Thursday, September 29, 2016

Our Baby

Giving birth to a child is always a reason to celebrate. It's a time full of joy as you count fingers and toes and smell their sweet skin and spend hours staring at your new baby.  We've been blessed twice with that experience.

We've also adopted 3 times, and for us, it's the same thing. Joey is our baby. We are full of joy of him joining our family. When he was "born" into our family, we counted his precious fingers and toes and held him close and smelled his skin. We still can't stop staring at him and can't believe he's ours. Every child deserves to be treasured in this way, and just because he's an older child and adopted doesn't mean we should skip over these things.

In many ways, we did just have a baby. We were "paper pregnant" for 10 months with him. We grew to love him as each day passed through the process and joyously waited in anticipation of his birth into our family.  We are tired just as birth families are tired when a baby joins their family. It's a huge life change and lots of adjustments are going on for everyone in our family.  As with babies, it takes time for us to get to know him and feel adjusted to our new normal.

In most ways, our new baby is the same as every other baby. He feels happy, he feels sad. He needs to be fed, rocked, held and loved on. He needs to learn that we'll respond to his needs. He has things he likes, things he doesn't like.  We're getting to know his personality.

In a few ways, our baby is different from most others. He has a condition that makes his arms, legs, hands and feet different. He can't bend or move his limbs in a normal way. This makes his walking and every day movements different from most other kids.  And it's okay. It's who he is, and he is wonderfully and perfectly made. We adore him and all of his differences.

World, be kind to our son. We don't mind questions (really we don't!), but be kind.  Help your children to be kind.  We love our baby and just know you will too!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A grateful update

We are so grateful to be home. I'm so grateful to live in this country and to get to choose where I live. I'm so grateful for how QUIET it is here on the streets around our little town.  (It's not quiet in my house, but that's another story.).  I'm grateful for drinking tap water and familiar food.  I'm grateful that we're making progress on the jet lag. I'm grateful to have my entire family together under one roof, as crazy as it is.

Everyone has been asking for an update, so here we go:  Joey is doing great!  He continues to be laid-back and easy going.  He was quiet over the weekend and started to complain of his ear hurting. Turns out he had an ear infection and ruptured ear drum, poor kid! Ear drops and antibiotics have made him a happy kid again. 

Outside of that, he is mostly happy and relaxed here at our house. He plays and hangs out with us. He talks to himself in Chinese, which is the cutest thing ever.  He is sleeping 12 hours a night. He's understanding more and more of what we say, and even trying to say a few words himself (a few of his favorites to say:  Hamburger! Hot dog! Apple Juice! Cookie!)  We are using Google translate a lot to communicate to him, but I can't yet get him to speak into it so that I can understand him.He's not a huge fan of American food. I stocked up on noodles and fried rice and eggs and dumplings, and those always are a huge favorite for him. He just seems to fit right in. We know from experience that it's not always this easy and this very well could just still be the honeymoon phase, but we are so grateful for how well it's going so far!

What's very hard, though, is the level of physical care that he requires. He cannot bend his joints well (his knees barely bend, his ankles don't move at all, his right arm doesn't really function and his left arm is not great), so he struggles to do basic things for himself. He needs help in the bathroom, getting dressed, getting up and down steps, getting in and out of the car, etc. He's small, around 40 pounds, but that's a lot to lug around all the time!  We're working to figure out ways to modify things and are very anxious to start working with the doctors and therapists to learn how we can help him become more independent. He's also very wobbly, and has already had a couple of falls. We have to make sure things are picked up and that he has clear paths as much as possible, which is not easy in a house full of 7 people and 4 animals. (I think he thinks he has moved into a mad house, and he's right!) He's very determined to do things for himself and is much more patient than we are. We have so much to learn from him.

Despite how well he's doing, we're continuing to keep his world small for as long as we can. He has to learn that we're his permanent family, not just a fun place to visit for a while.  So we're spending lots of time at home, just being together and letting him get acclimated.  We have to keep reminding ourselves that this kid has been through enormous change and deserves plenty of time to adjust to his new life.  We've had people ask how they can help us, so here's some easy ways to help him continue to do well:

-Let us be the ones to provide his care. We need to be the ones to lift him, feed him and respond to his needs.
-Feel free to say hi to him and talk to him, but let us be the ones to hug him, hold his hand and show him affection.
-Understand that we're not in a place to have lots of company and visitors right now.  Our house is full just our kids and adding to that does get overwhelming for him right now. We'll get there!

We so appreciate all the love and support from everyone, it means so much to us!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Home sweet home

We are home!!! A 15.5 hour flight is brutal no matter which way you slice it but our boys were rock stars. They had more screentime than I'm going to admit, but it got us through. Joey got fussy right near the end, but otherwise was content for most of the flight. Joey became a US citizen when that plan touched down in the US!

We had a really amazing experience with a young man sitting next to us on that flight. Turns out he was adopted at the age of 7 from China with a cleft lip/palate. He is an amazing young man and it was no coincidence that he sat with us on our flight home. Hearing his perspective as a grown adoptee was priceless. There was also an older couple on the flight who watched over us and fed us snacks and candy over the long flight.

We landed from that flight and then had to go thru customs and immigration, get our checked bags, recheck them, go back thru security and then wait for our final flight home. I was literally dizzy with exhaustion at that point, but adrenaline kicked in as our short final flight home landed early...I couldn't get to my babies fast enough! However, Joey fell asleep on that final short flight and was a bear to stir and get off that plane! Poor kid, we had been going for 24 hours straight at that point.

No words can describe how it felt to see our babies, friends and family waiting for us at the airport. I felt like I could finally exhale after 16 days. What a journey. We're so blessed and so grateful. Seeing our 5 kids together made it all worthwhile.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hong Kong

Yesterday (Thursday) a van arranged by our agency drove us to Hong Kong. It was an easy 3 hour drive in very nice Toyota van ( with the steering wheel on the right side). Boys did great and it was neat to get a glimpse of Hong Kong, it's really beautiful here.

We stayed at a hotel at the airport and had time for a swim before bed. Boy do we wish we were arriving home now as planned rather than standing in the Hong Kong airport waiting for our rescheduled flight, But We're thankful it's time now. We're very hopeful that things go smoothly from here on out...we have a 15.5 hour flight to Newark, then we're hoping to speed through customs and catch our connecting flight home. I'm trying to hold it together, but I'm sure I'll be a puddle by the time we get home.

Thank you all for praying us home!!

Breakfast I'm Guangzhou spoiled us...look Allie, theybhad Korean food too!

Saying goodbye to our sweet guide in Guangzhou.

 Heading to Hong Kong!

Biding our time in the airport.

There's our plane!!! He keeps telling people near us who speak chinese that he's coming to America with us. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Good news and bad news- Tuesday and Wednesday

It's been a stressful 24 hours.

The good news is we had Joey's consulate appointment yesterday and all went well. We weren't allowed to bring our phones, cameras or bags, just our passports and bodies! So I don't have any pictures of us from our appointment, but we were decked out in our USA gear. 

We were gone from our hotel several hours. There were many adoptive families there and we all took a number and waited. We had to go over paperwork and take an oath. It was loud, crowded and crazy in there; thankfully there was a play area for the kids that was our saving grace. We had plans for a nice restaurant after, but we were so hungry and exhausted that we caved to McDonalds, again. 

After some resting, homework and a swim, we had a lovely chinese dinner with our guide and group from our agency. The other 3 families from our agency are all repeat adopters and are all adopting boys, ages 4 and up!! Yay for older boys adoption!! There's such a huge need for that. 

After dinner, we were checking our itinerary to come home, thinking we'd be starting our journey home this morning, when Jeremy discovered that our main flight home was canceled. It was not a good moment. What ensued was HOURS of talking with our guide and travel agent and doing research to try to figure out another plan. We were determined to still get home on Thursday, but finally came to the realization that that was not possible without some real risk and expense. So we are leaving Friday instead of Thursday. To say we're disappointed is an understatement. We are so ready to be home. 

We miss our babies at home so much, I am daydreaming of their skin.  I feel so bad for them that we won't be home on time. They've been counting down for so long for us to come home. I know in the grand scheme of things it's only an extra day and I'm trying to focus on the positives.

One huge positive is that we got Joey's Visa this afternoon! Whoo-hoooo, he's allowed to come to the US with us!! 

Joey is really doing amazingly well. Like AMaZING. He's very easy- going most of the time and overall has handled all this time in our hotel room very well.

Today was spent making new travel arrangements, packing, and taking a swim. Our new plan is to take a van to Hong Kong tomorrow and fly home Friday. We'd appreciate some extra prayers for no more changes and safe travels home!

Can't wait to add our other 3 to complete our family of 7!!

Huge fish in a tank at the Chinese restaurant. I think Sam is going to be a fish lover like brother Sam.

Although his eating has slowed down some, he came right back after dinner and asked to eat peanut butter out of the container (with a fork because we're out of spoons).

Trying to teach him to play Memory...he made up his own rules for sure!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Great news and island time

Great news this afternoon- Joey's TB test was negative!!! Whoo-hoooo!! We are good to go for his consulate appointment tomorrow!!!

Today was another free day. We've been offered by our agency a few touring options around Guangzhou but have opted out of them as we did them last time we were here and don't think the boys would enjoy them. Joey is still pretty difficult to take out in public, so we're choosing carefully how we spend our time!

We took a taxi to Shamian Island, which is one of my favorite things to do here. It's only about 15 minutes from the hotel yet its a very different feel. It's an area formerly owned by the French and British, so the buildings are more colonial looking than chinese. There are lots of mature, beautiful trees, famous statues and lots of shops.  One shop in particular benefits chinese orphanages, so we did a lot of our shopping there.   We picked out some keepsakes for Joey and gifts for the kids. We also had lunch at Lucy's, a restaurant there with some American food. It's really a fun (yet hot and muggy!) way to pass some time. 

Joey is a little quiet today. I'm not sure if he's tired or a little under the weather or just processing everything. 

Tomorrow we leave at 7:30am for his consulate app. Wish us luck getting this sleepy boy up, fed and ready in time!!!

Reading Bible for Kids with daddy before bed!

 I can't express how much we love the breakfast there. It makes everyone happy!

Shamian Island

Back to a refreshed room...

And homework time!