Friday, August 31, 2012

Jet Lag - Are You Kidding Me?

Wow! That about sums up my feelings on jet lag. I think this is what being drunk must feel like. My senses are low, my judgment is impaired, I am moving in slow motion ... blah, blah, blah! I've heard this can last up to a month - yay!

We are home. Hallelujah! We had such an amazing home coming. The kids were all at the airport and both sets of grandparents. They were waiting for us with signs at the bottom of the escalator and Kate broke down sobbing when she saw me. She ran into my arms and has basically stayed there ever since. It was so sweet. Lincoln cried too he was so happy and just kept hugging everyone. The other kids were equally happy just less emotional. I love being home.

John was a little scared about the entire thing as you can imagine. He did not want to leave Rick's arms, freaked out a little in a car seat on the way home, and had a heart attack when greeted by our loving dog. John is loving life now. He LOVES having siblings, and they love having him in our family. It really is a great match. I think it is hardest on me because I have two needy two year olds who want my constant attention. Overall it has been a nice transition.

We got home Saturday night, and unfortunately tragedy hit our family on Sunday. Our beloved dog Aspen, died accidentally.  She was only three, a beautiful golden retriever and so totally lovable. She loved us too, which made it all the sadder. It was one of those situations that while it was happening I kept thinking, how are we going to explain that God loves us when horrible things happen. And guess what, by the end of the day, we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in our lives.

Rick and the kids took Aspen to our land to bury her. (Our land is 2 hours away and we thought John probably could not handle the four hour roundtrip drive after the 28 hours of travel 12 hours earlier.) It rained the entire drive and when they got to the land, they weren't sure if they were going to be able to dig a hole in the down pour. They said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to please stop the rain so that they could take care of Aspen. The rain immediately stopped. They were able to prepare the grave and make a beautiful wooden head stone, got back in the car and the rain started pouring down again. It meant the world to our family to know that even though tragic things happen, Heavenly Father cares enough about us that he stopped the rain. It felt like an old school pioneer type experience.

John hasn't missed the dog at all if there is a positive note to this experience. It is so fun to watch him run around gut laughing with his siblings. He adores his little sister Kate, who likes him less than that. She is going to have the biggest adjustment. John is constantly looking out for her, already acting like a big brother even though they are only 3 months apart in age. It is really tender to witness. He has adjusted to me beautifully and life in a big family.

Some funny and quirky things about our little boy:

He has a mortal fear of bubbles in a bath tub and any animal. I'm talking birds, squirrels, dogs, cats, rabbits - you name it. The child is terrified. Playing outside is not his favorite activity as you can imagine because if a bird is chirping or a squirrel is out, he goes into full blown melt down. Cute little guy. It is great to be home!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Last Full Day in China

It was a pretty great day knowing that it was our last. We woke up and went to the park that is across from the hotel. We have tried it before, but it was so blistering hot that we only lasted 15 minutes. This time we spent a long time walking around and taking in all the sights and sounds and smells of China. The park was so beautiful with many pathways and beautiful surroundings. There were so many people doing Tai Chi and other forms of exercise.

There were book clubs reading in picturesque arbors, singing groups practicing native song, and a band paling traditional music.The cantonese people are much smaller than in the north. I was at least a head taller than most of the men and  much taller than most of the women.

We also took the traditional red couch picture today. Ever since CCAI our adoption agency brought the first 6 little girls home in the 1990s, every adoption group has had a picture of all the children from that adoption group on a red couch. There are usually kids crying, and our group was no exception.


We can't wait to see our darling kids. From the time we leave our hotel tomorrow morning, it will be 27 hours to get home. We are so excited. This  is our last post from China.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

US Consulate Appointment

We did our last official step in the adoption process for China today - the Consulate appointment. It was our last part of the Visa application. Tomorrow John should have a Visa to the US, and we can leave China. As part of the application for the Consulate we had to put down what day, time and flight number of our departure from China. I thought it was so funny that I had to put all that down. Do they think there is a chance I might want to stay in China? Trust me when I say this - I do not want to stay in China any longer. As a matter of fact if I am not on that flight, please come and find me because something is seriously wrong. I'm glad we were here, but it is time to go. I miss our kids so much it hurts, and I miss the United States. I'm a true blue american.

Basically at the Consulate visit we took an oath and finalized paper work. John was not happy on the bus ride home. He basically wants to eat everyone's snacks. Everyone is willing to share with him, but that is not enough for him. He wants the entire thing. This is how he reacts with a gentle - NO! Right, I'm sure they never told him no in the orphanage or foster care .... I'm sure he got whatever he wanted whenever he wanted ... so funny!

We swam for over 3 hours today. It was actually pretty relaxing. Can you stand how cute this little boy is? John has won us over.

I love this sign by the pool. It use to make me laugh every time I saw it until this guy next to John kept breaking the rules of the sign. I kept saying to myself, please read the sign, please read the sign!!!!

 John discovered the window ledge of our hotel room today and LOVED it.  We played a roaring game of peekaboo with the curtains. This sweet boy has such a great laugh. He also loved climbing into the play pen over and over and over, but could never get out. It was a happy sad game. He would be laughing hysterically one minute and sort of freaking out the next.

Tomorrow is our last full day here. It is time to go, but I'm glad we have been here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shaiman Island

Today there was hardly anything on our schedule. John had to go back for his TB test results, and now he is clear to come to the US!

We decided to go over to Shaiman Island where all adoptive families used to stay. It is a relatively quiet place with a lot of tourist shops. We ate dinner at a yummy Thai restaurant. I think it is time to go home because it is starting to feel like ground hog day a little bit here.

On a really positive note though, John is well on his way back to letting me in his life. It was such a great day. He actually left the hotel room with just me. That is really big news. He also sought me out for comfort when he was sad at dinner. He let me take him to the bathroom and give him a bath. It is nice to be back in the "in" crowd.

There are so many men who wear their shirts like this. I had to take a picture.

John really likes my sun glasses.

This is how our tour guide entertained us at the end of a very hot touring day.

Like father, like son.

Swimming at the Marriott hotel in Guangzhou.

John has a little independent streak. He wants to sit alone on the bus sometimes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guangzhou Zoo

The big activity of the day was going to the Guangzhou Zoo. I'm not sure that I have mentioned this before but it is really hot here. I'm talking a film of wet and beads of sweat at all times. That is what 94 degrees and 97% humidity feels like.

John loved the zoo and was terrified all at one time. The zoo was really nice. They had tons of animals, lots of exhibits and nice places for the animals to live. The thing I really liked was that if they had one animal, they most likely had many of the same breed. I have never seen so many porcupines in one place - and the smell - whew! The pandas were hamming it up for the audience too and one even did a summersault. The only thing that I didn't like was the heat.

John didn't completely unlike me today. There were actually long periods of time where we were having so much fun together.  This cutie has the funnest laugh. He is such a cute kid, and we really adore him. We have had him for over a week now, and we feel really grateful. 

I saw at least 9 new families in our hotel today who have adopted. I've said it before but I really love meeting all of these wonderful people.

I learned today that there are 96 consulate visits per week for adopted kids. That is just under 5,000 children a year who are adopted into the US. We have also seen a lot of people from Spain adopting. If you want a second child in China you have to pay three years of salary. And that is not your own salary, but the average salary made in the city where you live. So if someone in Guangzhou wants to have a second child, it would be nearly impossible to pay the fines. You can tell that there is a lot of money in this part of China. It is cheaper to have more children in the country. So there are families with up to three children that we have seen.

We ate at the same restaurant we ate at last night. I think that will become a nightly routine. They even recognized us tonight when we came in. I'd like to say that we are "blending" with the locals, but that is impossible. We stick out like sore thumbs here, and I'm ok with that. We like this restaurant and tonight's dinner came to $5.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Medical Exam and Exploring Guangzhou

Today was John's medical exam. He did such a fantastic job until it was time for his TB test. He knew something fishy was going on when we walked to the room, and he was not happy about going inside. The day for our cutie kind of went down hill from there because he took a 5 minute nap on the bus and we could not convince him to nap again. This boy needs his naps.

He was so cute while we were waiting for his exam. John LOVES to share his food with others so he went from friend to friend sharing his cheerios. It was pretty cute. One of the medical examiners said that he never had a cleft palate - great but we doubt that a little so we are excited to get back to the states to confirm his medical history - at least as much as we can.

This evening we decided to go exploring and I am so glad that we did. We found this great open market pretty close to the hotel with a lot of restaurants. We really liked it because it did not feel like a government propaganda machine and it did not feel like it was catering to tourists. It was all about the locals. Our dinner was really great and all that food only cost us $10 - not bad.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guangzhou / Canton

We discovered that Guangzhou is the place the English called Canton. I've been reading a book about Canton, so I was happy with my discovery.

We decided to do nothing today. Everyday we have been here our schedule has been packed. As one would imagine, we were a little tired. John was exhausted. So we opted out of the tour and stayed put. One thing we tried to do was church. We hailed a taxi cab and they took us to an address about 15 minutes away and dropped us off on the corner. We had no idea where we were or where the church was. I had a map of the church and an address in English. We thought that there would be a plaque or something identifying the church building. We walked up and down the street "asking" people for help. No one spoke english ... funny. Anyway, finally someone pointed to a torn down building across the street and let us know that the church used to be there. Oh well. It sounded really nice to go to church today, really show our gratitude to Heavenly Father, and maybe get some extra blessings. I'm really glad we tried.

The address was right by the Pearl River so it was nice to see that and walk around. The Pearl River is the largest river in the south of China and the third largest river in China. It is so hot here. I know I sound redundant but it is unlike anything I have ever felt before. I fantasize about wearing a dress or a skirt. For those of you who know how much I dislike those items of clothing, this puts the heat into some perspective.

One activity we did join tonight was the group dinner at a local restaurant called the Macau Street Restaurant. It is a mixture of Cantonese and Portuguese food. I was a little worried, but it was the best food of the trip. The food was great and it was so nice to be with even more families who have adopted. That is probably my favorite part about being here in Guangzhou. I would guess that there are at least 30 families here who have adopted. Out of everyone that we have met, we remain the only ones who are adopting for the first time. One family is here who is on their third adoption from China. We met a family who just adopted twin baby girls, another couple who just adopted 2 children both from the special focus program, and many others. There are some truly inspirational people out there. It is nice to be around them.

John is sooooooooooooo attached to Rick. It has moved from attached to a crazier place. I was feeling a little bad about not being wanted this morning and Rick was feeling frustrated about being wanted too much. I have ended up just laughing about it because it is so funny. Rick has to do everything. He has to take him to the bathroom, he has to feed him, he has to bathe him, he has to hold him, he has to eat with John sitting on his lap. I on the other hand am having a lovely vacation. I watch it all from a distance with my feet up. It is so relaxing here! :) John got his hand caught in a door tonight though and let me hold him and comfort him. It really is so funny.

Here are pictures of Rick and John today - you will notice my absence.

John at the Pearl River

This is John's favorite activity. He goes up and down and up and down and up and down ...

This is a waterfall by the park by the hotel

This is at the Macau Street Restaurant

I love this picture. It is a wedding limo. Can you spot the "theme" of the wedding?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From Zhengzhou to Guangzhou

We left John's province today and are now in the south part of China. We are down to one week before we get to come home. Guangzhou is a great place. There are 15 million people who live here, but it seems more orderly. There are no scooters and cars on sidewalks. It almost seems like they keep pedestrians safe here ... wow!

It is a tropical place with 97% humidity. They said that today was a cool day, but it felt oppressive to us desert dwellers. We are staying at the Marriott and I really like it. There is something nice about staying in a place owned by Americans. It has a familiar feel and it smells good. 

John did great on his first plane ride. He hated the seat belts - so it should be interesting when we are back home. We are going to go to church tomorrow but basically just going to take it easy. We have not had one down day since we've been here and our two year old is getting sick of it. It feels like a huge accomplishment to have made it this far on our adoption journey. It is fun to be here though because there are so many groups that have adopted and are finishing the process just like us. They are everywhere. We even met a couple with another two year old thumb sucker like ours.

Here are pictures of John on his first plane ride.
Saying good-bye to Yisha. She was so incredible.

The first plane John has been on.

This is how so many men wear their shirts in China. We wanted John to blend in.

John playing with his new friend Alex.

Maggie waiting for us at the airport in Guangzhou.