Thursday, September 26, 2013

1st post adoption visit complete!

China requires post adoption visits (to be conducted by our home study agency) at 1 month, 6 months, one year, 2 years, 3 years and 5 years. Today we completed our 1 month visit. I have to say we passed with flying colors! The case worker was amazed at how well Shi Yu was bonding and how far she had come in such a short period of time. She told us of a couple other families that were struggling. She said the fact that we had such flexible expectations really was very helpful. I guess some families have certain expectations and when they aren't met they get frustrated. I told her we really wished that we had adopted Shi Yu as well as a sister around her age and were slightly still considering it. If we adopted from China it would have to be done asap because of my age. She asked if we would be interested in adopting from Ohio as there is no age limit and we said we might consider it. I would really prefer to adopt from China again for Shi Yu's sake but it us so costly. Good was amazing in helping us with Shi Yu's adoption. Maybe he will help us again. Time will tell but I won't be surprised if Shi Yu eventually has a sister around her age. ; )

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reactions: China/USA- race, gender, age

It has been interesting to see the reactions of people when they see us with Shi Yu. In China there seemed to be 2 main reactions mostly based on race. Naturally, being caucasian in China made us stand out. The Chinese think that any American in China is rich so with all of the flim flam artists we were a great target. People were constantly approaching us a with "best deal" in China. Whether it was tour, renting a car (we could have had a Ferrari lol), housing, trinkets, you name it. Once we had Shi Yu they left us alone (I think it confused them). The Chinese love to see American babies. An adoptive family in our group had there 2 biological children with them and the Chinese adored them, even wanted pictures (every person we saw had an iPhone). People that were walking behind us while we were pushing Shi Yu in a stroller walked quickly past us to see the American baby only to be shocked at seeing an Asian baby. People walking towards us did double takes looking from Shi Yu to us to Shi Yu. I wanted to wear a t shirt that said "yes were American, yes she is Chinese, YES she is ours! So quit looking!" The older people seemed to be much more accepting. At one point when all of or family group and our babies were waiting on the sidewalk, an older woman approached us and asked if she could take our picture. She kept saying "thank you for your kindness, thank you for taking our babies". It was truly from her heart. Dan and I were extremely touched by this. It was so sincere. I wondered if this woman had been one that many years ago was victim to being forced to give up a child.: The newer generations didn't seem quite as accepting. Especially the males. The way things are in China now you can have a second baby but are fined $300000 RMB ($50000 US money). You are also supposed to get permission from the government before you even get pregnant. Our guide told us that this had become more a technicality but it was still something that had to be done. If Dan was walking Shi Yu at a distance from me he got definite stares of disapproval. I kind of understood this though.
   In the USA it seems to be a different reaction. Some based on race but I think more based on age. My age. Although it isn't uncommon to see a 56 year old woman with a 2 year old (the assumption would seem to be it is her granddaughter), seeing a 56 year old woman with an Asian baby seems to puzzle other women. I can see the wheels turning in their heads. Is this her baby? She must be adopted. But that lady seems to old to adopt. What is going in?. Again older women seem more accepting then younger women. Men don't seem to care much. The younger men seem more interested in making Shi Yu smile or laugh. Its pretty cute. I have noticed that it seems more acceptable for an older then usual man to have a young child then it does an older woman.  I have definitely received a few disapproving stares.  It will be interesting to continue down the road of reactions lol.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home sweet home Shi Yu

After a year of hard work, prayer, trust, taking 6 different flights within 16 or so days our little girl was finally in the home she would live in until she was old enough to go to college or marry. No more going from orphanage to foster care to orphanage. No more being hungry, wry, and cold. No more going without the love and family every child deserves. No more no more. Sometimes I wonder if I was the first one that ever kissed Shi Yu, or said I love you. In many ways I hope that I wasn't. I think about the mother that gave birth to her and wonder if she worries. I think she probably does. I think she would have kept her baby girl if it were possible. I think her heart may be broken. I can only hope that one day she finds out that her baby is in a loving family, being well taken care of, and very happy. In this day and age there are so many agencies that offer the women of China the opportunity to give DNA and if the child one day desires it, she can also give hers and possibly meet her mother. I would never take this opportunity away from Shi Yu. It is get choice. Shi Yu is doing so well so far. She seems to be blossoming like a little flower. She loves music and tries to dance using her head. Yesterday she was watching the Abby lee show. I don't think she had ever seen a Tv and even when we put kids movies on in China for her she didn't seem to get the idea of watching a screen. But when she heard the music and saw the little girls dancing she took notice. It was the first time she REALLY watched. As the music played and the little girls girls danced she began swaying and actually put her arms up and out. It made me cry. She is very aware that she can't walk and do many things the other kids can. You can see it in her eyes when she watches them. She acts almost embarrassed. But with her determination (and she has a lot of it) and with Gods promises I believe it is only a matter of time. I know with all of my heart she will one day be dancing, walking, running. Its just a matter of time. Look out Abby Lee!

Goodbye China, hello my wonderful USA!

Last full day! Finally! I have said from the beginning I just want my child and then take her home! I must say it was so nice to be with other families that totally understood the desire to not only adopt but also to appt from China. Even though our journeys differed, the goal was the same. I was surprised that we were not the only "older" couple. There was even another family with grandchildren like us.It is becoming more and more common which is fantastic. There were also families adopting their first child. This had been such am amazing experience that it can't be described. To begin this journey and finally met the little face behind the picture then to see their personality begin to bloom and grow. So many new discoveries.I don't think it compared to anything. On this last day I couldn't focus on anything but getting Shi Yu home. I was so anxious I packed everything that could be packed ahead of time. The hotel had an amazing outdoor area for kids that was actually on the forth floor of the hotel and was surrounded be the hotel. It had a play area, water falls, and was just beautiful. Shi Yu didn't care for the play area and was a little scared of the swings and slide so we used it several times  to take walks in her stroller, which she loved. The waterfall was the only place you could get a little cool mist breeze and I could have stood by it for a long time. The climate in Guangzhou is like a sauna and the second you go outside you think you will melt.  We walked to the 7/11 which was attached outside of the hotel (there are 7/11's everywhere) to get enough water for the night and next morning and basically did nothing but attend a meeting by the guides to explain how our return home would be.  Most families had made their own flight arrangements but the agency had made the arrangements to get everyone back to their main point, in our case Beijing. This was a little scary because even though a guide took you to the airport and got you checked in we would be in our own after that. This meant arriving at Beijing, having a layover and getting in the plane to the USA. We went to bed early that night. We had to have our bags ready to go at 6:30am. The next morning and I was so ready to go! Shi Yu was fantastic and just went with the flow through the whole trip and she continued to do so. The guide took us to the airport and got us checked in. We were rather lucky because of my knees (which were severely banged up by this point from having to get off and on buses and airplanes quickly or be trampled on) and were able to get assistance at almost every point. Without this I think we would have never found our way around lol. I was pretty tired of going through the security checkpoints by this time. Poor Dan had to deal with 3 carry on's, 3 backpacks and a baby. Once we got to Beijing he had to deal with that AND THE 3 SUITCASES! We had no idea that we would have to take all of that on a bus to a different terminal about 3 miles away. Then we were dropped off in the middle of the street. Poor Dan was trying to unload all the luggage and carry the baby. I hobbled over and tool the baby to safety and turned to see Dan in the middle of the road with 3 big suitcases, 3 carry on's and 3 backpacks and cars buzzing by. It was crazy. I was so grateful when everyone was safe on the sidewalk. We did get help once we checked in and they guided us all the way to the gate. What relief. By now I was desperate to be in my own country were I could actually communicate with a person if there was a problem. I kept telling myself there was just one more flight to our country then one more flight to home. I was so relieved when we finally got on that plane. Shi Yu wasn't noticing a thing and was quite happy lol. We would end up being awake and flying a total of about 30 hours. Shi Yi slept almost the whole time through the flights and I was so proud of her for being such a good girl. Of course she did have her own seat and half of mine to stretch out on. The flight coming home seemed so much longer then the flight going! The really neat thing was that as soon  or plane touched ground in the US, Shi Yu would automatically become a US citizen. I had my camera ready the second the plane touched in Chicago! When we arrived at Pittsburgh airportwe were exhausted but so happy to be home with our baby! My brother met us at the airport and boy was I happy to see him! Shi Yu was her usual shy timid self with him. She is very very timid and shy around new people but who can blame her with all she has been through. I wouldn't trust anyone either. We got our luggage, filled a claim for our missing stroller, and were on or way home! Unfortunately we had to be delayed by a minor fender Bender. Oh lord would we ever get home? It was past midnight! Insurance cards were exchanged and finally we were in or way again. Please lord, no more delays. We were almost home when 3 deer ran out in the road. The good lord must have thought we needed a break and we didn't hit them. Within minutes we finally pulled into or driveway! Home sweet home has never had so much meaning.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hello sub tropic Guangzhou

Shi Yu did great on the flight! She slept the whole time.  Holy cow! I have never been in the sub tropics before and want quite expecting the heat and humidity. We Americans quickly began melting lol.I had learned in Zhengzhou to forget trying to wear make up or spending time on my hair that ended up a frizzy mess. But thus was a whole new level. We were met by the adoption guides and thankfully given water as soon as we got in the bus. As usual while on the bus the guides gave us the run down of all the meetings and appointments we would be attending. Our goal here was to attain Shi Yu's visa. We would need to take an oath that we would take care of jet and she would need a physical and tb test (hate that part). It took for ever to get to the hotel even though it was close the traffic as usual was horrid. This hotel was very nice. But as usual we were warned to be careful. Especially the men because there are many women there that were lets say, making a living. Because of my knees (which by now had become destroyed) we weren't looking at doing a lot of walking. Shi Yu had really come out of her shell and was becoming a very happy little girl. She was secondarily a daddys girl. As a matter of fact she only wanted Daddy. I think she was overwhelmed at having 2 people suddenly fusing over her. I decided to step back and give her some space. After a day or so this seemed to really work. She began reaching out for me and accepted me as her Mom. What a relief for Daddy who was getting pretty worn out lol. Thank goodness for the stroller (that she loved) the adoption reps were able to get in Zhengzhou.  Guangzhou was very busy as the country was days away from celebrating their moon cake holiday. It is very big there, almost like or Christmas. Families sit outside and admire the moon while sharing with one another and saying prayers. It is also a time of gift giving. The moon cake is then enjoyed. There were moon cake signs everywhere and huge lines of people buying them. I had tasted the moon cake at my brothers before we left (it does come in different flavors). It is a little bland and not as sweet compared to most American treats but I have come to learn that China doesn't throw a bunch of sugar into things to sweeten them. They tend to use sweet vegetables, beans, etc. it its so much healthier and not hard to get used to. The cake is round and about one inch thick. It is more like pie crust then cake with a thick filing in it.
The day came for all of the families to get on the bus for the childrens required physicals.  There was a line down the street waiting to get into the hospital. We were going to a different section so the only wait we had was for the doctors to get organized. There were 4 areas each child had to visit. Ear nose and throat, general exam, vision, and the tb test. Each parent just went to each section when there was an opening. It didn't take long. The wrist party was the tb test. They don't let the parents in. Shi Yu's seemed to take forever and we could heart her screaming. Our guide explained that it is sometimes hard for the doctor to find a vein. We knew that thank you. What we don't know is why we have spent a week binding with or child and getting her to trust us only to let strangers pull her away and do painful things! I thought Dan was going to cry or burst in the room to rescue her. Thank goodness when they returned her! The worst was over! A couple days later we went to the consulate and Swype or oath to love, provide, and protect Shi Yu. It was very anti climactic. Then they checked all of or paperwork and gave us Shi Yu's visa so we could bring her home! Thank you lord! Tomorrow we would be coming home! I couldn't wait to chime home to our country where I could understand people and easily handle normal situations like going somewhere, shopping for the baby, etc.. And most of all I couldn't wait for Shi Yu to finally be where she belonged!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Goodbye Zhengzhou

While still in Zhengzhou we returned to the registrars building (where we met her). Our adoption paperwork had been officially completed and approved. We were each awarded or official decree of adoption in a beautiful red leather holder. Shi Yu was ours! No more worrying about something happening to mess things up. Shi Yu had always been mine I'm my heart but now it was legal and nothing could change that! Later that day we would receive her passport and our job in Zhengzhou was done! Time to get in or 3Rd plane and head for Guangzhou where we would apply for her visa and finally bring her home! True to his word, Shi Yu's health is nothing like reported. She is an amazing little girl and so smart!

I have to say that God is so amazing. From the beginning he told me to trust him concerning Shi Yu and her health. I have to admit there were times when it was hard, especially when we would get an update telling its what she "couldn't" do. But I reminded myself that God was in charge and I had nothing to worry about.  We didn't care what she could or couldn't do only that with us being older we could give her what she needs for a good life.  Along with that I held to gods word that he "healed the sick" and refused to believe anything else. It was an up and down back and forth time. Even on the day we met Shi Yu i felt we were being tested. But God showed us how amazing he is. Shi Yu is far and above any expectation we could have. Its like I told my Mom, she its like a little treasure chest and every day she surprises us with what she can do. I can't say I will miss Zhengzhou. It is definitely not as westernized as Beijing. Eating at the "westernized" hotel restaurant buffet consisted of chicken heart, lungs and other things I didn't understand. Yuck! I was pretty much existing on the breakfast buffet that was very good at all hotels. Shi Yu on the other hand enjoyed anything you put in her mouth lol. And I loved putting it there. She is a joy!  Oh! Some other things Shi Yu showed its she can do...hold and use a sippee cup, scribble with a crayon in a coloring book (she liked the blue crayon and kept handing back the red one when we gave it to her), brush her hair (or tries lol), and so much more! She loves taking a bath. That's when she really starts talking and singing. She must have watched people cooking because if there is anything that resembles a bowl she will use her brush to stir the imaginary ingredients.  I almost forgot! Her stacking cups! From the first day we had her she would spend hours, and I mean hours, placing the cups inside each other. When they weren't right she would undo them and keep working until they were right. We were amazed! Right now they are her favorite toy. She is a genius lol. I think that wraps Zhengzhou up. Off to Guangzhou!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A new day is here!

Our first whole day with Shi Yu! And what a day it was! Shi Yu had many surprises for Mom and Dad!  Overnight she had become more secure and more comfortable being herself. It was like a miracle. Throughout the day she began making sounds (we were told she could not laugh or make sounds), she started hiding her arms out for Daddy, she stood up with help, her Daddy taught her a bad trick (that it is funny to drop things for someone else to pick up!), she saw her lady bug flip flops and pointed at them so we put them in and she was so excited! Just like a little diva lol, her ball rolled under the bed and Daddy told her to get it and she used another toy to get it out, and she laughed a LOT!, 

Gotcha day ending (part 4)

I did want to mention that Shi Yu did cry when the orphanage person left. I didn't know if she was close with her or if this woman had become her security during the long trip to meet us. We took Shi Yu back to the hotel along with all the other families. We couldn't wait to be alone with her and start getting to know her. We would only have 2 hrs and then it was off to another meeting. (There are many meetings and appointments throughout this entire process  but I'm not going to go into that). Finally! We had our little girl to ourselves! Thus was when it truly hit that she was ours. We had only signed the temporary custody papers but that was enough for me. I was dying to change her clothes and put something fresh on her but I didn't want to scare her. It dawned on us that the dress and pants she had on was from a set that we had sent her months and months ago just minus the long sleeve top. That was very touching to me. Shi Yu remained the same as when we met her. We talked to her softly hoping the small trust she had in us would grow. She really seemed to be bonding well with Dan. It looked like the soft voice he had had finally paid off. I think the 2 of us together was a bit overwhelming fir her so I kind of backed off. The adoption guide had told us that many times the children will bond with the father first  because they don't generally see any males and they equate women with the orphanage nannies who are often mean. I was thrilled Shi Yu was doing so well with her new daddy.  I had experienced something miraculous today and the second I realized it these words came to my head.."how long does it take a man to become a daddy? The answer is...the amount of time it takes to place a child in his arms and for their eyes to meet". And that was exactly how long it took Dan. I saw it happen right before my eyes.

Gotcha day (part 3)

When we first saw Shi Yu she seemed so listless and really wasn't moving much. We knew from the few updates we had received that she couldn't talk, had a great deal of muscle issues, and could only crawl by dragging her legs.  So there was no surprise. We loved her unconditionally no matter what. When I  first prayed and asked God if Shi Yu was the one I unequivocally believed he said yes. He also told me to trust his word and promises no matter how things might look.  That is what I did. So what ever condition Shi Yu was in was fine by us. We were told that food was the only security these children knew so if they cried at the beginning we were to give them a small snack like a Cheerio.  This was amazingly true. The orphanage person  reminded me of this when Shi Yu started crying and I was in such a whirlwind that I had forgotten. She placed a little snack in Shi Yu's mouth (not in her hand which made me assume Shi Yu was unable to take the food in her own and place it in her own mouth).  One tiny snack calmed the worst of crying. It was instantaneous. So Shi Yu began trusting us via a snack. And as always Shi Yu was perfect in our eyes!

Gotcha day (part 2)

The time is finally here! We were all taken by bus to the registrars building. When we pulled up there were 2 little Children about 2 years old standing at the door. Our guide said they belonged to 2 families on the bus! It was so hard to believe! We thought they were just 2 kids with their parents! The guide said their names and you could hear the 2 families excitement! It all seemed very real at that point.  We all went into a room in the front of the building and one by one a baby or child would arrive. It was unreal! I can't even put how it felt in words. Families that had waited a  year or more finally being united with a child they had loved but never met. It was such an honor to be a part of that. I was video taping for a family that had just received there little girl and suddenly Dan was tapping me on the shoulder saying "Cherry she is here!" I looked over and standing at the door was a young woman holding a tiny little girl who was almost curled into a ball. We quickly went over and there she was! I immediately recognized her from her pictures. She was curled up against the orphanage representative but her little eyes were taking everything in. The lady told her we were her mama and baba  (dada in Chinese). She looked so scared it broke my heart. She made a crying face and started whimpering. I took her into my arms as she continued the whimpering. I kissed her little forehead and rocked her back and forth. She was such a brave little girl!  Dan took her next and she seemed to immediately bond with him. After a bit she would alternately go from crying face to a stare at us. She wasn't quite sure how to feel. We gave her a stuffed ball that looked like Minnie mouse and she held on to the tiny ear for what became hours.  It was just all so amazing.  What an amazing day! This was our little girl! FINALLY!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gotcha day is here! (part 1)

The day we have prayed for its finally here! We are to met in the lobby at 9:30!  All the preparing for this day can't really prepare you to finally meet your child. We are packing Izzys little book bag with treats and little toys. It its the only tangible way we have to ease her into what its about to happen. We know she will be scared and also very tired from the long trip she had just had to come here. These children travel through the night in cars and buses with no frills to be comfortable. Each child being adopted its our group is from a different orphanage. They will be tired, hungry, dirty and very confused. I prayed that good would prepare their little minds and give us wisdom in helping or babies through this. Almost time to go.

12 cribs waiting pic

We are official pic

Finally arrived!

Day 4 going to Zhengzhou!

It feels so good to be moving in to the next leg of our journey! This will be the best place because we will finally meet or little girl! After flying to or new city's airport we are met with the infamous and much dreaded "squatty" potty! For those that don't know this is the Chinese version of a toilet. Many big cities there now have toilets but this airport didn't. It its basically a trough in the floor lined with tile that you "squat" over! Disquieting didn't even come close to describing it! I don't think anyone really tries to aim as the floor is covered with urine. (each squatty potty does have the luxury of an individual stall). The smell its so overwhelming I had dry heaves. I walked out wishing I could bath in alcohol and throw my shoes away. Anyway, we were met by or guides Aiesha and Rita. They were awesome! We took a bus to the hotel and in the way they gave us updates (albeit short very much coveted) updates in or children. Our group had 10 families adopting 12 children.  We were given or itinerary and a rundown of things to expect. This town wasn't exactly the best area but we weren't planning on going very far from the hotel anyway. There were hundreds and hundreds of people riding electric scooters. They were so thick on the sidewalks you took your life in your hands just stepping into it. And the horn blowing is constant.  Made me wonder if any of them paid attention to even hearing a horn anymore lol.  The crazy thing is that there were families riding on one scooter. When a scooter went by with a man driving and a woman holding a small baby (Mom not even holding on) I about fell overt. No helmets. No rules for the scooter driving. Scooters flying in every direction and weaving in and out. I couldn't believe there were no accidents! One scooter went by and I swear the child holding onto the Mom (driver) was only like 2 years old. He didn't look old enough to even know to hold on yet he looked like a pro! Ok...back to or purpose for being here! Tomorrow is the BIG day! It didn't seem real. It seems surreal! Like it was happening to someone else. Others were saying they wouldn't be able to sleep tonight but we didn't feel we would have a problem because what was about to happen didn't seem like it was happening. In thus whole process you build a wall between yourself and the child you are willing to give anything to bring home. The wall is built from the fear that at any moment one of the million things that can go wrong, can go wrong and that little child you fell in love with could go away and that would be devastating. Not just for us but for the child that wouldn't be getting a loving family. If something would go wrong that child would sit for at least another year (because of the process) and be another year older before going with a family. We keep asking each other "do you believe we are going to actually met the little girl in the picture that we have starred at and dreamed aboutfor so long?" The answer was always "no." But it is about to happen!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Day 2

Not sure what part of Beijing we are in. The hotel is decent. Had a weird smell though.  We aren't taking the tour to the great wall etc. some of the others are but I am still nursing my knee and don't wasn't to take chances. Besides, my insides are screaming "I just want my baby!". We wandered around a bit. Found a McDonalds! Finally coffee! It looks like the sidewalk and store fronts the hotel is on is being redone. Safety is apparently not high in the list of things as it its perilous walking. Holes and bricks everywhere. We found a mall not far away but I am not a shopper and my knees were already hurting. I did buy a very small purse on the street to carry the hotel card and a little RMB (Chinese cash). We are each walking around with about 2 thousand dollars strapped to us in a money bElton. Its so hot and sweaty as it is that I can tell I will come to hate this belt!

Day 3 last whole day in Beijing!

Tomorrow we will be one more step closer to getting Lil Izzy! Just need to get through today! I know there are so many beautiful things to see here but it is really hard to concentrate in tourism when you know you are about to get the child you have struggled, prayed, and held your breath you were actually going to meet some day! So we decided to just wander pretty much the same area we wondered yesterday. We saw a wedding taking pictures outside a beautiful stone church. Bring already emotional I became more so over the binding of to young souls in marriage. Ooh to be so young again! But then I wouldn't have the amazing children I have! I can't say enough how good it feels to have my husband so excited and happy about getting a child. I didn't have that with my first marriage and now I realize the joy I missed out on.  I feel very blessed to be in this journey with the love and support of my husband. Tomorrow we fly to Zhengzhou. The day after we revive Izzy!  So enough said about today lol.

Day one

We are finally here! We did much better in the flight then we thought. One snag was that our adoption guide got our landing time mixed up and there was no one to meet us. Thank goodness for a wonderful airline employee who kind of understood and called the number we had for him and got him there. That was panicky. We are pretty  tired. Tomorrow we will check out the area a bit.