8
Nov

A dose of reality as we head out

8 duffle bags and 8 backpacks wait in our schoolroom.

We have maxed out our big 12 passenger and will be having a friend not only drive us to the airport, but also towing our utility trailer behind us with our luggage as well as my parents’ luggage and 3 strollers.  Moments like this make me realize we have a larger than typical family.  Funnily enough, someone seems like they are missing.
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Nw for the dose of reality.  Little Theodore’s photos haven’t been shared a lot by us.  I know it’s a little strange for those who have walked with us through our other adoptions.  Truth be told his first photos just made us heartbreakingly sad.  9 months old and 9 pounds.  Red eyes from crying.  Unable to sit.  A long list of expensive lab tests had been run.  His stated diagnosis was clear cut in one respect and very dire in another.  He was not meeting milestones, nor was he ever expected to, according to one respected professional who looked at his medical file for us.

And yet we sent in our letter seeking to adopt him and make him our son.

Why?

Because he’s worth it.  

Totally worth it.

Our agency director went looking for an update.  She called his orphanage and found that he had been transferred to a special medical foster home run by a NGO (non-governmental organization) in the same province. We were thrilled!  His pictures show a very serious little face, but he is now nearly 26 months old and he has gained 10 pounds and 10 inches.

We aren’t sure what his medical future will hold, but we do know that God woke us up to love him unconditionally, to fight for him, to give him a place to belong.  We have several medical teams available to us here in North America and once we are home with him we will pursue all of our options to get him the best treatment we can.

 

And we have been given a little glimpse into his personality.

Theodore belly laughs when he is tickled!

 How great is that?!

As we leave tomorrow please pray for us about the following:

*easy travel (all parents will understand the full depth of our request!)

*that Theodore’s heart will be prepared in whatever way it can be for the enormous life altering changes about to occur.  Adoption, while redemptive, is still trauma.

*the hearts of our Chinese born children who are returning to their birth country.  So much processing has already occurred as we went through this preparation for this trip.  They are new ages for this homeland visit and with each new developmental stage come new ideas, memories and levels of processing.  Pray that this will be a rich time for them to see China, to know China and to love China.

*the hearts of my children not Chinese born.  They have welcomed their siblings like kings.  They have embraced their adopted country wholeheartedly.  They look at China with pride and realism and helped our other children feel brave and strong in spite of the complexity of what they are processing.  They take leadership roles with their younger siblings on all of our travels and it can be exhausting.  Pray that they would have strength beyond their years and experience.  Also, pray for their patience while trying to breach the great firewall of China in order to connect with their loved ones and peers back home. Not.even.kidding.

*Health.  Stephen and I have been trying to get healthier over the past six months knowing this was coming.  We are on a continuing journey with this, but I pray that God would honour our attempts and keep our backs strong, our stomachs ironclad and our sleep deep (even if only for a few short hours – haha!).

*for my parents.  They come with us on these trips and there is very little glory in it.  It is not how most couples would choose to spend their empty nest or retirement vacations, but they do it without any complaint about missing the actual tourist areas, grumpy grandchildren (and, ahem, children), and enormous piles of luggage and children attracting stares and stopping traffic everywhere we go.  Please pray for their health and that they would be able to enjoy their time away in spite of the busy schedule.

*for Stephen & I.  It’s physically exhausting, but it’s also emotionally taxing.  I’ve cried more in the past few days than I have in, oh, about two years.  Adoption does that in the final days before we leave.  Pray that I would hear God prompting me to be quiet as Steve leads us and that I would listen more to Him rather than trying to control each and every detail.  Truthfully, that is my downfall.  And pray that Stephen wouldn’t run down to far as he tries to juggle all of us and be emotionally available to all of our many and varied needs.

And thank you, each and every one, who has offered to pray for us.  We’ll be thanking God for you all too!

8
Aug

So here we are

After writing that last post about our visit to Samuel’s friends, we returned to the hotel and Isaiah promptly fell into a deep, dark, angry grieving rage.  It was a long and loud one.  So long in fact, that we sent my folks off to the Goodbye China Party that our agency throws all on their own.  We ended up following them after a bit, and enjoyed watching Samuel so excited over the magician, but that’s not really the point.  Actually, that rage was only the beginning.

The airplane.  The drive to Stephen’s folks.  Driving home.  At mealtime.  At bedtime.  At play.  At the doctor’s.  Never for so long that we fear for him, but definitely intense.

Isaiah had fussed and cried before.  Not long-lasting, but it spoke of what was going on underneath.  It appears to be a typical two year old type of thing, for sure.  Head clunking against ours.  Back arched and stiff.  Sharp screams and yells.  The hard part is knowing where the two year old part of it begins and the fear and grief ends.  And mix it all in with thoughts like our doctor voiced yesterday, “He’s got to be frustrated that he can’t do for himself.”

Yeah.  Not a simple thing to sort out.

He has enjoyed playing with his siblings, that’s for sure.  And honestly, I will do a post later about it, but they’ve enjoyed him too.  That is the 90% of it.  The 10% remaining is this rage.

0-60 in no time flat.

So, we hold him and remind him and love him and hold him some more.  And sometimes when the yells are too piercing we hold him and wear ear buds.  Whatever it takes.

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Post swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  He’d say, “WOOOOOOW!” with great enthusiasm every so often.

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Samuel, showing Isaiah how to open one his birthday gifts.

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Rolling, rolling, rolling…  Sure glad we kept those baby gates up!

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Yes, we own desks and nice furniture.  This is James’ room.  And this is the den of Minecraft.  Isaiah was welcomed into the fold.

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It looks sad, but this is the crew allowed to play, yes, you guessed it, Minecraft, together for a few minutes before we headed out for swimming at their grandparents’.  They had just finished laying all over the floor playing with Isaiah.  He was kind of like, “Huh?”  He is pretty good at swiping on the iPad.  IT’s only a matter of time….

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He’s sexy and he knows it.

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31
Jul

Friends and Fears

We made our visit to New Day Foster Home today.  We wanted Samuel to build a few memories of the place he had called home before meeting us.  We are forever indebted to the staff and volunteers there.  He received therapy and encouragement that definitely helped prepare him well for his future.  We were so thrilled that some of Samuel’s special friends came to visit us and while he was a bundle of nerves, his response once he got back to the hotel with us really showed us the value in the visit.  The real Samuel returned and spoke about his “friends” and “when I was little”.  The pictures will be priceless to him in the years to come and the visit with friends was priceless to us.  Such a treat to visit a place so close to our hearts!

We finished the day with our travel group at the Goodbye China party our agency always throws for the families.  It’s always a nice way to end off the adoption trip.  This year Samuel was so pleased to receive an Opera mask like the performer of the changing faces mask.  He told us he needs to go home to practice his magic!  My folks, Stephen, and Isaiah received beautiful scrolls.  Long Life, Happy Family and Isaiah’s Characters. So lovely. We are truly spoiled by our agency and appreciate them so very much!

Off to Canada tomorrow on that incredibly long flight!  The best and most motivating factor is seeing our kids the next few days – first Faith, Grace and Garnet, followed by James on Friday.  It will feel so amazing to have the Super 8 together at last!

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30
Jul

The Greatness of the Climb

Well, as you all know from yesterday’s post, we visited the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall yesterday.  Other than a short time of panic, the day was really quite exceptionally wonderful!  You know those party games where people have to guess things about you?  I always used the fact  that I hoped to visit the Great Wall before I died.  This visit marks my fourth and honestly, it doesn’t get old.  I can’t get enough of the mountains and the feeling of being where thousands of people have trod for thousands of years, wow!  It’s honestly something I don’t just remember, I cherish it.

Yesterday was hot in the city and slightly cooler on the wall.  That coolness was short lived though with carrying the kids and marching up and down.  We chose to go to this section of the wall knowing we could ride the gondola up and the bobsled down.  It’s still a fair hike in between, especially for Samuel.

Samuel has had a number of reactions from and to people here in China.  Most people have been curious and some have been atrociously rude.  I’d like to say it’s specific to this area of the world, but I regret to inform that it just seems like a part of humanity.  :/  Anyway, Samuel started the trip ducking his head and then he decided to tune most people out.  This day at the wall, he really just became focused.  He was a champion.  Stephen was too.  He picked him up the tricky well worn paths that were too steep or slippery for him to navigate and marched him through them.  The rest of the way Samuel walked.  And people clapped and cheered and gave him the thumbs up. A fellow and his daughter were visiting the wall from Hong Kong, but had been to visit Vancouver and Victoria last year!  The father bought both his daughter and Samuel a medal.  Samuel has carried it around like the champion he is. We are beyond proud of him.

Pardon the photo heavy post (not that you mind), but it is one of my favourite places, after all.

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29
Jul

And so it hits me

We were able to visit the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall today.  It was cooler there (we still sweat buckets!).  The sky was overcast and the mountains were shrouded in haze.  I truly love those mountains and today i got to see a side of them that I’d only seen in photos.  Absolutely majestic.

Samuel walked much of the way from the gondola to the slideway.  He truly impressed Stephen and I.  We are so fortunate to see his strength each day and then days like today show us how much farther he can push himself.  It honestly inspires us as much as all the other folks who stop and salute him with their praise. God has made him with an inner determination that will prove him so well.

Isaiah was honestly quite amazing too!  He is not yet two and yet he braves new situations really well.  Tucking into us rather than fawning for others attention. IT’s been so hot and we’ve been on the move so much and it really amazes us that he has chosen (yes – chosen, at his age) to make us his new trusted people.  He will learn to love us with time but for now this is so big.  Trust is so valuable and he has let us in.

Here’s where it hit me.

Without betraying the trust of others in the story.  We had the friend of a friend guide us at the wall today.  Our friend had asked this woman to take us in spite of the fact that her English is quite rusty and she doesn’t get out much anymore.  You see, she had lost her daughter awhile back and we were told that it had sent her into depression.  When we met her, she was pleasant but quiet.  As we arrived at the wall, she was unsure, but pushed through to help us and we really appreciated it.  She was obviously drawn to Isaiah and he was happily smiling and chirping at her from my arms.  And then she asked to hold him.  I held her off for a time, but he was happy and I wondered if it would help her heart a little, and so I broke our one cardinal rule.  We never, never hand off our new kids to others outside our family trust circle for many, many months until the attachment bond has begun to take root.  That rule has been firm from Garnet, to Grace, to Samuel.  It was even something we held fairly fast to with James and Faith as babies.

But it felt right and when we took a break he continued to sit on her lap while I fed him snacks.  I held his hand and played peek a boo with him as we walked.  And then I took him back into the baby carrier and slid down the mountain on the bobsled ride.  He was quiet and seemed pretty happy afterwards. Stephen and I had a couple items that we knew we wanted to buy from the vendors while we were there and so with my parents helping Samuel farther up the hill and both our hands full, I handed Isaiah back to the woman. We carried on our shopping and she was with us to help.  Finished, we started towards the van. Stephen and I were chatting and she was right next to me.  I turned away for what felt like a second and then looked back and she was gone.

Like GONE gone.

I called out his name in the sing-songy voice we’d been using all week and no response.  I whirled around and started dodging around vehicles looking, looking for them.  No sign. I could feel the panic rising and I called out to Stephen that he was gone.  He started looking.  He ran ahead.  No sign.  My parents and Samuel came up behind us and asked.  No sign.  I ran back to the vendors and from the panicked look on my face and my voice as I loudly called and called out Isaiah’s name in that sing-songy voice, they came out of their booths calling to each other in Chinese, “Where is her baby?  Where is her baby?”  I ran back to the parking lot and Stephen called down from the vehicle in the upper lot, she’s not here… oh wait!  There she is!  Behind you and to your left!  I looked and looked and finally I saw them.  I ran to her and grabbed my baby out of her arms.  Oh my heart!

And then it hits me.  I love him.  Like REALLY, REALLY love him!  I am Mama Bear.  And nothing will get in my way.

Did she intend harm?  No.  But in her own way she did as she wanted and wandered off with my son.

MY son.

I know I hurt her.  And it was never my intent to do so.  In fact, my intent had been so good towards her, I had reached out to her, breaking our family rule.

And all afternoon I was so close to tears.  I was really aware that something had changed in me.

I had bonded to Isaiah.

 

{The photo today is not the one I thought I’d be posting today, but it is one Stephen took from the upper parking lot just after I had reclaimed Isaiah and started the walk back to the vehicle.  Maybe I can catch up on the other part of our day at the wall, tomorrow.}

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28
Jul

Feels like coming home

We’ve been in Beijing for a couple days and our internet has been sketchy at best.  I’ve been fairly wiped out, as well, and I needed some extra sleep the past couple of days.

Our final day in Hunan was spent sifting and sorting luggage.  We had picked up a fair bit during the past two weeks and needed to get rid of a bit too.  We had lunch in the second floor Cantonese restaurant before getting in the van and heading to the airport.  My Mom teased the driver and told Vicky, our guide, to let him know we were heading to the forest in the Western region – a four hour drive one way.  His face spoke of his shock!  We got him good.  :)

We had a really great group of tour staff for those two weeks in Hunan.  Stacy was helpful and could roll with our questions.  Matthew had such an understanding way about him and really understood our sarcastic Canadian wit from his two years in Canada.  Vicky was wonderful to see again and was helpful with our new baby.  And as illustrated above, even though we couldn’t exchange conversation with our driver, we did a fair bit of bantering and conversing anyway!  He was very kind with Samuel and a big help to each of us over our time there.

During our last trip to Hunan, it was one of many, many stops and it felt like a blur.  Returning there and driving back roads and seeing so much more of the region has given Stephen and I an equal appreciation for Hunan along with Ningxia and Guangdong.  We are so thankful to have had the opportunity and were left with a list of things we’d like to attempt to experience the next time we visit.  Honestly, the very best part of China is the people.  The longer we spend here the more we love the fact that people are people wherever they live. Having the chance to truly appreciate the areas that our kids are from and learn to love them, speaks to them that we love not only where they are from, but who they are.  They will always be Chinese and Canadian.  Being here and then pouring over the pictures and reliving it all at home with them long after the memories have faded into their childhoods, helps them plant roots.  Sounds pretty big for a couple weeks time, but we have seen the benefit to our kids again and again.

We arrived at the airport and began the check in process.  Unfortunately, we were told that although Air Canada had booked us all the appropriate tickets, Air China had booked us into lap tickets?!  Crazy!  A visit to the supervisor cleared that up and our bags were checked in.  However, when it came to the paper voucher for Isaiah’s lap ticket, we were told that it was invalid and so off Stephen went to another desk and then back to the supervisor.  In the end, a new one was issued for a fee and we had about 20 minutes to not only get through security, but get to the other end of the airport for our gate.  And let me tell you, while we have had  nothing but courtesy at each of the airports we’ve travelled in Canada, the USA and China, it takes a bit of extra time for them to scan Samuel’s prosthetics and crutches!  Add in the stroller, baby carrier and infant, and all of our electronics, well, it was a mad rush to the gate!

We galloped up to the gate (the last one – 50 of 50!) and found that the airplane had been fully boarded, save us, but they called the plane and they held it.  Then because of the gate checked stroller, they called for another bus and escorted us with two pilot cars and a handful of staff to the plane.  We made it and got our bags stowed just in time for Isaiah to decide that maybe skipping his nap was a bad idea.  LOL!  Ah well, he settled after awhile and as we were getting ready to de-plane, the people around us were kind.  The whole thing makes for a good story.  :)

And this is where it feels like coming home.  We got our luggage and around the corner we say one of our familiar Beijing guides, Faye (who is married now, for anyone reading this from our other trips) and the familiar “Panada” flag.  She had a van waiting for us and we headed to the hotel.  Yulin (our agency director) was there waiting for us and as usual, she had everything more than sorted out for us.  We headed out for a quick meal and when we returned she had us booked into bigger rooms.  We are totally spoiled here.  No, really.

The next morning we ran into a few families from our group and Yulin and Faye (and Mr. Lee) had Isaiah’s Visa photo taken and his citizenship part 2 paperwork filled out for the Canadian Embassy.  Everything is streamlined here.  We also had our adoption group photo taken on the stairs (fourth time for us, so it’ll be fun to have one for Isaiah too).  The families seem nice.  Everyone seems to have little ones this trip (born 2011 and 2012) so it’s quite a different group.  I guess we do too this time.  :)

We have completed the official process now and we just wait in Beijing for his Chinese passport with the Canadian entrance visa in it to be returned to us this week.  Once home, we send off for his Care card (he’s already got access to BC medical officially now as he is our son), Citizenship card (he’s already a citizen once the part 2 paperwork is finished, but we are trying to expedite the printing of the official card so he’ll be able to leave the country with us for Samuel’s surgery in October), his passport, and his SIN card (so he can get a job, of course).   😉

Later that day we braved the Hong Qiao Pearl Market.  I really “needed” a new purse and have been hanging on until I could get here.  Mom seemed to “need” one too.  The men and boys headed to the Toy Market.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.  Oh, except, as usual, we one of the vendors not only trioed to rip off Mom’s thumb, break my wrist and then proceeded to tell us she hates us.  :)  All in a day’s trip to the pearl market.  LOL

Last night we walked across the street and had supper in the food court and the shopping centre and bought a couple more electric fans.  We left our apple fans in Changsha.  It had rained the night we arrived and the pollution was caught up in all that evaporation.  Blech…cough…cough  Today was gloriously clear and HOT!  But it lacked the humidity, making it a lot more like home.

This morning we went to the Panjianyuan Market aka the Dirt Market.  At its best early Sunday morning, it was busy.  Can’t say a lot about this either (somebody might be reading – haha).  It was a successful hunt though.

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25
Jul

A walk on the wild side… and the finer side of life

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This morning Isaiah woke up and rolled over.  Before his eyes had fully opened, I leaned over his crib and he dreamily smiled up at me.  Melt my heart, why don’t ya’ son?  He’s feeling a lot better today, but he’s definitely learning to let us know when he is unimpressed too.  Think, arch your back and yell.  Ah well, I’d say he’s earned the right this week!

We took the boys to the Civil Affairs building one last time for a special ceremony that has been implemented here.  Both ourselves and the other family that had their adoption co-incide with ours this week (from OK, USA), were seated in the central meeting room.  The registrar read a message from the official government edict regarding our promise to adopt our sons, our acceptance of the process as China has outlined it and our commitment to raise our sons as promised.  We agreed verbally and then were called to the front of the room in front of a large Chinese flag hanging on the wall.  She then officially congratulated us and handed us our red booklet/adoption certificate.  It was actually a nice touch and again it hit home the significance of this week’s events.

We spent the remainder of the morning at Martyr’s Park, so named after the many Chinese soldiers who died in the “Japanese Aggression”.  There is a memorial tower there.  For us, though, we enjoyed the cool walk on shady paths winding through the park around a picturesque lake.  People out doing the kinds of things being done in hundreds of parks across China, music, exercise, dancing, napping, chatting, strolling and game playing.  We took time to rent an 8 person boat and let the wind blow through our hair, until, Isaiah decided it was hot and he felt insecure with his new parents out in the middle of the water (can you blame him?  At one point we were being pursued by a young boy and his father who chose to fire at us with his water gun.  The Dad not the boy, who happened to be the driver.  LOL)  It had really interesting controls and Stephen managed to only nick the roof on the way under the bridge.  He aced it coming back through though, in spite of Isaiah’s crying.  Nerves of steel, that husband of mine.

After the park we headed back to the hotel, where my Mom and Vicky, our guide strolled down the alley next to the hotel to buy the guys’ lunch.  The restaurant is literally behind the hotel with access via the alley.  It is apparently beautiful and extremely hard to get reservations there.  And lunch for six of us with a pile of leftovers?  100 Yuan ($14 Cdn)  Our guide will try to get us table for lunch tomorrow, but she doesn’t hold out much hope.

On our way out with her, Vicky took Mom and I in a taxi to a local fast food place.  Big bowl of rice and spicy bamboo shoots with preserved vegetables, and a canned sweet herbal tea was less than $1.50 Cdn each.  Yum!  We asked what type of oil they cook with there are apparently it is tea seed oil. With Mom’s legume allergy (soy, beans, peanuts), she has had an easier time of it this trip to Hunan, perhaps that’s why (less soy and peanut oil).  Interesting.  Mom though Vicky had said it was the seed of a Camellia flower).  We’ll have to look it up, as she also claimed it is supposed to be healthier than many other types of oils.

Mom and I had Vicky take us to the Provincial Embroidery Museum this afternoon during the boys nap time.  The specialize in a unique two sided embroidery technique that features a different but complete picture on both the front and back sides of the cloth, with absolutely no sign of a “back side” to the design.  THe designs are incredibly life like and often feature copies of master works of art.  The detail is phenomenal.  I purchased a design with four characters on it for Isaiah. The layman’s meaning is that the more peaceful you are in the inside, the farther or more successful you will be.  Good words.

This evening we walked around the corner to the convenience store for a chocolate bar run.  Don’t ask.  I’ve been avoiding it for a number of months now and Stephen doesn’t even like chocolate.  Somehow though, on holidays, we eat Snickers bars daily.  Weird.

Anyway, while we were there, I bought another wooden comb.  I had bought one for Samuel there 2 years ago and he loves that it’s from “his China”, so with all Isaiah’s hair, I felt it was a good purchase for him.  He was so proud – like sit up straight and looked himself in the mirror proud, when I combed his hair tonight.  Too cute!

We also found the shop where Dad bought the hack saw blade to break into the safe in their hotel room last time.  It was a good memory.  Would you believe they had safe trouble again this trip (in Yueyang City)?  Fortunately, we know where to get the tools for the family safecracker, if the need should arise again.

Dinner tonight was again on the second floor.  Seems to be where we have settled in for both trips.

Tomorrow? Beijing.  And, Isaiah’s first flight.  He seems to enjoy the airplane rides I give him laying on his back in the hotel room on the 31st floor. Hopefully the much higher variety will be a hit too.

P.S. We’ve picked up on a few bits of mandarin that Isaiah says: Good (Hao), I know! (jie dai le  – or something similar), Good bye, and “Aye Yah!” said just like a Chinese grandmother.  LOL

24
Jul

Loudi

We had the privilege of driving out to Isaiah’s home area, Loudi, Hunan.

We drove south out of Changsha, over the river Chairman Mao tried to swim across in his youth. I say tried, because apparently he would swim as far as a large inhabited island to rest before setting off for the far bank once again. A number of years ago, the inhabitants were removed from the island and it was closed to the public.  I recent years, a 100 metre high bust of the Chairman, himself, was erected there and orange groves and parkland were revitalized there.   It is now referred to as the “Orange Island” and viewing it form the bridge as we crossed the river, it indeed seemed like a lush Mt. Rushmore.

Heading southwest we again came across the tall farmer’s homes, and the rural fields backed up against reddish-orange earthen hillsides.  But this time, the hills became rolling mountains covered with thick forests.  Logging trucks passed us on the freeway and in the distance long used rice paddy terraces covered the mountain sides.  And the crazy horn honking, long distance city to city bus drivers.  Whooooeeee!  Hang onto your hats boys and girls!

Our driver knows we don’t mind detours by now, but today, a wrong turn led us along some deeply pot hole ridden roads.  Bang!  Thud!  There went the suspension.  Or so we thought.  Nope.  On we went.

Suddenly, we drove into the city of Lou Di.  Four and a half million people and an obviously large investment into constructing a beautiful new government headquarters.  If our hotel is palatial in an aging, yet charming way, the new government headquarters are leaning towards the palaces of Europe.  Quite spectacular.

We pulled off a side road to the new orphanage building and were greeted by the staff we’d met earlier at the adoption proceedings.  We paused for photos under a scrolling billboard sign, welcoming Isaiah home.  Ironically, he’d only stayed in that building for a few short nights before we met him.

After the requisite official refreshment and Q&A time in the meeting room, we toured the upstairs wing where the roughly twenty children lived.  Now, at first that may sound a small number, but we were told that there were another 80-100 in foster care, and a number at boarding school for high school.

I have so much on my heart regarding our visit with the children.  It was very difficult.  I just want to leave you with a thought.

We were graciously given access to those precious little souls for only a few minutes of their lives.  Around the world many, many people waited days outdoors just for the moment that the new royal prince would be born.  What do those two things have in common?  Well, the prince lives locked up because of media scrutiny and by the protection of his parents.  One day he will step into the royal limelight and move into his earthly role as heir to the throne.  Those children I met today?  They also live literally behind lock and key.  But not by a doting public or a watchful parent.  They are hidden from the public now, but they will not see the light of freedom.  Not unless they are pursued, relentlessly, like a parent for their child.

We pursued our Isaiah.  Will you consider pursuing your own precious son or daughter?

After our time with the children, we were invited to a lunch with the staff and officials.  It was a beautiful lunch in an interesting restaurant with a giant drum and a fountain of water that flowed next to the staircase that led to our private room.  Many Hunanese delicacies were served including local eel, cow stomach and frogs legs, alongside sweet potato greens, custard and desert balls, among many, many other dishes.  I ended up holding a very upset Isaiah and they kindly packed up a box of watermelon and buns for me to take with me.  I wasn’t sad to miss out, this time, but I appreciated their kind hospitality!

We followed our lunch with a quick photo op at his finding location, before heading back onto the expressway and driving the 2.5 hours back into Changsha.

Isaiah woke with a temperature and a nasty diaper.  He has continued to fight the fever and tummy bug all day.  It was a rough day heading back to Lou Di compounded with not feeling well.  Stephen and I took turns trying to comfort him and he’s moaning a lot in his sleep.  We felt terrible for dragging him to the SWI today, but we’ve learned that sometimes we have to do hard things with our kids for the long range goal of their grow and development.  Having these photos from today will help him hang one more piece of his past in the correct sequence.  Such an important thing as kids ask the deeper identity questions about themselves.  I just wish I could explain that to his sad little self!

 

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23
Jul

The post in which I tell you…

DSC_8035 DSC_8056 DSC_8061 DSC_8096 DSC_8097 DSC_8118 DSC_8123 DSC_8128 DSC_8132 DSC_8134 DSC_8135 DSC_8148 DSC_8149 DSC_8150 DSC_8153 DSC_8155 IMG_1086 IMG_1097 IMG_1102 IMG_2704 IMG_2707 IMG_2712 IMG_2718 it’s all going eerily well!

We all slept at least eight hours and had a two hour nap this afternoon.  Isaiah was pleasant and smiled and even laughed at times.  He took his bottle (hated it last night, I think it needed tweaking; more milk powder and less warm) this morning and ate really well at his meals.  He’s even had two baths and done all the right things in the diaper department.  Whew!  Somehow I waste more hours on these sorts of things before we meet our kids and yet they seem to know how to do what they are going to do and off we go!

I put out the infamous stacking cups this afternoon and he worked really hard at pulling them out of their nesting spots and then putting them back in.  He either pinches and locks his fingers to grasp them or he puts his hand inside one and splays his fingers to gain a grip on them.  Either way, he’s innovative.

He works so hard on whatever task he is at that he has an ever present drip of drool hanging from his bottom lip. Not the yucky gooey kind, but the kind that just sits there because he is so focused that he doesn’t even notice.  I will say, that he’s not a fan of having his face wiped (not many kids are!).  :)

Oh, and we know he is leaning towards a vegetable-arian, like Samuel.  It’s not hard to tell.  Stick in a piece of meat and next thing you know he makes a really disturbing face and out it pops.

Samuel is doing much better than we expected, but still in the normal range for a five year old who’s didi position has been usurped.  He shows him tenderness, but there is lots of grumpiness and sass mixed with attention getting.  The tender times are there though and so there’s hope.  :)  Isaiah is a very tall boy and so when the two boys are sitting together, while Samuel is a bit taller in a seated position, at first glance it’s like seeing twins.  A bit awe inspiring for this Mom who never dreamed she’d be the matriarch (whoa – can’t believe I just wrote that word down!) of this many children!

Oh, and Samuel is fascinated by Isaiah’s long hair!  He’s always loved long hair and he strokes his hair all the time.  Until, at least, Isaiah, lets him know, thanks but no thanks, pal.

The little photo album that we sent to the orphanage is still a hit.  He enjoys turning those pages.  Stephen added a simple game with it.  It’s a little rythymic retelling of the names in the book.  He chats it without help now and looks for approval.

As for today’s agenda, we headed to the civil affairs office to complete Isaiah’s adoption!  After we had our photo taken with him and had our thumbs/his hand printed with the red ink, the registrar said, “Congratulations! You are his parents now!”.  My heart stopped for just a moment with the reality that – Wow! We made it!  He’s really, finally our son! It was really quite nice as I don’t think that we were afforded that moment during the other kids’ registrations.  It can be a bit of a blur of paperwork on the finalization day!

On the way to lunch, we stopped at a store called Metro to pick up a couple pieces of luggage for Isaiah’s belongings.  He came to us with quite a bit and we’ll be shopping some in the next week.  It was interesting.  A lot like Costco (membership card, multi-pack format products) and yet the stores colours were Ikea blue and yellow.  They even had a backyard swimming pool for sale (1,300 or 13,000 Yuan – couldn’t be 13,000 could it?) and our guide shook her head.  Even if a person had the money for it, where would they put it?  And she’s right.  Everywhere you look there are skyscrapers and apartments.  It was her neighbourhood that we shopped in.  Afterwards, we took a short cut through through a fruit wholesalers market.  Apparently watermelon (pink and yellow fleshed) is in season.  Traffic was gridlocked on that street and people kept hopping in and out of cars and off and on the backs of trucks to buy them.  It seemed to be great fun, by the smiling faces!

For lunch, we went to the Guinness Book of World Records award winning Largest Restaurant in the World!  They have a 17 acre piece of land that is essentially a compound with many many buildings.  We ate in the Hunanese one and they had a stage with dancers performing minority dances from the 7 minority people groups in Hunan.  Delicious food and a nice show.  We enjoyed really enjoyed it, especially the funny Chinese grandmother dance performed by strapping young men.  LOL  On a more serious note, we have been focusing our attentions on our sons and connecting with the family at home.  The giant screens at the pre-show, showed the rescue efforts in Gansu after the terrible earthquake there. We are praying for everyone impacted.  It’s especially horrifying after driving through rural villages, to see the devastation to the rural farming area in Gansu.

Overall, it was a really good day!  Tomorrow we have been offered the chance to drive southwest to Loudi.  This is Isaiah’s hometown.  We will visit his orphanage and finding location.  We feel honoured that they will allow us this chance as we have been told that it is fairly uncommon.

Off to join the others in bed!

 

 

22
Jul

What can I say?

IMG_2653 IMG_2669 IMG_2676 PIC_0884 PIC_0887Isaiah is:

Absolutely charming!

Delightful!

A smiler

A joker

Ticklish

A cheek filler – with food at the end of a meal :(

A splasher (in the tub)

A whiz (at the ipad – swiping games work well!)

Strong!

A communicator ( he has a few words: like chee-chew-ah which is car, family titles like jiejie, Baba, Mama, and he’s copied a few English words like Hello and likes to say Uh-Oh)

A giggler (sooo cute!)

A player (he knows how to put on a show)

A page turner ( he loved showing off his page turning skills again and again today – we are truly amazed!)

VERY, VERY LOVED!

We met our guide in the lobby and were happy to reconnect with her.  She had helped us process Samuel’s adoption 2 years ago and now has a little one of her own as well.  We purchased some flowers for the official gifts today (an idea I stole from another parent) and off we went to the civil affairs office.  Our guide, Vicky, let us know that we would most likely beat Isaiah to the office, so not to worry.  We arrived and headed upstairs.  Walking into the meeting room, our eyes were drawn to a family that we’d met in the hotel lobby the night before.  They were trying to engage their new three year old son.  What we didn’t notice right away were the two ladies sitting off to the side with the little boy on their laps!

There is was!  Watching us with wide, speculative eyes.  We’d seen those eyes before (James, Garnet).  I walked over and knelt in from of him.  Talking softly to him he didn’t move much.  Then I reached forward to pick him up.  He didn’t resist me and I turned him around on my lap to cuddle him closely.  He turned to look up at me and we stared at one another for a second.  Then I smiled.

He began to curl into me a bit and kicked at his legs.  The nanny handed me the small quilted photo album they had been looking at (one we’d sent the orphanage a but more tan 4 months ago).  And then the fun began!

Isaiah began turning the pages of the book with his hands!  We had no idea he could do that!  He was able to control his arm muscles so well.  Well, we all clapped and told him how smart he is and he really warmed up to the idea.  Next thing we know he’s doing it again and again – wiggling in pride as we praised him.

He holds himself up in a sitting position with a lot of strength.  He moves his legs around and can wiggle his toes. He can easily pick things up with his mouth.  He can sit up from a reclined position (amazing abs!).  He plays with toys and can grasp objects between his fingers to pick them up and move them.  He likes to wiggle and bop up and down to music.  And he sings and hums.  He also chatters in a soft voice and belly laughs loudly.

We are totally smitten, just as every new parent should be.  Once again I can honestly say that I really and truly felt my heart expand.  It’s an unbelievable knowledge that from now and forevermore, I am Isaiah’s Mama.