Our Journey to Bring Our Son Home . . .

July 25, 2009

We are a family of five! Brett has been home for two weeks today and is adjusting well. We apologize for not posting earlier, but the adjustment to the time zone along with Vacation Bible School, visitors, etc. have kept us busy. I’ll also let you know that I’m not much of a blogger at home, but I’ll try to send out an email updating everyone once in awhile. If you’re interested in receiving email updates, please just leave a comment or email me.

Brett continues to be a happy, healthy little boy. Actually, he is a good size three year old by American standards. The doctors have all been impressed with his health and strength (Thank you New Day!). Brett will be casted one week from Monday to begin the process of building his prosthetic leg. His is a complicated case as he has no bone/stump, so it will likely take some adjustments over some time. We are excited to get him upright, but in the meantime, he has no problems keeping up with his sisters. Abigail loves caring for Brett and playing the role of the Big Sister. Chloe is taking on the traditional Little Sister role and aggravating him to death. Brett is a wonderful brother, tackling the girls, smothering them with kisses, and playing jokes on them. All in all, everything is as it should be.

Brett has become good buddies with our God Son, Addison, and a couple of kids at church. Funny story: Within minutes of meeting Addison at the airport, Brett continuously pointed out that Addison only has one eye. Never occurred to Brett that he looks a little different also. I just love the perspective of a child! We've also enrolled Brett in preschool three mornings a week for the fall, and he is currently enjoying going to church and VBS. He loves anything with wheels and even uses a dump truck given to him by his Papa as a scooter. His smile can brighten anyone's day and his sweet heart melts for any baby or child in distress. He continues to be a Mama's boy, to the extend that Russ can get into trouble if he holds my hand or kisses me. We're working on this, but I have to admit, it's a little cute!

Above all, we are thankful God has blessed us with the perfect child again. Our family, friends, and church have all surrounded us to welcome Brett into our lives and make him feel at home. I wish everyone could have seen Brett on stage at our church this week singing with all his friends from Vacation Bible School. He loved the music and crafts all week.

July 9, 2009

Leaving China

We spent our last day in China exploring the "real" China off the island. We strolled through a pet and medicinal market filled with unknown and exotic scents, sounds, and sights. You could purchase any animal known to man, living or deceased. We then took our oath at the Consulate and picked up Brett's visa. We are now packed and ready to head home.

To be completely honest, we can't wait to land in Orlando, hug our girls, and introduce our new son to our family and friends. We miss ice in our glasses, soft beds, and the ability to eat raw vegetables. We leave early tomorrow morning to begin the long plan ride home.

We must also admit that there is a sadness each time we leave China. We not only leave the land but also leave our children's beginnings. We can't help but wonder what their lives would have been like here. We hope to build beautiful memories of their homeland and the people who cared for them. Tomorrow morning our hearts will be filled with mixed emotions as we close one chapter to begin a new one, but China will be forever in our hearts until we return. One cannot visit China or more specifically an orphanage in China without being forever changed.

July 8, 2009

July 7th and 8th

These photos and video really do show Brett's true personality. We can't get over his sweet nature and energized spirit. He is all boy, and we're loving every minute.

Yesterday we spent the day swimming and shopping. By the afternoon, Brett was tired and wired. Hoping that the "tired" side would win, we spent over an hour trying to fall asleep at nap time. With no luck, we then prepared for the famous red couch photos. Picture a tired three year old with no nap. Now, button up that cute, slim shirt around his well fed neck. Needless to say, Brett wasn't as excited as we were for the Red Couch photos. We ended the evening in our comfy pajamas, eating in our room, watching Curious George, and playing with Brett's new airplane. He was then all smiles until he passed out.

Today our guide delivered our paperwork to the consulate. Tomorrow we will go to the US consulate to take the oath and pick up Brett's visa. We enjoyed our last free day in Guangzhou playing in the play room, swimming, and exploring the island. Russ had a massage in the hotel to relieve his stiff neck. He came back with sore shoulders, commenting that the masseuse's elbows dug several inches into his back. I then ventured out to the Chinese Clinic to get a foot massage. 90 minutes for $10, this was the best bargain in China.

Well, we will try to post one more time before we leave. We are extremely anxious to get home and see our girls. We have been Skyping with them daily. Although I have to fight the tears each day, it has helped to see them healthy and happy with the grandparents and Aunt Jen. We miss them so, along with our friends and family. We thank God for all of them. Without them, this journey would have been impossible.

July 6, 2009

Our Son

We visited the pearl market this morning and purchased a pendant, something we have in mind for a future daughter-in-law. (If we don't like her, it will be for Mommy!) We then spent much of the day playing in the play room and walking around the island. This afternoon we had Brett's TB test checked. Luckily, his results were negative but a couple other families in our travel group were not so fortunate and had to stay for x-rays to clear their children. We then headed to the pool, where Brett had a blast splashing Mommy and Daddy.

Here are a few things we've learned about our son:
-He loves his Mommy and Daddy, but does not like if Mommy leaves the room. He has been giving kisses freely to Mommy for some time, but Daddy even rates a few now.
-His head turns for any pretty woman.
-He loves to eat tomatoes, yogurt drinks, Dim Sum, french fries, and chicken nuggets.
-He sucks his pointer finger when he sleeps.
-He can now say, "Excuse me," when he belches louder than any adult man.
-He is the most curious kid, always asking questions and wanting to share his new knowledge with anyone who will listen.
-He is amazingly sweet and loving. We just finished putting hydrocortisone on some bug bites when he noticed a freckle on Mommy's back. He insisted on putting medicine on Mommy too and kissing it better.
-He can sweet talk anyone out of something. He leaves every store with "free" gifts and has talked several waitresses into bringing him something special at restaurants.
-Best of all, he is perfect for our family. We love his mischievous smile and sweet little voice.

July 5, 2009

Free day in Guangzhou

Last night and today, we spent some wonderful time with two of the many people that were sponsoring Brett at New Day Foster Home. Michael and Connie live in Hong Kong and work between Hong Kong and Beijing. They took a train into Guangzhou to spend time with us and Brett. Michael and Connie showed an incredible love for Brett that we will barely be able to convey to him down the road. As Cindy and I have traveled down this adoption road, Michael's and Connie's love for Brett are just two of many people of Brett's "red thread" of life. To all of those people who have either directly taken care of Brett or have supported Brett at either Jiazuo or at New Day, Cindy and I want to express our sincere thanks, knowing that words alone will never be enough.

As for the other events of the day, it was spent doing a little shopping, and then having dinner with most of our travel group as the Cow and Bridge Thai Restaurant. We have now successfully managed to put Brett into both the "hip hammock" and backpack carrier. This should save both of our backs going forward until Brett is either using arm crutches or his new leg.

As for now, as I write this post, Cindy is trying to put Brett to sleep. Brett did not nap today even though he said he was tired and wanted to nap. After Skyping with family tonight Brett has managed to fight off the urge to go to sleep. Cindy was laying down with him, and when she though he was asleep, she got up - and then so did Brett. All I can say is that the boy is a complete mess.

As I finish this post, Brett is now really asleep and soon so will Cindy and I.

July 4, 2009

Hello from Guangzhou

Sorry for skipping a day in our posts but we were traveling last night. We left Henan province at about 6:10 PM and arrived in Guangzhou at somewhere around 9PM. Brett did wonderful on the flight. The flight was a little bumpy at several points, and Brett did break down a little, but was easily comforted. Upon landing, he asked Grace, our guide, if he was now in the US. His nannies at New Day had been telling him how he would get on an airplane to go to the US and he thought this was that flight. Even the bus ride to the hotel was an uneventful ride. Brett was excited by the many cars and buses. However, once we got to the hotel and up to our room, Brett had a complete emotional meltdown. This was the first episode like this that Cindy had seen (I have been the unfortunate witness of two others where he wanted is Mama). With a little distraction from Abigail's and Chloe's "Ni Hao" video, he did calm down and settle into our room. 11:30PM and we were all asleep.

This morning was his medical exam, and Brett seems to have a pretty bad case of "White Coat Syndrome". This is likely due to a few visits to the hospital he has had. Again, Brett was a real trouper - he listened to the doctors and nurses and we made it out with only a few tears. Next was the immunizations - the Hague agreement required that all internationally adopted children be COMPLETELY up to date on their shots before they can leave their home country instead of catching up at home. With a big thanks to the staff at New Day, Brett was missing only one shot for chicken pox. The other test that is required by the US CDC is a TB test. Some wonderful politicians at some level in the US government didn't think that thess children had gone through enough in their young lives and require that they be TB tested before they can come into the US. Brett's bubble test will be read on Tuesday. Since some kids produce false positives, we pray his arm is clear.

Tonight, Cindy, Brett, and I will be meeting one of the people that were sponsoring Brett at New Day. They live in Hong Kong and will be taking the train into Guangzhou and having dinner with us tonight. We are excited to have the company and hear about their connection to our son.

July 2, 2009

Wrapping up in Henan

It is Friday morning here. Today is our last day in Henan, and we fly out to Guangzhou tonight. Yesterday was a quiet day filled with playing in our room, the play room, and a visit to the pool.

Brett continues to amaze us each day. He obviously received wonderful PT at New Day as he climbs everything! We spent much of the morning in the playroom with several of the families in our travel group. Brett enjoyed the ball pit and looking out the window at all the cars and buses. We practiced colors as the buses went by.

We then ventured to the pool and tried to entice Brett into the little pool. Although he was amused by Mommy splashing around, he was a little to overwhelmed by everything around to get in himself. We'll try again at the White Swan, hopefully with a few less sounds of people hacking up loogies in the pool!

Our only official business yesterday was to take Brett to the Office of Security for them to actually see his face before issuing his passport. Yesterday afternoon, he pointed to the computer and asked to talk to his sisters. He had to settle for pictures until the evening, as I'm sure Granny and Grandpa might not appreciate a call at 3am. We finished our evening with Skyping with family and friends and some songs at bed time.

We feel so blessed that Brett was well prepared by his nannies and staff at New Day. Considering he is three and we don't understand all he tries to communicate, we think his transition is going well. We also want to thank all our friends and family who are following along and sending us email or leaving comments. It can feel lonely sometimes here. If you venture out the hotel, you have to dodge the bicycle, motorcycles, and cars on the sidewalk. Nobody speaks English. We also have to look beyond the stares and pointing to Brett.

This morning we will exchange some money at the bank in preparation for Brett's physical in Guangzhou and do a little shopping to bring back some local art and items that represent Henan. Then, we're off to Shamian Island in Guangzhou, where the streets are safe. We will try to post again Saturday night.

July 1, 2009

Jiaozuo - A long day

We had a great morning playing in our room and the playroom. We also found the pool in the hotel. Brett was a little intimidated by the size of the lap pool, which was 6 lanes wide and 25 meters long. There is a smaller splash type pool on the far side of the pool, so I think that we might try the pool today, if Brett is ok with going back in there.

At lunch, I do believe that Brett was not very happy with our lunch selections. He was asking the waitress, in Chinese of course, for additional things to eat. He asked for items such as ice, shrimp, and fruit (several times). He is such a flirt and is open to making sure his wants are made clear. I wish that we could hire someone to come to the house twice a week to speak Mandarin with him. His pronunciation and vocabulary (according to the guide) are both very good.

As far as official tasks, our only item for the day was to travel to Jiazuo to have the adoption paperwork notarized. For some strange reason, this orphanage requires that the notary be done in the city where the orphanage is located and not in the capital city like the rest of the orphanages in this province. The ride to Jiaozuo was about 2 hours there and about 2 1/2 hours back due to traffic. The ride itself was very pretty with most of the land being agricultural use. The only problem was that the driver was falling asleep both ways. On the way back, all of us passengers kept a close eye on the driver, and when we was drifting off, we made several comments to our guide. The response back from the driver was that he was not asleep, that his eyes have small slits and it just looks like they were closed. We were not believing him.

On the ride home, we had the driver stop at McDonald's for dinner. That hamburger and fries were very good and were exactly like home.

After a few Skype calls with family where Brett was progressively getting more tired and rambunctious, we all went on to bed.