Friday, February 29, 2008

Signing off from China!

Well, our bags are (mostly) packed and we're getting ready to transition to bed. We have to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning, so we're gonna turn in early. We realized that we haven't posted any pictures from our room. This is the view we've seen from our window each day:
Yesterday afternoon, we went to the US Consulate to take the oath and pick up the paperwork that will allow Micah to gain citizenship when we go through immigration in Detroit on Saturday. It was pretty exciting for it to finally be real. No one can take him from us now. He is our son. I can't tell you how wonderful that feels.

Most of the families in our group left this morning. We spent the day quietly wandering around the island and doing some last minute shopping. We started packing early so we won't have to be up late. I'm a little intimidated by the long flights home, but at some point we will get there. Pray for our time on the plane. We've enjoyed our time in China, but it's time to get home and get started on the rest of our lives. Thank you all for your comments and prayers. They have sustained us through the highs and the lows of this journey.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fifteen things we've learned about our son

Here are some things we've learned about our son (in no particular order):

  1. He can be a total clown - goofing and playing.

  2. He's a huge flirt. I caught him blowing kisses to a little girl at breakfast this morning.

  3. The boy LOVES chocolate.

  4. He knows the meaning of the word "no," but hates to hear it!

  5. For Molly: his first word in English was "no."

  6. Every time we come into the hotel room he wants to strip down and jump in the tub. He'd take three or four baths a day.

  7. He's a boy on-the-go. Have stroller will travel.

  8. He hates, hates, hates bed time.

  9. He wants to be potty trained. He is aware of when he needs to go with enough lead time to get him to the potty. Diapers are OK for bedtime only.

  10. He will try anything he sees daddy doing.

  11. He's very smart. He likes to figure out how things work.

  12. Putting toys away properly is an essential part of play.

  13. He's good at sharing - he's given his cold to each of us.

  14. He pointed at the picture of him and Lainey on the computer and said, "Lainey!"

  15. When he rolls his eyes and smiles, he's completely irresistable.

Shopping Day and Zoo Day

Thanks to Michael at Sheridan's Shenanigans we were hooked up to shop with Ann of Red Thread China. She acts as a personal shopper, taking you to the best stores and negotiating the best prices for things. It felt so decadent playing with strands and strands of pearls in all colors and sizes. The pearls we selected were strung and knotted on the spot.

We also shopped for jade and for silk clothing for us. The weather took us by surprise and we ran from store to store to get out of the cold. So, no pictures of that part of the trip. Sorry!

We finished up around rush hour and because it was so difficult to find a taxi, Ann took us back on the subway. That was a cool experience. Bruce, of course, is taller than most everyone so he looked over everyone's head in the train.

The subway was really clean and pretty convenient.

Our little shopping trip took more out of us than we expected. We invited Randy, Donna and Lainey over to our "place" for pizza. It was actually a blind date for Lainey and Micah. We have high hopes for this couple (Thanks Randy, for the picture!)

Micah still fights sleep and this night was no exception. He fell asleep mid-cry and then slept until morning. I'm gonna call this progress.
Wednesday morning was our all important Consulate Appointment. Now who knew that you don't actually go to your own Consulate Appointment? Our guide, Grace, attended in our place to turn in our paperwork. We decided to go to the zoo!
Here the moms are pointing out the porcupines (and their accompanying stench) to the little ones.

We saw lots of animals. We enjoyed the lion and the elephant. We had mixed feelings about the pomeranian dog.

Among all the animals, these were the ones Micah likes the best. In the middle of our zoo trip, one of the guides, Kathy, ran up to us and told us Grace had called and our paperwork was accepted by the consulate. We're cleared to take him for swearing in tomorrow! Horray!!!!

We spent the afternoon wandering around Shamian Island. We played on the slides at the playground.
We had dinner at Lucy's again. I had the chicken this time. Micah was enjoying my chicken and the rice we ordered for him. Tonight he had a great appetite. He fussed himself to sleep again. It's taking less time each day (or I'm becoming numb.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I have no idea what day it is!

We've come so far in a week. We've still got a long way to go, though. I'm trying some tricks that I've heard other have used. I give Micah M&Ms which he only gets from me. That seems to earn me some points. He also will let now let me comfort him when he's fussy. He still prefers Baba and hates to see me get any of Baba's attention. He wants Baba in the morning and at bed time. And when he doesn't want me, he still slaps or throws things. We are telling him not to hit Mama and he seems to be doing better at that.
Today was our turn for the infamous red couch photos. Micah was adorable in his new outfit. He was a perfect little model, clapping and hamming for the camera.

After lunch he let me rock him to sleep for his nap. That was soothing to me. Right now, my two boys are sleeping soundly. I hate to wake them, but we have an appointment with Ann to go shopping this afternoon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mommy and Me Time/Clinic Appointment

Today was consulate paperwork day. Only one of us was required to do the paperwork, so we decided that Bruce would do the paperwork and give me a little Mama and Micah time. We took laundry to Sherri's Place. She told me that the laundry from Jennifer's Place smelled funny. Competition is alive and well in Guangzhou!

Then Mama and Micah went shopping. We went in and out of little shops. In every shop someone follows you around showing you things and enticing your child with shiny toys. I'll never complain again about the customer service people at home. I did get Micah a ball and a shape sorter thing. He needs help to do it but we work together to put all the shapes into their respective spots. It's good bonding time for the two of us.

Baba finished his paperwork and we had lunch in our room. Micah fussed through his nap time, and since we had to leave at 2:30, he just didn't get a nap. We all met in the lobby to walk to the clinic for Micah's consulate checkup. He was just fine with them taking his temperature, height and weight, and checking his eyes, ears and nose. But when they took off his shoes socks and pants for his examination, he didn't like that one bit. Throughout the whole appointment, he clung to mama. He seems to have formed an uneasy attachment to me. He seems to find me more comforting when something's bad, like the doctor. I take any face time he will give me, so I was eating up all the snuggles in the clinic.

We ate dinner at the famous Lucy's. I had a cheeseburger and french fries. Let me tell you that was the most delicious burger I've ever had. I couldn't eat it fast enough. We watched a group of ladies dancing with pretty flowery things in the area behind Lucy's. I haven't found the kids rides that Donna was talking about, but we'll explore again later.

Look at the pretty ladies, Mama!
Kinda like aerobics with accessories.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

We made it to Guangzhou!

We finally bid farewell to old Tianjin. It was really good to see Micah's hometown and get a feeling for a non-westernized area of China. But it's a good time to move on.

We sat on the tarmac for about an hour before taking off. Micah slept through the flight delay awaking upon take-off. He did pretty well until about 45 minutes to go. Then he started crying. He got himself so worked up he finally threw up. I almost kissed the ground when we finally landed in Guangzhou.

Guangzhou is surreal. It almost feels like Key West in China. It's humid and tropical and almost resort-like. And Barbie turned out to greet us! Micah points to Barbie and shouts Mama. Pretty much any blonde is Mama to him.

On Sunday I woke up feeling crummy. I seem to have caught Micah's cold. We kinda laid low all day only venturing out to the play room. We ordered pizza delivered from Papa John's. Turns out our little guy loves pizza. Here are some pictures of him enjoying his pizza.

Day 9-10 Tianjin: Lantern Festival and Sick Day

We got on on Thursday morning and had our usual breakfast. The breakfast buffet in Tianjin is an interesting mix of Chinese and Western food. Micah's favorite seems to be rice cereal into which he puts bits of meat, dumplings, noodles, eggs, a packet of sugar (yes, really) and whatever he likes off of mama and baba's plate.

We then all piled into taxis and took a ride to Tianjin's Culture Street to see the Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival marks the end of the two week New Year celebration. The entire street was packed with people. The two little blonde boys in our group attracted much attention, having a band of people with cameras following them down the street. Many wanted to take pictures of Micah with his American parents. We wandered down the street, stopping in various shops. We got Micah a multi-colored pinwheel and a punching ball from the street vendors. Of course every price is negotiable and we bargained in one shop by punching numbers into a calculator.

We went to a landmark Tianjin restaraunt for lunch. We ate their speciality -Gou-buli Baozi (steemed buns) along with many other dishes. Unfortunately lunch coincided with Micah's nap time and he slept through most of it.

After lunch Bruce, Micah and I went with Wendy to Food Street - large food court kinda thing with mostly food and candy places, but also various vendors in stalls. We found one stall offering shoes and Micah chose his very own shoes. He's shown some real attachment to the shoes he was wearing in foster care. He refused to take them off, sleeping in them at night. We were hoping that new showes would help, but he still sleeps in his new shoes.

We also found out that Micah loves Mahua another Tianjin specialty that I can best decscribe as a kind of fried dough twist. He ate one whole piece. They're not bad. I don't know if I can get them at home, so I bought ten to take with us.

Every day now ends the same way. Micah gets his bath, followed by watching Elmo on the computer and then fighting sleep until he can't keep his eyes open and then finally going to sleep by 9:00 or 10:00.

On Friday, I woke with a blinding migraine. Two rounds of migraine medicine later I was still in terrible pain. A visit from Wendy brought a phone number for the local Western hospital. The thought of having to go to the hospital in Tianjin was enough to tear me out of bed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Day 6-8 Tianjin: Taking Care of Business

I'm sorry we're doing such a crummy job of blogging. I'm going to do a catch-up post to fill in some of the gaps.

On Monday we learned that our van driver was in the hospital. Apparently the company only has one van driver so that meant no van for us. Our transportation for the week turned out to be a fleet of special red vehicles usually used to drive wedding parties. Our car had a special theme - Hello Kitty! Anyone who knows me knows how appropriate that is.
After picking up Micah at the orphanage, we made a stop at the Carrefour market to get some supplies. One of our most important purchases was a stroller as 30 pounds gets heavy in a hurry!

Everyone wanted to have a picture taken with the white couple with a Chinese boy. Here's our little rock star with two of his fans.
Did we tell you about split pants? Here's our little clown doing summersaults in the room.
On Tuesday morning, we again took our Hello Kitty wedding car to the Registry Office to make our adoption permanent. We had to state that we were, in fact, adopting Micah and that we love him and would never abandon him. Here's the first official picture of our forever family. Their camera was broken so the picture was taken with our camera.

After the registration office, we had to go to the notary office to swear tin front of an official that we wanted to make the adoption permanent. No pictures were taken at the notary office as Micah had a minor meltdown which isn't tolerated at the notary office.
Mr. Micah is a boy on the go. He is happiest when out and about. We took a walk to a little park which is mainly used by older people to do exercises and practice tai chi. But is was fun for a little boy.

On Wednesday morning, we were actually free to do as we pleased. We took a walk across the bridge by our hotel. You can buy lots of stuff from CDs, to book shelves to live fish on this bridge. Micah was fascinated by the live fish - yu! yu!

Then we walked along the river, saying hi to the families our for walks. We encountered men swimming in the river, even though it was cold. We could hear their shouts from quite a ways away.

On Wednesday afternoon, we returned to the orphanage to pay our orphanage donation and take a quickie tour. This is Micah with Ms. Zhang from the Tianjin CWI. She was a tremendous help with paperwork and with learning more about his time in foster care.

I was concerned that this might be traumatic for Micah, espcially as it took place during his usual nap time. But I don't think he spent much time at the orphange. His biggest complaint seemed to be that we wouldn't take him outside to play and after a fussy period, he crashed hard. We were able to meet and present our gifts in person to the orphanage director. Unfortunately Micah couldn't stay awake for the occasion.

Here is our travel group on the front steps of the orphanage.

After the orphanage visit, we were able to visit (quickly) Micah's finding spot. He was found outside the outpatient clinic of the Children's Hospital. It's on a very busy street. I'm grateful for whomever found and comforted this child. It must have been really tough for a little guy.

I know I owe you more pictures, but I've got a hungry guy who needs his dinner. Tomorrow we move on to Guangzhou.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Twenty-six things we've learned in China

Here are some of the things we've learned in China (in no particular order).

  1. Grief sucks. Bad.
  2. Grief may be just as bad for mama and baba.
  3. This, too, shall pass.
  4. Stacking cups are the bomb.
  5. Split pants are great for potty training (and a big help in the squatty potty).
  6. Our son is actully potty trained during the day.
  7. Our son is really smart and will make a great engineer - we've already applied for admission to MIT online.
  8. Poopy in the potty chair is cause for great celebration.
  9. Men who swim in the cold river will stand wearing only a towel and shout something like Hah Hai! (Is this Mandarin for hooah?)
  10. Hahaha in Mandarin means hahaha.
  11. The Chinese supermarket is completely overwhelming.
  12. Micah has no patience for the Notary Office. None. It evokes the same feeling as waiting in the Motor Vehicle office for baba.
  13. Elmo rocks.
  14. You can have best friends you've only known for three days (Love ya Donna and Randy!)
  15. You can use baby wipes for almost anything.
  16. You can buy little eels on the bridge accross the river.
  17. Rice cereal is a favorite for breakfast.
  18. We all like steamy eggs, which is actually like a custard.
  19. Steamed pork dumplings are a lifesaver.
  20. Being a guide is tough work - thanks Wendy!
  21. We are learning so much about Micah everyday.
  22. Men and women alike think Micah is cute.
  23. The blonde children in our group are like rock stars.
  24. Honking once means get out of the way. Honking twice overrules honking once.
  25. KFC and McDonald's have a different menu in China. (Spicy McWings? Egg drop soup?)
  26. Parenting is the most difficult and rewarding thing we've ever done.

And of course what post would be complete without a couple of pictures of our boy?

We must keep "quite" in the Notary office.A very proud papa!

What a difference a day makes!

Just a quick update to let you all know how today went. I felt the love and prayers of people all around me. I'm so glad that my friends are such prayer warriors. I'll post details in the morning. Bottom line - the grief is still tough, but for some reason I feel better able to watch it and Micah will let Mama and Baba (yes, both of us) comfort him. For now, I need to get some much needed rest as my boy is sleeping soundly. I'll post a picture because he's just too cute to not include at least one. Note which sippy cup won.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Caution: This may be hard to read. It certainly is hard to write. But I want people to know what is really happening.

My boy is greiving. Hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done to watch him. When he's having one of these times, he totally rejects me, hitting and kicking. He only wants Baba. I think Baba has some pain in his back and arms from this. But let me tell you, being the one rejected is a different kind of pain. My heart is breaking for this little man who is so profoundly sad.

It's worst at night. He just won't/can't go to sleep. We tried walking, strolling, playing, watching Elmo. He just can't calm down to sleep. He finally cried himself out around 2:00 am. Everyone says this, too, shall pass. If so, I can't wait.

Bits and Pieces

Motherhood is seriously cramping my blogging style. This post may be a little meandering, but I’m trying to capture the things we’ve left off the blog due to just being too busy.

On meeting Micah for the first time: He was brought into the room before we had completed signing our paperwork. Someone called “Wei Jian Tong,” and entered carrying the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen. I went to him and the nanny said “Mama?” I said, “yes, mama.” And he was put into my arms. He looked really confused. Crick said to be sure to remember how I felt at that moment. What I really felt was relieved. He didn’t shriek, he didn’t cry. I was concerned that he would be scared of us and it would be so hard, but it wasn’t. So the honest answer is “relief.”

Then our guide, Wendy, told me I had to sign the paperwork. Ah, I don’t want to let go of my baby. But Bruce stood up to take him from me. Tong Tong took one look at Bruce and said, “Baba!” He thrust out his arms for Bruce to take him from me. The look on Bruce’s face was almost as beautiful as our boy.

I sat down to sign all of the forms. I had to sign my name eight times. I think each signature looked different as my hand shook and my mind ran to the little boy three feet away from me. Finally that was done and I was able to turn my attention to him. The nanny spoke to him in Mandarin, pointing to me and Bruce and saying “mama, baba.” Tong Tong joined right in pointing to each of us and calling us mama and baba. Whoa! That was cool.

Bruce handed him to me and he came willingly. Someone handed me a bag. In it was a half-eaten muffin, an open bag of something that looked like cheese puffs, along with the camera and the photo album that we sent in our care package. I pulled it out and he cried, “mama, baba.” As we paged through the photo album, he pointed and called each person by name. Our heartfelt thanks must go to the foster mother who prepared him so well for this moment. I have to say that besides mama and baba, his favorite pictures were of nai nai and ye ye (Grandma and Grandpa Klika) and of his uncle Kurt, who he seems to call “lu lu.” I can’t remember if that’s the word for uncle or if Kurt just looks like a LuLu. LOL!

Then Wendy reminded me that we had toys to play with. First we tried the toy cell phone. Not so interested. We got out Leap – who sings the alphabet song. Oh my. His whole face lit up. He learned that he could make Leap sing the alphabet song by pressing his tummy. So he pressed. Over and over. I guess I’ll know my ABC’s too. Heehee.

I looked in the bag further and found the toy phone we sent. Similar to the one I brought, but striped like a candy cane. Hey, I bought it at Christmas time, what do you expect? That was a hit.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day 6 - Tianjin: Forever Family Day!!!!

I know, you've all been waiting.....

We have Micah. We’re Mama and Baba. No going back. Wow.

We got up early for breakfast today. There was a nice combination of bacon, pastries and congee. The hotel we are staying in is really nice and the hotel staff are extremely courteous, but very little English is spoken here and most requests need to go through one person that has to be summoned to help out. We all met at 0900 to go to the orphanage.

We had a very smooth transition at the orphanage - not one tear was shed by any of the babies. Our guide, Wendy, said that she has seen only about 10% go this smoothly. We had a great afternoon, including a nap and play time. We are now making up for that by having a really tough time getting to sleep. This is becoming a tough time for Micah to settle down. All of our attempts at making bed time a reality have failed so far, and we are very tired. We'll post more later, but for now need to concentrate on getting Micah to sleep. Any suggestions?

Here are a couple more pictures to hold you over!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day 5: The Road to Tianjin

This morning we checked out of our beautiful Beijing hotel room, said good-bye to our newly made friends and set off for Tianjin. The road to Tianjin was paved with good intentions and potholes as we drove instead of flying since the city was only 2 hours away from Beijing . Our guide Wendy is bright, energetic and compassionate and taught us all a Chinese children’s song during our bus ride.

We arrived at the Harbour Center Hotel and were impressed by the size of the rooms. It’s a very nice room, but there is a lot of construction going on all around the hotel area, so it’s kind of busy and loud outside. We arrived mid-afternoon and learned that in Tianjin, it is difficult to find a restaurant open between lunch and dinner. But a 10 minute taxi ride took us to KFC. (I promise, we’re not trying to eat Western food, but we didn’t have much choice.)

After unpacking, we took a walk through a local neighborhood. We stopped into an establishment that looked to be a restaurant. Speaking almost no Chinese to a staff that spoke no English, we managed to order, enjoy and pay for two beers. We might have had dinner there, but without some translation, Karen was afraid she might accidentally order fish! (Sorry, Michael, we left the Franlkin translator in the room). We later had dinner in the hotel restaurant while preparing a list of questions to ask Micah’s caregivers.

We collected all our necessary paperwork and gifts and prepared to meet Micah tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning! We just sat back and let it sink in that tomorrow morning we will be parents. It’s humbling and a bit overwhelming, but also exciting and awesome. We are ready to get our son and begin the process of being parents. It’s important to get a good night’s sleep tonight, so this will be short tonight.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Day 4 - Beijing: Great Wall, Ming Tombs and Peking Duck

What an awesome amazing day! Wow!

After stopping by a jade factory, we made our way out of central Beijing and into the mountains to visit the Great Wall. Before we even got there, we could see the Wall in the distance, snaking its way around the mountains. Standing at the base of the Wall, it seemed like a very long way to the top, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so off we went.

I’ve seen pictures of the Great Wall on TV, in books and in pictures taken by others, but seeing it in person is a whole different experience. I don’t think I had an appreciation for the sheer steepness of the wall. It truly is a climb! Some individual steps were over a foot high!

Bruce made it nearly to the top. I decided to save my knees and stop, but only after reaching the stand that issues “hero cards,” a credit card-type thing with your picture in front of the Wall, the date and the words, “I climbed the Great Wall.”

Lunch was served at an eatery attached to a cloisonné factory. It appeared to be a place that caters to hungry tour groups who have just climbed the wall.

We then walked through the Sacred Way in the Ming Tombs. The statuary was very interesting and again I was struck with the surreal feeling of stepping into a photo I’ve only seen in a book.

Our trip back to the hotel wound through the suburbs of Beijing, including a drive by the Olympic Stadium. It will be neat to recognize the places we’ve seen when the Olympics begin in August.

For dinner a group of us struck out on our own in search of Peking duck, the local specialty of Beijing. About halfway down Walking Street, we found a restaurant that specialized in Peking duck. Another amazing experience.

We move on to Tianjin tomorrow, but we will take with us the friendships we have built with the other families heading to other provinces. It has been so neat to meet the friends I’ve only “met” online. We can’t wait to meet up with them in Guangzhou and to see them with their new children. Many thanks to CCAI and our guide Lisa for providing an outstanding experience in Beijing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Day 3 - Beijing: Tiananmen Square and Hutong Tour

We started our day with breakfast at the hotel buffet - yummy! We boarded the bus with our group and headed off to Tienanmen Square. It was so amazing to be in the place we've only seen in pictures. So of course, we took a hundred or so pictures of our own! We walked and walked from Tienanmen Square and through the Forbidden City. Then we were whisked off to lunch - Chinese food served family style. We tried everything (well, Karen avoided the fish).
After lunch we toured a silk factory and learned how silk was made. Then onto a rickshaw for the Hutong tour. It was fascinating to hear how real people live in Beijing. Our tour included a visit with a family who lived in a courtyard house. She explained how they love their home, which has been in the family for three generations. But her children have moved to the high rise apartments nearby in Beijing. I guess much of the younger generation doesn't care to live in the Hutongs, one of the reasons being there are no private toilets in the houses. All families share a public toilet and shower located nearby. I can see why this would make me move away from home!
Our final stop was to the Acrobat show. It was visually beautiful. Though it was warm and dark and many of us were fighting the jet lag to stay awake for the show. We finished our evening with trip to the Walking Street where we had dinner at McDonalds - LOL! I promise not to do that too often.

Day 1 & 2 - One long day: We made it!

Just a quick post before dinner to let you all know that we've arrived safe and sound in Beijing! It took just over 27 hours, a car ride, three flights and a bus ride to get here. It seemed like one long day. Flying west over Alaska, the sun never set during our 12.5 hour flight. We managed to catch a couple of hours of sleep a couple of different times and arrived just exhausted. Luckily that meant we were able to sleep soundly when we went to bed at what would have been 11:00 in the morning.

Today we toured Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City. We had an authentic (?) Chinese lunch and visited a silk factory. We then took the Hutong tour, including rickshaw rides and a visit in a resident's home. We capped off the day by watching the Acrobat Show. Now we're off to find Mickey D's for a taste of home. We'll post more later.