Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More with Nate's little brother

We've had Alex for three full days, and he is a good, good boy.  The toughest part is communicating with him since he can't speak, but he is gradually learning his new name and a little bit of English comprehension. Although he is almost 3 years old, he reminds me more of a child that's about 2.  That will change quickly once he's home - gets his lip and mouth repaired (it is worse than we expected and he has already had two surgeries).  He'll have no choice but to learn to speak in order to keep up with his big brother.

He has taken to me very quickly and is slowly loving daddy more each day.  We bought a stroller at Walmart (which made me recall my headache-y days of the Shanghai Walmart, but it was much less crowded), so we've been taking two walks each day around the large lake and park that our hotel is near.  We've seen a couple of local sights - one was a beautiful Buddhist temple - and for all of the temples that we've visited throughout China, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan - it is one of the nicest ones we've seen.  We also went to an old section of town that used to belong to the wealthy until the Communist government took it over.  It's now a series of shops and restaurants.  Alex enjoys the walks and is taking everything in.

There is also a huge important Communist party meeting that's taking place at our hotel and the nearby conference center, and many of the officials are staying at our hotel, so we ride in the elevator with them every day.  On Monday, one of the officials asked us where we were from and then looked at Alex and said with a very sweet, tender smile, "very good."  It was as if he knew that his own people would not care of our darling boy, but that we would love him no matter what.  We're really wondering what kind of meeting it is, though.  There are security guards everywhere, which we were told we're standard security they are part of the Chinese army.

The town we're in, Fujian, a second tier city by China's standards, is actually quite nice.  The population is 8 million, but it feels smaller.  It's fairly clean unlike the larger cities of Shanghai and Beijing.  And, there almost no Westerners anywhere.    We've seen three since we've been here.  So, we get a lot of looks.  We did see one other US couple who adopted a little boy about the same age as Alex, who was Albino, but they are not  staying at our hotel.

Right now, we are just waiting for his passport to be issued.  Tomorrow, we make sure our paperwork is correct, and Friday, we meet with the police who will give us his passport and then we fly to Guanghzhou, where the US paperwork and meetings take place.  We're glad to be about half-way through our trip.

We've done some sightseeing in the mornings and we nap and walk the lake during the afternoons.  Today we went to Panda World, which was awful.   There were four or five Giant Pandas, and eight red Pandas in very sparse conditions.  The highlight was changing Alex's diaper at their public toilets.  They were awful, so we went behind the building and changed him there!  We're newbies with diapers and trying to potty train!

Lastly, Alex's Chinese name, given to him by the orphanage director is "Xiao" which means sun "da" which means achieve, which is funny because I've always called Nate "sunshine," so now we have two sunshine boys.

Back from the Shanghai days, a funny sign

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meet Alex (except that I can't post the photo for some reason)

Our flight to Fuzhou from Hong Kong (just about 80 minutes) was over an hour late, so as soon as we got to our hotel, Alex was waiting for us!  He toddled around the lobby until I ran over to him.  He was a bit shy and nervous, and we went up to a conference room so that we could sign temporary custody papers.  And with that, we had him for the night!  He cried for almost two hours until he finally fell asleep.  Poor boy!  He actually preferred sleeping with us rather than the crib in our room, and when he woke up a few times in the middle of the night, he just looked at me and fell back asleep.

When we woke up this morning, we had a different boy.  He was happy and laughed and really started to trust us.  We had breakfast and then went to sign our official adoption papers.  So, today was our family day!  We had to make a few official stops and even ran into another American couple adopting their little boy, who looks about the same age as Alex.  Penny, our "fixer" told us that a couple of years ago, there might be 10-15 American families adopting children from Fuzhou each week, and now it is rare to have even one a week.  International adoption statistics came out yesterday, and tragically, US adoptions of international children are down for the 8th straight year.

Our first "unofficial" trip was to Walmart to buy snacks, a stroller and diapers (yikes, I will need help from my friends with potty training!).  We went back to the hotel for a nap and then went on a walk around the lake in front of our hotel.  It's a beautiful area with several parks, paddle boats and a museum.

Alex is a very sweet and gentle boy.  His lip repair is much worse than we anticipated and he can make sounds, but so far, has not spoken.  He loves playing with the toys we brought him, and responds well to us talking to him.  Right now, he is sitting between us on the bed, looking at a book (Thank you Meg Fuertges!). 

For some reason, I cannot post a photo, so any FaceBook friends, go there to see our first pic together!  I need to turn attention back to our darling boy as he is minutes from bedtime, and I think I might be too!

Love to you all!

16 hours in the middle seat

We made it to Hong Kong on Friday night, although I was completely contorted for 16 hours of sitting in the middle seat. We got up early and walked along the promenade of Victoria Harbor, and even ran for a bit. We met some friends of ours for lunch and a little walking tour of the city. Hong Kong is fantastic. It was like Shanghai, but more civilized. No spitting on the sidewalk, no trash on the streets. You can feel and see the British influence despite twenty years under Chinese control. Afternoon tea is still a very important ritual. We ate snow fungus, a new treat, and went to the top of Victoria Peak at night - a beautiful sight despite the fog and light rain. Once we got back to the mainland side, Kowloon, where we were staying, we got caught in a downpour walking back to our hotel. Sunday was a bit more relaxing as it was the day that we traveled to Fuzhou and to Alex. That's next! My brain is totally fried because I'm still catching up on jet lag, and I'm forcing myself to stay awake another two hours so that I don't wake up at 4am tomorrow. So I apologize for the haphazard nature of my writing.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our journey to Alex

It's been almost a year since my last post because we've been busy being mom and dad to one amazing little 5-year old. Now, we're off to China to bring Alex home. First stop is Hong Kong, a place in Asia we haven't traveled to yet (I had a layover there during my first trip to Vietnam). So, in addition to catching up on jet lag, we hope to see a few sights and we'll get to visit a friend from when we lived in Shanghai. On Sunday afternoon, we fly to Fuzhou and will get custody of Alex either that night or Monday morning. I'll blog as I have time - depends on if Alex likes to nap or not, and if mommy wants to join him! Thanks for all of your prayers and well wishes. We are so grateful to complete our family with this precious little boy.