Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Time To Catch Up

I guess I need to bring you up to date on our families happenings. We have now been home with Sophie for 4 months. My  how time flies!! Lets me go back to April 19th the day we came home.
Once again we were overwhelmed by the large crowd of family and freinds that came out to welcome us home. We are so greatful to have such love and support.
Our First family Photo

Once home settling in was a challange. Sophie had a hard few weeks of adjusting. Her sleeping was off and would only fall asleep if being held. Even then when putting her to bed you held your reath as you laid her down. Hoping you would not wake her. Everyone in the family quickly fell in love with her. These past few months I have hardly had to do much for her. At any given moment the kids are there to lend a hand. They all love to help wether it is putting her in her high chair or her carseat. Getting her food or a drink or playing with her they are ready. The biggest surprise is how Nicole has become a little mommy. There have been many days during the week that Sophie is dressed and diaper changed before being brought downstairs. Nicole has even changed a handful of poppy diapers. That is a lot for an olmost 8 year old. I was 13 when I changed my first dirty diaper. Elsie and Sophie are getting along great. Our fear was Elsie would feel out of place by adding a sister and take it out out her. That has not been the case. She has enjoyed having a new little sister.

We have had a wonderful summer that has been busy. Just this month My oldest brother and his family from Oaklahoma came to visit. It is always fun and crazy when the whole family gets together. All the kids enjoyed late night swims and playing together. My parents took all 4 grandsons for a week of camping up at Jedadiah Smith. They had so much fun!! (I will post more once I get pictures of the trip) While my brother was here we had a family photos taken. Here are a few from that day.

On July 31st we had our consult for Sophie and her Cleft palate. As he walked into the room his firsts words were "My she is beautiful". I knew he was going to be good. He has come highly recomended by others who have had him as a doctor. After talking with him for a little while he informs us that this surgery should have happened "like yesterday" in his words. He said he prefers cleft babies to have the surgery to repair the palate somewhere between the age of 1 year to 18 mo. Sophie is 21 months old now and is trying to say words. We know what she is saying but to anyone else it sounds like babbling. When we recieved to referal of Sophie we were told she had a soft cleft palate. Once we talked with the doctor he looked at Sophie's cleft. After he told us that it alos affected part of the hard palate as well. We were told that this surgery need to happen quickly. Once he left the room the scheduler came and and informed us her surgery date was for August 16th. Wow that was fast!!! Well that day is tomorrow and w need to be at the hospital at 6:30 am. Actual surgery time is scheduled for 8:30 am. Please pray for her during the surgery as well as the next few weeks as she heals. Also for this moms nerves as I wait in the waiting room and patience wit her as she heals. We will keep you updated ( I promise) on how everything goes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lions, tigers, panda bears and more squeaky shoes, oh my!

Monday found us with a trip to the largest safari park in China. There was no shortage of animals of the black and white variety. Sophie had a blast when she was not sleeping.

All teeth and no eyes.

So what shall we do with our spare time. Shopping, shopping and more shopping of course.
Some pictures of the shop owners we visited.

Tuesday evening we took a dinner cruise down the Pearl River. I say dinner cruise, but we ordered Papa Johns Pizza to go and ate it on the boat.
That is the Canton Tower behind Tamra and Sophie with its antenna (not shown) rising to the height of 1,968 feet.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A visit to an old friend

Saturday evening we ventured onto the subway with another family in our travel group. They are from Iowa so this was the first time on the subway for the both of them. Our destination was Shamian Island to see a shop owner that we got to know real well the last time we stayed on the island for two weeks. It has been about two and a half years since we have seen her, but have been able to keep in touch by skype and email. As we were walking down her street, she recognized us and gave Tamra a big hug. The island used to be a mecca for American adoptive families. As a note, all Americans adopting children from China have to exit the country via Guangzhou. The immigration paperwork is processed at the US Consulate in this city. The Consulate was previously located on Shamain Island along with some hotels that catered to westerners. The Consulate has long since relocated to another part of the city and some of the other features that attracted westerns to the island are gone. All that being said, some of the shop owners well known by adoptive families have closed down due to the lack of foreign tourist on the island. So it was good to see our old friend still in business. After visiting with her for a while, we had dinner at a place named Lucy’s, which is a western dinner themed restaurant, also well known by adoptive families.

This was a picture of Elsie from our last visit to the island

The following morning, a number of adoptive families went back to the island and attended the Mandarin/English church service. We met up with our shop owner friend and sat with her during the service. What an amazing God we serve. We have brothers and sisters in Christ that can be an encouragement to us half a world away.
The rest of the day was spent shopping on the island (more squeaky shoes) and in the pearl and jade market.

After dinner with our entire group, we came back to the hotel and gave Sophie a bath. This is the first bath in which she did not have a fit. She is making great progress in being comfortable around us, which has been a joy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

When it rains, it ....... delays planes

Friday was our scheduled travel day in which we were to catch a flight to Guangzhou. Our flight was schedule for evening, so we would be sure to get Sophie's Chinese passport delivered to us. That morning was pretty low key with nothing formally planned, mainly just packing up. However, it was a beautiful day so we could not resist a morning stroll to the martyr's park nearby our hotel.
Wouldn't you know it as we were walking along the park this rat appeared. It looked like Mickey but as many other things in China, he too was just a forgery (they sale IPhones 4S here for $50 on the street corner, right next to the Rolex watches).
We have been discovering that Sophie is quite attached to Chris, and sometimes actually prefers him. There is no secret as to how this has occurred. Chris learned from our last adoption that food is a powerful tool. And this little girls loves strawberry oreos.

We checked out of our hotel room at 3:00 PM and waited in the lobby for our guide to pick us up at 5:00. Traveling makes for long days, because you are stuck "in transition". After 3, we had no hotel room to relax in and not enough time to sight see. So we just waited and tried to make the best of the situation. Then our taxi arrived to drive us to the airport. So we then waited in rush hour traffic. We finally arrived at the airport and got checked in, said goodbye to our guide, then migrated through security. Then we waited for our flight at 7:45 PM. It really is not a long flight to Guangzhou, just about an hour and 10 minutes. Problem was, a severe thunderstorm passed through Guangzhou and delayed all flights into the city. Normally not a problem, however this is the Trade Fair season in Guangzhou and business men from around China and the world are flocking there. After the boarding delay in the airport, and then sitting on the tarmac for awhile, we finally arrived in Guangzhou at about midnight. We thought we had it rough until we spoke with others in our adoption travel group that were flying in from different provinces. Many of them were delayed for more then 5 hours. Through the more then 10 hours of "in transition" time, Sophie did quite well. She has been doing amazing in the last two day and is finally opening up. The problem is that she does not do well between the hours of 1 - 4 AM. This has caused some sleep deprivation on our part, but we are doing well. When we were checking into the hotel at 1 AM, I turned to Tamra and asked what she had done with the diaper bag. She quickly responded, "You mean the one your carrying on your sholder?" Ugh, I just want to sleep.

Saturday after breakfast, our group headed out early to the medical clinic to get the children checked out for the US immigration process. We left shortly after breakfast because our guide said that the clinic would be busy today with up to 60 families. It takes a lot of patience to wait in a room packed full of people with no air conditioning. The outside temperature is about 75 degrees outside with terrible humidity. Inside it's much worse.

However, it is an amazing and overwhelming experience to see all these American families in the clinic. You see a wide variety (age and special need) of children that as of one week ago had no family. Now, all these children will have a family!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Just hangin out

Between the thunder storms and Sophie's naps, we have been spending quite a bit of time in our hotel room. We are staying at a Sheraton, so it is not too bad, although it is more of a business hotel. When we go outside we always see Mercedes Benzs, Land Rovers, and even a Rolls Royce parked at the entrance. There are some very wealthy people here in China. Our hotel in Beijing had a Lamborghini and Ferrari dealership down the street.
Sometimes when we are trapped in our room we just look out our window for entertainment. Traffic is usually bad, but gets worse during the rain. Words can not describe how insane the aggressive driving habits of the people can be. There are no rules of the road, there more suggestions. I have had to close my eyes on more then one occasion when in our taxi.
Today we watched a few workers putting up a new billboard more then 5 stories above the street. Sometimes they would use harnesses, sometime not. I get nervous just watching them.
The other day we watched window cleaners repel from the roof.
We did get out this morning (Thursday) and went back to the civil affairs office for an official ceremony where they presented us with an adoption certificate.
After that we went to an embroidery museum/showroom. Hunan is well know for there embroidery. Evidently, it is a vanishing trade, because it is so time consuming.
Sophie took a nap in the taxi on our way to Yuelu Academy.
The academy, a place where Confucian scholars taught, has been around since 976. Mao Zedong even went to school here in Changsha.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Its official, she is a Gardner

It was confirmed that Sophie is officially a Gardner when we took her to Pizza Hut for dinner on gotcha day and discovered that she can hold her own when it comes to pizza.
Actually, it occurred when we went back to the adoption affairs office after the one day "harmonious period" and completed all the Chinese paperwork.
Sophie did not object to her foot print on the adoption certificate so we interpret that as meaning she is willing to live with us. She tolerates us I suppose, but we do LOVE her.
The orphanage director was also at the office. We had an opportunity to speak with her through an interpreter and found out that she is in charge of a smaller, special needs orphanage. From little clues observing Sophie, it would seem that Sophie was well cared for at her orphanage.
We have not ventured out of our Hotel that much. This is the raining season here, and there has been no shortage of it in the last day. At one point in the afternoon, the wind picked up, the sky grew dark and the rain came pouring down. It was kind of funny from our vantage point on the 10th floor to see all the people on the street trying to run to get out of the rain. Since it was about dinner time we opted for room service.
We did manage to get out at one point yesterday and snap a few pictures of Sophie in a garden that the hotel has on the 6th floor.
We did discover that Sophie does not like baths.
It is almost 8:00 and we are getting ready to head down for breakfast. Sophie had a rough night. When we got her she had a runny nose and cough. We have been trying to treat it but it appears that she is still suffering a bit. Not sure how much of it is the cold and how much may be the grieving process that she may be going through, which is very typical.

Monday, April 9, 2012


This afternoon we took a 15 minute cab ride to the adoption affairs office for the Hunan province. Each province in China has the office in the corresponding province's Capital City. Sophie traveled over 8 hours from her orphanage along with the orphanage director and a couple of the nannies. When the taxi arrived at the office, we were escorted to a waiting room and were told Sophie was already in the building. Even though it was a short wait, it seemed like forever. For many of you who have experienced adoption, you may know the feelings of anxiety that can suddenly come over you. We were no different.
Then she came into the room....
After the director placed Sophie on the ground, she cried and wanted to go back to the director and shunned Tamra for a moment. No worries on our part, that actually is a good thing to see because it shows she was able to form some kind of attachment.
It is a wonderful thing to experience and no amount of words can express the moment.
Sophie is deciding if Chris needs to shave the goatee off.
We all agreed that Chris will keep it this time.
There were a few tears
After filling out the paperwork, we made it back to our hotel room where she became a little more friendly.
She loves the blocks
We have been waiting since November 1st to pinch those checks.