31 March, 2011

Orphanage visit

In our hotel lobby with our guide Rita. We love the two ladies that our agency hired to be here with us. They are just so wonderful and nurturing, they have gone above and beyond with each and everything they have done for us.

We rented a van and driver for half of the day so that we could drive out to Mae's orphanage. She spent most of her time here and we wanted to see it - I have pictured it for months now in my head. I was very nervous on our way there just because I knew how emotional it would be for us to see.
As soon as we stepped out of our van a nanny was calling "Juan Juan" - she recognized her from across the parking lot and was so happy to see our girl again. Mae has been with a foster family for the past few months. She gave Mae a cracker (that smelled like fish) - she must know the way to our girls heart is food. (:Once we got up to the room that Mae was in, there were 5-6 nannies with outstretched arms all wanting to take Mae and hold her. The love was very evident and it was great to see this. Mae seemed more than happy to visit and see these wonderful ladies.
This was Mae's bed and it was still empty today. So hard for me to picture her here now.

Awe, and back with Momma! I liked having her back in my arms and she was happy to be there (:

Cody made every child there laugh and loved on each one. He is such an amazing man and my heart is so unbelievably blown away to have him as my partner and see him as a daddy too.
Mom and Dad were there to love on them all too. These children were so very sweet.

As we made our way back to the van the orphanage director came over. We were honored to meet her and take this photo. She welcomed us to come back again.
Mae had to say goodbye to her old life and the people that were a part of it today. I felt like we learned so much more about her today.
Her grandpa was so happy to carry her and get some time with the darlin. He kept telling her that she was his princess and that when she came over to his house she could have anything that she wanted. He can't wait to spoil her with cookies and ice cream. It was precious to see him with her.
We went to her finding spot today and it was so emotional for me. It was very hard today but one look at Mae and you wonder how it could be that she hasn't always just been a part of us. God is so good and His plan for her is a beautiful reminder of the love that He has for each of us.

This angel is back in her crib again tonight! We have learned that she does not like flavorful foods... only very bland ones and chinese ones at that. It makes me worried about what we'll be finding for her to eat back home. But we did find a KFC tonight for dinner and ordered her some mash potatoes and she LOVED them! She ate them one bite after another and I could hardly keep up - she is a southern bell already (;

Old People: The Good and the Bad

This is a quick post from Cody. Stay tuned though, Kristen is getting ready to post some more pictures right after this.

We went to the Shaolin Temple yesterday and it was amazing. My brother and I studied Kung Fu when we lived in Oregon so to come to the largest Kung Fu school in Asia was pretty awesome!

The temple is where I saw the best and worst of the old people here. 99.99% of the people we have seen are very sweet and gracious. They are all curious about us and smile when they see Mae. At breakfast this morning, an older man was sitting at a table near us and just stared with a smile on his face the whole time he was there.

First, the bad. When we were walking to the temple there were some people panhandling out front. Most of them would just hold out their hand when you walked by and say something in Chinese. Then there was the gang that attacked me! Well, maybe not so much a gang but definitely some sort of organized crime ring...well they could have been three very old women. I can't remember exactly. Either way, I almost got robbed.

Here is the real story. When we walked past most of the panhandlers, there were three very old women asking for money. When they saw me, they all rushed up and one of them grabbed my Sprite bottle and tried to take it away. She had a hold of it for about 3 seconds until I yanked it back. After I broke away from them, Kristen said that two of them reached into my pockets. I didn't even feel it. I had my camera and about 450 RMB (about $70) in my pocket but somehow they didn't snag any of it. Even though I was about two feet taller than all three of them and probably weighed more than all of them combined, I barely made it out alive!

Now the good. Really, everything else has been very good. We love the people here but that doesn't make for an interesting story.

Towards the end of our tour of the temple, a very old couple walked by us a couple times. The last time they walked up to us and the man said, "Hello" and I responded with a "Ni Hao". He smiled big and said, "How are you today?" so I said, "I am good. How are you?" He really lit up and said, "I am doing very well. Thank you." Then, he and his wife walked off smiling. The whole exchange was very heartwarming.

We have our first plane ride with Mae tomorrow, so we'll let you know how that goes. She's been so good in the buses and vans that I'm sure she will do well on the plane...we shall see.

30 March, 2011

Shaolin Temple and our girl

We went to the Shaolin Temple today. It was a 2 hour bus trip out of Zhengzhou and we were surrounded by mountains on all sides... which I loved. We also liked seeing the country side along the drive, it is so very different here. The temple is where Kung Fu is learned and there are many many students. This is really Cody's area, so when he wakes up I'll get the facts straight so I can write more.
One thing I do know is that Mae did unbelievably well today. We were out from 8:30am-6:00pm and all the adults were wiped out... she had every right to be a pill but instead was an absolute delight the whole day. More of her personality is coming out and with each second we are falling more and more in love with her. She is such a gift it is even heard for me to type right now for the tears. awwwe - we are honored beyond believe that God has given us her, as our daughter!

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting - ha!
Maebelle fell asleep with Cody in her carrier for about an hour. So glad too because we were gone during her nap.

This will melt your heart. I love these outstretched arms.
She slept again for a little while on our long bus ride home.
Bath time again today, I love so many of the pictures it is had to pick which ones to blog, she has so many expressions. (:

What we know about our girl is that she is so full of joy, she sings or talks her baby talk all the time and I LOVE her little voice. She definitely knows who her momma and dada are and says our names as she looks at us with such a beautiful smile. (she has started calling Cody dada instead baba - which is her first english word and Cody beams with pride to hear it come from her.) She loves to dance and she LOVES shoes... she will go and get them for us to put on even when she is just in her diaper. She points at everything, she wants to be busy playing or in a crowd of people and loves to walk while holding your hand the most. She completely melts us with one look and I miss her while she is sleeping. Which is another big step, she slept in her crib last night!! She hasn't been okay at bedtime; she has wanted to stay with me and has slept in my bed for the past two nights, but last night she decided that it would be okay. Maybe she realized that we would still be here in the morning.

29 March, 2011

Mae is officially ours!!

Today we had to finalize our adoption at the registration office. We were presented with an official document stating that we are now Mae's parents.
I can't believe this little family is only 2 days old.

Here's our documents!
And our darlin girl!
We are looking out the window as we drive to next stop, the notary office.
Photo for the notary office.
Now for a bit of shopping... actually a very long shopping trip. Mae did so well in the carrier but it was so hot for everyone. There is no air conditioning and the third floor was pretty uncomfortable for us all.
Trying on shoes... they were all too big but we got her a few pair to grow into.

Here she is eating her treat her daddy wrote about in the last post...

A sign of things to come

It's Cody posting again.

We have been in a Zhengzhou since Sunday and we absolutely love this city. Beijing was nice, but it had too much of a big city feel. We really enjoyed our time there, but in Zhengzhou we feel like we are in the "real China." The people in Beijing are very used to seeing Westerners, so a group of us walking around is no big deal. That was true until we got to the airport on our way out of town. While we were waiting to check our bags, a tourist group from another part of China spotted one of the other adopting families who are traveling with us. They have 3 very cute little girls and this tour group was infatuated with them.

After several minutes of staring/laughing/pointing, one of them came over and motioned to her parents in a way that said, "Can I take a picture of your girls?" Well, that opened the flood gates. About 30 Chinese women swarmed over and began snapping pictures as if Angelina Joile and Brad Pitt just showed up. They each took turns posing with the girls to get their picture taken and after 3-4 minutes, the novelty wore off with the little girls. They were struggling to keep smiles on their faces, but did very well. I asked our guide what was the big deal and he said, "They are very pretty girls with different colored hair and different colored eyes than what we are used to. It's kind of like when you (Americans) see one of our Panda Bears...no offense" I have some video that I will post when I get back home.

Now, we aren't that level of celebrity, but anywhere we go in Zhengzhou people stare at us. They are all very curious and sometimes younger people will greet us with a "Hello." You can tell they are very proud to know English. We reply back with a "Ni hao" (How are you) and they eat it up. On that same note, we all went to dinner last night at the Italian restaurant in our hotel and they had some live music. It was two young guys and a girl, in their early 20's, with a couple of guitars. They just stood in the middle of the restaurant and sang. It was great. As soon as we sat down, one of the guys began to play a very familiar tune on his guitar. I was pretty sure what it was, but the notes were just a bit off sometimes. Once the other guy started singing, I could tell what it was. We were serenaded to the sweet sounds of Eric Clapton...You Look Wonderful Tonight. It's funny to say, but it was really nice to hear a familiar song playing in the restaurant and, honestly, they did a really good job. When they finished, I clapped for them (I'm not sure if it's customary to clap in a restaurant) quietly and nodded my head. They were beaming with pride.

I mentioned this before, but in Zhengzhou it's even more noticeable. Driving here is CRAZY! I can't seem to figure it out, but it looks like a ton of fun. Sitting a red stop light and tired of waiting? Well, just go for it! Is a bus in the right lane going too slow and so is the car in the passing lane? Just pass the bus on the shoulder. Need a place to park but all the spaces are taken? Just pull up on the sidewalk and park there. I'm telling you, it's awesome!

What I have noticed is that no one drives very fast, but they use their horns a lot...and painted lines on the road mean nothing. So you just drive to your destination and if someone gets in your way, just honk and they just might move...if not, get so close to them that they get uncomfortable enough to move.

I titled this post 'A sign of things to come' because after spending 24 hours with Mae, I can see the trouble I'm going to run into when she gets older.

First of all, she's a big faker. Kristen keeps saying how she doesn't hardly cry but that's not entirely true. She cries a lot but they are in a 4-5 second spurts. She wants to be on the go at all times. She doesn't mind being held as long as you keep moving. If you stop moving she'll cry. If Kristen is holding her and I give Mae a kiss, sometimes she'll cry...for about 1 second. If she wants a snack she'll begin to cry, until you give her the cup of Cheerios. If you take that cup away, she'll cry. For as annoying as the sound of a kid crying is to me, I don't mind her cry at all. Yesterday we were trying to put her down for a nap and she cried, incessantly, for 30 minutes or so and it didn't really bother me. I wanted to figure out a way to calm her down, and that made me a little panicked, but the sound itself was no big deal. It's really strange.

Secondly, everyone loves her. Anytime we walk around people will stop and stare and smile. The stopping and staring is mostly a Western couple walking around with a Chinese baby, but the smiling part is all Mae. Today we went to The Lotus Center, which is basically a three story mall. At one point, when Kristen was looking at shoes for Mae, this older lady just stopped and stared at her. When we moved to another shop, the lady followed us and stared. For about 15 minutes, this lady was there, staring and smiling.

Once we got done shopping, I was checking out and Kristen and Mae were walking around by the registers. Mae spotted something she liked in a man's cart and stuck her hands between the metal grates and tried to grab it. The man smiled, grabbed the treat and gave it to Mae. She was delighted but not satisfied. She looked at the man and stretched out her other, empty hand. This really made the guy laugh so he gave her another treat. And so it begins. I can see Mae using her sweet little personality and long eyelashes to get whatever she wants whenever she wants it.

We left The Lotus Center and waited outside for the other families in our group. As usual, everyone who walked by looked at her and smiled. There was a guard of some sort outside of the store (there are a lot of uniformed men here, and I'm not sure if they are police, military, security, etc) and he didn't look very friendly. He seemed to keep a keen eye on everyone coming in and out of the Lotus Center. Mae started getting restless so I let her walk around while she held onto my finger. This caught the guard's eye so he knelt down and offered his hand to her. When she grabbed it and looked at him with those big eyes you could almost see him turn to putty right there in her little hand. When we walked off I looked back at the guard and he was smiling ear to ear. I'm telling you, this little girl has more charm than I've ever seen and she knows how to use it.

We're getting ready to go to bed because we have a full day ahead of us. I'm sure Kristen will post some pictures very soon. In the meantime, here is a picture of Mae with the treat she charmed from the man at the Lotus Center.

28 March, 2011

Later in the day

She loves walking the hall - she takes her little biddy steps and it is adorable. She especially loves to hold our hands and walk faster.
proud as can be (:
Her first bath time was a blast - she loves the water.

She does cry, here's proof but mostly it is just for seconds and we are back to smiling again.

Oh how I love every second of her in my arms.
We bundled up and went outside for a bit after dinner. I love her all snuggly and in pink!!

She has completely melted our hearts - there is nothing like it.
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