Friday, November 16, 2012

Three weeks home...

It is hard to beleive that we have been home now for three weeks. It has gone very well and we all could not be happier. Here is a condensed version of small milestones we have experienced these last few weeks: 1. Henry started the 1st grade. After two weeks home with "mama", he told an interpreter that he wanted to go to school like his brother and sister. He panicked the first couple of days. Luckily, there was an interpreter there for him and that helped smooth the transition. He loves school and although the language barrier is there, he s surrounded by a great group of kids and a loving teacher. 2. We decided to let Henry Skype with his foster nana and foster dada. We were a little worried, but because of their advanced age and the fact they were worried sick (they relinquished him to the orphanage the end of September), we said "yes". It went well...very well. In fact, most of the village showed up to see him....some people even closed ther businesses just to see and talk to him. He skyed with over 20 people in two hours. He told them about the plane ride home, Disneyland, our home, and our 4 dogs. when he left the village, a lady in the villge he knew was pregnant...she had since had the baby and he aked to see her...well she sat down with a precious baby boy and Henry was brought tears to my eyes. It was amazing. This little guy has touched the hearts of many people. He is so loved. Foster nana did cry with relief, joy and the pain of missing him She even offered to by his ticket when we bring him back to visit (we declined)we told her we would take care of it. She insisted we stay in the village when we do come back...and we will!!! 3. Henry played in the snow for the first time (well sort of...he as never seen more than an inch of snowed several inches here last week). He was unning around screeching and laughing at 8:30 at night...thrilled to pieces with the snowfall. 4. Henry has learned quite a bit of English in the last few weeks. He understands way more than he can speak, but he tries very hard and always wants to know the "english" word for things. 5. Having already been a part of a family his entire life, Henry knows what it means to help out. However, he is much more aware of certain things than the other kids....for example, he automatically makes sure that I am the first one out the door...he helps my mom settle in when she visits and makes sure she has whatever she needs....he picks up the dog dishes after they have eaten....and other things I am forgetting. He is kind. 6. He is quiclky learning the routines and schedules around here. He is fitting in so well that it is shocking. We adore and love him very much. Leah is having the hardest time adjusting. She is very jealous and has been acting out. She has some attachment issues anyway, and we are trying to help her work through those. Change is tough for some kids.....she will be OK. Noah is fine...he is a trooper when it comes to this type of thing. We thought it would be the other way around. All in all, we click very well together. We are figuring each other out and having a ball. It is amazing.....those of you with childen understand...what it is like seeing the world through your child's eyes...everything that is old is new again....more beautiful, more thrilling, and more exciting. Anyway...I will post some pictures and update now and then. Thank you all for your support along the way.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hong Kong and HOME!

Sorry we did not post from Hong Kong. We had only three days and by the time we got back each night, we were too pooped do write anything. The train ride from Guangzhou to HK was easy and relaxing. The kids had fun. Henry is very independent and when he needs to use the bathroom, he will take off and find it. That can be scary. We stayed at the Salisbury YMCA Hotel. It had a magnificent view of Victoria Harbor, which was good because the room was way too small and cost twice as much as anywhere else. There was some kind of show that week and all of the family suites were booked. We figured out how to use the subway with relative ease. Once we figured it was very much like the London tube, we were set. It was sad for Henry to say goodbye to our guide, Jack. They really hit it off and after a while, it was obvious that Henry was missing having someone to talk to (who could answer back) in his language.
Let's see...we took the kids up to Victoria Peak and had lunch at Bubba Gump as soon as we checked in. Henry was asking me for something and I said "ok" as I wanted to get to Bubba Gump before it got too packed. The view was great and several tourists took pictures of Noah and with Noah. We took the kids to the Temple Night market which was awesome. We ate in the middle of the market and people watched. We bought a few small things and walked from booth to booth. We did that twice. We went to Disneyland as well. We took the subway. The cars on the subway were Mickey shaped and Henry started jumping up and down saying "MEECCHIE MEECHIE" meaning "Mickey". After an awesome ride through HK, we arrived at DL 40 minutes later. Best 9 bucks spent. We were one of the first ones in the park and went right to our favorite ride, Space Mountain. Big mistake. Henry and Leah got sick and dragged the rest of the time. We decided to go on the jungle cruise to settle the tummy trouble. We decided to go on the Mandarin speaking one. Henry really enjoyed that. He told one of the park workers to tell us that this was his first trip to Disney and that would he please tell us no more scary rides. whoops.... We did have fun the rest of the day. The thing he wanted most was to meet Mickey, so we stood in a very long line so he could meet him. The next day we went to the HK Space Museum. The kids had fun. Henry had a few problems at one of the interactive stations, as he had only three minutes to complete a task before having to let someone else have a turn. He stomped around and refused to talk to us. This is very much how he responds when he does not like something and we cannot communicate with him. Who can blame him?
The last night we went to a Taiwanese place and it was very good. Tom and I toasted to the fact that we made it 22 days in China without getting sick. Later that night, Noah ate an orange that had been sitting in our room for a while. He ate some of the peel and half of the orange. He sad it tasted funny. Two hours later he was throwing up and has not stopped. He has diarrhea and horrible cramps. The 15 hour plane ride was horrible for him. Three airports later we made it home and he had a rough night and is having a rough day. Do not know if it was the orange or the other food...
Henry hugged my dad right as he met him. He was so excited to be here and was amazed at the house with yards. When we got here he ran all over the place checking the house out. He loved his room. We fed them, bathed them ad they were off to bed. I was so tired barely remember phone conversations and do not remember Amazing Race.
It was a good night's sleep for all except Noah (and me). He had a migraine and was in the bathroom every hour. He will be going to the doctor tomorrow if this is not cleared up. They all have a dentist appointment at 4 tomorrow. Henry has a tooth that is almost half decayed.
All in all, it is going well. Henry is a happy, healthy, easygoing child. He is loving and kind and has a zest for life and a sparkle in his eyes. He is eager to learn English and start school. He is very smart and always wants to help out. He LOVES the dogs and the yard. He has already ridden Noah's bike twice and has been watching cartoons. I am o tired that I am zombie-like...I will feel better tomorrow and start unpacking. Here are some picture:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oh what a night!!!!

Oh much has happened today! We woke up early to get to our consulate appointment. It was very cool and took about an hour. The kids did as best they could in a small area with nothing to do (my fault). We then went to the zoo and to a traditional and expensive lunch. I am not a fan of anything that has animals performing for humans . It is awful for me. Anyway, we then went on three Chinese rides that scared the hell out of me. I seriously thought I would DIE. I just laughed maniacally the entire time and crushed hand-wipes in one hand and about 200 yuan in the other.
Henry has been testing us like you cannot imagine....unless you know Noah. So we are pro's. It is easy to get frustrated at his running away...his insistent yelling (when he is trying to tell us something we need to know...and he has always been right). When he gets upset he cries and pouts which makes us very sad. But he knows on some level when he has done something pinching, hitting or biting. He turns it around right away and usually shuns the parent that has corrected him. At this point, we really have to choose our battles. It is really about being nice and being safe.. He is getting braver in the water, which is a great bonding time. This evening, we are hanging out in the room and Henry is really trying to connect. He drew a picture of our house and each of us with Chinese characters along with a train and airplane. He just wants to get to America...he tells everyone he can that he wants to leave Guangzhou as soon as we can...he is being so sweet tonight and we actually understand much of what he is saying...we just have a tough time responding. He is a loving boy who just wants to learn English and live in the USA. I cannot believe how well this all has gone...I think people must look at us and think he is out of control. I really couldn't care less. They do not see him when his is with is away from overstimulating crowds. They do not see him trying to learn English and the pictures he draws of his dreams. He is so amazing that it brings us to tears. He is going to do very well!!! I cannot wait for you to meet him!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

"I want to be a American Scientist!!'

Today was pretty much a free day. We got up ate at the breakfast buffet (as usual) and were off to Shamien Island. Henry has been great other than a few episodes per day. Today he had one on the way to breakfast, one at lunch, and then the normal one just before bed. No big deal really, just him venting pent up anxiety from all the change he's experiencing. After breakfast we headed off to Shamien Island to do some shopping at the island markets. We went to a few great shops, where we were able to pick up some mementos for the kids and a few gifts. Our guide, Jack, is phenomenal. He takes us to the good shops and restaurants, knows all the ins and outs of the adoption logistics, and is great with Henry. After lunch he took us to the Electronics market. To electronics fans and nerds the best way to describe it is Shangri La. Thousands of vendors selling everything from Iphone covers to the latest 3D smart TVs, to professional movie filming equipment (like the kind of stuff a major motion picture production uses). Our objective was to buy a cheap portable DVD player for the kids to watch movies and cartoons during our down days. Found a cool little one for about 60 bucks. While we were at the market, we saw a cool full-scale model of a a transformer. Henry thought it was very cool. He told our guide Jack that he thought he could do a much better job and that he wanted to be a scientist, an American Scientist! When we told him that his brother wanted to be a scientist as well, Henry just gave him a big hug and told him he loved his new big brother (in Mandarin).After shopping we got came back to the hotel and the kids watched some cartoons and a movie for a couple of hours until we took them to McDonalds for dinner. It was Henry's first McDonalds experience and what a parent would expect, crappy food with good fast food service and genius child toy marketing. So, even though he didn't eat much, he loved it. Back from dinner, we holed up and watched Madagascar and a few cartoons in between playing some games and a bit of wrestling.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

We are in Guangzhou....

We made it to GZ about an hour late. We have met some awesome families along the way and have met up with them in various places. Three families were on the plane together yesterday and the transition (for us) from one province to the other went well. The room (suite) is tiny compared to the one in Shanghai but works. The Garden is very nice and is a great location. There is an Irish Pub, Mexican cantina and several Asian places to eat near by. We have have had ZERO LUCK in finding clothes for Henry. What we have found is very spendy, so he and Noah are sharing clothes for now. We bought him another pair of shoes that actually fit him.

Yesterday at the airport and during our walk to dinner, Henry went totally crazy. He ran away, almost got hit by a car and was about swallowed up by the luggage carousel at the airport. Of course he is overstimulated and on some emotional level, knows he is getting farther and farther away from his foster family. He was amazed and terrified at the same time as far as the plane ride went. He kept asking Tom if we were in America yet. We have made a pictorial calendar to help him understand time and that the hotel is not our home.
Henry had to go and get his medical exam today. It was a much better place then when I took Leah, and only took an hour or so. All American families must go through Guangzhou American Consulate before they can bring their child to the United States. It was so cool to see so many children that are coming to the United States to start a new life.
It has been a bit of a struggle trying to figure out how to handle the behavior without scaring the hell out of Henry. A whole knew world has opened up to him, and when he wants to experience we will let him. The only time I really get upset is when he runs away, He did that today in Jusco market and I thought I would have a heart attack...
The behavior thing is really minor for those of you who know Noah understand that we are quite used to contrary behavior. Henry is happy, well adjusted and loving. Tom and I look at each other so so happy wondering how on earth we ended up with such 4 beautiful kids. Henry told each of us today that he loved us...We bought the him a helicopter and he was so excited he could barely take it.
The three kids are getting along as well as can be expected. Overall, it has been such a wonderful experience and we are so happy Noah and Leah are here with us to experience this. We still cannot believe how awesome they have been. Enjoy the pictures!!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Last day in Shanghai.....

Today was a great day! We decided not to go to the Oriental Pearl Tower, as the kids were wiped out and sick of being stuck in traffic. After our awesome night out on Nanjing Road, Tom and I were wiped out as well. We slept in, ate a late breakfast and lounged around the room for a few hours. We have not shopped at all for any souvenirs.....that is how pooped I am. Last time I was in Shanghai, I spent a fortune (well I guess I did this time too....different reasons). It was nice to eat at local restaurants, even though we did not know much of what we ordered. Seriously......10 bucks for a family of 5 to eat/drink. It was great. So...Henry...he is amazing. There was a little note from his foster mom that he had given me when we first met. I had our facilitator translate what she could for me. Basically, she told us what a caring and kind kid he is. When he was 5, she broke her ankle and Henry went to the hospital and stayed with her each day to feed and take care of her, never leaving her side. She told us how kind he is to old people and to everyone in the village. She felt very guilty because his Mandarin is not good (he speaks Shanghaiese) and hoped that we would be patient with him in his studies and never hit or yell at him....well I was just crying at this point. She also requested that we allow him to call home during Spring Festival each year, as this is very important fort families (of course we will). What many of you do not know is that I have been in touch with her for over a month now...before we even came to China. I was determined to find her and did. I had to keep it quiet. However, Henry is legally ours now so I feel OK to share. She is an elderly woman who loved and loves him very much. Henry is who he is because of her. When we return home, we are going to send her a letter and gift. We feel like she is the one who saved his life.
At dinner tonight, we saw much of what the letter spoke of concerning Henry and his thinking of others. He knew Tom was trying to order rice (especially after last night's debacle, Henry was on high alert as far as his BaBa ordering food) so he interrupted and ordered for us. He then ran over and told the waitress we needed chopsticks, bowls and Sprites. He handed out all of these things to us and made sure we were taken care of before he began to eat. We then wandered over to a movie store and managed to buy a ton more movies to bring home. Henry told the guy who owned the store the movies he liked, so we bought some for him to help ease his transition once he is immersed in English. He speaks the local dialect very well and Guangzhou might be a challenge for him. He is learning English very fast....he loves answering us in English...We try Mandarin with him, but much of what we say, we don't say correctly and he just repeats it thinking it is English. We are trying to bridge the communication gap as best we can but it has really gone very well. He laughs and plays and has a kind heart. He LOVES Tom to is so cool to watch.
The kids are all snuggled down watching Tom and Jerry cartoons.
After translating the letter from his foster mom, Ming Ming explained to Henry that we would be getting on a plane tomorrow to go to GZ then onto Hong Kong before going to the United States. He started talking rapidly to her and I only caught the words, mama, baba, gege and jiejie (brother/sister) I thought he was talking about the foster family and started to panic a little (for him) but it turns out he was very worried that we all would be separated and he would not be with us anymore. She assured him that we all would be traveling together and that we will not be separated from him or leave him. Ever.

After that, it was OK for us to pack our bags. We made sure to pack all of the food his foster family sent (and the food our guide from BJ sent for him) along with all of the mementos we received that are really like small pieces to the last 8 years of his life. We feel so blessed that we have contact information for his foster family and he will forever have that. We also found out that one of the ayi's at the orphanage is related to the foster family. Unlike Leah, he has a strong connection to China that is tangible. That is very good. The first day was tough but it is getting better and better. I am amazed and relieved. Tom and I are just stunned that we somehow ended up with such a wonderful gaggle of kids....biological, adopted, is pretty amazing. The next post will be from Guangzhou. Thanks to you all for your support!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The last 48 Hours

It has now been 72 hours since Henry joined our family.  The first 24 hours is a "trial period".  They give us that time to decide if we want to finalize the adoption and to give him the chance to decide if he wants to be adopted.  Of course we were fully committed, but our hearts  were warmed when we heard him say "Yes, I want this family to adopt me!"  We were certainly relieved to hear that, since if he says NO, then that is that and we were not expecting them to ask him that because we thought that was only for children 10 and older.
So, on day 2 with Henry we started the day with a great breakfast buffet at the hotel.  Then we headed to the Chinese civil affair office (2 hours of lovely paperwork time), then headed to the Notary office (a 45 minute drive away) to complete another 1.5 hours of paperwork.  Then back to hotel for a bit of rest and headed off to the Bund for a nice stroll along the riverwalk.  We have seen pictures of the Shanghai skyline, but it is difficult to describe in words the impact of seeing it in person.  The diversity and immensity of the architecture here, and especially along the Bund, is awe inspiring.  We hit the stroll at the perfect time, just before dusk.  As the sun set the skyline of the buildings lit up like Times Square.
It's been fun, and challenging, to see Henry begin to come out of his shell as he ran all over the place. He was completely overstimulated and it got a little crazy. He was climbing on the rails and zig-zagging all over the plce, refusing to listen. We tell him to "be careful" "hold hands" and he KNOWS what we are saying, but at that particular time, refused to listen. We were with another family and that made it a little more stressful as our peceful stroll turned into a chase trhoughout the Bund. Thank goodness they are a patient and understanding family.
After the Bund, we went to a pizza place not far from the hotel. Tom and the owner (from Italy) were speaking Spanish and we ended up with a delicious meal. Henry LOVED pizza. It was obvious that he was overly excited as he started to lick the plate and rattle the glassware with the silverware.....we had to collect all glass and silverware because it was getting out of control with all three of the kids. We went swimming and then off to bed...exhausted.
Today is Wednesday. Feels like Friday. We visited the orpanage. It is huge. We saw only a small part of it. We were brought to the room where the SN babies live. It was very difficult. These kids are getting the best care possible. Noah and Leah were shocked and upset at what they saw. They had never been around kids with severe birth defects and did not know what to think. These children are loved and taken care of....the nannies do what they can. We talked with the kids afterwards and had them write their feelings down. Leah struggled the most I think, because she had created a sort of fantasy of what her life may have been like when she was in an orphanage...her main concern was whether or not the babies had fresh food and if they got hurt would they be helped.
We then went to the room where Henry spent 7 days before we got him. It was a very nice room with 30 beds or so. He was kept with the smaller kids. I think this was to transition him and because the older kids who lived there were very aggressive. Henry got very upset as the older kids ran up and pushed us and yelled as we made our way down the hall. He said "that is naughty. That would not happen in my school." He was apprehensive and was clinging to Tom the entire time (he goes back and forth with me).  It was emotional for all of us and I cannot possibly put into words really how we all felt.  Henry is bonding well with Tom.
We then went to Nanjing Road where Tom managed to order enough food for 20 people (we gave some away to a homeless man). It was interesting. He then went and bought a bunch of DVDs as the hotel loaned us a free DVD player. He got seasons 1-3 od Modern Family for 30 bucks. Heck yes!!
The kids are passed out and sorry for the long post....I am leaving out a lot bt must add something funny...Tom just got back from a little run to the grocery for water and snacks. He was offered a special massage with very good service....he said no....tee hee. Now for pictures.