Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sitting in Hong Kong Airport waiting to go Home--30 Mar 2012

We are sitting at our Gate in Hong Kong Airport waiting to get this show on the road. We traveled via a very nice mini-van from Guangzhou to Hong Kong Regal Hotel. It took about 3 hours. It was great that we didn't have to get out of the van to go through customs. It took about a 30 min wait, but when we pulled up to the window we presented our passports, turned on the lights in the van so they could see our faces and opened the back of the van to present our luggage. This was simple compared to our bus ride in 2009 that required us to get out twice to walk through an airport like security and customs check. The Regal Hotel was nothing special except that it is connected to the airport and you can walk to the check in desk from the lobby. If we didn't already have 24 hours of travel ahead of us from Hong Kong I would have opted to stay in the Guangzhou China Hotel one more night and taken an early van ride. The China Hotel's accommodations were amazing. Shane actually enjoyed the ride--looking out the window the entire time. Thank goodness Susie had brought him food (noodles and a Banana) because he would not have made it. He slept well in the hotel and seemed to handle the change well. We have a 14 hour flight ahead, plus an 8 hour lay over in Chicago. Yes 8 hours...we tried to get a shorter layover but we needed at least 3 hours to get through Customs and Immigration. We will arrive home close to midnight Fri. Please continue to pray for our Journey. We are ready to come home. God bless you all.

Unfortunately I was unable to publish this before our flight took off...for some reason our VPN stopped working just before I tried to publish. We are about to land after 13.5 hours of flight. Shane has done extremely well for any toddler-especially one who still doesn't speak our language, has only known us 12 days, and this is his second plane ride. We are about to land at Chicago. So we are about to do the customs and immigration shuffle.

Just finished customs & immigration--it went extremely smooth. Too bad there was not a earlier connecting flight because we had processed through, traveled to our terminal, processed through security, and walked to our gate in less than 1.5 hours. Shane is now officially a US citizen and celebrated by munching down some French fries. He took his usual nap on the plane and fell asleep for the last 3 hours of the flight. It is 2 in the morning his time and he is holding out fine. Hope he can hang on till the next flight...we still have 4.5 hours till boarding time.

We are on our final was about 30 mins late, but at this point we are just tired. Shane took another short 45 min nap while we waited but the rest of the time he has been up and about. And even though he has got to be tired, he continues to be in good spirits. Of course Susie is amazing with keeping him occupied and engaged...he is smiling a lot today. That alone keeps our spirits up. We can't wait to get home and get some rest--hopefully Shane will feel the same way. Susie has been fighting some type of cold the last couple days so the trip has been tough. She is a real trooper--she has not complained at all. Soon we will be home and we will start the next phase of our adventure of introducing Shane to his new home and family. We have missed our kids terribly and will be glad to be at least reunited with our younger ones. Thank you for your prayers and support during all phases of this adventure. We are blessed with wonderful friends and family. And finally we give thanks to our awsome Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our God's mercy and grace is overwhelmingly sufficient. He is always faithful and has showed himself mighty throughout this whole process and trip. Of course as I write these last line we just a wave of turbulence and we are bouncing around like an amusement park ride....wooooo whoooooo! :-O

We arrived at the airport @ 11:30 pm and was greeted by our son Josiah, Simona, and Shari & Alan Green. What a nice surprise. We are home safe and trying to see if we can get Shane to sleep.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Journey Home Begins Tomorrow (28 Mar 2012)

Well our wait is over. Today we traveled to the US consulate, took our oath, signed the paperwork, and tomorrow they will give us Shane's Visa. By 5 pm Thursday we will be on a bus to Hong Kong to stay at a hotel at the airport. And at 11:15 am Friday, we will start our 24 hour journey home. When we touch down in Chicago and pass through Customs & Immigration Service, Shane will be officially an American citizen and will begin his new life in America.

Over the last two days we have visited parks, the play ground and the pool. We have had the opportunity to share dinner/lunch with 3 wonderful families who I know will become life long friends.

Ready to visit the Consulate

I apologize for the brevity of this entry, but we are a little bit tired and thought it better for now to just share some pictures of our wonderful adventures. Shane is progressing well. Each day we see him become just a little bit more comfortable with his new parents. He has a kind spirit, a wonderful laugh and a bright smile. He loves to organize things...almost to the point that we have trouble finding the things that he has decided to put away for us. He seems to be walking better...still a little bit wobbly, but at times he is walking pretty fast. He loves steps...a little bit scary to watch and he requires a lot of supervision while he practices. But this is great exercise. He also loves the pool. They only have a full size pool at this hotel, but he loves to be carried around and to splash us all. The splashing has carried over to his bath time...Susie now gets a shower during his bath. Still working out the diet...besides watermelon and apples, he loves bananas. I just watched him polish off a whole one before bedtime. Which is also funny. He is a light eater in the morning, starts grazing about 10 am and seems to peak right at bedtime. We can't wait to bring him home. We miss our family and friends and can't wait to be back home so you can meet the newest member of our family.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TB Test Results, Shopping and Gathering for Fellowship & Prayer (26 Mar 2012)

Well, this was an unusual day. After our traditional morning Hotel breakfast, we were off with our group first to drop off the other 5 families in our group at the American Consulate to get their child's Visa. For us, a trip back to the Exam office to have Shane's TB test read...which was negative! Yay! Since Shane is over 2, the test results are required prior to issuing the Visa so our Consular appointment had to wait for Wednesday. Other children in the group had children over 2, however since their children were adopted from Guangzhou and had their TB tests before we arrived here, they were 2 days ahead of us at the consulate.

After the TB check, we had a little adventure on the way back to pick up the others at the Embassy. A Toyota Camry side-swiped our bus and our driver and the Camry's were outside arguing. There was no damage to the bus and it appeared to no more that a paint mark or scrape on the Camry. But after about 15 mins of heated discussion, the bus driver gave the other driver 100 rmb ($16) and we were back on the road. For Shane, he was just happy to be out and about on the bus...he seems to really enjoy riding around on the bus.

We finally were reunited with our group, made a quick pit stop at the hotel to drop off passports and then were we're off for afternoon shopping and eating on Shamian Island. From Wikipedia: "The island's name literally means "sandy surface" in Chinese. The territory was divided into two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom by the Qing Dynasty government in the 19th century. The island is a gazetted historical area that serves as a tranquil reminder of the colonial European period, with quiet pedestrian avenues flanked by trees and lined by historical buildings in various states of upkeep. The island is the location of several hotels, a youth hostel, restaurants andtourist shops selling curios and souvenirs.". The island has an architectural fill of old Charleston or New Orleans combined with the landscaping of Hawaii...beautiful Banyan trees, banana palms and other beautiful floors. It has beautiful walking streets that some wonderful bronze statues of charatures of Chinese and western folks from all periods. Since the scenery is so wonderful, this area is very popular for fashion photography as well as wedding pictures. We saw several models as well as wedding couples being photographed along the buildings and park areas. Today, the island also caters to the westerner with a few restaurants and a Starbucks that have menus that a nice alternative to the dominant Asian cuisine we had been mostly sampling everyday. Also, several shops are on the island that target western tourists with trinkets, tee shirts, children's shoes and just about anything else you could think of...of course it is buyer beware with many of the shops because quality is always suspect. What is nice is that a couple of these shops are Chinese Christian owned and so we concentrated much of our shopping with them. However, with the decrease of adoptions, it appeared that these shops may be struggling due to the drop in customers. For one shop owner, Jordan, he was being forced to close down in 5 days. You could tell he appeared worried, yet he was smiling and claiming that the Lord will continue to provide.

While on the island we had lunch at Lucy's...a restaurant that serves a little bit of everything from an American style hamburger, a little Italian, curry, and if you are still hungry for Chinese, they have that too. Susie and I decided to have a little of both by ordering Onion rings accompanied with a spicy chicken and peanuts dish. Of course we ordered fried noodles for Shane. All the food was good and quickly we were back out strolling the streets while Susie ducked in and out of shops. Susie was in the hunt for "squeaky shoes" and some Chinese dress clothes for Olivia and Shane. Yes, squeaky shoes are just what they sound like. They are shoes that make the rubber duck squeak sound every time the child steps--kids love them. For Shane who is a active toddler who seems to like to get into everything, knowing by sound where he is in the house will be an advantage. We quickly found out that Olivia was too big for the squeaky shoes, but there were still some adorable dress shoes that were her size.

After shopping we returned to our room to decompress. Shane really likes the hotel room and lights up any time we return. For him, I believe he feels safe. He also knows where Susie keeps all the snacks and he is quick to try and help himself. That evening the Hotel treated us to a room service delivered pizza. It was quite good and made for an easy dinner for Susie and I. Shane nibbled on the crusts and feasted on Chinese Cup Noodles which have Disney Characters decorating the cup.

After dinner, the Amercia World Adoption Agency groups that were staying in the hotel, a total of 15 families met at the play ground for a fellowship, trade emails, and finally to pray for all the children and families--especially one family whose child had been very sick with a fever for a few days. It was a great time for Shane as he played at the played at the play ground and somewhat interacted with the other children. You could tell he was beginning to feel pretty comfortable because he didn't have to have Susie or myself in eyesight. Because it was such a busy day, Shane hadn't taken a nap. For the most part he had done very well but by 7 pm we knew we needed to get him back to the room for his bath and bed. It had been another good day. We have a long ways to go with the bonding and building trust, but I believe he is beginning to recognize us somewhat as his parents. Tomorrow is basically a free day as we wil meet from some of our group for the last time for pictures and farewells. Most will either leave for Hong Kong tomorrow at 5 pm or Wednesday at 6 am.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Touring with our Group (25 Mar 2012)

Sunday was a day of relaxation...kind-of. Touring with toddlers is still hard work. But for us, Shane made it pretty easy. Shane had gone to bed a little later than usual since we had dinner with our adoption families, Shane slept in till almost 7:30 am. In fact, we have found that he is pretty quiet and cuddly in the mornings. Not like our Olivia who is ready to play and discuss the problems of the world at about 6:30 am no matter what time she goes to bed. We were off to the hotel breakfast and then on the bus for a visit to a folk art museum. We are still hit and miss at breakfast...Shane is a light eater at breakfast and prefers to graze throughout the day. Also we are still struggling on breaking the code on getting protein and a source of calcium in him. Everyday is a little bit different with what he prefers...but very consistent on the crackers and fruits--especially apples and watermelon. I think he is almost on a on a Daniel Fast except for the bread... :) After breakfast we started with a visit to the Folk Museum. Now if I listened to our guide, I probably could tell you all kinds of interesting facts about the historic area we visited. However, our focus was on Shane. I believe the museum was built by one of the richest and most powerful families in the Guangdong province. It has some stunning Chinese architecture that includes some detailed wood carvings and ceramic painting. The museum also included some fascinating period furniture, a show room some incredible embroidery that was so intricate it gave the appearance of being a painting or photograph, a great art shop, and some beautiful gardens that included some great bonsai trees. Shane enjoyed the outdoors and walking around the gardens. In the art shop, for a very small fee($16), we had a calligrapher write both Olivia's and Shane's Chinese name which included a personal poem about each child below their name. It comes on a hanging scroll and we thought they might cherish it as part of their heritage when they are older. Since so many of the families had made the same order, I think we slightly overwhelmed the artist. Our scrolls were not complete by the time we were ready to depart. But in Chinese fashion, no problem, "we will deliver to hotel"--problem solved.

After the museum we were off to visit the new Guangzhou city center. In the last few years, several cities in China have surged in their construction of high rise buildings to build a distinct sky-line for each city much like we are able to recognize cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago. The city center was amazing and makes much of American architecture look bland. The have a beautiful TV antenna tower that is is 600 meters high and stands out with a unique artistic look like what the Eiffel tower does for Paris. We strolled through the beautifully designed town center taking several pictures of the skyline as well as a stadium that was custom-designed for the Asia Games and basically sits empty like many of the Olympic venues in Beijing. Shane loves his stroller and was happy to be pushed along watching all the people walk by. He seemed to be very comfortable out and about and even talked and interacted with us a little. It was definitely good to have him amongst all the loving families in our group and the wonderful children they had recently adopted.

We returned home for a little rest and a visit to the hotel playground. Shane loves the play area ...especially the little houses which have doors to go through. He spends most of his time going in and out of the little doors. This particular visit, there ws a little girl with toy cell phone. He took an immediate interest in her phone and therefore decided it was worth getting closer to her for A better look. He approached her on one side...then walked around to her other side...then got up the courage to sit down beside her. It was very funny. Then he got up and she began to pat the seat beside her for him to come back and sit down. Well, our little "hen-pecked" man did it! Like to know her secret : )!

Afterward, we met with several families in the afternoon to grab a late lunch at McDonald's...yes, they have one right next to the hotel and it is always busy with the local population. We grabbed take-out and headed to the hotel park which has some great open air rooms set up for tea. We turned it into a family picnic area and chewed down on some great American staples. Shane experimented with his first Happy Meal....fries as expected were a hit but he passed on the burger. We thought that he has real affinity to small soft buns that he might at least try it...we were wrong. The real hit of the meal was his toy. It was a plastic figurine of Alvin the chipmunk that when you pressed the top of his head it said "ooh la la." Alvin got a lot play that afternoon accompanied by a lot of giggles and laughs.

After a short play on the play ground we decided to head to the pool. It was an outdoor pool. The pool was heated but the air was little chilly--about 72 deg F with a gentle breeze. Once you got past the initial shock it was fine as long as you stayed in the water. And we did because Shane loved it. He was a big splasher and enjoyed being spun around in circles-- lots of smiles. After about 30 mins he was a little chilled. So we returned to the room for a warm transition to bath time, snacks and then bedtime. We were all we were all in bed early. Tomorrow is our TB check and then some lunch and shopping on Shamian Island.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

First Day in Guangzhou: Medical Exam and Grocery Run (24 Mar 2012)

Well all slept well after our flying adventure from Kunming. Shane woke up happy and appeared to be fairly comfortable with us. We rushed off to the hotel cafe for breakfast...the China Hotel provides a wonderful variety of Western and Asian breakfast foods. We tried many foods on Shane but he still hasn't an appetite for meat and prefers mostly fried noodles, some fruits (apples and watermelon), and crackers. In fact the big hit of the morning was the discovery that he loves Ritz like crackers--who knew? So we are still trying creative ways to get some protein in this boy, but yogurt drink seems to be the only real source of protein that he doesn't spit out. He also turns his head with many foods just based on sight. We have tried ice cream a couple times, but it is obvious he doesn't like the cold sensation.

From breakfast we rushed to our bus at 9 am and we were off to the medical clinic for his required physical exam and TB test. The clinic was full of adoptive parents from other agencies all trying to navigate the controlled chaos. Thank God we had a wonderful guide (Amy), who definitely knew how the system worked and how to get our group through all the individual steps (picture; height, weight, and temp; ear, nose and throat exam; physicians exam). Amazingly, I believe we were done in less than 75 mins. Shane handled all the prodding and poking pretty well. Although at one point he seem very uncomfortable with the crowd and was impatient that we we waiting in line. So he proceeded to take a couple of swings and punches at a couple of near by children...I guess we might need to enroll him in anger management classes. :) The doctor spent a lot of time listening to his heart and poking at his hernia, made a lot of copies of what little medical records we had, and in the end provided very little feedback. He told our guide that he didn't think the heart sounded that bad, but he also told us that he looked a slightly cyanotic. After the exam it was time fora a TB test-a US requirement for all children older than 2....we were not looking forward to him getting a needle. Susie was prepared with a very large sucker...something that we recently discovered he like a lot...the boy definitely has a sweet tooth. The sucker did the trick. As the needle pierced, he began to blow. Susie immediately popped a large sucker in his mouth and his countenance immediately became much more peaceful. The thought was that bigger Is better-- in this case she was definitely right.

From the clinic we were off to do some grocery shopping. The store we visited was like a Chinese Macy's with a small grocery store but with US prices. The clothes they carried we beautiful but at 2 to 3 times what we would pay for them in the US. We picked up water, cup of noodles, crackers, cookies and some yogurt drink. Then group returned to the hotel to allow our kids to decompress, tank up with some food and get a little rest.

At 3:30 one parent from each family met with our guide to complete Visa paperwork. Susie was able to complete in less 20 mins and then we were off to the 4th floor of the hotel where they have a small outdoor playground and park. Most of the adoption parents of the hotel must have had the same idea, because when we arrived there we at least 10 or more families. It made for a wonderful afternoon. Shane was immediately drawn to the little tykes-like play ground that provide several small slides and tunnels for the toddlers to explore. For Shane, he found the area that had a small door and he proceeded to go in and out, closing the door and several times waving and saying goodby. It was obvious he had never climbed before and was hesitant to try. He was drawn to the slides but really required us to hold him as he slid down. By the end of the afternoon he was sliding down the smallest slide with little assistance except for getting to the top. At one time he was drawn to the highest slide--about 5.5 ft tall. So we let him try it...after a few try's he slid down on his own...but after he did it once, it was enough excitement and he migrated back to the small slide.

That night, our group's 6 families met for dinner at the hotel's Japanese steak house. Susie and I tried the filet-- it was wonderful. The meal came with fried, noodles, rice, tempura, and vegetables. The noodles and vegetables, especially the onions and peppers were a hit with Shane. The meal included ice cream, but Shane still would not have anything to do with something that cold. We will keep trying. Shane was great at the dinner except in beginning wen he threw his chop sticks and fork at the chef and they landed on grill. I guess he was telling the chef that is it was time to get this meal started. After that he settled down, ate well, and seemed very content to have our company. The meal gave us a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the company of several of the families in our group.

From the meal it was back to the room for his ritual bath time. He definitely loves the water and we are anxious to get him in the hotel pool tomorrow. The big treat of the day was right before bedtime. Susie was playing with Shane, dancing and jumping around. She all of a sudden jumped up into the air and Shane burst out with a laugh. Quickly, she did it again and he laughed even harder. It was the first time we had really heard him laugh and it was wonderful.

The change of hotel environments plus being surrounded with other adoptive families has made Shane more comfortable with his new parents and surroundings. He is very comfortable in our hotel room and appears to explore and get into everything like a normal toddler. For him, he probably thinks this is home-- little does he know that in a few days we will bringing him home to the US.

Tomorrow we will do a little sight seeing and enjoy relaxing in the hotel as we continue to bond with our little one. God has truly blessed this journey and we will cherish these first day with Shane for the rest of lives. Please continue to pray for Shane's transition.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Headed for Guangzhou

For us, Friday meant that Shane's Passport was complete and it was time to pack up and fly to Guangzhou for our last phase of our journey in China. Guangzhou is where Shane will have his medical examine and finally we will apply for and receive his Visa. Because Shane is over 2 years old, he will also receive a TB test which requires us to stay one more day in Guangzhou than the parents with younger children.

We started Friday with our typical Hotel breakfast. Shane was not eating well. He appeared very picky and we even had trouble getting him to eat his favorites-fried rice noodles and watermelon. Susie was sure he knew something was up after he saw us packing the bags. Eric had arranged for us a late hotel check out (2 pm) since our plane departure was not scheduled until 5:20 pm. Before leaving for the airport, we decided to take another stroll through Green Lake Park. Shane really likes being outside and all of the activity in the park from the early morning exercise & dance groups, musicians, and sightseers seems to be a very good distraction as well as a calming environment. During our walk we discovered a small section that was set up much like a covered, but open air Chuck E. Cheese-like amusement park. However, they also had a few small amusement rides (small train, merry go-round, rocket ship ride). We decided to upgrade Shane's experience to a train ride. It was a small 6 car ride, with enough room for 1 child per car. We chose the front engine car and strapped him for what we soon realized was the ride of his life. For what we thought would be slow moving and gentle toddler ride actually was a brisk jerk around the curves hard adventure. For Shane, he held on tight wide-eyed with no emotion. We had no idea if he was scared or enjoying it. It was not until we walked to another ride that he objected and convinced us he was done. We decided to try to give our second ticket to a nearby Chinese family, but they and the park attendant insisted we return the ticket for a refund which they gladly did with a smile--amazing! Not in America! By noon we returned from the park to get ourselves ready for our trip.

Eric, our guide, met us at 2 pm with Shane's Chinese passport and assisted us with checking out. He had also brought Shane a gift of some Chinese children's cartoon DVDs and audio CDs to help him with his transition. You could tell that Shane recognized the characters because he enjoyed just looking at the covers. Before traveling to the airport, Eric took us for some quick shopping which included a visit to a Super Walmart to buy some local tea. The Yunnan province is known for its jade which ismined in the mountainous areas as well as its trees for harvesting Puer (sounds like pu-air) tea. While in the jade shop a couple of the clerks started speaking to Shane in Chinese asking if they could hold him. Shane immediatley spoke out something that I first thought was toddler gibberish until I noticed the clerks were giggling and repeating what he said--bu yao- no want. He didn't want to go to the strangers...he prefered to stay in my arms. Wow, we had made progress! Then, while Shane and I waited for Susie inside Walmart, he was immediately upset that Susie had left and he did not calm down until the driver told him she was coming back--progress.

On a side note, while we waited a man walked up and tried to sell me a fake least I thought it was fake and my driver confirmed it later. For a facade, it worked beautifully. It's display was fully functional and the settings and features appeared to be working. But I had already heard of the $20 iPhone scam. In fact, I was told that most Apple products cost almost double in China. We did see where iPhones were readily available in Walmart.

From Walmart we headed to the Airport, where Eric assisted us all the way to the security checkpoint. He made everything so easy for us. We didn't realize how much Shane had attached himself to Eric until we proceeded to leave. He quickly burst into tears and Susie tried to console him with the handful of Chinese words we had tried to copy down on the way to the airport while trying to navigate TSA-like security.

Then high-adventure began. We were at a gate that requires you to take a bus to the plane. As we began to line up we removed Shane from his stroller so it could be carried to the plane. For him the stroller is like a security blanket and immediately he began to object. As Susie continued to console him while ended up standing in line for over 20 min waiting for the bus, he began to grab my arm and push me forward while screaming and yelling at me. We believe he wanted us to move and was getting very impatient with us because we were not. We finally boarded the plane and got settled. Of course Shane did not like the idea of a seatbelt and went into full melt down for the whole 2.5 hours of the flight. The passengers loved us---not! We tried everything from candy to a Chinese version of the Disney movie I had downloaded to my IPad--no joy. We were exhausted and little bit embarrassed...but we had survived and few of the passengers had given us a reassuring smiles that they understood. We were the last of 3 families to arrive at Guangzhou that night to be reunited with 3 other families in our group who had already been there a week earlier since they were adopting from this province. Interesting, our group comprised the adoption of 5 boys and 1 girl--all of the boys were considered special needs.

After arriving at the China Hotel-Marriott, a very elegant 5 star hotel that is lavishly decorated and furnished, we finally settled in our room about 9:30 pm. Shane had calmed down and seemed relaxed and excited to be in his new room. Susie gave him a bath, which he loved, and put him to bed. There were no objections and he was asleep in 5 mins and we followed quickly. We had survived another day and savored the glimmer of hope that his new surroundings would help us in building a bond of trust with our little boy. Saturday is medical examination day and we have to be ready to go by 9 am. Praying for good results on the TB test come Monday!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Visiting Shane's "Finding Site" and Yunnan Ethnic Village

Shane has been sleeping well. Susie prepares him a daily evening bath that seems to be the highlight of his day and after a quick book--quick because he shows more interest in turning the pages than hearing the story and seeing the pictures--and then prayers he seems to go down rather easy...of course with our daily bonding adventures we have probably pushed him to the point where he's glad to have e refuge of a port-a-crib.

Today was a new day and after a quick breakfast of fried noodles, yogurt and watermelon (the only foods that Shane seems to eat) at the hotel restaurant, we were off on another adventure with Eric, our Chinese guide. Of course Eric is his American nickname to help us avoid slaughtering his real name. A quick note about Eric--he is currently a graduate student at one of the many the local universities in Kunming. His school has over 90,000 students. He is studying International Relations and plans to enter the construction industry when he graduates this spring. He has a wonderful disposition and we have enjoyed his company throughout the trip.

Today's adventure began with a visit to the site where Shane was found when he was abandoned. He was actually found at the edge of the city slightly above the foot of a mountain. It was quite an adventure getting there...our 30 min taxi ride was well over an hour and a half. The taxi driver only knew the general location and we depended on consulting locals until we finally arrived at the location. It seemed that everyone our guide talked to knew where it was, but either they were wrong or their directions were bad. Actually, the ride was quite fun....Shane likes to ride, the air was cool and refreshing so we could ride with the windows down, which is great since AC is not included in the taxi ride. After several trial and errors we finally arrived at a location that the locals concurred was the sight identified in Shane's abandonment notice. We had driven through some very poor sections of town only to end up at the entrance of a resort-like restaurant and road that leads to a Buddhist Temple at the top of the mountain. We stopped, took pictures and took in a nice view. It was probably a warm day when he was found at the approximate age of 2 months. It is hard to imagine a child being abandoned on the side of the road...but we are very thankful he was rescued and cared for.

Next we were off to Kunming's Ethnic Village. The Yunnan province has over 52 ethnic groups and several of these groups culture (architecture, song, dance and history) is displayed in an Epcot style village. Due to the size of the park we chose to pay the $30 for a 9 seat golf-cart with driver to get us to most of the attractions. This made for a nice relaxing afternoon with plenty of song and dance...some how I was volunteered to dance. The men and women in the beautifully colored costumes grabbed me and a few other Asian tourists to join their circle dance...seemed rather low key with a few shuffle steps and gentle kicks until the girls on each side of me started bumping my rear with was kind of like doing the "Bump" dance from the 70's but these girls could hurt someone the way they were dancing. It was all for a good laugh-- thank God I held on to my video camera or Susie would have posted the video. After 2.5 hours we had our fill and we were off to the hotel to unwind and get some dinner.

We had Eric preorder our dinner and again it was amazing...we feasted on an amazing spareribs dinner very similar to American ribs, only smaller, hotter and piled on a delicious pile of peppers and garlic. We also has some delicious Chinese cabbage soup, tofu and fired shoe string potatoes (Shane's favorite). There was more than enough dinner for 4 and it cost only $20...with no tip...they will not take a tip...we left one and they came out of the restaurant to return it. Pretty amazing.

Shane is slowly showing signs of adjustment, he babbles a little bit more and sometimes try to communicate. He can be quite whinny when things are not going his way...which is most of the time unless we are walking him outside. Friday is travel day for Guangzhou...where we have a medical appoiment and wait for Shane's Visa. Thank you for prayers. This has been an amazing journey but we are ready to bring him home.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Orphanage Visit--Good or Not Good Idea

Part of the schedule of events while in Kunming was for us to visit Shane's orphanage with him on Wednesday. It kind of took us by surprise. Although we were very interested in seeing the facility and staff that has been a part of his life for quite a while, we were not sure this was a good idea based on his current emotional state--still confused and apprehensive about his new parents and lifestyle. Furthermore, we had not requested the visit. Needless to say we should have gone with our initial assessment of this outing--either call it off or only send one parent.

So off we were for a 30 min taxi ride through town to the Kunming Municiple Children's Home. The facility had a nice entrance opening to a compound with a few buildings. We arrived and went to what appeared to be the main administrative building and met with a director in a sitting area where we handed over our gifts for the workers and the director. The director then gave us a book that provided an overview of the orphanage and then asked us if we had any questions-- Susie had prepared a list and she proceeded to go through them. For the most part we didn't gain much more additional knowledge...we were hoping that they may be able to provide his medical records, or insight to the type of bottle/cup he had used in the past.

Then we were off to visit his old dormitory. Up to this point Shane seemed OK...but as we walked up the steps of his old building a worker walked out and Shane erupted in a scream...a "take me away" scream. Quickly we decided that Susie would go in but Shane and I would stay outside. He calmed than some but it was obvious he was not happy. Then a couple more workers showed up and his response actually was much better...he went to them, hugged and kissed them...they gave us an Asian pear and seemed satisfied for us to hang out outside and snack. Then it was time to leave and the full melt-down began. He screamed and lurched for the building yelling Ma Ma. His melt down continued from leaving the orphanage to walking to find a taxi and finally all the way back to the Hotel. Of course Susie's heart was breaking because of her little one's anguish because we seemed to have no way to comfort him. Our guide Eric recommended that we stop by Green Lake Park for a brief visit to the children's rides...I was not sure but he was confident it would be a good distraction. So we stopped by the park and Eric treated Shane to four rides...the type we would see outside a department store. You would walk up to a ticket booth and exchange Chinese money for ride tokens-- it was really funny to see that the ride token was a US nickel. It took the first ride just to get Shane to stop crying...then rest of the rides he never smiled but he seemed to calm done quite bit. He would avoid contact for the most part and pretty much maintained a stoic face. Eric said that eye contact even for Asian adults was not common and he would eventually come around. I also noticed that most of the other children on the rides were quite reserved. After the rides we proceeded to walk the park where Eric bought Shane a couple of toys (pin wheel and a little horn)...again not much of an emotional reaction but it seemed to further calm him and he began to engage us more as we had to help him work and figure out his toys. Eric had helped us make great progress in restoring Shane to at least his orginal emotional state. Bottom line, we made a tactical error in visiting the orphanage with Shane but he seems to be recovering.

The rest of the day was spent trying to interact and bond. He is beginning to eat very well but we are still having trouble finding sources of protein that he likes besides yogurt. Up to this point he hasn't been a big fan of meat and eggs....he loves fried rice noodles, watermelon, apples, and Asian pears.

In the afternoon we returned to Green Lake park for a stroll to enjoy their gardens. Also there were several folk music bands playing away...we enjoyed their playing and seeing all the unusual instruments. It funny though, it was if they were competing with each other. Several bands all playing at once in close proxiemity where at a distance it sounded pretty bad but if you walked up to each individual band you discovered the music to be quite good.

Last highlight of the evening was a return visit to a local Chinese Restaurant...but this time I took our guide there earlier in the day to help me order and make a reservation. This time the food was great. All the local dishes he picked out were great: crispy fried potatoes that looked like interwoven potatoe straws (Shane's favorite); ginger chicken and peanuts, baked BBQ spareribs (more like a very good pork roast), and soup. We ate well and took Shane back to the hotel full and ready for bed. He seemed tolerant and somewhat content with his current situation. Thursday we are off to the Ethnic Village. Should be fun.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bonding Begins--Very Slow, but We See Hopeful Glimpses

After a very emotionally and physically exhausting Gotcha Day (Monday), Shane slept for about 12 hours and probably didn't even move for the first 8. He woke up still unsure of Susie and I as well as our surroundings. His waking up was quite comical....he would momentarily open his eyes as if hoping the surroundings had changed as well as that his new parents maybe had disappeared only to find us staring at him. He would quickly close his eyes like he was hoping we did not notice he was awake. We finally got his attention that was time to awake. He seemed to tolerate us and even gave us the pleasure of a few eye to eye contacts as Susie dressed him for breakfast.

Although he is beginning to eat well, he appears to be somewhat finicky--especially on sources of protein. Susie keeps experimenting. We have found that he will still somewhat eat the congee (Chinese porridge) that has been basically cooked with pork bones and broth. But his favorite foods so far fruits (watermelon and apples) and sweet things. Later in the day we discovered that animal cookies and french fries were a big hit. As for drinking we found that he is only fair from drinking from a cup if you hold it for him. We ended up trying a variety of sippy cups and bottles until Susie removed a control valve out of a sippy cup. This seems to provide the best solution-controlled flow without the requirement of much sucking. He can Blow air through his lips but has real difficulty sucking. Like yesterday, we noticed he had some trouble chewing and swallowing, but that appears to be improving. So the discovery process continues.

We get the impression that a lot of things were essentially done for him in the past. He prefers Susie to hold his cup. He like holding a spoon, but he does not have the dexterity to get the food on the spoon as well as most of the food in his mouth. He will gladly let you feed him if you feed him what he wants. He also prefers for the most part to be either held or ride in the stroller when we are going places. He can walk,but he is very unsteady on his feet. Part of this is probably due to lack of practice,but it is also obvious that he is much weaker that child his age--I'm sure largely due to his heart defect. He did play quit a bit standing up while leaning against a coffee table and would walk back and forth to the bed or to pick toys.

Susie was also able to get him to smile quite few times...we are still waiting to hear a good happy laugh.

Highlights of the day were visiting Walmart...yes, Kunming has has a Walmart since 1996 which carries everything you would expect to include many of their local favorites. We bought a stroller, diapers and some local apples, pears, and watermelon (delicious). We went in the early morning to avoid the was still very busy for American standards. After dropping off our goods at the hotel, we walked to a nearby park called Green Lake Park. It made for a very nice outing. Shane likes being outside seeing the sights and sounds. He is much more comfortable out than in our room. Every time we just enter the elevator to go to our room, he begins to pucker up and cry. Many times he just melts down when we enter the room like we just entered a prison. Susie is getting quite good at distracting him with toys and food but it is obvious he has not completely bought into the idea that being with us is a good thing--but I expect each day will improve.

Final outing of the day was a walk through Kunming's business district looking for a western restaurant. The walk was good for us all. We definitely get the expected stares from passers-by checking us and Shane out and trying to make the connection. We receive a few smiles but mostly looks of curiosity and few looks of contempt. We finally settled for a nearby KFC--probably the most popular of the fast foods we have seen in China. The food was great and the prices were very reasonable but not as good as when we visited in Beijing in 2003. It is obvious that the US dollar is losing its value in this country. We tried to introduce Shane to ice cream but he would not even let us get it to his lips...another day perhaps.

We returned back to the hotel for a little playtime to include his now routine bath which he seems to like very much. Wednesday, we are scheduled to visit Shane's orphanage...this was not a visit we requested and we are a little apprehensive about returning Shane for the visit when he is not still comfortable with us. don't want to undo our progress. This could lead to another meltdown.

Please continue to pray for us...especially Shane for peace, understanding and health. And for us, knowledge and wisdom. God bless all


Monday, March 19, 2012

Gotcha Day! The Real Adventure Begins (19 Mar 2012)

This is Tom writing...

Susie finally gets to hold him

Well our Morning started early in Beijing with a roll call in the hotel lobby at 0500 where we gathered with 6 families-all about to adopt little boys. All boys--That in it self was amazing. I would expected at least for China, that at least one child would be a girl. The sight seeing tour for the last two days had been nice, but we were all very anxious to meet our children. We were actually the only family headed to Kunming. However, it should be fun to get all these little boys together when we are reunited with these families on Friday. The trip to the airport and our air travel posed a little bit of an adventure. We had left the hotel at 0525 in order to make an 0710 where we first encountered a road jam of trucks all trying to get into the same warehouse. Instead of parking single file so traffic could pass, they all jammed the streets like they were vying for position in a NASCAR race. After a u-turn and some highway traffic we still arrived at 0600. Of course the airport terminal was packed--thank God Sherry, our tour guide, was with us to navigate. Quickly, we were checked in and off to the security check. Susie and I had the pleasure of having both of our carry ons completely unpacked...they told Susie she had a knife. When Susie said she did not...they inspector said "I think you do." after 10 mins of hunting they gave up and sent us both on our way. Flying was fun for me...Air China is a wonderful airline, good service, good food and enough leg space "I guess" for the average Asian man. I must have exceeded that because I could not find a sitting position where I my legs didn't rub against the seat in front of me. Thank God the man in front of me did not recline his chair...I think it would have hurt.

Civil Affairs Team

At 1030, we touched ground, recovered our bags and were off to the hotel-Grand Park Hotel. Very nice 5 star hotel. We have a beautiful 10 th floor view of the city. This gave us just enough time to freshen up, get our money, papers and gifts together and then we were off to meet Shane at Civil Affairs. We arrived 15 mins early only to find no one there...apparently this is a satellite office in an apartment building that they must only use for adoptions. About 20 mins later a van rolled up full of folks to include 2 folks who were definitely not from China-one holding Shane. I will discuss the one holding Shane a little later. Shane definitely looked confused, distant and apprehensive. He avoided eye-to-eye contact staring up. Immediately a chaotic paper chase began. First I had to write in about 100 words, why we wanted to adopt Shane and that we intended to care for him and never abandon him. Still can't remember what I wrote and I'm not sure anyone actually read it. After about 90 minutes of filling out papers, verifying papers and signing papers...all with our red thumb prints...and of course doing this while playing tag team with a very confused little who was not happy with the current circumstance--we can confidently say that there is nothing wrong with this childs lungs...he can belt out a scream. After the paperwork and the presentation of our adoption certificate, we we done...well not quite. Now we were off to the Passport office to take take care of Shane's passport.

Let me digress a moment about the couple who was holding Shane. It is amazing to see God's providence in us being united with Shane. This couple was a perfect example of His grace, mercy and hand in Shane's life. This couple (i will not use their names until I get their permission) is from the US and has been volunteering at the orphanage for over 4 years. If I understand what they told us, they have been praying for Shane since he crossed their path that the right parent would come forward for him. Furthermore, it was obvious that they had developed a special bond with Shane which became very apparently as they tried to sneak out without Shane's notice--he melted down within minutes. However, it is amazing to see how God has led and prepare Shane and us for this meeting. Thank God for all the workers who are out at these orphanages throughout the world caring and sharing the love of their Father with these little ones and making them feel a part of the FAMILY.

Brushing Teeth

On to the passport with any government was hurry up and wait. Fortunately the weather in Kunming is quite mild...almost like Hawaii. So we waited outside near a park with lots of kids. Shane apprehensively stayed in our arms but the actvity and sites made for a pleasant distraction. After about an hour we were on our way back to the hotel. We quickly found out that he was still unhappy to be with us and kept lurching for the door...."please rescue me from these white devils." so we ventured off to our first local Kunming dinner. Kunming is known for their spicy food and our guide told us that even Shane would like it because it is the flavors that he has grown up with. Ordering was an adventure in itself--no English speaking waitress. They had a picture menu which looked amazing but it was hard to tell the ingredients. They then provided a English menu but Susie said it was still hard to navigate. We ended up ordering a "chicken" and "beef" dish. Chicken was great...very hot...but not like the hot we are used too like a jalapeƱo pepper. It is hard to describe, so I'm not sure what spices we were tasting. The beef was not what I expected...I think we were eating either the back or the tail of something...the waitress said beef...I'm not convinced. Soooo, until we can we get a little more guidance on ordering, we might look for a more western menu today. Shane seemed hungry, but didn't eat much of the table food...he would chew the small pieces of meat for a long time but never was if he has not had a lot of solid food. His daily routine suggests that he is already eating solids...but we are not convinced.

The highlight of the evening came at dinner...up till now we had never seen Shane of the picture have him smiling--he would have been a great poster child. However, during dinner he opened up for just a minute and gave us a smile a glimspe of a playful personality. It warmed our heart and gave us the encouragement we needed to press on in building our relationship.

Once we returned from dinner, although he seems still uncomfortable with us...he was calmer and this made it a great time to get him in the bath and ready for bed. He slept with us last night and he is still asleep right now since it is about 6 am.

At the Restaurant

Please continue to pray for Shane. That God will ease his heart and give him peace. That we as his new parents will have His perfect wisdom to meet his emotional and physical needs. God bless you all.


Arrived Safe in Kunming-We meet Shane in 2 hours

Very excited...just checked into our hotel-Grand Park Hotel-very nice. Getting unpacked and gifts together. Everything is going well. Will update later with details and pics. We love and miss you all.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

One More Day-Snow in Beijing!

Tomorrow we fly to Kunming to finally be united with our little one. We are very anxious and excited and ready to really get this journey started. Please continue to keep us in your prayers...that our travels will be painless and issue free, that we will easily connect with our guide, and more importantly that our first meeting with our little one will go well for all.

Today was another busy day but started well--it snowed about 2 inches...enough to make everything beautiful. We first attended the church service at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship....what a great service and an excellent way to get ourselves refocused. From there we visited a jade shop and then on to the Great Wall, and finally a quick stop at the Olympic Village for pictures of the Birds Nest and other facilities. And along the way they fed us twice! I think we would have been happy with just the one meal...very generous portions. Well it is really late-only 3 hours before we get ready to leave-so we will sign off till tomorrow.