Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An update from Guangzhou, China

WOW where to begin right now. We have been in China for 10 days and it is going by very quickly here. We have had Emma for 8 days now and Elias for 6 days.  Our children are some sturdy, resilant and amazing children. God surely prepared our childrens hearts as this is a tough process and the children are doing very well and are very happy.

Elias Elias Elias... where to begin to explain about Elias.. He is one of the most handsome little boys I have seen and his personality only makes his looks even better. His smile is something that makes my heart melt and shows pure joy and lights up his whole face when he smiles (which he is doing most of the time now :)  Elias is a joy to be around and a very pleasant boy. He likes to be goofy and hide things from his little sister and give her a hard time occasionally but he can also be a great big brother. He is starting to really open up to me and tell me a little bit about his life here in China (not much but a tiny bit), he has not had it easy here in China and has lived with many many foster families so the concept of family and mom and dad to him are really more one of "my next care takers". He knows we are his new caretakers but the concept of a family and mom and dad will only be understood over time and with love. Elias is not to welcoming to ASL yet and has only picked up a few signs in ASL but he is watching and just not wanting to let go of his own language yet. I am 100% ok with that and working hard to learn as much Chinese Sign Language (CSL) as I can. I am acutally surprised at how much I have been able to pick up and how fast. I love learning new languages so this has been pure joy for me that he is willing to share his beautiful language with me. My learning CSL has been the best bond between myself and Elias and last night he curled up in bed with me and signed real small in my face in CSL "are you my momma?" I said "yes I am your momma" he pointed to Tom and signed "the man is he my daddy?" I signed back in CSL "yes he is your daddy and you will stay with us" he got so excited he squeeled and buried his little head in my chest. Oh my word Oh my word. My heart felt elated and torn as I cannot imagine what he is thinking and how he feels. He seems very very happy to be with us and seems happy to know he is going to have a home, family and siblings to play with. He cannot wait to meet Tommy the most it seems as Elias is a sports nut and cannot wait to have someone play football and basketball with him. ( oh and do push ups and sits ups.. this boy is strong and athletic!) Today I noticed that Elias is throwing in a few ASL signs here and there and it is so cute because I am not sure he realizes he is mixing his sign languages hahah. Amazing how fast the transformation of languages begins.  I am in love with this little boy already and his smile has my heart melting. He is starting to want to hold my hand today and sit with me and wants to be hugged and loved. He seems to really need some loving but wasnt sure he wanted it from me at first but is now starting to come searching for momma for some love!!!!

Now to write some about our little Chinese Princess, Emma. Emma came to me ready for some loving and longs for me to hug and kiss her little face and just wants me to hold her and hold her hand and snuggle. She is a love bug through and through. She keeps telling me and asking me if momma loves her and is she staying with momma and daddy. She gets SO excited when I say yes. She asks me daily when we fly to see Paige and cannot wait to see "her" siblings. She is constantly looking at photos saying that is Aaron, that is Luke, that is Tommy and there is "My Paige". She is beyond excited to see her sister and asks me everyday if today is the day we fly. Emma has a wiseness (doubt that is a real word but I just made it one) beyond her just turned six years old a few weeks ago age. She is one of the brightest little kiddos I have met in awhile. She has had only one semester of school but dont let that fool you. She is a book worm already and wants to figure out how to read things already. Today she signed her first ASL sentence and signed "My name (her sign name for Emma) and then fingerspelled E M M A.. She just blows my mind. We have some Kindergarten workbooks and she has blown through them already and wants more of them. I wish I had more. But only brought a few as I thought with only having school from Sept to Dec she would not understand at all. Trust me she understands and is already trying hard to start to add like her big brother Elias. She knows her colors, numbers and can match numbers to an amount and can connect the dots, she can write the before and after numbers. She is GOOD! She is also a helpful little girl who likes to help everyone and do things for herself. She will let us help her but wants me to show her how to do something herself so the next time she is independant, She is an amazingly good little girl. 

The siblings:  So far Emma and Elias get along very well 95% of t he time. There is a tiny bit of sibling rivalry over who gets to push the elevator button and sometimes over the toys but most of the time they get along just beautiful. Emma wont let Elias leave her sight and most of the time I think Elias is ok with it
 but sometimes he seems to want a little space and she wont give it to him so he will tease her a litttle bit and then she pouts and leaves him alone. He isnt mean to her or rough with her just likes to play around with her (like hide or shoe or something silly like that) but often Emma will  cry if he does stuff like that, she is not a fan of being teased. She likes to fool around sometimes but likes it on her terms hhahha. Overall how these two kids get along amazes  me as these are two children that have never met each other until 6 days ago. These are two children whose whole lives have been torn upside down yet the just go along with whatever we ask of them and seem happy to do it. We have laughter almost 24/7 with them and lots of playing and so far just good good times. We have played a ton of UNO and Crazy 8's (emma prefers crazy 8's as not as many rules for her to learn yet) but Elias has become the king of Uno the boy would like to play Uno all  day and night ahahha. He is turning into quite the card shark.  We have been out to dinner many times and even though both of our children have never been out to dinner in their lives they are very well behaved. If the do something that is not acceptable and we say no and explain not to do it again they both listen and accept that this is not an acceptable behavior. We are truly blessed with two beautiful, resilant, smart, funny, sweet and just plain amazing new children. They are going to fit in just beautiful with our group at home!!!!!

Tomorrow we go to the United States Consulate and pledge to them that the children are ours and that we will take care of them forever and never abandon them or neglect them and that we will love them forever. Cant wait to go make that pledge and then the children are officially officially ours!!! They pretty much are in the eyes of China and now we make it official for the good ol USA too!
Emma on her ride at the zoo, she loved it!

Elias with his new stuffed Tiger from the zoo
Elias and daddy

Emma and I at the new dinasaur exhibit at the zoo

Emma with her pal, Sam

Elias, Sam and Emma

Elias getting ready to feed the Tigers

Just chillin

Me and my goofy girl

Emma;s favorite pose

Elias feeding the giraffes

Emma after the giraffes took her food
Elias loved feeding the giraffes

Elias waited all day to see the Pandas.

Daddy had to feed the giraffes too

Emma with the Pandas

Look at that smile after seeing the Pandas

Emma at a playground near the river

Elias playing football for the first time

Trust me when I tell you he loved football

Already in love with that face and smile

Our gang infront of the 5 Ram statue in Guangzhou it is pretty darn famous

Friday, January 25, 2013

A blessed day in Guangzhou

Another  great day in Guangzhou.  Today we had a very amazing experience. We were able to meet a few Deaf woman here and a deaf couple here and we basically had a full DEAF DAY!!!! It sure has been a HUGE blessing as they have helped me to really be able to communicate with Elias so much better and understand so much more about him and who he is. We are still only truly just scratching the surface of learning who are children are. It has been a blessing beyond words to learn a bunch of CSL as it is really helping with Elias and he is opening up to me more and I believe finally starting to get that I am not just some strange lady that moves her hands in ways he cannot understand, but I am actually signing a different language. Today we sat down with a book and I showed him the ASL sign and he would happily teach me the CSL sign. I am truly truly enjoying learning CSL. I have always been a big fan of language in general so to be able to learn more of a language that my son knows is a blessing.  

Emma only knows a tiny bit of CSL so she is happily soaking up whatever we use with her.  Emma knows her numbers, letters, gets to concept of adding but does not know how. She knew some basic signs as she was only in school from Sept to Dec.  She has common sense that can border on brilliant hahah. The girl has such awareness and brightness in her eyes. She seems to want to really please mommy and I am no dummy and no that can end at any day. She does seem beyond thrilled to have a family and keeps holding me and kissing me and just loving on me with all she can.  Daddy actually got a good night kiss tonight and she was thrilled to kiss him goodnight.  She is such a love bug, reminds me of my love bug Paige at home.. I now have two snuggle bug girls.. yahooooo!!!!

I have not really mentioned too much that we are here with another family and our rooms are right down the hall. They too are on their second adoption and both of their sons they have adopted are deaf. So we basically have a large Deaf posse here and it is a blessing and a half.  I do not need to interpret and we are just having such a good time being together.  God has truly blessed my socks off by orchestrating  us two families being here together. We have become very close and it is a blessing and half to be able to be here with a friend that I have grown close to over the last few months.  Our families get along beautifully and we have laughed so hard. What a blessing. Thank you Lord. It has been great to have our own support system here and when one is struggling we can pick each other up. Tonight we ordered Chinese food and had a huge deaf gathering in their room. It was a night I wont forget and a time of just getting to chill and get to know each other more. 

Today we had the medical appointment for both children.  It is in a newer building and was more official than the last time we came here. Both kids checked out great. We were not sure about Emmas eye  sight as her paperwork said it was poor, although we have not seen anything that says it is. She passed the eye exam beautifully.  They both had a height  and weight check, eyes and ears,  a look over, and a TB test. We will get the results of the TB test on Monday.  I have a height and weight for both kids but need to convert it a measurement system I am used to first before I figure out their sizes hahah.  I can tell you that they are both TINY.. teeny tiny. Elias is I think in about a size 7, if that. Emma is wearing a size 5. My little pipsqueaks. J
Tonight as I sit here and type this I have two goofballs bouncing around in the bed. Bed time has been a little rough as Elias seems to have a hard time falling asleep and just relaxing enough to go to bed.  I cannot imagine what goes through both of the kids heads. Emma seems thrilled beyond thrilled to just have a family and someone to love on her. She cannot get enough love. Elias seems like he is trying so hard to adjust to what has been thrown at him.  Last night and today we met a Deaf Chinese couple and a few woman from the USA that are deaf and living here in China and they helped to explain to elias a little more about adoption and what is going on. He was under the impression he was going back to school here after break.  What a shock to the system to realize these strangers you have never met now claim to be your parents and live forever away and are taking you there on an airplane. I cannot imagine and it is hard for me to wrap my brain around what my poor children have gone through. The adoption process is not easy on children…… it is a rough thing. Yes I know it is the best for Elias, Emma and Luke to be adopted but wow it is crazy to have to go through it and to go through it as an older child must be beyond traumatic. I cannot imagine the pain, confusion, anger and just pure frustration at having no say in anything that happens to you in your life.  I pray for my childrens hearts and minds daily and pray for them to know God one day and that He and only He can take away the pain and help them to handle this crazy transition in their lives. 

I  am getting ready to go to bed and am struck by how blessed I am. I am a mom with 6 gorgeous children and 6 beautiful blessings from God.  How lucky can one woman get. I have a husband that is beyond amazing. A family that thinks we are nuts ;) but loves us and our beautiful children immensely.  Friends that love and support us. A church family that loves us and supports and prays for us and we are blessed to be where God has placed us.   Thank you Lord for blessing us so much. Thank you Lord for preparing our childrens hearts and minds to receive us here in China.  Please continue to pray for us and our family (here and in China.) We are missing our children at home a lot and it is hard to be so far away from them and I wish they were here to experience this journey together as a family.  Paige is soon to loose her first tooth ever and we are not there L  Tommy had his first school dance ever and we were not there L  Luke had an amazing field trip to the Franklin Institute ( I love hearing his stories after he gets home from a field trip) and we were not there. BUT we have family there that are loving on our children and taking such good care of them and that helps so much.  Good night everyone from the country of China.

      I  have a ton of new pictures I just need to get them off of the camera and into here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

we have both of our beautiful children!

It has been awhile since I have typed a blog entry and mostly due to no internet in province. We are now in Guangzhou and it has been whirlwind the last few days. We flew for almost 5 hours from Northern China to Southern China with our little sweetheart, and now have Elias all within a 24 hour time period. Where to begin….

Our very first few minutes with our little Emma

Going through her backpack with me

very much liking "Her" stuff

First picture with Mommy and Daddy

A little while later back at our room.. Yup she is a cutie pie!

truly a little beauty inside and out

She saw alot of pics of me and the kiddos on my Iphone doing this pose, so she wanted the same!
When we were brought to the adoption center to meet Emma she was already there and we saw her in another room and were told to just keep walking.. hard to walk right past your new child let me tell you… they did bring her into the room within a few minutes and told us how smart she is and that she can lipread Chinese and trust me she can.. So at first I thought well she must hear a lot as Chinese is a tonal language and how can she understand what is on their lips when half of it is the tone. Well she can and she does very well with it. She resonded to what was asked of her in Spoken Chinese. I did ask her in Chinese sign language what was her name and her beautiful little hands started signing. We have a backpack with items we brought for her.. THANK YOU BEYOND WORDS LINDA FOR THE TWO AWESOME BACKPACKS!!!!!! Emma immediately started going through hers and was astounding us with how calm, cool and collected she seemed and her smarts shine through. The girl is literally brilliant and I am not exaggerating. It is beyond obvious the second you meet her just how smart this little one is. She is sweet beyond words. Very respectful, obedient and playful oh my word playful!! She loves to snuggle with me and comes to me for Eskimo kisses, hugs and to be held all day. She is quite the lovebug. She is not sure about any love from daddy yet and gets nervous when he tries to hug her or hold her so daddy is just biding his time, but she surely does look up to daddy and like to fool around and play with him. Emma spent her quick 24 hours in her province with us happy, laughing and just a pure pleasure to be around.

We quickly did paperwork and were off on a plane with her within 24 hours of meeting this little one. She flew like a champ and just had one meltdown when she fell asleep on the plane and had to be woke up to land.. hmmm think epic deaf freak out with eyes shut and screaming like a crazy woman.. she was beyond horrified and I think she has more then likely never in her life fell asleep one place and woke up in another and she was exhausted and wanted to lay down. Poor thing screamed for about 20 minutes and had the whole plane starring at us, but there was not a darn thing I could do. She eventually got herself under control and we got off the plane. After  that she was Emma again, funny, happy and just going with the flow.

Today we packed Emma in a car and went to meet our handsome little man, Elias. He was not at the adoption center yet when we got there and we were all alone as they do not really do Family day on Wednesdays, we are a special case.  Elias came in crying, I have not experienced that before and as a mom, it is heart breaking to watch and he does not know us so there was not a lot we could do to comfort him. He was shaking so bad and just silently crying. I kept trying to tell him it would be ok and he just kept nodding and trying so hard to be ok. Oh my momma heart just broke for him.  I do know that him crying is a good thing, that it means he has been loved and knows what a family is, but is  hard to know that you are ripping him away from those that love him.  Leave it to our smart emma to know what he needs. She apparently found the DS we packed for him but were not going to bring to meet him and she opened his backpack and handed him the DS. Of which she has never seen or used one and  then continued to show him how to work it and just almost sit on his lap and kept telling him it would be ok. OH MY WORD AND MY HEART!!!!   Emma and Elias sat and played on the DS while Tom and I took care of a little paperwork.  I asked a few questions about our boy and they gave me some things of his. They did hand me over a note from his birthparents that our guide quickly translated for us. They also gave us a photo of him as a baby. WOW he was and still is a cutie pie.   We were handed his finding ad and a schedule for him and few notes about his personality and then a few more papers and we were outta there.   We were asked if we wanted to go get some things at the store but opted to do that that the next day as Elias was really struggling and we did not want to push him.  He sat like a trooper in the car with emma about ½ an inch from him and starring at him saying, is this my older brother? Are you his mom and dad? You are my mom and dad right? So the 4 of us will be together? She is smart as a whip and just turned 6 years old, but is wise beyond her years.

We got back to the hotel room and Elias was just sitting around looking at the backpack we got him and then Tom took the football out of his backpack and Elias eyes lit up. Tom threw the ball to him in the room and Elias squeeled. They had a catch for about 30 minutes and Emma got right in there.  A great ice breaker and a great way to see him start to breath a little bit.  Elias went through the backpack his foster family sent him with and he gave me a few awards from school and a photo album that we sent him but in the back is all photos of him with his foster family and his school mates.  Poor sweatheart just sat there silently sobbing as he looked at the photos. I cannot even imagine what he must be going through, the pain, the confusion, it just must be blinding. But through it all he has been a sweetheart, a little gentleman, a very obedient little boy and just a doll. Very quite and not signing much, but he will nod in understatement or just sorta stare if he has no idea what you are saying. 

God has blessed us so much on this journey. We are blessed to have such amazing children at home that are holding down the fort while mom and dad are thousands of miles away meeting their brother and sister. We are blessed to have our family’s love and support and help (oh and I mean help… as you can ask my father in law and mother in law as they are staying in our house with our kids ands dog for 2 weeks) and our church family’s support and all of the blessings and prayers of our family and friends. We know without God this journey is not possible for us. God orchestrated this whole journey and knew what would happen.  It has been a faith building journey and one that has truly only just begun as we know start the process of becoming a family. 

Our very first glimpse of Elias coming in to meet us

He was trying so hard to be brave but was shaking violently and crying silently

That little face says what this day is like for these precious children.. many people say "Oh the children will be greatful they are being saved.." to many of these children we are taking them from those that love them and all they have ever known.. the pain is great and intense,

still trying so hard to just do what he was being told to do

Emma knew he needed a distraction

First photo with both of our beautiful new children

Daddy having a catch with Elias and Emma

our two snug bugs.. emma will not leave Elias side... she is firmly attached to his hip!

Ni Hao from China!!!!

Ni hao from China,

We are here in Harbin! The winter Ice and snow festival is underway and we are the lone Americans except for our travel pal and adoptive mom partner, Theresa.  It was a long way to get here but our flights from Newark were nice, long of course but totally uneventful.   Don’t know that Iever watched that many movies or tv in my life haha. Watched some good movies from our very nice plane and United did a good job. We had fancy monitors on the back of each seat and could watch whatever we wanted. I did feel sorry for Tom for as high tech as it was none of the movies had captions, unless you wanted Arabic captions… go figure…. Tom played a lot of games on his monitor and apparently won world Championship in poker hahah.    We flew into Beijng without a hitch and then had about 6 hours to sit and wait for our next flight. Only problem was for Tom and I the time in Beijing was about 2 in the morning in America and we had already flewn one day and had not yet slept so staying awake to keep an eye on your luggage was rough. I didn’t make it having had been so sick that I passed on the seats waiting for the plane and slept about 2-3 hours that way while my poor hubby starred at me.  I am still not well, but the air in Beijing was beyond frightening.  It was like being at a huge campout with a million fires burning at the same time. Believe it or not that was the air quality IN the airport. You could not even see outside really it is so thick. VERY SCARY.  Our flight to Harbin was short and uneventful and we met up with our friend Theresa on the plane.  It is nice to be here with someone else and not just Tom and I. 
W e arrived in our hotel at about midnight and tried hard to get internet only to find out that there is not internet to get. Very frustrating. We have no outside communication with anyone at this point and our phones are useless clocks as well. 

Today we ventured outside since it says it is actually like a heatwave here for the ice festival as it was 5 degrees outside and not the normal 50 below. We heard tomorrow might be 12 degrees, SHORTS people shorts hahahh…  It is not good air quality here either and my lungs are not liking it. Very smokey and smells like campfires burning too. I tried to use my nebulizer machine and we darn near set the room on fire (twice) seems my nebulizer must not have survived the flight well and turns into  a smoking burning, flaming machine when plugged in (no it is not the plug the converter is good.) sooo no nebulizer. 
We went out with Theresa today and hit the streets. We were armed with underarmour and layers and did pretty well staying warm. The place is pretty cool with ice sculptures everywhere. We hit several huge under ground malls.  You could buy anything there and tons of it. We hit super Walmart (yup even up here in what seems to be the ends of the earth (pretty sure that it doesn’t get much colder in the world then where we are, it is only above freezing 3 months out of the year here.) We got some drinks and snacks for the room and some yogurt for me as I am having a hard time finding something I want to eat.

We meet our guide, Lynn tomorrow and she will take us to the bank to change over our money and then we will go meet our Emma. I cant believe it is here, the time is really come to meet our kiddos!  I know I cant post this probably until Wednesday when we hit Guangzhou but want to keep track of our journey so I am writing it in MS word and will snag it over to a blog post when we find something that looks like internet!  Ok going to go rest for a bit and chill as tomorrow starts a big day!!!!!
Good night from Harbin!