We're finally home! We arrived at O'Hare around 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 14th after about 20 hours of grueling travel. Sheehan slept for about 8 of those hours. The other times he was mostly delightul, but there were a few moments of kicking and screaming, due to him not getting his way. :-)
Grandpa & Grandma Hall were waiting at the airport to pick us up. They had to wait for about an hour so we could go through customs and immigration. Sheehan became a U.S. Citizen yesterday upon entry into the country!
Sheehan then got his first ride in a car seat. He fell asleep after a little fidgeting. He LOVES his highchair and didn't want to be taken out after we got home. We love the Bjorn Bib because it catches all the food he drops and Sheehan can hide his bananas and spoon in there too. He enjoyed Grandpa Hall's goofiness and Grandma Hall's attention. They watched our home while we were gone and organized and fixed things for us. It was amazing and such a delight to come home to! They also had the kitchen table set up with presents and decorations for Kate and Sheehan for their birthdays.
Grandpa & Grandma Hall with Sheehan (we're not sure what Sheehan is doing to Granpa's nose)
Grandpa & Grandma Hall posing with their Grandpa and Grandma shirts from China
So far Sheehan and Lolita (the cat, aka. Fuzzy Kitty) seem to be getting along ok. I was concerned that she would hide or worse, hiss at him. She hisses at Fleurette when she comes over, but I think that's because Fleurette is not afraid of fuzzy kitties because she has one. Sheehan points at her and says meow-meow. He is tentative about going up to her unless we are holding him. I think Lolita likes it that way. So, she has been around a lot and is very excited that we are home to pet and love on her.
Kate is heading to the doctor today. Her cold has gotten worse from lack of sleep and jet lag. Her throat and ears are still really bothering her. She's grateful to be able to visit a doctor in the States.
We hope all of you have enjoyed following along on our blog while we've been in China picking up Sheehan. We will probably be posting regularly (I'm not sure what regularly means yet) on this site for anyone interested in checking in. I know that grandparents want to stay posted on what Sheehan is doing. Thanks for everyone's comments! It was so awesome to have this kind of communication going on in China and to know that so many of our friends and family were supporting and praying for us!!! Thank you!
September 15, 2006
We're finally home! We arrived at O'Hare around 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 14th after about 20 hours of grueling travel. Sheehan slept for about 8 of those hours. The other times he was mostly delightul, but there were a few moments of kicking and screaming, due to him not getting his way. :-)
September 13, 2006
It's 5:15 am and I just wanted to post while I'm awake and Steve is showering and Sheehan is still asleep. My cold is still pretty heavy, but much better than two days ago. Now, it's just major congestion and a lot of coughing. But, the earache and sore throat have diminished. I think I've sneezed as many times in the last 3 minutes as my mom does on an average morning.
Well, Steve is done, so it's my turn in the shower. See you all soon! Love to everyone! Thanks for following our trip!
Steve, Katherine, & Sheehan
China is an amazing place to visit but we are so ready to come home to our family, our friends, our home, and our country.
Today we all went to the American Consulate (essentially the same as an embassy) to receive Sheehan's passport back with his immigrant visa to the US. That coupled with some official papers that will receive an important stamp from US customs in Chicago will make Sheehan an official citizen of the United States. We can't wait.
Other than that it was basically a free day. The same old massive buffet for breakfast, walking around the hotel for a while, back to the room for some resistance before Sheehan agreeing to a nap, lunch in the hotel (because it was raining all day), out to the consulate, then out to Lucy's one last time where every one of our families ended up eating which tells you how much you miss American food when you are overseas. One amusing side note is that Katherine ordered some pasta Bolognese-style that apparently tasted just like the kind her neighbor Nana used to make. It figures she needs to travel 7,000 miles on a plane to find pasta like Nana used to make LOL!
The other amusing thing is that we are starting to realize that Sheehan takes as long to eat his meals as his Grandpa Hall does :-) They will get along just fine!
We have an early morning ahead of us tomorrow. Up at 5 AM, bags picked up at 6 AM, shuttle leaving for the airport at 7 AM with breakfast thrown in there somewhere so this will be our last post until we get back home. Thanks again for all of the comments everyone left us, as well as your prayers and support. If all goes well we will arrive in Beijing tomorrow (9/14) around noon-time (11 PM CST) and the arriving at O'Hare around 4:30 PM CST.
Can't wait to see everyone!
Steve, Kate and Sheehan
Children from our group (plus Steve's hands holding up Sheehan)
Steve delivering the toast at the farewell dinner
A common scene in a Chinese restaurant. We actually saw them cut up the bird, including the head and put it on a platter ... MMMMMM
Um ... I Can't explain this one ... Katherine goes the extra mile to make Sheehan (and Steve) laugh :-)
September 11, 2006
Hi Everyone, Steve has been posting the last few nights. I've been so sick with a cold. When I wake up in the morning I feel like my ears are on fire. I rolled out of bed today to go to breakfast because Steve needs me there to watch Sheehan because it's a buffet. I slumped in my chair most of the time, but managed to get down some of the yummy french toast and tater tots and OJ. Then I came back to the room and went back to bed. I'm up again, showered and somewhat ready to go now, at noon. Steve is watching Monday night football. That's pretty funny because it's Tuesday here.
I'm hoping I'll feel better by our plane ride. This morning was probably the worst I've felt the past two weeks.
The one thing I want to comment on is how awesome this hotel is. We're on the 11th floor overlooking the island we're on, which is part of the city. There is a 3-story waterfall that falls into a pool of water that contains many huge goldfish. They also have a very large gold bird cage that houses about a dozen love birds...I think they're love birds. They're very pretty and Sheehan loves to watch them. The hotel has giant Chinese artwork for sale all over the first floor. Big dragons and ships and horses and frogs carved out of wood, jade, ivory, etc. Every night at around 8:30 housekeeping comes to our room and turns down our beds and leaves us a little container of chocolates. They also have attendants on each floor who will call the elevator for us and helps us with anything we need. They have two big swimming pools (it's been a little too chilly to swim though) and the hotel is right on the river. The buffet for breakfast is HUGE!!!! We thought the first hotel was the best, but this place is by far one of the best hotels we've ever stayed in.
The waterfall in our hotel...
By the way, Mattel made a special Barbie doll that is for adoptive parents staying at the White Swan Hotel here. It's a blonde Barbie with a little Asian baby. At first I thought it was supposed to be for Sheehan, but then we realized that it's a Collector's Item and they give them to everyone. It's kind of amusing, but a nice gesture.
View from our hotel room...
To end our day, we had dinner with our group as a farewell, then we bought some souveneirs on the way home. And now we're ready for bed. Sheehan is crying himself to sleep as I type. Tomorrow is our last full day here! Woo-hoo!!!!
Sheehan looking at the fish...
Answers/comments to questions on comments:
Kim: I can't believe the Redskins lost. We saw the highlights with those field goals at the end. I was sad. Sheehan would LOVE to have a Redskins t-shirt (don't tell Steve I said that).
Mandie: We are dying to come home. My cold is making me want to come home all the more. If I weren't so sick, I don't think it would be so bad because our hotel is SOOO accomodating to adoptive parents. I would love to get together so Anna Leigh and Sheehan can play. We are still looking into moving to LZ. That would be so cool!
Dave: Steve was very excited that the Bears won. He was going to call his dad to rub it in, but we can't find our pin # for the calling card. And, I don't think we've really complained much other than my being sick. I am seeing it as a time for Steve and Sheehan to bond though. :-)
Colleen: Can't wait to bring Sheehan out to lunch with us at Portillo's. I wonder if they serve Congee?
Cindi: The middle photo was the side of a building that had some kind of video showing on it. It's hard to tell in the photo, but it's pretty cool from the boat and our hotel room.
This is a late post due to a longer than expected dinner cruise, so this will be short and sweet. Kate and Sheehan are fast asleep, and I am ready for sleep too.
Today included a trip to the medical clinic for an examination. Sheehan hated having someone look in his mouth, but we survived OK. Everything checked out normal. He weighs 26.5 lbs.
The outside of the medical center
The inside with all of our groups' chldren waiting their turn
The we stopped off for some coffee and cake. Then came an answered prayer, a 2 hour nap for Sheehan.
Steve and Sheehan at the coffee shop
Kate and Sheehan enjoying some song birds in the hotel
Steve enjoying the shopping trip
Then off to a mall for some shopping (Yawn from Steve). The a dinner cruise. Remembering Pastor Dave's motto that "it can't get tough enough for us to complain", I will leave it at this: 40% of the buffet offerings I couldn't identify and 40% of the items I could identify and wouldn't dare put inside my mouth. That left some small chicken wings, some noodles, rice and what I hope was sweet and sour pork. Anyway, have a great Monday 9/11.
Scenes from the cruise
September 10, 2006
Today was a fun, relaxing day. We didn't get a ton of sleep last night with Sheehan waking up and crying (I mean screaming) twice in the night, but when the sun is up, Sheehan is all smiles. We had our buffet breakfast in the hotel, and then met the rest of the group that we haven't seen since back on Day 3 in Beijing. It is really cool to be able to see all of these families with their new additions. It is especially neat to be with a group that all have various special needs kids. One thing I must say is it is pretty disappointing how relatively insignificant these "special needs" really are. You have Sheehan's pictures and he doesn't look or act much different from anyone else. And most of these other kids have very minute special needs. Yet because these kids are not perfect, they have practically no chance of getting adopted by a Chinese family and they tend to get overlooked or chosen away from because of the fears of potential adopters. It is sad and frightening because if these kids don't get adopted, they will be outcasts and destitute, not to mention parent-less the rest of their lives. If anyone is even considering adoption, whether internationally or domestic, please please please consider looking into special needs children. Mild special needs can be very manageable.
OK, off our soapbox. As a group we went to get our childrens' pictures for their visas and then most of us went to this Christian church just down the street from our hotel. It was really cool to be able to worship Christ in China of all places. And the message was pretty straight forward, not holding back on the gospel in any way. It was neat to see a sanctuary of about 125 people, with 25% of them adoption families. The best part, Sheehan slept through nearly the entire 2 hour service. Steve's back and arms were a bit sore, but it was well worth it. Sheehan is so happy when he is rested.
Outside the church
Inside the church
Later we had lunch (at Lucy's again :), completed some of our paperwork, and then walked the hotel property. We also were able to hang out in this large toddler room that was filled with toys and stuff for little kids. Sheehan had a ball and it was welcome relief from a comparatively smaller hotel room. It was unusually too cool to go swimming though. Maybe tomorrow.
Sheehan putting on his sandals by himself ... oops, wrong feet though :-)
As you know Sheehan was born with a cleft lip and palate. He has had surgery to repair his lip, but we believe his palate is still needing some work. This means the route between his mouth and nose is much more open than the rest of us. So today for lunch we fed Sheehan some noodles. A couple of hours later ... well, let's just say some of those noodles made a repeat appearance out his nose.
Right now it is 8:30 PM China time (7:30 AM US CST). Kate and Sheehan are fast asleep (for now) so life is pretty good. Kate still isn't feeling that great, but she toughs it out for her son.
Have a great Sunday everyone. GO BEARS and SOX!
September 09, 2006
Ahhhh...I cannot tell you how nice it is to be onto the next city. Xi'an is a VERY dry and dusty city, Guangzhou is GREEN...like Florida. It's tropical. And there are tons of American families with their Chinese children all over the place.
Today, we flew out of Xi'an at about noon and into Guangzhou at 2pm. Sheehan was sooo good on the plane. We were really worried. And I'm sure it will be a different story on our 13 hour flight home. His favorite part of the flight was the meal. We had noodles and beef and rice and something orange-colored. He liked both and ate heartily. There was nobody in the seat next to us, so he got to use that one.
When we arrived at the hotel, we ran into a few of the other couples who were in our group in Beijing. We will see them again tomorrow. It's so neat to see all these families with their new little additions. One of the couples adopted a little boy who is 8 years old who has mild cerebral palsy. He is SO cute. At dinner, we heard him call his mom, Mama.
We are staying at the White Swan Hotel, which is on a little island, called Shamian Island. There is a river with dinner cruise boats going through (I think we might be able to do that this week...sweet!). The island looks very British. I think our tour book said it was occupied by the British after the Opium wars or something like that. This island really caters to adoptive parents. There are laundry places everywhere, a 7-11 across the street, stroller and children clothing stores everywhere. There is also an American restaurant called Lucy's. YUM! I had a cheeseburger and fries, Steve had a beef burrito (tiny compared to Chipotle...China hasn't caught onto American-sized portions, thank goodness) and Sheehan had congee. Sheehan tried a french fry, chewed it up and spit it out. He's allowed to hate celery, but fries?...come on.
Lucy's ... a welcome sight to road weary travelers!
Steve and I think we're the best parents ever. ha ha! At dinner, Sheehan pointed at something on the wall, we both turned our heads and Sheehan spilled his congee all over himself (full bowl). This would be able to be overlooked except that we also forgot to bring a bib. I laughed pretty hysterically. I'm always such a perfectionist, but parenting is not one of those areas. I'm like...we'll just give him a bath when we get back. We got a banana split and it had one of those little umbrellas in it that you get in your Shirley Temples. Well, Sheehan was playing with it...we were smart enough to make sure he didn't put it in his mouth or poke out his eye with the sharp end, but mom showed him how to move the umbrella up and down. Steve immediately quoted "you just sowed him how to destroy that". When he tried it, he accidentally ripped the entire thing apart. Bye-bye umbrella. It looked like a wild animal destroyed it. Mom and Dad laughed hysterically again.
Mom laughing because... (note the spillage on Sheehan's shirt)
...of this umbrella
We came back to the hotel, gave Sheehan a bath and bottle and he went right to sleep only with crying for about a minute (WAAAAY better than the 30 minutes of hysterical crying last night).
Our hotel has a pool, so we hope to take Sheehan for a dip tomorrow. We'll see how that goes. Dad has high hopes. Mom's not so sure. He loves to take baths, but a pool is a little bigger than the tub. Tomorrow, we are meeting with the other families in the morning and then going to a church down the street next to the American Consulate (where we will finalize the adoption). We're looking forward to going to church. That'll be neat. Wow, I just thought about how the big start up at AHEFC is tomorrow. I'm so focused on China, that I forgot about the goings-on at home. Hope everything goes well with the Fall Start-up!!!
A few things I would add to that last Top 10 list from yesterday (besides the fact that you could probably find any of those items in Wisconsin) are...
11. People constantly sweeping the streets with GIANT shrub-like brooms (it's so bizarre) ... (it is even more bizarre since the cities are horribly polluted and many times it seems these street sweepers are just moving dust back and forth ... they are incredibly hard workers though).
12. Restaurants serving fresh fish, have dead fish at the bottom of their "fresh fish" fish tank. MMMMM :-)
13. Low crime. We went into some areas that in Chicago we wouldn't venture into at any time of day. But in China that is not a concern. The only thing you need to watch out for are pickpockets.
Answers to questions on comments page and other items:
Mom Weimer: Yes, I have a recipe for congee. I got it from my yahoo group. I'm glad I have it. He did eat some banana yesterday and surprised us by enjoying peanuts last night. Hopefully, he won't break out in a rash or something. LOL!
Mom Weimer (part 2): No we are not buying stock in KFC, but if you had to eat Chinese food every day for lunch and dinner, you would welcome some of the Colonel's finger lickin' good food now and then too :)
Cindi: Sheehan had no problem leaving the orphanage. He waved bye-bye and blew them all a kiss as he left. They must have taught him how to do that. He does it to the people in every toll booth we pass.
Susie: I need your home email address. Email me at email@example.com. Thanks! :-)
Melissa: Sheehan is wearing Fleurette's old Cat in the Hat pajamas and they fit perfectly. The last hotel room was very warm so he just slept in shorts and a t-shirt, this one has A/C - I might sleep like a baby tonight...hopefully, I won't wake up at 3:30 am needing a diaper change though.
September 08, 2006
10. Old men squatting like catchers as a way to relax, smoke a cigarette and pass the time.
9. Floor level toilets
8. Goats being herded down a busy street
7. People cleaning vegetables on the sidewalk or street
6. Laundry-mats where the people do all your laundry for you and it only costs $10
5. Black eggs with green yolks on a restaurant buffet
4. Congee (a watery rice type stuff...one of the few things Sheehan will eat)
3. Noodles being hung to dry out on lines on the sidewalk
2. Ashtrays in pretty much all buildings
1. Toddlers with holes cut out in the crotch area so that they can pee with out taking their clothes out ... oh yeah ... and they pee at the curb of their streets.
Today was our last full day in Xi'an. We are looking forward to moving onto Guangzhou where we get to meet up again with the other families we met in Beijing. We will have 7 additional children in our group now.
Today, was a little rough. Kate caught Sheehan's cold and we all still have the traveler's "flu." Steve had to do most of the caretaking of Sheehan today as Kate vegged from having too much Benadryl and then napped in the afternoon to try to get back some of her energy, but it was a great time for dad and son to bond.
In the morning, we drove to the hospital where Sheehan was found. It is about one hour and 15 minutes away from our hotel in Hu County. We only stayed for maybe 10 minutes, but it was very much worth it to see the town his birth parents most likely live in. It was definitely more rural than Xi'an...even though it's still considered to be Xi'an. The geography here is confusing to me.
Hospital where Sheehan was found
Second floor of Hospital where Sheehan was found
Some interesting things we saw in Hu County were:
1) A man leading a small flock of goats down the street
2) People selling corn on the street...literally on the street. The corn was laid out (not in the husks) on the street in various places in the town. You could pick it up and then pay for it.
Corn on the Street
When we got back, Steve and Sheehan went to KFC while mom napped and then they played. Then we did more paperwork for the adoption, gave Sheehan a bath (we all love this because Sheehan has fun and he gets CLEAN!), and packed for our flight tomorrow.
Sheehan playing Peek-a-boo behind the curtain
Good Bye Xi'an! (taken from our hotel window)
September 07, 2006
Today was pretty full. After a bit of an early rise, we set out for the orphanage. We met the doctor who did Sheehan's surgery, the orphanage director, and the nannies who cared for Sheehan.
The doctor that Performed the surgery on Sheehan's lip with Kate and Sheehan
NOTE to parents adopting from Xi'an...Unfortunately, we were so frazzled trying to get out of the hotel room, with Sheehan being sick and not sleeping well, that we forgot the video camera AND the list of children to take pictures of. I also forgot the family albums I was to deliver, but they will come to our hotel to pick those up. We did take many pictures of all the kids hoping we could at least get one picture of each kid. If I remembered what they looked like, then I took many pics of them. Unfortunately, we weren't able to go to the 2nd floor. I will post the pics at the Xi'an yahoo site as soon as I can.
All the nannies were very excited to see Sheehan again. At first he wouldn't let any of them hold him, but eventually he allowed it. They were so excited. The children were so beautiful. Some were dying to have Steve and I pick them up. One of the kids clung to my leg and wouldn't let go. One little girl I picked up, she threw some plastic keys across the room and starting laughing hysterically. Then I let her down to go over and pick them up and in the meantime picked up the boy clinging to my leg. When the little girl came back with the keys she laid down on the ground and starting crying and kicking. She was ok after a few seconds.
One of the women at the orphanage speaks English (British accent, so I'm guessing she was from Hong Kong). She told me about the non-profit organization that takes care of the children on the 4th floor. The organization is called the English Language Association (ELA Childcare). They are not part of the orphanage, they just use the space and take care of this group of children. They have a good ratio of care takers to children. There were MANY caretakers in the rooms. I was really impressed. There were children in the other room singing the ABC's in English. We arrived just before lunch, so they invited Sheehan to sit down with the kids for lunch. As soon as they said "Let's eat!" (in Chinese, of course), Sheehan wanted out of my arms and ran right for his little chair at the table with the other kids. He woofed down two bowls.
Sheehan eating lunch with his old gang and aunties:
While Sheehan was eating and dad was watching, I got a tour of the rest of the 4th floor facilities. She showed me the baby room where the youngest children are. She said that many of the children have cleft lip/palate. She said that if the cleft babies were on the other floors of the orphanage there is a good chance they wouldn't survive. Cleft babies have to have special feeding bottles because they are unable to suck. She also gave some reasons why cleft babies might be abandoned. She said it was two-fold: 1) many parents in the countryside can't afford to get the care needed for a child with cleft and 2) many women in the countryside only breastfeed and when their child is not sucking, they don't know what to do. The child begins to waste away. They can't stand to see that and they take the baby to be abandoned. It makes me sad to think that there is possibly a woman out there who couldn't care for Sheehan, either because she didn't know how to or couldn't afford to. This is a person that we will be sure to pray for for the rest of our lives.
Then she showed me the room where the children who have severe special needs (mostly mentally challenged) stayed. I asked what happens to the children in that room if they are not adopted. She said they usually go right into homes for old folks. Later, we asked our tour guide what happens to orphans similar to Sheehan's case, that don't get adopted. He said they will live a life of poverty.
After lunch we went to have an adult lunch at a dumpling (pot stickers) banquet. They took us to our own private dining room where 4 different people waited on us. There were so many dumplings to try. They were all so good! One was filled with sea cucumber. We recalled that we saw this animal on the bottom of the ocean floor of the lagoon where we satyed on our honeymoon and we were told that if you toched it and then touch your eyes you will go blind. I stil ate it though. It was pretty good. The weird thing was the "beef" she put in front of me. I really think it was beef intestines because it didn't look anything like the beef I'm used to. I ate it anyway. The Chinese have an amazing way of making yucky stuff taste relaly good. Like this yucky-looking green vegetable that looks like it's straight from the ocean floor...I tried it...loved it. Oh, and then at the end of the dumpling banquet they bring out a fruit tray and there is this fruit that had a BRIGHT pink rind and a white flesh with tons of little black seeds (poppy-seed sized). It tasted like kiwi...but I'd never seen it before. Also, apparently pomegranate and dates are quite common in China. They were selling pomegranates on the highway to the terra cotta warriors (Susie, I thought you might appreciate this.) They are very inexpensive in China. One more thing about the dumpling banquet restaurant that I found amusing and took a picture of, were the bathrooms. The male and female stalls were in the same room. So, you would go into the bathroom and be in a stall next to a person of the opposite gender. Very different.
A shot on top of the 37 foot high, 20-foot wide (at the top) city of Xian wall:
After the banquet, we visited the city wall around Xi'an. There is a wall that surrounds the entire city that was built...I'm not sure when it was built, but it was during one of those dynasties. It was kind of chilly and I was concerned about Sheehan getting cold, so we were only up on the wall for about 15 minutes.
After the wall, we went to the Shaanxi museum (Shaanxi is the province that Xi'an is in). Xi'an was the beginning of the Silk Road. We saw many archeological items dug up from thousands of years ago. It was neat to see all that history in our son's homeland.
After the museum, we came back and tried to get Sheehan to take a nap. Didn't happen. So, we went to the grocery store. There stores are pretty neat and HUGE. Totally different than what I imagined. It's a like a Meijer store, but multiple levels and to get to the next level, instead of taking an escalator, they have escalator ramps...like the walking escalators at O'Hare, but these are on an incline, so you get to the next floor and you get to take your shopping cart with you. Sheehan likes going to the store, especially when we buy him cookies. Again, chip off the old block!
Now for some prayer requests. Sheehan is really having a difficult time sleeping, and it is wearing him out, and Kate since he literally will only stop crying when she holds his 25-pound body "standing upright"! If she tries to sit down while holding him or if Steve tries, he screams and kicks. Tonight's trial and error seems to show that he can't stand the hotel room. When Steve took him out in the stroller one time and while carrying him a second time, he went to sleep in minutes. Anyway, please pray for his rest and Kate's as wel as Kate's health. We think she may be coming down with a sore throat.
As always, thanks for your support. We have been witnesses to God's hearing and answering your prayers and it is awesome to experience.
Steve, Kate and Sheehan
September 06, 2006
It isn't often one gets to see a wonder of the world, but we were fortunate to have that happen today. I'm not sure who decided what the criteria for a wonder is, but this was pretty good. Today we toured the Terra Cotta Soldiers in the outskirts of Xian. For a really quick summary, the first Chinese emperor (~200 BC) wanted an army with him in his grave to defend him in the after world. So, for about forty years he had the people create these warriors ... thousands of them scattered throughout an area several football fields in size. Each warrior is unique, modeled after an actual soldier. A farmer stumbled upon the warriors when digging a well in the early 1970's. We actually got to see the farmer who made the discovery.
As for parenthood, Sheehan is still a joy. He is showing us that he isn't going to make parenthood a piece of cake like the first couple of days :) He is starting to show some of the typical two-year old things ... pushing things off his high-chair, tantrums when he doesn't get his way, the usual. But he continues to demonstrate true happiness and joy, especially when he is being fed or held by Mom (pray that Kate's back holds up!)
I have been enthralled by watching Kate's parenting skills. She seems to know exactly what he needs emotionally despite the language barrier, and he is infatuated with her, needing to see everything she is doing. And her patience is never ending. There have been times where he will not attempt to sleep unless she is holding him and she has been there for him every time. It is a pleasure to watch her in action.
As for some of the questions that were sent to us:
1. We fly back on Thursday September 14th, returning the same day in the late afternoon.
2. Yes the crickets pictured in our last blog do chirp ... pretty loud in fact. There were several of them in cages chirping together.
That is all for now. Tonight we are off to a dinner show that is supposed to be pretty sweet. Hope everyone slept well and has a great September 6th ... ours is almost over :)
September 05, 2006
Ok, so today has been interesting. Steve and I are both nauseous (traveler's kind of nauseous, if you know what I mean), we have cabin fever, our son has a cold, we don't speak the language, we're the only white people in this city and we get stares as we walk down the street pushing our son in his stroller. We haven't been spit on yet, so that's good (we've heard about this happening to other adoptive parents). It's very difficult, but really has been a great experience, if for nothing else, to understand a little what it's like to be a minority.
One of the things that has been bothering me is the beggars on the street. It's very sad. Most of the beggars we have encountered are handicapped in some way. Our guide and every other person we've seen ignores them and we have been following suit. Until today. I couldn't handle it anymore. I had been praying about these people and was crying so hard the other night after I walked past a teenage boy begging from his skateboard-like platform because his legs were so deformed that they were behind his back. Today, three children, under 10 years old, ran up to us begging for money. They were very dirty and dusty, with matted hair. I pulled out 1 yuan for each of them and placed the money in their little baskets. They were so excited. They immediately and profusely thanked me and one little girl even blew me a kiss. It felt so good to help them until I remembered that 1 yuan equals about 12 U.S. cents. Money goes a lot further in China because stuff is so much cheaper, but I still felt like crap.
A few minutes later, I asked our guide if there was a system in place for the beggars. She said there isn't. She said there was until last year. So, they are left to beg and live off what others give them. Our guide also told me that our adoption agency tried to help one child beggar who had a special need and they were getting ready to do it and the parents wouldn't allow it because having their handicapped child beg for money was the only way they could get any income and if she was treated and didn't look handicapped anymore then they wouldn't have money to eat.
In spite of some challenges here, we have really enjoyed experiencing the Chinese culture and visiting the amazing landmarks and historical places of our son's homeland. We would definitely come back. People are very friendly, aside from the constant stares...but, that's really no different than in the U.S.
Today we had a day off. We had breakfast in the otel restaurant, and then hung out until about 10 AM. Then Anna our guide took us into the downtown area for some shopping. We ended up in a Mall that reselmbled Marshall Field's or Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago.
If you can't tell, that is a huge cricket for sale as a pet ... no kidding
One thing to comment on...the driving in the cities. Every driver drives like a Chicago cab driver. Every cab driver, drives worse. I can't even explain how aggressive the drivers, bicyclists, AND pedestrians are. Yesterday, our driver couldn't get past a bus, so he just drove on the side walk for about 100 yards to get to our hotel. NOT uncommon! The good thing is that the traffic is so dense, that vehicles rarely ever drive over 20-30 mph.
This is Steve now ... let me clarify the situation with the driving. In essence there are no rules. Some vehicles obey the stop on red, but that is the only rule I've seen that is consistently obeyed. There does seem to be a sort of unwritten rule however ... the bigger the vehicle gets the right of way. That means people come in last on the roads, even when they have the "right of way". It is wierd to see the right of way rules flip-flopped but everyone here just seems to deal with it. If you are trying to turn left and traffic is so busy it seems like you would ave to wait 10 minutes to cross ... here it isn't a problem ... you just pull in front of traffic and make everyone stop.
Anyway, there are many wonderful differences here from the states ... driving just doesn't happen to be one of them :-)
Signing off for now...
Note to Aunt Kim (response to your question)...we are calling him Sheehan. He responds when Steve or I call his name from another room. Unfortunately, the language barrier is such a hindrance that communication is very difficult other than the few Chinese words I know. For the Chinese words I know, we say the Chinese and the English. He is catching on to simple words like, "No," "Come," and "Let's Go." He's a very smart boy and a very tidy one. When we get ready to go, he grabs his socks and shoes and helps us put them on him. When we pull out a diaper and the changing mat, he lays down on the mat. When we are finished with water bottles, he disposes of them in the trash, without our asking, and he tries to clean up the little table in our room if he spilled. He is so cute.
September 04, 2006
I couldn't resist posting this one...
I just have to add that I am amazed at how well he is bonding with us. He loves playing with us and being with us and being held by us. He cried for 30 minutes really hard when he woke up in our hotel room that first afternoon. But, since then, he has done very well. I prayed so hard about this. I specifically prayed that God would build a bond between us through all the miles we were apart. He seems to have done that. I'm truly amazed at this little boy. Before we met him we had never seen a picture of smiling. We were concerned about that. Now, to see this beautiful little child running to us laughing and smiling brings us overwhelming joy. I'm crying as I wrote this. I think I'm officially a mom now.
Kate and Sheehan enjoying breakfast
Today we made it official by signing these papers officially making Sheehan a Hall. The paperwork that the Chinese government nneds to recognize our adoption is complete. Now we wait five days for Sheehan's passport to be finalized. We get that on Friday and then Saturday we take off for Guangzhou.
The Provincial Government building where we finaliized the adoption.
So far today, in addition to doing paper work at various offices we have been getting to know Sheehan and he is getting to know us. While dad was asleep, Mom played with Sheehan for about an hour. After a round of peek-a-boo he came running into her arms for a hug. Priceless! He seems to be doing very well, although he seems to have a bit of a cold. Tylenol to the rescue. He really enjoys the flavor, so it's easy to give him.
He fell asleep in mom's arms, but when she tried to put him down in the crib, he woke up and pitched a fit. He refuses to take a nap. Ahhh...strong-willed child. He is now on the floor with dad, stacking lego blocks. He has called after dad, saying "Baba" (dad in Chinese). We're thinking that we will need to teach him some sign language because he struggles to speak with his repaired palate.
More apple sauce :-)
Later today we found a way to tire the little guy out. Sheehan loves when Mom and Dad sit at opposite ends of the room and he runs back and forth to each of us with a big smile and a big hug. Mom and Dad love this too! Mom broke out in tears at the huge smile he gave every time he came running into her arms.
Well, we miss everyone and look forward to our return when we can sleep on our own soft, cushion-ee mattress :0
September 03, 2006
9/3/2006 is an amazing day. I know everyone wants pictures but you're going to have to put up with some of my typing first.
We drove to the notary office this afternoon to meet Sheehan. There were three other couples also waiting for their infant girls. Anna, our coordinator, told us that the Xi'an orphanage (different from where the other children came from) was always late. They came in at about 5:15-5:20. We could see the Auntie carrying Sheehan in from a distance. Kate almost threw up and Steve started popping Pepto Bismols. But, we managed to hold ourselves together.
When they arrived in the room, Sheehan sat on his Auntie's lap while we looked over his picture album they created for us and also got the low down on his schedule (glad to hear he is sleeping 11 hours a night!). Here is the extremely amusing thing: They gave us a rundown of his personality. Get this, he is rather laid back, but has a red-hot temper. The only thing he really doesn't like is not getting his way. Amazing ... he may be Chinese but he is a chip off the old block ... definitely his Father's son!
After having some pictures taken, we drove back to the hotel. Sheehan fell asleep in Steve's arms (very cute). He woke up in the hotel room and that was not pleasant. He cried for a good 30 minutes straight, only stopping when we walked him in the hallway. So we decided it was a good time to go shopping for Sheehan stuff. We got him some food supplies and more diapers, and some KFC for Mom and Dad, and headed back home to the hotel. This second trip to the hotel was a much better experience. Sheehan sat on Dad's lap while Mom and Dad completed some paper work. We then had dinner, Sheehan having some crakers and apple sauce. Apparently Sheehan wasn't happy with how fast Dad was getting the apple sauce in his mouth so Sheehan preferred to take the cup of apple sauce and slurp it down himself. Again, just like his Father would :-)
Then the real fun began. After our first diaper change (eww!) it was time for a bath. HE LOVED IT! We saw his first smile. He laughed and giggled the entire time. The only time he has laughed more is when Mom tickled him or played hide and seek.
We are SO thankful that Sheehan took to Steve so quickly and is letting mom "grow on him." After that first good cry by the front door, he has done incredibly well! :-)
Right now he is laying in his crib sleeping. Mom and Dad are ready for sleep :-) Parenthood is a true blessing! Thank you God.
Unfortuantly, the blogger is not posting pictures right now...good timing. We will post some as soon as we can.
We're in Xi'an. Only 22 minutes from leaving for the notary office where we will meet Sheehan and bring him back to the hotel. Our stomachs are uneasy and we're a jumble of nerves. Only Steve and I would try to relax by sitting down for a cup of cappuccino and chocolate cake before venturing out to meet our son. (Actually, the restaurant was closed, we had to settle for dessert and coffee).
Our ride in from the airport was about and hour. Xi'an is a bit dirtier than Beijing. We haven't experienced much of Xi'an yet. It could be like approaching Chicago from Gary, IN though, we'll see. Maybe the other side of Xi'an is prettier. We still saw many people sweeping streets with GIANT brooms made out of tree brush. It's very interesting. Actual home-made brooms.
Well, I'm going to go throw up...jk. We'll write more later, if we aren't overwhelmed with our toddler. :-)
Love to Everyone!
P.S. Steve is actually sleeping right now! How does he do that? I'm the one that took the drugs to get on the plane AND he had a cappuccino, I merely had a hot chocolate (french-style...very bitter).
September 02, 2006
Ok, so today we did something stupid. This goes beyond my forgetting to put on deoderant this morning. Steve and I hiked to the highest point of the Great Wall. I'm barely able to stay awake to type this. My legs were shaking all the way down the wall. It was reminiscent of helping Lauren and Kim move a few weeks ago. So, tomorrow I shouldn't be able to walk. Sheehan will have to meet his handicapped mom.
Anyway, we got up today (me at 3:30 a.m. and Steve at 4 a.m.). We showered, did a Bible study together and then ate breakfast. YUM! Basically, the same as yesterday, but I so look forward to it every morning. I think that's why I got up at 3:30...jk. T
Today, we met the rest of our group. There are 7 couples total. They're pretty much from all over the country. Two couples are from Ohio, so we had something in common (Cincinnati and Valley City...near the Wilson's!). We drove with our tour guide to Tiananmen Square/Tomb of General Mao/Forbidden City. There were hundreds of people waiting in line to pay their respect to General Mao. His tomb is at Tiananmen Square. I don't remember the Chinese significance of T. Square, only what we saw with the students being shot in the 80's.
We crossed under the street to the Forbidden City. This is where the Emperors lived for many, many years, until (I think) 1911. Before 1912 nobody was allowed inside the Forbidden City. Now, it's open to the public. There are 9999.5 rooms in the Forbidden City. It was huge and a lot of it was under construction. A LOT of Beijing is under construction, as they're preparing for the 2008 Olympics.
Tiananmen Square/Way to Forbidden City
After the Forbidden City, we had lunch at a Peking duck restaurant and tried Peking duck. Steve was very fond of it, as he woofed down like 4 little pancake-fuls of duck. We sat around a table with our group and got to know each other better.
After lunch, we drove to the Great Wall. It was VERY hazy and foggy, as you can see from the photos. I think we climbed like 500 stairs or something. Coming down was almost as bad. On the way home from the Wall, which is about an hour drive outside of Beijing, we drove by the construction site for where they will host the 2008 Olympics.
On the way up...
Almost to the top...
We came back to our hotel, showered, since we sweated more than any time since our trip last fall to Louisiana and/or Lauren's move (remember I had no deoderant on) and then went to KFC for dinner.
Tomorrow morning, we leave for Xi'an. We have to meet Anna, our guide, in the lobby downstairs at 8:30 a.m. Good night everyone! :-)...I guess it's Good Morning to you. :-)
And finally...just so you know what I have go through...la toilet.
September 01, 2006
I wasn't able to download all my pics on the last post, so here are some more...
The menu at McDonald's that we used to point at food to order. These are taro root pies...like apple or cherry, but taro. Hmmm...they look interesting. We weren't brave enough to try. And yes, that is corn in the bottom right corner. That's one of the side-order options.
What a real rich-shaw looks like...the driver actually ran rather than road a bike. This is a bronze statue on Wangfujing St. with a live womean posing for a picture.