Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Consulate Day: Thursday, May 31, 12

This morning we had our groups 8:30 appointment at the US consulate. It has moved from Shamian Island to a temporary building until the new building is finished. Our paperwork was checked and then we raised our hands together as a group and took the oath on behalf of our children. It all took about one hour. This means that Laikyn Hope will be a US citizen as soon as her feet reach American soil. I know that so many changes await her as she leaves the country, people and language of her first two years. I hope that gaining home and the love of family will more than tip the balance in her favor. I am so ready to see my boys and just have her home, but just as with Jillian, I have a little bit of sadness for her about the loss of connection with her homeland and culture. There are so many things I don't understand about the culture, but I will teach her that it is an awesome place filled with some very wonderful people of which she can be very proud.

Wednesday,May 30, 2012

This morning we went to get Laikyns TB results check. They scared me a little when they started marking and measuring her arm, but in the end it was all fine, so I was one relieved mama! After a trip back to the hotel, the group headed to the pearl market. What was an open air market and very good prices ten years ago, is now a mall with sharply increased prices. We still got a strand for Granny as a thank you for keeping the boys. Im glad I bought my own in 2002 when there were still really good deals. I like having pearls from the area since Jillian was born on the pearl river and Laikyns Chinese name means bright pearl. Jillian watched the lady string Granny's necklace after we chose the pearl we wanted. We ate lunch at Pizza Hut and then walked around the shopping district, but were not impressed with the shopping so we grabbed a taxi and headed back. The street shopping outside the mall was loud and crowded with the workers yelling and clapping to get us in the store. In the afternoon we decided to head back to Shamian Island for one more shopping outing since we didn't finish yesterday. Our first stop was Sherry's for diapers and knickknacks. Then back to Amys to pick up L's granite etching. Jilli bought bracelets for a couple of friends and the sales lady talked us into matching sister dresses. We also stopped in a new store and found Grandad a Yeh Yeh shirt. She didn't have one in his size, so she asked us to watch her store while she went to find one. Very
trusting. I also bought a China diaper bag for myself. As we were leaving, she questioned us about our adoption and told us that most families that adopt are older people and not young like us. LOL! I know she was just trying to sell more, but it made me feel better!!! We had one last dinner at Lucy's. Time has marched on and so much has changed in China, but it seems this place still has the very same charm and even menu as ten years ago.Its like coming home after a long trip! After dinner we hit one last shop to get L and J some Made in China shirts (Jillian's idea) and Laikyn got yet another free toy. The Chinese ladies will give her anything she wants if she cries hard enough. We are definitely going to have some worK to do when we get home. One of the moms in our group called it baby boot camp and I think she is right!! :) Another great day in China!

Back to Shamian Island

This morning, several in our group shared taxis and went over to the island. I will always remember the hours we spent with Jillian, walking up and down the cobbled streets. It's like a separate world from Guangzhou. First we took Jillis picture in front of the hotel. Then we spent the morning shopping and found Laikyn some items similar to what we bought Jillian ten years ago even though several shops have closed. The White Swan' s temporary closing has hurt business. We still found her a Mei Mei shirt, backpacks, a jade cross bracelet and a panda quilt. We found a bamboo sword for Korbin since that's as close to the requested blue light saber as I can get. In the first shop we bought in, the worker told me how much she appreciates us coming to help Chinas orphans. She said it makes her very sad that she can only have one child. She also told us that Jillian and Laikyn have similar eyes, because God meant them to be together. It was déjà vu as our group ate lunch at Lucy's where we always liked to eat with Jillian. We even ordered the same Indian curry that we were so fond of then. It was so special to relive those memories! We are hoping to go back over one more time before we leave. After lunch, Laikyn was very ready for naps so we had to cut our shopping short. The cab ride back was hilarious, as Rob attempted to converse with the cab driver and neither understood the other. He told him Jillian was the big brother in Chinese... While L napped, Rob finished paperwork with our guide and then we took the girls swimming for a while.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Day 2 Guangzhou Monday,May 28, 2012

This morning we all went to have our medical exam and visa photo. Laikyn and all of the other kiddos did great! She finished her picture in two snaps and then cooperated well for the checkup stations. She only cried for the TB test and I think I might have cried over that needle stick. She was 28 lbs and 32 inches, which are both slightly less than what the orphanage told us. I'm thinking either they weighed her in all of the winter layers, or she was sent back to the orphanage from foster care and got less food for a while. We finished everything in 1 1/2 hours despite the huge crowds in the clinic. We decided it was socialized medicine at its very best. After naps today, we took her in her first swim. She giggled nonstop until we had to get out due to thunder. Glad she is going to like swimming since that's how we usually send our summers. Tonight was a dinner cruise on the Pearl River. It is Chinas 4th longest River and runs through the Guangdong province and even Yang Chun City where Jillian was born. We set out around 6:30 and had a buffet dinner in the enclosed cabin. Then as it got dark, we viewed all of the lit buildings and bridges from the upper deck. Many are covered in multi colored lights, so the city and water just shimmer in color. It is supposed to be similar to Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong. The neatest was the Guangzhou Tower which glows with changing color and is the tallest building in the province. very impressive. I got a kick out of sailing by the White Swan hotel where we stayed with Jbug. The evening ended with a juggling show in the dining room. It was neat, but the music was extremely loud. Laikyn let us all know about it by plugging her ears! So cute! We paid for keeping her out late though as she was too overly tired to go to sleep and slept very restlessly when she finally did give it up.

Sunday, May 27, 2012 Day1 Guangzhou

Laikyn is sleeping better at night. She has been waking up at about 5 or 6 and then goes back to sleep until 7:30 or 8:00. After breakfast we played at the outdoor playground here at the China Hotel. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and waterfalls. There we met another mom from NC that is adopting her third from China and has four bio kids. Tonight was a group dinner at the Macau Street restaurant served family style and very good. Laikyn enjoyed more bamboo shoots and I'm starting to wonder if we can get Bills on the Hill to carry them! After dinner we found a mall by our hotel and we bargained for two adorable traditional Chinese dresses for L. Actually L is the one who bargained. We started to leave without buying because we were still haggling over price and Laikyn Hope was starting to fuss. do as we walked away, the lady decided to meet our price. Then L cried for some learning chopsticks and she threw those in for free. The best part of today was just watching the girls splash together in the bathtub. Simple and sweet moments to always treasure!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Friday,May 25th Last day in Henan

Today we began our day with a FaceTime call with the boys. They were so excited to see Laikyn and she even waved at them. We had another free day today, so went to the playroom for along time. This afternoon, we finally got Laikyns passport. We were also surprised and thrilled to get her finding ad. It was translated for us and just said that she was found at the Kaifeng hospital in August, 2010 at 6 months of age and was very thin and diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and sent to Kaifeng Children's Welfare Institution. It was info we already knew but also the earliest picture and link to her past that we will ever have. We also found out that this orphanage houses about 230 children of which most are special needs. It says that their mission is to provide for needs and obtain medical care for the children in the institute. They made us a nice photo album as a keepsake with some pictures from 6 months old right after her heart surgery. She was so tiny and malnourished so I can tell they have really worked with her and tried to nurse her back to health! God used those nannies and doctors to answer prayers that I was praying before I had even heard of her. They also have us back the camera we sent while we were waiting so I can't wait to see what is on that!

After one last noodle dinner at Holiday Inn with several couples from our group, we returned for one last rip and roar around the playroom. Then we spent the rest of the night packing for Guangzhou. We found out that L likes music. The mp3 player kept her entertained for at least a half hour. Cant believe we are more than halfway finished with the trip.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Goodbye Zhengzhou, Hello Guangzhou

Today was a very tiring day. We had to check out at 9:30 to leave for the airport. While we waiting to board we found a neat play area and Laikyn had a ball climbing and sliding. Our flight was about two hours and she was very good. She ate, drank a bottle, played with the lights and things in the seat back. During the descent, she got fussy, but some gummy bears from another family helped that. She started going to sleep as we were about to unload, so we changed her diaper and got her fussy again. She finally fell back to sleep as we went into baggage claim and slept through the long walk and the bus ride to the hotel. As we left the airport, I asked Jilli if anything seemed familiar and she said, " Just the stench". Haha! We are staying at the China Hotel which is a Marriott hotel. It seems a little more Westernized than the other. There are McDonald's and Papa Johns very close and a Starbucks in the lobby. I had really wished to stay at the White Sean where we stayed with Jillian. It was next to the consulate and very family friendly as well as all of the wonderful shops nearby. We found out that it is closed and under renovation since the fall. This is nice too though. After out McDonalds supper, we walked around to orient ourselves with the hotel and ran into a couple from Evansville who are here adopting their second child. We have noticed quite a few other adoption families besides the ones in our group. Everyone seems to be doing so well that it's amazing me. The Lord gives us a certain child for a reason and it seems they sense they are home and meant to be with us.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24,2012 Zoo Trip

Today several families from our group took at trip to the zoo. It was a nice, cool day and the zoo was well shaded, so most of the kids seemed to stay in a good mood. L seemed scared of the first couple of animals because she whined and wanted to stay in her stroller (which is rare) but then began talking to them and pointing. She was very interested. The highlight for me was the panda house even though it was crowded and extremely noisy. Jillian as always preferred the monkeys. I reminded her of when she was little and liked to climb, she would say, "you're the monkey mommy and I'm the monkey baby."

After the zoo, the driver took us to McDonald's to get take out. Jillian and I decided to just get ice cream and we think it must have been Laikyn's first taste, because she had a very shocked expression and squinted her face up. She tried it two or three times and then shook her head no. Thats the first food she wouldn't eat. She even liked the steamed bamboo shoots on the breakfast buffet. She had rice ceral with banana in the room and took a long nap. We had our regular beef noodles at the Holiday Inn next door and then spent the rest of the evening playing in the playroom with The Salmons family( Brian, Tracey, Emily and baby Jayden.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Free at last May 23, 2012

Today was our first free day and we spent the morning at a local park. We took our lives in our hands by walking. I'm not sure what is worse.. crossing a street with all of the traffic or waking down the Sidewalk with hundreds of bikes and mopeds. We sat at picnic tables in the park and let the kiddos roam a little. The locals are very interested in our families and I was able to try a few Chinese phrases on a couple of families. Amazingly they understood! Jillian gets a little dismayed when ladies try to speak to her in Chinese. She just shrugs and smiles! as we were sitting, Laikyn decided to dig through one woman's purse and then strongly persuade another little girl to share her snacks. She got very tired and wanted me to carry her on the walk to McDonald's which was about fifteen minutes away. She is so heavy that I couldn't go that far with her, so she kicked and screamed,"Mama" most of the way. I felt bad for her, but it also did my heart good. After we got our food, we went back to the park to eat, so she perked up again. After eating, dad took her to feed pigeons and she stomped her foot and threw her milk bottle at them, causing them to fly everywhere! Never a dull moment with that girl! We finally got back for her nap and she slept an hour before having a night terror. At least that's what I think it is. She's been having them in the night too, but today was the worst yet. When she finally opened her eyes, she was fine. Tonight we went to the mall by taxi, which again felt like taking our life into our hands. It's kind of like Mr Toads Wild tide at Disney! We were able to pick up some food, diapers and a toy cell phone for her. I had a good laugh watching Rob try to pantomime diapers, peanut butter and bread to the worker. When we got back, Laikyn Hope got on her phone and said , "hi", which I guess is her third English word after Go and Mama.
She has been sick with a cold since getting her, but it hasn't slowed her much. Very runny nose, deep cough and sneezing. One of the dads in our group is a dr. So brought his scope and listened to her. He said she is clear and feels its all head congestion. we are giving her pedia care and hoping it doesn't go to an ear infection like with Jillian. It was kind of neat that we have a dr with this group and we had a pediatric nurse with Jillian's group.

Happy Adoption Day May 22,12

today's finalization of our adoption began at the registration office where we had our gotcha day.On the bus ride over, she was happily eating snacks and watching the traffic, pointing at things that interested her. When we pulled up to the office, she froze, gripped the handrail and began rocking and crying. I had to pull her away and go in. I was able to comfort her quickly before we got off of the bus, but I believe she was either remembering the trauma of the previous day or afraid that it was happening again. I never expected that and it broke my heart. She happily played throughout the meeting and it was rather quick with just paying fees and receiving our certificate. After that we had to go to the notary office and our day was finished before lunch. Other families have to travel by train several hours back to their child's city for the passport application, but we were blessed that our orphanage already took care of that. I wanted to visit her orphanage, but after her reaction at the office, I think God was watching out for her by not allowing us to go. Now that it's over, I look forward to getting to know her and learning her personality. The other families have already decided that she is the social butterfly of the group and I am already noticing that she is a little stubborn and strong willed. When she doesnt like something, she crosses her arms and gives her meanest frown. It is usually when her dad wants her. We have laughed so much that now I think she is doing it for a show. She is also very, very funny!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gotcha Day May 21, 2012

I was unbelievably calm as our group gathered to eat breakfast and then check and double check our documents and baby items with the other nine families. We left the hotel at 9:30 being told that the closest orphanage people would arrive first to the civil affairs office. That would be us . Sure enough, as soon as we sat down and turned on our camera, someone said that a baby was coming. I knew it was her but I waited for the name until I sprang to meet them at the door. An orphanage worker brought her in ( not Laikyns nanny but a general worker
) and she was already screaming. I tried to soothe her and calm her down but it made it worse so I just figured it would be better to rip the band aid quickly, so I scooped her up and turned and went off by myself to rock her. As her crying slowed I sat down on the couch and began to offer her toys and she promptly knocked them away. Finally Jilli and I started eating suckers and she followed. Over the next few minutes she began to warm up and rub my hand as I began to rub hers. MElted my heart! soon we were able to take her into the play area and put her down. Bowling with sissy got her first smile and then she loved balloons and bubbles.She wasn't ready
to go to Dad just yet, but will play with him. After playing a while, all of the Children had arrived and it was time to head back to the bus for our 24 hour guardianship. She did go to sleep on the bus and stay asleep for about an hour and a half in the room. Since then, she has been playing nonstop like playing ball and laughing/ clapping for herself. She's funny, active, and very inquisitive. She even gave us kisses at dinner. She is talking quite a bit, but we have no clue what she is saying...She is now asleep in her room crib since about 9:30. She is just perfect, with a round cherub face, inquisitive eyes and a contagious laugh! Very smart too as she is trying to mock everything we do when we play! We are so grateful this day has finally come that has been in our hearts for a year. She is more wonderful than we had dreamed! Tomorrow is a long day as its our adoption day. She will be officially ours after that!

So close

We said goodbye to Beijing and our new buddy George. We will always remember the great care he took of us and how he nicknamed us his "sticky rice" to remind us to stay close to him at all times. Also he shared his life story with us and it was deeply touching in showing how Gods protection shows up in miraculous ways. I will have to share that later.

We safely arrived in Zhengzhou in the Henan province,which is about an hour flight to the south of Beijing. Laikyn lives about an hour from here and will be brought by van to the office where we will meet her. We were met at the airport by our new guide Yishi and her assistant Vivienne. On the bus to the hotel we were given new information on our girl. She is still in diapers, and on formula at night as she wakes often during the night. Hmmmm I think we have another Korbin/Jillian combination. She is active and gets along with other children. She likes toys that make noise and doesn't like it when people talk loud. It makes her cry. Not sure she is going to like our family then...
We checked into our hotel and just walking into the room reduced me to tears as I thought of how this will be her first home with real family. While Rob went to the bank to change US dollars to RMB, Jilli and I unpacked and I started packing her diaper bag and orphanage gifts. While I worked on that, my sweet girl set up a makeshift play area for Laikyn in the corner of the room. Love her heart!! I paced nervously the rest of the night and alternated between excitement and weepiness. I finally thought about my fears in comparison to hers. however difficult this is for us, it must be compounded greatly for her. I fell asleep with the thought that God loved her long before I did and He has met all of her needs this far, why worry that He will stop now! This morning we have been to breakfast and are waiting now for our 9:30 am appt to go meet her along with the nine other families meeting their kids. I am unusually calm right now! I hope I stay that way after getting it all out last night! I know that she needs me to be strong. Please pray for us all today as this huge life changing event unfolds.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 2 Beijing

It feels more like I lived a week in a day with all of the things we experienced today. We started with a trip to the Jade factory and watched the process of carving jade into beautiful works of art. Next was the Great Wall where I did no better this time than ten years ago. I made it up two sections, but they were very steep in my defense.Rob and Jillian made it to the top while I sat and enjoyed the view. We've had beautiful weather but the smog was so thick this time, that we could barely view the wall from the higher altitude. As I sat and took in the scenery, I thought how the climb is much like the adoption process. Slow, uneven, rocky and never knowing how much farther it is to the top. We are almost there though! After the wall, we had another Chinese meal of various unknown foods...mostly good though. Then we drove to the Olympic village, which was the site of the 2008 games. The architecture was amazing, especially the birds nest. I warned Jillian not to drink after lunch as it was an hour orso drive across the city. She didn't listen and therefore had to experience the dreaded squat pot that is so famous in Asia. She said that the smell of Chiba is the hardest thing to deal with! We ended the night with an amazing Chinese acrobat show.We are now packing up for our flight to Laikyns province in the morning. It is about an hour and a half flight South of here.
The schedule is to get her on Monday as of right now. Please keep her in your prayers!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day One in China

Today we went on our first tour of Beijing! Our guide George wanted us to experience how the locals live, so we went to the Hutong district which is on the outskirts of the Forbidden city and is about 200years older than the city. This was a first as a we rode around the area in a rickshaw. One of the locals invited us into his home and explained how it had been in his family for 150 years. We then went to the silk factory and watched the harvest of silkworms to the production of blankets, clothing, etc. After a lunch at a local restaurant, we toured Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City. We fell in bed at 7:30 trying to force ourselves to stay awake. It was neat to see China from the eyes of my first Chinese princess, but she was quick to say KY is much better. Beijing has changed so much in ten years! The population has grown from 13 to 20 million with many more cars now, although people are regulated on which days they can drive. Gas is 5.50 per gallon in US dollars and everything is much more expensive!!!
I know all of this busy running has two purposes,to introduce us to the culture of our child and to distract us while we wait two more days, but every child I pass on the streets reminds me of why Im really here and it's enough to catch my breath! Two more days!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Travel Day

10 am from Chicago... We had a good night sleep in Nashville and then left at 5:00 am for the airport. Check in went fine except that mine and Jillian's shared suitcase was too heavy so was going to cost $200 extra! Rob starting unzipping and rearranging/cramming stuff into other bags and we
finally made it with no overage! The agency warned us to pack light and I tried, but how on earth do you pack light for three weeks in China?? The flight from Nashville to Chicago was smooth and we are now sitting in our terminal waiting for the next flight. We are supposed to leave at 12:08 on a 777 air bus. Praying for safe travels!

May 17, 5pm We arrived in Beijing and were greeted at the airport by George, our very kind agency rep who brought us to our hotel. It is about 4am at home as we Beijing is 13hours ahead. We had a smooth flight but got little more than a couple hours sleep here and there, so we are exhausted. We watched lots of movies between naps, and are hoping for a good nights sleep since there is a lot of touring scheduled for tomorrow starting at nine am. Oh I almost forgot that Rob got stopped at immigration and asked why he was in China. When he answered "adoption"they didn't understand and he got held up for a while as Jilli and I were nervously waiting on the other side!!
We just checked in and walked down the street to get some McDonalds and now are enjoying our lobby before heading to bed! Hope everyone at home is having a great day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Graduations and Goodbyes

This has been a long couple of days with so many emotions. I've been working nonstop for the last couple of days to get everything ready for the trip and everything squared away at home for the boys. Last night was Korbins Kindergarten graduation and it was so sweet! Of course, knowing I was leaving him for three weeks and the emotions of the upcoming adoption made it a little hard, but there was lots of laughter as well. As we left, he told Jillian to be sure and wear her good shoes because he looked super handsome and also not to wrinkle him. He was beaming as he walked down the aisle and turned and waved at us throughout the ceremony. Today was a blur as we finished packing and getting the house ready. We left Korbin a surprise in my closet and told him that he could open it after we left. He practically shooed us out the door! LOL! So much for him missing us! We made pictures outside as our last time as a family of five! Also made some of the house and each family memmber to show to Laikyn. Then we drove to Whitehouse and had supper with Gay and Steve. They brought us on to Nashville where we are staying at an airport shuttle hotel to catch our flight at 6:50 am. We had to change flights for a longer layover, so we will fly to Chicago and then have a three to four hour layover and then catch a nonstop flight to Beijing. Hopefully I can post more when we arrive in China! We appreciate all of the prayers for our travel, our boys and our new daughter!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

An award winner!

Jillian has always been a great student! She takes a lot of pride in her work and rarely has to be asked to do her homework! As a kickoff to our testing week, we passed out awards for the previous year tests, and Jillian scored a proficient in reading and distinguished in math as a third grader. She earned a purple ribbon and an engraved plaque as a reward for her scores. As she took them, I flashed back to last year when she laid in bed with a tummy ache the night before testing worried she wouldn't do well. I have been able to watch her grow even more this year as her fourth grade teacher and especially enjoy her talent in math. She loves problem solving and works until she figures it out. She has caught on to bar modeling so well that she does Fraction word problems in her head now. She has also grown so much in reading and is challenging herself with higher level novels. She especially has enjoyed the Percy Jackson series and has most recently begun to read classics like Secret Garden to expand her vocabulary. Can't wait to see what she will do this year!! Proud of her accomplishments! You keep reaching for the STARS Jilli!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Korbins Day

In preparation for our upcoming trip, we decided to have a special day with Korbin since he wont be traveling with us and we hate to leave him. He has been asking to go to Sunrise Park in Evansville since stopping there last winter. We had a nice lunch at Red Robin and then spent a couple of hours playing at the park. He had such a good time with all of the wooden forts for
running and climbing. After the park,we took him to Build a Bear to pick out an outfit for his stuffed dog. He picked out a Harley with a biker shirt and do rag... Lol! I also secretly got a Darth Vader one that he will open while we are gone. I told him to sleep with it and let it remind him how we are thinking about him. He said Granny will take good care of him and I know she will,but It will not be the same without my boys! Love them both so much!