Sunday, September 27, 2015

God Knew...



God knew something that we didn't know...there was missing piece to our family.   His name was Zhou Xiao Hua and he was waiting in China for us to come and get him.   Hugh had to wait 6 long years for us, but we have to believe that God's timing is perfect.   Hugh has added so much to our lives and we have only been together for 33 days!   He and Kai have become playmates.  They play, they laugh, they squeal and every now and then they fight, but they are brothers.   Hugh is learning how to share which is a little bit more difficult for him.   Hugh and Bei are connecting on different levels, video games, playing ball, origami.  Sometimes, Hugh goes up to Bei and hugs him randomly and I am teaching Bei to hug back.  He is not use to having a brother love on him like that!   Another awesome connection has been between Bei and Kai.  They are connecting more and playing more.  Today, Dan took Bei and Kai out on the boat and to the beach.   Kai is so proud to be one of the big boys!  Hugh and I stayed at the cabin because he wasn't feeling well.

We have had Hugh's eyes checked and he is getting glasses sometime this week.   I asked for an interpreter so that we made sure that we got the right prescription for him from the get go.   The interpreter was fantastic.  He was a sweet Chinese man who is living here on a green card and works at the University.   Anyway, we were able to ask Hugh specific questions through the interpreter.   We asked him if he missed China.   He told the interpreter, yes, because he has 5 very close friends that he misses very much!   We asked if he ever left the orphanage and he told us that he went swimming and the kids would gang up on the nannies with water squirt guns to get them wet.  We asked him if he liked living with us and if he was happy.   He said, yes that mama and baba are very nice.   We also asked the interpreter to explain to him that he is our forever son and he is not going back to the orphanage ever.  That he will live with us and be our son.   The interpreter told us that Hugh was somewhat confused about that but is happy he is not going back.  I also told him to tell him not to be afraid at night, that I will keep him safe and I will sleep with him.    Since the interpreter talked with Hugh, we've noticed that he is happier and going to sleep much better.    The interpreter also told us that Hugh's Mandarin is very good and he is very articulate.   He said he is quick and smart.   Dan and I are really considering getting a Mandarin tutor so that he can keep his language.
Speaking of language, he is picking up English very well.

So many times people say to us, that the boys are lucky to have us.  Believe me, we are the lucky ones!   And once again, God has blessed us with a little boy that was meant to be our son and the brother to Bei and Kai!   God knew!!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Hugo!!



I can not express how AWESOME this little boy is!!!   Both Dan and I are totally smitten with him.  He has Dan totally wrapped around his little finger.   He loves to be outside with his Daddy working in the garage or putzing around the lawn.   He is incredibly sweet!   When I wash my hands after going the bathroom, he praises me and says "Good Job Mama".    He likes to say "No, Thank You".  I think he learned that one on Thomas the Train DVD.    He already knows the tune to Thomas the Train and Signing Times with Alex and Leah.  You will find him singing either tune randomly during the day...in tune...I might add.  He LOVES music!  He talks in Chinese to us but the translator doesn't do a very good job translating it.  Many times the translation has nothing to do with the topic at hand.   He seems to understand English really well.   He knows all of his ABC's and likes to draw.   His muscles are weak at the moment but I think he will make a good gymnast.  He loves to hang and climb on things like a little monkey.   This little guy can entertain himself for hours!!  He is creative and plays by himself for hours, if I let him.   He is a dream!  We are feeling incredibly blessed to have him in our life.

He struggled with going to bed at night but has gotten better the past few nights.   Now, tonight he regressed and wanted to be downstairs on the couch to fall asleep.   It breaks my heart that he is so afraid that he can't find comfort with me sleeping next to him.   We are moving in the right direction.

One of the neat things about Hugh's orphanage is that there is an American Sponsored school right at the orphanage.   It is sponsored by a company in California.  I don't know the back story to it yet, but want to look into the impetus of a school being sponsored by an American company.   Anyway, as you all know we named our little boy Hugh because his Chinese name was Hua and we thought they would sound similar.   Well, Hua is actually pronounced Qwua...like Quagmire.   The day of adoption we received several folders full of Hugh's American school work.   The American name they had given him was Hugo!   We were so close!!  So if we call him Hugh...he will say "No! Hugo!   Hugo rolls off my tongue easily and if it makes him happy, we will do it.   When he came to the US as a host child, I don't know why they changed his name to Diego.   To me that doesn't make any sense.

I can't wait until family and friends start to meet Hugo!  He is still displaying a lot of orphanage behavior in the kissing department.  Hugging and kissing people at Kai's school and trying to kiss the few people that we have introduced him to.   So be forewarned, that we really need people to redirect him and tell him kisses are only for mama and baba (dad).


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Connecting

What a day makes in bonding and attachment. We arrived home at 5:40 a.m. on Thursday morning and having been dealing with jet lag. Hugh has been happy during the day but crying unconsolably at night. Sadly, he wouldn't let me comfort him. He would cry "oopa" which means I am afraid. Our China guide shared with us that the nannies would scare the children into sleeping by telling them if they didn't fall asleep, the big bad wolf would come and eat them. She said it is a common custom in China, to scare children to sleep. He did great during the day but the minute we mentioned bedtime, he would get this look of terror on his face and shake his head no. We had to force it a few times because we all need sleep! Well last night, Kai had fallen asleep early, Bei was keeping busy and Dan, Hugh and I hung out on our deck. We had music playing and we all danced a little bit. Several days ago, I downloaded a voice translation app, so that Hugh and I could speak to one another. We used the translation app to tell him that we were going to be his forever mom and dad. He would never have to go back to the orphanage. That we loved him. He thought he was smart and beautiful. We were so happy that he was our son. We told him he didn't have to be scared to go to bed. That we would keep him safe. I swear I saw the lightbulb go on in his brain. When we went to bed that night, he gave me kisses, laid down next to me and fell fast asleep. He slept through the night and was a happy, silly boy! He is just a joy! Now, tonight a day later he struggled a little more but we didn't have that down time with him to reassure him. But he sought comfort from Dan and he fell asleep in Dan's arms. We are learning what works for him. He is fitting into our family perfectly! He is a sweet, sweet little boy!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

3rd and 4th Day

Last night Hugh sobbed, he just collapsed in Dan's arms as Dan was telling him how much he loved him and was kissing him.  It is almost as if he exhaled and it all came out.   He cried hard and was inconsolable for a bit and fought going to bed.  I just laid next to him and he finally put his two favorite fingers in his mouth, started sucking and fell fast asleep.   I have been co-sleeping with him and he will wake up and make sure I am still there.   This morning he woke up, ran over to me and we kissed and hugged.   He woke up very happy.   It will be interesting to see how tonight works out.  

Today was Hugh's medical appointment.  Let me tell you he was a trooper!  He didn't even cry when they he had a blood draw.   Basically, he appears to be healthy but has really bad eye sight which his host mom forewarned me.  

I am just amazed at how well the 3 kids are getting along.   While we waited for the medical appointment the boys played cars.  All three of them were laughing incredibly hard, just having a great time together.   Today, Kai started showing some of his rigidness.  While serving dinner tonight, Kai counted the number of sausage I served Hugh and made sure that I served him the exact same amount.   Same for the grapes and carrots…I told him I am not playing that game and we aren't counting every time I dole out food.   We will see who wins that battle…sometimes his rigidness just wears me down and he wins.  

We also had the joy of witnessing Hugh's motion sickness today, puke and all!   Dava Thomas shared with me that Hugh had motion sickness and she is right.   He has been using SeaBand's on his wrist which have worked but today somehow he ended up in the back seat of a mini-van.  The traffic in Guangzhou is awful, a lot of jerky motions and it was inevitable that he would get sick.  The worst was the Tanzmanian Devil (Kai) decided to melt down at the same time.  I am sure our guide wanted to escape that car.   It was not a fun car ride.   Dan handled Hugh because puke is honestly more preferable than dealing with the Tanzanian Devil.   We made it back to the hotel and we went and had a very expensive lunch of over $100 because we were so desperate to feed the T-Devil.

Kai has been wonderful in ways, by including Hugh and wanting to engage him. But any trip outside the hotel usually means that he will go into melt down mode.  On the fourth day we decided to go to Shamian Island, which is the island that all adoptive families use to be on for their adoption trip.   There are a lot of cute shops and a place called Lucy that serves good American Food.   Have I mentioned how oppressive the heat is here with the humidity.   Me, a person that boast that I never sweat had perspiration running down her back.  It was the perfect storm for Kai to have a tantrum and he had a doozy!    While we are driving back to the hotel, Bei says I want to go to the zoo tomorrow and I thought to myself, he, Dan and Hugh will have a great time, because there is no way I am going with the Tanzamanian Devil.   I love the kid, but he can be a handful!   Hugh is very easy by the way.   

Tomorrow is a free day and we want to stay by the pool.  Right now, at 5:00 in the morning it is storming.  The pool has been closed 2 of the 5 days we have been here.   Not a good thing when you have three little kids, because there is nothing else to do in this oppressive heat.  
Friday Hugh gets his TB vaccinations read to make sure he doesn't have TB.    

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Processing of Love

I find myself at a different place with Hugh, than the other two adoptions.   Falling in love with a 6 year old versus a 27 month old  and a 14 month old with lots of needs is just a different process.   One of the things I needed to do is to go back and try to imagine Hugh's history.  The bad stuff, the laying in a crib for so many hours during a day that your head is incredibly misshaped.  The many times that he was sick with no mama or daddy to comfort him, to hold him when his throat was so sore and he had a fever.  When his teeth were coming in and he cried excessively did anybody give him something to soothe his pain.   I need to roll around in his life story and remember where he has been and what has happened to him.  For me, it helps me process his story and build my love for not just an ordinary 6 year old, but an extraordinary 6 year old who has survived things that no 6 year old should have to in a life time.   

If I  think I am  just adopting a 6 year old from an orphanage, I would be doing a huge disservice to Hugh in the long run.  My expectations would be of a 6 year old who was born and raised in America.   For me, I need to go to those bad places in his life to see that he needs to feel the love like a baby feels the love from his mom.  I need to meet his basic needs first and move from there.   He needs to know my love for him is secure and I need to do that by rolling around in the pain and trauma he has experienced. 

I don't know if this makes sense to the average person, but it is my way to process the adoption of my little guy.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Second Day

Today we went to the civil affairs office and Hugh became a permanent member of our family.   He is a joyful little boy.   I am so incredibly impressed with Kai and the fact that it has been 2 days and there has been no jealousy!  He has exceeded my expectations in so many ways.   I see him trying to connect with Hugh and some of the time Hugh will accept, other times he doesn't want to hold hands.  Kai is really good at taking turns and it something we taught Hugh all day.  Overall he did well with it.  Bei has been a champion big brother.   Playing with Hugh and keeping him occupied while we had paperwork to do.   The two of them play catch with a stuffed animal while Kai cheered them on, laughing the entire time.  Hugh is a sweet little boy.  Easy going but independent.  He wants to do most things himself.  Tonight he grieved for the first time.   I asked him to give Dan a hug and kiss before bed time and Dan held him telling him how much he loved him and was kissing him.  With that Hugh's body went limp and he just started sobbing.   I went and hugged them, but he wanted to stay on Dan's lap.   There has to be so much going on in that little boys head.  So much grief and fear.  Another mom told me that he may be afraid to go to sleep because things might change when he wakes up.   There is so much healing that needs to take place with that little guy.   He is incredibly lovable, we just need to meet his needs of where he is at.   

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Where is the Parachute?


Oh my gosh…where do I begin.   Well let me tell you if I ever say I want to go to China again and take a 21 hour flight with two kids (specifically Kai) duct tape me and lock me in a closet.   I knew the flight was going to be a long one when Kai began asking me "where we going?" and "what day is it?" every minute on the minute, without reprieve.   It is like the old water torture, one droplet on the forehead at a time until you can't take it anymore.   The other "fun" part of the first leg of our journey was that Kai was mad that we were in a bulkhead seat…seriously kid?  Then to top it off, I noticed that Kai was picking food out of his teeth that was stuck between for the first hour while we were on the plane.  Yes, dirty, germ soaked fingers in his mouth but I understand when you have something stuck and it just annoys you, so I let him be.   After about an hour, Kai handed me the chicken that was stuck in his tooth EXCEPT it wasn't chicken but his tooth!!!   The kid had pulled out his own tooth!  I am assuming it was loose.   Ironically, Bei had lost a tooth earlier in the day!   

So we get to LAX and it is 11:30 p.m. Minnesota time.   Kai has slept one hour on the plane to California and Bei hasn't slept at all and is exhausted.   It is around this time that I wonder, why on God's green earth did I ever think a night flight to China would be the best way to travel.  Note to self…no crazy night flights anymore!!!  But wait, we have this same flight back from China…oh joy…   Anyway, Bei hits the hard bench like seats of China Southern and immediately falls asleep.  Kai eventually falls asleep and both boys sleep for about 5 hours total of the 15 hour plane ride.  Which means we go back to the torture of one drop at a time, "where are we going?"  "What day is today?"  Let me add that if a person that weighs 100 pounds more than you advises you to ditch the warm cover up because planes have those wonderful ultra thin blankets that wouldn't keep a heating pad warm, don't listen!!!   Then when that same said person says he was warm the entire trip as you froze the entire time, try not to stick out your tongue and give him a raspberry sound.    

To be honest yesterday I took my eye off of the prize.   Twenty-one hours of flying time about did me in!  It was about 5 hours too long.  I really didn't think about Hugh much because I was busy surviving.   

However, I will ask that you pray for all of ours transition tomorrow.  Prayers that Hugh is prepared and is ready to accept us as a family.   Prayers that Hugh's motion sickness is not too bad while we are in China but more importantly on our way home.  Prayers that the boys are ready to accept a new brother.   Prayers that Dan and I able to meet his needs and connect with Hugh.  

BTW, Kai is befuddled about what happened to Saturday.  Friday we left for China and today is Sunday.  He keeps saying/signing that we forgot Saturday.  He is so cute in his rigidness.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Itinerary for China



Guangzhou Itinerary




8/23/15    5:40 a.m.   Arrive Guangzhou

8/24/15   2:30 p.m.   Meet Hugh!!

8/25/15   9:30 a.m.   Finalize Adoption

8/26/15   2:30 p.m. Go to police station to apply for Hugh's passport

8/27/15  9:30 a.m.  Take Hugh's Visa photo, and do medical exam (TB Test)

8/28/15  9:30 a.m.  Sight seeing

8/29/15  9:30 a.m.  Check TB results

8/30/15  9:30 a.m.   Sightseeing tour to Chen Clan Academy (I have to check and see if this is the school Hugh attends)

8/31/15  3:30 p.m.  Family will get passport

9/1/15    8:30 a.m.  American Consulate

9/2/15    3:30 p.m.  Receive Visa

9/2/15   9:30 p.m.   Fly home!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Warning...Cuteness Ahead!



We received a second update about Hugh!  These cute pictures came along with the update.   What amazes me is that he is in long pants and long shirts.  It is in the 90's with humidity around 70% in Dongguan.  Most orphanages don't have air condition but it makes me think that the Sunshine Academy where he goes to school and lives has AC.

Here is the update we received about Hugh. 


Questions:


1.      Please provide current measurements including height and weight and shoe size.

Height:107cm chest size:53cm head size:49cm weight:20.5kg foot length:15cm teeth:22

2.      Please provide updated pictures.

Yes.

3.      Does he sleep on the upper or lower bunk of the bunk beds?

He sleep on the lower bunk.

4.      Did he have a birth note?

No.

5.      Does he have a favorite Ayi?

Chen Min Hong.

6.      Are there any photographs of him that can be sent with him when he leaves?

Yes, if you want more photos, you can provide U for us.

7.      What is he being told about being adopted?

We tell him when he sees gifts.

8.      How does he feel about being adopted?

He feels happy about this.

9.      What is his primary language?  Cantonese or Mandarin?

Putonghua.

10.  Does he have motion sickness when he is in a vehicle?

Yes, he does.

11.  Does he like little dogs? 

He has not approach to dogs, we guess he likes puppy.

12.  Does he take a nap?

Yes.

13.  Are there any special stories that we should tell him as he grows up?

He likes to imitate animals and he is more active after he comes back form America. He often be together with teachers.

14.   Is there anything you would like us to know about Zhou Xiao Hua?

He is a quiet boy. When he feels bad he tells teachers actively. Sometimes he cannot express very well. He would like to do things on his own. And he can dress and feed himself. He can use bathroom on his own. He has a little difficulties in learning.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Travel Approval







We finally have received Travel Approval to go get Hugh from China.  Our "Gotcha Day" will most likely be Monday, August 24th.   This has to be one of the fastest adoptions I know of.   We decided around January 20th that we were going to adopt Hugh.   Our social worker had our home study completed in 10 days!  Our adoption agency initially had us going in November to pick Hugh up!  I am so grateful that everything has gone so smoothly that we can go 3 months early! 

The feelings I have going to get Hugh are different than the feelings that I had going to get Bei and Kai.   Previously, I went to China scared, terrified of the unknown.   Feeling like God was going to release his wrath on me through a child that we couldn't manage or connect with.   When we adopted  Bei, I was going to be a parent for the first time, there were so many unknowns of just parenting a child.   With Kai, his entire medical history and all his needs were a huge mystery.   I felt like I spent the first two years just keeping Kai Kai Sweetie Pie alive.   For Hugh's adoption I feel more confident and secure in my parenting.   I know the struggles that we may face will be something that we can overcome as a family.  I have reached out to professional therapist when Bei struggled with separation anxiety and I will do the same again, if needed.   I know the rewards we will gain by adding another one to our family.  But most importantly, I know that God and I are in this adoption together.  That this is not some devious plan to get back at me for my sinful life, but instead I am following his word and his lead.   I am actually excited for this adoption.  Especially, when I read what his host mother, Dava wrote about him.   The words that she uses to describe him are "he is a pure joy and a blessing".  Dava's niece wrote this about Hugh "He has been such a joy the short time that he has been here.  His parents are going to be some lucky folks to have such an angel.  And this boy is smart too!  He is more familiar with the alphabet than my 5 year old!"    The adoption agency posted that he often tells the orphanage staff that his "mommy and daddy are coming to get him".   How could I not be excited to wrap my arms around this sweet little one and begin our life together. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Teenagers?




I took these pictures at the cabin and then downloaded them to my computer.   I was taken aback a little because I thought that they both looked like teenager's in these pictures.   Well, on our way home that weekend Bei said "I have had 50 or more thoughts go through my head in the 2 hour car ride home".   I asked him what he was thinking about and he answered "Tom and Jerry, Talking Tom, Pink Panther, deciding what I want to be when I grow up and I think I want to be a candy inspector".   Nope...you aren't a teenager!  Thank goodness, I still have my 9 year old son, innocence, and all.   I hope my little boy keeps thinking about cartoons and candy for many more years to come.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Hand of God

 
 
I can honestly say that it has felt like God's hand has been on Hugh Robert's adoption from the very beginning.   The way that everything unfolded just felt like it was all in God's perfect timing.   Dava had shared with me that Hugh was leaving at the beginning of January.   He still had not been matched with a family and she was heart broken.   It was around this time that she had started to inundate me with video's and pictures of him that I was sending on to Dan.   My heart was saying yes, but I wasn't sure that I could convince Dan that he was meant to be our son.  Hugh flew out of Nashville and had a lay over in Chicago on his way back to China.   During that layover, Chicago was hit with a snowstorm and his plane was cancelled.  He had to stay the night at a local hotel with his guide and 3 other little boys.   Dava happened to message me the next day and mentioned that Hugh was stuck in Chicag!!  Whoo  hoo!!!   The only other better place to be stuck would have been Minneapolis.   Now, we had not committed to adopting Hugh yet.  We were leaning towards it but still didn't know.  Anyway, I messaged Dava back and asked if my mom, who lived 20 minutes from O'Hare airport, if she could go to the hotel and meet Hugh.   Dava immediately called the adoption agency, who then called me and said absolutely.   Now, I had to pray that my mom was not at work!  Yep, at 76 years old my mom still works at a physical therapy office.   I called and my mom answered and she didn't hesitate.  She said she would go immediately!   She didn't even know that we were thinking of adopting again but she didn't ask questions then, she knew time was of the essence.  Hugh was leaving that day at 3:00!   Hey, but the agency guide said that it was still a snow storm.  My mom laughed and asked where was she from? Texas?  Yep, she is!  And it was just flurries at that time, easy peasy!  My mom got to the hotel and we talked on the phone as she made her way up to the room.   I let her go as she met Hugh.   She said he came up to her and said "my nana!"   He wanted to be picked up but my mom had breast cancer so she can't lift.   She sat down and he crawled up on her lap instead.   She said, he went through her purse and was incredibly happy to find some tic tac's.   She then called Dan at work and face timed with him, so that he could see and meet Hugh.   Dan's co-worker GiGi walked in and said hi to Hugh also.   He looked at her and said "hi mama!"   Not yet...little one!    Then my mom called me and we face timed together.   It was wonderful!    I love how God works!  I love that my mom is and always will be a part of Hugh's adoption story.   That she is the one that was able to see and meet him first.   I have drilled my poor mom for every detail of her time with Hugh.  I almost feel like I was there with them.   The hand of God is on this little boy's life story.   I can't wait to see what unfolds in the coming years!  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

We have a Singer!!!

I just went through all the photos and videos that Dava sent me in January.   I am realizing how incredibly special it is that Hugh was hosted in the United States and I am privy to these remarkable videos that tell me so much about his personality.   Two things really jump out at me after seeing the videos again.   This little boy, who is about to become part of our family loves music and he especially loves to sing and secondly he is incredibly secure and confident with himself.   What an odd attribute to see in a 6 year old orphan.   He is talkative, happy and loves to smile and laugh.   

Here is a video of Hue singing in a classroom at his host brothers classroom.   I can't imagine doing this at age 6 years old at my own school, but traveling literally to a foreign land and singing in front of others is amazing!






video
 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Changed Lives






It is amazing to think that lives can be changed by the simple strokes of a keyboard, but that is exactly what happened to our family.    I chose the picture above because it shows the passion and the love that this woman, Dava, had for a little boy that she hosted from China.   She poured her heart and soul into finding a family for this little guy...the perfect family...which turned out to be us.   I have been following a China Waiting Child Advocacy site for years.  I enjoyed seeing the children being advocated for and eventually a family popping up, saying yes, they were headed to China for that child.  At the end of December, I kept seeing a picture of a little boy, named Diego, being advocated by his host mom.   She stated things about how sweet and smart and healthy he was and how badly she wanted to find him a mom and dad to love on him.   I showed Dan the facebook posts and he told me to call her.  What???  Really???   Dava and I messaged back and forth and we spoke on the phone.   She told me that two families were coming to meet him that week.  She eventually messaged me and told me that a family was going to be matched with him.   I thought we were done, it just wasn't meant to be and God had other plans for Diego and for us.    After a few weeks, I saw that Dava was once again advocating for Diego.  The same day I received a message from Dava, saying the other family wasn't able to adopt Diego after all.  She wondered if we were still interested in finding out more about him.  Before I could even answer her message, she started sending pictures and video of him to me, every hour on the hour (a bit of an exaggeration, but she sent a lot!), which I forwarded right on to Dan who was traveling for work.    Dan eventually called me and said "we are screwed, we are adopting again, how can we leave this little guy without a family".   Whooo Hooo!!!  I couldn't believe it!!!  To me it was a no-brainer but for Dan to come to the same conclusion on his own, was a miracle in my eyes.   There were other factors that played into our decision too.   It was important for us not to adopt a child again with a lot of unknowns.  We wanted to adopt a relatively healthy child and not a baby.   Dan wanted to stay in the province that every American has to go through to get out of the country which is Guangdong.    Diego met all those conditions, so we really felt like God had his hand in this.    Diego will be renamed to Hugh Robert K!    The boys are very excited to be getting a new brother.   There will be lots more to come about our adoption!