Thursday, March 29, 2012

honeymoon phase

everyone keeps telling us how hard the first few weeks after re-entry from adoption are.

here are some pictures of how terribly the children are getting along...

i called UCONN Adoption Services yesterday and said, "i think i'm doing it wrong. everyone is happy. when is the shoe going to drop?"

the coordinator assured me that it might. although it might not. she gave me some resources for if/when they do.

the children, all four of them, are getting along beautifully. one of the things i mourned before leaving for China, to finalize the adoption, was the loss of my nice, quiet, tidy life. my bio-kids would always play nicely together. i never have had to pull them off of each other or get out the hose to stop a fight. they would get up quietly in the morning, get their own breakfast, and start their homeschool work. bedtimes were usually calm and quiet by at least 8:30 every night. respect, manners, and harmony reigned in our house.

i thought that by adding two more kids everything would change. be waaaayyyy harder.


mornings are semi-quiet.
meals are civilized.
the children all play nicely and quietly.
they are bonding well.
everyone pitches in with the housework-mostly without even being asked.
there has not been one fight or meltdown.
not one tear.
bedtimes are still calm and quiet-teeth brushed, faces washed, pjs on, and goodnight kisses freely given.
my house has not been trashed (yet).
nothing has gotten broken.
manners are being modeled and learned.

it is QUIET.
it is CALM.

S and i cleared our lives to cocoon with our new family. to ensure successful grafting of new personalities into our existing family. well...we are bored silly. we have wandered around looking out the windows like cooped up house cats. the laundry is done, dishes are washed, suitcases are unpacked(OK the carpets look like they are shag instead of oriental, but that is chosen laziness on my part). it is too quiet. scary quiet. several people have emailed saying they were afraid to call because they know we are busy and overwhelmed. we MUST be doing it wrong, right?

we try to interact with the newest additions and we do. basha asked baba to play "go fish" with her yesterday. he did, but halfway through she handed her cards to me and made us play while she watched. i first thought it was because i had walked by and kissed his head. she makes gagging sounds whenever anyone shows affection, so i thought i invaded her game and she quit. but now i am thinking she revels in seeing our tight relationship. in spite of all her gagging theatrics, she constantly asks us to kiss each other. of course as soon as we comply, she grabs her eyes and play-retches. perhaps she let me play because it was fun for her to see us duke it out over a competitive game of cards. maybe it makes her feel safe when we model a good marriage.

today she asked baba to throw her over his shoulder and carry her around. (that is the extent of allowable touch still) after carrying her to another room, her tickled her, and stole one of her socks. she came to me to show me what he had done... laughing with glee. she uses me as a safe base. every 15-30 minutes she comes to find me and check in or show me what she is up to. whenever one of us is out of eyesight, she asks where we are. definite bonding behaviors. 

shianna still seeks me out for spins, piggy back rides, and tons of kisses. but for the most part plays with A and works on puzzles. tonight when baba went to worship team rehearsals, she asked where he went. again a good sign they are attaching.

today i was out for most of the day at a dear sister-in-Christ's funeral (which was so beautiful and a testimony to a life well-lived, well-loved, and full of faith). something we all should strive to attain. may God rest her soul and give her loved ones peace.  

anyway, when i returned home, the children ran over to the car to greet me. i got kisses from A, E, and S and a high five and an i love you from B. then they ran off to play some more.

here we are making spring themed window clings for our triple sliding glass doors. we look so stressed and sad, don't we?

tonight during dinner i had to answer a phone call. when i was off the phone, i went downstairs to find dinner had been put away, dishes put in the dishwasher, and my dinner covered up so the kitty-pets would not eat it on me. the children were already in their room getting on pjs and brushing their teeth. i was stunned. where did my little "barbarians" (affectionately named) go? where did my crazy, wild, hyper Chinese children go? E and B had done kitchen duty without being prompted. it is not one of the children's regular chores. as a matter of fact i have never asked them to clean up dinner before.

don't get me wrong-i don't miss that undesirable type of behavior, but it has only been 17 days since Gotcha. they have gone from terribly behaved to almost angelic.

OK you have permission to call me the child-whisperer. snicker snicker.

i jest. wait until i take them to church this week. i am sure i will be forcibly dragging them out to the lobby for time outs. no fair tittering in front of me church friends. please be polite and do it behind my back.

i had grieved for a life i thought was over. i was right! it is over.

i have a new one. a better one. a life with more love than i ever thought possible. a blessed life. a content life. i am so glad i said "YES" to my God when he asked me to care for two more children.

i could have said "NO" and clung to what i knew, but look what i would have missed out on. 

now i am not naive-ok i am-but i am still realistic. things could go sour after the honeymoon is over. fights could happen, the fur could fly, resentments, jealousy, and defiance could rise up. we have the name of a good therapy practice only 20 minutes away, i also have a friend who is a therapist, my will is stronger than any child's, i have a huge group of adoptive moms that will offer help and advice. i have friends who will make me a cup of tea when i am stressed, cut my hair to hide the bald patches from when i tear my hair out in frustration, and offer childcare for when i have had enough and need a break. my husband is the most loving, supportive, and patient man ever. we'll be OK with whatever comes our way.

besides a dear friend told me today that even if it becomes awful, i only will have to suffer 8 years until every one of my children are 18. i can do 8 years. unless we adopt didn't see that!

for now...on day 3...i revel in my peace. i rejoice in my blessings. i praise my God.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

silly signs from China

a favorite thing to do while in China was photographing silly signs...there were plenty. one electronic device we found in Wal-mart that was to help people with proofreading actually had a typo on the cover. it said "helps with froofing." we died laughing. the type was too small to try to get a good shot of it.

but here are some keepers...
 technically correct but made me laugh just the same

 immature but still funny
sign said "no picking"
 thanks for the description, we weren't sure what we were looking at

 whatever you say
 wonder exactly what "nature" is?
 why, where is it going to run off to?
 someone hates brass instruments
how can you tell if they are smiling?
this is the best they have got??

we bought this dvd to teach english to the children, perhaps we shouldn't trust it

 i know i already posted it, but it warranted another look

Monday, March 26, 2012

home home home

after another terrible three days in Hong Kong(will post about that adventure later) we traveled home with our adopted children. we woke up at 6 AM Sunday morning Hong Kong time and we were off to the airport by 7:30. our first flight left at 11:07 AM. the kids were AWESOME on the plane. it was about a 14 hour flight. we landed in Chicago at approximately 1:30 PM CST which was 2:30 AM Hong Kong time. then we waited in the airport for over 7 hours for our connecting flight. the kids couldn't understand what the wait was for and we did not have any internet access to translate. we drew alot of pictures to communicate. even though they didn't understand why we couldn't just go home, they were model children! a far cry from two weeks ago. 

our lives have become an endless game of Pictionary and charades. good thing we are game people.

we landed in Hartford at 11:38 PM EST. that means ALL of us we awake for 30 hours by the time we got our luggage. none of us slept on the plane or in the airport for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. and total we all had less than an hour sleep. the children were so well behaved and patient.

the only upset happened on descent into Hartford. i ruptured my right eardrum and Basha sobbed over her ears. we all have head colds. there were several people on the plane crying about their ears. ow!

first meeting

 the children were settled into their beds by 2 AM. ah finally all four beds filled. we have been looking at empty beds for months now. bliss. we tumbled into bed by 4 AM. i woke up a couple hours later expecting to see a hotel room and to my great relief, i was in my own bed. so thankful. so blessed. so content.

this morning went well. children had breakfast, got dressed, and played happily. today we are spending the day fighting bureaucracy to try to secure health insurance for the adopted children. we have spent over 2 hours already! every department is giving us a different answer.

interesting combination-jetlag+government confusion.

if this is the biggest challenge of the day, i'd say we are ahead of the game.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

C.A. and Play

this morning we had our US Consulate appointment. we all went to a big government building and into a waiting room reminiscent of a DMV. they called the five families adopting, each by last name, and had us stand as a group. we raised our right hands and had to swear that the information we had given in all our documents was true. then each family was called one by one to the window and had to sign one piece of paper. then it was over. the children were officially a part of our family.

tomorrow we get their passports with visa for entry into the USA. their social security cards will still have their Chinese names on them. we will apparently have to re-adopt them in the states to get a US birth certificate. not sure why we were forced into choosing English names if their documents all have their Chinese names. bureaucracy.

after that we hung out by the pool until lunch. we ate lunch with our adoption family at a Lebanese restaurant. oh what an experience. the children again ordered carte blanche without our knowledge. we sent food back and were given the stink eye from a nasty waitress. after figuring out the order...we was good, but after the way we were treated, we won't be going back tomorrow.

we can't wait until we are on American soil and the parents have the upper hand. these older children had the upper hand the entire trip. they spoke the native language and we didn't. they also ran in packs, lol...four 10-12 year olds in one travel group. chaos and control(over the parents that is).

then we went back to the hotel to try to get "red couch" photos. traditional group photos of the adopted children all together. we had just missed one of our families-they had already headed out to Hong Kong. we were so sad we didn't get a proper goodbye. i really wanted a last hug from my sweet Roxy girl(12 yo old sister traveling with mom to adopt a 10 yo).

we did get our red couch photos. i thought our guide was supposed to organize them, but she was useless to us the entire trip. my advice...if you adopt from China and get a guide named Kelly...switch!

two one the left and one on the right previously adopted siblings

then we went with our friends to the park. they had bonsai on display, flower gardens, gorgeous banyan trees, and many structures and walkways. throngs of people were playing a form of hacky sack in groups of four with birdie like toys, ping-pong, badminton, running, and exercising.

 ping pong and hacky sack

 banyan trees

 flowers and flowering trees

1000 year old bridge

we played on a playground for a while. there were also amusement park rides. no lines. they looked closed, but one guy opened them up for us. they cost a pretty penny... perhaps he was making up how much they actually cost, but it was worth the smiles. plus it tired them out...they were in bed by 9 PM...go mommy!! woohoo.

 mom and dad get in on the action

 daddy spinning the girls

tomorrow we head to Hong Kong for a couple of days. we aren't sure about blog capabilities there. we head home and are expected to arrive in Connecticut at about 11 PM EST. we sure appreciate any and all prayers for a speedy and safe trp home. our trip here was a nightmare...did y'all forget to pray? so pray my brothers and sisters in Christ. we need you! we love you all and are thankful you took this journey with us. may God shine His face on you all.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

God sightings

we never how how one look, a smile, a touch, a simple act of kindness can shift one's life in miraculous ways.

this past week a young man named Thomas Li changed mine. i was having a rough time here in China. this man had compassion for me and listened. simply listened. ever since then, my life has shifted. i started having a great time. even through a nasty stomach bug, i have been happy and content. (well, at least before and after the vomiting)

we knew that by adopting Basha, lives would change and not just ours. one family has already begun adoption process for a daughter with mild CP.

BUT we didn't imagine that she would inspire another to love so quickly...

today our new friend posted this...

love changes everything. God shows His face and nature through love. we learn new facets as we grow in faith. i am blessed to be witness to these miracles.

oh yeah...i am also part of these small miracles...

the girls love Baba's iPods. Basha's favorite song is "Bluebird" by Christina Perry and today we caught Shianna singing "I Refuse." it is our anthem for adoption. funny she would pick that one as her favorite without any prompting. then we put on a little impromptu concert videotaped by Basha. please forgive my caterwauling.

Sometimes I
I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone's alright
When I know they're not

This world needs God
But it's easier to stand and watch
I could say a prayer and just move on
Like nothing's wrong

But I refuse
'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of You, oh God

So, if You say move
It's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

To stand and watch the weary and lost
Cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back
And try and act like all is well

I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I refuse
I refuse


Monday, March 19, 2012

fun and family??

ok so i was really excited about a down day to spend with just the four of us. God had other plans. i awoke around 2:30 AM sick as a dog. i won't go into details, but know i have nothing left in me. i spent the entire night back and forth from my bed, to the toilet, to the bathroom floor.

it is now 5:30 PM and i am still in my darkened hotel room. S was able to get some children's tylenol and three bites of rice into me. apparently there are at least 5 other people in our travel groups with the same illness. at least it wasn't something i ate. and i did say it's not a trip to China unless you get sick.

so it is officially a trip to China.

i haven't any idea of what S has been doing with the children all day. i know he took them to a park, but my camera is still here, so there aren't any photos. when i woke up about 20 minutes ago, i peeked out the window and they are poolside with all our friends. maybe God intended them to have a "Daddy Day" or wanted me to get more than a few hours of rest. i am not sure of the why, but i am thankful i was allowed to rest all day.

i am still not feeling so hot, but at least i have stopped crying about wanting my mother(yes, i was THAT sick)

perhaps tomorrow we will get some shopping done on Shamian Island. we still haven't met the famous Jordan. maybe he will be there this time. i am looking forward to recovery. i'll let you know how it turns out.

fun, family, and fantastic behavior...take two.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

catching up

it was an exhausting couple of days touring and parenting. things are getting better on all accounts. on saturday we went and had the TB tests read. they were all negative. whew! if they had been positive for TB, we could have been stuck here until treatment had been given. not sure how long-few weeks, but since it was OK, i didn't trouble myself with what ifs.

then it was off to those botanical gardens i shared pictures of in my last post. it was so beautiful and serene. music was softly piped in and there were lots of structures and fountains sprinkled amongst the flower beds. red lanterns and umbrellas hung from the trees everywhere you looked. it was really one of the most beautiful man made places i have ever seen.

we saw many wedding vehicles on the highway. instead of cans hanging off the bumper, they decorate their cars with flowers.
our guide explained to us how marriage works. there is a law about how old you should be to get married. men should be at least 24 or 25(can't remember which) and women 21. if you are not of age or unmarried and have a child, the child cannot be registered at the police station for a "number." sort of like our social security numbers. without this number, the child will have no access to health insurance. also there is an incentive to having late childbirth. if you have your first child after the age of 25, you get 6 months of maternity leave. if you have a child sooner there is no maternity leave. these measures were put into place to facilitate their one child policy.

in shenzhen where our children are from, there was a population boom when the factories and industry came in. many women had children before legal age or were unmarried. if these children had no "number" they would not be able to get any government services. these numbers are used to obtain schooling and work. without a number a person cannot travel out of the country or apply for any benefits. that is why there are a great number of orphans in that area. the mothers either were unable to take maternity leave, provide for the children, or gain a number. the loophole is that they do a count or census every ten years. during this counting, one may apply for a number.

we would be wise to remember these cultural differences and laws before passing judgement on any of these orphans' mothers. learning these facts has helped me gain even more compassion for these women. a disabled child would not have the money for care if not protected by these sanctions. therefore many special needs children are given to orphanages because the parents have no means to care for them. the fact that any of these children are found and survive and taken care of means that their country cares what happens to its people. people who live in glass houses...enough of a lecture...moving on...

we saw many brides posing for pictures. it was explained to us that these photos shoots are not their wedding day. they take pictures months in advance so they have the pictures on display at their weddings. many of the dresses are rented. good thing too, because we saw a few that had very muddy hems.

after the gardens we went back to our room for a quiet lunch of ramen. then we went over to Shamian Island. the architecture was beautiful. you could see the spanish and british influence. they would have been very active in the early 1900's trading tea, bribing officials with opium from India, and buying silk and other regional goods.
we shopped for squeaky shoes and dolls for friends at Gifts of Love and Jenny's Place. both run by Christians and serving adoptions. then we had a tea tasting and got robbed for $50 for three small bags of tea. note to self...not everything is cheap in China. next time ask the price before buying.

then we went to an expensive Cantonese restaurant for are pics of the food. it was really good except for the intestines. I DID NOT order them. i think a Chinese adoptee ordered them. S ate the whole plate by himself. blech...but the rest was beautifully done.

intestines and organs...i tried it first, but did not have seconds

thanks to our host for treating us. we also had crab steamed buns with little orange crab eggs on top, beef and Chinese broccoli, rubber scallops, veggies, chicken and mushrooms, and dumpling soup.

today we went to see the Chen Family Temple which was paid for and built by 70 members of the Chen family. there are only 250 Family/last names in all of China! during the cultural revolution, the Red army destroyed everything in it but left the structure. it was built as a school. now it is owned by the local government.

then we visited the buddhist temple. i didn't take many pictures. we were really uncomfortable being there while people were worshipping. we turned down a blessing from the monk because it would have required us to kneel/genuflect to their dead ancestor. we do not bow down before any god but our own. still, it was interesting to learn about the traditions and rituals of another religion.

later we took a taxi and went shopping. we didn't find much, so we went back to our room for some rest. then we went to dinner and home for baths and bed. our guide came and translated for us. perhaps the children will be even better behaved than today.

they actually walked and were quiet in the hallways. the hotel lobby decorum needs to be worked on yet. but discipline has been met with some acceptance instead of rejection. i am so proud of how far our girls have come in a short time. here's to hoping it continues to get better each day. all i can say is that we are thankful for them and love them even though they can be beastly and embarrass us at times. the loving and well behaved times are a blessing. oh...basha held my hand a few times today without me initiating it. it wasn't for long, but it happened none the less. woohoo.

tomorrow is a down day. i think we will eat a late breakfast, swim, go to the park, and do some clothes shopping for the children. we are looking forward to a free day. here's hoping for family, fun, and fantastic behavior.