Monday, November 24, 2008
Last time in China, there was little time for thoughts or conversation. We just tried our darndest to stay on the conveyor belt and get all of the documents processed and back home without imploding. Partly due to Bella's more easy-going nature and with one adoption under our belts, we were more relaxed and able to enjoy/observe the whole experience.
1) Shamian Island, where we stayed in Guangzhou, is as close to ideal for adopting family as it gets. As one travel-mate observed, it didn't feel so 'foreign' there. At one point, several "Western" consulates were housed on the island. British/Western influence is evident in the architecture on the island. Until recently, the U.S. Consulate that processes all China adoptions was on the island. Much of the island's economy dependends on the adoption industry. Thus, you can buy any baby supply, all kinds of gifts/trinkets, and will easily find English-speaking shopowners.
2) In speaking with a new Shamian Island resident, I had one of those lightbulb moments. She mentioned that how "foreigners" view children differs significantly from how Chinese view children. For many Chinese, children are viewed in terms of what they will eventually provide for parents. Lest anyone judge, this set of values dates at least back to Confucius if not longer. Children have an undeniable obligation to care for their parents when they grow older. "Foreigners," on the other hand, view children in terms of what they/we, as parents, can provide for the children. These differing perspectives go a long way toward explaining this whole China/Internationl Adoption phenomenon.
Monday, November 17, 2008
When we got Luke, we were much more stressed and didn't enjoy the trip nearly as much. We've spent the last couple of days walking around the island and shopping while enjoying the company of others in our group. Unlike last time, this part of the trip actually feels like a real vacation. We've eaten well, relaxed, swum, and just hung out. At this point on the last trip, we were SO ready to be home. While I look forward to returning, I wouldn't mind extending this vacation by a few days.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The White Swan Hotel was the first 5-star hotel in Guangzhou. It's an older hotel (smaller space) with excellent food/service. In the hotel is a play room sponsored by Mattel with toys/games for children. Each adopted child is greeted by a unique Barbie doll (Barbie holding black-haired baby). Most of the shops on the island sell baby clothes/supplies and touristy trinkets as much of our time on the island is spent waiting for the US visa for our children.
Our travel group continues to get along fabulously. We have great fun everytime we're together.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Before we left, our guide took us for a tour of the "Ethnic Village". China was originally a bunch of minority tribes/ethnicities. Each Dynasty in Chinese came about as one minority took over control of the country. Today, the Han are the majority and ruling ethnicity. The population of Bella's province is composed of about 40 minorities. The Zhuang comprise 60% of the population so it's probable that Bella is at least part Zhuang. The Ethnic Village we visit had replica buildings of different minorities.
Our flight left Nanning at about 6:30 and arrived in Guangzhou in an hour. While tired, we were all very excited for the last leg of our trip. Bella did very well on the plane. She cried a couple of times but no major incidents.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
One of the good things we've seen with Bella is that she does have a very healthy appetite. There's no doubt when she's hungry as she's learned to say "uMMMMM." At dinner last night, she was grabbing at any food in sight. After grabbing at everything, she "settled" for a small bowl of porridge/congee, two slices of watermelon, a few bites of egg, and some soup. It's bittersweet to see her healthy eating habits as I can't help to wonder why she's so small.
On Wednesday, our guide took us to a local park, "Green Mountain Park." It's not hard to see why it's called Green Mountain and why Nanning's nickname is "Green City." You can find out more about the park here: . We had a wonderful time running around and taking pictures. One of the highlights was a climb up a nine-story pagoda which sits on top of a hill. From the top, you get a panoramic view of Nanning. Even with the haze and fog, we had a beautiful view of the city. All the girls in the group have shown a marked improvement in their bonding.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It's amazing how much progress we'd made within 20 hours. We could easily tease a smile out of her, which is especially amazing since she has a cold/fever and is teething. She slept through the night. When she woke up, she played by herself quietly. She trusts her mommy and daddy to help her walk. She plays easily with her older brother.
Bella is behind in her physical development. Not only is she small for her age, but she also lacks certain motor skills. She cannot walk without help. She cannot seem to pull herself to a standing position. We've yet to see her crawl. Even when she's sitting, she needs support to stay upright. However, she seems alert, curious and intelligent. We believe that she'll thrive once she has the support and opportunity. We've heard of other cases where children were unable to walk when adopted and, within weeks, were on track developmentally. We would appreciate your continued prayers.
Monday, November 10, 2008
|From China: 2008, Nov 10 Gotcha!|
Isabella is beautiful. Like the other babies, she cried at first. But then her big brother came up and started singing to her ("Amazing Grace"), she settled down. One of the other families, the Cornetts, had some corn puffs that their daughter didn't like. Isabella loved it. There are few things more precious than a new child trusting you enough to take food from your hand.
I know we'll still have ups and downs, but the bonding has already begun. Isabella has already laughed and smiled with us and made significant eye contact.
Today, Nov 11th, we're off to the Civil Affairs office again to complete the paperwork. At the end of today, she'll be legally ours. We'll then wait a few days for them to complete processing the paperwork before we fly off to our next stop.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
The main item on our itinerary for Saturday was the Great Wall. It was sandwiched between trips to a cloisonne factory and a jade store. We left at 8 AM, which isn't that early when you're awake at 3 AM. Cloisonne is an ancient artform used for making trinkets, vases, etc. with copper and enamel. Originally limited to the imperial families (we'll see more pictures tomorrow, Nov 9, when we visit the Forbidden Palace), it's since become a favorite among us commoners. Most in our group did some early Christmas shopping! After the factory, we headed up to the Badaling section of the Great Wall, which is over an hour north of Beijing. As we got close, to everyone's surprise, snow started falling! Our guide couldn't remember the last time it snowed this early in the season there. Badaling was a strategic outpost with visibility in eight different directions. While we were prepared for the cold weather, nobody was prepared for the snow. The Great Wall is one of those sites that's just surreal. The Wall is built along the contours of the mountain, so even though it's paved, there are some steep inclines. With the snow, the inclines, and the Saturday crowd, it was not an easy hike. Afterwards, we went to a Jade factory, first for lunch and then some shopping.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Yesterday, we mostly lazed around. We had the group orientation to set our expectations for the trip. A few key nuggets: don't drink the water, drivers do not recognize that you have the right of way, soak in the culture, the babies WILL be afraid of you at first. We then set out for the supermarket. The most popular items purchased were bottled water, cup 'o noodles, and misc snacks.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
For those interested, here's the itinerary. We're fortunate in that we have a direct flight from SF to Beijing. Others in our travel group have two transfers.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Height: 72.5 cm. > 28.5 inches
Weight: 6.8kg > 15 lbs
Head: 42.5 cm. > 16.7 in
Chest: 42.5 cm. > 16.7 in
Foot: 11cm. > 4.3 in
Teeth: 6 > 6
She's very small for her age. Any prayer warriors out there, we could use some prayers! We're more anxious than ever to get there and have her in our arms (18 days before we leave and 23 days before we have her).
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Last night (Monday), we picked up some chair rails for the room. Now Rick has no excuse to start doing his part.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
If you look carefully, you'll notice that this job took a lot of caffeine.
Before we got word of Isabella, we'd started on a treehouse for Luke. Ok, so technically, there's no house yet (it's just a raised platform). And the house isn't on a tree (just attached). But it's easier calling it a treehouse than "raised platform attached to tree".
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Unfortunately, Rick will have to renew his passport. Although it won't expire until March '09, Chinese authorities request that it have at least 6 months remaining before a visa will be issued. I guess they don't want anyone to be stuck in their country without a valid passport. Luckily there's an expedite process to get it turned around in about two weeks.
Friday, September 5, 2008
After months of doing nothing but checking sites and groups for news/rumors on referrals, we now have so much to do. To prepare for Isabella's room: 1) Paint Room, 2) Install closet, 3) Paint/prepare crib, 4) Install shutters (well, we didn't need it when it was just for storage....plus we probably couldn't reach the window when the room was jam-packed), 5) Install pink ceiling fan. We also have to prepare for the trip itself: 1) Get crisp currency, 2) Get visas, 3) Make travel arrangements, 4) Verify all paperwork is in order, 5) Shop. Uh....what else?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Yikes! Now we have to scramble and get her room set up and painted. Then we can refinish the crib and start shopping! Not to worry...we're going to hang her picture in the room as a reminder that ours is a labor of love.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
So what happened is I (Rick) checked our Agency's site this morning and found the following message:
Bethany Christian Services just received 6 female referrals from Guangxi Province! Five are for our February 6, 2006 LID group and one is an expedited referral for a January 2007 LID. Congratulations!Since our LID (Log In Date) was 1/11/07 and China often refers entire expedited months at a time, we wondered why our agency hadn't called us yet. So we called our case worker. It turns out she'd been in a staff meeting all morning and hadn't checked her email. So, she didn't even know until we called and prompted her to check her email!!
We'll share some of feelings/emotions later. We're busy calling everyone now! We'll post more information and a picture tomorrow.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Our journey actually started soon after we brought Luke home from China. We'd decided early on that we wanted him to have a sibling. After waiting the requisite time, we started the paper chase. After close to a year, we submitted our dossier to China in December 2006. When we got Luke, it took about 3 1/2 months to get the referral. That time quickly passed. So we waited...and waited...and waited... We found out that referral times had greatly increased. Still, we were sure that we'd have her home in 2007. The year quickly passed.
At the beginning of each month (when referrals usually come out), we wondered, "Is this the month?" After a while, we learned to curb our expectations. Although our wait has been painfully long, we realize that we're one of the fortunate ones -- because Rick is Chinese, our application will be expedited. Expedited applications receive referrals ~1 year faster than non-expedites. While we've anguished, we also realized that others suffer more. As each month passed, our unspoken doubts loomed: what if we weren't expedited after all? what if something happened to our application? what if they found some reason to not accept our application?
Many people choose to adopt from China because it's well structured well relatively clear expectations. This unexpected wait has been especially difficult. We take comfort in believing that Isabella is out there and will be given to us at His perfect time.