"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential, they help us reach ours. An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary. They are a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached, making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared." Author unknown

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making Progress & Lots of appointments

Big step forward made this week, on Monday, I was able to get Corban to eat some vanilla yogurt off a spoon for the first time!!!  He accepted it more than once - I was so very thrilled.  Tuesday, we didn't have much luck. Yesterday and today he has eaten from a spoon. I have also given him little bits of freeze dried yogurt melts.  He wasn't a fan when I first did it but I have been able to increase the number of bits he'll tolerate during each seating which is great progress for his oral progress!!!  We are praising the Lord for answered prayers. 

Our calendar has just become fuller as well.  We have four appointments/evaluations coming with Corban over the next 3 weeks. Next week we have a consult over his "doesn't really matter" issue, on Monday.  On Tuesday, he goes for a physical therapy evaluation. Then on the 13th he has a hearting/ENT appointment.  Then finally, for now anyway, he has a feeding evaluation on the 20th.  They also want to get him set up for a speech evaluation but they don't have an opening till middle of January and that won't work for us because he and Tegan are having tissue expanders placed (and Angel is having the final bit of her nevus excised) around that time so we will have to push that off for now.

The boys are learning more and more each day.  Tegan seems to understand the majority of what we say and is attempting to repeat many words.  Corban has learned what "no" and "uh-uh" mean as he is constantly on the go and exploring everything he can get his hands on. He wears me out just watching him run from one place to the next. The kid does not sit/stand still. I do love his smile and giggle though, they light up my heart.

Both boys are now OK with co-habitating with the dog.  We are teaching Tegan to tell her "uh-uh" when he doesn't want her near him. Tegan is still terrified of the cats.  The cats, for the most part, hang out in our laundry room which is our entryway into the house and where we keep our shoe and coat rack.  What amuses me is that even though he cries when he goes near them, he will still go get his shoes when we ask him to.  I praise him each time he does it.  I'm sure eventually he'll figure out that they really don't have any interest in him.

Corban and Tegan still don't interact much with each other.  Tegan is sweet and will at times attempt to give Corban a toy.  I do my best to praise him when he shares, even if Corban doesn't take the item. What a precious boy he is. 

Tegan's "I didn't get my way" fits have lessened and become shorter, so very pleased about that. He is a big "ham" when it comes to taking his picture, he says "cheese".  Cracks me up.

I am still in awe that the boys are finally a part of our family. It seems so surreal at times yet it is very real. Our world has been turned upside down in so many ways. Not in bad ways, just in ways that require a new mind set and new routines which all seem to be falling into place, I think. It is taking some adjusting on my part as my day has to be better planned out now. 

I am pleased with each of our children and how they take time to play around with each of the boys. I wasn't sure how Michiael or Logan, our 12 and 10 year old boys, would interact with them but they really handle them well. Sometimes, they will even take the boys to the downstairs play area when they are down there.

With Angel, it didn't take long to feel that "it seems like she's always been a part of our family".  I can't say I've felt that yet.  I still struggle with "missing" the "freedom" I had and that I feel more "tied" to the house right now. I know these are all normal, post adoption or even after birthing a child, feeling.  I'm sure as time goes it will get a little easier. My heavenly Father will see me through, I lay my struggles at His feet.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


One of Tegan's first words - puppy.  This does not mean that he likes puppy, just that we've made a big deal of talking about puppy (our 2 year old, Pit bull/Boxer, Jewlz) and showing him how much we love puppy that when I brought Tegan downstairs this morning and we passed the office, which is where Jewlz is quarantined to right now, he pointed and said "puppy".  It's progress and I'll take it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The dust is beginning to settle...

We made it home, unscathed Saturday night, shortly before 9pm.  My husband and 5 kids were anxiously awaiting at the airport for our decent out of the "secure" area to greet us.  It was so wonderfully great to see them. I teared up many times during the travel back to the US knowing that the day had finally come that I would be reunited with them.  I could not wait to give each of them a big hug and kiss.  Three weeks is way to long to be away from my kids.
I thank God for the journey, for the experience and for all he has done for us. The hardest part of this entire journey has been the extended time away from my kids.  I can handle a week, that is therapeutic for all of us, but much more than that is torturous.

My husband did a great job with managing the house while I was away.  I have to say everything appears to be intact other than the messes of our unpacking from a long, long distance trip.  As of today, I still have some unpacking to do - little by little it is getting done.  We have been pretty busy with daily life, post adoption reviews, doctor appointments and new routines. 

Thankfully, everyone is getting along well and we are each discovering how we will all "fit". Angel is showing some jealousy but we expected that. Kailey is a little momma hen, loves carrying the boys whenever they want picked up.  We are working on getting her to not carry them all the time.  I do appreciate her help though.  I believe she has even changed a wet diaper or two.

Corban's willingness to consume bottles has been going well over the past 2 days, I hope it stays that way.  I began adding a little bit of baby puree and milk to his bottles in attempts to improve his nutrition and calorie intake.  So far, the little changes I've made have not detoured him from the bottles!!!! PTL!!!  I plan to increase the amount of baby food and milk I'm adding every few days.

Yesterday, we took the boys for their first physicals.  We met with our Chinese pediatrician, Dr Zhou who has been Angel's pediatrician since our return home with her.  Overall, the appointment went well.  Tegan is 35 inches tall and weighs almost 26 pounds.  Corban is 34.5 inches tall and weighs 23 pounds.  I really though there was more than a three pound difference between the two of them, it sure feels like it.

There are no concerns regarding Tegan.  Corban, on the other hand, is being referred on for several evaluations.  We are being referred to speech and occupational therapy for his eating, verbal and developmental delays.  To an ENT to be sure there are no issues with his swallowing. A CT scan of his head is being requested to be sure there are no brain issues, pediatrician has some concern of this due to his delays and misshapen head. Then the final referral I'll not publicize, it's nothing of concern - let's just say he really on needs one anyway.

We have been blessed with many dinners since returning home.  This had been such a blessing and really had made the days a little easier.  Thank you to all who have taken the time to prepare and drop off meals.  We are extremely grateful for your generosity. We sure are blessed to have so many caring friends.  Thanks be to God, may he be as generous to all of you!!!!

Thank you also to those who have sent size 18 months clothes.  We now have a few pants that actually stay on Corban.

                                    Corban                                                             Tegan

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 Nov 18 Day 19 Home and Homeward bound

Tegan and daddy have arrived home!!! Sounds like overall Tegan did pretty well, didn't sleep much so hopefully he sleeps through the night and will have flip flopped his night/day on his own!  That would be fabulous. He took well to the kids, not so much the cats. Our dog comes home from the kennel tomorrow. I'm sure that will be a shocker to him too but he'll learn to love them by watching us.
In an hour, Corban and I will check out of the hotel, meet our guide in the lobby, head to the US Consulate to pick up Corban's passport with US Visa and head to the train station.  From there we will board the 4:56 train bound for Hong Kong. I am so ready to go home but also dreading the long flight, long layover and final flight home.  I pray Corban does not get over stimulated by all this, I'm not sure I can handle outbursts on the long flight, my nerves are pretty much shot.  Just being home will be a big weight off my shoulders.  I'm ready for a normal routine, (whatever that is with two new toddlers) on my own turf.

This will likely be my last update till we are home and settled. Thank you all for following our journey and praying us through it all.  This journey is far from over so you are welcome to continue to check in on us as we all adapt as a new family of 8. 

I have been blessed beyond measure. 

Chorus from my favorite praise band song at church: "Never once did we ever walk alone, never once did you leave us on our own, you are faithful, God you are faithful!!!!" This line brought me to tears the last Sunday at church before leaving for China, even now it brings me to tears because I know it is oh so true.

Another line that resonates from this song, "Never Once" and mirrors this past week and a half with Corban:

"Kneeling on this battle ground, seeing just how much you've done, knowing every victory, was your power in us. Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say, yes, our hearts can say" (leading into the chorus above)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 Nov 17 - Day 18 Corban's CA Day!!!

We had Corban's US Consulate appointment this morning.  Upon receiving his US Visa tomorrow afternoon, he will be ready to become an official USA citizen.  Once we step foot on US soil, the process is complete!!!!  Only two and a half days till that happens.

Corban and I will just chill on the island for the rest of today.  We've taken one short walk, will venture out again after nap time. We check out of the Victory tomorrow afternoon, meet out guide at 2:30pm for a trip back to the consulate to get his passport with US Visa and then we are heading to the train station, bound for Hong Kong.

I will miss China, the birth home of half my children, it's beautiful gardens and landscaping but I can't wait to be reunited with my WHOLE family!!!!! I won't miss the rude people who stare and especially those who take pictures - ugh.

2011 Nov 16 - Day 17

This evening I sent Tegan and his daddy on their way to Hong Kong to begin their journey back to the USA.  I was sad to have to say "goodbye" to my husband for a second time on this trip but I know their going means Corban and I are not far behind. 

Our final family photo in China.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Corban has come along way....

Corban has come a long way in a weeks time.  A week ago, I worried that his development was beyond what we had prepared for and wondered if we were going to be able tohow were going to handle all that were likely to endure. A week of hugging on him even when he didn't want hugged.  Touching him even when he didn't want to be touched.  Playing with him when he prefers to play alone seems to have worked wonders. We still have a lot of progress to make, especially with eating, but as I write this I began doing Eskimo kisses (nose to nose rubbing) with him, he giggles, runs away and keeps coming back for more - it melts my heart. God works wonders and I know all these sweet moments will get us through the tough times we will face.

Adoption entails the same unknowns we face when we give birth to children. We pray and hope for a child who is healthy and has no concerns but we know even if they do, we will love and care for them, even through the difficult trials of life.  Thank you God for blessing us with these precious miracles of life. You chose us to be their parents for a reason and for that I am thankful and will love them to pieces.

2011 Nov 15 - Day 16 - Tegan's Consulate Appt

This morning was Tegan's US Consulate appointment; therefore, once we have his U.S. Visa tomorrow afternoon, he is ready to step foot on U.S. soil and become a full fledged citizen of the USA!!!!  What a joyous day. 

That was all we had this morning, though it did take all morning since there were a few other families with us who had later appointments. We came back to the room for some lunch and naps for the boys.  Ok, I took a brief nap too since I had been up since about 5 a.m.

After that we gave Corban a bottle , we went for a walk around the island. We some shopping to finish up so we did that, found the park with a playground where the boys went down the slides, several times then walked back to the room to play till dinner time.

I introduced Jason to the Cow and Bridge Thai restaurant that is located right around the corner from the our hotel. They have yummy sweet and sour chicken.  Service is a little sketchy as no one seemed to speak much English but we managed. Thankful for their Chinese/English menus.

After dinner we stopped by the little store that is located right next to the hotel to pick up our final small batch of laundry, another gallon of water and some rice cookies to take home with us.  Back in the room we fed Corban another bottle, showered the boys and got them ready for bed.

Tonight is Jason and Tegan's final night here in China. After we get Tegan's U.S. Visa they will join another family for a van ride to Hong Kong.  They will depart from there Thursday morning for their trip back to the states.  Please pray that Tegan does well on the van ride (his motion sickness is hit and miss) and that he behaves on the long plane ride to Detroit.  Once he steps foot on ground in Detroit, he becomes an official U.S. Citizen!!!!

Today again, momma bear came out - Grrrrrr. While sitting in the hotel lobby, next to the front windows waiting for our guide, an older gentleman just stood and stared at Tegan.  I finally waved my hand for him to move along.  Then, while we strolling the island , three young ladies were walking towards us, one had a camera and right in front of us prepared to take a picture of Tegan. Well I told her no, putting a hand in front of Tegan and told her to move along. That just drives me crazy. I also stared down three ladies who stared at Tegan while we were at the park.  How very rude.

How to help and understand us when we return home...

I found this written by another adoptive parent. I am amazed it took this mother a month to make this statement as I have already had these thoughts, privately, myself....

A month after welcoming our toddler son home, I sobbed to my Bible Study sisters, “We prayed for this for the past year. Remember? We really wanted this adoption to happen!” Did I regret adopting again or not expect the difficulty? Absolutely not. It’s similar to childbirth. You know it’s going to hurt for a while but the pain leads to joy. I was overtired, missing my comfort zone, and feeling inadequate to meet this little boy’s needs as well as the needs of the rest of my family.

As God has built our family through birth, adoption and through fostering I can say that each has its unique set of challenges. After going through childbirth I needed to heal physically but after welcoming a child through adoption or fostering there have also been great adjustments. Older children and/or children from another country have emotional pain to deal with. The children grieve the loss of their home, even if it is a rundown orphanage. The adoptive family grieves the routine they had before welcoming a new child. Siblings grieve the loss of attention from their parents. Toddlers and older children don’t sleep round the clock like a newborn, they are trying to establish their territory and are scared or confused. They need parents within sight but may push away and scream when held. It is an overwhelming time for everyone involved.

How can you help a family who has recently added a child through adoption or foster care?
  • Understand their need to close the doors for awhile. Social gatherings and public places are overwhelming to an adjusting child and exhausted parents. Bonding is a full-time job and all other exterior responsibilities need to be minimized. Finding 10 minutes alone to shower is a monumental task and the thought of dealing with meltdowns in public can be downright daunting.
  • But knock on their door (after calling ahead!) with a meal, gift card, an offer to mow the lawn or take home laundry. Help is needed just as much (we found needed more!) when bringing home an older child as when having a newborn. The entire family needs extra time and attention.
  • Invite the other siblings over for a play date or sleepover. Their world has been turned upside-down! With our last son, we juggled bedrooms and everyone ended up with a new roommate. The older kids have been frustrated by the toddler invasion and need a break from tantrums, messes, and diapers.
  • Come and play with the kids so Mom can enjoy a nap (especially if jet-lagged), spend time with a child one-on-one or catch up on some chores.
  • Help create ‘bonding moments’ with the new child. Babysit the other siblings so the new parents can take their new son or daughter to a movie or shopping. Or give a gift card to the local mini golf course and pizza place and give the entire family a chance to make new memories together.
  • Volunteer to come and stay with the kids after they are in bed so Mom and Dad can go out for coffee or a walk alone. It may be too disruptive to have a sitter so they can go out for the evening but they still need a little time alone. After the kids are sleeping will cause less disruption.
  • Extend grace for a last-minute cancellation of plans, forgotten responsibilities (really? I signed up to bring treats for today?), and lost conversations (you told me that 5 minutes ago? I’m so sorry!).
  • Have a good camera? Take some family photos or individual candid shots as a gift to the family.
  • Listen with compassion, even when you are tired of hearing the same frustrations. Give a hug or a laugh. Celebrate the happy and funny moments.
You can make a difference in a child’s life by loving their new family!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011 Nov 13 - Day 14 Safari Park

Today we visited the largest zoo in China called Safari Park.  It was really neat and a beautiful 80 degree day for it.  There is a 30 minute train ride you take through half of the park where they drive through a safari type area where some of the animals can literally come right up to the vehicles.  We saw black bears, lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras, hippos, rhinos, and many more animals that I can't remember - check out the pictures.

Then we got to walk the other half of the park where we saw some baby tigers - oh so cute, kangaroos, elephants, koalas and pandas!!!! It was so neat to see real life pandas.

Tegan loved pointing at all the animals, Corban wasn't all that interested.  Thankfully we had two strollers, borrowed from Emma's shop here on the island, and the boys sat in them the whole time.  I was quite impressed!!!! 

I was in defensive mode a few times while at the park. This was the first time I felt I needed to openly stand up for my children and their obvious "differences".  The boys got many stares today, which I hate but tolerate with a stare back. the problem is when someone tries to take an obvious picture of the boys like they are something to "brag to my friends about", that's when they cross my line.  While standing in line for the safari train, a young man kept staring at Tegan then whipped out his camera to take a picture. I stared right back at him, stuck out my "stop sign" hand, shook my head "no" and turned the stroller a bit to make my point. Then as we exited the panda exhibit, which was our final exhibit before leaving, we took an adoption group photo.  While we were doing that a group of Chinese ladies looked the group over and obviously noticed our boys (Corban was wearing shorts so the nevus on his legs were obvious too).  They then took out their cameras moving directly in front of the boys to take pictures - well the momma bear in me stepped up again - looking straight at them shaking my head and hands saying "no pictures, move along" - one of the other mothers in our group chimed in too (thanks Mary!). 

How seriously rude can people be? It just irritates me. I deal with it to a point because I know curiosity is natural but don't cross that curiosity line and treat my kids like they are something to display. They are beautiful just like the rest of us who are ALL different in our own special way.  God made each of us unique and some differences are just more obvious than others.

Unfortunately, I was so irritated by the end when we had to retrace our steps back through the park to leave that I think I told someone who whipped out their camera as we passed by to "not take pictures" (I'm not even sure they whipped out their camera for the reason I thought they did). Please forgive me Lord and whomever I snipped at for my quick temper in that instance. I just wasn't having anymore of it.  I have never had to deal with people feeling like they could take pics of them before and for it to have happened twice today really got under my skin.

I am glad that we are in the final stretch of this trip, after 2 weeks, I am ready for home and "normalcy."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Update of the last few days...

We had a free day on Thursday; therefore, we didn't do a lot, took a nice stroll around the island.

Friday morning, we visited Six Banyan temple - a Buddhist temple. We got to talk a tour of the place and our guide explained the various Buddha’s found around the place and then our adopted children were blessed by one of the monks. It was neat to learn about and a special piece of China for them to experience, not that our boys will remember it.

 After the temple, we went to a jade store. I didn't purchase anything since we had already done that in Beijing. After the store though we headed to lunch at restaurant that specializes in dim sum and that is where Jason met us upon his arrival in Guangzhou!!! I was soooo very glad to see him and the boys have taken to Jason well!!!! YAY!!!

My mom and aunt Sharon took off on a train to Hong Kong Friday evening and left on a plane this morning.  They should be arriving back in the US in about an hour. I am so thankful that the Lord blessed me with their presence. They were a HUGE help.

 Today, we and 5 other families had to take our kids for their medical exams. The boys did really well considering the chaos of people and wait we endured. We did learn of an additional, unconcerning issue about Corban, during the examination that they wanted to be sure we were aware of but other than that, all went well. They each had to be administered the TB test before we left which we will find out the results for on Monday.
The boy's jealousy of each other is beginning to show. We are doing our best to try to be fair to both of them, not always easy to do with their differing needs.

 Tonight we went to dinner at a Cantonese restaurant with another family - we joked about the food on the menu and had some great laughs! Making great memories in China!!!!

Realities of adopting 2 two year olds....

Adopting two at the same time is tough.  Adopting two, two year old at the same time, even tougher. I will admit, this journey isn't easy. It has been tough. It has been tough on Tegan to go from having me to himself for 4 days to having to "compete" for time with me. Their young ages (which make them so dependant on us) and their unexpected developmental differences make it hard. Their being strangers to each other and differing dialects add to the situation. I have no doubt we will get through it all with time, patience and lots of prayers.

I post these realities so that others who are considering our same scenario keep these things in mind and are prepared for the possibility of a child being more developmentally behind than anticipated.  I tried not to anticipate anything as we approached union with the boys but that can be hard to do.  I will admit, I was not prepared for Corban to be so developmentally behind in his eating. That has been the toughest reality but at this point I am thankful that he is willingly eating 4 bottles of formula and rice cereal a day!!!!!

If anyone considering adopting two would like to "talk" please send me a private message.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2011 Nov 8 Day 9 - Corban's Adoption Day

Corban is officially a Downey!!!  I am now a mother of 6 (in my heart 7, as it still wonders and yearns for Noel).

God is good and his timing perfect! PTL, I have our boys!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

10 days yet to go and a Reality check....

I'm hitting the part of this journey where I'm really beginning to be homesick.  I miss my husband, kids, friends, church and a regular routine.  I am thankful to have my mom and aunt here but it's just not the same. I don't believe I've ever been homesick before but then again, I've never been away from my whole family for more than a few days - nor have two new children who need lots of me right now and there's not enough of me for both of them, all the time. 

I don't know how our military people do it for the extended periods that they do.  I have a new found respect for them and my stay is short term.  God bless them for all they suffer for our freedom.  Thank you!

The days have become tougher with two, two year old.  Tegan's fits of anger for not getting his way or being removed from a situation have become more frequent and comforting him has become more difficult.  He whiny cried for about 30 minutes straight this morning. My holding him did not comfort him, only made him more mad so after about 10 minutes I set him on the bed.  Grandma tried to cheer him up but that too only made him madder.  He seems to whined down as time goes . I eventually went back over, picked him up and asked him if he was finished, then he was fine. 

Tegan and Corban do not yet interact with each other.  Tegan likes to make sure I know what Corban is doing in case it is something he shouldn't be doing.  Tegan is not a fan of Corban playing with a toy he has finished playing with, this can trigger Tegan walking up to Corban and swiping it out of his hands.  Corban doesn't really respond to Tegan doing this. 

Today, Corban threw his first fit.  Not really sure what it was over but he plopped himself onto his bottom and then back onto the floor.  I finished fixing his bottle, scooped him up, laid him on the bed with the bottle and he was fine. Yay, bottle number 2 today and it's only lunch time!

Reality - I have concerns about Corban, mostly that he is so far behind but that is not his fault.  I checked with the Corban's Orphanage Yahoo group about my concerns and they confirmed that what he presents is typical behavior of a child from his orphanage.  At 29 months, he has never had anything but a bottle of formula mixed with rice cereal to eat.  He refused all food that approaches his mouth.  The few small things I have gotten into his mouth come right back out.  He does not know how to suck a bottle just knows to chew on the nipple and the thin paste will come out.  This is because orphanages cute holes into the tips of the nipples so they can feed them thickened formula via the bottle.  I tried to mix baby food, juice and rice cereal yesterday and he wanted nothing to do with that bottle.  Most kids would eat up something sweet like that but he's ok with bland.

We will likely have to treat his feeding like he's 6 months old and continue to try and introduce new things to him.  Hopefully it won't take long for him to catch up.

Corban is smart and catches on fast but has some bad habits, probably due to his needs not being met.  He hits his head on things, repeatedly, pulls at his hair (therefore, he has several bald spots) and startles at quick movements.  His head has many lumps and bumps on it - I will never know why.  I hope many of them are temporary and go away.  My heart cries for this little boy and all the attention he has lacked over his two and a half years.  He weighs about 22 lbs according to the scale here in the room, Tegan weighs about 29 and they are almost the same height. 

Corban was finally comfortable enough yesterday to walk and we discovered yet another issue we will likely need to address.  He walks with his feet turned out, using mostly the insides of his feet which makes him unbalance.  He often walks like he is drunk but, it does not slow him down.

Corban is going to talk a lot of TLC, I am thankful that God planned for me to meet Tegan first so I had a few days to bond with him before meeting Corban.  Though Tegan still needs me, he had a good bond going with me and therefore, I can pay a little more attention to Corban's needs. I am also thankful that my husband will be here in about 48 hours and this should make much of this a little easier.

Please pray for Corban, that he will come out of his shell and begin to open up to eating some "real" food.  Even baby food would be a start.

Thank you all for your continued blessings.

2011 Nov 7 - Corban's Gotcha

After a stop and some meandering around the island then lunch and Tegan's nap, we met our group and guide in the lobby at 2pm to go meet our children. There are two other families on the same schedule as us, so we get to experience this all with support!

After arriving at the Civil Affairs office,  cramming into a little room to wait for and to prepare to meet our kids,  the moment finally arrived. I ended up being the last of the families to meet child but that's ok, God's plan is always best. 

I had just finished video taping the couple's gotcha before me when it became my turn.  I returned the camera, turned around and there he was - I hardly recognized him due to all the hair he now has. In the  pictures we got of him in June, his hair was all buzzed off - he looks like a totally different kid, still a cutie.  He came right to me with a big grin on his face, like he recognized me - I was so happy for another great Gotcha!!!! I even got a chance, with our guides help, to ask the nannies some questions about his daily routine and such.  So thankful for that opportunity.

Corban did great through the ride back to the hotel and for most of the evening.  The issue we ran into is that he would not take any of the sippy cups I brought nor the new bottle I ran down to the store to get.  He won't take any sort of food, doesn't even seem to know what to do with it.

So far, the boys really haven't interacted with each other.

Bedtime was a bit rough with the two boys but eventually I got both of them to sleep and then I followed behind.  They both slept through the night in separate cribs.  I actually slept till my alarm went off at 6am (now I did get up a few times during the night to check on the boys) but still the best night of sleep I've had yet!!!! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Nov 6 Day 7 Shanghai to Guangzhou

Sunday was a travel day.  We met our guide at 9:15am to head to the airport.  Emma helped us get checked in and then saw us off to the security check point.  We thanked her for all her help during our stay in Shanghai and parted ways.

Tegan did really well in the airport but once we were on the plane and it was time to buckle into his seat, he wasn't so happy. Unfortunately, he has to sit there doing his quite (thankfully) cry as I did my best to snuggle him into my side.  I tried really hard to distract him, I tried a new toy phone, Smarties and even a sucker, nothing won out.  Finally, once we were airborne, he calmed a bit and fell asleep. 

He snoozed for about 20 minutes or so and woke up, I then picked him up and snuggled him and he fell back to sleep for about another 40 minutes.  When he woke up his noodle lunch was awaiting him and we killed the remainder of the flight eating noodles.  Upon decent to landing, he again go upset but was calm once I asked him if he was ready to go bye bye as we approached our terminal.

We arrived at our hotel about 3:30pm, settled in and then went for a little walk around Shamian island.  Before heading back up to our rooms, we stopped by Subway for some "to go" subs.  Many of the same sandwiches that we have in the states but they sure don't taste quite the same.

2011 Nov 5 - Day 6 - Shanghai tour day

On Saturday, we met our guide at 9am to see a few sites in Shanghai.  We started at Old Shanghai which after passing through you can visit Yu Garden (a garden built by a wealthy man many hundreds of years ago).  Old Shanghai was old building that had been turned into a shopping area.  The Yu Garden was absolutely beautiful, you will have to see the 100 or so pictures I took of it. 

After spending just over an hour there we went to the Bund, which is a walkway that lines the river that separates the East and West sides of Shanghai from each other or the Older part from the newer part.  The skyline of the newer part looks very metropolitan with all the high rise buildings.

On the way back to our hotel, our guide pointed out a few restaurants that we might want to try for dinner; therefore, when that time came we ventured out to check them out settling on a place that specialized in curry dishes.  Aunt Sharon and I each tried a curry dish, my mom settled for french fries and ice cream.  Gotta love her! We like our choices, it was something different.  Even Tegan had a hamburger and curry friend rice dish and gobbled it up.

Side note on Tegan - he is really showing that he is 2 and testing his boundaries. He is starting to show that he knows what "no" or "uh uh" means but will still follow through on "no nos".  The problem is, he doesn't like the result when he does this - typically being that I remove him from the situation or put away whatever it is he is throwing.  He then begins to pout and slap his thighs with his hands and winingly cries. I give him a few moments for it to sink in and then snuggle him to show him that mama still loves him even when he makes poor choices.

Corban's Gotcha in 7 hours...

I know I'm a bit behind on the blog but wanted to let you all know I haven't forgotten. We made it to Guangzhou yesterday afternoon about 2pm and to our hotel, the Victory Hotel on Shamian Island, about 3:30pm.  We got settled in and then walked the island for a bit. We ran into Jordan, while walking the streets.  Jordan owns a store here, called Jordan's, on the island and does calligraphy of adopted children's American names and their meaning.  He did it for us last time too.  We staying and chatted for a bit while he painted them. Great conversation and he's so supportive of adoptive parents. Then we headed back to the hotel and picked up some Subway sandwiches to take up to our rooms.  Not quite Subway from the states but it wasn't bad.

Anyway, we meet Corban in about 7 hours!!!!  I will update with Gotcha Day photos and info later.

Please pray for a smooth transition for him and for Tegan who will now have to share mom.


Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 Nov 4 - T's Adoption Day!

Tegan was awake right at about 5am just as his schedule says though he did not want his bottle right away.  He woke up without a word, just kinda laid there looking around trying to recall where he was.  I decided not to have a crib brought up, decided we'd just share the king bed for some bonding.  He slept great and maneuvered closer to me as the night went. Still the best (still only about 5 hours) night of sleep I've had here though.

He did eventually take his bottle, as you can see in the pictures after we took a bath in the sink (only a shower in this room otherwise) and got dressed for the day. We then met up with mom and aunt Sharon at about 7 for breakfast. Tegan sure can eat. He ate a variety of foods, though we have figured out he doesn't do a lot of chewing and therefore have to stick with soft easy foods, otherwise, he wants to spit them out.  He is ever so polite when he needs to do this though, he will point to his mouth and wait for a napkin to be put under it. Reminds me of Angel as she was the same way.

Today was the day we finalized the adoption - he officially became a Downey!  We met our guide at 8:30am to head to the Shanghai Registration Center of Marriage and Adoption office for his Adoption certificate, you can see the "official" photos we took once that paperwork was complete I had to once again state why we wanted to adopt him.  Then we moved on to the notary office where I had to agree that we would never abandon him and would treat him like he was a biological child, which of course I agreed to with hesitation!  Signed another document here, finalizing the adoption!!!!  All done by 10:30am. 

After a quick stop at a 7 - 11 near our hotel for some instant noodle for Tegan's lunch, we were back at the hotel before the morning was over! After eating his noodles and many of his gamma's PB & crackers it was nap time. I took him to the bed to get ready to lay down with him, just as I had done yesterday, and for the first time he began to cry.  He shook his head no and tear began to roll down his face with a very sad look.  I told him it was nap time, scooped him up and snuggled him to sleep. Mama would love to snuggle! And so he slept for about 2 hours.

Upon Tegan's waking, I gave him a bottle, which he guzzled down and we prepared to take a little walk to a nearby bank to exchange some money and find somewhere to eat dinner.  We managed all the above without needing to go but a few blocks from the hotel.  As we were standing at a street corner waiting to cross, looking a little unsure of where we were going, an older Chinese man asked if he could be of any help - I thought how kind of him because honestly, we had really just gotten a lot of stare downs of Tegan up to this point.  We politely told him we were ok and thanked him for his offer.

We ate at a Coffee House Restaurant that had many variety of dishes, some very strange to our American culture. Stewed pigs hooves (yum) and many others.  Mom and I settled on Sweet and Sour Pork while Aunt Sharon went with the Kung Po Chicken.  The sweet and sour pork was quite sour, very vinegar tasting but I thought it was good. Mom's pork seemed to be not as tender as mine.  Aunt Sharon's chicken, well some of the pieced still seemed to have bones in them, more like small chicken wings.  The flavor was good and it wasn't as spicy as it looked like it could have been, there were lots of hot peppers in it. They brought Tegan a check, corn and carrot soup in which I added my rice to to thicken it up.  He seemed to like it.  I had also ordered him a corn dish that was corn cooked in egg and what tasted like Parmesan cheese - it was good. After eating much of it, Tegan began finger feeding me one kennel of corn at a time.  When it came time to go and we pulled the plate from in front of him, he got a bit upset and began to cry - for the second time today.  I again pulled him into my lap and snuggled him and after a minute or two we had him smiling again,

Back at the hotel he and I played with some soft blocks I brought, built towers and knocked them down. When that wasn't as fun anymore I blew up a balloon and he got a kick out of that for some time. It was during this time that he cried for the third and final time today.  I had opened the rooms safe to put away the money from the bank visit and someone started to push buttons.  I told him no (I know he doesn't understand English yet) and told him more than once attempting to divert his attention. He tends to just laugh when I tell him no while shaking my head no and when he did it again I grabbed him by the hand, told him no and walked him away from it.  Well I think the point finally got across as he began to pucker up to cry and began hitting his thighs with his hands.  I gave him a moment to understand that I didn't want him doing that and then scooped him up and all was amend.

After Skyping with Baba and the girls it was bed time for Tegan.  I snuggled him for a bit then laid him on the pillow next to me and he drifted off to sleep.

Today's observance - he really came out of his shell today. On gotcha day he only wanted to be held, did not want to walk around.  This morning he was running around the room, we played stacking cups again and a little orneriness showed but so did mom's. He is learning quickly that when he throws things to the floor, he has to pick them up, mom doesn't do it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Nov 3 Day 4 - Gotcha Day!!!

We met our guide, Emma, in the lobby at 8:30am and headed to a bank near the Civil Affairs office to exchange some money into Yuan (aka RMB) for some of the paperwork processing fees.  Then we went straight to the Civil Affairs office, arriving just after 9:30am.  We were not told if Tegan was already there or not so when we got to the office door I peaked in to look around the door frame and there he was - seeing him, took my breath away. I almost began to cry but kept my composure. He was just sitting in a chair very quiet and patient. He kept looking at me like he might know me (thankful I sent the photo album with family pictures).  Before I could interact with him, I had to sign many papers granting me custody of him for the next 24 hours.  He sat quietly the whole time, amazing for a 2 year old.

I kept glancing at him and giving him a little wave, he didn't really have a reaction.  At one point, while waiting for some documents, I pulled out a little car I had brought for him and he willingly took it. Once the paperwork was finished they said to pick him up - well you don't have to tell me twice - I got up from my chair and stepped over in front of him and offered to pick him up.  At this point I cannot even recall if he raised his hands to me or not, it's all a blur but I did pick him up and he didn't say a word. I sat down at the table with him as the lady from the orphanage brought over 3 bags full of gifts from the orphanage - I was in awe.

They sent with him all the items we had sent to him in care packages, plus a package of diapers, a pair of PJs, a chop which had a Ram on the top and his Chinese name engraved for stamping, a special mug made because it is their 100th year celebration, a photo album of his growing up (including a picture of when he arrived at the orphanage at about 3 days old - PRICELESS!!!!!) and pendant that was left with him (again PRICELESS). 

I was so very excited to see a newborn picture of him and a gift from his parents that was left with him. Oh how much they must have loved him to do that. I will never understand the pain and anguish they must have gone through to have to make that decision and follow through on it but my heart is so very thankful that they did what they needed to so that he would have a chance at life!!!! We are so very blessed to have this boy as a part of our family.

We then sat at the table and played with the car for about 10 more minutes while paperwork and plans for Friday's adoption paperwork were finalized. He was so happy and even giggled when he made the car crash onto the floor.  They said he is a very happy boy, I would have to agree.

Once done there we were taken back to our hotel to get to know Tegan (Mao Mao is what we are calling him for now as that is what they called him at the orphanage), eat lunch and get him down for a nap.  Which all went without a hitch. 

We met Emma again at 2pm for the orphanage visit. They tried to talk me out of it at gotcha time, but I insisted that I wanted to go.  I was a little hesitant in making that decision since we were only going to have a few hours to bond with him but am glad we decided to.  He had no real issues, other than being a little confused.  He was able to play in the PreK room with his friends and a nannyfor a bit. Then we went to see the room where he slept.  This is the infamous room we've seen in many photos where he has been in the green "playpen".  There were a few nannies in the room that spoke with him a bit and had him point out his crib to me.  They even showed us that he knows how to say "bye bye" and do palm throw kisses.

I am absolutely in love with this cheerful little guy and still need to pinch myself to know that this has all really happened. PTL!!!! 

Thank you for all your prayers!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tegan Day!!!!

In 6 hours I will get to meet our precious boy Tegan!  Stay tuned for pictures as soon as I have time to get them up.

Please pray that his heart is open to the situation and that he bonds quickly as we will visit the orphange this afternoon.  I pray it is not too soon and causes him much distress to leave it for a second time today.

2011 Nov 2 Day 3 - Beijing to Shanghai

We were up and moving before six this morning, I did not sleep well at.  We had to meet our driver at 8:30am to head to the airport.  So after getting ready and eating another big yummy breakfast, that is just what we did. Our driver dropped us off in front of the airport and off he went. We trudged to the airport entrance, each of us with our carry on bags and a rolling bag in each hand.   

We did not have tickets upon arrival so we went to the airline's ticketing counter only to find out this was to purchase or change flights so we went on to the luggage check area. We got there, waited in line only to find out that our 11:30am flight was delayed and that we should get on the 11am flight instead and were told to go back to the ticketing area so they could make that change for us.  So we trudged back to the ticketing counter where the very nice gal that helped answer questions quickly helped us out.  She took all 3 of our passports and bypassed the lines that had formed and got the ticket change done for us. Awesome, on less line we had to wait in and a good thing - you just wait this story gets even better.

With basically a note that says we were changed to the 11am flight we headed back to the baggage check lines.  Once it was our turn, I hand the lady our passports and begin to load our luggage onto the conveyor belt.  We complete that process, she hands us the tickets (which I don't even think to check) and our passports and off we go to go through the long security lines.  By this time it is about 10am and our boarding begins in 30min, doesn't appear to be a problem we should make it.  Me and my aunt Sharon get passed through the passport & ticket check, ready to put our items through the scanner when I am called back because there is question about my mother's ticket.  Thank God these agents speak English! They ask who my travel companion is and show me her passport and tick - oh my, for some reason, I have no idea how but my husband's name is on the ticket, not my mom's.  Therefore, we have to head back to the luggage check counter again to find out what to do.  My aunt Sharon goes on to the boarding terminal, on way or another we'll meet up with her.

Mom and I rush back to the baggage check counter (it is 10:15am, boarding begins in 15 minutes) to a line with about 5 people in front of us.  Thankfully it went pretty quick, I get to the counter and hand them my mom's passport with the ticket and tell them I have no idea how but my husband's name is on the ticket.  Amazingly they did not question me nor did we have to go back to the ticketing counter, they made the change and printed a new ticket with my mom's name on it. Whew.  Only now it is 10:20 and we have to wait in the long security line again. It took 10 minutes to get to the scanning center and we quickly walked to the terminal where they were in the process of boarding the plane - WHEW!!!!  Thankfully it was a big plane and many passengers that needed to board. 

We arrived in Shanghai, and then had a bump in connecting with our guide, Emma but we found her & she us. Since we did not find out about our flight change till we got to the airport in Beijing and ran around so much, we didn't get a chance to contact her to tell her about our flight change; therefore, she had thought our flight had been delayed and thought she was going to have to hang out at the airport for a while to wait for us to get in and had gone to find somewhere to sit and occupy herself till then.  Our awesome travel agent had emailed us Emma's phone number the day before so I was able to have the information desk call her and she met us a few minutes later.  Then our delima was that our driver had not yet left his home, thinking our flight was delayed, so Emma had to get approval from her company to take a taxi instead and that is just what we did.

Shanghai traffic is comparable to Chicago's traffic.  We sat in a slow moving jam for about 30 minutes so I took pictures.  Once the bottleneck cleared up we were cruising. We arrived at the Courtyard Marriott Pu Xi just before 4pm, waited a few minutes for our rooms to be cleaned and took our stuff upstairs.  We then had to head out into the light rain to walk to a nearby bank to convert cash into Yuan for the adoption.  Unfortunately, they would only let each of us convert a small amount, which was not enough so we will have to hit up a bank before meeting Tegan in the morning.  I'm sure it will all work out.

The good Lord is obviously not done testing me in this journey. None of it matters now because in 5 hours I will meet Tegan and all these mountains will not seem important.  I can hardly wait!!!!  Mama's coming Tegan! PTL

2011 Nov 1 - Day 2 - Beijing

The buffet breakfast here is huge and very good.  There are a variety of foods - eggs made to order, baked sweet potatoes (which I have eaten every day for breakfast), various Asian dishes, lots of pastries and much more.  We have been stuffing ourselves at breakfast and then just eating a light snack for lunch and waiting till dinner time to eat another meal. It's one way to save.

Since we didn't have to meet out guide until 1pm, we had a few hours to kill, therefore, we decided to take morning walk to the 6 story shopping center that we found yesterday on our first day, in our search for KFC. Each level had a focus of products and then many "booth like" sellers to which you could buy from. There were so many "booths" and so much to look at, we easily spent 2 hours looking around and never saw the whole place. I ended up purchasing two beautiful traditional boy silk outfits with dragons on them and mom purchased a pair of earrings. Shortly after noon, after 2 hours of exploring, we headed back to the hotel

At 1pm we met our guide, Ivan, for today's activities which were Tian An Men Square, the Forbidden City, a rickshaw ride through old town Beijing and an amazing acrobat show (there are a few video clips on the right side of our Shutterfly photo page).

It was another foggy day here in Beijing so once again, therefore, you could not enjoy the full beauty and amazing vastness of Tian an Men Square of the Forbidden city but we still enjoyed the tour.  Ivan is very informational and provided us with some history. We were done with our tour by 3pm and had time to kill before the acrobat show at 5:15 so Ivan gave us two other sites to see and we chose to take a rickshaw ride through an "old town" area of Beijing.  I have to say I am really glad we decided to do this, we got to visit the home of a family to see how they live.

In this area, families share a "courtyard" that leads to the front door of about 5 different families homes.  We walked through a door that is in a wall the lines the narrow alley type streets, into this courtyard (which is more like a sidewalk).  We approached the home of a family of 3, husband, wife and their 15 year old son.  The wife is a homemaker and greeted us at the door with a warm welcome. Even though she could not speak English you, she would talk to us like we understoon and our guide would interpret for her.  The homemaker was so very happy to have us and served us green tea, which I enjoyed (mom and aunt Sharon, not so much). She shared with us typical family life and asked questions about our families.  She was very fascinated that we each come from our have large families. She said the most Chinese can really only afford one child due to high education cost.

Their homes are very small, made up of only two small rooms. One room appeared to be their bedroom/office and TV room, while the room we sat in served as a kitchen/dining area and their son's bedroom. I cannot imagine being so cramped, we Americans are so spoiled as far as our homes go.

Our rickshaw tour ended after almost an hour, our guide picked us up and we headed to the acrobat show in rush hour traffic. We arrived about a half hour early so I took pictures of Beijing while we waited outside for our guide to get the tickets.  We had not used the restroom for several hours so we made a stop at the restroom before going into the theater, I almost thought I were going to have to give in and use a squatty toilet for the first time but low and behold there was a western toilet in the last stall!!!! Hallelujah and I had toilet paper in my purse!!!!

The acrobat show was amazing, the way people can bend their bodies and manipulate them is fascinating.  Makes my body hurt though.  The last act had me on the edge of my seat, worried that someone was going to get hurt.  There was a wire sphere that eventually, 5 motorcyclists ended up inside - I really thought someone was going to crash - I know that is just part of the anticipation and excitement of the show.  Mom took a video of the end of it, check it out it made for a really neat light show.

We were back at our hotel before 7pm and starving so we said our goodbyes to Ivan as it was his final time with us and headed out in search of pizza.  There are two pizza places near our hotel so we entered one of them in attempt to ask for a table and she just kept talking to us in Chinese and my hand jesters didn't seem to get our point across so we just turned around and left.  We then decided to give the other place a try and we had no problems there.  We ordered a  large Hawaiian thin crust pizza which had pineapple, ham and back on it and was really good.  We were also amazed when we got our bill and saw that they gave us a 50% discount, well after checking out the advertisements on the table we discovered that Tuesdays are half price day! Our meal, large pizza and two beers cost less than $15!  The place was call The Pizza Company.

Another full day complete.

Pictures of our Journey to bring Tegan and Corban home!