Friday, October 31, 2014

Nestorian Stele and on to Guangzhou

After a wild goose chase to the wrong museum yesterday, where we tried getting a taxi back to the hotel for almost an hour and finally got in a unlicensed car hoping she wouldn't take us around the corner and cut us to pieces for our passports and credit cards, no, she didn't and,yes I do occasionally have an overactive imagination) we found out that what we were looking for was in walking distance of our hotel.  Here it is - a stele (which means a rock with writing engraved on it) and The Forest of Stele Museum  has many of them.  The one we were looking for was engraved in 600 something AD and tells of the coming and life of the first missionaries to China.  They are a branch of Christians called Nestorians who brought the gospel from Persia.  If you want to know more or about Christianity in general in China read David Aikman's book Jesus in Beijing.  Which I have heard caused a bit of a sensation when he wrote it because he revealed so much about the house church movement.

It was a fun day with the boys even though being dragged around to museums is not their very favorite thing to do.  We balanced it with watching Lego movies on Netflix.  Yay for vpns, which give us access to American freedoms.

William has not totally embraced the smile for the camera thing.  Instead of saying 'say cheese' Chinese say 'say eggplant' Chinese, of course.

The flight to Guangzhou was uneventful, or at least that is how it felt on Xanax.  My friend Brittany thought it was a bit turbulent, But she was further back in the plane with a 2 year old in her lap without the benefit of X.  Sometimes, I think I would be willing to fly some where just for the fun of it.  But then I get home and no place really seems more fun. I have a great life.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What a Difference a Day Makes

This morning did not seem to be starting well when both boys continued to sit on their beds when Jerry told them to go downstairs with him. I was having a computer crisis so I was planning to follow a few minutes behind. I picked Peter up by the arm and said something to the effect that Daddy must be obeyed.  When I got downstairs he was obviously unhappy so I asked the guide to tell them that we are going to see things in Xian, like the city wall and a museum  of history today because they will be leaving China and I want them to learn as much as they can before  they leave.  I know they would rather be playing and I would rather be shopping or reading but we don't want to miss this opportunity. Our guide, Crystal, is a sweetheart. She usually triesto do everything in English and I have to remind her to tell the boys things in Chinese, but today at the wall she focused mostly on them, which was fine with everyone. We saw our first real smiles from William and his attitude got better and better as the day went on. 

We were there at the time of the warriors show at the city wall.

We ate lunch with Crystal and the Richeys at our favorite restaurant on Muslim Street where they serve wonderful handmade noodles.  Peter prefers rice, William prefers noodles.

After a fruitless trek around a huge museum looking for a rock which shows the first introduction of Christianity to China in around 600 AD (where Peter had his own personal guide, who he listened to very attentively, while William wandered off) we went back to the Muslim district for some snacks,
William and I both had tornado potatoes, which I hope come to America soon.  Jerry is now teaching the boys to play UNO. He is a good dad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Terracotta Warriors

First, please excuse the picture quality.  When we arrived a the Terracotta Warrior Museum  I discovered that my battery was dead on my camera so these were all taken with the ipod that Jerry uses to learn Chinese.

As you can see, William's demeanor isn't any better but in general it has been a much better day than yesterday.  Yesterday evening after watching the Jesus Film for Children  in Mandarin and eating dinner in the room Will escalated the crying , moaning and wailing that he had been doing off and on all day.  Now I understand that he is grieving, but the loud wailing and moaning is something I am not familiar with and I have a hard time believing that it is not contrived as a deliberate bid for attention and control.  After ignoring it for awhile, I told him to be quiet.  That only worked for a few minutes and then it began again.  My next strategy was to sit beside him and stroke his back.  I could tell he didn't like it, but he resisted lashing out at me.  Then I began talking ( I actually suspect that he understands alot more English than he is willing to acknowledge).  I told him about the things he would do at home, like piano lessons,and that the children at home prayed for him every night, and then just generally yammered on.  After awhile, I got up and went back to my bed and said , if he wanted to talk and not wail I would be happy to listen. A few minutes later, he got quiet and went to sleep.  

This morning he was as grouchy as ever and   when our guide asked about him, she decided to have first his orphanage director, then his Chinese foster father talk to him. At length.  So his face is still grouchy and he feigned disinterest in the Terracotta Warriors but at least the noise has stopped. I bought some swords for the boys and when we got back to the hotel and handed it to him, he actually took it from me. A first.  Thank yous come later. And at the moment he is playing with it and not crying.

I told our guide (when she kept making him get in the pictures) that one day he is going to be very embarrassed about these pictures).  And then we will all be laughing. But we aren't there yet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


This is taken last night on the steps of our hotel.

This is taken this morning, as we arrived to tour The Wild Goose Pagoda (although actually we did not even get near the actual pagoda which Jerry and the boys loved climbing last time, but our guide said she didn't have tickets for it and instead we just toured the Buddhist temple area).  As you see, Will is about the same.  He has vomited several times yesterday and today, which he ascribes to car sickness, but I have never heard of car sickness lingering 6  hours after a car ride.

Peter continues to be great , contrary to all my expectations !   Some of the adoption material we read said it is always the second child who does badly, which is exactly what we have experienced, but I cannot come up with a reason for it. Our expectation was for Peter to be difficult and Will to be an easy going breeze, as we have video of him promising the parents he said he longed for what a great kid he would be.  Instead he is trying to get our guide to talk us into giving him internet access (it is called qq).  Not a chance, but it is wearying to have to stand against them both.  She also gave us a speech on not letting the kids eat American food as they are not used to it.  Sigh.

This afternoon Jerry and Peter went out to lunch again in the Muslim Market with friends who are here getting an adorable two year old. Will and I stayed in the room and rested, as he was still not feeling well and my stomach is having some issues, also.  It is a dreary rainy day, so a good day for a good book.  Will has played some and sat some but cannot be persuaded to lay down in bed.

While our guide was telling us about all the different Buddhas people pray to - one for wealth,one for wisdom, one for health - I asked her if people think that Buddha is still alive ?   She laughed and said No, of course not.  We saw people bowing down to a statue of a man who is dead.  I am glad that the God that we serve is Alive and can hear us when we call upon His Name.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Wiliiam said yes.

I say this without an exclamation point because things are still a bit tenuous here.  After William said he wanted to be adopted this is the persona we saw during the rest of our several hours of paperwork. He is with Jerry and his orphanage director here, who ar helping Jerry with his Chinese.

This, however, is the persona we see in the room. He threw up after we arrived back at the hotel and after a rest we walked to the Muslim Quarter for lunch where he refused to eat anything.  Back in the room he wailed inconsolably for nearly an hour.  We have tried on Skype to help him make phone calls, but so far no on e has answered.

Meanwhile.Peter is a joy ! I would have Never expected it to turn our this way, as he was so very reserved last summer.

We bought both boys helicopters in the Muslim Quarter and Peter is playing with it and his other toys.  Will helped him put it together and that was the first conversation the two of them have had.  Small beginnings.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

William's Gotcha

William arrived at the Provincial Affairs office before we did.  When we entered the room he was standing beside his orphanage director and obviously crying.  When we walked toward him, he did not respond to us at all.

I introduced him to Peter and asked our guide to explain to him that Peter had visited our house in the past but that we had only come to adopt him last Wednesday (I had not written to William in advance about Peter because I didn't want to have to give any explanations if Peter decided not to come with us.)  I hoped that hearing that Peter had visited us and knew a bit about us would be somewhat reassuring. As you can see, Peter continues to be a happy boy.  Jerry had a chat with William trying out his Chinese and then William came and sat beside me trying out his English, showing me pictures of his family.  He showed me pictures of his mother and father and the other children in the family, one of whom is now in America. As we had been told that he lived in the orphanage, I had some questions (!) about this.  It seems like the children (about 60 in his orphanage) were placed in family groups and I think they lived in the orphanage together.
Then we looked together at pictures of his new family,counting all of his brothers and sisters.

By the end of our time at Provincial Affairs he was doing much better, smiling a bit and even laughing. This picture his Will with the Orphanage Director.   Having Peter , as well as games on the Kindle,  was a big asset.

William's English is quite good. He is very independent and resourceful.  This will be an asset in the long run but right now he may have a bit of a hard time learning about being in a family.  He has gone to phone in our room twice to make calls.  The first to ask for another bed to be brought up and second to call one of the long list of numbers in the book he brought. Uh, no, sorry.  This older child adoption can be hard. Pray for us, we will need it in the days ahead.  Tomorrow he will be asked if he really wants to do this. As will we.  We know what our answer will be.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Xian !

We have arrived in one of our favorite places in China and this time we are staying at a hotel, which although isn't as plush as others we have stayed at (Jerry was moaning about no sushi at breakfast) it is in a fascinating area with historical places (like the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower) and tons of shopping, including the exotic sights and smells of the Muslim District.  This morning I sharpened my bargaining skills, walking away from several suitcases that were originally priced at 360 until I found the one I wanted and got it for 200.    Most negotiations are done on a calculator with them typing in a number first and me saying too high and them asking what I would pay and trying to come to a number in the middle.  Then I ask Jerry to come over and he tries his newly acquired and fairly rudimentary Chinese skills on them while he is paying.  Meanwhile I move on to the next place.

It was nice to have the suitcase to hold the other treasures I found. You can see Jerry a few people behind Peter here.
Jerry was fascinated watching a fellow power worker splicing together these electrical wires. Peter, not so much.

The weather is much warmer here than I was expecting, I thought this far north might be a bit chilly, but I could almost have still worn summer clothes.

Peter continues to be a totally smiley easy going child.  When asked if he wanted to buy anything he chose a pack of cards with Plants and Zombies on the fronts.  I later suggested a sword and he was delighted.  We bought 3 because I know a few boys at home who like them , too.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Trip to the Park -Kong Zu

This morning we made a brief trip to the notary's office where we were asked if we still wanted to adopt Peter.  (Let's see, 9 thousand pages of paperwork, 8 million dollars, 17 months of feeling like part of our family is missing,  traveling half way around the world on that dreaded airplane.......uummmm,  YES.)

Afterward, Mary, our sweet guide took us for a walk in the park.  We saw grandparents walking their grandchildren, people dancing, doing Tai Chi, Kung Fu and playing Kong Zu. Kong Zu is a bit like a yo-yo on a string between two sticks but these guys throw it in the air, twirl it around their bodies and make it look easy.  As we learned, when the master offered to give us a class, it is not.  Peter was by far the most successful of us all, but there are many steps to mastering it.   

Some of us didn't quite get it.

We ended a lovely morning feeding those big fat carp. This afternoon I am hoping for a bit more shopping. ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter is ours !

We waited in the Civil Affairs office for Peter to arrive, as his orphanage is about a 4 hour drive from here.  He walked in with his familiar shy smile and accepted, but did not return, our enthusiastic hugs. As time went on, it became more and more apparent that he is more than happy about the adoption , but too shy, to verbalize it.  We have heard some giggles, but very few words today, even when spoken to by Chinese people.  Someone in a store must have asked him who we were because he very quietly said, "Mama, Baba".   SMILE

While we were filling out the paperwork, I handed him my kindle on which he quickly found some version of Angry Birds.  At home we will limit his screen time, but while in China, especially before we get Will (or do you like Liam better?)  he can have it all he wants. We already know that he, like Travis and Ric, would be happy to be on it 24/7.
We ordered lunch at our hotel by pointing at pictures.  He chose the two fish with heads on , but eyeballs removed.  Jerry thinks the eyeballs are some kind of delicacy.  He ate the fried rice, eggplant, and healthy greens (that's what they called it on the menu) with Jerry and I and then still managed to finish off those two fish all by himself.

After lunch we went exploring and shopping. I bought baby boy shoes and girl shoes for Amber and Camila's babies.  The boy's say KINE with a swoosh.  Back in the room, Peter put his Lego set together that was in the back pack we gave him and now is happily playing the Kindle. An extraordinarily satisfying day.

Monday, October 20, 2014


William is an unknown.  He is already 13.  That is definitely outside my comfort zone.  And yet, I chose him when I could have chosen many younger children. After our agency agreed to let us adopt two this time I looked at many files.  His was the first that made my heart go pitter-pat.  I told our social worker she probably should have just sent pictures of boys with dimples.  I am a sucker for dimples.  That is the reason we added Jed when we were only planning on getting Simon.

When Will was little he had a large growth called an osteoma on the side of his head.  Or at least that is what his file says it was. I have seen it in pictures - it was very large.  After they removed it his eye/face droops on one side.  We do not know if he has sight in that eye.  
The picture of him with the paper is from a video where he is supposedly reading a letter he wrote to his 'parents to be'.  I hope we are not too far outside his expectations.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014


After we brought Simon and Jed home in 2012, we thought our family was complete.  That is until this sweet face popped up on our agency's 'waiting children' website.  Not that I had any business looking at that website, but old habits die hard.  I first asked to see Peter's file in November 2012.     In January 2013, Jerry and I went away for an anniversary weekend and one of the things we were praying about was whether we were supposed to do anything about Peter  We didn't have an answer so I advocated for him a bit on a few adoption sites.   In May 2013, one evening I was on Facebook and in the right hand column where you can sometimes see strangers say things to your friends, someone asked Tracy Worrell, an adoptive mom who I have never actually met (but who is an expert on adoption of deaf children ) if she would consider hosting a child from China.   I was familiar, at that time with summer host programs from Eastern Europe, but I had never heard of one from China.   As God would have it,  when I found the website, guess whose picture was among the 30 or so children who were in the first summer host program from China.   Jerry says that the odds that of the tens of thousands of children living in orphanages in China, that one of the kids chosen for the first visit from a rather remote orphanage would be Peter is mathematically improbable.  So God had our attention. A bit of paperwork and a few thousand dollars later, he arrived for a six week stay.  We were forbidden to mention anything about adoption.
By this time, Peter's paperwork was with another agency, so I contacted our agency to see if they could get it back.  Even so, in his first weeks with us,  we were still entirely ambivalent about adopting him.  He was difficult.  stubborn. resistant.   I had six (often seven) absolutely lovely children, heading into teenage years and I was afraid to rock the boat.   However, as the summer went on and he became less afraid, he also became more compliant.  By the time he left, we were all sorry to see him go and I think he was sorry to leave.  Dominic says he is 85% certain that he will want to leave everything he has known and be adopted.   In 48 hours we will know.

This is the most recent picture we have of him,sent from China.
How do you explain to an 11 year old the reason it took 15 months to come for him ? How to tell him that I filled out every piece of paperwork for him the day it arrived in my hands but that it sat on desks in both China and America for days, weeks, months.  I have seen an adoption done from China in weeks, why is this not the norm?  Why do these children wait?