes?, since the answer to What? or Yes? is No!. Baba suggested she just likes to hear the sound of her own voice naming her (finally!) mama. Maybe so.
This week it has been baby noises that are getting to me. Shrill, shrieky baby cries, followed by giggling. Crawling up the stairs instead of walking. Last night I held her in the rocker like an infant and rocked her, singing Hush Little Baby. Last week she would have bolted out of the chair after the first three words. This week she stayed put all the way to the end of the song. Fabulous progress! I know she needs this and I'm happy to oblige. But I gotta be honest, it feels a little weird to be singing lullabies to a lanky 9 and a half year old.
We are playing lots of board games, card games and dice games. She is loving them. When we are not playing she is asking to. We are doing lots of object naming and English learning. It has been really helpful to have learned how to perform a running dialogue of everything we are seeing for our visually impaired son. It is second nature to me to be naming - out loud - every single thing we see and do. And so she hears and sometimes repeats lots of nouns and verbs.
So while things are going very very well, one other surprise I've had these last two weeks is the adjustment it has required of me. I find myself mourning the loss of the threesome we were all day while Daddy worked, and that has been a surprise. Something I didn't expect. I am praying for God's grace, that this will be a short lived battle not evident to the little ones.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
We have arrived in San Francisco and are awaiting our flight to Portland. Being a Hague I800 adoption, our arrival in the US makes Faith automatically a US citizen. We are pleased that all three of our littles have arrived in the US via the port of San Francisco. Here's hoping the paperwork is processed properly this time. (Melinda's paperwork was filed rather than processed when she arrived. Many visits to USCIS and Social Security were required to get that mess straightened
All three did really well on the long flight over the Pacific. Everyone slept a little. Faith has remained cheerful and excited throughout our journey out of China. I continue to be amazed at what a trooper she continues to be as her world transforms before her eyes.
Friday, December 23, 2011
And more importantly, Faith has started practicing the English she's been learning with us this week. We've heard a lot of "No' and 'I don't know' from her today. We've looked at all six sets of bilingual flash cards we bought last week and named each object. She's readily named the ones she knows (cat, dog, cow, banana, yellow, green, red, orange, blue). Hooray for progress!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Yesterday we traipsed back over to Shaiman Island and did a little souvenir shopping. Bought each of the kids their own chops, which was very fun. Resisted the urge to buy Chinese New Years clothes, which I may regret when we get home. But I am trying very hard not to spend money on 'stuff', even if it is cool 'can't get it at home' stuff. We had lunch at the deli next to the White Swan Hotel, hung out in the park near Lucy's, stopped at Starbucks and then came back to our hotel. We had dinner at a fast food joint down the street and ice cream cones from McDonald's before calling it a day. (I'd tell you what we did Tuesday but it's such a distant memory - I'm thinking it must have been 'not much'!)
Today we were done with our big event by 9am. We are finding ourselves less and less motivated to be out and about with the kids. They are tired of being schlepped. We are tired of schlepping them. So today we are playing lots of Go Fish, Uno and Carcasonne in our room. I have started packing up to go home. I have one and a half suitcases packed, clothes laid out for the next two days, and am starting to weed out all the paperwork the kids have generated during our stay at the Garden. By this time tomorrow I'll likely have us all packed and ready to go, just to be busy doing something, despite having another night's sleep ahead of us. I feel a little bit guilty about not reveling in the opportunity we have to be here in China. But at this point we're starting to feel like we've been here forever, with very little to do between appointments. Am I the only one that found this so long and hard?
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday we went to Shamian Island to attend the 11am service at Christ Church Shamian Island. We had lunch at Lucy's and spent the afternoon walking around, playing on the playground next to Lucy's, resting on the red couches at the White Swan, and doing lots of running and jumping. We had hoped to meet up with other adoptive families for dinner, but never found them. Everyone was drooping in the cab on the way back to our hotel.
|Our 'red couch' photo|
Faith has been with us for over a week now. We've seen a bit of mischievousness the last couple of days - teasing her siblings, dashing out from under a hand on her shoulder, with a grin on her face - which we are taking as a good sign of further comfort in her new environment. But she continues to only nod in response to our attempts to engage her. I'll be happy when this phase is behind us.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Once back to the hotel we were back to our usual 'routine' of quiet compliance. We've brought a number of games that don't require language and she's enjoying them with us. We also did some more 'school' this morning and she willingly repeated object names as we worked with flashcards. (So wonderful to hear her voice!) We've discovered during our 'school' time this week that she has all the times tables memorized and can name all the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case. She also knew a few of Alex's sight words. Sure would be nice to know what they'd been teaching in her English class this Fall. We were told at the orphanage that she'd stay up until 10pm at night to do school work and is a very good student. She clearly enjoys our 'paperwork' time each day. She has beautiful handwriting. I'm starting to think that our plan to delay school enrollment until September may need to be revisited. So hard to know.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
After the medical visit we walked around Shamian Island. We walked through the first and second floor of the White Swan, took our 'red couch' photos, dropped off our laundry and had a delicious lunch of dumplings and noodles high above Jordon's.
Our official paperwork and appointments are now complete except for the US Consulate and US Visa next Thursday. Yay!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
After lunch we came back to the hotel for rest time. Some of us played a few games (Carcasonne!) while others of us napped.
The passport office was quick and easy, and then we were off to a park (our request) to burn off some pent up energy. The kids had a blast swinging, peddling (a fabulous contraption that had wheels, seats, handle bars and peddles affixed to a large metal hoop, so that all the riders peddling together spun the thing around. Biking without going anywhere....perfect!) We then went out for another fabulous dinner. We love, love, love the food here!
Alex and Melinda are all over Faith - they hold hands everywhere we go. M announcing that Faith is her best best friend. Faith seems to really enjoy her new 'big sister' role and is quick to help the others when needed (Melinda was trying to use chopsticks at dinner and Faith reached over to hold the tops together for her as she struggled.) She is as quiet as a mouse, answering questions with a nod of her head rather than any words. It is starting to stress me out. I hope she soon gets up the courage to start using the English they say she's learned since September. I am eager to hear her sweet voice.
Tomorrow we have the medical exam and the TB test read, then we'll spend some time on Shamian Island. Looking forward to it!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
From there we went over to the medical offices on Shamian Island where the TB test was administered. It will be read on Thursday when we go back for the medical exam. Then it was off to lunch, where the kids devoured great quantities of spagetti and meat sauce, macaroni and cheese. Our guide stayed for a bit after lunch and Faith took the opportunity to share that she was missing her ayi's and others at the SWI. We assured her it was ok to be sad and miss them, even ok to cry if she wanted to. She's been working so hard at being strong throughout this process. Poor thing. Later in the afternoon I scooped her up and just held her on my lap. She didn't resist, but she didn't snuggle in either. Not unexpected, of course, since it's been barely 24 hours we've been together. But we've got our starting point and I'm so glad to see her sharing her feelings. She says very little when our guide isn't here. I'm not sure how much is knowing we won't understand her and how much is trying to stay as invisible as possible. But at least she's talking to our guide and letting us in a tiny bit. All good signs, I think.
|My three musketeers|
Later in the afternoon we took bottles of bubbles outside and the three of them had a blast blowing bubbles, chasing and popping them, catching them back on the wand. Faith seemed much more comfortable out of the confines of the hotel room, so our strategy for the rest of the week is to stay busy out and about in between appointments. Tomorrow we go to the passport office late in the afteroon, so we have nearly all day to put that plan into practice. We're thinking we'll go to the seven story bookstore and stock up on language materials. Should be fun!
Thank you all for your continued prayers - we have felt the power of those prayers and God's love and care for us all this week, for sure!
Monday, December 12, 2011
We were able to ask lots of questions of the ayi's (but in the general commotion of document signing and kid wrangling have lost the notes I took, so from memory...)
She is talkative and social, only unhappy when she is alone. (So far she's been quiet and oh so polite). She eats everything (and lots). She is afraid of storms, is accustomed to sleeping with the lights on (apparently they never turn them off at the SWI). She started English in school in September. She is completely independent in showering and dressing. (This one surprised her 6 yr old brother....Alex take note...)
Please continue to pray that we'll be able to communicate well despite the total language barrier. She's been so upbeat, I pray that the frustration of not being able to be understood during these early days doesn't undermine our good spirits.
Sent from my iPhone
Sunday, December 11, 2011
We had an uneventful flight to Vancouver (the very best kind), ate lunch, boarded our plane to Hong Kong, spent an interminable amount of time airborne, then arrived in Hong Kong 14 hours later. We spent a lovely night at the SkyCity Marriott. Great hotel, wonderful staff, convenient shuttle service. We were all in bed with lights out at 9pm local time and quickly asleep. The kids slept a full night. Both had napped for just a couple of hours or so on the plane, so were really ready for some solid sleep. Unfortuately, despite next to no sleep on the plane, I only managed to stay asleep until 3am. So I'm dragging today.
This morning we took the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. We are filling up the passports with entry and exit stamps. Mr A is showing signs of some anxiety and was a relentless pest as we navigated from the trian to our waiting guide. No amount of calm (and not so calm) encouragement has dissuaded him from alleviating the stress by teasing his little sister. During one of his calmer moments he asked what people in China would call him. We had an interesting little discussion about how he could choose whether to use his American name or his Chinese name while we are in China. He thought probably his Chinese name would be best. It was interesting to watch the wheels turning in his 6 year old brain.
We are now settled at the Garden Hotel and, while still pretty bone weary (and worried about Mr A's choices for coping behaviors) eagerly await meeting Faith tomorrow afternoon. Praising God for our safe journey to the other side of the world and continuing our prayers for His help with her transition.
Friday, December 9, 2011
We are off! 24 hours from now we'll be in Hong Kong. 48 hours after that we'll be with Faith.
Our itinerary looks something like this:
12/10: Arrive Hong Kong
12/11: Arrive Guangzhou via train from Hong Kong
12/13: Finalization at provincial offices
12/14: TB test administered
12/15: Medical appointment
12/16: TB test read
12/17: Orphanage visit
12/18 - 12/21: Rest / Tour
12/22: Consulate appointment
12/23: Pick up visa
12/24: Train to Hong Kong, fly home
We are all super excited to be on our way. Please pray for our health and stamina (and that I will find unending supplies of patience throughout the trip). Thank you prayer warriors!
Monday, December 5, 2011
See you Monday, sweetheart. (I can't believe I can finally say exactly when we'll meet!!!)
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
So when we found ourselves forced to start looking for a new car, we looked at both replacement Volvos and mini-vans of the make and models identified. We test drove one Volvo, looked at a couple of others, then ran across a mini-van of the make & model desired, in our price range, and available locally. For all those things to line up in our small town was all God. But the biggest surprise was to get to the lot to see what I thought was the car we were meant to buy, only to find, sitting right next to it, the navy blue minivan I'd asked for. Only God. So we are now driving a navy blue minivan which will fit the five of us with room to spare. And somehow, He even made the money part work out so that this one, like the Volvo, is fully paid for. Through the blessing of an unexpected car accident we have the car we need for our growing family. Praise be to God, who makes all things possible for them that love the Lord!
Our paperwork is nearing the end of the US immigration approval process, and will be delivered for final travel approval on November 15th. Travel approval can come anytime after that, most often between two and four weeks. We are still anxiously awaiting God's plan for our travel. If the travel approval comes in early December and we can get a consulate appointment before Christmas, we'll travel right away. If not, it will be January. Something tells me there is someone we are to meet while we're in China picking up Faith (adoption #4?). So whenever we finally go, I am confident it will be exactly when we are supposed to be there.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Thanks be to God for His perfect timing in all things.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
In the meantime, we received an update on Faith from her SWI, which included answers to questions we'd sent last month. (Favorite color: yellow and blue, current weight: 48 lbs, shoe size girls US1) They also sent photos of her wearing the shirt we sent and holding the lamb. So precious!
She looks a little frightened to me, which just breaks my heart. I can only imagine how aware she is of how drastically her life will change in just a few short months. Please pray with us that God wraps her in reassurance about this.
Monday, June 13, 2011
I started my letter by pasting in the Chinese characters of her name, Then, using Google translator I typed in a brief greeting, pasting the translated results into my letter. Then I pasted the translation into Google translator to see how it would be re-translated back into English. I wasn't saying anything too elaborate (Happy Birthday, we hope you have a nice day, we love you, from Mama and Baba) so it worked just fine.
Once I had completed that, I decided to see what it would do with the characters of her name. So I pasted the three characters of her name in and clicked translate. And the results?
Her surname in Chinese is exactly the same as our surname in English! Our last name is a common English word, and the surname given her by the orphanage is the Chinese for that word. How cool is that? We'll adopt her, but her last name won't change.
God is so clever!