Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shoes and slurbberts

During the first couple of days of having Hyrum, he would always want his shoes on.  I took them off when we got to the hotel room and he would have them back on within a few minutes.  This would repeat itself 3-4 times a day.  Finally I gave up and realized this is what he is used to - with the cold floors in the orphanage I am sure they had shoes on all day.  Last night after a shopping trip we came back and I took my shoes off.  He saw that and immediately took his off.  We came back from breakfast and the same thing happened.  He now runs around the hotel room without shoes.  We can't underestimate the power of example in our childrens' behavior.

Another culture shock he will have to get used to....slurbberts.  At least that's what we call them - not sure on the spelling and didn't bother googling it. (Lips on bare skin and expelling air like a trumpet player to cause massive vibrations which lead to convulsive laughter.) Last night after his bath I gave him a little slurbbert on his tummy.  He furrowed his brow and had no idea what that was all about.  A couple more times and he got used to the idea, but never cracked a smile.  This morning while getting him dressed I made another attempt and this time it was successful.  Big smiles and giggles. 

It's Official!

The Adoption Certificates are in hand for both Hyrum and Bria.  The Walker family has two more children!!  They are both doing great.  The paperwork has gone very smoothly here.  My biggest worry being without Deanne this week was the paperwork, but she had it all perfectly in order before arriving in China and the guide, Ann, has been very knowledgeable and told me exactly what was needed every step of the way.  Deanne had a couple of snags on her paperwork.  Nothing that was her fault, it turns out that this was the first adoption that orphanage has ever done and the director had to bring new paperwork 4 times.  That delayed things almost a whole day.  I was worried that she may have to stay in Changsha longer so I made her call the guide to double check everything last night and it looks like it is still on schedule.  There was also a typhoon that went through Hong Kong today.  There were some flights cancelled there and I was worried it may affect the airport here in Guangzhou.  We got some of the rain, but nothing to disrupt flights.  I don't want anything to get in the way of us getting back together tomorrow night.

Hyrum has been fantastic - very easy to manage with no tantrums and barely any fussing.  He allows me to comfort him quickly whenever he does fuss. He had lots of smiles today when he was playing with a remote control car in the department store and he giggles constantly when I blow up a balloon and let it fly all over the room.  He takes cover, but still laughs. 

Bria seems to be taking a little longer to bond with Deanne and had a little melt down today, but overall is doing really well.  Deanne will have to update the blog when she gets back to the computer this weekend.  We put international texting on our ATT plan before we came.  We get 50 texts each for $10 for the month.  That has gotten us by during the days and I have called her hotel from mine every night.  That is about $4 or $5 dollars for 30-45 minutes, but so worth it.

The safe situation was rectified quickly yesterday.  The hotel ended up sending up a guy with a drill and he pretty much destroyed the safe to get it open.  I took my things out of it and they hauled it away and replaced it with another one.  I hope that doesn't show up on our bill at check out time...

I found out today that Hyrum is actually pretty proficient at chopsticks.  I have included a picture of him taking care of a bowl of noodles with other photos from the adventures today.


He's better than me with those sticks.

All dressed up for the finalization!

Dad and Hyrum after it was all done.

Our guide, Ann, holding Hyrum with the girls from another family we are traveling with.

Lunch with Ann, the kids, Rob (another bachelor this week) and our driver.

Doug and Rob with our kids at a museum.

The play area at the registry office.

More smiles from Hyrum.

The restaurant in the Garden Hotel.  The hostess was worried that Rob and I were too tall for that table.  She was right!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Example #5

This should actually be a continuation of the Bank of China experience in the previous post.  They just called me and told me they gave me 2 cents too much.  I changed $2,500 - so 2 cents is pretty insignificant, but it was in my favor and they are a bank.  If it was in their favor I would have just let it slide.  They first asked if I could come back down to the bank and I said I would come before 2:00.  They must have just read my blog post about how courteous everyone is here and decided to come to me instead.  They just showed up at my door to save me the trip....see what I mean? 

Progress and the Chinese experience so far...

I spoke with Deanne last night and she wanted my to post the progress that Bria is making.  We are still counting down the hours before we are back together.  We figure we better make a switch with the kids when we are all together to even out the bonding process.

Bria got attached to a chair and sat there most of the first day.  Deanne could only coax her out if she really, really wanted something else.  She even woke up in the middle of the night, got out of bed and went to the chair.  Deanne pushed two chairs together and put a pillow down for her and she finished the night out there.  Yesterday she was able to get her to stay out of the chair most of the day and she fell asleep while Deanne was holding her in the bed.  During bath time, Deanne was stroking her with a warm wash cloth - when she stopped, Bria grabbed her hand and told her to keep doing it.  Another sign of progress happened at a restaurant.  One of the waitresses took her from Deanne just to hold her.  The day before when Bria saw a Chinese person, she reached for them, so Deanne was nervous about her being held by this other lady.  But she was releived when Bria actually reached back for her!  Wahoo!

The Chinese people have all been incredible - nice, polite, courteous, generous.  They all seem to love the idea of Americans adopting their orphans. (that was a concern of ours)

Example #1.  I was changing money today at the Bank of China and one man gave me his seat when he saw that I had a child with me.  Another man didn't want to wait so he gave me his number he pulled earlier than mine - I was number 3031 and he had 3018.  That saved me about 45 minutes and I was hoping no one else figured out how this American guy got to go to the window before them.  (This example excludes the fact that the guy behind the window on Monday changed the exchange rate on me 1 minute after quoting me the rate, but before counting out the money.  He apologized so I guess rules are rules and he was still very polite about just cost me .47 cents.)

Example #2.  I had my do not disturb light on outside the hotel room door all day on Monday.  I had just slept there a few hours and was not going to have bedding or towels laundered and I can make my own bed, so what was the point.  After returning from picking up Hyrum later that day I found a note under the door apologizing for not cleanding the room.  They didn't say becuase some knucklehead left the light on all day.  I then received a phone call from the front desk asking if they wanted me to clean the room.  I told them there was no need.  About 2 hours later I received a knock at the door and there were 3 representatives from the hotel making sure that everything was OK since the light was on all day.

Example #3.  I had mentioned to our guide her in Guangzhou that Deanne was a little lonely in Changsha and her guide didn't seem to be as attentive as she was.  Mysteriously a hotel employee, maybe a consierge, showed up at her door and explained that the purpose of her visit was to make sure everything was going well for the guests and that they are not "lonely".   The tip off.

Example #4.  Every hotel employee, has been amazing.  Every store clerk or restaurant hostess and servers have been fantastic.  Granted, everyone we are exposed to is benefitting financially from us being here, but it all seems very sincere and from the heart.

The experience on the roads would tend to make you believe they are not so courteous in real life, but I think that is just how they drive.

PS - Did you know the safes in a hotel room can lock you out if you try the incorrect code too many times?  Hyrum discovered that for me.  The electronic gizmo the hotel staff has to reset the safe didn't work, so now I am waiting for the safe company to come out.          

Monday, September 26, 2011

We have them!

I called Deanne last night after all the dust settled to share our experiences.  I feel guilty, but it appears that I had a much better day than she did.  Bria cried for 45 minutes at the registry office, then settled down when they went outside.  Deanne did what she could to make her feel comfortable at the hotel room, but Bria sat in a chair most of the time and wouldn't respond to tickling or playing of any kind.  Deanne finally ventured out to try to get some lunch, but as soon as Bria saw a Chinese person she started crying and reached for them.  It's hard for me to imagine any child not latching onto Deanne right away.  Hopefully today goes better.

Hyrum cried for a few minutes after the handoff to me, but after a few treats and toys, he settled down and I actaully got a smile from him about 15 minutes into it.  The care giver was there for about an hour, then wisely slipped out without saying goodbye to him.  He didn't notice.  As we were leaving he got a little fussy when he realized I was it for him.  I pulled out the magic pills, jelly bellies, and he was good to go again.  By the evening he was pretty comfortable with me. We went to dinner with Rob and his new girls and the guide, Ann.  Besides dropping his ceramic bowl and shattering it on the floor, it was all uneventful for Hyrum and I.

He fell asleep while I was holding him on the bed and he slept most of the night.  I fussed when I wasn't in the bed when he woke up, but I was immediately able to calm him down.  So that was very good sign.

Breakfast was easy with more smiles and he ate a ton.  Here are some pictures of my day.  Deanne and I will get back together Friday and we will be able to put some pictures of Bria up.  We are off for new adventures today.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We are in China!

I will keep this short since we are running on about 3 hours of sleep in the last 50 hours.  Deanne and I are in China, however, we are about 500 miles apart at the moment.  She is picking up Bria in Changsha tomorrow morning at 10:00 and I am picking up Hyrum in Guangzhou tomorrow at 2:00.  We will be reunited Friday night at 9:00 back here in Guangzhou.   The flights went great - we had 45 mins to make our connection in Hong Kong and the airlines, Cathay Pacific, said it would be no problem and it wasn't.  They sent an agent to meet us and escort us to the other flight.  We went ahead of everyone else in security and felt like VIPs (for a few minutes anyway).  It wasn't very fun sending Deanne away to another city after being here less than an hour, but it's what we had to do to make this happen this week.
We can't wait to get back together, so we hope this week goes fast.

I got settled in the hotel room, took a 3 hours nap and went to dinner (an authentic mexican place!)with the father of another family who is adopting 2 children also.  He is here without his wife, so between the two of us "bachelors", we will be navigating this in-country adoption process that our wives know much more about, while trying to also navigate new relationships with our new children - a process they also know much more about.  Heavenly Father new what he was doing when he gave women the larger assignment in the family building businsess.

Deanne at the Cathay Pacific ticket counter in LAX.  Is she happy to be on our way, or what?

We're not in Utah anymore...

Roughing it in China!

Roughing it....again....

From the hotel window.  14th floor.

Just before touchdown from the camera monitor on the seats.  Pretty cool...but I know...its a guy thing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adoption is Wonderful

In a previous post I expressed that I wouldn't want to wish this experience on my worst enemy.  After rereading that post I realized how that made adoption from china sound.  That was not my intention and I don't want to scare anyone away.  China is no more difficult of time consuming than any other international adoption.  Our experience has been very out of the ordinary, wrought with challenges along the road.  We not only had problems with the adoption process but in most other areas of our life.  This was the path the Lord chose to give us growth.

If anyone is considering adoption please understand that most families have the normal roller coaster of emotions and challenges but it is not as difficult as ours has been. 

There are many children in need of families and it will all be worth it, even in our situation.

Reality is setting in.

The reality of going to China is finally starting to set in.  I walked into my bedroom today and walked right into the suitcases sitting in the middle of the floor.  It struck me that I am finally going to get my children.  My 7 year wait is almost over!  I started to feel that little flutter in my stomach and I realized that I was beginning to feel the excitement.  What a good feeling that is.  I still have some concerns that something will go wrong but I am giving in more and more to faith. It is so nice to begin to feel peace again.

We will be getting our itinerary on Tuesday at the latest.  I do know that we can visit Hyrum's orphanage.  I told Doug he can't go without me!!  I don't want to miss that experience.  Bria's orphanage won't allow visits so we will be satisfied with the thought of some day in the future visiting her home town.  Outside of the normal routine of appointments I don't know what else will be on the schedule.  I am really hoping that there will be sites open during the holiday so we have some fun the week I am in Guangzhou.

I have to get Doug up to speed on everything adoption and the blogs I have been following of others that will be in Guangzhou at the same time as him.  I would love to have met some of these people but hopefully Doug will get to.  I would be good for him to have the extra support and help.  I know he can do it but I'm sure it will get a little lonely. We haven't been given much direction from our agency as to what will take place and how it happens so it will be good to have others to direct questions to.

I had a close friend send this scripture to me today. It truly expresses my constant prayer.

"...and I pray that now at last in God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you." Romans 1:10

On another note, as I sit here typing, the kids came in and said there is a bee in Niya's hair.  Casey took a flip flop and tried to hit it out. Niya stood still while everyone ran and screamed.  She was so brave!  They finally found the bee in one of her curls.  That would never happen in my white girls hair.  One of the fun things about having an interracial family. :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This time it's for real. We're going to China

After a very hard experience we have gotten all the appointments necessary and flights re booked and paid for.  We are on our way to China!! We are headed to China on Friday the 23rd of September.  It took some creativity and thinking outside the box to get it put together but we did it. Oh, and I forgot, more paperwork and money. 

We both fly from Salt Lake to LA on Friday then on to Hong Kong and GuaGuangzhou.  It will be a long trip but I have seen some that were longer.  Once in Guangzhou Deanne will go to Changsha to pick up Bria and Doug in to Guangzhou to pick up Hyrum.  We will spend the week apart doing paperwork, touring, and getting to know our children.  Friday evening Deanne and Bria will fly to Guangzhou to meet up with Doug and Hyrum.  We had to split up so that we could get both of the children before the Chinese holiday.  We will have fun for a week with each other then have our consulate appointment the 11th of October and fly home on the 13th.

It has been a process getting to the point that I felt comfortable announcing this.  I just keep waiting for something else to stop us.  I did have a little scare today as I was compiling necessary paperwork.  Two of the documents had been misplaced.  I did very well controlling my emotions and fear.  It kept trying to creep up but I very successfully pushed it back.  We are waiting on getting our Power of Attorney's back from Washington DC so we can sign for each other then we will be completely set.

I had to spend some time repacking things now that we will be splitting up.  Most of the extra stuff or not completely necessary things will go with Doug because he is going straight to the hotel.  I have to stay within some pretty restrictive weight and size limitations for in country travel so I will be packing light.  I look at some of the things I am bringing because of recommendations and wonder if I really need them.  I am sure I will come home and say "If I ever do that again I won't bring all that." Mind you, this has been one of those experiences that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy so doing it again will take a visitation from an angel.  I'll let you know If I see an angel. :)

If anyone knows of a place to get an IPad for cheap let me know.  I won't have contact with anyone while in Changsha unless I can get online. Still trying to figure that one out.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

No, We are Not in China

Well it's been quite a week around our house.  We got news Tuesday after booking airline tickets that the US Consulate in China did not have any appointments available for the week we needed.  We tried a few other avenues to get an appointment but had no luck.  We wanted to give ourselves any chance we had so finally Friday evening we cancelled our tickets.  It was a difficult thing to do and cost us $560.

We are still home and won't be going until October or November.  We will be contacting our agency next week to see if we can get an appointment in October but if not we do have one for the middle of November.  Many questions arise now with this change and we have no answers for any of them.  We will have to take some time to think everything through and make some decisions.  It has been extremely difficult for several reasons but the most obvious being the disappointment of not going to get our children. 

I know this experience as well as this whole adoption process gives us more compassion but right now I don't want to learn anymore of that.  I just want what I want (which is not unreasonable) and not have so much opposition in my life.  I know some will think that Our will is not the Lord's will or that it makes us better people or even that we will still get to go get our children. I don't want to hear any of that so I choose not to talk about it to anyone. It has been a very long difficult journey finding a getting our children.  Even the children we have home are now afraid of what may happen next.  There have been so many things happen that I find I am afraid of what will go wrong while in China, either with Doug and I or at home with the kids.  There is no peace in this situation.

On the bright side, we have decided to be more selfish.  I am taking a week to buy fabric and sew, ALL WEEK LONG!  I am not doing anything for anyone but feed my kids.  I am going to have Doug do some golfing, if he can get away from work after missing most of this week due to an adoption mess. For a while we are taking care of ourselves, watching moves, playing games, going shopping, eating all the chocolate we want without feeling guilty, sitting around and doing nothing, maybe even see if there are tickets left for Mary Poppins. It's time to lick our wounds and heal.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another Miracle Needed!!

I was hoping that we could wake up running this morning.  Much like the rest of our process we have run into another road block.  The consulate has on more appointments available for September and the earliest they can get us in is October 11.  That would put us in China over a month with 10 children at home.  One of those weeks would be purely sight seeing because all US and Chinese government offices are closed the first week of October.  Our next option would be to stay outside of Guangzhou if we travel in October but that is not even an option for other reasons in our family.  So we are only left with 2 real options.  One, travel in November and miss Thanksgiving with the kids (bummer, but no deal breaker), or continue to go forward as though we go in September exercising great faith that all will work out and we leave on Saturday as paid for and planned. 

Miracles happen!  We have chosen to keep getting ready as though we fly out on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Dreaded Flu

We have 7 total days to get ready to leave 10  children home and pick up two more in China.  That leaves for a very busy week.  Now if that was all that I had going, no problem but we have had some big issues with school and getting things together with that.  I have also found that some of the needs academically are more demanding than expected. These things have been weighing heavily on me as well.  The best part of it all - I got the flu on Saturday.  I was down all day and when I tried to get up to get some things done I would start to lose it.  I have always said that I can still function with a bad cold but give me a stomach ache I am done.

The family, mainly Doug, got a lot accomplished while I laid in bed.  More and more things are being crossed off the "To Do" list, not because they are getting done but because they are not going to ever get done.  This is when I decide what is really important.  Who cares if my toilet is clean.  Sereen can do that if she wants to wash away the germs.  Right? What bad timing.  After breaking my wrist I didn't think that it could be harder. Losing a whole day to the flu was not even something that crossed my mind. I think this is what we would consider the Ox being in the mire.  My ox really needs to be pulled out. So I will shower and putts around the best I can while I still feel very tired and a  little queasy.  Hopefully it will be gone by tomorrow.

I have found a couple of people that are going to China the same time as us.  We leave a week earlier that them because we need the extra week to be in each child's province.  We will go pick up Bria in Changsha then leave on Friday of that week for Guangzhou and pick up Hyrum on Monday.  The other families will arrive in Guangzhou about a week after us.  I am excited to meet some of them.

I will do my best to post while we are in China but it all depends on the access to Blogger.  It seems hit and miss sometimes but I know how others rely on that to get them through the hard wait and I want my family to share in our experience.  Not just my kids but everyone.  This is a very unique experience and one to be treasured.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Travel on September 11th

We spent most of the day putting together travel arrangements.  We leave next Saturday the 11th and come back on the 29th.  What a busy week this will be.

It still hasn't really set in emotionally that we are getting two more children.  It has been such a long hard wait that I had to turn my heart off.  I just hope it turns back on very soon. :)  I'm not worried, it will probably be very tender towards my children and all the others we leave behind. 

I just wanted to give an update.

Our Miracle Came


No matter how weak our faith is Heavenly Father is still there.  I would know because my faith failed me yesterday, completely!

I got an unexpected call from our agency this morning and they were able to get our TA.  I can not say enough good about our China Coordinator and the in country director from our agency.  They went far more than the extra mile. We in no way expected this.  From what we knew yesterday there was no chance we would go this month.  I didn't want to get out of bed this morning and face another day.  I had to make some very difficult decisions, I thought.  Now this miraclous surprise. How grateful I am.

I woke up singing "Glory" and wondered why I would be singing that.  I was in no way on the outside praising God.  I guess my spirit knew.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday one of the children was working on their vocabulary. They had to choose an antonym from a list of 4 options.  (For those that forgot, antonym means opposite.)


And the answer of choice: