Monday, April 26, 2010

Yesterday, April 25, we had the full day to explore. We took a taxi to Shamian Island, which seems to be the famous "adoption island". Most adopting families stay at the White Swan hotel, located on the island during their required stay in Guangzhou. Because of the trade show that is in full swing, our group was not able to stay at this amazing hotel as all of the rooms were already full. Instead, we are across the river at the Riverside Hotel. Anyway, it is obvious that the White Swan is known as the adoption hotel because of all of the surrounding shops tailoring their wares to adoptive parents. It is a beautiful island with many fun and interesting buildings, trees, stores, and parks.

There are very interesting sculptures all around the island. This one is my favorite. I didn't do a very good job of getting the dog into the picture. Most of the sculptures are just as random as this one--another favorite is a little boy and a little girl punching each other...????

This is inside the White Swan hotel. It is amazing! After we had toured the island for a while we decided to go to a shop that had been recommended to us. We had a card for the shop which is supposed to help the taxi driver find the location, but our driver didn't know the streets so drove us in the right direction and then dropped us off. I was very impressed at Ryan's ability to read the Chinese street signs and after 15-20 minutes of walking, we actually found the store that we were looking for. The next couple of pictures were taken during our walk.

Today, we went with our group to a shopping street for the morning, back for a quick nap and then off to the Island again for dinner. Before we ate, we stopped into the White Swan for the traditional "red sofa" picture taking. I guess that it is tradition for the children and families to have their pictures taken on the red sofa at the White Swan so here we are!

This is our Samuel and his friend Samuel. They were from the same orphanage so we call them brothers.
Nine out of ten of the newly adopted babies.

Samuel was having fun pounding on the cushions.

This is our entire travel group. We are blessed to have a great group.

Ryan is currently outside playing basketball with the kids playing under the hotel (pictured in the last post) He and 2 other adoptive dads played last night and they were able to get a couple more guys roped into playing tonight. It would be fun to be there to watch them, but the days have been so full that Samuel is only catching naps here and there so is very tired. Tomorrow morning our China reps go to the consulates to deliver all of our paperwork... we are getting closer! It still seems like it is forever before we are able to come home. We are SO ready! We really miss our kids in MI. Counting down the days until May 1!!!!!!!
Anna, Elijah, and Rachel, WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


We arrived into the city of Guangzhou yesterday. It is here that the final preparations are made for Samuel to go to the US, culminating late in the week with his VISA approval from the US Consulate. All China adoptions go through Guangzhou.

This morning, he had a medical exam from the local Chinese medical clinic which included 5 immunizations, aka, shots. He survived to live and ga ga about it. He is currently playing with his favorite toy, an orange bowl purchased at the grocery mart (intended for food), on our hotel room floor. The bowl is multi-faceted in that it can really be played with in an infinite number of ways, many of them demonstrated by Samuel. It works as a collector of objects, drum, and also freakish sort of frisbee. For no extra charge, it also works in the bathtub. Oh, and this just in, he's now turned it upside down and is sliding it to and fro on the carpet, it's officially a toy vacuum cleaner too....oh, and now it's back to collecting toys.

Can you tell that our lives center around Samuel? That is the name of this game that we are playing over here in China. We sure miss all of our family and friends, but often remind ourselves that this is important bonding time for this little guy that we won't be able to re-create anywhere else.

Samuel did make 2 huge strides in the last 48 hours. After the gotcha, he really only got upset during bathtime and whenever we dropped him into a high chair. He overcame his fear of the bathtub (perhaps it was the orange bowl?) a couple days ago. And, this morning, he actually sat and ate from a high chair. It was good timing as the novelty of feeding him from Aimee's lap at every meal was wearing slightly.

Here are some pictures from the last few days with some commentary.

Can you find Samuel buried in the balls? If not, don't drive.
2 chinese-looking guys. (Note: this was not deliberate on my part.)

He's developed some understanding of boundaries and often uses this maneuver to see who's watching.

This is a special picture. Yisha (left) and Rita were our leaders in Zhengzhou, stepping our group through the process. They were super helpful and became great friends by the end of our trip. Rita was amazed that we already had 4 kids.

We slapped the red, white, and blue on him early. He wears it well.

This is a portion of our adoption gang at a local Chinese restaurant in Zhengzhou. None of the wait staff spoke English so we did a lot of pointing and charades. What did we eat? I have no idea. Only 7 of us puked that night. Kidding.

This was a sign found posted above a conference room at Wal-mart. I'm posting it in honor of some great colleagues of mine that are covering for me during my long absence. Thanks to Kelly, Jen, Wayne, Pete, Holly and Ken for making this trip possible! I did take my groceries into this room but somehow came out of it paying twice the price marked.

Samuel looking out of Zhengzhou hotel room window. For faithful blog followers of old, this pic might remind you of an Elijah pic I posted from our Shanghai days.

Zhengzhou had a nice park within walking distance of our hotel. Here is Aimee with a couple of adopting friends, Nicole and Heather.

Samuel likes to suck 2 of his fingers. The crazy thing is that he actually reverses them and sucks them opposite of natural. It works for him and I'm not messing with it.

Basketball courts are very hard to come by but I liked this shot of hoops mounted below a hotel. Dozens of guys were playing in the dark. I'd like to join them sometime this week. We'll see.

We stopped in a 'hole in the wall' restaurant across from the hotel. The food was great (a noodle dish and an egg/tomato on rice dish). We paid a whopping $2 for the whole meal. A great deal and Samuel made a friend as well.
Thanks for checking in on us!
Anna, Elijah, and Rachel, we love you and will see you soon at Papa and Gramma's house!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More pictures

We are officially Samuel's parents! This is the adoption license that we need to begin working on the next stages to get everything finalized and us back home. Slowly but surely, it is happening. :)
Eating breakfast at the hotel.
sleeping with the monkey that Anna gave him and the blanket that Elijah picked out. He loves them both!

this is right after waking up from nap...playing with the tiger balloon that Daddy picked up on the way back from Walmart.
Today we went to a history museum. Samuel and Daddy are enjoying all of the pottery artifacts. It was actually very interesting for me as Anna and I have been studying ancient civilizations and we were able to see some of the things that we had learned about.

Samuel loves to play--even when in the tummy pack. He throws himself back and Ryan gets his neck--Samuel LOVES it!

Thanks for checking in on us. Everything is going so well. We see God's hand of blessing and provision over and over again as we continue to bond together. I, through out every day, see evidence of how God has hand picked Samuel to join our family. He is a perfect addition. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More video from Gotcha Day

Things are going well here. We will take some more pics/video today on a museum trip here in his home province. We did get word yesterday that a trip to his orphanage was not an option so a little bit of a bummer. Enjoy the video!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gotcha Video

This is our first moment of seeing and holding Samuel. It was so amazing and beautiful, words cannot even begin to describe. All ten families were in the same room, waiting for our children. The children came at different times (depending on the orphanage that they came from) and all reacted differently. It was very chaotic, but amazingly beautiful.

Monday, April 19, 2010

We "Gotcha" Samuel!!!!

Today was “Gotcha” day in adoption lingo. God answered all the prayers regarding transition anxiety. Samuel was stone-cold somber until about minute 20 when we got him into a play area and he found the bouncy balls. He really loosened up a ton at that point and was a joy to interact with. He snacked on the baby snacks we brought and also enjoyed carrying around a toy giraffe and frog brought along from Michigan. Aimee found early that he is very ticklish and has been pushing those buttons regularly much to his gleeful satisfaction.

He showed up in the Pooh fleece suit we sent in his gift box around Christmas. The orphanage staff also brought along the disposable camera and photo album we included in that gift box. It was great to see that the staff was able to put those to good use. We hope the camera helps complete some of the 1.5 years that we missed out on.

He is well-nourished, aka, round and a good crawler. He likes to pull himself up on furniture but is not walking. We’re looking forward to the correction of his club foot to try to get him in a better position to walk. He’s become more audible as the day progressed…..seems to be a type of Chinese baby talk. Simple syllables but nothing real extensive.

For lunch, he polished off a banana and noodles. At dinner, we took him to a local Chinese noodle house where he ate much Congee (rice porridge) and some pork & chive dumplings. I visited the local Wal-mart (yes, Wal-mart, but no greeters here) and got him a ball of his own along with some other baby-related items.

The pictures below are a progression of sorts, top to bottom. As you can tell, Dad did a lot of the picture-taking today. A lot more updates to come in the next few days so check back again soon. We love you and are excited to introduce this little guy to you soon. Oh, and he is a little tank and may be the middle linebacker of the family.

This is the face he wore for the first 20 minutes. At minute 19, I wondered if he was a robot. Nothing I did could even make him blink.

At minute 11, I challenged him to a game of stare-down. I was no match. Actually, it was tough to even get some eye contact in the first 20 minutes. That was just his way of dealing with his anxiety.

At about minute 15, we busted out a couple of animal toys. He took the giraffe and frog but was alarmed by the tiger. I figured he may have a fear of meat-eaters but he loosened up Elijah's dinosaurs should not keep him up at night.

He cracked his first smile when the ball showed up.

Getting kissed whether you like it or not!!! Actually, I now know he loves the attention.
The smiles multipled as the play time continued.

This pic is a little out of place as it's taken back at the hotel. He likes to hang on to his giraffe especially. He also has taken a liking to the stuffed monkey that Anna picked out for him.

We are looking forward to tomorrow. We've got some more paperwork to complete but will have a full day to figure out some more of his habits, including "potty training". See ya!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Firewall averted


Game on. We've got a work around in place and the blogging can begin (Thank you Scott Liptak). We arrived today in Zhengzhou and met the other 9 families that will all travel TOGETHER to a local goverment office for the pickup of our respective children, tomorrow. They are all adopting special needs kids which is cool. These people have a heart and passion for kids with physical and mental needs. It's been great getting to know them.

We did a pretty poor job of getting lots of pictures of Shanghai friends so some have been left out. Over the past 2 days, we caught up with our best friends in Shanghai - the Bowmakers, Liptaks, Wongs, Meyers, Lisa Ward, and JCI Colleagues. See below for some of the pics.

Visiting Yu Garden and preparing to eat famous Shanghai dumplings - the Xiao Long Bao. We were hanging with Florence this trip.
Miriam and Asa are Joab/Emily Meyer's kids and good friends of Anna/Elijah. They were a real treat to see again and have grown up a lot. Not sure which impression Asa is doing here, perhaps just "5 year old kid".
Joab and Emily Meyer

Alexander and Elise Bowmaker - friends of Anna/Elijah. Shanghai's 'Pearl Tower' is in the background.

Nathan and Florence Bowmaker, with Chairman Mao Zedong enshrined on your left

Aimee and Emily/Miriam Meyer - in front of the original HSBC building on the Bund
Tim and Theresa Wong - the Wong's referred us to the Colorado-based adoption agency that we are using to adopt Samuel.
Bummed that we don't have pictures of Lisa and the Liptaks. I think we'll need to visit Shanghai again soon!
Tomorrow is the big day! We hope to be able to post pictures and even video of our little boy. Thanks for checking in on us.