Monday, February 28

Ni Hao! 24 hours later...

Things are calmer here, and we are so thankful. We can feel the prayers from halfway around the world! As I type this, Eli is napping. Naptime will most likely be my computer time as otherwise, I'm not sure I could type a whole post without a million keys being hit by my "helper". LOL

He is very, very busy, but just 24 hours later, we've seen some improvements and some really good signs. For starters, we've gotten really good at some Chinese phrases. You know, all of the important things like "no" and "stop" and "sleep." Apparently I'm saying them well enough for him to get it. Our agency sent us with a phonetic list of phrases for Chinese, and what a lifesaver.

The point at which I became really good at saying "no" in Chinese

I'm not entirely sure he's figured out that he's stuck with us as he told the student of our guide - "I go with you." I'm sure he'd much rather be with someone who understands what the heck he is saying! He was also playing with a really long shoehorn that was in the hotel room (yes, I know I let him play with a really big stick, which might not have been smart, but I was TIRED) and he apparently told her, "I'm a policeman!" The teacher in me thinks - Great! Pretend play...a good sign! The realist in me says - "No wonder this kid is bored with us...we're totally lame when we're talking in one word sentences." He kept trying to do something with the shoehorn, and now I realize that he was trying to lock us up in handcuffs, I'm almost certain. LOL

Regardless, he is a sweetie. I hear him call Jim "baba" (which means daddy in Chinese) and has been giving us kisses. We went to breakfast today in the hotel and it went well. He let us know what he wanted for breakfast (rice with shrimp) and he was determined to feed himself. His fine motor skills are really poor, and his core seems really super weak. (I probably lost most of you at this point if you aren't a parent of a kid with needs or a therapist, sorry.) Regardless, he is very determined and persistent, which Hannah had already told us. This is a great thing! I'm certain he will overcome any of the physical issues he might have by being so determined, and his language and pretend play skills seem spot on. He isn't quite sure how to play with most toys or else doesn't have the attention to do so right now but these things will come with time.

Eli Tao and his "baba"

Anyway, at breakfast, he wanted a spoon and was set on it. (The big white ceramic spoons that they use in Asian countries) At the end of the meal, he dropped it and it shattered all over. I'm sure we are quite a spectacle anywhere we go. I'll be glad to get to Ghangzhou where we will fit right in with tons of other American adoptive parents.

Outing to Walmart

Tomorrow we visit the center. If you are interested in watching the webcam, make sure to check out the post I put up with the link.

Happy Adoption Day!!

We've got him! He's ours!

He's adorable, social, spunky, and busy. Those are the best words I can think of to describe him at the moment. He's very talkative which, to me, is a really good sign. I can't understand him at all obviously, but he seems very observant and totally appropriate for a new four year old when what he's saying is translated to me. I've been told some of his sounds are not clear, though this really isn't unusual for a just-turned-four year old.

Jim and I would love continued prayers for the transition. Hannah told us that it was like "living with Grandmas" at the center, and while it is clear he was really loved, it is also clear that with his spunky personality, he might need a bit more structure than he's had in the past. ;) For that reason, I think he's going to give Jim and I a run for our money while we're here. (Hannah told us we need one of those leash harness things! LOL!!) When we left her today, she told us to make sure we didn't lose the child! :)

It is hard to describe our emotions at this point....we're super excited to have him, and yet really overwhelmed when we sit and look at this child who is trying so hard to communicate but can't with us. He also wants to dictate what's going on and wants to have his way.

On the positive side, we're figuring things out as we go. He let us know that he was tired and that he was hungry, and we also figured out very quickly that he was trying to tell us that he needed to use the potty. ;) He told Hannah that he wanted "Kentucky chicken" (AKA KFC) much to Jim's dismay, so we ate chicken nuggets for lunch today. He was adorable because we guessed at what else he wanted, and he ended up with some sort of spicy chicken wings in addition to the nuggets and yet, he was trying to plow through them, as he told the student we had with us "so hot, so very hot". I can see how he won over the hearts of the nannies at Siping.

So far, he has not been very sad at all, though we are just now on our own, so we'll see how he handles having no one who understands him. When he arrived this morning, he was very hesitant to come near Jim and I, but as the morning went on, he asked for us to hold and carry him. Which means that my biceps are going to be getting a workout as he is a big boy and very heavy!!

Sunday, February 27

finally catching up

I am finally beginning to feel a bit better and be able to keep food down. I still don't feel "normal" but I'm pretty sure getting sick doesn't help jet lag. ;)

We are here in Changchun, the capital of Eli's province. We spent the day today with Hannah, the woman who runs the center where Eli has lived for the majority of his life. It was great getting to meet her in person, and we really enjoyed the day. She took us to lunch at a place that specializes in hot pots, and I was so thankful to be able to eat. It was delicious! A hot pot reminds me of a fondue that we might make at home, with raw meat and vegetables that you cook and then dip into sauces.

She also told us more about Eli and his personality, which was fun to hear. We've been told that he is persistent, a hard worker, and a joy. He also likes to be first to do things and that he is a good eater. She said he is also very happy all of the time and that when he is sad, it is short lived.

We are both feeling very excited, but very nervous at the same time. We meet him early tomorrow morning, and we know this is going to be a huge transition for him. I can't wait until we finally just have him and can begin the transition instead of just thinking about it.

Next time we post, he'll be ours! :) :)

Below are some pictures from the day we spent with Christina in Beijing. (It was really cold, but Changchun is colder!! Snow on the ground in both places.)

Jim at the Temple of Heaven. This is a place where they used to hold sacrifices and pray for the harvest long ago. They still hold a ceremony once a year.

We also visited a tea house where we learned to make and drink tea the way that they do here.

Last (after the whole lunch event), we did some shopping. This picture is from one of the calmer floors, of jewelry. There are booths just stacked on top of booths, and on the floors where they sell handbags and shoes and toys, things are kind of crazy with people grabbing you and asking if you want to buy. I thought it was fun. Jim looked like he wanted to jump off of a cliff. ;) (Of course, that was nothing compared to the Walmart we visited today. Yes, there are Walmarts in China. Crazy stuff.)

Saturday, February 26

Leaving for an early flight

Posting about Beijing will have to wait until we get to Eli's provincial capital. We got back last night after being out with our guide, Christina, all day and I went right to bed.

Somehow...I don't know how...I ended up with either a 24 hour stomach virus within the first 12 hours in China, or I already have eaten something bad, on the plane or in the one meal we had here before I got sick. It wasn't pretty. Oy. I started the medication our doctor sent with us just in case it was something bad I ate.

Let's just say, throwing up at lunch in a restaurant wasn't how I planned spending our first day in China. I didn't quite make it fully to the lovely squatty potty they had there, and I had to flag down a woman working there, whom I'm not sure understood what I was saying until I showed her. Totally embarrassing, to say the least.

We are leaving in just a half hour to meet Christina to take us to the airport to fly to Changchun. Can't wait!! (Hopefully I'm recovered...prayers are appreciated, because that wouldn't be too fun flying or meeting Eli the way I felt yesterday!!)

Friday, February 25

We're here!

Exhausted, but here. Checked into the hotel in Beijing and hope to just get dinner in the hotel. I'm having to prop my eyes open to stay awake as I just can't sleep on planes. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22

A new email address

While we are in China, I am not sure I'm going to be able to access my home email account. I've added a link on the blog for a google mail account that I will be switching to once we're home, so if you need me, use that one please.

(Check on the right hand side of the blog, where it says "Email Me." There is a link you can click on to send me an email.)

Thanks!! :)

In the final days before we leave....

So we need several thousands of dollars and in the newest bills we can find to take with us on our trip. I knew this ahead of time, but for some reason, forgot about how difficult this might be.

This morning I called the bank. (Because yesterday, of course, was a holiday. And last week? Well, last week, I kept saying we had a week left before we got on the plane. I don't know what I was thinking.)

The conversation goes something like this:

me: "Hi there. I'm getting ready to leave for an adoption to China, and I have been told I need to bring $$$$ with me in the newest bills I can find."

unlucky bank teller who answered the phone (sounding slightly panicked) "In Chinese Yuan?"

me: "Oops. Sorry. American."

bank teller (calmer now): "Okay. Well, when do you need it by?"

me: "Ummmm.....tomorrow."

bank teller: *crickets chirping*

In the end, I have two branches that are gathering the money for me. Thank heavens.

So, I will be carrying $$$$ with me, split in half with my husband, in money belts. By the time we arrive, those bills should be nice and sweaty and crumpled. Don't you think?

(I did buy one that went around my neck for me. I can't imagine flying for hours with something around my waist. Yuck.)

our visit to Siping Center

If you are interested, you may be able to watch our visit to Eli's foster care center. We are scheduled to visit on March 2nd. For those in the US, this will be the evening of March 1st, around 9 pm EST. (We will be 13 hours ahead of our time at home, so it will be morning there.) We've been told that family might want to start checking around 8:30 pm in case we are early.

To see the webcam, click here.

The foster care center is a wonderful place, funded completely through donations. The adoption agency we used for Norah (and found Eli through) are the ones who raise money for the center. Eli has lived here almost his entire life, and we are so thankful for the work that they do.

Sunday, February 13

A must-read

Last week, I came across a blog article that speaks to the many questions I get asked about Chinese adoptions. Things like: "How did you get a boy?" or "Why are there so many kids with special needs being abandoned?"

Although I thought I knew the answers to many of these questions, I was surprised to find out that I actually only knew a small piece. In fact, the information shared in the article was so good, I immediately emailed it to family members and friends. It is well worth the time to read it.

To read the article, please click here.

Friday, February 11

Our Itinerary

So, I've been a terrible blogger lately. However, we plan to update during our trip here, so if you are interested in following along, this is the place!

Our itinerary looks like this:
2/24 Leave for Beijing
2/27 Arrive in Eli's province
2/28 Adoption Day! (or Forever Family Day or Gotcha Day....take your pick)
3/4 Leave for Ghangzhou
3/10 All paperwork is finally finished, and we leave on a train for Hong Kong
3/11 Fly HOME (Yay!!)

I think some of the reason I have been so bad about posting lately is because I'm just not sure what to write. My emotions have been all over the place the past couple of weeks. We are super excited to be going, and oh-so-ready to finally meet Eli and add him to our family. Yet, we aren't new to this game. We know the transition that lies ahead, and while it will all be worth it in the end, we know that it will likely be really tough before it gets better.

I say this simply because despite how prepared we feel we are mentally, it is a whole different ball game when dealing with things in reality. I know we can do this, and we want to...very much. But certainly, there have been moments here of feeling overwhelmed and a little anxious and definitely nervous as we begin our newest adventure.

So, we do what we have learned to do over the past 8 years of parenting. Take a deep breath and dive in head first, praying for wisdom as we go! The countdown is on!!

Tuesday, February 1

It came, it came!!!

We received travel approval yesterday, and this morning, we received the much-prayed-for consulate appointment. It came just as the government over there shut down for Chinese New Year holiday.

We are busy working with the travel agent, but it looks like we'll be China bound around February 24th and have him in our arms on February 28th!! Oh, happy day!!

Can't wait!