Our Adoption Adventure

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Welcome home, Danielle. Posted by Picasa

Our welcome home sign. Posted by Picasa

We're home!! (one whole week)

Well, we survived our 14 hr. flight with Danielle (thank God for Benadryl) We've been home a week and in some ways it seems longer, probably due to sleep-deprivation! Janae and Natalie met us at the airport and they and Danielle bonded almost instantaneously. The week has had its ups and downs, of course, with normal sibling rivalry and jealousies. Danielle is sitting on my lap as I type this so my entry will most likely be short. I promised each of the girls that they could include somethine in the final blog so here it goes . . . Janae says: Danielle gives high fives and kisses. She is so cute. She eats everything. We had lots of smiles from Danielle today. Danielle is getting used to me. She found a new toy--it was a tunnel for her to crawl through. We think she's getting some more teeth. The best thing about being her sister is getting some smiles. The worst thing is when she cries her lungs off. She is laughing at this very moment. Natalie says: Danielle likes me sooo much. And she plays a lot. And that's it! Bye, people!

(From Tom) Lots to reflect upon. China was an amazing experience as was being so supported by our friends and family. Most of all, little Danielle is a miracle. We're all excited about being her family. Now if we could just get some sleep . . .

Friday, January 13, 2006

Our looks say it all . . . it's time to come home

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Sharon & Danielle w/ new friends Wendy, Rich and Autumn

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Goodbye to Guangzhou

It's late & we have to leave early tomorrow morning to catch a flight to Hong Kong where we will overnite at the airport hotel and then board our United flight direct to Chicago O'hare the following evening (weird b/c we leave at 6:35pm from Hong Kong on Sunday 1/15 and arrive in Chicago at 6:50pm that same day (after a 14 hr. flight!!). Needlesstosay, we are tired, no weary, and anxious to get home. Three of our eight families leave earlier tomorrow and will arrive home a day earlier (w/ many lay-overs in between). We originally didn't think the latter option was a good one for us with Danielle in tow, but it sure would be nice to arrive home a day sooner! Today we completed the last step of our required procedures for Danielle's adoption--we went to the consulate and swore an oath that we hadn't lied on her visa application. Seemed somewhat anti-climactic (sp?). We're eager to really celebrate when we get home, though. Thanks to all who have followed our journey via this blog and for all of the encouraging comments. Tom and I looked forward to reading them each day while we've been here. Zai jian (good-bye)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Danielle feeding herself (By the way, notice which hand she is using . . .)

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Snuggling with Sharon

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Danielle's crib in the orphanage

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January 12, 2006

Almost at the finish line! Tomorrow we go to the American Consulate to obtain Danielle's visa and to take an oath never to abandon or mistreat her. Then we fly to Hong Kong Saturday and HOME Sunday.

Free day today. Had a chance to develop some sort of routine here and do a little shopping. Lots of bargains but the hard sell from various merchants is getting old, particularly since I ran out of yuan late this afternoon (Later got more at the ATM). I think Shaimian Island is to Chinese culture something like what Cancun is to Mexico's--or what Graceland is to ours.

Has been fascinating and life-altering and amazing and poignant and moving and ... it's time to go home. We miss Janae and Natalie and being home and having space and seeing friends and family and being able to drink the water.

It has now been a week and Danielle is still a little leery of this "Dad" person. We're trying to be patient. She is ridiculously cute even when throwing a tantrum to go back to Mom. I held her for awhile this afternoon while Sharon was shopping for a suitcase. Danielle screamed at the top of her lungs the whole time Sharon was in the shop. To make matters worse, in China staring is not considered as rude as it is in the states. So all my fruitless efforts at comforting my daughter gained me a bit of an audience. Fortunately, Sharon has had massages the last two days, so her back is feeling well enough to haul our 24 1/2 pound sweet potato around almost everywhere.

By the way, the woman giving the massage actually walks on Sharon's back.

Didn't take any pictures today, but will try to put one or two old ones on today's blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Our happy girl

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Danielle Hope Xingjie

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First real "free" day

Today has been good; we've been able to relax a bit. No scheduled activities or meetings, just what we wanted to do. It's the first time really since we've been on this trip that we've felt like we truly didn't HAVE to do anything. That being said, we still grabbed a taxi to check out the Jade & Pearl Market and I (Sharon) scheduled a massage in the afternoon. yeah. Of all the massages I've had in my life, this is the first one where the lady actually walked on my back! It was great. I scheduled another one for tomorrow afternoon (during Danielle's nap) since they're about 1/2 the price you'd pay in the States, plus it feels really good on my back and leg muscles after carrying "Super Fudge Chunk" around every minute for the last several days. I have to brag though for Tom today--he made great strides with her, both putting her down for a nap and to bed and giving her a bath w/o me, yippee!! Danielle still insists on sitting on my lap for every meal, though; we're hoping to break her of that habit before we get home! We've had fun shopping on Shamian Island where our hotel is located and have sampled on good restaurants, too. Yesterday we ventured to a highly recommended Thai restaurant and tonite we were less daring and went to a Western-style restaurant where I ordered a big steak. Oh, and I also ordered "ginger Coke", thinking that it was ginger ale . . . about 15 mins. later they came with what appeared to be hot tea--it was literally hot Coke that had been infused with ginger. NOT what I was expecting. Needlesstosay, it tasted like very sweet syrup so I promptly ordered a Perrier instead. We've been dining most meals with new friends from our travel group which has been fun, esp. when eating Chinese and Thai where we can all sample each other's dishes. We're looking forward to coming home soon, though. Missing the sights, smells, and most of all people whom we love so much. Only 4 more days.

Monday, January 09, 2006

What day is today anyway?!

Hi again, I'm (Sharon) finally able to steal away for a few minutes to "blog." As Tom has mentioned, it's been difficult to get a free moment apart from Danielle. Although today she started to make more progress in terms of trusting Tom. She actually let him hold her for about 10 mins. at the airport w/o screaming the place down. Yahoo! We left Changsha, Hunan this afternoon and headed for Guangzhou, about an hr. away, where we will spend the next 5 days. (Guangzhou is where the US Consulate is located and thus where we will be til we get Danielle's visa to travel home. Until then she is still considered a Chinese citizen.) Before we left Changsha today, we had a chance to tour a really cool embroidery museum; Hunan Province is known for their incredible embroidery. Steven Curtis Chapman's first daughter (and second??) was from Hunan and he has commissioned the embroidery factory there to stitch portraits of each of his 3 adopted Chinese girls; we got to see the "photo" of his youngest adopted daughter being stitched while we were there today. It is absolutely incredible what they can do; it looks JUST like a painting. It takes them about 1/2 year to complete an embroidered "photo". Amazing. We got to Guangzhou late this afternoon and had Danielle's photo taken for her passport. Then we headed for dinner at a cheesy "American" restaurant for some pizza. Danielle devoured scrambled eggs for her meal. (Oh, and just for the record, my daughter actually chose to eat vegetables at lunch . . . ok, I was in heaven. Her grandmas would be proud.) Took a while for Danielle to settle in for bed then woke at 11:45pm for her late nite bottle (they fed them at 11pm in the orphanage--what were they thinking?!). It's a lot like having a newborn again . . .

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sharon and Danielle Hope Xingjie. Posted by Picasa

Photo of half the adoptive families (the spouses were with the children) with the orphanage directors. Posted by Picasa

Chagrined but secure with Mom. Posted by Picasa

Outside of the orphanage in Zhuzhou. By the way, it's pronounced like "Jew-Joe." Posted by Picasa

Some of the countryside around, Zhuzhou, Danielle's probable place of birth. (Those are ducks in the foreground on the right.) Posted by Picasa

Some of the countryside around Zhuzhou, Danielle probably place of birth. Posted by Picasa

Some of the countryside around Zhuzhou,  Posted by Picasa

Day of rest?

Today was supposed to be a free day to help everyone spend time with our babies and "catch up" a bit. Little rest for Sharon today, though. She's had a 25 or 30 pound "appendage" attached to her all day. The only time Sharon is not holding Danielle is when the latter is sleeping. Gave Sharon a backrub today and her shoulder muscles had some good-sized knots! Also exhausting to not even be able to go to the bathroom without your daughter screaming.

Sharon has been starting to get some smiles from Danielle today, and giggles have been overheard a few times. I say "overheard" because as soon as Dad gets too close, well, let's just say I'm pretty good buzz-kill at present. Have had some moments of Danielle letting down her guard a bit. Tonight, just before she went to sleep, she and I were actually passing a tissue back and forth between us. She was quite reticent at first but even let me give her a peck on the cheek after a few minutes of our little game. Was a pretty moving moment for me, seeing both the apprehension and the beginning of trust in her eyes. Our cool CD of Appalachian lullabys probably softened me up a bit, too. Moment of pure grace punctuating an otherwise long day.

Hope I can get these pictures to post.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Now officially Danielle's parents.

Sorry no pictures to post today. More technical problems. (Actually calling it a technical problem may be a little misleading since the problem is that I let the camera battery run down without recharging it.) Anyway, should be able to put on more pictures again tomorrow.

Sharon and Danielle are both sleeping after a long day of being joined at the hip--literally. Danielle understandably has been clinging to Sharon quite a bit. (It's got to be a pretty overwhelming experience for Danielle to have her whole world changed in a day.) Sharon really enjoyed today and is making up for lost time in the bonding department. Worried if this continues however, since Sharon has had back problems in the past and Danielle is not exactly light. I'll be able to help out soon but, for now, young Danielle remains unsure of what to think about this guy who hangs out with her mom. (We've been told that it is very common for the children to bond strongly with one new parent and spurn the other for several days.) In fact, as I am writing this, Danielle has just woken up and refused to even let Dad give her a bottle. Please remember Sharon in your thoughts in the next few days.

Speaking of Danielle's eating, she is eating absolutely none of the stuff that we were told "all of the children like." Instead, she has been devouring table food at the hotel's Chinese restaurant (not the one where all the foreigners eat)--and not just the bland stuff either. The sauce on the pork we had for lunch had pretty good "kick" to it, and she ate quite a bit. They say that girls from Hunan province are China's "spice girls" because the food here is supposed to be the country's spiciest and the girls are reputed to be the most hot-tempered. We'll find out soon re: the latter.

Went back to the Office of Civil Affairs today to make the adoption "official" in the eyes of the PRC government. Not much more adoption "business" to do in Changsha. In fact, tomorrow is a free day on the schedule. We need it.

Danielle's cough resolving today. Should be gone in a couple of days.

While Sharon and Danielle were here at the hotel, I got to go to the orphanage. Was a profound experience to see where and how and by whom her care has been given in the past few months. A lot to say re: this, but I'm running out of steam and it's after midnight. Suffice it to say this: it is clear that she has been loved and treated well. I think there's even good reason to think that she has been a favorite among the staff there! She's easily the cutest in my opinion.