Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

I've heard our candy bags are full and much fun has been had by these three little people!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Nick and I have been looking Dex's mouth with a flashlight whenever we're tickling him and have been unable to see any hole in his palate (roof of his mouth). When we went to the medical exam today, he went in the ear, nose, throat exam, and they officially said he has no cleft palate! He does have the cleft gum, but no hole in his mouth! We are excited because this likely means he will not have to have surgery!

Goodbye Fuzhou, Hello Guangzhou

We spent our last day in Fuzhou strolling through a beautiful city park near our hotel, blowing bubbles, and posing for photos from curious onlookers. Dex had a great time with the bubbles and crawling in the grass. It was a beautiful day, and I anticipate getting him home and playing outside with him more. I think he's gonna love all the wheeled things, grass, and playset at home! We played in the hotel room, and Dex finished exploring every inch of the place, including under and in all furniture, and finished packing our luggage.
We had a late flight into Guangzhou, which was made even later by a flight delay. Ahh! So, we didn't get to our hotel and in bed until after midnight. We had an appointment to have Dex's Visa photo taken this morning at 8 -- in a couple of days, he'll have his passport Visa stamped to enter the U.S.! Yay! Then, we had his official government medical exam at 9. I'd heard those appointments were chaotic and traumatic for the children. Boy, was that an understatement! There were probably 60-70 adoptive families, plus Chinese locals who were there for medical care, crammed in this clinic, in lines that snaked on forever. Dex was looked over, measured, and checked out. Then, it was time for the dreaded immunization line. The U.S. government requires all adopted children have certain vaccinations prior to entry to the States, which I understand, but some of them are repetitive. Dex ended up having 7 separate shots! He was not a happy little man! He's taking a good nap this afternoon after his late night, early morning, and shots!  I had to go out to make some photo copies and exchange money while he and dad are napping and did a little shopping in some of the shops near to the hotel. There are some cute little places here. I think there will be much more to do in Guangzhou than in Fuzhou, and the weather is beautiful here! It is much more Western-influenced, so it's easier to function here so far! We even had lunch at Subway - similar to at home! Tomorrow evening we're taking a river cruise on the Pearl River, which I think will be a lot of fun. Guangzhou is a beautiful city, with a neat mix of Chinese and European flair.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Go Easy on Me!

Girls, I just wanted to show you what I have to work with here in the 5-star Chinese hotel ..... and why my hair is such a disaster every day!
220 volts of pure pitiful blow dryer!

Orphanage Visit

This morning we visited the orphanage where Dex stayed before he was placed in foster care around the time he had his lip repair surgery. We were able to tour the infant and toddler area as well as an area for older, disabled children. There were several tiny infants who had been found abandoned just today that we saw. One of the caregivers who was helping with the newest children in the orphanage remembered Dex. She was excited to see him, commented on how he still has big ears, and promptly stuck a bottle in his mouth (I think she enjoyed feeding him again). It was incredibly sad to see all the babies and wonder what kind of future they have. There were several premature babies and a few babies with liver or kidney problems that were obviously very ill but were in little cribs just like the healthier babies. It made me sad, and I feel for the women who care for them everyday. They did seem very kind, though. We toured an area for disabled children and visited a room where they have the older boys doing counted cross-stitch. They are very good at it, and one boy was very taken with Nick. He took Nick's hands and made him pull the needle through the holes after he had it started each time. He was very proud to show off his work! Now, I expect Nick to finish those cross-stitch stockings I have started but not finished!  :) We got to see the children's play areas and the physical/recreational therapy areas. They do have a very good children's therapy program, and children come from other orphanages to be treated there. We got to see some older children doing their therapy sessions.
Dex's foster mom chose not to see us, which I understand. However, the assistant director of the orphanage did give us his email address and said we could send updates to him that he could get to the foster mom. If I were her, I'd wonder how he's doing, so we'll certainly send her pictures occasionally.

Next, we visited the Love Without Boundaries Healing Home that just opened yesterday. Love Without Boundaries is an organization based out of Oklahoma City that has built several "healing homes" around China for children with heart conditions and cleft lip/palate. They take in the children who are not likely to thrive in the orphanages to try to get them the surgeries they need and special attention like longer opportunities to eat and more attentive medical care. The woman, Helen, who has been our guide while in Fuzhou works for Love Without Boundaries also and has been working hard to get the Healing Home open in Fuzhou. They opened yesterday and accepted their first two babies last night. We got to tor the entire facility, and it is truly a happy-feeling place.

We took our daily walk to McDonald's and Trust-Mart (a tiny version of Wal-Mart) about 25-30 minutes away. It's multi-tasking ... carrying Dex that far and back is a great workout! Dex loves to watch the buses and cars go by on the busy streets. We spent the evening playing in our room and getting some of our stuff packed up. We are flying late tomorrow afternoon to Guangzhou, where we will meet with the U.S. Consulate office for Dex's immigration oath (I'm sure he'll say every word!) and to get his passport Visa stamped to return to the U.S. We'll be there from Friday night until next Thursday. We'll return next Thursday to Beijing to be able to fly out of China next Friday morning at 8 a.m.  We'll arrive in Chicago at 7:30 a.m. the same morning (30 minutes earlier than we left China!) where Dex will officially become a U.S. citizen! I am dreading that looong plane ride like nothing ever before! He is so active. The flight over was actually about 2 hours shorter than our return flight, and it seemed to last forever without a busy infant in my lap!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pandas 'n Pizza

I'm trying a post I originally tried to post on Tuesday .... let's see if it works this time.
Today, we started the day at Giant Panda World here in Fuzhou City. They have seven giant panda bears and about 40 red pandas, which are similar to red raccoons. We were treated to a performance by a red panda, flipping on bars, walking on its hind legs up stairs, and swinging on a swing.
Then, we visited the birthplace of an important historical figure from this province who lived in the 1800's. We went to a tea party, literally, and learned the proper way to prepare Chinese tea. We were able to taste four different types of tea that are grown in the Fuijian province and the proper way to drink the tea. We asked the driver and guide to drop us off in an area of town not too far from our hotel and we had lunch at Pizza Hut. We opted for the very-American supreme pizza, but there were very-Chinese options that I'll not describe for your benefit. However, I was ready for something substantial and familiar. :o) We walked down the street to a mall-type building that had a Trust-Mart in the basement. I'd seen on a sign that they carried Great Value brand, so I suspected it was something like Wal-Mart. It was similar and was fun to wander and see the different things available. We walked back to our hotel, where we all took a little nap. We're now just trying to corral Dex in the hotel room -- he's veeery active --- and waiting to hear from our other kiddos when they get up in a few hours. We were supposed to Skype with them this morning (their evening time), but the internet in the hotel was down. We are very excited to let them "meet" Dex finally.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Dex is now officially a Coston! His adoption was finalized today! He was so excited that he continued his afternoon nap right through it!
Lots of milestones today:
* First poop in the tub
* First time to sit in a highchair -- we learned the word "sit" tonight!
* First fit during a meal -- think highchair!
* Said "cat" after me when we were reading a book together.
* First fall and bump on the head since with us.
* First time to try prunes baby food -- that was before the poop in the tub.
* First time to give me a kiss when I asked for it -- several of them actually!

We have been able to Skype and talk with several friends and family from home today -- what a blessing to hear familiar voices!

Things seem to be going so well so far! We have been very careful about what we eat and drink and have managed to escape the sickness that often befalls travelers to Asia ... so far. Things with Dex have been going so well -- almost too well. He's just such a normal little guy for his age. His foster mother has done an amazing job in the past few months. He's meeting most of the developmental milestones for his age and is such a fun, loving little guy! He eats well, sleeps soundly, plays ferociously, and is very affectionate toward us. He obviously feels safe enough with us already to throw tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants and seeks us out to play and hold him.
Please keep praying for us -- for wellness and for Dex to continue doing so well. Please pray for his foster mom, also. Our guide says she is kind of having a hard time with Dex being gone from her home. We will be able to visit the orphanage later this week and had hoped to meet his foster mom, but our guide said that she will ask again but so far has been told no.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More Pictures of the Dex Man

It's a Boy!

We met Dex last night as soon as we got to the hotel in Fuzhou. He was sound asleep when we got here, and we had a great time when he woke up. He is quite the curious daredevil! He enjoys playing with cars and anything loud. He knows what he wants and expresses his desires very clearly. He has a hysterical laugh. He loves bathtime and dislikes McDonald's french fries. He went to bed well and slept all night and loves watermelon. He is walking precariously now -- we got to watch him take 3-4 steps at a time last night.

We'll go this afternoon and complete the final adoption paperwork to become a family of 6!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Color test

I am trying to see if I can change the color of the text on the blog through our "backdoor approach."
Someone let me know if it works!

Today is the Day!

Today is the day that You have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. I won't worry about tomorrow - I'm trusting in what You say! Today is the day!

One of mine and Abi's favorite songs for this special day!
Despite a typhoon that just hit the province Dex lives in yesterday, I believe we are still on track for flying into Fuzhou City and meeting him this evening!

Yesterday was an awesome day! We did so much!
* We climbed the Great Wall of China!
* We watched people make ancient art called Cloisonne, a type of pottery made on copper.
* We figured out why people in Beijing pick their noses so much - smog boogers.
* We watched an unbelievable Chinese flying acrobat show.
* We sat in Beijing traffic jams for hours.
* We ate another authentic Chinese meal.
* We ate at McDonald's (the fries are exactly the same!)
* We navigated crosswalks in Beijing without losing our lives!
* I finally mastered the "squatty potty" without peeing on my pants leg.
I am so glad we get to learn more about Dex's culture and experience the people and country he's from. We are so excited to meet him this evening. I have snacks, a blankie, and a few toys in our carry-on for him. It won't be long now!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wow! Beijing!

What a day! I'm having a really hard time taking it all in!

We started the day with a tour of Tiennamen Square and Forbidden City, the ancient city walls and palace of the emperor. It was unbelievably ornate and huge, stretching for hundreds of acres. We learned a lot of very interesting history about the Dynasties in China and the traditional beliefs and customs. I told Nick that it's like visiting the zoo -- very fascinating but also very sad. It blows my mind just how much effort the Chinese people have (and do) invest in trying to please "the gods". It is just so sad that their whole earthly lives are spent in futility, regarding their eternal lives.
One of the most eye-opening experiences was in the public restroom at the Forbidden City. There were literally hundreds of women crammed together in a bathroom with about 40 stalls (not Western style stalls either!), and they were all pushing and yelling to get to a stall. I figured out very quickly that, first of all, you don't wait until you really have to go or by the time you get to a stall it will be too late, and, secondly, that if I was ever going to get a stall, I had to start shoving, too! Then, when I got to the stall, I was appalled to say the least!
We also took a rickshaw tour (cart pulled behind a very strong-legged man) of an area of Beijing where the people live in a more traditional way, in small flats, often in only 1-2 rooms for the entire family. It certainly reminded me how fortunate we are to live where we do! We even got to tour the home of a local family to see "normal" living conditions. Wow!
We ate at a "real" Chinese restaurant. We ordered four different dishes and shared with another couple. Again, very interesting. We did stick to some mainstream things, except the shark fin soup our friend ordered. I was shocked to see what all they routinely eat, especially the meats. Let's just say that they don't waste any part of any animal, both walking and swimming! We toured the local supermarket and took a taxi to a large shopping market. The Chinese expect you to bargain with them, and the are very aggressive about selling you their wares. I did find some good things, but was reminded that a hard bargain-driver I am not! :o) We followed shopping with a trip to KFC. They don't value just plain white chicken breast here in China (remember the meat issues at the first restaurant!) ... but the fries were the same. We tried to take a taxi back to the hotel, but none of the drivers could read the small characters for our hotel that we had on a sheet of paper with us, which concerns me. If their vision is that poor, should they really be driving in the crazy Beijing traffic?! So, against all logic, we took a bike taxi back to our hotel. That really gives you perspective on Beijing traffic! Whew! We made it back alive to the hotel, and that's not an experience that really needs repeating for me.

Tomorrow is our tour of the Great Wall and the acrobatic show.

And the following day, we will fly to Fuzhou City, and we will get to meet Dex! We didn't know if we would meet him that day or the next since we don't arrive in Fuzhou City until late in the afternoon. We were told today, however, that we will. Excited!

We can see comments on our blog because they forward to my yahoo email account, so please feel free to comment. I appreciate the encouragement and knowing you all are following our journey and praying for us. These first few days are designed by our agency to be able to adjust to the time change and to learn a little about the Chinese culture before meeting our son. But, that's constantly in the back of my mind, knowing that time is soon approaching. I am both very excited and very nervous.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We're not in Kansas Anymore!

Or even Arkansas for that matter! We are definitely the minority right now! Gives you a little perspective to look around and not see any faces that look like yours! A good experience to remember from Dex's perspective!

We just woke up from our first night in Beijing after a day and a half of travel to get here. Very exhausting, but we saw some really neat things in the plane, including flying over the Rocky Mountains and the Great Salt Lake (who knew it was red?!) I also had my first experience with a Chinese-style, non-Western toilet. We arrived in Tokyo, and I raced into the bathroom after standing way too long in line for inspection. I was met by the squatter. I about had a heart-attack! Thankfully, I turned around and saw a stall with a Western toilet. Whew! Too bad the reports I'd heard about the Chinese beds were not at all exaggerated! They really are a piece of plywood with a thin piece of fabric stretched over them! I suppose you can sleep on anything when you're tired enough -- which we are. :o)

We are looking forward to our first Chinese breakfast buffet, a tour of the Forbidden City, and a rickshaw tour of Beijing today, followed by a long nap in the afternoon!
Tomorrow will be the Great Wall and an acrobatic show. Then, we'll be leaving Beijing, headed to Fuzhou City to meet our Dex-Man!

I'm posting these blogs through a backdoor approach, since Blogspot (and all Google apps) are blocked in China. So, someone please send me an email and let me know if they aren't posting properly, because I can't actually look at the blog.