One Year!

July 24th, 2013 by Jill

Happy Adoption Day, Matthew!!!  Exactly one year ago today–July 24, 2012–Pu Min Yu became Matthew Minyu Giles, the 8th member of our little family.  Where did one whole year go?!  What would life be like without him?!  He has been a wonderful addition to our family, and I know he was truly meant to be a part of it.  I’m so grateful for a loving Father who is smarter than me.  I’m so glad He is the one that had this all planned out, because I wouldn’t have thought to add a teenage boy to the mix, especially as the oldest child.  But it worked!  BEAUTIFULLY!  And I will be forever grateful.

I can’t begin to describe how much I love and admire this boy.  He is AWESOME.  Seriously amazing.  He is talented, smart, funny, responsible, organized, hard working, caring, and just a joy to have around.  Of course, I can’t take much (any??) credit for that.  He had 13 years under his belt before he ever arrived in our home.  If anyone is wondering, yes, he has his weaknesses and faults like the rest of us, but his list is pretty short.  And I won’t put it here.   He’s in middle school, so publishing his struggles for the world to see would NOT make me a very cool mom. :)  (I should mention to my disappointed readers that this is a big part of the reason I haven’t posted much since coming home.  Posting on a public blog and trying to respect my son’s privacy kind of clashed a bit.)

I do want to let everyone know how well he is doing, and how grateful we are to have been blessed with another son!  He has done so well with attachment/bonding, language, culture, school, etc.  He’s experienced so many changes in the last year and he’s doing fabulously.  He’s learning and growing like crazy and I’m so excited that we have front row seats to see who/what he’ll become in the next several years.

In the meantime, here is a recap of his last year in photos.  WE LOVE MATTHEW!!!

PS I may post more photos later. Can’t seem to find some of the ones I want at the moment!


October 2012 – 2 1/2 months home. Trip to Guangzhou


October 2012 – 3 months home. Shoulder surgery.


December 2012 – 5 months home. Learning to cook!


January 2013 – 6 months home. Learning to ice skate!


February 2013 – 7 months home. New glasses.


March 2013 – 8 months home. Geocaching!


April 2013 – 9 months home. First bicycle!

IMG_20130527_124945 (1)

May 2013 – 10 months home. Swimming!


July 2013 – One year home. Disneyland!

U.S. Visa!

October 21st, 2012 by Jill

Medical appointment (before shots).


Checking his eyes.

Since we will be moving back to the U.S. next month, it’s time to get Matthew’s U.S. visa!  He and Todd left Friday morning for Guangzhou.  Matthew seemed pretty excited about taking this special trip with dad. :)

On Saturday morning Matthew had the required visit at the clinic for a checkup and shots.  The report from Todd is that he did NOT like the shots.  And cried and cried.  It’s sad to see a baby or a small child crying, but for some reason, it seems even sadder to see it come from a tiny 13 year old.  Maybe it’s because I expect it from a small child and not from an older one.  Or maybe it’s just because he’s my son.  Anyway, I didn’t have to witness it personally, but Todd did, and he said it was NOT fun. :(  Actually, I think the word he used was “horrible.”  I’m glad it’s over.

They went to church today in Guangzhou, but ended up leaving early because someone’s arms were really bothering him.  The rest of the week should be easier.  More sightseeing, few appointments, and no shots.  The consulate appointment is on Tuesday, then they’ll pick up the visa Wednesday afternoon and fly home.  Yea!  I miss them so much already, and they’ll be gone for 3 more days…

Update: Here are those next 3 days in pictures! Visited an awesome zoo, rode an elephant, found a view from the tallest building around, and enjoyed a circus.


These zoo elephants perform!


Elephant ride!


Keeping cool in the zoo’s dinosaur area.


Safari ride at the zoo. Zebras.


Feeding the giraffes.


In the tallest building around.


Fancy schmancy building


Enjoying the circus!


More circus pics


Circus again!


Elephant rider at the circus.

The Broken Arm that Wasn’t

September 3rd, 2012 by Jill

The scar.

As you may remember, we were able to expedite the process to bring Matthew home because of his broken arm. We were worried about permanent damage and starting physical therapy right away. So we took him in to the doctor 5 days after arriving home. I forgot to post about this visit because it didn’t go as expected, and we couldn’t share right away. But here is the update!

So, what did the world-renowned orthopedic surgeon tell us when she saw his x-rays? “His arm was never broken.” Todd and I were speechless. “We can’t find any break. Even if a break has healed, you should still see it on the x-ray.” Why would they do a major surgery on a little boy, then hospitalize him for 3 solid weeks if his arm was never broken??? I won’t bother to tell you all the things that went through our minds, but we were quite disturbed at this news to say the least. Our poor boy. We chose not to tell him.

The doctor requested his original x-rays done by the hospital in Puyang. Since she was not able to tell why he’d had hardware placed in his arm, she really couldn’t do anything else for us until she saw the originals. So we went home with a mission–get those original x-rays. The surgeon also recommended her lawyer here in China–just in case we wanted to prosecute. Yes, prosecute! Not a word I expected to hear at our appointment. And this is the reason we couldn’t share at first. We really had no idea what the outcome of everything was going to be, legally speaking.

After a couple days we received the original x-rays and took them back to the doctor. Sure enough, no break, BUT a major dislocation. (Very major.) They had put everything back in place and secured it with a long metal plate and 8 screws. Ouch, and phew. Not a fun experience, but at least it wasn’t broken and he will make a full recovery. And no need to worry about a malpractice suit!

Matthew will have surgery in October (6 months after the first surgery) to remove the hardware. The doctor said she would also perform a scar revision to help minimize the “centipede” on his arm. After spending 3 weeks in the hospital for the first surgery, he is a little worried about the second. But we assured him that this would not be the same as that first surgery. He’ll only be there for a few days at most, and he certainly won’t be alone. His next biggest concern is missing those few days of school. He even asked our Chinese tutor if she would come to the hospital to give him his lessons! Gotta love that boy. :)

First Tears

August 11th, 2012 by Jill

I haven’t posted since we’ve been home, so I have some catching up to do!  If anyone is wondering, Matthew is doing fabulously!!! :)

Except we had our first tears last night just before dinner.  Matthew was playing the Wii with one of his (unnamed) brothers.  This certain brother had been playing for a long time trying to beat a certain level.  Well, Matthew pushed the wrong button at the end of the level, and this certain brother (who tends to get easily frustrated at things) started crying and yelling at him.  The other siblings all know this brother’s issue with frustration, but poor Matthew did not.  So he was being yelled at, in a language he couldn’t understand, by a little brother that had loved him just minutes before.  And he just sat there and took it until Todd intervened and whisked the brother away–still crying and yelling–to his room.

It was so sad.  He didn’t sob or anything, but there were tears in his eyes, and he obviously felt HORRIBLE.  He knew he had done something terrible and his little brother was really upset about it.  He sat down for dinner and didn’t say a word, wouldn’t look at anyone.  Todd was still talking to the brother, but as soon as he finished, I brought Matthew into our room to talk with both of us.  Our happy, talkative boy was no where to be found.  We tried to explain that the problem was not his, but his brother’s.  He’d done nothing wrong.  We told him his brother would be fine tomorrow.  We told him we loved him, we weren’t upset with him.  We hugged him.  We held him.  Loved him some more.  And he sat staring straight ahead, tears in his eyes, sniffling.  He said nothing.  We asked if we could do anything, if he wanted us to leave the room, if he wanted us to stay.  No answer.

Poor, sweet boy.  If he didn’t care so much about others it wouldn’t have been a big deal.  But he does care, a lot.  He is incredibly thoughtful and has a tendency to put everyone’s wants above his own.  He is sensitive to those around him and how others are feeling.  I can’t imagine him ever doing something to intentionally upset someone, so knowing he upset his brother was a lot for him to deal with.

We finally decided to explain a little more about why his brother reacted the way he did, his brother’s “issues,” and that helped.  His brother also came in and apologized after a little while.  He began talking again and smiling, although he never did discuss his feelings about the incident.

This morning Matthew was the first to wander into our room.  He climbed onto our bed and began chatting with us. “The brother” wandered in next, about 5 minutes later.  They smiled at each other and were laughing and playing moments later.  A new day.  All is well.


Friday – Heading Home!

July 27th, 2012 by Jill


He’s a tech lover. Fits right in with the other boys in the family (including the biggest one).

Friday! We’re heading home right now, cruising toward Beijing in a bullet train. Since the kids are happy with electronic toys I’ll recap our last day in Zhengzhou.


We went swimming this morning. Again. They all did great. We have a bunch of fish for children, including our newest addition. We packed up our things after swimming, ate a quick lunch in the hotel room, and headed downstairs to catch our ride to the train station. And now here we are. We should be in Beijing by 10pm and home by 11pm. Yea!!! We are all pretty anxious to get home, including Minyu. He’s asked a few times this week, “What day is it? And we go to Beijing on Friday?”  Yep, we’re ready to be home!


Brothers. :)

“Talk to the finger.”

It’s late and someone’s ready for bed. At least he’s small enough to curl up in the seat and sleep.

Thursday – Swimming Progress

July 26th, 2012 by Jill


Bright and early Thursday. He’s a morning person. :)

Thursday. Another great day! Honestly, I’m having a hard time imagining a day that’s NOT great with this boy. He is so fun! And obedient. And happy. And sweet. And funny. I can’t yet imagine what would cause
him to have a bad day. Realistically, I’m sure we’ll have one at some point, but I just can’t picture it yet.

He likes burgers! (And I like water.)

Our only requirement today was to wait and receive our notary papers in the afternoon. Easy. So we swam again in the morning…and again in the afternoon. Went to McDonald’s for lunch—another first. :) He ate 3 burgers and an ice cream sundae, but didn’t like the french fries.

Minyu’s swimming progress is pretty amazing. Day one: “No, I’m not going swimming.” Day two: “Okay, I’ll swim, but I don’t want my face in the water. It’s scary! Ahh!” Day three: “I want to learn how to swim. And I’ll put my face in with the goggles on.” By the afternoon he had learned to kick well enough to go across the entire pool and back (holding a boogie board). And he was swimming across the hot tub with his face in the water. Lots of progress! The last thing he told us was that tomorrow he wanted to swim WITHOUT the floatie. Can we say motivated?


Stylin’. :)

Kicking across the pool!

Trying out some goggles.

Goggles work!

Getting brave…putting his face in without the goggles. :)

I almost forgot! The third time swimming he told Todd he almost drowned in a bathtub when he was little. And that was why he was so scared that first day. :( There’s so much we don’t know about his first 13 years… I’m just grateful we have the rest of forever to get to know him.

Wednesday…day 3

July 25th, 2012 by Jill

Minyu in line at the amusement park.

Free day! We had no appointments today. We are just waiting for all of the paperwork to be processed so we can head home on Friday. We decided to check out a local amusement park this morning. It turned out to be one of those this-is-China-and-China-is-not-America experiences. :) Fortunately, Minyu had never been to an amusement park of any sort, so this was more than he ever expected. His eyes were HUGE when he saw the giant ferris wheel, and when he saw daddy, Michael and Javauna (his cousin) on a twisty ride that spun waaay into the air. The other kids had a lot of fun too. Yea!  And the adults…well…we didn’t have AS MUCH fun as the kids. :)


We had been at the park for about 45 minutes. Everything was going well until we came to a roller coaster, and they turned us away. “Sorry, we’re closing for 2 hours. Come back at 1:30.” Huh?? Well, that was weird, but no biggie. We would just ride some other rides. Cars looked fun. “Sorry, the cars are not free even though you bought tickets to the whole park. It’s 20 yuan more.” Well, never mind that. Let’s try the spinning-motorcyle-dude ride. After waiting 10 minutes in line, “Sorry! Come back at 1:30. The ride is now closing.” What?!? Turns out ALL the rides were closing then for a lunch break. Okay, no problem. We’ll just go out and get lunch and come back. “Sorry, you will have to buy new tickets to come back in.” ARG!!! It was a million degrees and we were all sweating like crazy. We weren’t about to sit outside waiting for 2 hours. (We went through an entire pack and a half of tissues wiping the sweat that was running down the kids’ faces! It was THAT hot and muggy.) We decided we were done. But before we left we went into a giant ice room. It was a huge freezer with ice sculptures and an ice slide inside. Pretty “cool!” That was the smartest thing we did. We got nice and shivery before we had to head back into the sauna-like weather outside.

Amusement park statues.

In the giant freezer!

Escaping the heat

One last photo before we head back out into the heat.


We ate Italian for lunch. Another first for Minyu. He tried pizza—and liked it! Phew. It might have been hard to be in our family and not like pizza. :) After lunch was swimming. And Minyu came! He said he was a little scared, but he was still smiling as he climbed into the cold water. Then he put on quite a show. In Chinese of course, but he said—smiling and laughing the entire time—“Ahh!! It’s cold!! Ahh! Ahh!! I’m scared! Ahh! Save me! Ahh! So scary, so scary, so scary! Save me! Save me!” We all laughed. A lot. It was hilarious. He really liked it, even though it was cold, and he definitely wants to go again. :)


Things are going very well, better every day. We’re only having one minor issue. Minyu is loved too much. EVERYONE wants to be wherever he is. They wanted to ride the rides with him, sit by him at meals. They want to be in the room he is in, doing what he is doing. They want to walk by him, hold his hand. Poor boy. He’s a little TOO loved right now. :) He is very kind and patient, but I have to consciously make an effort to give him some space from his siblings. Especially Spencer. Spencer LOVES him and tells him all the time (in Chinese). And he tries to kiss him on the cheek. And give him candies and snacks every few minutes. Very sweet, but a little much sometimes. :) I think we can consider ourselves extremely blessed if our only issue is too much love. :)  It’s only been a few days, but things are going pretty smoothly! We are so, so happy that he’s finally ours. He is AWESOME. I can’t wait for everyone to meet him!

[more photos coming soon - we've borrowed a cable --- off to lunch atm]

Tuesday – Adoption Day & Puyang Visit

July 24th, 2012 by Jill


I’m back posting since I didn’t get a chance to blog on Tuesday. It was a very long, but very good day.

Officially ours!!! :)

Daddy and his “baby.”

First, we had adoption appointments in the morning. Minyu is officially a Giles!!! :) I think my favorite part of the adoption was after we had finished signing the documents…The documents that state, “YES! We are really, really, REALLY sure we want this child!” (Since we haven’t stated that yet on 15 other official documents. Ha.) Our guide instructed all the parents, “Please carry your baby over here…” and Todd translated to Minyu what she had said, then scooped up his “baby” and brought him to the circle with all the other parents with their (much smaller) babies and toddlers. Hilarious! And poignant at the same time. Minyu laughed and laughed and laughed. And I thought about how a small part of me wishes we hadn’t missed out on so much of his childhood. He is THIRTEEN. [By the way, our responsible little boy just came in to inform me that there was a spot on his shirt, so he is going to wash it in the sink.]  There is no way to ever get back all the years we missed with him.  But at the same time, he wouldn’t be the same person today if his past were different.

Applying for the passport!

After lunch we made the three-hour trek to Puyang–our 3rd time now.  We had to travel there to apply for his passport and we opted to visit the orphanage since Minyu and Jasmine really wanted to see everyone.  When we drove up to the door there were 15- 20 people all waiting to see him.  They were so excited as he walked up.  We toured around the orphanage, saw his room, met his friends and roommates (all boys who were older than him).  We took pictures with them, and with his ayis.  His ayi was holding a baby boy, and Minyu talked about how he sometimes helped take care of him.

The orphanage visit was good, but difficult as usual.  They showed us all of the children who are waiting for families, and told us about some of the older ones who ask, “When will my mama and baba come??”  Oh my heart.  I had to work really hard to put a smile on at that point.  It’s hard to see.  Why do some children get parents and some don’t?  Are they less deserving??  (We all know the answer to that.)  They are my children’s friends.  They are just like Jasmine and Minyu.  They are good children–sweet, smart, happy–just waiting for their parents to find them.  I hope it’s sooner rather than later.  I don’t feel we are in a position to adopt every child, but I do want to do something more for my kids’ Puyang friends.  I will be posting pictures of a few of them to advocate for them.  Maybe their families will find them sooner!

Minyu with his ayi, and the baby boy he helped with.


Surprise! He had a pet rabbit!


Two of Jasmine’s friends. These little girls often ask when their mama and baba are coming. I have a video of them singing. They are precious.



July 23rd, 2012 by Jill

[I apologize for the lack of pictures!  Most of them are on our camera...and we forgot the cable.  Doh!]


We have Minyu! It’s now 3:00 and he is napping. (I think that means it was a big morning for him.) I am having a hard time writing this post because I keep looking to my right to make sure he’s really there! I keep studying his face, trying to learn every detail of my new son. I’ll try to pull my eyes away long enough to recap our morning. (Oops! Got a bit busy and I just now have time to finish this post before I go to bed.)

After the 15 minute bus ride to the civil affairs office all of us adoptive families began waiting for the children to arrive. Everyone’s emotions were running pretty high, and talking to the other waiting parents wasn’t helping! We were all trying so hard to hold back our tears. Then the first child arrived! And there was no more containing them. I was so anxious now, because I knew we could be moments away from seeing Minyu. We messaged the ayi to tell her we had arrived, and she said they would be there in half an hour. Phew…we knew when to expect him.  No more jumping up every time a car came. :)

Until he came! I had stopped watching since I knew it would be half an hour, and after about 15 or 20 minutes Kaylee Ann ran up and surprised me. “He’s here!” Ahhh!! I ran to tell the boys that their brother was here, but I choked on the words. They understood and we all went running, just in time to see him coming up the steps toward the door.

He was walking slowly, and I noticed there were no smiles. I assumed he was having a hard time saying goodbye (which is probably also true) but the ayis told us he gets car sick, and wasn’t feeling very well after the 3-hour ride. He walked it off a bit, and after resting seemed better.  (Although the whoopee cushion we brought for him seemed to help more than anything!  Hee hee.)

His sweet ayis gave him so much!!! A new backpack, new clothes, a photo album, an enormous grocery bag full of snacks, a hard drive full of pictures, and a new cell phone!!! I was shocked. They gave it to him so he can call and use qq (a Chinese chat program).

We chatted with him, and with the ayis for a while, signed the paperwork, then we all boarded the bus to return to the hotel. We stuffed ourselves at a restaurant in the hotel next door. Then we headed back to the rooms to rest. He ended up taking an hour nap. I think this morning was physically and emotionally draining. How could it not be.

We went swimming later but he decided not to go, so he just watched. He said he’s still a bit scared because he’s never been. He did say that he’ll try it tomorrow! We’ll see. :) I played ping pong in the pool area with him instead. Neither of us will be playing professionally any time soon. :)

Overall it was a great day. We’re figuring each other out, but it’s going well. He seems sweet and smiley, open and caring, respectful and responsible. It will be interesting to see his personality really showing through as the days go on.

All day I wanted to tell him so many things!!  My Chinese is just not cutting it. Good thing Todd speaks, but I still wish I could understand everything he says, and that I could express how HAPPY I am that he is here with us, how overjoyed I am to be his mother. I did tell him that I had missed him very much. I also told him I loved him at bed time, which brought a huge smile. :) And now he’s sleeping, only 3 feet away. I think I will sleep better tonight than I have in a long time. I know where my son is. He’s safe, and happy, and he’s RIGHT HERE where he belongs.

The Wait is Almost Over…

July 23rd, 2012 by Jill


Getting ready to head to the lobby!!! We made it to Zhengzhou—FINALLY—at about 2:30am. Long story that I will save for later. Just wanted to write for the last time as a family of 7! Can’t wait until we have Minyu and are an even number EIGHT. :) I hope he’s ready! I hope WE’RE ready! We will be leaving at 9:30, in about half an hour. SOOO SOON!!!! I’ll close now since my emotions are lying just below the surface. I’m trying hard not to think about the amazing and wondrous thing that is about to happen to our family. And writing is making me think of it, which in turn is making me quite emotional. It’s a bit too much to take in at the moment so I’ll close and write again after we have Minyu. :)