Thursday, March 16, 2006

Home!






All I wanted to do when I landed at home was get off the plane and kiss the ground. I refrained, though, lest someone mistake me for the Pope. ;-) Bing did very well on the plane ride, all things considered. He actually ran a fever on the first flight into Tokyo. After some medicine he felt much better. He slept pretty well from Japan to Minneapolis. I can't say the same for Mom and me, though. That is ONE long flight. Once we were officially in American and through immigrations and customs, the first thing we did was head to McDonalds! Even though China has a McD's (which we didn't eat this time), its just not the same as our version. Bing had a lemonade and fries. The fries were a hit. We we got home, Dad, Rick and the kids were all waiting for us with balloons and flowers. Everyone was a little shy at first, but that didn't last long. After dinner, bath, and stories, we got everyone tucked in bed. I'd say that for our first night home, everything went as smooth as can be expected. (Please keep the kids in your prayers for a quick bonding process!) Other than a severe case of jet-lag this morning, I feel pretty good. It's SO nice to have the family home with me today. They're entertaining Bing and allowing me to have a few minutes to myself here and there. I'll post more on and off as time permits. God Bless America!!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Last Photos from Tuesday




Top photo is the tennis club near the hotel. Next photo is the park we went to most days. It's on the Pearl River. Our hotel - The White Swan - is in the bottom photo. If you stay at the hotel, as you come out and head right, Stella's shop is about 3-4 doors down on the same side of the street. It's about a 25 yard walk. Tell her we said hi! She's got a way with kids. :)

Our Last Day in China

Something about knowing you're going home makes the last day away SO much better. I woke up feeling (a) elated because I am getting out of here to see my family and (b) also a little sad because Bing his leaving his birth country.....only possible because he was abandoned with little hope for a future. It's certainly a bittersweet time.

Despite the forecast, the weather turned out to be clear. Cold, but clear! We decided to really venture out today. Bing did so well for a whole hour! As you can see by the previous photos, we watched school students parade out for their daily exercise. Bing was captivated by this! Once they went inside, he played on the playground. After that we strolled around Shamian Island a little more and watch police recruits going through their drills. One was nice enough to take a picture with Bing Bing. There is also a church on Shamian Island, but the foreigners and locals cannot attend the same service. As you know, religion is tightly controlled by the gov't here.

We ended up looking at a water fountain. I told Bing it what it was called and he said, "watermelon!" He knows that word very well as he eats a ton of it at each meal. He's trying new English words every day. I'm very proud of him.

It was getting time to go home. We got very close to the hotel and Bing wanted to go to the park next door. I told him we could not because it was lunch time. He sat his little butt right down on the sidewalk and would NOT budge. It was pretty funny, although I did not let on. It took some convincing and some strong words, but he got up and came with me. He can be extremely stubborn when he wants his way. (another Universal Truth)

This afternoon we loaded up on the buses with all the other adoptive parents and went to the US Consulate downtown. Mom and I were so happy to be going someplace different! Lord have mercy, but we've been so cooped up here on Shamian Island. The Consulate bldg. has moved to downtown Guangzhou now. Downtown is very modern looking. And the Oath-Taking ceremony is really just a formality. We all raised our right hands and promised that all the info we gave them was true and that we'd take care of our kids. Bing was given his Chinese passport and visa which allows him to leave the country. Since both parents are not traveling to meet him, the US gov't doesn't give him citizenship right away. He's a Permanent Resident or something like that. There are some papers we have to file when we get home. Then he'll get his Citizenship papers. But legally, he's our son now....for better or for worse! I'm voting "for better!"

When we got got back to the hotel, we went next door to say goodbye to Stella and all the other shop girls. What a sweet group of young women! I will truly miss them. We exchanged addresses. I told Stella that if she ever gets to come to America to see her sister in Miami, we will come see her.

Dinner was good, but I am actually getting tired of the buffet and such fancy food. I could use some good old fashioned southern BBQ! Or grits..... Speaking of dinner, you should see this kid eat. Holy moly! He can put away some food! I'm going to have to get another job just to afford his groceries! Mom and I were long-finished when we was still packing it in. :)

He's had his bath and I decided to let him watch a few minutes of Chinese cartoons. It's got to be fun for him to hear his own language. Oh, I was able to get Disney, Looney Tunes and some other movies for him here. They're all dubbed in Chinese. When he's feeling frustrated with our language, I'll pop one in for him.

Time to finish packing. We've got to be up at 4:30 tomorrow. Our plane leaves at 8:30. Pray that our trip is easy and pray that Bing Bing does a lot of sleeping!!!!!!!!

It has been a hard trip but a rewarding trip. We've seen God's hand in all of this. It's so cool to be a part of this wonderful plan he has for Bing's life. One chapter has ended, and another one is just beginning for Bing Bing. Let's pray that it gets a little easier for all of us. :)
Can't wait to get home and see my family!
Love and hugs to all!

Photos from Tuesday (a little irony for you)




Hanging out in the park





Monday, March 13, 2006

School Children on Parade





Random thoughts from today

First, Bing Bing likes to talk on the phone. He assumes that anytime I pick up the phone (whether to call the front desk or mom or home) he will get to chat, too. So when I called to talk to all the kids and Rick tonight (Monday a.m. for them), Bing Bing had to say hello, too. About all he knows is "Ni Hao, ______" - but not bad for a kid who speaks little English. Evan and Jared were particularly good sports. Grant was so-so. He feels shy. But Charlotte....even in a state of semi-sleep STILL managed to carry on a short conversation with him. Lord only knows what the two of them spoke about.....her in English and him in Chinese.......and both of them acting like they understood each other. Too funny!

It was the same way the other night when he lost his tooth. We made a big fuss and called Mom in her room to share the news. He just gabbered away to her and she acted like she understood. It didn't occur to him that she had NO clue what he was saying. :)

We met my email buddy Nancy's daughter and hubby in the hotel today! Finally! Nancy is home with all the rest of their kids while Claudio and Sera came to get Esther. She is a three year old girl from Bing's orphanage. They've had her since yesterday. Sera is doing a wonderful job with Esther. Claudio looks a little shell-shocked, but very proud. I was able to give Sera several Chinese phrases to use to help Esther. I am going to get together with her tomorrow to pass on all I've learned from Cheng Mei. Isn't this like the blind leading the blind????

Tonight we read "Go, Dog, Go" for about the 100th time. He's pretty much got it memorized. He's a VERY smart kid. I mean emotionally, he's like a 4 yr old right now, but he's amazingly intelligent otherwise. Anyway, it was late, Mama was tired and I said no more books. He didn't like that and went into "whine, pout,and fuss mode." Yeah....like I'm impressed by THAT. Been there, done that with four other kids, buddy.....I don't scare easily! Rather than give in to the drama, I matter-of-factly kissed him goodnight and tucked him in. All the while he was NOT a happy camper. He "cried" - if you could call it that - himself to sleep all the while insisting (in Chinese) that he was NOT tired. It was actually pretty funny. So let's add that to my list of universal truths about kids......They will fight sleep until they pass out from exhaustion.

Oh....a Praise Report......Bing's aim in the toilet is almost perfect now! See? God DOES answer prayers....even the little ones. :)

Tomorrow we go for the oath-taking at the US Consulate. We promise to take care of him and not let him become a financial burden to society, etc, etc. It sounds more exciting than it really is. But it is an important part of the adoption process. After that...we're free to go home. Hooray. I was hoping Mom could get out one more day with Shelley but the weather is supposed to be bad again. Poor Mom. She's really keeping such a good attitude. She's got books to read and crosstitch to do. But it would have been better if she could have seen more of Guangzhou. I told her now that she's a Pro, she should get with some good friends and plan a REAL trip to China....the Great Wall, etc, etc. I want her to have more memories of China than this hotel and a challenging child. But I'm so glad she's here. I don't know what I would have done without her support! Besides, Bing Bing really loves her. They've formed quite an attachment. :)

Some things we still need to work on (and need prayer for): his social skills, his ability to transition from one activity or place to another without 'spazzing' , his language acquisition, his manners, his overall sense of peace and well being. Thanks to all of you who are sending encouraging words and prayers. Keep 'em coming!!!!!

Good night to all. One more day left in China!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Poodle-Girl and Chopstick-Boy on a Rainy Day






Here are some photos from the hotel. We briefly visited Stella this morning, but other than that, we've stayed here. Thank God Bing has had a good day! Of course, it's all relative. I mean, he's still had a meltdown or two. Maybe my attitude is better because of all the prayers! God is surely holding onto me VERY tightly these days. Good thing, too, because otherwise I'd never be able to handle this. I keep remembering that when I am weak, He is strong!
Love to all,
Poodle-Girl :)
P.S. I will NEVER complain about my hair back at home again.




Rainy Days and Mondays...






A few photos from today. Here is Stella with the son of the owner of her shop. She is a dear, sweet young woman (and a you-know-what like we are! We enjoyed quietly talking about our mutual Friend. :) )
Hopefully some of you get what I'm talking about.

Eating Nuts

It is 4:30 in the afternoon on Monday. Bing is sitting on my lap while I type this. He is feeding me nuts. It's one of those rare, quiet "bonding" moments that I savor. The weather has been nasty. A cold front blew in with very cold temps and a light drizzle all day. It's pretty gross outside. I'm really having to pull lots of stuff out of my "bag of tricks" today. Good thing we're leaving in 36 hours!!!!
More later when he goes to bed (which, at this point, is my favorite time of day!). :)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Random Thoughts on Monday morning

Perhaps writing a blog at the end a the day is not always a good idea. On one hand, readers get the raw emotions of the moment; on the other hand, emotions are not always the reality of the situation. Let's try another, well-rested, point of view.

It's a little after 6am on Monday in China. Afer 8.5 hrs of sleep, I'm wide awake. Bing Bing is still sleeping (okay..."thank God!"). Sunday's blog is certainly true.....we're tired of being here under these circumstances, and Bing needs to get into a normal routine. But I will try to share some thoughts on yesterday (in NO particular order):

We try to go see Stella once or twice a day. Bing loves that. And I don't want to just come for a visit....the girl does need to make a living. So each time I stop in, I am careful to buy something. I'm getting my souvenir shopping done one small purchase at a time. After spending about 30 minutes there in the morning, a couple of the shop girls stepped outside with Bing and played the Chinese version of "hackey sack" with him. Instead of a bean bag to kick in a cirlce, it's like several huge washers stacked on top of each other with feathers on top. Hard to describe. EVERYone - young and old - plays this game. You see them standing around in circles on the sidewalks, in the parks, etc. It's a fun and healthy way to pass the time. Bing Bing fell down during one session and busted his elbow. We had to make a big fuss over his boo-boo. I took him upstairs for a band-aid. He thought my kissing his elbow was so funny. Throughout the day, he has required me to kiss it again and again. Like I said in an earlier post, he loves kisses.

In order to pass some time in the room (which is getting very old), he and I made a paperchain out of construction paper. I'm so glad I brought all the art supplies I got at my "Bing Shower." Thanks, girls! :) He really seemed to enjoy that, and it really ate up some time. We taped it up in the room for all to see. :)

I took him down for lunch (Mom was not hungry), and we shared a steak sandwhich and fries. I cut the sandwhich in half for him, but he didn't like the idea of the bread. So basically I took the meat out, cut it up and he ate it with chopsticks. He also wanted his fries cut up so he could use the chopsticks. Strange, because the other night he ate them with his fingers. Go figure.

My Dutch contact in Shenzhen (one of the women who works at the orphanage and sends me weekly emails) sent me an email wondering why we didn't show up on Thursday for our visit. I explained to her how Bing was doing and our decision to skp the trip. She told me to be on the look out for a few more Shenzhen adoptive families who are now staying in our hotel. I know of Claudio and Sera....they are from Florida and are here to get Esther (but I have yet to hook up with them) I have not run into any other Shenzhen families.

Meal time is our only true social time. There are many, many adoptive families, and it's Baby Central three times a day down there. Yesterday a man approached me and said "Go Seminoles" after seeing my shirt. :) Turns out they're from Florida and love the Noles! We've also met three families who adopted boys, too. But their boys are all under the age of four. Everyone else has baby girls. Some are back for their second or third adoption. They've brought their other Chinese children with them. Funny how "Americanized" the girls act. You can spot the American-raised girls in a heartbeat....they carry themselves with more confidence....even at a young age of seven or eight.

Last night at dinner we sat next to two families who are staying on our floor. One of the adoptive moms is of Chinese descent and speaks fluent Chinese. She came over and just chatted away with Bing. He loved that. She asked me if there was anything I wanted her to tell him. So, after getting my words, she translated to him that he will stay with us forever and we will care for him and never take him back. And was he okay with this? Did he understand this? He smiled and told her he already knew all that! (like, "Duh, Lady...). It was pretty funny. It's good to know they are nearby. She (Chris) told me to come get her anytime if I need help.

far Bing Bing has watched our home movie two times. He loves Cheng-mei and talks back to her when she asks him rhetorical questions on the video. It's pretty funny. I need to tape him watching some of it. He is very impressed that we have two stories. And he LOVES seeing all the kids! I need my kids to be on their best behavior when we get home so they can set a good example for Bing! (HINT!)

Today Shelley has to go as our agent to the US Consulate. I have to stay in the room between 9:30 and 10:30 in case she calls with any questions or problems with the paperwork. Later she'll go back to pick up his US passport, etc. Tomorrow we will go and do the formal (but short) swearing-in ceremony at the consulate.

Oh....I MUST mention the humidity again (I told you these were random thoughts). I've never had such a hard time with my hair before in my life. I feel like a French Poodle most days. Maybe it's more than the humidity. Maybe it's the water or the poor hairdryer they have. For one thing, the dryer is NOT anchored on the wall like most hotels. It's anchored in a low drawer and the cord is not tall enough for me. PLUS, it will only stay on if you hold down the button. So usually half-way through drying (and my hair takes forever as it is) my thumb cramps up from holding the button and my arm cramps up from stretching the cord taut for so long. At that point I usually give up and let it finish air drying. Hence, the French Poodle look I'm sporting.

Speaking of hair, Bing really needs a haircut. He's got this overgrown institutional buzz cut. Not very flattering, if you ask me. And he needs his finger and toe nails cut, too. I think today we'll try. I didn't want to try it too soon and freak him out (right, Jared?). He's dressed pretty sharp, if nothing else. The shoes, jeans, and FSU apparel we got from Jeremy fit to a T. (Thanks so much, guys!) Grandma and Papa also sent some clothes, too. Almost everything has fit! Between that and the hand-me-downs from Grant, Bing is looking more and more American each day! :) Honestly, though, if we were in America, he'd be in shorts in this weather. This kid sweats up a storm. I'm not kidding. I know he's got to be hot in long pants. I sure am. But it's not acceptable shorts-weather yet in this culture. There are "rules." And the last thing I want is some little old lady fussing at me that I'm a bad mother because my kid is not warm enough. Sheesh!

Last night I would have gladly chucked it all and left China and Bing behind. It's certainly a stressful time. But nothing that a day at the PVB spa can't cure. I see a massage in my future...... This morning, I have a little better perspective. Not perfect, but better. Bing Bing is a confused, scared kid who's just had his world turned upside down. If I were almost seven, I'd be acting the same way, too. I am trusting that God has this all figured out and will get us through this. Please keep praying for us. Your prayers are so vital to the success of this mission! (And any of my girlfriends who want to kidnap me and take me out when I get home are welcome to!)

One Day Closer to Home



















I don't think I can adequately explain the emotional and psychological burnout that I feel right now. It's not any one thing in particular but rather the sum of all total. There's no amount of preparation for this kind of challenge. You simply have to walk it out. You can read about it, attend classes, join support groups, but the reality of adopting an older, foreign child is vastly different than anything you can dream of. Don't get me wrong....we had NO illusions about what things would be like with Bing Bing. We knew it would not be easy. We knew to expect all these challenges. But still, for about $10 right now, I'd gladly jump on a plane and leave this all (and, yes, him) behind. Hmmm...sounds like I've had enough of being away from home, doesn't it?

The day has been very dreary and rainy. We were able to get out briefly with him today. He loves to go right nextdoor to one of the local shops. A very sweet sales girl, Stella, works there. She is so kind to him. He calls her "Jie Jie" which translates to big sister. It's a title of affection that the kids often call young women. She and the other Chinese sales girls have really taken to him. They play with him and visit with me. Stella helps explain to Bing Bing who I am and what's going on. Stella has an older sister (yes) who teaches physics at U. of Miami in Florida. I took some photos of Bing and Stella (on Sat.'s post) and will email them to her sister.

For lunch Bing and I went to the restaurant downstairs and shared a sandwich and fries. He ate them with his chopsticks. I had to take a picture. After lunch we went upstairs. He was clearly tired and needed a rest. He really dug his heals in about naptime and ended up crying himself to sleep. He must have been tired, though, because he slept for over two hours. Mom sat with him and read while I got out for awhile. I just needed a break.....even if it meant walking in rainy weather.

Dinner time presented itself with more challenges. Like last night, he would NOT go down to dinner. And when I got Shelley on the phone, Bing refused to speak to her OR listen to her. I ended up asking the floor attendant to help me. We had to bribe him with the promise of ice cream for dessert. Hey, whatever works.

He's had his bath and is ready for bed. I'm ready for a valium. :) I cannot WAIT to get home and get this kid into a somewhat normal routine. He's tired of being here (we are, too) and he desperately needs to play with kids his own age.

Please continue to pray for us. Please pray especially for my stamina and for Bing's little mind and heart to adjust.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Saturday






Bing Bing continues to amaze us with his resiliency in this strange situation. Mom and I have both commented that we don't know how he hangs in there. We see our share of meltdowns each day, but we hang onto the hope that once home, Bing Bing will learn to trust that we're here for the long haul. He has NO concept of nuclear family nor permanence. What a hand he's been dealt!

Today went pretty well, all things considered. Mom went with Shelley to shop for jade in downtown Guangzhou. She came back with many beautiful treasures. I didn't try to go. I knew Bing Bing could not handle it. As it was, just 30 min. in the park was all he could take. Once he hits his stimulation limit, he gets a bit stubborn and his "listening ears" go out the door. It's all due to the communication problem. I breaks my heart that I can't do a better job of explaining what is happening. But even when Shelley helps me, I wonder if he truly gets it. Only time and experience in America will teach him.

Tonight, when it was time for dinner, he put up a huge fuss. Absolutely would NOT go downstairs with me to meet mom. And this was not good because I was hungry! He totally understood that it was dinner time. We've done this everynight since Tuesday. It got so bad that I had the choice of either sitting down and crying OR calling Shelley on the phone for help. I decided that calling Shelley was the better choice. Anyway, Shelley was able to figure out that he didn't want to go down because he was not hungry. She helped me explain that Mama was very hungry, and that if he didn't want to eat, that was fine. Once she explained that, he was perfectly willing to come downstairs. I knew he was hungry....and of course, once he saw the food, he ate like a pig.

God will get us throught this. I am counting on his grace to keep me focused. I've felt like jumping ship once or twice, but Mom might kill me if I flew home without her or Bing. :) I miss my family and am getting a little (okay, very) bored with so little to do each day. I'm so happy to have such terrific memories of our first trip here. It makes this trip not seem so tough. I'm sure Bing Bing is getting bored, too. He must miss having other little boys to play with. Mom's are only fun for so long when you're 6!

Love to all!!

Saturday




Bing Lost a Tooth!

Bing Bing lost a tooth Friday night! I didn't even know it was loose. He was so matter-of-fact about pulling it. Not like SOME kids I know.....! We skipped the Tooth Fairy ritual. I don't even have words to explain THAT concept. WE'll wait til he learns better English or I learn better Chinese! I'll post later about all we've done on Saturday (today). Right now, we're off to dinner! :)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday in Guangzhou





We're just finishing our Friday here in Guangzhou. I'm very happy to report that today has been a super-duper-good day for Bing! We spent a short time in the park (30 minutes). Just enough time for him to play ball with me without getting overwhelmed and out of control. It was good to leave the park on a happy note. We stopped at the 7-11 and I got him the Chinese version of cup-of-noodles. It's like ours only with lots of strange things in it. :) I fixed it for him in the room, and after he ate, he did arts and crafts. He is creating quite a masterpiece for me.

Bing Bing took a very short nap because we had to meet Shelley downstairs for his medical exam. This is a necessary step before the US Consulate appt. He totally charmed all the doctors and nurses. The doctor pictured above made my day when he thought I was "maybe" 30 years old. I would have kissed him, but I don't think that's cool here. He further proceeded to score points when he assumed my mom was my older sister. He's smooth, isn't he? ;-)

The medical exam went fine. It's pretty routine. I saw the room where they examined Charlotte three years ago. It brought back very, very happy memories of being here with Rick and Linda and all our wonderful travel buddies. (everything smells the same in China, guys) We walked back to the room with Shelley so she and I could fill out all the mountains of paperwork for the consulate appointment next week. I've still got several papers to finish tonight. Good grief! Why don't they just ask for a sample of my tissue and be done with it!

A few random thoughts: Bing was quietly singing "Jingle Bells" in Chinese earlier. And then he began to sing the "Do Re Mi" scale, too. He didn't know I was listening. It was cute. Oh, I let him watch a little TV today while I did paperwork. Looney Tunes in Chinese is just NOT as funny. There's something lost in the translation, I'm sure. Bing likes ketchup....and lots of it. I got French Fries with my sandwich tonight. Those were a big hit! He's also discovered kisses. It's not a big thing with Chinese parents. But, oh, does Bing like kisses. That's A-Okay by his new Mommy!

We ate dinner downstairs, and he started getting silly just as we were paying our bill. He had that "I'm exhausted and getting wild" look in his eyes. Sure enough just as we were leaving the hotel restaurant, he had a minor meltdown. Not screaming or anything, more like swinging from the rafters.

So he's had a bath and is much more calm. All in all, I'd say today was a big improvement. I know things are not perfect yet. We may have more tough days, but God will get us through. One day at a time.....just like the hymn!