Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 15: Travel Home

 Jack looked so little in the airplane seats!  Our first flight was our long one (12 hours).  Matt sat with the girls and I sat with Jack.  Matt sat with Jack for our two shorter flights.

But don't let these pictures fool you.  This one is a better description of what our plane flights were like:

He screamed a lot.  A lot.  He did finally get to sleep and I'd say he slept for about 6 hours of the long flight, but that leaves 6 hours of screaming/my attempts to calm/distract him. I'm going to be honest - that was rough.  

Once we landed in Raleigh, though, our hearts started racing with excitement!  We couldn't believe our airport homecoming moment was finally here.  When we walked up the stairs and saw our family and friends there, we were just overwhelmed with love and gratitude.  You all are amazing and I don't think words can thank you enough.  Lots of airport pictures coming soon!  

This picture was the way home from the airport.  I think the looks on both boys faces show you what they were thinking.  
Jack looked shell-shocked the whole way home.  He was very still and barley made a sound.  This was his first time ever in a car seat.
Daniel looked grumpy, frustrated, and kind of sad.  He was also very quiet.
Both boys had (still have) some processing to do.

After we got home (yay, home!), we ate some lunch. This is where I say how amazing our families are!  My parents stocked our freezer, fridge, and pantry, along with putting clean sheets on our beds and clean towels on our towel racks (and many other sweet things) and Matt's parents left several meals in our fridge and snacks on our counter.  SO blessed, y'all.

We spent the afternoon showing Jack different things at our house and trying to win back Daniel's heart. :)  We had some soup for dinner at 4:30. The girls had baths and were in bed by 5:30pm.  They could not stay awake a minute longer.  Jack was in bed by 6:30, Daniel by 7:00, Matt and I by 7:15.  And, can you believe it, we all slept through the whole night!!  Matt was up first around 5:30am, the girls around 6am, me and Jack around 6:30am, and Daniel around 7am.  I was amazed and so so thankful!

This morning, it's been so awesome to have all 4 kids playing around our house. Daniel and Jack are fighting over trucks and trying to figure each other out.  Our house and our hearts are full, though, with the dull (sometimes not so dull) roar of 4 kids hanging out here with us.  Daniel seemed much warmer to us today.  When he got up this morning, the first thing he said to me was "I want to go see Jack."  So he is processing and learning to love his brother.   We are all processing, learning our new normal.  It is hard and exhausting, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!!

Day 14 con't: Our Last Meal in China

Before heading to the airport, we ate one last meal at a restaurant called Banana Leaf.   It was a perfect last meal!  The girls had some delicious noodles and we tried some new kinds of juices:  lime juice, mango juice, and dragonfruit juice.  This is the dragonfruit juice.  Jack really liked it!

 This was Matt's fish.  He said it was really good.  The girls noodles are in the background.  I got some sweet and sour pork.

And after that, we took some naps then headed to the airport for our 24 hours of travelling.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To our family and friends:

We are so humbled and grateful at everything you all have done for us and for Jack, a little boy you haven't even met yet!  Your support, your prayers, your love, your emails, your facebook comments have meant so much!  And, thank you for allowing us to do this blog.  It is has been very therapeutic to write a blog post each day.  Know that there were many hard moments each day - sick kids, tantrums, and Jack's struggles with many things (food, brushing teeth, sleep, clothes, etc) - but blogging allowed us to see the beauty in each day and for that I am so grateful!

As we journey home, we wanted to give you an honest idea of what to expect both at the airport and in the coming weeks.  

What this will be like for Jack
While we have had a long time to prepare for him, only your prayers and what little the orphanage caregivers were able to do have helped Jack prepare.  While they did what they could, and he may be saying mama and baba at those pictures we sent him, he can't fully understand that those people are his parents yet.  He has no capacity to know what parents or siblings are. For almost every day of his life, he slept in the same spot and stared at the same ceiling when he was trying to fall asleep.  He has seen his friends leave the orphanage, but never quite understood why they didn't return.  Because of the trauma he has faced in terms of abandonment, and lack of touch and one-on-one love and care, wounds have been left and it will take time for those wounds to heal.  So, this trip "home" doesn't feel like a trip home to him.  He may be confused and disoriented.  

What to expect at the airport

We are excited to meet family and friends at the airport!   We can't wait to see your faces.  “Welcome Home” signs, taking pictures and videos would be a great blessing to us!  And please hug our necks!  However, please do not bring gifts and do take Jack from us.  We may just hold him the whole time so he feels safe.  If he reaches for you, please direct him back to us.  If we do put him down, please do not pick him up.  Feel free to talk to Jack, though.  Keep in mind that the only English words he knows are mama, eat, and car so he will probably not understand you.  You can always point to us and say "mama" and "baba" to remind him who we are.  Also, y'all- we have been in China for 2 weeks so we may not smell our best. Give us grace. :)  So ready for this sweet time!

Our approach to the first few months home
We anticipate jet lag for for the first week home.  We will focus our time on connecting as a family of six.  For the first couple of months, we will live a pretty simple life.  Limited trips out. This is partly because it will take time for him to understand that we are his parents and partly because we will be tired.  For Jack to thrive he needs to know that we will take care of him. He needs to know that he can give up his survival mode.  We feel, initially, he has begun this process very well.  He seems to be attaching to us here.  But when we get home, out of his familiar surroundings, we need to be ready for things to be completely different.  This isn't the glamorous part.  This is when we parent and love and grow into a family with a new child who has come from a hard place.  The reality of his past doesn't go away overnight. Prayerfully, with time, we think he will develop a strong sense of security and true joy.  We are trusting the Lord for this, and look forward to seeing His faithfulness!

What you can do
*Please allow us to feed him, hand him toys, food, and anything else he needs.  It is important that we are the only ones to meet his needs (ALL of his needs) at this time.  
*If he reaches for you, go ahead and smile at him, but please point to us.
*Please don't give him any gifts at this time. If you want to give him something so he knows it is from you, you can hang on to it, and we will let you know when it is appropriate to start giving him gifts.  If you do have a special gift that you want him to have now, you can give it to us, and we will give it to him at home.
*Remember our 3 other children as they will continue to need some special TLC.  Their world is changing too! I know the girls would love some play dates. :)
*Please feel free to bring meals, call or text to check up on us, or anything else you would normally do for a family that has just added a child. 
*Please keep praying for us!  

with so much gratitude,
Matt & Lisa

Day 14: The Garden Hotel & Packing

This is the lobby of The Garden Hotel

And they have this beautiful garden/waterfall. We had fun exploring this morning.

We love China, y'all!  It has been amazing to be here.  I go back and forth between being so excited to be home and being sad to be leaving.  Now it is time to finish packing and head to the airport.  We fly from Guangzhou to LA to Chicago to RDU totaling around 24 hours of travelling.  We appreciate your prayers!  See you in America!

Day 13: Guangzhou Zoo

This morning we had our last adventure with our sweet new friends - the Guangzhou Zoo!
 Jack & Leah

All the kids!

Feeding the giraffes

So many fun animals, but Jack's favorite by far was the tigers!
Here is a video of his reaction to them:

We talked about how for these kids, visiting the zoo must be like books coming to life!  They have never seen real animals. 

After lunch, we had to tell our dear friends goodbye (they are all leaving from Hong Kong tomorrow morning) and that was hard.  They may have only been friends of ours for a few weeks, but it was a very intense important few weeks and because of that, they are close to our hearts.  We can not wait to watch their blogs and see their new little ones home!

We ate dinner in our room and gave the kids baths.  The girls watched some Chinese TV (which they love!) while we got Jack ready for bed.  Our favorite cartoon here is a show about two bears and a man who are out to get each other.  You can easily follow the story without understanding Chinese.

They watch it closely to figure out the story.

I asked the girls what they liked the most about China. They said "Jack!" :)
I asked them what they were most looking forward to about getting home.  They said "Daniel!"
They may fight with their brothers, but there is also a lot of love there.  Leah also said that the cruise last night was her most favorite thing we did in China other than getting Jack.  Molly said The Great Wall of China was hers.  I also asked them if they wanted to come back to China. They both said "yes!"  I am so thankful these girls came with us on this trip.  We are so blessed that our memories of getting Jack include them.  I pray that God would continue to use this trip in their hearts over time.

So, we say goodnight from China one last time.  Lots of mixed emotions right now. So excited and ready to get home but feeling the weight of Jack leaving the country where he was born and has lived for his whole 2.5 years.  Look for one more blog post tomorrow before we head to the airport, friends. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 12: Consulate Appointment & Pearl River Cruise

 I was teary-eyed waking into the US Consulate today.  Seeing the American flag flying.  Being on "American soil."  Over a year of paperwork all for this consulate visit, for getting permission to bring our son home. There was a huge line of Chinese people and we literally were ushered right in front of them all with our US passports.  I wondered what they were all there for - maybe trying to get American visas.   We were sent to the second floor, took an oath that our paperwork was right to the best of our knowledge, let them review our paperwork, and we were on our way.  Once they process Jack's paperwork, they will issue him an American visa and a packet of immigration paperwork.  When he lands on American soil and goes through immigration, he will be an American citizen!

 Yes, Jack is having another lollipop.  Between him and the girls, I've gone through and entire bag of them while we've been here.  I'm glad our dentist doesn't read our blog. :) (If he did, I couldn't mention the fact that Jack will NOT let us brush his teeth.  We try every night.  He will hold the toothbrush, but he will not put it in his mouth or let us put it in his mouth.  We just have to keep working on it.)

After some lunch, we took naps.  All 3 kids slept for close to 2 hours.  Then we headed to the Pearl River Night Cruise.  Such a memorable night. I don't think my words or the pictures can even describe this night.  It included a buffet for dinner.  We didn't eat much of it.  The sweet Chinese lady beside me really enjoyed the chicken feet, though.  The views were amazing!  China lights up at night!

After dinner and the best views, there was entertainment.  This lady did some juggling (of oranges and knives!) and then let some of the kids come up.  She made the soccer ball spin around on their fingers.  Molly was the first to go!  I was so proud of her because I knew she was nervous when the lady called her up first, but she did great.

As soon as the show stopped, a bunch of people rushed over to us to take pictures of the girls. I mean, seriously, a mob of Chinese people taking pictures of my sweet girls.  The girls were very gracious to smile and be nice.  They are not going to know what to do when we are back in America and no one wants their picture.  Earlier this week, I counted 5 times in one hour, we were asked for pictures of our girls!

Tonight was special.  As our time in China is winding to a close, I am spending a lot of time reflecting on the journey that got us here, on our first few moments with Jack, and on each of the things that have happened these last couple weeks.  So much for my heart to think about.  Very grateful tonight.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 11: Pearl Market & Sha Mian Island

We had another sunny day here in Guangzhou.  Blue sky just puts an extra skip in your step, friends!
We started this morning at the Pearl Market. So so many pearls.  We bought a necklace for me, a necklace for Jack's future wife, and bracelets for our girls.  Sweet little treasures. 

Then we went to Sha Mian Island - a much quieter and very beautiful little island.

 This is the White Swan Hotel.  Adoptive families used to all stay at this hotel, but it is under major construction right now.  

 This man was doing beautiful paintings by putting ink on his palm. Amazing!

We bought this one. :)

We ate lunch at Lucy's on the island, took naps, and then went to a nearby park.  The girls were tired but their little legs worked as hard as they could. There was complaining, but I'm telling you these girls are real troopers.  


Our kids and the other Leah running around.  So happy.  Such a great moment!

We passed this yumminess on the way to dinner.  I'll just say that we choose Pizza Hut instead.  I've loved seeing all the foods around here, though.

 Pizza Hut didn't have bottled water, so we had to try some other things.  This is Pomegranate Juice with Coconut Jellies.  The juice itself was good but I didn't like the texture of the jellies.
 Leah and Molly got Grape Juice with some sort of grape balls in the bottom. I think you can tell by these two pictures what they each thought of it.  Molly said the balls were squishy and just tasted the same as the juice.  

us, the Capps family, and "the Leah family"  Being together during this trip has made us fast friends!  Very thankful to have them here with us.  Crazy thing - Shane Capps went to the same high school as Matt.  Pretty wild to meet someone who not only knows where Etowah is, but lived there, in China!

Consulate Appointment is tomorrow. We get Jack's visa on Wednesday. And on Thursday we start our journey home.  Jack's big trip to his home!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 10: Sightseeing in Guangzhou

We are waiting on our Consulate Appointment and Jack's American Visa.  In the meantime, we have 2 days of sightseeing around Guangzhou.
 Good news: we had sunshine today!  After over a week of all gray, it was exciting to pull out my sunglasses.  Praise God!  Matt and I both hit our second wind today, too. We know much of that is due to you guys praying. Thank you for lifting us up.  We feel better today and ready to take on our last few days in China.  God is good!  Please keep praying for patience and grace with each other.
Today we went to the Chen Family Temple.  It was built as a hotel/resting place for the Chen Family back in the 1800s.  It was beautiful to see. We also did a lot of sitting in the shade, resting, and talking with the other families that are here with us.  

 This is Leah and Leah!  This Leah and her family have been with us since Gotcha Day. We've been so grateful for Leah and her family.  Our girls call them "the Leah family."   Leah is the most precious thing!  She could not be any sweeter.  She loves to give out hugs and smiles.  Our Leah is smitten with her. 

They make these into stamps by hand carving your name in the bottom of them.  Beautiful!

Another sweet new friend.  She gave our girls a hair clip and was talking to them so much in Chinese.  They so badly wanted to understand her.

We ate lunch with friends, rested all afternoon, ate dinner in our hotel, and now we are tucking everyone into their beds.  Thankful for another day finished in China with everyone in one piece. :)