Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Photos / Our Day in Wuhan

PHOTOS!! These are:
1. Hannah and I with our guide Jordan outside the Civil Affairs Office just after completing the adoption yesterday.
2. Hannah and I with Director Li outside her orphanage
3. Hannah enjoying a raspberry smoothie at Pizza hut

We've had a really fun day. This morning, Hannah woke up around 6:00. She played in the hotel room for a while, and about 7:30 we headed downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast, we played some more upstairs and then decided to take a walk. We walked around the city, once again playing "Frogger" when crossing the street. We turned a different direction today, and found a small amusement park. No one spoke English, but we managed to communicate that Hannah wanted to play and they managed to communicate that it would cost us 5 yuan (which is just over 50 cents). So, we paid and let her play a while. Then, we went to pizza hut for lunch. She ate the pizza okay, but loved the raspberry smoothie there. We walked back to the hotel, and she took a nap. She is getting much better at going to sleep without screaming. And I can't really blame her for fighting sleep. After all, her life has changed dramatically and somewhere in that head she must wonder if things will be different again when she wakes up. Tonight when I put her to bed, she did not cry, but had to be holding my hand until she was asleep. She would open her eyes every few minutes to make sure I was still there.

After her nap, we met Jordan (guide) to go to the Hubei Provincial Museum. It was interesting, but Hannah was a bit restless. Museums aren't on most 2 year olds "top fun things to do list". :-) But she hung in there, and we wanted to learn some about her birth city. They did have some really amazing old bells, and they gave a concert on a replica of them. Hannah thouroughly enjoyed the concert for the first 15 minutes. She listened intently and would begin the applause as soon as the performers finished. Of course at one point, she decided to sing along with the performers. I thought it was funny - not sure how funny it was to some of the people around us. :-) I took her out for the last 5 minutes because she was becoming a bit loud. But, I thought she overall did great. We played outside the museum a few minutes, then headed back to the hotel.
When we got back, we had a snack of some type of boiled rice wrapped in leaves. Our guide had made it for us and told us it was a traditional food for the Dragon Boat Festival which is going on right now.
Then, we headed to the pool. There was a small kids' play area and Hannah enjoyed splashing. She loves the water! We played in the hotel a while and ate dinner (for Hannah some more boiled rice and a boiled egg - also brought to us by our guide. It's another traditional Dragon Boat Festival food. Beth and I had peanut butter sandwhiches. Although we did try the rice earlier and it was good). After supper, we walked to the Carrefour to buy some more batteries for our camera. I picked up some DVD's for Hannah for $1 - $3, and Beth picked out a toy phone for her so she would have a toy with buttons. She LOVES to press buttons on everthing! As we were leaving, we spotten a play area so we stopped. Hannah had a little meltdown at first, but then livened up and enjoyed playing. I can't wait for y'all to meet her - she will keep you laughing. There is so much personality in that little girl!. Her tantrums / meltdowns are decreasing in intensity. Now, she will cry for just a minute and then stop. She is responding to directions better, and when she is upset she is more willing to let me comfort her. Today, she wanted me to hold her several times, which she has not until this point. Until today, she would run give me a quick hug - but did not want to be picked up. She only wanted picked up if there was a purpose - such as enabling her to see something better. But several times today she wanted to be held just to be held. Also, at the pool, I was sitting behind her at one point watching her play. She was happily throwing the ball to Beth and splashing. But at one point, she stopped turned around and screamed "MAMA" looking for me. As soon as I waved to her, she returned to playing.
I know that there will continue to be attachment things to work on, but I really think she is showing a healthy beginning to that.

Hannah is alseep now and we are all good. I am enjoying this city, but also looking forward to moving on to Guangzhou. Tomorrow we are doing some more touring, and I'm sure playing.
Thank you for your prayers. As I watch Hannah play, or smile, or sleep, or sing, or even cry at times - I am aware of how incredibily blessed I am. God has truly, truly done more than I can think or imagine!!
And it's still only just beginning!
love, DeEtte

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Orphanage Visit / Evening

It's now 9:10 p.m. and I want to get this down before I forget some of the details. I'm using it not only to communicate with you, but also as sort of a journal of the trip. First of all, sorry for no pictures. I'm just having a hard time on this computer downloading them. It worked fine yesterday . . .maybe it'll get better. If not, I'll try pictures again when we get to Guangzhou.

After Hannah woke up from her nap this afternoon, we went downstairs to play on the little playground a while. It is by far her favorite thing, although she is starting to play with other toys some too. Then we met our guide to visit the orphanage. Hannah did great - thanks for the prayers! We toured around a little. Hannah didn't seem upset by the visit, but she did want to stay right by my side. When the nannies would talk to her, she would run grab my hand. Only at that point, would she smile and wave to them. The director was very nice and I believe he truly cares about the children in his care. The Wuhan orphanage is a good orphanage - but still no place for a child to grow up. Seeing the tiny babies and older children with special needs wasn't easy. Lots of the children had cleft lips and palates. The director pointed out one baby girl, not more than a couple months old with a cleft lip and palate and told me that Hannah's looked about like hers - same degree of cleft. He actually gave me some photos of Hannah as a baby, before her lip repair was done. We were allowed to take a few pictures, but none with children in them. I can understand and respect that. He did tell me that Hannah came straight from foster care yesterday and did not spend time in the orphanage first. (We had heard that many orphanages take the children out of foster care and place them in the orphanage for a while before their adoptive family comes to get them). I was so glad to hear that - and I believe he was being honest. The nannies in the room with children Hannah's age did not seem to know her. Some of the nannies in the baby room did recognize her name when the director told them. She did spend a few months there when she was first brought to the orphanage.

As we were leaving the orphanage, one of the nannies came up and tried to hold Hannah. She was not a bit happy about that and ran back to me, grabbing my hand and pulling me off (as if to say "let's go"). She seemed very happy to get back in the van. We then drove to Hannah's finding spot and took some pictures. It was a long drive - about an hour so I had time to think a bit. As we got closer, we were leaving the main part of the city and heading towards the country side. People were out working, and it was obvious the standard of living was much less in this area than in the city where we are staying. We had a hard time finding the exact area, and our guide got out several times to ask people where the street we were looking for was. We finally found it and were able to take pictures. It was a bit emotional - just thinking that we were in the area where Hannah was born. That her birthmother might be anywhere around - and seeing the houses around, I just believe that she was left, not for a lack of love, but for a lack of resources to provide for her and to provide her with the surgery she needed.
I didn't have too much time to think however, I had a two year old wanting to be entertained. And also getting a bit fussy. I can't blame her, it was a long day. She held up pretty well. We have discovered though that she does not handle "no" very well. I'm not sure she's ever been told that before! However, even throughout the day, I saw her start to respond more and more.
She also has livened up a whole lot! Tonight, she entertained us with her singing and dancing - using a pair of chopsticks as a microphone!

What else have I learned about her:
1. She is a neat-freak! Really. She took a wet towel and washed the table, chairs, crib, etc. today. She picked up my shorts off the floor and handed them to me to put up. She tried to spread her blanket out on the bed. When I left her cup on the table, she promptly got it and went to put it where we've been keeping the dishes.
2. She observes EVERYTHING!! Nothing gets by her. If I do something, she later will imitate it. She has to have "her people" in sight. She is constantly "checking" that I am there, Beth is there, and now that Jordan (our guide) is there. Thankfully, she will let Jordan leave without a fuss, but only as long as he tells her bye first.
3. She is trying to imitate some words. Her cleft palate looks wide to me (as I got a good look when she opened her mouth to scream yesterday in a temper tantrum!). Our guide says she is not speaking Chinese, just baby talk. I'm not convinced though that it's not just an articulation issue. She has all the vowels down, but I've only heard two consonant ('m' and 'n'). She says "mama" now and she waves bye and says "eye eye" for bye. She has learned the sign for "more" already.
4. Contrary to what her report says, she loves to take a bath! I didn't even try the first night, but tonight, I put her in the tub with the nesting cups and she had a blast!!
5. She does not like to go to sleep. She cries everytime you put her down, but it is already getting shorter and shorter. Tonight she only cried about 10 minutes. Once she is alseep, she is out!
6. She has a double helping of personality!! And it is shining through more and more! She loves an audience and is a charmer. She entertains all the staff of the hotel, but will not let them get close to her. She will talk to them (or more likely sing to them) only when I am right by her side. If they approach her, she runs and grabs my hand.

All in all, I think we are both doing great. I'm thrilled to finally have her, and am having a blast here, although I also look forward to getting home and into some kind of normal routine.
In the mean time, I intend to enjoy experiencing the culture of my daughter's birth.
Okay, I'm off to bed!
love, DeEtte

Monday, May 29, 2006

More About Hannah / Notes for Tara and Patricia

Pictures: bottom to top:
1. Enjoying french fries
2. Don't I look cute for adoption day?
3. Hannah and I with Jordan, our guide, outside the Civil Affairs office
4. Hannah - not to sure about the birds

Well, the rest of yesterday went well. Hannah woke up crying from her nap, but stopped quickly. We played and took a walk to a store to buy her some shoes. It was a huge department store and when we walked in, she ran for the toys. :-) She found some toy cars and her face lit up! We bought a couple. And we found a couple pair of shoes for her as well. I think she's wearing an 8 U.S. size - but the sizes here are so different. As far as clothes, the 3T I've brought seem to fit well. Some of the 2T's fit, but there's no room to grow! We stopped by McDonald's on the way home and brought some back to the hotel. This girl has had McDonald's before. She was so excited! She rides in the stroller I got her really well . . which I 'm so thankful for as she is heavy. On short walks, she is happy to walk, and she handles stairs like a pro.

We got back to the room and enjoyed the McD's. We went outside to play a little more, and then we decided to walk back to another store to get some donations for the orphanage. This involved crossing the street. TARA - don't cross the street until you've done it with your guide a few times. Then, when you try on your own - get in the middle of a group of Chinese people crossing - preferably ones with small children. Stay in the middle and you'll be fine! Were you any good at the game Frogger? That's what it's like!

Anyway, Hannah did pretty well at the store, she tried to swipe some candy in the check-out lane. On the way back to the hotel, we saw some traditional dances with drums, cymbals, and ribbons. We stopped to watch. Hannah loved it! There were a few other small children there and their mothers brought them over by us. We tried to talk and play with them a little. The mothers seemed very interested and very friendly - we didn't have a clue what they were saying though.

Bedtime was rough. We were told by the director of the orphanage that she will cry before she goes to sleep. Cry is an understatement. How about full blown temper-tantrum! But, the good news is that once I got her to sleep - she slept through the night, a solid 9 hours. Before the tantrum however, Beth and I were treated to entertainment 2-year old style. I just wish I had gotten her antics on video. Let's just say, I always said I liked the "spunky" kids. Well, I got one!

This morning, we went to complete the adoption. I answered a few questions "Do I still want to adopt her?" , etc. and signed the forms, put my fingerprint on them, and then Hannah had to put her footprint on hers. Then we were done. The director gave me her immunization record and a nice medallion as a souvenier from the city. Hannah did pretty well, but she did not like that room at all. She wandered around playing at first, but once the officials came in, she stayed close to me. She seemed very nervous and was reaching for me to take her hand to walk her out before we were through. When the officials would try to play with her, she would turn and run back to me.

She was quiet on the way back, and we went for a walk. We saw some birds, and I gave Hannah some cheerios and showed her how to throw them for the birds to eat. She tried a few times, but was much more interested in eating the cheerios herself. She had macaroni and cheese for lunch. We have not discovered ANYTHING she won't eat. The reports were right that said "She eats like an adult". :-)

She is now asleep for a nap. We had another tantrum, but not as long as last night. She was so tired, but will fight sleep as long as she can.

Hannah is attached to 3 things: the bunny I had sent her in her care package, the photo album I had sent her, and the green hair clip I put in her hair this morning. She carries all three around wherever we go. The bunny seems to be the biggest attachment item. She has showed little interest in any of the other toys we brought so far.

We are calling her Xiu Xiu for now. (It's pronounced very differently than I thought - it's like "show show"). I may try to introduce "Hannah" with it in a couple days.

This afternoon we are visiting the orphanage. I'm a little nervous about that, but after the civil affairs office this morning, I think Hannah will do okay. Tomorrow and Thursday, we sightsee.
Friday , we pick up her passport and fly to Guangzhou.

Beth has been great on this trip. Our guide is wonderful as well.
okay, now for some tips for Tara. Sorry for the personal note, but it's easier this way.

TARA - when you walk out of the hotel, if you cross the street, walk until it ends, cross again and go to your right - walk around the corner and you will come to the carrefoure. IT's like Wal-Mart.

If you come out of the hotel, walk right, turn right at the first street - that street has lots on it. On the right side is a McDonalds, and just past that a huge department store. The 7th floor is all children's things. IF you want to buy something, they will fill out a ticket. You take all your tickets to the cashier and pay and get a reciept. Then, you take the receipt back to each department to claim your items. Very interesting.

On the other side of the street is a KFC and a McDonald's.
Also, across the street from the hotel is a public square where kids go fly kites.
The fourth floor of the hotel has a playroom - we haven't been there yet.
Just outside the hotel is a play area with a slide and swing. Hannah has loved that!
The staff here are very friendly and will do whatever you need.

PATRICIA - I gave your photos of Piper to the director. He seemed very pleased and said that her foster family missed her and would be very happy to see the the photos.

okay, that's it for now. I want to eat lunch before Hannah wakes up.
More later.
love, DeEtte
(okay, I'm having some trouble - can't tell if photos downloaded or not. If not, sorry. I'll try again another time)

Introducing Hannah!

What a day - I don't think words can describe. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. this morning, ready to go get Hannah. I didn't know it was 2:00 until I looked at the clock. Our guide was picking us up at 9:30. Do you know how SLOWLY seven and a half hours go when you're waiting to meet your daughter for the first time!

When we made it to the Civil Affairs Office, the other family had already met their daughter and were playing with her. I took some photos for them, because Hannah wasn't there yet. As I'm taking pictures, in walks a lady carrying her. I handed the camera back to the other family and said "sorry - gotta go!". :-) I followed Hannah in the room and talked to her. Then, the other family and I were asked to sit down in the front of the room and the nannies took care of the children in the back of the room. We signed a 24 hour agreement to take care of the children and listenend to some instructions. We were then given our children. Hannah cried, but stopped before we left the room. What actually made her stop crying was giving her a sucker. The orphanage director gave me back the things I had sent in her care package, along with a very nice photo album of pictures from her time in their care. I was also given a bag of her favorite snacks. He answered some questions, and then we left. Hannah did not cry on the ride ride back to the hotel room. She sat in my lap and was very quiet. She held my hand and walked to the hotel room with me. THEN, she started crying. It was hard and she cried for about an hour. Nothing would really comfort her, but she seemed to instinctively know I was the one who was suppossed to care for her. She would push me away and pull me close at the same time. When I set her on the floor, she jumped back in my lap. After about an hour, she stopped crying. She drank some yogurt that our guide had helped us pick out. She would not enter the room however, she just wanted to stand in the doorway. We walked outside, and then she came alive. She loved the little playground here by the hotel, and by 12:00 (2 hours after meeting her), I got to see that beautiful smile I was looking forward to. She smiled and laughed and played for a long time.
We went back to the room and I ordered her some rice congee and Beth and I a sandwhich for lunch. When the food came, she let me feed her. And then, she very easily let me put her down for a nap. She is alseep now. I have learned that she is a typical 2 year old. She can stomp her feet in a tantrum with the best of them! She has a great 2 year old pout. And she has an amazing laugh!! She is potty trained, and will pull on her pants when she needs to go.
She sings as she plays outside. And I love her!

Tomorrow we go to officially complete the adoption. And tomorrow afternoon I will get to visit her orphanage. Please continue to keep us in your prayers - tomorrow has the potential to be tough on her, but yet I think it's important for us to see the orphanage together and for her to leave with me. Thanks for your prayers so far - I definately feel them. Beth is amazing too - she handled 2 cameras and a videocamera today AND managed to get some photos for the other family as well as help carry all my stuff. I'm lucky to have her here. ANd equally lucky to have my supportive friends at home as well! I'm headed back upstairs - I want to be there when she wakes up and our guide is coming in a little while to go over paperwork for tomorrow with me.

I'm trusting you're all seeing the blog - I can post, but can't pull up the blog myself.
Oh - Tara, I do have some shopping tips. I'll try to post them tonight or maybe tomorrow sometime. You'll love it here though!

love, DeEtte

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Pictures from Beijing

Pictures (bottom to top since that's how they posted):

1st - Beth and I on the Great Wall (yes, in the rain!! Our guide here told us we were amazing women for that feat!)
2nd - 4 star toilet at the Forbidden City! (really, we're not making this up!)
3rd - Chinese Acrobats
4th - Our hotel in Wuhan - all we're missing is Hannah!

Today, during breakfast we met another family that is adopting a little girl from Hubei province (where Hannah is) as well. She is from a city outside Wuhan, but they are staying in Wuhan too since it is the capital. We will be the only two families receiving children here tomorrow.

We had a short, uneventful flight to Wuhan and after checking in our hotel, our guide took us shopping for a stroller, drinks, and snacks. Now we are just hanging out. We get Hannah tomorrow morning at 10:00. (Sunday night at 9:00 for you).
Maybe tomorrow night, we'll post Hannah pictures!!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Beijing in a Day!

We had a really fun day today. We spent the morning at the Great Wall. I'll try to post pictures when I get to Wuhan (so I can practice for the pictures you really want to see - of Hannah!).
It was cold and raining, but being the adventuresome folks we are, Beth and I went anyway.
We took the steeper route and the **official storyline** is that we went to the top! hehehe.
We did climb a good ways though - it's an amazing view, even in the rain.
Afterwards, we toured a cloisonne factory and saw how hey were made. Very interesting. We ate lunch, and by then it had stopped raining. We headed on to Tiennamon Square and the Forbidden City. After that, our guide took us to a small authentic Chinese restaurant for dinner.
Finally, we went to see a Chinese Acrobat show tonight. All in all, a very fun day.

Tomorrow morning, we fly to Wuhan. I'll receive Hannah Monday morning (which is Sunday night for y'all). I don't know if I'll get nervous in the next day or so, but so far I have had an amazing calm and peace. I can't wait to see her, hold her, and get to know her. Really, I can't wait to see her smile. None of the pictures I have of her, as adorable as they are, show her smilng. And I just imagine what her smile looks like!!

Thanks for the prayers, and please be praying for our travel to Wuhan and especialy for that first meeting with Hannah!

Friday, May 26, 2006

We're Here

Just a quick post to let you know we made safely it to Beijing. Our flight was uneventful, but long. We are tired, but good. We're going to grab something for dinner and go to bed. We have a full day of touring tomorrow. More later!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

11 hours to Go!

Yes, in 11 hours I will be on a plane heading for China and for Hannah!!
So, in case you're wondering how you might spend the last 24 hours before such a monumentous event - here's how I spent mine.

Kind of boring actually. In a good way. I took off work this week and spent Monday and Tuesday getting most things done. So, today has been rather relaxed, yet productive.
I mowed the yard, finished cleaning my house (which mostly was done yesterday), took my carseat to a good friend who is a fireman and had him install it, picked up the prescription medicine for Hannah "just in case", met a friend for dinner at Johnny Rockets (for an old fashioned hamburger and chocolate shake!) and checked my e-mail repeatedly in case I got any important, last-minute messages. And now, I'm heading downstairs to watch the ending of American Idol - just so I can see if Taylor wins. I haven't really followed American Idol this season, but well . .being from Birmingham, I need to know. What if someone in China says - "Wow! You're from the place Taylor Hicks is from!!" I need to be able to converse in these matters in an intelligent manner!! I just hope they don't ask me if I can sing like him. I would hate to have to put on a concert while I'm supposed to be focusing on my new daughter. Those of you who have heard me sing - get up off the floor and stop laughing!! :-)
(just for the record - I really do like Taylor)

Next time you hear from me, I'll be in China!!
Pray for us - especially Hannah!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Picture of Hannah - reposted

Well, after that last post, I realized all my pictures of Hannah went into the archives. Only 7 days' postings are displayed on the site at one time. But, I like to see her sweet face when I check my site. So, here's a couple of her pictures reposted.

Map of China

Here's a map I found on the internet. I'm beginning my trip in Beijing, then traveling to Wuhan (Hannah's City) and finally ending in Guangzhou. The 3 cities almost make a straight line south.
As far as weather - Beijing is comparable to New York City, Wuhan to Florida, and Guangzhou to the Floriday Keys.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

PARTY and other details

Last Saturday night there was an awesome party hosted by some of my great friends from church. It was a fundraiser party for Hannah at the Cantina in Birmingham. The party raised almost $3000 and was great fun for everyone. Many, many thanks to everyone who helped and everyone who came and participated! I had a good friend from college come who has recently moved to Birmingham. He looked around that night and commented that I really seemed to have a lot of support. I know how true that is and I can't thank you all enough!! And I can't forget to thank Alex, the owner of the Cantina. He was SO nice. He shared stories of adoption in his own family. He also commented that he looked around and saw how many people were praying and working to help get this little girl in China over here and that she was there now just going through her everyday life. He said it made him think how she had no idea what people were doing on this side of the world that would affect her soon and that we should remember that whenever things were hard or we felt alone. God is working things out for us somehow, even when we can't see it right away. Wise words.

Everything is becoming official. I have doctors' appointments scheduled for when we get back. I'm *almost* done with the things I have to do for school. I have plane tickets in my possession now. Hotels are confirmed. Laundry is NOT done and suitcases are NOT packed. But, they will be. I leave for China in 12 days and I will have Hannah in 16 days!!!

Hmm...this suitcase looks to be getting full. But, wait - I haven't packed ANY of my clothes or things yet!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We Have a Plan!

Okay, after phone calls, e-mails, online searching - we have a plan!! I'm calling to actually book the flights tomorrow (because the travel agency is now closed at 8:15 p.m.) - but I've been in contact with them over the last couple days and this is what we've decided.

My friend Beth and I will leave Birmingham early morning on May 25th, arriving in Bejing in the afternoon of May 26th. We will enjoy Beijing on the 27th, and fly to Wuhan, China on May 28th.
(Wuhan is where Hannah is!) I will receive Hannah on May 29th, will fill out adoption paperwork May 30th (yes, Hannah officially becomes mine on my birthday!), and travel to Guangzhou, China on June 2nd. There will be some official stuff to do there too, including a medical exam for Hannah, and also some fun activities. My U.S. consulate appointment is June 5th. I will pick up Hannah's visa on June 6th. And on June 7th, we will fly home. We will arrive in Birmingham that night around 9 p.m. For those of you wondering - here's the flight schedule . .

25MAY TH Birmingham/Newark 715A 1035A
25MAY TH Newark/Beijing 1210P 145P#1day(arrive in Beijing on May 26)
28MAY SU Beijing/Wuhan 1040A 1220P
07JUN WE Guangzhou/Beijing 940A 1230P
07JUN WE Beijing/Newark 345P 530P
07JUN WE Newark/Birmingham 725P 907P

I think on the way home (June 7th) our total travel time from Guangzhou to Birmingham is something like 24 hours!!!! I'm sure we will be very tired, but happy. :-)

In other news, I had a shower at work yesterday. It was lots of fun and I am so thankful for all the wonderful gifts I received. Everyone at my school has been so very supportive of me this year and I appreciate that so much. I have a feeling, Hannah (who will attend preschool there in the fall) is going to be one spoiled child with all my co-workers doting on her! What fun it will be! You all can pray for the poor substitute who has agreed to take my place the last week of school. :-)

Finally, I appreciate all the encouragine e-mails as well as comments on this blogsite more than I can tell you! Things are a little crazy right now, and I know I don't always respond - but I do read them and appreciate you!!


Monday, May 01, 2006

Consulate Date!!

Well . . just when I think "there's no way I'll hear anything until . . .(fill in the blank)", the phone call comes! As you know from yesterday's post - I didn't expect to hear anything on specific dates until later this week. But, I found out my consulate appointment today! This is the last step in my adoption appointment with the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou China. I have a confirmed date of June 5th. That's a week later than we asked for, but it was the first available date. Once I make travel arrangements, I'll know more specifics, but it looks like my friend Beth and I will be leaving for China somewhere around May 24th. YEAH!!! We're free to come home the evening of June 6th or on June 7th (depending on available flights).
Keep praying for us as we make travel arrangements and make arrangements for things here while we're gone. The next few days will likely be whirtlwind of activity, but I'll update you more soon!