Friday, May 28, 2010

Our Last Post in China

Guangzhou, Friday, May 28th at 6:43 PM

We are getting down to the final ours before catching a flight to Hong Kong and then tomorrow we head to San Francisco and then home to arrive Saturday back in Spokane at 5:00 PM.  It has been a good week in Guangzhou but we are ready to be back home starting life up again with these new boys being a part.

This week we did the Pearl River Dinner Cruise, toured a village that is an authentic and current farming village, went to the Zoo, and swam, and hung out with the kids between our appointments related to the Visas. 

Probably one of the most memorable moments will be the one  am about to describe, and one I am sure you have all wondered yourselves "what would I do if my child..."
We arrived Thursday evening back from our swearing in at the US Consulate at about 5 PM and decided to head for the regular hotel restaurant for dinner.  It is usually not busy at this time so we decided to eat outside on the deck that jets out into the Koi pond (see picture below).  We were having a fine time... kids were watching the Koi, having milkshakes, and waiting for our food.  Jesse started to act up so i took him to the side away from the table to have a little Daddy to Son talk.  Joy got up and came next to us and got up on the bench at the edge of pond on her knees (see other picture of area).  She had done it a number of times throughout the week. Then all of a sudden she leaned over the rail and the next thing I see is her going head first over the rail and into the pond. She flipped right side up under the water but was panicking and having a hard time getting her footing so was remaining below the water. I put Jesse down for Megan and Michael to grab and over the rail and into the pond I went to grab Joy.  For me it was only about waist high so I grabbed her and swung her up to Megan's waiting arms.  Joy was pretty shook at first just from the surprise of it all. The restaurant staff came running out with linen table cloths and napkins to dry us. Joy was not hurt so we could now only laugh of the spectacle we had just become. Once Joy had settled down I looked at one of the staff members and said "I bet this has happened before" and he responded "No, this first time".  Our dinner came shortly after so we ate in the hot and humid outdoors wet and then Joy and I sloshed across the hotel lobby floor to head back to our room to wash the Koi pond water off us.  Another China story and memory for the ages!

Well it is about time to eave so see many of you back in the states soon!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In the Home Stretch

Guangzhou, Sunday, May 23rd

Thursday in Hangzhou we did a little site seeing around West Lake by boat and the surrounding parks. The kids had a fun time feeding popcorn to the fish (yes, that is the fish food you purchase) and loved watching the peacocks and other birds (see pics below).

On Friday we left a little early for the airport so that we could stop by a tea village. Wendy, our guide, has a friend with a villa in the tea village where a lot of the green tea in the area is grown.  We walked among the tea bushes and loaded up with some of the famous Dragon Well Green Tea grown and sold by Wendy's friend.  It was a fun and a great experience... and a great way to end our time in Hangzhou.

After a three hour delay at the Hangzhou airport, we arrived in Guangzhou late (or make it midnight) Friday night .  The bright spot was that the little kids slept all the way.  And Michael thoroughly enjoyed his first airplane ride ever... including the delicious Chinese airplane food.  By the time we got to the hotel and settled in it was about 3:00 AM before we were asleep.  Up at 8:00 AM we were off to Shamian Island for the medical exams. What a busy and crazy place as there had to be 70 to 100 adoptive families (in addition to the normal clientele) in and out doing their checks.  Lily and Rebecca did an incredible job moving us through as a group (six families) in a pretty timely manner.  Jesse and Michael had to get shots as well since we are part of the new Hague process (not everyone in our group was part of the newer process).  While in the waiting area we ran across another couple who are adopting Khloe from New Day as they recognized Jesse right off.  It was fun to see Jesse and Khloe's initial responses upon seeing each other. Shamian Island was pretty torn up as they are doing a lot of work in advance of the Asia Games in November but it was not near as bad as I had expected...  although very nostalgic to return.  However, the Garden Hotel we are staying at is phenomenal and are room beats the White Swan for sure. We love the area around the Garden as well... lots of options for eating and wandering.  Today was a shopping day. Our Consulate appointment for our paperwork is Wednesday and on Thursday we go to the Consulate for our swearing in. Friday we get the Visas for the boys and head to Hong Kong on a late flight.  Saturday AM we head back to the US, gain a day, and make in to Spokane at 5:00 PM Saturday... in time for Jake's graduation Sunday!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Visit to Li Shui

Hangzhou, May 20th at 2:30 PM

Megan writing here.....
Yesterday we went to Michael's hometown of Li Shui to visit where he has been living for the past 14 years.  It was quite an amazing day and we are glad we made the trip which was about 4 hrs each way.  It didn't seem quite as long as a car trip in the states might seem as the kids just walk around inside the van most the time!  Upon arriving in town we met the orphanage director and vice director for an amazing lunch at the nicest hotel in town and were treated to quite a feast.  There were at least 15 to 20 different dishes (many of which were a mystery to us) and as soon as we would try one they would bring another one out.  My funny moment is when Joy yelled her shrimp had eyes and was going to get her!!!!!  They were so hospitable and the manager and assistant manager of the hotel also came to welcome us.  We could not have been treated any nicer and Michael smiled through the whole lunch.

We then went to his orphanage and were greeted by his friends who were back from school on their lunch break. (the kids all leave school at 11:30 and return at 2:30) this is considered their summer schedule as they come home to take a rest and then back to school until 5:00.  When we drove into town you could see hundreds of kids on the streets walking home. I was told most children are taken care of durng that time by nannies or grandmothers as all chinese women are required to go back to work once their children start kindergarten. At the orphanage we were given a full tour and got to spend some time with some of the babies and toddlers.  A few of them are awaiting their adoptive parents but many are just waiting to be matched in the first place.  My new friend Suzanne (who told us about Michael) is a true hero there as she has worked tirelessly to find parents for many of the children there. I was moved by their gratefulness to her and to us for coming and bringing Michael home.  They are very fond of him and think so well of him and want so for him to have a bright future.  I think it was a bit sad for some of his friends who have already aged out and are not available for adoption any longer. (You can imagine, Jim was all over wanting to help them and thinking creatively!)

Michael then wanted for us to see his school in the city where he attends but wanted us to wait until 2:30 so all the students would get to see us!!  We went to the school (which had better security than any US school I have been to) and were met by his teacher and then escorted to his classroom where we were welcomed by all the students and then asked to come to the front of the class to say something.  Michael sat among his peers and took pictures of us (we had brought him a digital camera) as we spoke to the class.  He seemed so proud and it meant the world to us that he wanted them to know he was our son. (word had also gotten around that we had a pool at our house, so i think that helped!!!)

It was one of those days you know was of utmost importance and we are so glad we made the trip there. In the pictures you will see he is wearing his new favorite outfit of Nike sweats with a Kobe Bryant T shirt (yes he and Jim went shopping without me!).  Today is his third day of wearing it and he is reminding me of Mac at summer camp!!

Today the director of the orphanage called our guide to say that Michael called them last night to tell them he likes us so much and from the moment of meeting us felt so good about us adopting him.  Whew.....hopefully he will remember that in the tough months ahead as he transitions to his new home, family and country.

We leave tomorrow for Guangzhou to finish the US side of the adoption.

Having a good time here but can't wait to kiss the Sands of Valleyford!!!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Michael is an Andrews!

Hangzhou, Tuesday, May 18th at 9:30 PM

Today we had the official swearing in ceremony at the Civil Affairs office. It was fun to see other families go through the ceremony and it was extra special to go through it with Michael Liqu who really understood what it all meant.  It was a good day as all the kids were far more comfortable with each other and Michael is making the transition really well.  Tonight Joy and Jesse were chasing Michael all around the hotel room laughing and enjoying each others company.  Michael was very comfortable in his new big brother role.

Tomorrow we are making a trip up to Lishui where Michael is from.  It should be about 6-8 hours of driving, but we know Michael is looking forward to it.  Today we also broke new ground with our translator machine which has enabled me to write and have it convert to characters. We miss our kids back home and wish they were here with us! 

A fun little story from the orphanage workers... they had been guessing what English name we would be giving Li Qu and had come up with two names they thought we should name him... they had narrowed it to Michael or Martin.  When we told them it was Michael that first day they were so excited!

Here are some shots from today... (note the prized Kobe Bryant shirt)...

Also, Jesse decided he would wear Momma's sandals around the room for awhile today too...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Michael Liqu is with us!

Hangzhou, Monday, May 17th at 9:30 PM

Today was our "Gotcha Day" for Michael Liqu and the day just came to an end as everyone is in bed except me as I write this.  It was quite a moving day... the significance was evident as we drove to the Civil Affairs office to meet Michael and the director and two others from the orphanage.  We walked into a big room where others were already gathered to receive their children as well.  Most of the families were non-English speaking Europeans and most of the kids were quite young except for Michael Liqu.  He was quite shy at first, and then it became clear that he is a confident, mild mannered, kind 13 (almost 14) year old boy.  The orphanage people were very kind and grateful for our willingness to adopt Liqu and we learned a lot in our exchange.  One thing that we learned that says a lot about Michael, is that he had saved money over the last six years for this day to buy gifts for his new parents and family... and there he was with his little suitcase packed with his gifts.  Michael loves sports and being active... in fact the directors were sorry to lose him as he was one their best basketball players. His favorite food is Sprite and ice cream. Another thing that we quickly learned is that he speaks little to no English.  We gave Michael a photo book of our family and he sat and looked at length at his new family and older brothers and sister.

Wendy our guide was with us most of the day, and after dropping Meg and the little ones off at the hotel for lunch and a nap, Michael, Wendy, and I went shopping for clothes. Nike and Adidas were the clothing of choice, and a shirt with Kobe Bryant on it was the prize find according to a Chinese 13 year old boy. Shopping today was in one sense exciting for him and in another much like shopping with Mac and Jake at that age... what 13 year old boy really wants to be shopping for clothes?  Wendy was wonderful as she was like a big sister/mother to him as we shopped and as she engaged him in Mandarin... we are so grateful for her!  After shopping the three of us enjoyed an authentic Chinese lunch with many new items I have never tried before and Michael loved all of it.

Once Wendy left for the evening there was not much speaking that could take place although we tried. We went for a walk down to West Lake and ended up at McD's for Joy and Jesse.  We had bought an electronic translator machine before we left the US that I have been unable to figure out, however Wendy figured out what she could and passed it on to Michael and... sure enough... Michael and I had a break through this evening as he used his translator and I my Pocket Mandarin Dictionary to carry on brief but meaningful conversations with high fives and all as we progressed in our understanding of each other.  I cannot imagine how emotionally tiring and life changing his reality must have become to him today.  Whatever we were feeling in the car on the way paled in comparison to what we saw taking place for him.  He showed little outward emotion in one sense, yet you could see that he was facing it all head on and actually embracing this new and totally unfamiliar life direction.  I cannot think of anything in my own life that could measure up to the courage I witnessed in this young man today.  It will be exciting to see and watch as Michael moves into this new chapter of life and begins to develop... I have to believe God has big plans for his life.

Joy and Jesse continue to enjoy their time together and at the same time develop a form of sibling rivalry.  Jess is quite a character and cut up.  What a different experience than the one we had when adopting Joy.  He is slowly warming up to Meg and today was pretty huge in that I left to go shopping leaving Jesse to get lunch and a nap from Meg... we think we turned a corner.

Well it is time to head to bed as the big day has wiped me out too... Enjoy some pics from the day and our time in Hangzhou...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday in Hangzhou

Hangzhou, Sunday, May 16th at 3:00 PM

After breakfast this morning we met Wendy, our guide for the week here. We will be meeting her at 9:00 AM tomorrow to head to the Civil Affairs office to meet Michael Li Qu! We spend a lot of time talking about what might be and all the possible scenarios of our day but know in the end we just will take the day and week as it comes. For a 13 year old boy in Chinese culture, it is really hard to anticipate what and how he will feel... we only pray we will be sensitive enough and discerning enough to be there in the way he will need as he processes and moves into this next and so very life-changing chapter in his life. While it will change everything for us, it still pales in comparison to the changes he will face.

After we finished with Wendy, we headed down to West Lake and the park. Hangzhou is one of the more affluent cities here and is considered one of the top tourist destinations within China.  The park was busy and two Americans with two Chinese children in tow is quite the novelty... we get lots of stares and inquisitive looks... all good, just different. We usually get approached by someone wanted to try out their English skills with us.  The park area is beautiful and uniquely Chinese.  Around the park are a lot of restaurants and of course some of America's favorite including Starbucks, McDonalds, and DQ (Dairy Queen).  After a week of Chinese food we indulged ourselves with soem Mickey D's and DQ for lunch... Joy especially savoured and enjoyed the french fries.

The kids are napping and we are enjoying a low key day before we start the process all over again.  I will download some more photos from our journey and day... Enjoy, and thank you for joining us in our journey and prayers...