I posted this link on my facebook page back in August. (Actually, I shared it from the fb page of another adoptive mom. - Thank you Kimberly!) Anyway, if you've ever wondered what adopting an older child is like, Jen Hatmaker nails it. If you read her blog post from the link above, my post here will make a lot more sense to you. It's okay, go ahead and read it and come back when you're done... I'll still be here when you get back.
For some reason, our adoptions seem to go straight from the Pre-Stage (waiting for your kiddo/s) directly to Stage 2 (spaz out). We never seem to get Stage 1 (the honeymoon) - except the part where our first four kids treated their new brother like a pet... that happened.
I want to note that Stage 2 looks a bit different with a 14 year old than it did with 11, 8, 7, and 5 year olds. First, there is no wailing - but there is muttering... in Chinese... in a tone that is unmistakeably disrespectful (and I might add that it's at these times I'm happy to not understand exactly what it is that he's saying). Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'd recognize that tone in any language. Second, there are no tantrums - at least not the kicking, screaming, hysterical kind. Teenage tantrums are much more subtle and quiet. We've been given the silent treatment, the glares, exaggerated sighs of exasperation, and eye rolls (any of these may be combined for maximum effect). Yup, seen all those. Then there are the bouts of willful disobedience - like the night he was supposed to take a shower: he went in the bathroom, turned on the water, never got in, turned off the water, came back out and got in bed. He was righteously indignant when told to go back in and actually take a shower (the dry hair and dry towel were dead give aways to his folly - the same as when his dry toothbrush tells me that he didn't brush his teeth while he emphatically insists that he did). Finally, I've seen the tears in his eyes full of rage and frustration - that 'tantrum' was much harder on me to witness than his other ones. Grieving and simulaneously trying to assert his independence, all while going through a complete upheaval of life as he once knew it - that's a teen in Stage 2.
On December 5th, we will have been home 4 months. On the horizon, I'm seeing signs of Stage 3 (triage). For example, trying to have a 'conversation' with him via Google translate used to be very one-sided. I would type out what I considered to be a very important point that he needed to know and I expected he would have questions about; he would read it, bob his head and say 'mhhf' and go back to his iPod. Now, with an excessive amount of some prodding - he will ask/type some follow up questions! He interacts with his siblings willingly - even the girls (sometimes)! He started coming out of his room when we have people over - AND THEY WEREN'T EVEN HIS FRIENDS FROM CHINA! (You have no idea what a big deal that one is.) I recently became worthy of battery use on his iPod in order for him to translate for me how incredibly wrong my recipe was for making fried rice! (We only let him charge his iPod once per day in order to limit his usage of it - so that, my friends, is a big deal.) He actually laughed when I teased him that I was going to cut his hair as short as Oscar's buzz cut! (At some point around age 12 or 13 in the orphanage, they quit buzz cutting the boys' hair. NOT having a buzz cut is a big deal - like some sort of adolescent rite of passage. Him laughing about me doing that to his hair is a BIG deal.) I could go on and on about the small things that I see as huge victories. Unless you've lived attachment in older child adoption, there's no way for me to really explain to you how I can be so happy about such seemingly mundane happenings. Yet I am.
And although we are beginning to see more and more of this face:
I know we haven't seen the end of this face:
However, picturing this face...
...helps get me through those rough days. Because this is what I see when I look at him.
Sorry the pictures are kinda grainy. I had to crop them to get in closer on 2 of them. She made out like a bandit with a Gameboy w/3 games, a dance game for the Wii, a little purse, some clothes and a stuffed pink kitty :).
We're here and have our feet under us again (so to speak). We've overcome the jet lag and are starting to get back to normal (whatever that is).
Tim and I are both back to work (I'm on a reduced work schedule so I can be there for our new son as much as possible). We have visited with both sides of the family's grandparents and a few aunts and uncles. We had our 1st post-adoption visit with our social worker. We visited our local amusement park (Worlds of Fun). We got everyone's hair cut. We signed SongSong up to play soccer with Seth at Seth's school (private school that allows home school kids to play on their sports teams) - there's a game or a practice 4 days per week. We started home school with Grandma for SongSong, private school for everyone else (2 separate private schools). After 2 days we decided that home school wasn't the best fit for our new son - so we enrolled him in Oscar & Diana's school until he learns English. Started all our therapies back up again (we took a short break from therapies over the summer due to the adoption). We have visited friends. And we have gone to church every week. I know I'm forgetting a lot of stuff, but I'm sure you get the idea - WE'VE BEEN BUSY.
SongSong, our new addition, is very introverted. I'm not sure he's shy though (don't worry, I'll explain - read on). He has very definite opinions and voices them (albeit when via Google Translate it's sometimes difficult to "get" exactly where he is going with some things). Recently, we've had to teach him about personal posessions, and why you can't do what you want with other people's stuff (ESPECIALLY computers and electronics). We've spent a fair amount of time undoing some things he's done to Oscar and Grandma's computers without their permission. It's all about boundaries and teaching him where his end and another's begin. Consequences ensue when that line is crossed!
He doesn't like the food here in America either (unless we are eating at a Chinese buffet, but we can't afford to do that every meal, so he's just going to have to learn to deal on that one). Even my efforts at Chinese cuisine have been pretty thoroughly rejected. In answer to this, and as an "attachment parenting" technique, I have made it his job to help me cook dinner every night :). That way, if he doesn't like it... well, he helped make it so... there you have it. Much less vocal complaining about the food going on from him these days.
His other job is feeding the dogs. He doesn't like the dogs. He was afraid of Hanai when we first came home. If you know our dog Hanai, you know how, well, almost funny this is. She is so submissive that she rolls over on her back (and often pees) when meeting someone new (yeah, I know, she makes a great first impression). I know he isn't used to pets, so I understand why he reacts the way he does (actually Claudia was afraid of them too when we first brought our other kids home.) Anyway, he tolerates both dogs now, but still doesn't care much for them. They still like him though :).
But I hafta ask, is this scary to you???
SongSong REALLY likes his electronics, and in a pinch, his books. Unfortunately it's usually to the exclusion of human interaction (unless it's someone he already knows from China... or someone who is under the age of 9...). Those qualifiers (also unfortunately) exclude everyone in our household - and most of the population of the United States for that matter. Needless to say, getting him to engage our family has been a challenge. Hence the helping me with dinner chore, the private school instead of home school, the soccer, the manditory 1 hour of English TV daily for "homework" and the everything-else-I-can-think-of-to-get-him-out-of-that-bedroom-and-socializing-with-the-family activity there is. It's like pulling teeth, but I won't give up.
New people and new things put our new son out of his comfort zone pretty much immediately. Whenever he is very uncomfortable he will (while standing) put his hands on his knees and look at the floor. We saw that the first day we met him in China, we see it anytime he's even remotely the focus of a group of people (like when he had to get his physical with all the other kids before soccer), when a group of young people (mostly girls) came up and talked to us in Tianfu Square in Chengdu in order to practice their English, when our family was at the airport to meet him when we came home, I could go on and on. You get the picture. Speaking of pictures, here's one below of him and Seth at the airport the day we came home (notice he's upright while talking to his friend, but obviously uncomfortable with all the attention he is receiving).
I think SongSong definitely has the ability to bond, but I think his sense of trust has just been severely damaged with all he's been through in life. I believe he's testing us to see if we are going to kick him to the curb like his bio-family, then his first foster family, and then the orphanage did (because I'm relatively certain that's how he sees things - even if he doesn't consciously realize it). I also believe that's why he holds on so tightly to his old ways and all things familiar. Oscar did this too (to a much lesser extent) when we brought him home. I just have to remind myself not to take the behaviors personally. Intellectually I know he is only protecting himself from being hurt again, but when he's doing whatever 'it' is that is getting my goat at the time, it's often hard to remind myself of that fact!
Check back. Our family's story only continues to add chapters.
For our last full day in China, it was a very full day :). We started by going to Tiananmen Square. I know I'm dating myself, but I vividly remember the protests that happened there when I was about 18 years old. It was an interesting experience to stand there all these years later with the place filled with tourists taking pictures.
Literally right across the street from Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City. This is where the Chinese emperor and other royalty lived. Common folks were not allowed in - hence the name. The city was built in the 1400s and according to our guide it took 14 years to finish constructing it.
After that, we went to lunch at a restaurant located in jade factory (um, yeah it sure was). Honestly, it was probably the most bland meal we've had since we've been in China (and that includes the food on the airplanes - which incidently isn't bad on the Chinese airlines we've flown). We also had a short educational tour about how to tell the difference between real jade and fake jade and also the differences in jade quality. Very interesting (to me anyway).
After the jade factory, we went to the Great Wall. Where we accessed the wall, you could go left - which was relatively flat, or right - which was an almost a vertical climb (imagine a slightly inclined ladder). Holy cow some of those stairs are steep - definitely doesn't meet current building code for risers (or treads) either - sorry, I've worked in engineering my whole professional career, these things occur to me. Guess which way our group decided to go...
At 4:30 PM we left the Great Wall and drove by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Village. We saw the 'bird nest' and the 'water cube'. Very cool architecture.
We're getting ready to head out for dinner tonight and we leave for the airport tomorrow at 1:00 PM. We'll see you at home :).
I had meant to post these pictures with the last post, but I couldn't get them to upload so here they are in a separate post. They are all from our trip to Shamian. One just to give you an idea of the look of the place, another of the boys goofing off for the camera and one of our new son who obviously has a soft spot for the babies just like his older brother :).
We had our consulate appointment yesterday at 8:30 AM. It's really no big deal - take an oath on behalf of your adopted child, give the person at the little window some stuff for the file and get your older child fingerprinted (electronically). Badda-bing done. Our guide picked up SongSong's visa today and we fly out of Guangzhou to Beijing for some sight-seeing at 10:30 AM tomorrow. I really like the city of Guangzhou, but I'm ready to leave. It's been nearly a week of about 100 degree heat with almost 100% humidity. We're absolutely drenched with sweat every time we walk anywhere (it was actually almost the exact same weather in Chengdu - maybe a few degrees cooler). Tim won't ever just sit in the hotel, so we're always walking somewhere. The underground mall is about 1/2 a block from our hotel, so I suggested going there today. He can walk and it's much cooler there than it is on the streets. I'm just ready to be dry again - although I saw on Yahoo weather that the Beijing forecast is for rain while we're there :-p. I may have enjoyed both Chengdu and Guangzhou a little more in - say - November to March :-).
Just as a side note, the day we left Beijing on our way to Chengdu (July 21st) they got a major rain storm and there was flooding in (I believe) the Fushan District. We just missed it (literally by a few hours). The official death toll was 77, but there is speculation that it was much higher and the gov't is not reporting the true numbers. Please remember the people affected by this tragedy in your prayers.
I'm attaching pictures from right outside our hotel (Hotel Elan) and of the "Tunnel of Guangzhou" aka the entrance to the underground mall.
Before I write about Shamian Island (which isn't really an island at all, it's just surrounded by the Pearl River and a moat), I have to tell you about the other shopping we did after the Chen Family Temple. I have never in my life seen anything like it. There was a mall that was AT LEAST 5 stories tall and everywhere you went, there were bead stores. Not the plastic junk, these were strings and strings of semi-precious stones like turquoise and tiger eye. It was an incredible thing to behold (says the girl who collects jewelry as her travel momento of choice).
Now on to Shamian. We, of course, went shopping here too. Shamian is an area in Guangzhou that has western, colonial/victorian style architecture - and up until 2005 the US Consulate was also located here. It is also home of the famous (at least in the Chinese adoption community) White Swan Hotel. We saw Lucy's (an American style food restaurant that is also popular with adoptive families), but we didn't eat there. Instead we ate at a place that was supposed to have Thai food - but it wasn't that spicy in my opinion. Good, but not spicy. I think SongSong is missing the spicy Sichuan food already. Since the Consulate moved and the White Swan is closed for renovation, the shopping at Shamian was not very crowded. The owners were very willing to make deals with you. You could tell that the lack of adoptive families patronizing the shops there was having a big impact on the shopkeepers bottom line.
Unlike Chengdu, there are many people in Guangzhou who speak English - and a lot fewer people stare at the weird white people here. We've pretty much done all of our souvenier shopping in Guangzhou. We found an incredible underground shopping mall near our hotel (Hotel Elan). In Chinese cities, you don't typically cross the street above ground, you use underground tunnels - safer for you and the cars don't have to deal with so many pedestrians. Anyway, we thought we were at one of those underground crossings, but it turned out to be the entrance to a huge underground mall. Clothes as far as you could see in front of you and behind you (I'm SO not kidding about the emincity of this). Mens clothes on one level and womens clothes on the next level. There was also a food court in the basement. Now I've been to Oklahoma City and seen their underground shopping... not even close to what this is. I understand Minneapolis has one too, but I haven't been there to compare. You just have to see this to believe it. Canyons of buildings all around you above ground and more levels of shopping underground - the best part about the underground shopping is that is is actually cool down there :). They will try to tell you that the cost of the clothes are fixed, but if you start to walk away, usually the price will suddenly take a dive. And if it doesn't, there are literally hundreds of shops selling practically the same thing.
Right before we went to Shamian, we went to have SongSong's TB test poke read at the clinic. He got a 9/9. If he had gotten a 10, we would have had to get chest X-rays because that would have been considered a positive for TB. We're so thankful that we didn't have to do that. I knew it was going to be close because where they poked him was very red and still a raised bump. I've had the TB skin test before and knew mine didn't look like his did after a day or so.
The day after we did the TB test and medical exam we visited the Chen Family Temple. I wish I could attach more pictures to these posts, but it is what it is. The temple is very ornate with lots of carvings an paintings everywhere. Inside the temple are many gift shops. We bought our Colombian kids cards with their names in Chinese characters and bought SongSong a wall hanging with his name on it and a brass ancient Chinese warrior figure (his part of his bedroom is pretty lacking in decoration right now - but we planned to buy things for him here to fill it in a bit). I got a jade pendant with the symbol for happiness on it. Tim got a brass Chinese dragon figure.
I'm attaching a picture of the man who did the Chinese calligraphy and of the outside of the temple.
In the afternoon on Tuesday we went to the Civil Affairs office and then to a Notary (which I don't think is quite the same as one here in the US). At Civil Affairs we took pictures (Tim and I with SongSong) and signed the final adoption papers. We had to promise to never abuse or abandon SongSong - which of course we did. Signed our names several times and that was it - it's a done deal now. Next we drove to the Notary's office where they looked at our passports and read through the circumstances of our son's abandonment while our guide translated. I think we signed something there too, but I forget now what it was if we did. We've signed so much stuff these past few days, it's all a blur.
Mandy from the orphanage was at Civil Affairs (Debbie, I gave her your box to give to Jaxon - she delivered it). I got her picture with SongSong while we were there too.
On Monday, so as not to intrusively rifle through our new son's bag of belongings, we had Oscar help him unpack and report back to us what he was missing. When we were finished with "official" stuff we went to Carrefour (a department store) to pick up some things that SongSong was lacking and really couldn't do without before we get home. I must say that Carrefour has the weirdest store layout I've ever seen in my life. They had cosmetics, jewelry and hygiene items on the main floor, then you took an inclined conveyor belt thingy so you can take your shopping cart with you up it (which I've actually seen before at a grocery store in Mexico) to the 2nd floor where they have clothing and household goods, then you take the conveyor thingy up to the 3rd floor where they have groceries. Very odd, but we got what we needed (and Stacey we bought Seth's chicken feet there!).
Later we met up with the other family at Tianfu Square (the main city square) and went to a noodle place called Chef Kong's. The boys loved it! They all got the spicy bowl of noodles. I got some noodles that had some spice in it that made my mouth numb - I couldn't finish it :). I got it because the picture showed it had cilantro in it (one of my faves). Couldn't taste the cilantro due to the numbing effect of the other spice that was in it. Very disappointing, but we got ice cream after dinner which made up for it :). If anyone knows what that spice is, let me know so I can avoid it in the future!
Tianfu Square is incredible looking at night. I'll post a pic of one of the buildings. There are tons of people there after dark. Almost all the kids are playing with glow in the dark flying toys and people will walk right up to you and strike up a conversation in order to try to practice their English skills. All this happens under the watchful gaze of a giant statue of Chairman Mao. Just can't help but wonder what he would think of how much things have changed in China is such a short amount of time...
When we skyped with SongSong about two weeks prior to coming to China, one of the questions Tim asked him was what he would like to do if he could do anything in Chengdu while we were there. He told us he wanted to go to the amusement park. So, I found the amusement park online before our trip and we made plans to go. It's called Happy Valley and it's a franchise within China - kinda like Six Flags is in the United States. The kids enjoyed it a lot more than they did the People's Park (which we did on our own the day before).
We also visited the pandas. They're cute, but it was (as usual) extremely hot and humid that day. We bought our girls some cute panda stuff from the gift shop. I have pictures of the 3 boys feeding koi and swans and ducks - oh, and some of panda bears too :).
In the afternoon, we went to Chef Kong's in Tianfu Square for dinner. I got spicy wonton soup - which was made with cilantro and was excellent! Tim got the noodles I had the day before because he thought I was kidding about them (they have some kind of spice in them that literally numbs your entire mouth, which I didn't enjoy) - he couldn't finish them either - HA!
We also walked to the People's Park which is just west of Tianfu Square. It was very crowded and very loud. Lots of retired people doing tai chi and what appeared to be karaoke - all of them with the sound system turned up as loud as it would go it seemed. We thought that the boys could play soccer there, but we couldn't find any open, non-landscaped grassy areas and had to settle for a big open paved area. The area was virtually empty when we got there, and as usual, we drew a bit of a crowd before we left. We had a very sweet encounter with the other family's daughter (adopted from China 6 years ago) and a little boy and his grandfather. When we left they gave the little boy the soccer ball our boys had been playing with. The grandfather tried to refuse but eventually relented and took the ball.
We signed the custody papers while at the orphanage in what looked like a conference room. We met the director briefly and also several of the workers (though I don't know exactly in what capacity each of them had contact with our son). They all were very wonderful and it was obvious that each had a warm relationship with SongSong. They gave us a picture album that includes our son's photo at age 5 (when he came into the care of the orphanage), his finding ad from the newspaper and his vaccination records. It's just priceless to have these things for him.
There is another family here adopting also. Their son is 11 years old and it happens that he was at one time SongSong's foster brother. The family is from Pennsylvania and we already have plans to keep the boys in touch with each other when we return home.
While we were there, we visited our son's foster home too - which, in Chengdu, is located on the grounds of the orphanage complex. We were able to meet SongSong's current foster mother and get his picture with her, and some pictures in his bedroom. His foster mother's only stated concern was that we wouldn't be able to get real Chinese food for him to eat :). I assured her that we could, there are at least a couple of Asian markets not too far from us in Kansas City. While we were visiting his foster family, SongSong went to one of the other apartments and got "Lucky" (who had evidently been sleeping). I asked him through a translator if it was okay to take his picture with SongSong and he agreed.
After we left the orphanage, both families went back to our hotel rooms and dropped off our sons' things and then met up for dinner. Our guide arranged a private room for us with an authentic Sichaun restaurant near the other family's hotel. Everything we ate there was excellent and the bill for eight people was very reasonable. The food was served family style and the table had a big lazy susan in the middle of it so you could just spin the food around to everyone. It was great food and fun for all :).
When we finished dinner the other family went shopping for clothes for their new son at a nearby department store and we tagged along for awhile. At around 8:00 PM we parted company went back to our hostel rooms and crashed for the night.
I've heard that my posts from Chengdu didn't come through. I'm hoping that with the better internet connection we have in Guangzhou that we'll be back in business so to speak. I'm thinking I won't post (or try to anyway) so many pictures, just in case that's why the posts didn't come through. I'll also try to repost what I posted in Chengdu later.
Our flight was delayed out of Chengdu Friday night. We were supposed to leave about 7:00 PM and arrive in Guangzhou at around 9:00 PM. Instead, we got into Guangzhou about 2:00 AM Saturday morning. Arrived at our hotel about 3:00 AM. Had to be up to the other hotel by 10:00 AM so that we could get to the clinic appointment required for SongSong's visa. He had to get 2 shots and a TB skin test. We go back to the clinic on Monday to have the skin test read.
I'm attaching a picture of SongSong at the clinic (with Tim).
Of course we are missing the girls in this picture. The boys are getting along great so far. Zane is pretty shy and he doesn't speak much English (like almost none). He does understand some of what we tell him though and he was trying to read something he wrote in English to Oscar last night (but he wouldn't let Oscar look at it). So far so good. I'll try to post more later. We have to go to Civil Affairs today to do more paperwork and then to Carrefour to buy some things for Zane.
Yesterday we were supposed to meet our guide at 2:30 pm. So we waited, and waited... and WAITED. At about 4:00 I asked the girl at the reception desk at the hostel if I could use her phone for a local call. I was told I could use the phone for 5 minutes and she dialed the number for me. Busy signal (seriously? no voice mail?). So I hung up and we went back to the room to try to figure out what we were going to do about this predicament.
According to the schedule we got from the adoption agency (which I've since concluded we may as well throw out the window) we were supposed to meet SongSong/Zane at the orphanage at 10:00 AM. So we decided if we couldn't somehow get ahold of our guide, we would just show up at the hotel the other family is staying at and wait for the guide to show up there. We had just decided this when the girl from reception knocked on our door and said we had a phone call from "our friend Susie" - ah, the guide! She apologized and said that she had missed a train in another province (state) and would be at our hostel at 8:00 PM to go over things and give us a cell phone so we would have easier contact in the future. Okay, fine, we had a new plan.
In the meantime we went to Tianfu Square and saw the big statue of Mao here in Chengdu. Then we walked to the east to find the other hotel (again just in case we needed to go there). Went to what I can only describe as a meat market - looking for chicken feet for Seth. Didn't find any chicken feet. Went back to the hostel and found we were locked out of our rooms. We had only paid for one night and needed to pay again. So we went to the ATM and got enough to pay the hostel bill for the rest of our stay here. Then we went to find something to eat. We ended up eating steamed stuffed buns (one had black beans the other had beef and peppers - yummy!). We watched War of the Worlds on TV... in Chinese and then went to our rooms and took a nap.
Right before 8:00 we went downstairs to wait for Susie in the commona area. The girl at the reception desk said that Susie called again and said she would be there at 9:00 instead. Okay... so we got something to drink and waited out on the patio. And we waited, and we waited... and we WAITED. At 15 'til 11:00 I told Tim that I was going to bed at 11:00 and going with 'Plan B'. At 11:00 Susie showed up. We found out that our meeting time had changed (we don't meet Zane at 10:00 AM, instead they pick us up at 2:45 PM to go to the orphanage) and that we need to have 1,500 yuan for the fees (from the ATM would be fine, didn't need to bring all this US currency with us). Oh, and we have the cell phone Susie gave us. All this being said, I don't blame Susie. She seems to be doing the best she can. I just seems that our main agency has a very overworked staff - and that's as much as I'm going to say for now on that. I just wish that they would keep us in the loop a little better.
So now we are just hanging out here, waiting for 2:45.
I'm really hoping this works, so someone with my yahoo email address please email me if this posts on our blog - just so I know it worked. We can't access facebook or our blog here so I'll be emailing all of my posts.
Our flights to Dallas, Seattle and Beijing were pretty uneventful. Our flight to Beijing was about 11 hours and I was SO ready to get off that airplane by the time we landed. Tim slept on the flight to Seattle and most of the Beijing flight. I slept maybe 3 or 4 hours on the flight to Beijing. Oscar didn't sleep at all.
Beijing was hot, humid and foggy the one night we were there and the next morning when we left. I hope the fog leaves by the time we return there to do the touristy things in about 2 weeks.
Our flight to Chengdu was supposed to leave around 8:00 am Saturday morning. We did board on time, but then sat in the airplane for about 2 hours before we took off - looked like a lot of flights were sitting out on the runways waiting to take off due to the fog. We arrived in Chengdu at about 12:15 pm local time. This is where I did something super stupid and accidently left Oscar's and my passports on the airplane when we got off the plane. By the time I figured out what I'd done, security wouldn't let Tim get back to the plane to get them. Stupid.Stupid.Stupid. While we were waiting for our baggage to show up (which it eventually did) I was able to find the person picking us up at the airport and told her what happened and she was able to get the passports back to us before we left the airport for our hostel. Majorly relieved about that huge blessing. You can't do anything without your passport here (including checking into a hotel and of course getting on any airplanes). And yup, we're staying at a hostel in Chengdu, which is an experience in and of itself. I'll just say it's very hippy/bohemian and leave it at that. The people working here and staying here are generally very friendly though and the location is central and seems to be convenient to getting places around the city.
It's 4:30 in the morning here and I just can't sleep. I'm having a hard time acclimating to the time change. It was foggy in Chengdu when we landed and it has since started raining - and has rained all night. We meet our guide today (Sunday) at around 2:00 pm. We may also get to meet the other family in Chengdu adopting with our agency. I have emailed with the dad and they are adopting an 11 year-old boy. We now have less than 30 hours until we pick up SongSong from the CWI (orphanage). I'll try to post more later :). Hopefully my next post will be more coherent.
I'm just testing the email to blogger function to see if it works so we can blog around the Great Firewall of China. If you're reading this, it worked! If you're seeing pictures, then it really worked :). The pictures are of Diana's birthday (which we celebrated early because we'll be gone on her birthday) and pictures of the boys room with the new beds.
I don't know when we got our Article 5. However, we were informed that our travel approval came on Tuesday of this week, so obviously we got it before that - and that means we are madly preparing for travel right now. Oscar is going with us to China and the girls are staying home with grandparents.
We got the grant from A Child Waits Foundation, which is awesome! Just in time. We still have to cash out some retirement, but at least it's less than it would have been.
We also have had some last minute contributions that came in after our final fundraiser. So thankful for that financial help - including my aunt and uncle in California - thanks for contributing to our insanity ;).
Last night we had a very nice Skype with SongSong (aka Ned, aka Zane). He was nervous (so were we) and the translator kept making him sit up straight in his chair :). He has obviously been in contact with Dusty (aka Seth, aka Zhang Yun) since he already knows that we live closest to the amigo who is already state-side. He wondered about how we were going to handle school when he comes here, if he was going to be the oldest of our kids (he's not, Oscar is), where we like to go on vacation (he wants to go to the ocean, he said he's never been). I told him my sister lives near the ocean. We learned he likes to eat potatoes, apples and ice cream. He likes cats better than dogs (out of luck there, we have 2 dogs, 0 cats). His favorite subject in school is Chinese, math not-so-much. He likes to play basketball and plays on a team at school. Sounds like he likes table tennis too, it was hard to hear sometimes - the connection wasn't great. He wears glasses - which we didn't know before. And like Stacey Sanders (Dusty/Seth's mom - see blog link to the right) said, he was all smiles the whole time we talked to him. There were many long pauses while we tried to think of things to ask each other but all in all it was just good to see him animated rather than only in still pictures.
New development in the paperwork this morning. We have our NVC letter, but no word on Article 5 - still (no Article 5 = no travel approval for several days). I'm at a cunundrum as to what to do next. Do we change our departure date and leave on July 19th instead of July 12th? Or should we just go on the 12th anyway and just change our departure date (i.e. spend more time in China)? I contacted the company that arranged our air travel and asked about what it would take to change it now. We'll see what they say. I also contacted our hotel in Chengdu, but I already know we can change those dates without penalty. I just wanted them to know there could be a change.
Just continuing to ride the roller-coaster that is international adoption...
Cunundrum solved. We went ahead and rebooked everything a week out (now leaving on July 19th). It seemed the only logical thing to do when we really thought about it. Praying we receive Article 5 next week!
So here's the latest. We're waiting for TA (travel approval). We got our visas in the mail today. We concluded our final fundraiser (yeah, I know I was supposed to post about that too - obviously THAT didn't happen) last Saturday. We got a lot of nice things donated for our silent auction and we thank everyone who donated, worked at the event, attended, and bid on the auction items. We made about $2,000 - which is the best we've done so far for a single fundraising event. Even though we still lack about half the funding we needed, I'm very happy and relieved to be finished with fundraising. We'll be raiding the retirement account to make up the shortfall, and we're okay with that. (Still praying that some grant money magically appears though.)
Hope the rest of this post isn't too much of a downer... read at your own peril. Consider yourself warned.
Now, we wait. For me - it's an impatient wait. Our agency told us that we MUST leave no later than July 12. That's 9 days away. They also told us NOT to book anything yet. I don't listen so good - especially when I'm feeling not-so-patient and HELPLESS in this situation. So, I finalized our airfare reservations yesterday and booked our hotel in Chengdu today. WE'RE LEAVING IN 9 DAYS!!! I MAY wait until we get TA before I book our hotel in Guangzhou... MAYBE. We're down to the wire and I'm just not feeling real patient about the waiting at this point. If need be, we'll be in China waiting for the paperwork to catch up with us - I don't care what the agency says.
Those who have been through this - I don't need to explain. Even with our last adoption, I didn't feel this kind of pressure. If we didn't make it to Colombia for a few more days or weeks, it wasn't the end of the world. We got there and everything was fine.
THIS time we are on a deadline. July 27th. After that, all the fundraising, planning, praying, expended energy, hopes, dreams, expectations - everything - was for naught if we don't make it there in time to get him before his birthday. And the worst part now is that he knows we are supposed to be coming for him.
I hate this feeling. Helplessness. Hate it.
Sorry about the rant. I'm usually not a nutjob - really.
This is just a short post to let everyone know where we are in the adoption process now. We received our LSC (letter seeking consent from adopter) on June 13th. This is our official referral for Song Song (aka Zane)!
We are working on our final fundraiser. The fundraiser is an ice cream social/ silent auction that will be held on June 30th. I plan to post more about the fundraiser and items we will be auctioning off here soon. Stay tuned!
We now know our logged in date (LID) - it was 5/22/12 (our dossier was sent to China 5/15/12). LID is when the CCCWA (China's child welfare authority) officially acknowledges receipt of your dossier paperwork. We also got a notice in the mail today that our I-800 was received at the USCIS (Homeland Security) lockbox in Texas. Now all we lack is our LSC (or LOA, or whatever) from CCCWA (which is our official referral) before our I-800 application can be approved. After that we need to send our form DS-230 (and required documentation attachments) to the US Consulate in Guangzhou. Head spinning yet? Yeah, mine too.
In other news, we've been taking 'gastronomic cultural outings' (eating at some local Chinese buffets) to get the kids more acclimated to asian cuisine before Zane/SongSong arrives. Even though his report states that he is 'not chosey to food', we'll likely be eating a lot more Chinese food in the next few months. Our 3 girls came to us VERY 'chosey to food' (Oscar not so much). If it wasn't bland or sweet, they wouldn't eat it - and forget about vegetables! Since then we've got them eating all kinds of different foods - now including seafood, dim sum, dumplings, clams & mussels, etc. and loving them :). Just more preparation - and trying to be out in front of some issues we may encounter in the not too distant future. Today we even tried out some chopsticks (didn't really eat with them, just practiced how to hold them).
Other preparations made: I ordered Oscar and Zane's loft beds - unfinished pine, assembly required AND 2 unfinished pine four drawer chests (eBay!). Bought a night stand (also unfinished pine) that will hold a couple of fabric storage cubes, also a new mattress, all the bedding for Zane's bed, and bath towels for him too.
Thursday night I fell asleep before 9:00 PM and before the kids were finished with their showers and bedtime routine. I've been getting up early and going in to work at 7:00 AM for two reasons 1) to get extra time in so I have paid time off for our trip and 2) because I have a major project I'm trying to finish up at work before we get called off to China in July. (Right now, my project is supposed to be finished by July 16th. We have to travel before July 27th. Talk about cutting it close.) I'm not a morning person, but it beats having to work on Saturdays (which is what I was doing since March and before summer school started) trying to get everything done in time on all fronts. I'll be so glad when July is here (actually, make that when it's over). That's when the real fun begins.
Last weekend was an insane flurry of fundraising. Our church sponsored a taco dinner for us, our friends the Simmons, Sanders and Sherers held a garage sale for us and we had our iPod Giveaway finale. Oscar also did some 'cat sitting' for our neighbors and earned some money which he donated to help bring his brother home. Total: we raised $2,995. Thanks to all who supported/sponsored and otherwise participated in all these events!
On May 15th our dossier finally went to China (that's DTC in China adoption speak). I still don't know if we have a logged in date (LID) yet. I suspect we have it, our agency just hasn't told me what it is yet (note to self - ASK). They did tell me to expect our official referral (LSC - I think this is letter seeking confirmation) very soon though. Chinese adoption has so many acronyms... I can't keep it straight as to what all those letters stand for!
This past week was a week of transition at home. School ended early for our kids, I pulled them out the last couple of days so that they could start our public system's summer school program on time (it started on Thursday). This changed everything in the middle of the week - therapy appointments, work schedule, sleep schedule... It's been a rough last couple of days (oh yeah, and Tim pulled an 'all-nighter at work Thursday night too). Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things again come Tuesday morning.
We are waiting to hear back on some grants that we have applied for (and we still have a couple of grants that we have yet to apply for). We believe we have been awarded at least one grant for $500. All funds received from here on out go to support our travel to China. It is our sincere hope that we can afford to take Oscar with us on our trip. It would be a good experience for him to see where his brother comes from and it likely would be very helpful with Zane's transition into our family. We already have his passport. The only thing keeping us from taking him right now is the money :(. I see more fundraisers in our future!
Less than a week left! Donate now and help us bring our son home from China! We are getting so close to traeveling to get him now! And to all who have already donated THANK YOU!
***UPDATE: We now have enough donations to buy the iPod - all donations from here on go straight toward adoption expenses***
We are giving away an Apple iPod touch 8GB 4th Generation - your choice of black or white - click here for more information about the iPod.
For chances to win:
1 chance to win - $10 donation 3 chances to win - $25 donation (the 1st ten people to donate $25 will each receive 5 chances to win!) 6 chances for $50, 9 chances for $75, and so on.
Just click the Donate button to the right to donate online via PayPal. If you prefer not to donate online, PM me on facebook or leave your email address in a post so I can send you my mailing address. All donations must be received no later than 5:00pm on May 21, 2012.
For 1 free chance to win the iPod, post or share this on your facebook wall or post on your blog (maximum of 2 free chances per person). Just post your blog address to the comments on this blog your posting can verified. Friend me on facebook (if you haven't already) so that your share or wall posting may be verified.
The iPod will ship directly to the winner's home from the retailer. We'll announce the winner right here on the blog.
Sorry, this giveaway is only open to United States residents!