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Monday, September 30, 2013

Adoption is not for the faint of heart.....

.....I type this post as I continue to pray (like I have been doing all day for the past week) for a sweet little angel Walter. Walter was adopted at the same time  from the same city as Anthony. His forever family includes his momma, dadda and three sisters (beautiful family). Walter has been fighting for his life for the past week. He has been battling uro-septis and now peritonitis on top of it. Drain tubes aren't enough at this point. He was in surgery the last update and we are desperately waiting to hear how his little body is doing. You have no idea how lucky you are until you are face to face with a child's life in danger. Another friend who also adopted at the same time from the same orphanage - although her daughter is healthy after being 15 pounds on gotcha day at 4 years old - struggles with the damage that her angels little body has endured leaving her developmentally delayed in too many ways. I feel blessed and I promised not to complain when Gabriel cries (our screaming angel).....I promise to remember just how blessed we are. Although we are not standing there besides our friends (we so wish we were) that invisible red thread they talk about is so binds our hearts.....there are no words to describe it. I sit in silence while I stare blankly at this screen...I am without words....I can only keep praying....I ask you to do the same... for Walter and his forever family....for Claire and her forever family.....for all of those forever families that are not born to be faint at heart but to be strong for their forever families...

I promise more pictures soon....good ones to share....just need time for prayer right now....thank you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yeah for crying!!!

GOOD NEWS! Ok I know you may think I am a bad mommy for saying this picture is good news but it is....we have been so worried about Gabriel's very vague China medical report about nerve damage and the fact that every time he fell or bumped his head he never cried - it didn't even phase him when it should have (on one of the flights he head butted my front teeth really hard - easy to do considering their size - and he just touched it and it was a non issue).....well, he cried today!!!! YEAH!!!! We went to the park and Anthony dropped him on his head and he cried - yeah (you are laughing at this I know it). Then he tripped at the park and did this (insert picture) and he cried and cried!!! Every time he did fall we made a big deal about it with the chance that maybe he just never got the attention he needed and sure enough that may have been the case instead of some potential nerve happy momma - yes, take note - happy that her little one cried!!!!

Here are some shots of a great day with my favorite boys (ok, don't tell the dogs or cat I said that)...
 I love the way he is looking at his Dadda!!!

 One, two, three...GO!!!

 Love my boys!

Smiling boys!


On behalf of all of those children without families, please take a minute to watch this powerful video...thank you

(the first image of a child with cleft lip and palate wrapped up left at a front door makes me think of Anthony - he was estimated to be ONE DAY OLD when he was left somewhere wrapped up in a blue blanket)

My Facebook post: - funny only one comment and two likes - all from adoptive families!
When people ask (or respectfully wonder to themselves) why adopt and why would you adopt again so soon .....take 3 minutes out of your busy day to watch this, please...thank you to those who when they can't adopt - support or volunteer - and of course thanks to those who are called to adopt and provide wings to help these children soar! Would I do it again? I know I wouldn't or couldn't just pretend the need to love, sponsor, volunteer, adopt doesn't exist domestically or internationally. Watch the video....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Life is good!

Every single day I want to jump on this blog and just tell you how AWESOME this all is - but I am too busy ENJOYING THE AWESOMENESS!!!! Sure are there still some screams here and there (no, not me :) ) but overall it is just great. Our little one is doing sooooo much better - and better and better each day. Tonight I tried to put him down to bed. We went through the whole routine and as I put him in his bed he just laughed and laughed (I think he actually laughed at me). About an hour later, he was still laughing and giggling!!! I took him out of the room for a few minutes (fed him, 'cause remember he doesn't have an appetite) and he just kept laughing. Needless to say, Anthony took forever to fall asleep tonight also! Hmmm, something in the air maybe (or maybe that nap that they BOTH took today at the same time had something to do with it - the car is an amazing tool). Well, Gabriel (who yes, has fully transitioned to Gabriel) let me rub his back and was quickly asleep! Wow, just a week or two ago I couldn't touch his shoe never mind rub his back!!!

Anthony is doing well. He is a typical big brother where he jumps in there for attention when he gets the urge! He gets very mushy too (which this Momma can never get tired of). He is so good when Gabriel does cry as he brings a toy every time! Even out in public whenever he heard a child cry he would get upset and ask why so this is no surprise. It's been interesting to see the differences between both boys adjustments. Anthony was in an orphanage for over 3 1/2 years of his life. It was not a good orphanage and had about 800 kids in it. Apparently the first 2 1/2 years of his life he was what they called community raised and didn't have much interaction with anyone. His early reports were pretty poor and then just as we found him a new report came out that indicated great changes in him (when we questioned the big changes they said it was because they no longer community raised0. Gabriel was in a small orphanage - a pretty decent one (if that is even a word that belongs in the same sentence as the word orphanage) with lots of programs - for the first 11 months of his life (well 10 because he was "found" at about one month old) and then the next 15 months in a foster home.

Oddly enough, Anthony had (and still has) a hard time just jumping into play with someone new. He also could not just play on his own. He had to be taught how to play. Gabriel has no problem playing with another child he never saw before and he easily plays on his own. He learned how to play where Anthony had to be taught how to play. In some orphanages they toys are just for show. Gabriel has no problem with the dogs and cat (they said in one of his reports that he doesn't like small dogs or cats so I was hoping that he liked big ones and he does). Anthony cried as he clawed his fingers into me when he first saw the dogs. We did get him to give them treats the next day (even small ones out of his hands) but he can still do without them (even pets them now when we comment how Gabriel pets them). For a long time after Anthony came home he would claw onto me when the dogs came in the room. Of course there is jealousy all around the house as the dogs are jealous of the new kid in town also! Jingsy our cat runs in the other direction as Gabriel loves to pull his tail. Pulling the tail of 70 pound dogs is no bother to them.  I certainly know that no two kids are alike - I am just enjoying seeing the differences and perhaps based on their pasts!

Here are some fun pictures:
 He took it right off my plate!

 Ice cream time!!

 Loves to chase tail...wait, that didn't sound right!

 So sweet!

 My boys!


 Need to practice the make a funny face for the camera!

 Already got the younger brother to push him in a toy car!

 Needs a little extra Momma attention!

 I think he's getting the hang of this!

Already bugging the big brother!

Lots more to share but wanted to get this posted! 

Before I go......A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to our Both Hands Project - a few days ago we heard the final tally of $3782. We just got the list of contributors and are working on the THANK YOUS!!!!!!! We haven't forgotten about you and all the others who contributed before I went to China - we are so thankful and will send out those official cards soon!!!! 
Thanks for checking in and keep those prayers for those little ones who still need forever families! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

As promised - visit to orphanage, foster family & finding place

Gabriel was very attached to his foster mom. We knew that he couldn't be around when I met her. We got real lucky as it was about a 20 minute ride to the orphanage. I put him in the seat between Donna and I in hopes that he would fall asleep. As he began to doze off I leaned him against Donna. Soon enough he was out cold!
Poor Donna couldn't move the entire time I was in the orphanage and meeting the foster parents.
The entrance to the orphanage
 (which doesn't match the picture in the book they gave us - maybe not the main entrance)
The orphanage has about 500 kids but 400 are out in foster families! I believe they said that it has the largest foster population in the country. They say the other 100 that remain in the orphanage are high needs - and as they said in wheelchairs, cp, and downs syndrome (really?). The foster home is partly for the elderly as well. They are people who have no one to care for them and basically they told us that they go there for the remainder of their lives. 

He slept the entire time! So we went into the lobby of one building at the orphanage and waited for the foster parents. The front was all glass and as soon as the foster mom saw me she smiled and pointed to me. She recognized me from the pictures I sent (which was nice considering the ones we sent Anthony never got to him). It was very sweet. I said hello and through our guide asked if I could hug her. It was already too emotional! The foster dad stood shyly towards the side. Through the escort I was able to talk to her. I told her that he was doing well and that he sure has a set of lungs. Everyone laughed even the orphanage director as she new his crying screams from the monthly check ups. There was a lot of small talk. We asked if he had any issues with his gums as they were bleeding when I got him and then all night. The foster mom looked shocked and then upset. I told her he was ok now (when they brought him on Gotcha day they gave me three different medicines as they said he had a cold - yeah that wen over well as you can imagine! Tried them once and said not worth it - he seemed fine. Funny that they said he has a sore throat - ahhh, he's two did he tell you that & ahhh, he's a screamer!) Anyway, back to the foster family. I got to ask some questions and when it came to that time I panicked - not being able to think of any (unlike with Anthony I had them all written down and they couldn't answer anything) I looked at Bonnie (the other family traveling with us) and she said how about what he likes. She answered dancing and playing with toys. I mentioned the tricycle he had in the videos. I also asked how she comforts him when he is screaming. She said she holds him. I asked if they would like me to send pictures to the agency who would send them to the foster family. They were happy about that and said that maybe if we come back to China that we could visit with them. I told them yes and that I was sorry that my husband couldn't be here as he was at home with our first son. There was a lot of small talk. I had already gotten a ton of information about him from the escort who new him well as she provided all of the updates and she is often at the orphanage. I think three times I asked if I could hug her! I did everything I could to hold back the tears. This was the woman who took care of my son since June of 2012. He wasn't in an orphanage thanks to them! I didn't want to leave but I knew if was time - so one more hug and it was cute as I blew a kiss goodbye and the foster day blew one back. It was so emotional. 

Prior to the visit I did learn a lot about the foster family. They have one son - 23 years old - which was Gabriel's foster brother. They are in their mid 60's. The foster moms are usually low educated and aren't skilled to do anything else. They make very little - 200 yen per month which is less than $30 a month. I don't recall if that includes food and clothing - I think they said 200 plus food and clothing - not sure. It now makes sense that they kept feeding him formula as I believe the orphanage supplied it. They said he also ate rice noodles and congee (which he didn't eat while we were at the hotel). We also were told that they always had the TV on so Gabriel would play in front of the TV. The guide - and I agree- that they were not the best match for Gabriel. They are very shy and only answer questions when asked. They don't offer casual conversation which is probably why Gabriel only knows about 3 words. They were encouraged to bring him outside to play with the other children (which we did get pictures of -oddly laminated and we think photoshopped to appear in front of a fall scene). 

After that emotional encounter we walked around the grounds for a few minutes. They have a beautiful park in the middle. 

 Playground equipment for the older kids. 

This is the home for the orphans (feeling pretty institutionalized). The babies are kept on the third floor. We weren't allowed to go in. Those who work at the orphanage live in a building on the grounds. 

Next stop - his finding place (as if I could handle any more emotional baggage at this point). He was found on August 12, 2011 in the toilets of a transportation hub. He was estimated to be one month old when they found him - hence his given birthday of July 12th. The toilets are now closed because there were too many babies being left there (scary). There are many ways to get in and out easily at this hub. Many come from the country side and other cities through here. 
The toilets (now closed) where our little guy was found. No note or anything with him (unlike Anthony where he had formula and a blue blanket which we didn't get to have). 

And he's still out! Mission accomplished!

Souvenirs from China and the countryside.

Ughhhhh.....still not sure what this souvenir is that I brought home from China!!! Waiting for test results  as they can't treat it until they know exactly what it is but in the mean time stomach pains, lower back pains, burning stomach, etc. At least the nausea and cramping has gone away thanks to the meds (which by the way make me more tired than I already am) and with that I can eat once a day! Ughhhh......but ya know, the best souvenir is this little angel:

I know I should be sleeping but I wanted to share a little about the countryside trip we made. The escort took us there as she felt that our little guy and the other couple we were traveling with came from that area. She thinks our Gabriel is part of the Zhuang nationality based on his looks. He was also abandoned at a transportation hub that has easy access both in and out to leave a child there (ughhh). They do at least leave the children in public places where they can be found (gotta find the light in there somewhere). So we visited the countryside where the women take care of the farms while the men work in the city and only come home for the big holidays (Chinese New Year & also the Moon festival which begins either today or the 19th). They really live with very little.
Street market - fruits and vegetables looked great!

Still could not get use to have meat out in the open either in a store or on the street (she held a stick with a red plastic bag to swat away the flies)

See how she measures the weight of the items being purchased. 

Universal language - the smile!
It was tough to see kids that were "permitted" to stay with their family instead of being abandoned. Every time I saw a pregnant woman I said to myself - boy I hope your baby is as perfect as you want because I don't know how many times I can come and save the ones you throw away!

That face tells a story or two or three...

 Working through lunch.

Washing clothes.

Drinking water in front, washing water behind it. 

The houses are designed to hold animals on the main level and humans up stairs. 

The pigs are to the right. 

Upstairs living quarters (new building). Three generations of families live in each of the three rooms to the left (at least 3 people lived in each single room)

They have a nice sound system!

 Tall blonde man in China - must take pictures!
Kitchen storage (behind the glass is the kitchen)

My new friend!

I even got a kiss blown to me when I left this cutie!


View from roof where rice is dried out. 

My friend just peed on the top of the stairs on the roof. 

The government gave this group of Zhuang people an area of land to build new homes on so they can grow their group of people (they have a different language, dress, etc). 

I wish I had a picture of a few of these that I saw sliced like bread hanging over the back of a bike!

Washing on the right, drinking on the left. 

Downstairs entrance way to home.