Monday, February 3, 2014

Belated Christmas Pics








This is my (Monica) baby, Saoirse, born in August 2013.

Ana-Cherie/Hong had a good Christmas. A lot of it was understandably lost on her, but I'm sure she'll have it figured out by next year. It's been a little crazy around here, so this blog has been a bit neglected. Sorry about that.

Here's some shots from getting the Christmas tree. Hong had only been home a few days at this point.

This pretty much sums up her opinion of things at this point.

Dancing




Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Update





Everyone came home by way of the Southern Region Oireachtas in DC. Reese danced well, but she didn't recall. Ana-Cherie decided she had discovered the best place ever. Sparkles, shiny things, wigs, dancing. She attended her first Irish dance class the Wednesday after they got home on Sunday and her improv is getting much more precise. 

We call her HongHong. She totally doesn't respond to Ana-Cherie. But he is nearly 6 and has been HongHong most of her life. She'll either transition or she won't. The first several nights, she passed out around 3-6 pm and woke up at 345-5 am all ready to go for the day. She's going to bed a bit later now and sleeping a bit later. 

She's about 33 lbs and about 107 cm, which I think is about 3' 4-5". She wears a 5-ish in shirts but the 4s in pants are a bit big in the waist. But anything smaller would be too short. 

She's Dad's little shadow. 

She's definitely Dad's Home Depot buddy. 

She has definitely latched on to Dad. Which is good since he's retired and Mom is going back to work on the 23rd. But she totally doesn't dig Mom at the moment. 

Daddy's little girl helping with yard work





Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Last Full Day in Guangzhou

"Today is our last full day in Guangzhou.  The name confusion for our new little one continues to be a little problem, as we are trying to make sure the plane tickets match her passport. 

Reese and I plan on getting manicures and pedicures today, because the place next door to the hotel is so cheap. $10 each for both. 

We have to make a couple of trips back to Shamian island today. We promised Reese she could spend her money to have a picture drawn of herself at one of the shops. We also left laundry at Michael's place. 

We ordered room service last night because everyone was melting down. Ana-Cherie (Hong) had a bath while we waited, and ate like a champ, then tucked herself into bed. Routine at bedtime seems really important to her. We got in late from the pearl river cruise and she broke down crying because we were going to skip her bath. Needless to say, she had her bath. She crawls into her little bed (we had them bring a rollaway) and lets me kiss her goodnight. I don't get to hold her hand while we walk, so I enjoy even more the little things she lets me do. 

The consulate appointment went fine. We were thirty minutes early, but glad we were.  I had some explaining to do about the name problem. I pulled out my gracious, apologetic, whatever you can do to help me get her home, personality (as opposed to my bulldozer personality, which I much prefer,lol), and they were very understanding. It should not even delay her visa. 
The way I remember it last time, the guide took all of the paperwork, and all we did was show up to take the oath of everything is correct, grab the passport and visa, and leave. This time our guide was not able to go in with us. We went through security, and we had to leave just about everything at the hotel. Cell phones and cameras are NOT allowed. 

We went to Walmart afterwards. It is similar to the states but so different. I took pictures there but haven't loaded them yet. 

I am excited and apprehensive about the next phase of our journey. It's a long plane ride to get home, even if you can understand English and aren't five."

Ready for Home

"I love China. I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters from here, and I have a great affection for the country and its people. I wish I spoke more of the language. (A LOT more). I can watch a Chinese TV show and get a lot of the idea of the show by watching the faces. Or I make up my own dialogue. 

But as lovely as living in a hotel for two weeks sounds-it is NOT. Restaurants are expensive, room service is expensive, and while we do have a McDonald's close by (in this province), it is about a block and a flight of stairs  further than I want to walk with a 5-year-old who doesn't want to hold my hand. 

It's been real, and it's been fun, and now I am ready to go home. 

Because right now is the honeymoon period. If you can imagine a honeymoon where your spouse rejects you, and ignores everything you say, and bosses you around in another language. It is as much fun as it sounds. 

I am ready to be home. For the walk around MY block, eat food from my refrigerator, and show Ana-Cherie the parents who are not constantly trying to work the logistics of when/where/what we are doing for our next meal, the joy of having a washing machine in the next room so we don't have to hang our clothes on the shower rod after mommy washes them by hand, and tap water. 

You read that right. Tap water. 

For a kid who grew up drinking from the garden hose or the sprinkler, having to police every member of my family while they are near a water faucet   brushing their teeth...well, I am sure they are sick of hearing me say, "use the BOTTLED water!"

I hope Ana-Cherie isn't disappointed when she finds out we don't live in a hotel. 

But I wonder how long it will take her to quit brushing her teeth with a bottle of water. 

I want to come back. But my next trip back, I will speak more Chinese, and all my clothes will be appropriate for one climate."


Our hotel room

Ana-Cherie asleep in the rollaway bed,  with a bottle of water, and her Rainbow Brite doll, and 2 pairs of sunglasses. And French fries. 



Sunday, December 1, 2013

Guangzhou Day 2

Today we headed out of the hotel a different direction. We saw many nicer stores. Jewelry stores. Clothing stores. And people will stop and take pictures of a cute Chinese guy standing like a mannequin in a store window, with his hair spiked. We found a KFC, McDonalds, and a 7-11. We ate at the KFC. That was entertaining. After we ate james got the girls ice cream. Our snack supply has been depleted enough (four cities, plane flights, and almost two weeks in a hotel)that I needed to get some more things. We got a can of Pringles and some dove bars and Hershey bars. I hate to eat fast food, but its so much cheaper than eating in the hotel. 

We each serve our purposes for Ana-Cherie (Hong).  Reese is the one who holds her hand. James is the one who plays with her, and whom she teases endlessly. She does call him baba. We figured out today that I am "Cheryl". We think this because our guide called my name several times and of course,James  calls me that. 
Last night, both girls melted down at bedtime. And then, we realized that James's blood sugar was low. So we dealt with all the situations and went to bed with the light on and TV.  Not sure when they were turned off, but we all slept good. The beds here are so much better than the ones in Yinchuan. We have lots more room here also. This room is easily twice as big. 

We are going on a pearl river cruise this evening. I am excited about  this,since we saw the Little Couple go on one on their show. I had no idea it was so pretty. 

We plan to go back to Shamian Island tomorrow. I am hoping it will not be so crowded. We go Tuesday and pick up a few things we had made. (After our consulate appointment).

I want to take a trip to Walmart or Carrefour before we leave.  I want James to see the Chinese Walmart. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Guangzhou!

We have made significant progress in the last 24+ hours. We boarded our plan to Guangzhou yesterday and she burst into tears. We couldn't understand what she was saying. She had taken her jacket off in the terminal and James stuffed it in a backpack. When she got on the plane she thought we had left her coat. A call to our guide, and the coat was produced. End of drama. She wore her sunglasses on the plane. She looked like a celebrity.

Today, we had the medical appointment here in Guangzhou. Things went better (and faster) than I expected. We went to Shamian Island. (Yes Kim we found it! Lol) staying at the holiday inn shifu. The amount of water and coke we have had to drink made the extra expense for the executive floor worth it. 

She is pushing all the limits to see what she can get away with. She bursts into tears when she doesn't get her way. She eats more fruit than anyone I know (except Joseph Davidson, and maybe James Davidson). She points her finger, and expects us all to jump. She is Reese's little shadow. 

We love her and can't wait to share her. 

Pearl River Cruise tomorrow night.

Hong and the fish 
At the medical appointment

Reese in the car
And Hong










Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adjustment

Hong has been having a bit of trouble. She gets weepy when she has a chance to really think about what is going on. It's completely understandable but sad for Mom and Dad to have to watch and be able to do little to nothing. She's bonding well with Reese though. She lets Reese do her hair every day. She enjoys coloring and listening to Mom's iPod. 

Here's a YouTube video: http://youtu.be/zbAWlFdI0PQ












Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 2 Together

Post by Cheryl: 
From Monday night (China time) about them going to be at 8 pm ish: "We have a little one who didnt take a nap. And we have been through the wringer by the good news is we all lived through it. She is grinning all the time and has every evidence of being a "hot mess". She makes Reese look like a slug. "

"It is Tuesday afternoon in Yinchuan. Our girl woke up all smiley this morning. She eats well, is not picky, and its probably a good thing we can't understand much I what she says. 

The notice I got says she was abandoned may, 2009. The notice  listing her as abandoned was dated nov 2010. I asked twice why so long between finding and listing. I didn't get a good answer. I am wondering if that question was lost in translation. 

Our guides have been wonderful help. Ana-Cherie is fiercely independent. It will take some time before she realizes we are permanent. She wants to do everything herself, which breaks my heart.
She also will not mind, unless it is something she wants to do. We have our hands full. "

Reese and Hong (Ana-Cherie)
Mom signing paperwork 
Dad and Mom and Reese
Beautiful girl

Mom told me Hong is tiny, she looks bigger in these pictures, but last night when Mom helped her take a bath, they realized how many layer she had on. She had a layer of PJs, then leggings and a tshirt, then the long sleeved ruffled turtleneck, then a corduroy dress, all topped by a jacket. The Chinese know how to layer. Mom said she put on a brave face but then got upset when she realized she had to leave with them. All understandable. She's seen many friends leave and not come back. I have to wonder what she thinks happened to them and if she thinks that going to a family is a good thing. 

Reese did her hair this morning and is reportedly enjoying having a little sister. She was all smiles, shy but adorable, on FaceTime this morning while they were at breakfast (about 6 pm here). Reese reported her trying to eat orange juice with a fork, and she was quite proud that Hong took to her more than Mom or Dad. But given the options (a bald man or a red-headed lady), I can see where Reese would seem the sane option. 

Mom also said that she fits in a 4T right now, but probably won't for long with the way she's eating. She pretty much eats until they have to go do something else and gets cut off. She was in a very good orphanage, but even so, she's probably never had access to so much food of her choosing. It's not an uncommon behavior in institutionalized children. She also let go of Reese's hand today and took off running into a street and was none too pleased when she was caught. I guess basic traffic safety isn't a huge concern in the SWI, but she probably rarely left the complex. 



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gotcha!

We got her. She is less than thrilled with us but Reese is acceptable. It takes time. The orphanage is beautiful. Will be hours before I can get on FB. More later- Cheryl



Is that jacket not adorable?

Reese and Ana-Cherie


Reese showing Ana-Cherie her iPad in the car. Technology, universal common ground for small children. 





Emotions Run High

"I have pretty much run the range of emotions the past few days. China is beautiful,and has history that runs so far back...I can't tell you what it was like to stand on the Great Wall, or the Forbidden CIty.
 
Reese has been a trooper. I don't feel like I adequately prepared her for the situations she encountered in Taiyuan. We went back to the Taiyuan SWI on Friday. My first visit there, and her first time there since she was 2 1/2 years old (or younger). The gates of the SWI are where she was found.
The work they do there is incredible. The number of children they deal with is incredible, but even more so when you realize that this region has a higher than average number of births of "special-needs" children. I was allowed to hold a little baby, probably less than a year old. He had the features of a Down's Syndrome baby, and let me tell you, that toothless grin melted me on the spot. Many of these children are not considered adoptable because their disabilities are mental, rather than physical.
 
In the last few days I have become more aware of Reese "processing" things. She gets quiet, and you can almost see the wheels turning in her head, as she absorbs the situation and surroundings. I saw this at the SWI, because she didn't become as animated as usual. They were thrilled to see her, and we promised to come back.
 
I was so sad when we left. I felt like I was leaving so many children behind. It was the the very first place we know of where Reese existed, physically. It was hard to go there, and hard to leave. I didn't know how to resolve the emotions I was feeling. I promised them we would come back before so long.
 
The next day we had plans to meet a friend from Little Rock, Hannah Brown, who used to be one of the coaches at River City Gymnastics. We don't know Hannah very well, except that we have been more in touch once we found out that she was coming to China to teach English....in Taiyuan. She had mentioned in an email that she volunteers at an orphanage in Taiyuan once a week. I didn't think there was more than one in Taiyuan,but I didn't know, and I hoped we would get more information when we met her.
 
We met for lunch at McDonald's in Taiyuan. We were sharing our trip to the SWI, and she pulled out her camera to show me a photo of the one she works at....the same one we had been to the day before. She left at 11:30and we got there at 2:30.
On the same day.
At the same orphanage.
I can't tell you how this affected both of us. Here, I wanted some continued connection to Taiyuan SWI, and Hannah is there every Friday. She walks past the gate where my baby was found.
 
 
As if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, we had plans to meet the family that fostered Reese for her last six months in China.
I was excited to finally meet them (Monica met them in 2009). Again, more emotions (aka tears). I could not imagine how they felt seeing her again after 6 1/2 years. I could tell they wanted to scoop her up and hug her. They shared stories (through our interpreter) and we shared stories, too. They showered her with gifts, and fruit, and as much love as we could fit into two hours. As we left, I promised them we would not wait so long to come back, and that we would visit more when we did.

((I'm going to have to look and find the pictures we have of these two together 6.5 years ago- Monica))


 
It was hard to leave Taiyuan again. We were just getting familiar with the area, had found a little store, were pretty sure there was a Walmart close by (within walking distance, even though our guide said it was "far away").
 
Tonight, we are in our third hotel in less than a week. They put us in the smallest room they have (seriously-I have stayed in a Motel 6 with more space-no kidding). We couldn't order room service like our guide told us to, because my Chinese is better than  their English. We went walking, trying to find fast food or a coke (the one in the mini-bar expired last March, and it wasn't cold anyway). We discovered we can open the window to our room and it is cool enough outside that I hope to have ice crystals in the two bottles I sat on the window sill. We went to the front desk and tried to order room service,and wound up eating american food in the Chinese restaurant. I decided to be proactive about the room situation (the thought of one day cooped up in that little room worried me). I emailed our agency person, and she got in touch with our guide, who worked it out for us to go look at another (bigger)room (same price). We plan on moving tomorrow.
 
All of this whining is masquerading my intense anticipation and excitement about getting our new daughter tomorrow.  I hope she is not disappointed when we get home, and she finds out we don't live in a 3/4/5 star hotel. I hope she and Reese love each other and don't irritate each other to pieces for the next two weeks. I hope she is as happy to have us as her parents as we are to be her parents. "
 
Cheryl

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