Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Interesting Little Discovery

 Just a short post this morning as I sit here playing with Ben and Will. The screen door is open and the lovely early fall breeze is floating through the house. I'm grateful for cooler days.
  I've been seeking ways to help William calm down when he enters one of his spectacular crying fits. Sometimes he lets me hold him. Sometimes he sits in the corner. Regardless of the strategy, it takes a very long time for it to be over. Who knew that a two year old could have so many tears to shed? Today I tried something new. I'd purchased a couple of classical music CDs for William to listen to. I've read research about classical music helping to stimulate the "feel good" parts of the orphan brain that have previously been dormant. I wasn't really expecting any results, but the strangest thing happened. He was instantly silent. His beautiful little eyebrows furrowed and he stared intently in the direction of the music. Next, he moved his hands back and forth (left to right) with the music and started humming. He smiled a soft little smile.
  I'm sure it's not my cure-all for crying, but I'm going to make it a point to play some music throughout the day as a sort of mental break for him....and for me.
Check out these classical piano CDs especially designed for babies and toddlers (I have both). You will love them too!

Helen Marlais' Classics for Babies
Helen Marlais' Classics for Toddlers
*Both are roughly $10.00 on Amazon.

Perhaps I have a musician on my hands!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Hurt children learned early in their lives that smiles are not to be trusted.
They know adult actions may end in pain.
They are hard-wired by early experiences to know that the only safety is in total and complete control of their emotional and physical environment.
---Parenting the Hurt Child

   I thought that I'd sit down to write part II of what I've learned thus far in parenting Will (or trying to). It's been a hard day. The house has seemed slightly chaotic with complaining, crying, and just general discontentment from all the children. Will has cried off and on for most of the day. So, these thoughts are good reminders for myself as we press on in a devotion to love as Christ loves us. Total and sacrificial love.
5. You can't know what you don't know. Whatever age your child is when he or she is brought into your family---BIG chunks of their past are missing and probably gone forever. I really have to remember this when William reacts in a manner which I find "strange". I don't know his past. When these "orphan moments" (as we like to call them) arise, I'm quick to remember that his actions are rooted in something...some event...some circumstance that I didn't witness. Some examples: Whenever I do speak to Will in a stricter tone, he runs to a specific corner in our house and stays there until he's ready to come out. I don't know why. Maybe he was put in the corner in the orphanage?? All I know is that he feels the need to do it and he ain't moving until he's good and ready. Control. He has a fascination with closing doors, flicking light switches, and ordering things. He carries his cup around all day long. It has to be in his hand. These things are a mystery to me, but it's part of who he is at the moment. So, give yourself grace that you weren't there during his childhood to understand how the puzzle was originally put together. Just work with the pieces you have.
6. Study your child. I think this really goes back to being present...fully present. I spend a lot of time just watching Will. I know he is beginning to sound like my little science project, but watching him is very revealing. Occasionally, through watching him and playing with him, I can fill in one of those missing puzzle pieces and provide and explanation for a certain behavior. This happened soon after we returned home. Any time I'd been out with him, he would come into the house and begin pulling at my feet and ankles. I finally figured out that he wanted my shoes and socks off because in Chinese homes you do not enter the house wearing outside shoes and socks. He is very pleased with me when I remember to kick off my shoes! Makes sense, right? Easy enough. I know that he likes to group things by color and wants to see how things work. He likes for all the t.v. remotes to be in the same place so organization is important to him. He is a very clever little guy. He's probably picked up 20 English words and several phrases. The boy is a fast learner. I feel like I'm getting to know him at a faster rate by just sitting near him and watching him and interacting with him when he feels like having a playmate.
7. Be patient. BE PATIENT. I'd better settle in and wait because it's going to take a long time for this superficial relationship to deepen into genuine love on his part. I've been looking at his picture for over a year. He's been looking into my face for three weeks. I want so badly for him to want me and to need me and to be completely comforted by my presence and embrace. But all relationships take time and investment. I'm committed to both and if you've decided to adopt then you are too. Patience really has to be a thread that runs through every part of this experience. I have to be patient with the other children when they feel neglected or frustrated or just plain sick and tired of Will's crying (Ben walks around with his hands over his ears). I have to be patient with Brent when he looks at me with eyes that say---he's crying AGAIN??? I have to be patient with myself and remember that all those hours of holding a baby and feeding a baby and caressing a baby were absent from Will's life and I'm starting over. He's starting over. Two years of difficult can't be erased in three weeks. It will come. I know it will come.
8. It's less about changing him and more about changing me. Sure I want Will to heal and grow. But I'm realizing daily that it's me who needs to change. There's so very much I need to change about myself as I work daily in my role as wife and mother. Adoption forces change. The hours I have prayed and the middle-of-the-night conversations with God have begun to turn from praying for certain desired outcomes in my children to praying for a heart change within myself. The Maker needs to remake me. I need a gentle spirit and wise words. I need patience and compassion. I need discernment. Perhaps then the little people under my care will begin to change as they watch their mother change. I'm weary from the carousel-ride of trying to change myself. Failing. Surrendering. Letting God temporarily take over. The ride keeps running and I don't know when I got on or how to get off. I think adoption has slowed the ride a little because I just can't do this. God is going to have to do it through me and He's going to change me to do it. Praise God! The rescuer comes for me again.
  I've put all the children to bed now and for the first time all day the house is quiet and still. If I could close with any advice, it would be to remember the call. If God has called you to adopt then reminding yourself of His beckoning towards adoption will help you plant your feet and stand firm. I know the sweet peace of being nestled right in the center of God's will. I feel it now. I know we are doing exactly what He wants us to do. It's what kept me in China when I wanted to run. It's what keeps me calm and tender towards Will when he rejects me over and over. It's what causes my heart to swell when he does run to me or allow me to hold him tightly. Nothing about this is easy and God never promised us easy, did He? But He made many more promises to me personally in His word and I don't have to pray for them. I already have them by way of being his heir and daughter.
  Each eveing as night falls and Will is in my arms before bed, I sing Jesus Loves Me in hushed tones. I sing it for him. I sing it for me.
“Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so:
Little ones to him belong,—
They are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me-
The Bible tells me so!
“Jesus loves me,—he who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let his little child come in.
“Jesus loves me—loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill;
From his shining throne on high
Comes to watch me where I lie.
“Jesus loves me,—he will stay
Close beside me all the way.
Then his little child will take
Up to heaven for his dear sake.”

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adoption Public Service Announcement

  Today's blog is especially for my friends who are currently in the process of adopting....and for myself when I need a reminder of what to focus on during these early days. I want to share some thoughts that might provide some helpful insight into how to prepare for the time when you walk through the door of your home with your new child in arms. I  have a whole month's worth of experience which makes the following advice highly reputable, don't you think? I thought so. Will, hopefully you'll read this one day and see how loved you are and how far we've come.
Here goes.
1. Get educated. It's time to turn off Dancing with the Stars and pick up some books which offer realistic expectations about what adopted children are like and, furthermore, equip you with helpful strategies for dealing with behaviors that are probably unfamiliar to you.  I read a few books during the adoption process, but I had several here in the house for when we came home.  I wanted to be reading in the midst of our transition so that I wouldn't forget the information and also so that I could look at my child in action and apply the appropriate recommendations immediately. I recommend 1) Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen 2) The Connected Child by Dr. Karen Purvis and 3) Parenting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky.
You will not be sorry that you read these books. Orphans come into your care pre-wired in very specific ways. Adoption research reveals consistent patterns of behavior among most orphans and understanding   the wiring system is invaluable to how you approach your new child. The main reason (apart from grace) that I'm not curled up in the fetal position within the dark confines of my basement right now is because I know what to expect and I can calm myself down by saying: this is normal. No matter how disturbing a behavior may be- when you know that it is normal for a child to be exhibiting such behavior at this stage of adoption, it makes you feel encouraged and empowered.
***note: If you have the opportunity to attend one of Karen Purvis' Empowered To Connect conferences you MUST go. For Brent and I, it was the single best tool to equip us for adoption. She is a phenomenally dynamic and entertaining speaker. The content is intriguing and you will leave feeling like you have a solid foundation on which to build once you return home with your child.
2. Hibernate. If you look up the word "social" in the dictionary, there's my picture and I'm just a smiling and a waving. I absolutely love people and I thrive on fellowship and companionship and camaraderie etc... But when you return from Who-Knows-Whereville with your son or daughter you have to withdraw for an indefinite period of time. I resigned from every committee, activity, and commitment that I was involved in. I plan on being a vapor for several months and I feel great about it. If you want any shot of strongly and deeply attaching with your child, you have to be present. It really is that simple.  The same goes for taking your child out and about. Really limit it. The more faces he sees, the more confused he becomes about who you are. To put it in perspective, right now William can endure only about 20 minutes of concentrated interaction (i.e. taking him to a friend's house or to church etc...) before he completely melts down.
3. Prepare your children and family.  By choosing to adopt, you (via God) have made a monumental decision on behalf of your children and family members. They have (perhaps unwillingly) been pulled into a really hard place with a child who can be, quite honestly, difficult to love. I should have prepared the children for the amount of crying they would have to endure. With an eight, six, and four year old in the house, we don't really hear a lot of screaming crying like babies do. Enter William to remind us. The kids initially were really bothered by it. They kept asking me to make it stop and I couldn't! It also created a nasty habit of them giving Will whatever he wanted to avoid the on-set of a crying fit. Reassure your children that the crying is normal and is temporary. Try to make them understand what he's feeling. Try to explain why he needs so much care and attention from Mommy right now etc... The same with family members. Transition will go more smoothly if you explain some of that fabulous orphan behavior information you gleaned from those great books above :) That way, Grandma won't run away the first time your child throw an earth-shaking tantrum when all she did is say hello and look him in the eye!!!!!!!
4. Establish some boundaries. Others may disagree, but I feel that one has to establish some immediate boundaries with an adopted child. I can't let Will come in to our family and commandeer every toy from my other children and then persist to scream like a Howler Monkey when he doesn't get it. I can't allow him to hit me or my children. So we sternly tell him NO. If he hits me, I take his hand and show him how to touch my face gently and say sternly, "We do not hit Mommy".  He is understanding already and I've seen a reduction in fit-throwing when his brother or sister has something that he wants. It's a start.

......more to come. You're on the edge of your seat, I know.
I'll leave you with some encouragement--the face I get to see when he's calm and happy. It spurs me on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Taking to the skies with Amelia Earhart

  Yesterday was my first solo flight with all four children. My co-pilot had to return to work and so I took the controls alone hoping that when he returned at the end of the day, we'd all still be here!
  Will woke up happy and playful and I wrangled the cattle into the van for our school run (on time I might add). The girls were dropped off and then Ben. I was looking forward to our first day of just being mother and son. We had a really great morning. We played trains and trucks together, did a puzzle, went outside for a while, cut and ate watermelon (a favorite of his) and just spent time quietly playing and interacting with one another. I have to say, I was totally rockin' this adoptive mother thing. He was taking me by the hand and leading me around the house. He was looking into my eyes and laughing and engaging me in games. It felt really easy and natural. He loves books and so we spent quite a bit of time exploring the pages of different lift-the-flap books. It's so fun to see him delighted with a picture or exclaim something in Chinese in an excited voice. The rest of the day was just as successful and my heart was encouraged. Maybe it's just not going to be that hard. And then the night came.
  Williams goes to sleep very well. No objections. No crying. While it's nice to not hear the screaming protests of a child resisting sleep, it's not a good thing. Think about it. The whole reason little babes scream going down from a very young age is because they sense the separation from their parent and they don't know they're safe outside of the physical presence of mommy and daddy. Over time, they learn that they are, in fact, secure. But even older children delay the separation at night (i.e. I need ANOTHER drink of water. Please scratch my back. Will you read another 1400 page Dr. Seuss book?) It's the simple desire to stay close to that which makes us feel secure. So Will falling asleep without protest means he is disconnected from us and does not yet recognize the need for soothing from us. When he does finally recognize that need, a whole new set of sleep problems will arise.
   He was restless in his early evening sleep--calling out, crying with his eyes tightly closed. I would go in to the room and stroke his cheek and let him hear my voice. At 2 a.m. he woke crying hard and it escalated from there. I can only compare his cry to that of a siren. It's intense, monotone and the only modulation of sound comes when I approach. Given our euphoric Mary-Poppins kind of a day, I was sure I could console him and lull him back to sleep like some kind of orphan-whisperer. ER. WRONG. I am the absolute last person he wants to see during his night struggles. I wanted to say to him, "Do you not remember the lovely day of bonding we've just experienced? I'm cool, remember? I make train sounds and act like I don't know where the puzzle piece goes! We're good now."
The crying lasted roughly the same amount of time as the Vietnam War. Finally, he surrendered his inconsolable outburst and fell asleep on Brent. We laid him in the bed and tried to get some rest.
  Progress with Will these days is like drawing a beautiful image on a magna-doodle and then someone comes along and wipes the screen completely clean. We have to start all over again and I'd just like to see some outline of the image there from day to day.
  It is ONLY because of the Holy Spirit's gentle holding of me that I am able to walk through this right now without becoming frustrated or angry with Will's behavior. I can honestly say that I haven't had one moment where I've wanted to do anything other than hold him tightly and love him. His face is the picture of innocence. His life has been rather sloppily constructed on a platform of choices made by others for reasons unknown. And so he cries.
  In the night I pray. I pray for the salvation of our four children. Without Christ, there is no balm for the hurts of this world. I will fail each of these little people. He won't. They call us an orphan's "Forver Family," bit I don't like the naming. The only one who is forever is God and when we're all in His presence, we'll know peace.
And so I start again today. Anew. Re-drawing an image of beauty for Will to see. One day I'll wake up and find the image intact.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our God is marvelous. He created us with such detail and delicacy that I just marvel at the complexity of his creation. Take, for instance, the orphan brain. I've been reading a lot about what Will has experienced and is experiencing since his abandonment at just fourteen days old. Did you know that even a newborn who is adopted from birth (i.e. taken home from the hospital) knows the separation from  its biological mother and the brain begins to stress and change? Adrenaline increases (fight or flight) and cortisol (the chemical which manages stress) decreases dramatically. Orphans have a very low level of oxytocin, a socializing biochemical, and therefore they are resistant to touch or play. The list goes on and on. It is so evident that God created us to connect. When important connections are severed, the brain goes wild in rebellion. But in the beauty of a skilled creator's hand, the one and only God allows the orphan brain to be restored slowly. Our journey to restore Will is just beginning. While his brain is changeable, it is not erasable. We are seeking to build new pathways--no easy task.
  We've been home almost a week now and it's been a insightful week. I learn huge amounts about Will each and every day. Here are the good points-- He smiles and laughs and accepts affection. He will make eye contact with me and play games with me where he has to maintain a stare (Peek-a-boo). This is good because it's making a direct connection. He will mimic me and my name (Mama). Again, he's connecting me with a role in his life. He will take my hand and lead me somewhere--connecting. I try to do this with him off and on all day and it's exhausting. I'm always in close proximity--usually right next to him while he's playing. I want to discourage independence and encourage his dependence on me. I want him to know that I can provide all of his needs. In essence, I'm working super hard to gain trust and I wish there was a quick way to accomplish this. There isn't. We'll be working on this for years to come because his brain is wired to survive alone.
   The challenges: any gentle reprimand results in a total melt-down. If we show any displeasure at all, he freaks out. We have to balance our knowledge of how fragile it is to discipline orphans at this stage in our relationship with the need to establish boundaries for the sake of our other children. He cannot hit them, snatch from them etc... It ain't going well. He is very possessive. You touch his shoes--it's over. If he has a toy that he wants to hold all day and you mess with it--it's over. He has a very strong Will (perhaps he's living up to his name). It's like walking on eggshells. You just don't know what will launch Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde into an alarming fit of tears, screaming, kicking, swatting etc... You kind of want to step back, look at his darling face, and say-- "This is coming from that???" It's bad. It's "call the Super-Nanny" bad.
 As we stumble along depositing minuscule amounts into Will's trust bank, I'm so thankful that I have a Savior who is trustworthy and faithful to me. As our relationship with our son strengthens, he'll begin to call up past occurrences where we have proven faithful. When I'm facing giant challenges or little anxieties, I can call up a twenty four plus year track record of God's faithfulness to me. He too discourages independence and encourages dependence on Him. I love that I can see myself in Will. When he's struggling with his identity I can share that I too struggle with mine. For our identity is not in the temporary earthly relationships of parents but in the only dependable never failing relationship with our Heavenly Father.
   The photos below show a little of how Will is relating to the children. He is connecting with the girls first because he had three foster sisters. He is not all that taken with Ben, and when he wants Ben's toys--Ben is not all that taken with him! It's going to take a long time for Will to learn how to be part of a family. But he is part of our family. I love him. I'm beginning to understand him. I'm learning that he will never be exclusively mine. By necessity--I have to open my life up to his foster mother and biological mother (even though she's unknown) so that it's always a part of how we relate to him.  I can't pretend that they don't exist.
 We're thinking of planting two shrubs to represent his foster family and biological family so that he has something concrete to visit. Our roots are all going to grow together into this wonderful picture of God's family---glorious ruins.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A House Full of Orphans

 And we came home. Eighteen hours on a plane and our son left the life that was and entered the life that is to come. And the grieving began again. Smells. Sounds. Faces. Language. It's all so totally different and we took it away from him. During the day he's exhilarated by new playmates, wide open spaces, and toys which do all sorts of bewildering things. He's exploring and interacting and experimenting. But when the lights dim and sleep comes, the sorrowful, guttural cries of mourning begin again with no end in sight. 12:30 up. 4:00 am up. He calls for his foster mother by name and she doesn't come. He won't come into my arms or be consoled by me because I'm not the mother he wants. I was prepared for this, but it still hurts. It makes me feel less than because a mother can always soothe her child, can't she? And I do feel like he's my child. He reaches for Brent in this tug-of-war between I want you and I don't want you. We just let him cry hoping that he'll gradually purge the sadness and allow us to fill him up with new love. Hoping.
  There's so much to relate to in this little boy. On the outside, he looks in tact--like any other child. You have to look hard for the subtle crack that runs through him. But it's there because his pain is a result of The Fall. There would be no orphans without the sin of the world, right? His pain might be different from yours and mine, but we're all damaged by The Fall carrying a multitude of wounds and scars from a life removed from perfection. He doesn't know he's been rescued and I live daily like I haven't been. Oh, how I search for lasting comfort in things that can't provide it. I'm looking into Will's sad black eyes and saying, "I'm here." He doesn't hear it and right now he doesn't want to. He pushes against it with an alarming strength of will. Similarly, my Savior stands before me offering the same acceptance despite my ugliness, yearning to give me rest and I turn my head in child-like defiance seeking to rest in my own self. When will we both just collapse into the arms of peace?
 When the world feels like it's gone just a little bit crazy, you have to focus on what you know to be true. Everything in me is hating these early days when I feel like I'm auditioning for Will's trust. How can I morph myself in to what he wants? I can't. I don't know what it is that he wants or needs, but I do know that his being in our family is right. That's about the only thing that I am certain of right now and it's enough for me to keep going. I can come back to this truth when I'm tired and crying. I can come back to this truth when the children are wondering what we've done to our family. I can come back to this truth when it feels like we've been derailed and taken hostage by a screaming two-year old ball of pain. The other truth I cling to is that the Lord equips those he calls. He told us to do this and so he will lead. Personally, I'd like the direct route through the forest to the clearing where I'll find unicorns and dancing fairies. We never like to suffer. I despise rawness and vulnerability and weakness and desperation...but God loves it in me. He created me to need. To need him. He just wants to hear me say it. I'm saying it now.

I need you, Lord. I can't do this without you because I'm cracked and broken, unsure and wandering. Hold me like the orphan that I was before you came into my life and owned me. Steady me with the strong hand of a Father lavishly loving his daughter. Begin to remake me and close up the cracks. Be my balm. Help me to want you. Help me to turn to you and fall into the arms that wait for me. Safe arms. The arms that opened wide for me on the cross now fall around my shoulders in a tight embrace. Stay close and when I call your name, come running like the dependable parent that you are. Meet my needs in ways that astound me because your resources are limitless. Pour your power into me so that I might raise a family reflective of your glory. Be my everything.
I ask humbly in your name,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On top of a mountain

Yesterday we went to White Cloud Mountain. It was several degrees cooler, overcast and gorgeous. It was a lovely break from the city. We rode a cable car up the mountain and had lunch. We walked around and played and then took a golf cart down. I'll let the photos do the talking. Very restful day.
Today we spent our morning doing paperwork at the US Consulate so that we'll have a valid Visa for Will tomorrow afternoon. Everything went so smoothly. Thanks be to God. He has blessed every step of this trip --we've not had one single issue. When I lay down in the evenings and begin my prayers, I am so thankful for His grace and mercy. I have felt His peace throughout this trip and it has grown my love for him. I have so much more to share once home--things that I just can't write here. Let it just be said that I will never be the same.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It's just been 8 days.

We've had William for eight days. That's all. It seems like much longer. He's beginning to feel like a natural extension of myself and Brent, and we can honestly say that we love him. It's an early love, but its present. This is the work of the Holy Spirit and of praying friends like you all.
I'm still struggling with how to interact with a sweet boy who loves to express himself but whose opinions and observations are meaningless to me. Brent helped me by reminding me that babies babble all the time as they develop. We don't understand it, but we respond and interact, question and joke. So Will is my two-year old baby who happens to babble in perfect Mandarin. :) It's really only hard when I need to explain something to him or reassure him of something. He is such a strong coper, I believe, because his foster mother explained everything fully to him without ever holding back or babying him. I cannot do that for him and so our actions seem arbitrary and that causes me anxiety. Example: Today it was time for Will to take a nap after a full morning of activity. We said the words for sleep and he began crying (a first since we've had him). We let him play for a few more minutes, but then I picked him up and laid him in his crib for his rest. World War broke out. Kicking, screaming at the top of his lungs, crying till his nose became a fountain of snot, etc... Tantrum city. He did not want to sleep and I had no language to assist me. Brent did go over to the crib and sternly say no several times and after about five minutes of hot, angry convulsions he fell asleep. The whole scenario was ugly and I hope it's not the new normal, but he's starting to test us and see what we're going to do when he exerts his preference and his will. He can't understand us and we can't understand him. I'm sure we are going to wrestle greatly with how to discipline him when we can't communicate well with him. Some behaviors need to be addressed from the start and so we're just blindly groping at how to calm his outbursts and yet still trust us. It's the messy side of adoption. One of many. I need patience. I need grace. When he's screaming and crying and can't tell me how he feels--I get angry. I feel like a failure. I want to quit. But his smiles and laughter outweigh the tantrums and this spurs me on. Eight days will soon be twelve which will soon be twenty which will turn into sixty etc...
On a lighter note--I've recorded some of the funnier things that have happened on our trip so that you can laugh along with us. What an adventure.
1. Chinese Waitress: (in perfect English)--"Do you speak Chinese?"
Me: "No. Do you speak English?"
Chinese Waitress: "No." Turns and walks away.
2. Chinese shop owner to Brent: "Ooooh your son looks just like you! "
Brent: ????????????
We think she just wanted us to spend more money in her shop!
3. Chinese hotel worker to me: "Oh is this your son? He looks very Chinese!"
Me: "He is Chinese."
Hotel worker: Looks confused.
** I wanted so badly to say, "Didn't you know what when two whites make a baby it somehow comes out Chinese?"
4. Brent said the Chinese word for pee pee when Will was preparing for his bath and was diaper-less. We were hoping he'd go to the potty as he is potty trained, but it's becoming undone. Instead, he assumed the Chinese squat position and was about to go right there on the hotel room carpet. Luckily, he was scooped up rather quickly. Mess avoided.

Keep smiling, right? Find the humor, right? We're trying.

Shamian Island

Yesterday we went to Shamian Island to shop. Now this is the outing I've been waiting for! It's where the tourists can find all the locally made souvenirs such as fans, silks, jade etc.. Small shops line the walkways and we casually spent a few hours browsing and picking up gifts for the children. We also began to purchase "Gottcha Day" gifts that we will give to Will each year on August 27 to commemorate the day that he became ours. We picked up a stamp carved with his Chinese name, a glass coy fish Christmas tree ornament, a small carved wooden frog which makes a croaking sound when you run a wooden stick up its back. We picked up several small things and then a beautiful hand-carved chess set to give to him when he's fifteen or so. We are planning on buying some Chinese pearls for him to give to his wife one day also. We pray that these little reminders of his culture will be treasured as he ages.
We ate lunch at Lucy's on the island and then headed home for rest time. It was a nice, slow morning. He slept beautifully and even had his shower without any tears or fears (this has taken 7 days to accomplish). Below are some pictures taken on the island and some of our little guy after bath time. I think I've mentioned his absolute obsession with Angry Birds and shoes in particular. The shoes pictured are always always on. He loves them.
Tomorrow we are heading to a famous mountain here in Guangzhou. Pics to come!

Monday, September 3, 2012

This one is for the ladies.

I have to post quickly about the fashion here in China. It is not at all what I expected and every day is like a live fashion show. There are some seriously beautiful Asian women here (as Brent has noted SEVERAL times). The normal wear on the streets is very formal which I find surprising--dresses, skirts (the shorter the better is apparently the rule of thumb) and high-heeled shoes. Oh the shoes! We've been to a few malls here and the shoe stores dominate. I've never seen such colorful, fanciful shoes in any US city. For all you shoe-lovers out there, I thought I'd snap a few shots of the latest trends in stores here (starting about $85 a pair). I wanted to take many many more photos but an employee was looking at me and so I stopped. :)
Who wants to wear these to Target 280?
BTW- I could totally rock the Chinese fashions here, but by Asian standards I'm some 130lbs overweight. Oddly enough, my Keens are not getting any second glances. They appear rather like circus shoes compared to what's on the street. Oh well.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Zoo Guangzhou

Going to post lots of pictures today. We had a fun time at the zoo despite the unbearable heat. I loved seeing the pandas especially!
Had a good evening last night. Ate Mexican food at a nearby restaurant where there were many adopting families eating. It was touching to see all the youngsters with their new parents. We've met many people here and hope to keep in contact with them once home. God is good to provide us with support and friendships while away.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Paging Dr. Crazyville

We started our morning off with a wonderful breakfast at our hotel. The buffet is HUGE with everything from noodles to bacon, eggs, donuts etc... Will had fruit, waffles, congi (which is a watery rice) and some water to drink. The boy is a serious eater. He doesn't like the baby utensils I packed for him. He wants to eat with adult forks, spoons, or with chop sticks. Yep, the two year old can eat independently with chopsticks. It's adorable.
From there we headed to the clinic for the doctors to review Will's medical and to give him a general look over, a check with the ENT doctor and to have a TB skin test. It was sheer chaos. There were probably two hundred people there--each following their guide and jumping from line to line. I thought Will was going to meltdown, but he didn't. He cried a little but really was very brave indeed. He did not like the TB skin test, but it was nothing that a few cheerios couldn't cure. He perked up and was great during the visit.
That afternoon we went and explored the hotel and the surrounding area. We found a fun mall to explore and enjoyed looking at all the products. We get lots of stares from the locals. Some are nice....some not so much :) It's ok, though. We just smile and keep walking (although I did shoot a dirty look at one old lady who honestly turned around and scowled at us for about 5 full minutes). What's her deal?
We ate dinner at an Italian place by the hotel. It was great. I had lasagna and Brent reunited with his old friend, pizza. It was quiet and relaxing in the restaurant and we needed that. Love having time just the three of us to get to know Will. Here are some general observations and details about him:
1. Shower time is getting better. Less crying now. We still get the job done quickly though hoping not to rock the boat.
2. We brushed his teeth yesterday and he was great! Surprised.
3. The boy talks non-stop. We're quite sure that we'll learn Mandarin before he learns English. It's really cute and we've had several locals tell us how abnormal it is for a boy his age to speaking in such long, complicated sentences. I really hate that we can't understand him. I worry that he thinks we're ignoring him, but we try to comment on what he's saying with enthusiasm :)
4. He can count to 30 in Chinese and can correctly identify Chinese money. This goes back to his foster parents having run a small shop. He knows the bills! We're keeping an eye on Brent's wallet from now on.
5. He's a whiz at the computer. His foster dad played computer games with him so he can play Angry Birds and navigate his way around the iPad perfectly. It is something to see. He has a great memory. There are clearly no developmental delays. In fact, the orphanage staff believes he's ahead of the curve for a boy of two. I concur!
6. He is very affectionate which I'm so thankful for. You all know how my Ben is so I was worried that Will just wouldn't be ok with smooching and hugging, but he is! He hugs us and kisses us and lets me rub his cheek when he's falling asleep. It's just sweetness!
Below are some pictures from our day at the doctor and shots of our beautiful hotel here. Zoo blog to follow!