Showing posts from January, 2016

Emergency crafting

There's always that point in adding new children to your family where life hits its nadir. (At least I hope we're at the nadir.) It doesn't matter if it's a new biologically related baby or older, adopted children, there comes a point when life just seems to spiral out of control and everyone is more than a little unsettled. I always find the third week postpartum to be that point when I've brought home a baby. Everyone is sleep deprived, the baby hasn't settled and has to a ways to go before settling happens, and those hormones are still doing cha-cha all over my body. With older, adopted children, the three week mark still pretty much stands, which for a China adoption timeline, puts you at about one week home. This is the point at which everyone really begins to understand that this is permanent. The existing siblings also have lived with the new brothers or sisters for about a week and the shine has worn off more than a little bit. The excitement of the new…

The reality of reality

Other than the jet lag, the downside of coming home is scheduling doctor's appointments, which is what took up most of the morning and involved both me and J. Among our accomplishments...

Scheduling basic physicals with the pediatrician, which involved creating two new charts and having the familiar discussion of why I need an interpreter present when my English is so good.Beginning the search for a new neurologist who a) has experience with linear nevus sebaceous syndrome and b) whom I can work with. (The translation of that is, a doctor who will actually listen to me and not discount my not-so-crackpot ideas.)Starting to schedule the next round of treatment for K. and his cleftingTaking A. to the orthopedic surgeon and scheduling arthroscopic surgery to fix the torn cartilage in her knee. Next week will be a lot of fun. 
And as not-interesting as all of this is, trust me when I say, it makes far better reading than a blow-by-blow account of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very b…

Books make everything better... or making new friends at the library

We successfully navigated the library for the first time yesterday. This was no small feat and our travelling circus now seems to draw even more attention. Probably this is due in no small part to the fact that we have added one child who likes to shout, "I love you!" at random strangers and another who uses a walker. (An aside... the walker we are borrowing from a friend has been great. Y. obviously knew what it was and while she doesn't want to use it in the house, she used it without a complaint for a trip out. It gives just the right amount of stability so that she can be pretty independent. And even with our very short trip with it, I am hyper-aware of people's reactions. I'm sure this will turn into a blog post at some point.) Of course, there were also the nine children I had in tow which was probably a factor as well, though most of the staff at the library are used to us. To their credit, not one of them batted an eye that I had a couple extra this time.

It's more fun to talk about food than grief

Well, you know the old saying, "Pride goeth before a fall"? That was me last night. In my last post, I sounded pretty darn chipper about they way R. was processing her grief. Yesterday, after spending some time looking at her photo books that her foster mother had made for her, it hit full force. Night times are hard. When you are tired, it is more difficult to hold your emotions in check, and often it is when you miss that special person the most because they are one who tucked you in and made you feel safe. Last night J. and I were comforting two grieving children as they worked through the magnitude of their loss.

Grief is hard and doesn't make for terribly entertaining reading. While we are over here dealing with grief, you don't need to continually read about it. Instead, why don't we talk about food? I meant to write a post about food in China, but never got around to it. Here it is, just a little late.

Since food is one of the necessities of life, it is on…

Not the mama... at least the right one.

I'm happy to report that J. and TM made it back from Iowa yesterday and we are all together again. A very good friend offered to do the driving so J. didn't have to in his exhausted state. The jet lag has been rotten this time around. Even after waking up in the morning I feel tired, my brain is pretty darn fuzzy, and I'm not even hungry at the right times. About the only thing I've been able to focus on (besides children) is working on the laundry. The last two days have pretty much gone like this. Take some time waking up, get children fed, put in a load of laundry, sit down and stair vacantly into space for a while, read a story to a child, move laundry, stare vacantly, play a game with a child, move laundry, fall completely sound asleep, struggle to wake up, move laundry, etc., etc. Good times.

For the most part, the girls are both doing well. They seem to love their new brothers and sisters and the feeling is mutual. This is especially true of H. and R. I had hope…

Home Sweet Home

After approximately 24 hours of travelling we have made it home. It was quite the welcome, but before I go there, I need to go back a day and fill you in on all the gruesome details.

Since the most economical flights tend to all leave out of Hong Kong, there is a whole system in place where vans pick you up from your hotel in Guangzhou and drive you two hours south to Hong Kong and drop you off directly at the airport. For a family travelling with not-entirely-mobile children, this seemed like a much easier option than taking the train and having to navigate luggage and cabs and so forth. And in theory, it is, depending on your driver. We evidently drew the short straw this morning. (Yesterday morning? Time can be so tricky.) There were moments when J. and I were both utterly convinced that we were not going to end up in Hong Kong alive. And we pretty relaxed travelers, not easily freaked-out by non-Western driving practices.

The game changes, though, when you realize your driver is f…

Ending on a high note... or continuing our tour of China's dead people

On our last day in China we spent a leisurely morning. We were slow to wake, took our time at breakfast, and just relaxed. It will be a stark contrast to tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off at 4:15 am. After lunch, we decided to get out and do something, so opted to head around the corner to a museum which is very close to our hotel and by which we have walked dozens of times between this trip and the last.

Well, we should have visited it sooner. It turns out to be the "The Museum of the Nanyue King of Western Han Dynasty". (Their translation, not mine.) Essentially, in the early 80's, when a mountain was being leveled to build apartments, they uncovered a tomb from the Han Dynasty, c. 120 BC. It was a multi-chambered king's tomb, complete with king, concubines, treasure, and human sacrifices. The unusual part is that they left the tomb where it was and built an entire museum right over the top of it... and you can walk right in! How cool is that? Also, it's…

All we have left to do is wait

This morning, bright and early, was our consulate appointment where we officially applied for R.'s and Y.'s US visas so they can enter the US and become citizens. After all the paperwork we have filled out and sent in, it is more of a formality than anything, but you still need to make sure all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. Ours were and after J. had his fingerprints scanned yet one more time, the official behind the window said, "Congratulations! You can pick up your visas tomorrow." Actually our guides will be picking them up, so other than meeting with them to collect the documents, we're done. After over a year of working to bring these girls home, I can hardly believe we have reached this point.

Just for fun, I bought the girls matching dresses for the occasion.

You'll notice that suddenly the shoes are a big hit.

When we arrived back at the hotel, it was time to do group photographs. There was a lot of waiting around for everyone t…

And we still haven't found the statue of the five goats

There is a lovely park across the street from our hotel and we thought it would be an easy morning to go walk around in it. There is supposed to be a fairly well-known statue of five goats and the last time we were here, we spent a long time walking around looking for it and never did. Well, we didn't find it this time, either.

The weeks of travelling have begun to take their toll on these girls and both of them had complete and total meltdowns in the park. We ended up with J. carting R. out on his back and P. carting Y. It was not our most successful of outings. 
Here are some pictures I got before our little nuclear reactors went off-line. Since the lunar new year is very soon, everyone is getting ready for it. There is evidently going to be some huge doings in this park because we saw huge amounts of decorations being constructed. I kind of wish we could see it.

I also continue to appreciate the degree to which the Chinese people make use of their parks. There are groups of dan…

Two little fish eat hummus in China

The morning was spent doing the visa physical.

There is not much I want to say about it except, sadly, it was very nearly an exact repeat of our experience here with H. four years ago. If you are really dying to know more, I'll just send you to the post I wrote back then. Substitute R.'s initial for H.'s and you'll get the idea. That horrible sound you heard? That was me grinding my teeth in fury. Oh, and I came close to wanting to make use of this handy vending machine in the lobby of the clinic.

Can you see what this is? It is a liquor vending machine... full bottles of wine and Jack Daniels. It was so very odd.

But we got all the medical paperwork signed and made it back. We picked up P. from the room and found some lunch and then spent some time resting. (P. didn't want to come to the visa physical appointment. Can't imagine why not... ) Resting was desperately needed by everyone. Eventually we thought a visit to the pool might be in order. First we showed …

Off the beaten path for a while before being loaded on the roller coaster once again

(You'll understand if the first part of this post needs to be a little circumspect.)

There were no stained glass windows, no organ, no pews filled with many people, nor and understood (to us) language, but there was a somewhat bare room in someone's apartment building, some folding chairs, a guitar, and enough people. On the outside the two places couldn't have been more different, but in many ways they were very much the same. The same text, the same love, the same God. It was a wonderful experience, even if we didn't exactly understand everything that was said. When you are brothers and sisters in spirit, there is a commonality that transcends language. We made some good new friends, were given an extravagant lunch, and even spent some time discussing various educational options, particularly the one we have happened to choose. And once again, what I thought I knew about this country has been turned on its head. This group had children... many children. I spent time …

An inauspicious welcome

We have arrived in Guangzhou. If I were feeling nice, I would leave it at that. I am not feeling nice. Evidently, the change of venue from province to Guangzhou for the visa paperwork is my own personal nadir in the adoption travel schedule.

I was really hoping it would be different this time. Our flight didn't leave at the crack of dawn, it wasn't delayed into Guangzhou (a minor miracle), and we were arriving in the middle of the day. We were set-up for it being a pretty smooth transition. Except...

This is probably not news to anyone, but China is not set-up as a country that makes life navigable for people with mobility issues. I was thrilled when we left Zhengzhou and actually were able to make use of a jet way to board the airplane. This was a marked improvement over the typical way of boarding aircraft here, which is get on a crowded bus with approximately five seats and take a ride out to the middle of the tarmac where you climb metal stairs to board. Often, when planes…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

(The first of a couple of bonus posts. There's not a lot to do in a hotel room while people sleep. I guess I fill my time by writing.)

One of the most difficult things about adoption travel is that usually not everyone in the family gets to go. This means that to bring home your new child (or children) you have to say good-bye to your other children for weeks at a time. It kind of stinks. A lot.

This trip, we have children spread out hither and thither, making it that much more difficult to check-in with and keep track of them all. TM is with my brother and sister-in-law in Iowa at their farm. M. is at her apartment and opening up another show, thus requiring her to spend endless hours on public transportation gathering props. B. and A. are holding down the fort at home. H., D., K., G., and L. are staying at our very, very good friends' house. My inner sheep dog is not happy.

We do talk to them all fairly frequently via Facetime or Skype, but the time change and internet acces…

A subway, a park, two passports, another trip to Walmart, and Chinese take-out: We hit our stride

The day was another free day, and the weather was slightly warmer, the sky was blue and pretty darn clear. See?

We decided to take advantage of it and spend some time outside. There is a park a ways down the road that we visited last time we were here and we knew the girls would love it. We are also in a different hotel than last time, so it was going to be a little bit farther hike. But, we had a new option this time around: the subway! Zhengzhou has changed so much in the last four years, even though we are relatively in the same area, that there is very little that looks the same. A massive building campaign has been going on which includes large, multi-level expressways and a subway system. The first of five lines is completed and conveniently, it runs right along the road where our hotel is. We decided to try it. (This is not actually as adventurous as it sounds since we had already figured out the Guongzhou subway system and the ticket machines have an English option.)

But first…