Archive for July, 2012

Friday – Heading Home!

Friday, July 27th, 2012


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

Thursday, July 26th, 2012


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

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

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

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012


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.



Monday, July 23rd, 2012

[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…

Monday, July 23rd, 2012


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. 🙂


Saturday, July 14th, 2012

In case anyone missed the end of my last post……we have TRAVEL APPROVAL!!!!
It came late Monday night, just when I thought I couldn’t take this wait any longer.   My last post was NOT my finest moment.  Sorry.  I was not in a good place, and had seriously considered not publishing that last post, but it was real, and it was how I felt at the moment.  So I published it.  Moving on. 🙂

We received TA on Monday, July 9th, and we will travel on Sunday, July 22nd to Zhengzhou.  We will get Minyu the next morning, Monday the 23rd.  We will return home late on Friday.  I can’t believe it!!!  We just purchased our train tickets yesterday!  IT’S REALLY HAPPENING!!!!!

Did I mention our niece is in town for the month, and she will get to come with us?!?  She graduated from high school last month and is staying with us.  We will be bringing our entire family, and Javauna!  Awesome!!!  Did I also mention that Todd has been gone for a week?  Yes, he is out of town again and will not be home for another week.  He returns home the day before we travel to Zhengzhou.  Ha.  He will be good and jetlagged. 🙂  I also get to make all the arrangements for the trip.  How convenient.  Well, it’s a good thing our niece has been here.  She has been such a huge help!  The kids love her, I love her, and she is just tons of fun.  I think it will be really neat for Minyu to meet one of his (many) cousins right away!

It’s been SO long since that day in Puyang when we said goodbye to Minyu.  I am so anxious to see him again, and knowing that there will be NO goodbye this time makes it a thousand times sweeter.  Last time we saw him, we knew in our hearts that he was our son, but at the end of the day we took 5 of our children with us and left one behind–along with our hearts.  But this time, he will be OFFICIALLY ours and when it’s time to leave, he will come with us!!!  I cannot begin to tell you how overjoyed I am at that thought.  Todd and I are ready for our son to come home, and the kids are ready for their brother.  I sure hope he’s a hugger, because I have a hug for every day that we had to wait to bring him home!!!  If anyone’s counting, it will be 40 weeks and 3 days since we last saw him.  283 hugs.  I’ll try to pace myself.  🙂  Hey…40 weeks and 3 days.  AH!  I never wanted to be overdue again!  I guess 3 days isn’t too bad. 🙂

Well, I have lots to do!  Cleaning, organizing, packing, shopping, arranging travel.  Only 8 days until we leave!


Monday, July 9th, 2012

We got our Article 5 on June 26th…13 days ago.  Another adoptive family who was expedited got theirs a couple days later, received their Travel Approval last week, and their little girl is in their arms today!  SO happy for them!!  Some other adoptive families (without expedites) heard on Friday that their TAs are coming today.  SO happy for them too!!  But…

I can’t help but wonder why we’re still waiting.  With an expedite.  Obviously, the expedite was not granted or we would have had TA last week.  And now it seems we could end up waiting LONGER than the normal 2 weeks for our TA.  July 16th, Trevin’s birthday, is out.  I thought July 23rd was still possible, until I got two pieces of disheartening news today.  First, my agency said, “We have not heard anything about when travel approvals will be issued or arrive.”  They usually know when they’ve been sent from Beijing, and they have no news yet.  The second thing was a conversation with the orphanage.  They received a list of the children being adopted on July 23rd.  Minyu was not on that list.  I want so desperately to hope that he can still be added!!!   But I’m afraid to hope right now.

I am trying so hard to remember that this never-ending wait is a part of a carefully orchestrated plan.  Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time remembering this lately.  Just when I think I can predict how much longer the wait will be, it lengthens.  That seems to be par for the course for this adoption.  I feel like I’m running through the desert toward a mirage, and every time I feel like I’ve run a considerable distance, I look up to find that the mirage is no closer than it was before.  But I keep running, because I think the mirage is real.  And after doing this for the last 9 months, I fell down this weekend.  Instead of getting back up and running, I buried my head in my hands and cried.  And cried.  I am tired.  And I am done.  And I just want him home.

A mirage, but not mine.  Mine is of a certain little boy…


Oh my goodness.  I JUST got an email from our agency.  Our TA is here!  Pity party OVER.

7th, and Final Care Package

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

We just sent off the LAST care package on Thursday.  In this last letter, I tried to prepare Minyu for what will happen when we come to get him.  I told him the possible dates we’d come, how long we would be there, what it might be like, and how he might possibly feel.  It was an impossible task, to write a letter that’s supposed to prepare a child for the kind of change he’s about to experience, but I hope it helps.

We also sent him some snacks (chocolate chip cookies and dried green olives–sounds gross, but they’re sweet and yummy) and some special patches to help his scar heal.  (Boring? Maybe.  But I’m a mom and worry about things like scars.)  We also sent one toy.  Spencer wanted to send his brother one of his favorite toys this month, so he ran and got it and wrapped it himself using a yellow piece of construction paper and a glue stick.  On the outside he wrote–in his best kindergarten handwriting–“for you,” and on the other side, “open this.”   It was a little crinkled, there were gaps in places, and it had SO much character. 🙂  And I am kicking myself right now because I just realized I didn’t take a picture of it!!

Since I forgot to take a picture of the package (typical me) here are some pictures we included with the letter.

"Daddy and Michael building your new bed."

"Bed is finished!"

The LAST care package.  I am so relieved (not the feeling I was expecting) to know that the next gifts we give him will be in person.  It seems that the closer we get to the end of this journey, the longer it feels, and I am tired.  I’m ready for the transition from paperwork to parenthood. I am grateful to know that we won’t have to rely on letters and pictures anymore and when he sees us next it will be IN REAL LIFE!  No more virtual family. 🙂