Wednesday, September 30, 2009

60th Anniversary Chinese National Day

Thursday (10/1/2009)
We arrived at our new hotel yesterday afternoon. It is the Victory Hotel on Shamian Island. Typically, this island is filled with tourists, especially Americans that are adopting. However, because of the holiday this week, pretty much all of the foreigners have gone home. We have strolled the streets and visited several shops and food markets. They eat everything here. You can find snakes, Lizards skin, turtles, scorpions all right around the corner from KFC. We met one lady whom upon seeing Elsie asked if we were Christians. Upon replying, she pulled out her Chinese Bible and told us about a local church on the island. We may try it out this Sunday. Weddings in China are big this week, because the married couple can take advantage of the holiday for their honeymoon. Today is National Day here in China. I guess 60 years ago today, Mao Zedong proclaimed to the world in Tiemann square the founding of the People's Republic of China. A HUGE parade was held at the square. Complete with the army, tanks, warplanes and ICBM nuclear weapons. Oh, they also had little kids singing. As we walked through the market, we could see all the TV's playing the parade. We came back to the Hotel and watched a little bit on TV. Um, I think that was pretty much the only choice, since all the TV channels were playing it. We hope to see a big fireworks display tonight. We may have a good view out of our hotel window. The woman in the photo with Tamra and Elsie, is our guide Elsie.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Pictures

The first picture is David, one of our coordinators.

This picture is a group shot, a couple of days before we got Elsie.


September 30, 2009

We just got back to our room from breakfast. Elsie did very well last night. Tamra put her down at about 8:30 pm and she slept soundly until 6:00 am. Just like her orphanage schedule stated. Elsie wants only to be held by Tamra at this time. She is very shy and timid and has not said one thing to us. Elsie will just looks at us with those big eyes of hers (they are huge, in a beautiful way) and try to figure out what is going on. She will cry if Tamra walks away as she did when Elsie's nanny dropped her off at the adoption center. The nanny would hide around the corner out of Elsie's sight. When Elsie caught of glimpse of her nanny, she would let out this soft cry. It is kind of sad, but also good to know that she possibly had formed a emotional bond with someone at the orphanage. Elsie ate really well at breakfast. She had some fruit and some congee, which is rice porridge. Think of it as 5 minute rice boiled for an hour with a lot of salt. Got to go now. All of our adoption group is headed out to the airport and we need to say some goodbyes and exchange some emails. Today we will be changing our hotel. We are going to stay in the Victory Hotel on Shamain Island. It is about half the price of where we are at now.

Elsie Shanjing Gardner

Well, we got her. Her name is Elsie Shanjing Gardner. We named her after our adoption coordinator, whom we very much love and has helped us out tremendously.

On another note, we may be here until the 14th. We need to get a passport from the Chinese government but they will be on National holiday (Oct 1-8). Weekend (Oct 10-11). The American Consulate needs to give us a visa after the passport but they will be closed on Columbus Day (Oct 12). Our coordinator said no one has every stayed this long in China. Well, this was just a quick update cause we got some bonding to do.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday (9/27),
Today at breakfast, while planning to go to the park for the day with our adoption group, we were informed by our adoption coordinator that we needed to go back to the adoption center here in Guangzhou. The coordinator indicated that progress was being made and Tamra and I needed to do some paperwork for a new girl. This is the same place where our family first met Megan and obviously it is a little difficult to go back. When we arrived, we were presented with a file of a girl from an orphanage in Shenzhen, a city very close to Hong Kong. Her name is Long Shan Jing. From what we know, she had hemangioma on three different parts of her body. We think from a quick translation of her medical file by our coordinator that all three were surgically removed. Long Shan Jing was abandoned when she was about 4 months old and placed her in an orphanage. Doctors approximated her birthday to be 1-04-2008. Oddly, that is the same birthday as Megan. Tamra and I came back to hotel and rewrote a Letter of Intent, a document that is addressed to the Chinese adoption agency and states we would like to adopt a specific child. The document was then translated by our adoption agency in Beijing and then faxed over to the Chinese Adoption agency. Amazingly, this all transpired over about an hour. The first Letter of Intent that we wrote for Megan took several hours for us to write, over the course of a few days. We had specifically purchase a laptop for this trip, since we never had owned one. In the last few minutes before we left our home, I copied all of our adoption files from our home computer to our laptop, just in case. Well it worked out, because we were able to use our original Letter of Intent, modify it a little, and resubmit it. The time line for all of this seems to be stepped up one day. Since this is Sunday, people in the government do not tend to work. Our coordinator stated, that our adoption agency was able to find one person working today to get the ball rolling. The next approval that we are waiting for is our Travel Approval, which is kind of odd, since we are already in China. Once we get approval, It may be possible to met Long Shan Jing tomorrow afternoon. After that, we would need to get her a passport from China and have a medical exam preformed. Following that, we would make an appointment with the US Consulate and receive a visa. The Chinese National Day is looming right around the corner (October 1). This is a holiday period when everything shuts down for a few days. We are not quite sure we will make it out before the holiday arrives. It is not a major problem, it just will add some additional cost with lodging and airline fees. We are very much excited, but also remain a little heartbroken. We will take one day at a time. Please keep Megan, us and Long Shan Jing in your prayers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prayers Needed

It is with much sadness that I make this post. Our family received Megan on Monday afternoon (9/21) with much joy and anticipation of the life we would have together. Within hours of bringing Megan to the hotel, Tamra noticed that Megan would not respond to our voices or any noise for that matter. I was unwilling to believe it and shrugged it off to have something to do with a cold that Megan had. We put Megan to bed for the night and amazingly she slept the entire night. The problem was that in the morning she did not awake when we called to her. Clapping over her head did not even wake her up. She awoke only when we picked her up. We arranged with our adoption coordinator to take Megan immediately to a doctor. The doctor could not give us a specific diagnosis, only a general observation due to the official procedures required by the Chinese adoption agency. Only an official children's hospital can make a diagnosis for an orphan. His observation was that Megan was either near or completely deaf with some other medical issues. He stated that it was possible, given that Megan was an orphan from the southern rural area of China, that her birth mother had a disease such as rubella during the first trimester of the pregnancy. Tamra took Megan to the children's hospital over the next two days with the aide of our adoption coordinator. They evaluated Megan's developmental delay and hearing. The results were not real encouraging. Basically, her developmental skills ranged anywhere between 1 month (fine motor) to 9 months (gross motor) with her mental development at around a 3 to 5 month old. Megan is about 20 months old. The hospital's assessment is consistent with what Tamra and I had observed in the few days we had with her. Institutionalized orphans are inherently developmental delayed, but this with her deafness and poor eyesight probably would not cause the delay we see in Megan. The results of the hearing test indicated that both ears were functioning correctly. Megan's congenital deafness was then a result of either cochlear nerve damage or her brain itself, not being able to translate sound. In most cases, it is not treatable. As you all know Megan had severe esotropia. When I took into account the combination of congenital esotropia, nerve deafness and developmental delay, I could not help but think back to what the first doctor had said about congenital rubella syndrome. That was not his official diagnosis, but the children's hospital was not going to provide any more test to pinpoint the problem. It was at this point that our adoption coordinator presented us with some options. He stated that based on the observations and tests that the children's hospital did perform, we had more then a compelling case to petition the Chinese adoption agency for another child due to the inadequate medical record that had previously been given to us. Our coordinator stated that from time to time this happens. We were presented with this article by a family member while we were going through the decision.

Many of you know that Tamra and I have searched out to find a special needs orphan to bring into our family. Tamra and I have even had discussions to the possibility of more then one. We have always contended however, we will take one day at a time with that decision. I personally felt that if we continued with the adoption of Megan that it would preclude us from ever adopting again. I further thought that there may be a chance that Megan may be adopted by another family, one that will know how to better care for her needs. Needless to say, this is a very difficult situation for our family, especially Tamra and the boys who are with us (Trent and Jared). How does one come to a decision such as presented to our family? Not without a great amount of angst. Today (9/24), I drafted a letter to the Chinese adoption agency to petition them for another special needs girl. We delivered the letter and returned Megan at the same time. As of now, we do not know if our request for another child will be granted. We will find out more in the next few days and keep everyone posted. Please keep Megan in your thoughts and prayers.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 5 Monday, September 21, 2009

Well, after a long day of anticipation, we set out for the Adoption Registry Center of Guangdong Province at 2:30 pm. There was only one other family in our group, the rest went to different provinces. We arrived and the other family received their baby almost right away. Other families from other adoption groups also arrived and received their children. The wait was killing us but it is a special sight to see other people that you don't even know have there gotcha day. Why is it so hard to wait for a few minutes when you have been waiting for almost two years? Our guide told us that the reason for Megan's delay was that she was being transported form her orphanage in the southern part of China and the trip was several hours. We caught a glimpse of Megan arriving, strapped in a baby carrier attached to the front of one of her two nannies. They quickly took her to a back room but reemerged a few moments later walking with some assistance. Then came the tears. I was not sure if I was going to cry or not, but Chris had no doubts that I would. I'll let the pictures describe the rest.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 3 Saturday, September 19, 2009

Our tour this morning was Tiemann Square and the Forbidden City. Each were phenomenal. The square is at the center of Beijing, and will be the focal place for the holiday on October 1. The guide said the the square is the largest in the world and can accommodate up to a million people. Would not want to be there when that occurred. Everywhere in Beijing, you can't help but notice the presence of police and the military, but at the square it is especially true. The Forbidden City is also large, but crowded. A kind of strange thing has been happening since we got here that we never anticipated. Everywhere we go we get looks by the Chinese people. We knew that would probably happen, and it is no big deal. But what we did not expect is the fascination that the Chinese people have with Trent and Jared. We have had several people come up to us and ask with hand gestures if they could take pictures with the boys. It is like they have never seen a white kid. My suspension is that most of these people that we run into are from the rural areas of China also visiting Beijing, just like us. After looking around quite a bit we have not noticed many foreign kids at all. A lot of foreigners, but no foreign kids. After the Forbidden City tour, it was off to another traditional Chinese restaurant for among other thing, Peking Duck. After a short pause at the Crow's Nest we made the journey to the Great Wall of China. The bus ride took about 45 minutes. On the way there Chris noted something odd. He remarked that he had not seen the sun since Tuesday afternoon. Many of you may remember from the Olympics last year that Beijing has so much smog. No sky, just a grey haze. It makes Fresno and LA look nice. Even at the Great Wall of China the view was very limited. But besides that, the wall was amazing. We managed to make it up a respectable amount up the wall. It is a very sobering thought to thing about how much labor went into the wall. Here we are, panting after just a short distance and the people(or slaves) who built it not only had to walk up and down it, but carry bricks too. Tomorrow (9/20) is our travel day. Each family in our group is going to the capital of the province in which there child is located. We will be traveling to Guangzhou, near Hong Kong. Monday (9/21) will be the day we meet Megan. Yea!

Day 2 Friday, September 18, 2009

Our 2nd day in China was full of activities once again. We met Cindy, our guide, in the hotel lobby at 8:30 am and headed over to the Temple of Heaven with the rest of the people in our adoption group. Another family showed up today with a son about the same age as Derek (7), so our boys enjoyed having him around. The temple is a sprawling complex of both grounds and buildings rich in traditional Chinese architecture. In preparation for the 60th anniversary of China's National Day on October 1 (this is a big deal), there were all sorts of Chinese groups either singing national songs or dancing everywhere along the grounds. In one group, there was what looked like a marching band and hundreds of people singing. Another group had dancers dressed in traditional clothing. The Chinese really enjoy their leisure time, especially the older folk. They know how to slow down and enjoy life (or it could be they have nothing better to do?). From what we know, which is limited, most people retire at 55 and then have lots of time just to hang out. From the temple, we had lunch at a place that was kind of like a Chinese rain forest café with live entertainment. The traditional food was delicious. It was quite the spread with fish, pork, chicken, duck, rice, and soup. After lunch, we went on a Hutong tour (Hutong means little street) in the old part Beijing, complete with a rickshaw ride. We were told by a local tour guide that one little Hutong house with a central courtyard was worth 3 million U.S. dollars. It was kind of hard to believe because the house did not even have a toilet. In the Hutong communities they have central public restrooms (kinda weird). Typically, you only find the older generations in the Hutong communities because the younger crowd likes to have individual restrooms and they also enjoy the urban feel of the high rise apartment buildings. And speaking of buildings, there are many. Beijing has a population of about 16 million. There are people walking everywhere on the streets. I have never seen so many bikes and custom mopeds in my life. Even the deliverymen for KFC and Mc'Donalds ride bikes. Chris likes the fact that the traffic signals have lights for cars, pedestrians and even bikes. The one child policy shows up everywhere. You can see early in the morning all the people taking their children to school on their bikes and scooter. The children often sit side saddle on the bike's luggage rack. It is amazing to see the children texting on their cell phones, on the back of the bikes without a care in the world, meanwhile just inches away from a big bus. Throughout the entire day, I found myself (as did many other moms in our group) staring at these young Chinese children and babies. We have to keep pinching ourselves that in just 3 days we will all meet our children. In the evening our group went to the Beijing acrobat show. Amazing! Did not know the human body can bend that way. I kind of feel old when I tell my kids that the acrobats can stretch like gumby and they ask, "whose gumby?" You know, the green guy.... ah forget it. When we returned to the hotel room, we discovered that Chris had a letter waiting for him. It read "Required by China Disease Control Center, Could you come to the front desk and have your temperature taken twice a day." On the plane ride over we all had to feel out a form stating our current medical condition and if we had any flu like symptoms recently. On the form they ask also where you will be staying. Even when we disembarked the plane we were thermal scanned to make sure we did not have a fever. So now Chris has to go down every morning and evening to get his temperature taken. He never had a temperature, the government just likes to do random checks. China is taking this H1N1 thing seriously. We ended the day at an old familiar restaurant, Pizza Hut. Although, this had to be the best Pizza Hut we have ever seen. They did not have the old go-to pepperoni pizza, however. Most pizzas had some sort of seafood on it.