Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kings and Queens

A favorite song of mine is one that every time I heard it, I thought of Eli ... here, in China, without a mommy or daddy. Without brothers, without sisters, grandparents, friends. God has called us to take care of the widows and the orphans. We believe that not everyone is called to adopt, but we do believe we are all called to help in some way. Whether it is sponsoring a child or by donating items or money or maybe it is personally adopting a child into your family, we all can help the orphans of this world. Here is the chorus of the song called "Kings and Queens" by Audio Adrenaline ...

"Boys become kings, girls will be queens

Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these
Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around these are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open"

If you haven't seen the music video, it is worth looking up. It truly is beautiful.

Today was our last full day in China. We went to the park again across the street. It really is a beautiful place and was much busier than last night. People are so interested in us and in Eli, that they sometimes follow us around for a while. We never feel threatened, just annoyed at times. You can always tell when they are talking about his lip when they touch their own face and point to him. It used to bother me, but now I hope it is more of an education for them that children with differences are accepted and loved just how they are. I had one lady ask me last week if I was from America while I had Eli in my arms. I said that I was and she said, "bless you, bless you" while patting Eli's back. I was so touched.

We will travel to Hong Kong early tomorrow morning by van (about 2 1/2 hours) and then we will fly from Hong Kong to Chicago (another wonderful 14 1/2 hour flight). I feel like we are time travelers, since we leave on Friday at 11:50 and we land in Chicago on Friday at 12:10, 20 minutes later. Its like we are stopping time. We have a layover in Chicago for a couple of hours. We have heard getting through Immigration in Chicago is not easy and can take a long time. As long as we get through Immigration on time, we should be back in Cincinnati at 5:10 p.m.

I cannot wait to hug all of my kids and for them to meet Eli. I cannot wait to see family and friends. I cannot wait to sleep in my own bed and stop living in a hotel (even though they have been nice ... there is no place better than your own bed). I cannot wait to eat a home cooked meal, vegetables that I know are safe to eat and drink milk. I also cannot wait to drink water from the tap and brush my teeth not using bottled water (you can't drink the water here). Those are the things I look forward to. I will also miss China. It is a part of me. I have now spent a month of my life in this country. I love learning the culture and seeing new things. I love knowing that two of my children were born here and that their birth mothers chose life. I may never know their whole stories, what life was like for them, but I am thankful.

Our next post will be from the U.S. Again, thank you for all of your encouragement and prayers. We ask for them again as we travel. This flight is not going to be easy for us or Eli. He has become very active so keeping him contained and happy may be challenging. We also ask for prayers as we transition to being a family of 6. We send our love from China!



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Consulate Appointment

Today is the day we have been waiting for ... the day our entire trip is scheduled around. Today was our Consulate Appointment. We went to the U.S. Embassy to take an oath and to complete our paperwork. We are now waiting on them to issue Eli's Visa, which we should have tomorrow afternoon. Once we have that, we can come home!

I have always been proud to be an American, but there are some days where being an American is extra special and today was one of those days. There were lines of people standing outside just waiting to get into the Consulate to apply for a Visa to come to the U.S. Because we are U.S. citizens, we walked right in. When we process through Immigration in Chicago, Eli officially becomes a U.S. citizen. How cool is that?!

After the Consulate Appointment, we went to the pearl markets and also to a street full of stores and people. We did not buy any pearls this time around because we had bought them when we were here with Bella. It's a good thing too, because the prices have risen significantly.

Everything is being decorated for Chinese New Year, so that is really neat to see. We are thankful that we are here this week because we keep hearing how busy everything will be next week because most Chinese people travel back to their home towns. Shops even close down.

We needed some more formula and diapers so we took a taxi from the market street to a store a lot like Wal-Mart. The store was several levels downstairs. The cart's wheels are magnetic so you can take the carts to other levels without losing control of them.

We also found some Lays chips in some yummy flavors ... "Numb & Spicy Hot Pot Flavor"; "Hot & Sour Fish Soup"; Fried Prawns" and "Cheese Lobster". Anyone want some?
Our hotel is very close to a wonderful park. We went there this afternoon and got to see all of the Chinese decorations being put up. Some of the decorations are made from recycled materials. The scales on the dragon below are made from CDs.
The umbrellas are made from recycled water bottles
Here is a tea kettle being made out of brown bottles
Eli also went in the pool for the first time. The pool is outdoors, but is heated. He didn't really care for it at first, but then thought splashing was a ton of fun.
Tomorrow is our last full day in China. We are ready to head for home and will try and blog one more time before we are back in the U.S. We have appreciated all of your messages, comments and prayers. They have all been felt. We continue to be amazed at God's blessing in calling us to be Eli's parents. We can't wait to get him home for him to meet his brothers and sister and the rest of our family and friends.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lions and Tigers and a Panda Bear, Oh My!

We went to the Guangzhou City Zoo today. I did not expect it, but it was a very nice zoo with lots of animal exhibits and rolling hills. Eli seemed to enjoy looking at the animals and showed us that he can point and wave bye-bye (with hand held backwards like he is waving to himself - so cute!). The monkeys were so playful. They were chasing and wrestling with each other and then they would hug. There were multiple lion exhibits and they were in different cages. Two of the male lions started roaring at each other very loudly. We had never seen that before! The kids did not know what to think of that. The zoo also had a panda who was lazily eating bamboo and relaxing.

Part of our group who went to the zoo


Eli and I also got to feed the giraffes. Not sure he knew what to think f them, but I thought it was pretty cool.

We had our group photos today with all of the families and the kids in their traditional silks.

Eli looked very adorable in his silk outfit

And last but not least, checkout this video to see Eli break out into his belly laughs. Miss you all and can't wait to come home.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Medical appointment

Today was our medical appointment that is required before being able to travel to the U.S. I have to admit that I dreaded this a little bit, but Eli did great. The medicals are done in a different building than when we adopted Bella. It was very clean and even have pictures of Mickey Mouse on the floors ... very kid friendly. The doctor did comment how malnourished he is, which we knew that as soon as we got him. He is eating everything we put in front of him now, so we think his weight gain will be good in the weeks to come. Eli also had his picture taken for his Visa and he smiled for it. Normally when Michael pulls out the camera, the smiles disappear, but he smiled easily for the lady today.

This is the office where we went for the medical appointment

Michael went and completed more paperwork this afternoon to prepare for our Consulate appointment. I took Eli out to the garden area at our hotel. There is a kids play area and some fountains. Eli enjoys watching the water fountains and walking around in his new squeaky shoes.

We went back to Shamian Island this evening with the Wickersham family for dinner. They are a sweet family from Indiana, but who live and teach at the International school here in China. We have really enjoyed getting to know them and spending time with them. They have two girls the same age as our boys and they also just adopted a little boy named Josiah. We ate at Lucy's ... a popular restaurant near the White Swan that we ate at a lot on our last trip here.

The Pearl River was all lit up tonight and was very pretty

Last night we went to dinner with several of the families in our group and our guides ordered for us. The food was mainly Cantonese and it was delicious! We have tried and done so many new things on this trip.
This is the Junge family from Colorado. They adopted their sweet son, Michael.
After we left the restaurant, we decided to walk back to the hotel a different way. We ended up going down a small street for locals and saw vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and crafts. The street was no bigger than an alley. I loved going down and being apart of life in China. We have never felt unsafe here, other than when we are walking among mopeds or riding in a car :-).

We are really anxious to be at home with all of our kids. We love you Aidan, Keenan and Bella!! And I will leave you with some comedic relief, a video of Michael's Kung Fu training at the Shaolin Temple:


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Oh my heart

Eli is doing wonderful!! He is opening up to both of us more and more each day. He has captured our hearts and we are so thankful that God has entrusted us to be his parents! His personality is really starting to shine. I think he is going to be a lot like his older brother Keenan ... A little stinker! What are we going to do!? Whenever we have been skyping with the kids, Aidan and Keenan usually end up dancing in the background while we talk with Bella or our parents. Silly boys. I think Eli will be right there with them soon! He loves to look at pictures of his brothers and sister. He even brings the pictures up to his face like he is kissing them. So precious!

Daddy is getting smiles now too!

We went back to Shamian Island today. We had heard that a lot of the stores had closed down because the White Swan (hotel we stayed in when we were here with Bella) is being renovated. A few of the stores were gone but there were several familiar ones remaining. The island was gorgeous today! A lot of greenery and parks. The sun was shining and the river even looked beautiful. Some new friends of ours joined us (we just met them and they live only 20 minutes from us ... how neat is that?). We had a great time and Eli just took everything in. He probably only saw the inside of the orphanage most of the time, so he was so curious when he saw the big buildings and the tall trees. I am just so happy that he is no longer there and can enjoy all of the beautiful things that God has created.

Kevin, Gretchen, and Olivia joined us, also from Ohio.

Being on the island brought back so many memories of being here. This is the only city we are revisiting. We saw where Bella had her medical appointment, went to the Starbucks where I can even picture the cute little outfit she was wearing, and also saw the store where she screamed her head off while we tried to get her passport photo taken. This place holds a special place in our hearts.

We found silks for Eli and also found the must have squeaky shoes. We are going out to dinner with other families in our group this evening.

Happy Birthday to Aunt Alyssa in Wisconsin!! We hope you have a fantastic birthday!

We miss our kiddos so much, but are thankful that we have been able to Skype with them frequently. One more week and we will be home!! Much love!!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Day!

We are in Guangzhou! The flight was great and Eli did amazing. The weather is warmer here although a little rainy today. The hotel is very nice and we have restaurants and parks nearby.

This has been Eli's best day yet! He slept really well last night and he woke up happy. He has given us smiles and laughs all day. We are so blessed with this little guy. To see the transformation he is making in just a few short days can only be described as an answered prayer from God. He is playing more and showing us things that he can do. We traveled most of the day today, so I am going to end this post a little short. Here are some pics to share ...

The tongue comes out when he gets super happy!

Our group was so large that we had 3 guides. This is Yisha. Yisha has been with CCAI for 16 years. She was very emotional when she left us and thanked us for giving these children a chance. She was amazing during our entire stay. You can tell she does her job because she truly has a heart for these children.

This was one of our other guides, Vivian. Vivian is the sweetheart that helped me at the hospital yesterday with Eli.

Can he get any more precious?


Friday, January 25, 2013

Chinese medicine, Playtime, and Kung Fu

We all were supposed to go to the Shaolin Temple today, but Eli had a very rough night last night. He coughed so much and woke up crying often. He ended up sleeping on me in an upright position and this seemed to help the cough a little. So needless to say, this momma did not get much rest. I decided to ask Vivian, one of our guides, to take us to the doctor. Michael went with the group to the temple because I did not want him to miss that and I figured Eli and I could take a nap later anyway.

Vivian walked Eli and I to the hospital. This was such a unique experience and one so very different than in the U.S. We walked into the hospital, paid a small fee and received a paper which we took upstairs to the pediatrics office. We walked right into this office with a woman sitting at a desk. A child was being examined and I thought this was a nurse, but this was the doctor. She checked the other little boy out and in a couple of minutes she was listening to Eli and checking his mouth. During the entire time we were there, there were several other people crowding into the room. There is no such thing as privacy here when it comes to medical information. Others listened to the entire conversation and probably thought it was interesting that this foreign woman had a guide to translate and to show me medical terms that had been translated on Vivian's phone. In less than 5 minutes, we had a diagnosis of bronchitis and I was given two options ... 1) have an IV given to Eli or 2) get medicine and go back to the hotel. Vivian and Yisha (another guide) explained to me that the Chinese give IVs because the medicine can be administered more quickly. I was very hesitant to have Eli stuck with an IV, so I opted for the medicine. We went downstairs to the main floor, paid for the dr. visit (which I think totaled something like $9 U.S. dollars) and then went to another window and got the medication. Very quick, in and out, all in one building. We came back to the hotel and thankfully Vivian translated all of the medication for me. He was given 3 medications, one was a Chinese herbal medicine and the other 2 are apparently "Western", but I have never heard of them. Eli took a long nap after lunch (again on me), but I think he is feeling a little better.

We had to get out of the room for a little while, so we went to the playroom again. Eli lit up! It was so awesome to see. He got in the ball pit and loved it! We also played peek-a-boo and he finally smiled at that. I started crawling around on the floor and he started crawling after me and giggling. Praise The Lord! He brought balls to me and even stood up and took a couple of steps on his own.

He also now LOVES his bath! He got in and while I was washing some things in the sink he started giggling and splashing. He was so tickled with himself when he splashed himself in the face. I did not get many pics of him today because Michael took the camera with him, but promise to have more soon! We leave for Guangzhou around noon tomorrow and we are so ready for a change of scenery!

Michael and Eli in the hotel lobby.

Walking with my little man.


Michael will be posting an update soon on his adventures to Shaolin temple, but in the meantime, here are a few pictures from today.

Home of Shaolin Kung Fu, thought to be the origin of all martial arts.


Pagoda Forest - cemetery for the most prestigious monks

Shaolin Temple - home of Zen Budism


And oh yes, an iPhone for every Monk?