Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last day of 2013; last day in China

Today is our last full day in China.  I am not sure if Elijah is quite aware we are leaving tomorrow.  I was planning on having our guide tell him, but we did not end up seeing him today.  So instead, I showed Elijah pictures of airplanes on Google and then pointed to him, Nicholas, and me.  I used Google Translate for the word " tomorrow."  I don't think he has any idea what I was talking about.  He just smiled at me.

Oh well, I will just have our guide tell him as we race to the airport at 6 am.  We have a two and a half hour flight to Shanghai, then we are waiting around the airport for 5 hours (gulp).  Then we are flying home to the States.  We will be wiped out even by the time we start our 15 hour flight. 

But we'll worry about that tomorrow.  Today, we had fun.  We took a taxi to Shamian Island, my favorite spot in Guangzhou.  We stayed on this island during Nicholas' and Ellie's adoptions.  We had a fun lunch at Lucy's which is known for its American food.  I have been surprised to discover that Elijah likes western food more than the Chinese options I've given him.  He loves spaghetti with tomato sauce, hamburgers, French fries, quesadillas etc.

The island has lots of interesting statues.  Here is the one I call "the Fat American." Elijah posed with her.

And then with the guy with the guitar.

And finally I had to have the kids pose with the famous line of children.

Then, we met up with some other Americans who are also adopting.  It was so nice to have some adult conversation and to meet their precious children.

They had all adopted little ones, and 3 of them are about Christopher's age.  Oh, how I miss him.  And all my kids. I can't wait to see them soon.

We walked around the island some more and bought some little trinkets.

I do what I can each day to give the boys plenty of exercise, which is the key to getting them to fall asleep at a decent hour at night.  

Back at the hotel, the boys displayed their souvenirs.  Nicholas insisted on buying this Chairman Mao hat because he thinks he looks like he is in the Chinese military.

He is trying to look as serious as some army dudes we saw guarding a base.

And Elijah went for the silly look instead.

See you back in the States.  Wish me luck!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The View From Here

You will have to forgive the extended metaphor I am about to use today, but adoption brings out my sentimentality (some might call it cheesiness!). We went to the US Embassy yesterday to get Elijah's visa to enter the States.  The final step of paperwork in this adoption process.  I was struck with the fact that we did it.  Against all odds, we are together.  We are a family.  At times I really doubted this would happen.

So I thought it was fitting that after our appointment, we climbed a tower (ok, we took the elevator, but still, work with me here).  Canton Tower is in the center of Guangzhou.

From the bottom, it looks too high.  Impossibly high.  This is the highest tower in the world.  Did we really want to climb it?  Even when we were in the fast- moving elevator, it felt like we would never get to the top. It was exciting and kind of scary.  

But the view from here was worth it.  Wow.

Elijah is incredible.  So sweet, so smart, not a mean bone in his body.  Very generous.  Vulnerable.  Kind.  Cuddly.  I did not dare to expect it would be this good, this soon.

When I look back at the past 4 years, I wonder why we persisted when we didn't even know for sure that Elijah was this special, this easy to love.  We just had a hunch. And we decided it would be worth it even if he was a challenge.

And I got scared and discouraged many times.  By the bueaucracy, by the naysayers, by my own inability to "do it all."

But something would not let me give up.  Something in me just could not rest until he found a home.  And I really, really hoped it was our home.

I know the real work begins when we step off that airplane in Newark and start to blend our lives together.  I know it's not all downhill from here.  But if God has taken us this far, I can only trust that He will be with us for the rest of the ride.

Feeling so blessed that I have been given so much. Why me?  I don't know the answer to that question, but, as in bad times, I just need to accept what is given and try to do my best with it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Free Days

While I have taken many photos, I have not had time to write much.  The boys keep me on my toes!  Elijah is doing really well, and there have been no more tears since the medical exam.  Yesterday, we went to the Safari Zoo and had a great time.  We fed the giraffes and the elephants.

And Nicholas even petted a koala (Elijah declined the offer).

Elijah really loved the wite tigers and I bought him this hat and a pair of tiger gloves.  He won't take them off. 

We also saw the pandas.  It was nice to be back here with someone who is enthusiastic about the animals.  Some of you might remember I came here this summer and Christopher was not interested at all.  Too cool for school. 

The day before yesterday, we went to a local park. 

Don't do it, Curious George!!

They climbed a statue of an ox.  

Silly brothers.

They are already starting to act like 'real brothers' and bicker a little.  

But mostly they are having fun together.

China really is the Land of The Beautiful Children.  I had so much fun just watching all of the kids in the playground. 

Back at the hotel, we played in the gardens.  Nicholas is beyond psyched that I let him have a Coke.  

 Here are some pictures from back in Hunan province.   We went for a walk and happened upon a swimming race in honor of Chairman Mao's 120th birthday.  They love Mao in Hunan because he is from here. Anyway, this was remarkable because it was about 45 degrees outside.

The swimmers were "winter swimmers."

And very proud of their accomplishment, it seems!

We watched boats by the river.

It has been so nice to explore together.  It feels as if I have had more downtime on this trip, but maybe it is only because I am not always putting a baby down for naps.  Whatever the cause, we are enjoying ourselves and getting to know each other in a low-stress way. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Getting to know you

This process of getting to know a child I already loved long-distance is very strange.  He is so familiar to me on one hand, and a complete stranger on the other.  But I am learning more about him every minute.  First, he is very curious.  Curious like Curious George who is always getting into trouble.  Does anyone else remember the story when Curius George tries to go fishing and leans over to grab a fish but falls in?  Yeah, that almost happened about 20 times already.  

He is also an extrovert.  And a talker! He never stops talking: to me, to Nicholas, to our guides, even to complete strangers like this fisherman.  I am sad that I don't know more Mandarin because he must be so frustrated being with people who don't understands him.

 He is also so brave.  He will try anything, with just a little reassurance.  He tried swimming even though he was nervous.  I showed him how to hold his nose and blow bubbles underwater, and he tried it and got it right away.  I was so proud if him.

He also walked over this very narrow and wobbly "bridge" in Changsha to get to a dock where some TV station was filming a swim team award ceremony.  Elijah has a slight limp due to his club foot and isn't as sure- footed as typical kids, but he still went right over the bridge, smiling and giggling.

He is very playful and fun.  He and Nicholas are like puppies together: running! tackling! picking each other up, etc.

He is also silly and likes to make lots of faces and to tickle my toes when I am not expecting it.

He doesn't like my kisses yet. He wipes them off or squeals and makes a face.  But he likes hugs, likes to hold my hand, and sits close to me wherever we are.  


He loves to play with figurines and, as I have mentioned, loves the iPad.  I don't think he has used one before but he figured out how to play many games on his own and memorized the 2 different passwords on our ipad/ itouch.  

He has the sweetest little laugh.  He cracks up watching cartoons and whenever he tickles my feet. Or when he goes up and down the escalators.

He seems much younger than 7; more like 4 or 5.  I had heard to expect that.  He is big and strong and obviously well-cared-for, but just lacking in experience and impulse- control. He expects me to dress him and even feed him. He doesn't seem to know how to use chopsticks or a knife and fork.  I am not sure if he is just fearful and in frozen/passive mode or just really does not know these things.  I am taking it as an opportunity to foster attachment and build trust.  After all, I did not get the opportunity to feed and dress him when he was a baby, so I will do it now.  

I am loving my sweet boy and continue to lean on God from one moment to the next.  Praying that I am doing the best for him during this chaotic time in his life. Praying I seem reliable and kind and trustworthy.  Praying I feel safe as we get to know each other.