Thursday, March 31, 2011

Leaving Guangzhou

We are ready to come home. A small part of us would love to continue this "fantasy life" of a buffet breakfast every morning and a leisurely schedule, but it is definitely time to get home and get back to reality!

We have met some incredible and inspiring families on our journey, as we have in our adoptions before. I love how each journey is so unique and how we "collect" new friends with every adoption journey we've experienced. They almost become family. One thing we noticed this time is that there were no first-time parents in our group of nine families. Every adopted child was coming into a family with other children, some biological, some adopted. These families will always have a special place in our hearts and in our memories of bringing Charlie home.

Yesterday we went to the U.S. Consulate for our oath taking ceremony. We repeated the oath, with tears of joy, for the third time. It is a moving moment, to say the least. We were happy to hear that special needs adoptions were up to 64% in 2010 and to 73% in the first few months of 2011. Adoptions, in general, were up last year on the whole, Americans are still answering the call to help the orphans here despite political, cultural and economic differences.

We are picking our visas up at 5:00 today and we are free and clear with Charlie. The next step is when he becomes a U.S. citizen when we reach our port of entry in Newark, NJ and that is obviously a major milestone that we look forward to.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. We are so blessed to be surrounded by the love and support that you give us. We thank you all for being a part of our special journey, one which doesn't end now--but only begins. It is simply amazing to think that less than two weeks ago, we only knew this child through a few pictures and updates, and now he is in our arms and we have fallen in love with him. He has fallen in love with us too. Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jie Jie

Madi is an amazing big sister. Watching her and Charlie together is priceless. She kisses him on the cheek and whisper little songs into his ear about how she loves him and will love him forever. She is so nurturing. She loves to feed him and has changed a few diapers too.

We are so glad that Madi came along on this trip. There have been times when she has been more on the ball than we have! Not that she hasn't had any five-year old moments, but the few we've seen have been far worth having her along for the experience of a lifetime. I know that the novelty of her new little brother will wear off to some degree, but we are so glad that these two have had such a beautiful start together. We are so proud of her.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Red Couch

In his orphanage, Charlie was woken up at 5 a.m. everyday for his bottle feeding and to start his day. We were told that all of the babies were on this schedule. This morning, we all slept in until 7:00, and I think Charlie is starting to get used to sleeping late! He wakes up happy and all smiles when he sees the three of us. It is nice to have his crib so close to our bed. We are thinking that one of us, or maybe Madi, will sleep in his bedroom for a while when we get home, since he was used to sleeping in a room with 20 other babies and now has been waking up to seeing all of us first thing.

Today was a free day. The only place where we "had" to be was on the 2nd floor at 5 p.m. for Charlie's red couch photo with the group, which was the typical red couch photo shoot as we've come to know it. Most of the babies end up in tears. Charlie was in tears from the very moment we sat him down. We still managed to get some cute shots though. We also managed to get some fabulous shots of our Wuwei princess Madi too.

Tomorrow morning starts very early. We need to be downstairs at 7:00 a.m. to go to the American Consulate and file for Charlie's visa to get home. It will be an exciting day for us!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Safari Park

Sometimes Charlie reminds us so much of Daniel. He'll make a face and we can almost see a glimpse of Daniel in his eyes. Today we spent all day at the Safari Park in Guangzhou. It is where we spent Daniel's 2nd birthday together. Madi absolutely loved all the animals and we loved reminiscing about Daniel and the spots where we remembered being with him. One such spot was in the giraffe feeding area. Madi was so excited to feed ficus branches to the giraffes. Charlie was pretty cool most of the time, but when the giraffes were too close for comfort, he did exactly what Daniel did--he fell apart! We got such a kick out of the resemblance, which is exhibited in the photos taken.

My personal favorite area was the baby nursing station where we saw a baby bear (pictured) and a baby monkey that was in a stroller and dressed like a baby. They were so precious. The panda and koala bears were pretty cute too.

We traded our stroller for a baby carrier with a family in our group. Charlie hasn't been keen on the stroller and he's small enough for a carrier, so the trade made sense. It will actually be easier to have him attached to one of us and have our hands free in the airport than to drag around the stroller without utilizing it. So far, so good. He loves the carrier and it's great for bonding. It was another great day...

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Mass yesterday morning was even more beautiful than the last. I suppose it was because we visited this very church with Daniel last year. Mass took place in Chinese--not sure if Mandarin or Cantonese, but we followed along as best we could. A kind, elderly woman insisted that we take her seats. Charlie was mesmerized by the music and the choir. Whenever the music would start, he would get extremely relaxed, I mean like into a trance. It was so cute. Maybe he'll be a musician. Once again, a procession of little children carried up the gifts and Madi was fascinated. She was given a Holy card (in Chinese) for her scrapbook and one for Charlie too.

We spent some time in the Swan Room yesterday morning. The Swan Room is a playroom here in the hotel that is sponsored by Mattel. Some of the families from our group were there. I forgot how much fun it is. Both kids enjoyed it. Of course, Madi tried to dictate exactly what toys Charlie should be playing on and with. Charlie enjoyed playing ball the most.

We received word from a friend that another family, from Boca, is here in Guangzhou. They have adopted a precious little girl from Fuzhou after waiting for five years. We had been meaning to email them since we arrived. They happened to be in the Swan Room yesterday, and we were able to meet the newest mei mei, Horizon, to our South Florida group! We will try to spend some time with them this week.

We are just amazed by Charlie's progress. He is so sweet. We have started weaning him down from his 4 bottles of formula per day to 2. He's been eating so much at breakfast that we're afraid he'll explode! So far, he's taking the bottle weaning without a problem. I'm sure because he's getting more food in that belly!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday in Guangzhou

The White Swan is a reminder of how much good there is in the world. As my eyes panned the restaurant yesterday at breakfast, I saw twenty-something families--maybe more, each representing at least one more baby or child who has found a home and a loving family. It is awesome in the greatest sense of the word. It is overwhelming to see and warms your heart tremendously. I remember feeling this same way two times before--in the very same place.

After breakfast, we gathered our things and met our group in the lobby to go take visa photos. Charlie's picture came out so cute and the funniest thing is the difference in his mug shot in less than one week. You can already see that his face looks fuller. Then we walked to the medical examination office for the dreaded medical exams. This time ours wasn't so dreaded though. Because Charlie is under two, he did not need a TB test like Daniel did. Because the U.S. government changed the ruling and now allows vaccinations to take place back at home within 30 days of arrival, Charlie left without a single vaccination--unlike big brother Daniel who bravely endured seven shots in one sitting. We moved from station to station as they took measurements and checked him out. At one station, after the doctor listened to Charlie's heart a few times, he motioned for us to follow him to another room. Our hearts sank as we thought the ball was going to drop and we were going to find out that something was terribly wrong. On the contrary, he wanted a second opinion to confirm that Charlie's heart is NORMAL! They believe the ASD has already closed! Of course, we will celebrate once we take him to our cardiologist at home, but it was a welcome bit of information.

While Jimmy put Charlie down for a nap, Madi and I checked out all the outdoor exercise equipment in the park nearby. She loved running around and trying out everything. It was great for her after being stuck in that medical office all morning. We also purchased a jie jie (big sister) t-shirt for her, along with a di di (little brother) shirt for Charlie. I delivered Madi back to the room for a nap too and went off to the visa paperwork meeting for our group, where we gathered all the necessary documents for applying for Charlie's visa. I met some really nice people in our group. We are excited to get to know them. After hearing Daniel's story, one mother told me that she thought she had been to our blog and then asked if I had done a radio show. She had heard my interview about Daniel. What a small world...

The kids woke late from napping, and we spent some family time bonding in the room before dinner. Charlie is changing by the day. He is belly laughing a lot, thanks to Daddy's tickles and games with him. Now he is more smiles than not. You can see that is absolutely loving all the attention we are smothering him with. He adores Madi and she adores him. She picks him up and drags him around like a rag doll. He just goes with the flow.

These are some of our favorite things about Charlie so far:

When he sits like a little frog
His tiny little toes that are so kissable
His spotted little back that looks like a dalmation
When he wakes up and does "stretcher monkey" (Jimmy and Madi gave him that name)
That little hand that reaches out to you when he sees you

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reporting from Guangzhou

There is something bittersweet about leaving your child's province. Hard to put into words, but you feel a little like you are leaving something behind. I guess we are. We leave behind an unknown past of a precious child for a fresh start in this world, but somehow it feels slightly sad to leave his birthplace, nonetheless. Luckily, that feeling quickly goes away when you get to the airport.

Yesterday's plane ride was great. First of all, China Southern airline is awesome. This was an Airbus 330 that had so much legroom it was amazing, and we were only in the economy seats. The bathrooms were huge, unlike the cattle stalls we're used to. They served a meal, even for a 2 1/2 hour flight, which was a blessing for the kids especially. We didn't expect that. If we only had such luck on our 15 hour flight! Jimmy held Charlie, and he was so relaxed that he fell asleep. When he wasn't sleeping, he was playing with Daddy. Jimmy has been doing a lot of what I guess I could call "trusting games", like dipping Charlie backwards and bringing him back up again. He also did some peek-a-boo with Charlie's blanket over his head.

Walking into the White Swan last night brought many emotions that I didn't expect. Memories of Daniel last year came flooding back. Shortly after we walked into the reception area, the pianist in the lobby started playing Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" song about the loss of his son. I swallowed hard as Madi took my hand and dragged me around to see fountains and jade works of art. Having Madi with me was a great distraction, because I was able to show her where the red couch pictures are taken, and where the famous breakfast buffet will be every morning, and where we took the group photo with her when she was just one year old. It is really nice to be able to share these things with Madi. I think she'll appreciate her baby pictures at the White Swan even more having been here now.

All smiles this morning from Guangzhou. I have to say that there is something so relaxing about this hotel. You feel a real sense of security, a sense of home. I love the way adoption journeys are staged. For one week, Charlie got to bond with us among a sea of Asian faces. At the White Swan, he will see Asian faces but he will also see families like ours too. By the time we get home, he will be used to seeing more and more American faces.

When Charlie woke up around 7:00 a.m. this morning and saw me peering into his crib, I got a nice big grin. He reaches out his little hand to each of us now--an exchange of trust to make sure he'll get a hand back. He always does. He's really starting to get it. And he's beginning to know his name is Charlie...

Last day in Shanghai

Yesterday was our last free day in Shanghai, and we really accomplished some sightseeing. Our guide, Tracy, took us to The Bund, which is an area along the Huangpu River lined with dozens of historical buildings. We walked about 1/2 mile with Charlie in the stroller and Madi climbing every flight of stairs she could find. The weather was perfect for some fresh air.

After our stroll, Tracy suggested that we see the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which is located across the river. We had never heard of it, and it was really cool, especially for Madi. We took an elevator up 263 meters for an amazing panorama of Shanghai. The special attraction of this "sightseeing needle" is that there is a glass ledge along the perimeter of the sphere. Walking on that ledge tests every bit of your fear of heights and your faith in construction! Madi, of course, had no problem going out onto the ledge. I, on the other hand, conveniently stayed off to take pictures most of the time. Madi wants the world to know, "Daddy was scared, and he's 44. I was fearless at 5 1/2!"

At the last minute, we decided to take a ferry ride to see the Shanghai lights last night. The kids took a long, late nap and Madi really wanted to see some lights. Our guide did not accompany us on this adventure, and boy was it an adventure. Thankfully the taxi driver dropped us very close to the port. The security guards, seeing that we were foreigners, kindly shuffled us to the front of the line and got our tickets for us. They were so accommodating. Thank goodness, because the masses were crazy. This was Madi's first experience with "forming a line" in China. There is no such thing as single file here! It was a bit of a melee and Madi was actually afraid. Many people approached us, speaking Chinese, and trying to communicate. We know they were curious and fascinated by our family dynamic. We also know they were being kind, but the attention still made Madi a little standoffish and self conscious.

Charlie is adjusting so well. He is attaching to us very quickly. We can see that he seems to be getting stronger everyday. He's still eating like a champ too.

We are now waiting for our official papers to arrive from the notary office. We will take a 4:45 flight to Guangzhou this afternoon for the last leg of our trip. We look forward to a change of scenery and a more tropical climate. We feel like Charlie is really going to like some warmer weather to prepare him for sunny Florida!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


After breakfast yesterday, we ventured out to the Yuyuan Gardens. The grounds were full of really spectacular rock formations that made lots of amazing "secret passageways" for Madi to explore. She went crazy running around taking each of us with her one by one. She was able to get some much-needed exercise. The weather has finally cleared up and it was a beautiful day. Today is expected to be more of the same.

We attempted to put Charlie in the stroller yesterday, and it didn't work out very well. We starting to suspect that maybe a lot of his crying has to do with bonding and attachment, because once Jimmy picked him up from the stroller he stopped crying. Realizing this has been helpful for us when putting him down. At nap time, he cried for only about five minutes before he fell asleep. Last night, he cried again for only about five minutes. We believe (hope) his crying will wane once he understands that we are his forever family. Note to parents adopting babies from Shanghai--don't take a stroller here. The narrow passageways and rocky terrain make it really difficult to navigate, so we folded up the stroller and carried Charlie.

Last night, we took a taxi across town to a restaurant that is famous for serving Peking Duck. We had this in Beijing last year and consider it one of our "must haves" while back in China. It was every bit as good as we remembered--that crispy skin is so terribly unhealthy but so amazingly tasty! After dinner when we were 'settling up' and packing our things, Jimmy walked Charlie around the restaurant lobby. Madi came running in shouting, "Mommy, Charlie is standing!" Apparently, he stood on his own for about 15-20 seconds!

When we got back to the hotel, Jimmy and Madi took a stroll down Nanjing Road to look at the lights. Charlie and I stayed behind for some Mommy and son bonding time. I gave him a bath, baby body massage and we just played on the bed for about half an hour together.

Charlie slept in until 6:00 this morning, which is an hour past his usual wake up time in the orphanage. We figure all that exercise yesterday wore him out. We are heading out shortly to the Bund. We try to post again later. If not, we'll catch up tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday night

So we were tested a bit last night at bedtime. Charlie was really over-tired since he woke from his nap early. We think his teeth are really bothering him and his belly was still off kilter. He really cried when we put him down. We let him cry for about five minutes (it felt more like twenty) while the three of us huddled on the bed in hopes that he would fall asleep as the orphanage reported. He didn't. It was heartbreaking. We prayed that he would fall asleep. The sound of a crying baby is like torture, isn't it? Jimmy and I decided to do what we knew was right in our hearts and pick him up. We gave him a small dose of Motrin for his teeth and Jimmy held him for a while. He ended up filling his diaper, which was obviously a major part of his discomfort. He finally calmed down and Jimmy put him back in the crib. He cried again, and we prayed again. We knew we had done everything possible to make him comfortable and that he just needed to fall asleep. After about ten minutes, he cried himself to sleep. Five minutes into the whole ordeal, Madi simply couldn't deal with hearing her little brother crying and fell sound asleep. From the time she was a baby, I swear that's her defense mechanism--just "shut it off".

Charlie woke at 5:00 this morning and our day started. We gave him a bottle and we all played together. We went to breakfast and I just managed to cut those tiny little daggers on his tiny little hands when we got back to the room. He's been great all morning, and we're hoping that today brings a little for normalcy for him. He's such a sweetie and seems to be bonding very well, bless his heart.

Officially a Murphy

Today's adoption proceedings were full of ceremony here in Shanghai--a much different experience than with Madi and Daniel due to Shanghai being a wealthy city. The Civil Affairs Offices and Notary are so much cleaner and more professional here. The people were all so kind and very gracious. We were out all morning taking care of business. At one point, our guide questioned something on the adoption decree and Madi, in a concerned voice, asked, "Are we going to be able to keep Charlie?" Once again, everyone raved about Madi's nurturing ways today.

Happy to report that Charlie got his first dose of Juice Plus today. Since he won't eat the gummies yet, we opened up a veggie capsule and put it in his formula. You knew it wouldn't take me long:) Tomorrow we'll introduce a fruit capsule. After he went down for his nap, Daddy treated Madi to McDonald's. I know, I know...McDonald's and Juice Plus shouldn't be in the same paragraph, but the reason Madi can have Mickey D's once in a while is because she takes her Juice Plus and eats great 99% of the time! Apparently, there were two elderly Chinese women who took a liking and curiosity to Jimmy and Madi. She couldn't speak English but was really kind and gave them her phone number. When they were looking for a seat in the jam-packed restaurant, the same woman waved them over to her table and invited them to sit down.

Charlie woke up crying from his nap. We are attributing it to two things: the introduction of beans and Juice Plus into his diet today (gas) and major teething. Once we calmed him down with some homeopathic teething tablets on his gums and let him pass some gas, he seemed much more content:)

We ventured out to the department store in search of new shoes, a sippy cup, and a teether. First of all, I could almost hear Grandma Pauline shouting down from Heaven about how every child needs a pair of good shoes for their feet. Of course, I heard her shouting this at 3:00 am last night, but I knew she was right. We found him a quality pair with good ankle support and narrow enough for his little feet. They have a little more breathing room than the shoes he was delivered with. We found a good transitional sippy cup with a silicone tip like a baby bottle. The popular canteen model that I brought along from home didn't work. He couldn't quite figure out how to get the water out.

We went to dinner at a Sichuan restaurant tonight and enjoyed a great meal. We have loved trying new things and settled on spicy bean curd (tofu) as our main dish. Tofu might sound gross to some, but you didn't see the other protein choices on the menu...

We are now "back to the ranch" relaxing together and winding down for the night. Until tomorrow...

Monday, March 21, 2011

A great night

We are doing great! After dinner last night, we came back to the room and played a bit. Madi is already working on "physical therapy" with Charlie! She had him lifting a 16 oz. water bottle up and down. He did it probably 15 times. That has to be great for his arm and shoulder muscles, which need development. When he crawls, he favors crawling on his elbows. Madi also would put toys on the small coffee table and encourage him to stand up using the table. He did it several times and we cheered for him. He realizes that he's doing something good and wants to keep trying! He's been working on it this morning too.

We all went down last night at 8:00. He went down very easily and slept until 5:30. We realized that we gave him double-sized formula bottles yesterday. Poor baby was stuffed like a tick and his tummy was tight as a drum. Jimmy finally figured out what we did. These Chinese labels are tricky! Daddy paid for it this morning. Charlie woke with a very full diaper, which Daddy bravely took care of while Madi and I were in the shower. I was very proud of him--he didn't even gag:) At the breakfast buffet this morning, we fed him scrambled eggs, crushed up baked beans, yogurt and some congee, which is a rice porridge.

The orphanage gave us a beautiful bound book full of baby pictures and a DVD about his orphanage, along with an outfit and a chop engraved with Charlie's Chinese name. They also gave us back the little album we sent to him and the letter we mailed to him. They will make great keepsakes for him to reflect on someday. In the paperwork, they gave the meaning of his name. Zheng is the orphanage name. Chuan, his first name, was given to all of the babies who entered the orphanage in the month of December and it means "to deliver". Qian means money or wealth. The name was chosen in hopes that he will be rich when he grows up and deliver his money to the people who need it badly. He'll be a charitable little soul:)

Madi adores Charlie. She is making our parenting job really easy. Just like with Daniel, she is constantly saying, "Gradulations my Little Brother!" for his every milestone.

We are leaving in a few minutes to go make this addition official. It will be a long morning of paperwork, and we look forward to every minute!

Qian Qian

He is precious. His nickname is Qian Qian (pronounced Chien Chien), so that is what we will call him until he's comfortable adjusting to Charlie. His original nickname, given to him by Daddy months ago, is Peanut--and boy, he's living up to his name. He is definitely a peanut. At 18 months, he can't yet stand by himself because they kept them in a walker most of the time. We have a lot of work in the muscle building and fattening up department, and we look forward to watching him blossom. He is very alert and his fine motor skills seem to be great. He has a bit of a rattle in his chest but no fever, so we are going to wait before administering any medicine.

We arrived at the Ministry of Civil Affairs at around 9:00 a.m. and Charlie was a little late due to rainy weather and traffic. He didn't cry at all when they passed him to us He is mellow and much like Madi as a baby, he observes everything. He watches everything Madi does. In fact, there was another couple receiving their child at the same time. They also had a little girl from China and were there adopting a son. Both of the children were crying, and our two were just staring at them, like, "What's up with that??" All the people at Civil Affairs were notably impressed with how well Madi was taking care of her new brother. They just kept commenting on it, over and over and it made us quite proud:)

We got back to the hotel about noon, and it was time for his bottle. He woofed it down and was ready for a nap right away. He was layered in clothing, but not much by Chinese standards. The oddest thing was that his shoes were tied to his ankles very tightly. He will never experience that again in this lifetime. We put him down in the crib at 12:30 and he barely made a peep since he's used to sleeping in a crib. That's new for us! He woke up at 3:30. Jimmy is wasting no time walking him around the room. He might just be walking by the time we get home! I just tried to give him a Juice Plus gummy and he gave me the raspberries! Too cute:)

So far, so very very good. Thank you Lord.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rough night

It is 6:15 a.m. and Jimmy and I are just getting up. Last night was a rough one. Madi crawled into bed and totally crashed at 5 p.m. We tried to get her up for dinner but she wouldn't budge. So we let her sleep. She woke up hungry at 11 p.m. and was pretty wired. We gave her some "melatoney" as she calls it and it worked for a few hours. She woke again at 2 a.m. and really had trouble. We finally broke down and let her lay down on the loveseat and watch her Barbie movie on the itouch. It ran out of battery after about an hour. At least Jimmy and I managed to sneak in some sleep during that hour. At around 4:30, after the itouch failed her, I insisted that she get back into bed with us. We were all frustrated, but we managed to laugh at the situation. As Jimmy said, "these are the things that memories are made of."

Madi finally fell asleep again, and we are trying to let her sleep in as long as she can. She is so excited to get Charlie today that she would ask Jimmy what time it was every five minutes that she was awake during the night. I think we might have to have a family nap this afternoon.

We are meeting our guide, Tracy, at 8:30 in the lobby this morning and will be on our way. We promise to keep you posted as best we can.


We slept great last night. Madi's belly is still on EST, so she woke up very hungry around 1:30 a.m. We didn't have much to eat in the room, so we broke into the super-size bag of Cheerios we brought for Charlie. After about twenty minutes and a dose of melatonin, she went back down. We all slept in until 6:00 again. We are feeling more normal everyday.

After breakfast (Shanghai noodles again--pictured), we walked on the pedestrian street despite wet weather again. We saw some cool things. There was one area on the road where one man set up shop to sharpen people's knives. Another man was repairing umbrellas. Another man was giving haircuts right there in the street. There was hair flying everywhere and people crowded around observing the action.

At 10:00 a.m., we ventured across town in a taxi to St. Peter's Catholic Church. Madi, our safety patrol leader, was not very pleased that seat belts aren't mandatory here and rarely seem to be working in the taxis. We were given an inaccurate mass schedule by the hotel and showed up halfway through mass that was taking place in French. It didn't matter what language though, mass is always so beautiful. We were intrigued that we climbed three flights of stairs to get to the sanctuary. Madi was also fascinated that a group of small children holding candles led the procession of gifts to the altar. You could see that she was just drooling to help them.

Friends of ours from our travel group with Daniel, who came to Shanghai to adopt their daughter last year, recommended a nearby noodle restaurant (thanks Dee and Daryn:) We went there for lunch today. We love Madi's sense of adventure when it comes to the food here. She's not been afraid to try anything. She's been eating some spicy things too and took a liking to vinegar on her noodles today. It really is fun for all of us to try these new things together. Today Madi finally said, "I love China!" It was good to hear. She seems much more like herself today--a little more outgoing and talking to more people. Sleep does wonders.

Our room dilemma worked out beautifully. We had kindly inquired at the front desk about the rooms, and the sweet gal, Spring, behind the desk volunteered that there were larger rooms on the floor without additional cost. Problem solved. We just moved into the larger room and it's great:) There still is zero drawer space, but the luggage fits up on the windowsill so it's all off the floor. There is more of a living room situation with a loveseat and coffee table so the kids will have more space to play together in the room. It is a much more comfortable scenario for the rest of the week. We have unpacked pretty much everything possible and we are feeling much more settled now. Madi helped me prepare all of the gifts for the orphanage nannies, civil affairs personnel, etc.

Our guide arrived this afternoon from Beijing. She has asked that we meet her in the lobby tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. to go to the Ministry of Civil Affairs for Charlie. I am disappointed that we won't get to see the orphanage, but she checked with them and was told that there is a flu going around and they do not want visitors. She said that some families are required to go to the orphanage for Gotcha Day and some are not. We might try to see if we can still arrange a visit later in the week. We are not sure if it will happen though, and we are not sure that it would be good for Charlie. We'll see.

We have everything in place now...we just need Charlie. Hard to fathom that this time tomorrow, we will finally have him in our family. We can't wait to share that moment with you.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


We are feeling a bit more human today though the time difference is catching up to us as I write. It is crazy how sleep deprivation can affect a person. Let's just say we ran a little low in the 'patience department' yesterday. We did a lot of apologizing to Madi for being so grumpy. Neither Jimmy nor I are big sleeping pill people, but seriously--they are a 'must-have' for us to adjust in China. We brought along a melatonin supplement for Madi that was recommended by a pharmacist. I believe that helped her wind down last night, and she managed to sleep in until 6:00 this morning despite the flip-flopped time schedule.

Madi had her first taste of Shanghai noodles for breakfast, which she loved and insisted on eating with chopsticks. After breakfast, Madi desperately wanted to check out the indoor swimming pool. We neglected to see the shallow "disinfection pond" before the staircase to the pool entry, and Madi plodded right into the water! She loved it, of course. Thank goodness Daddy was so adamant that we each needed to bring two pair of shoes in case of rain.

Our hotel is located on Nanjing Road, which is a popular pedestrian street with tons of shopping. We walked around and explored a bit near the hotel today. That was about the extent of our adventure seeking. Madi and Daddy went to the indoor pool to blow off some steam. He suggested that I treat myself to a pedicure at the spa when I told him the price was a mere 40RMB (a little over $6). I was surprised (and disappointed) to find out they only offer pedicures to men!

The Majesty Plaza, where we are staying, is quite nice. I have not such great memories of Ramada properties from our childhood travels, but this is definitely not the same chain I remember. My only complaint is that there is zero drawer space--and I mean zero, nada, nothing. Our suitcases lie all over the floor with clothes strewn everywhere. This makes it tricky to be organized, but we plan to have this rectified before Charlie comes on Monday. Not sure how, but we will. If that's the worst thing we face on this trip, then I think we'll be okay! This afternoon, we ran into a small plumbing snafu. We were informed by housekeeping that we are not supposed to be flushing toilet paper down the toilet. Yes, you heard me correctly. Thank goodness they have trash can liners. I just feel bad that we didn't realize this the last two times we traveled to China. Oops, we've been breaking the rules all this time!

Madi has been extremely clingy so far. Go figure--there's a million people rushing here and there, and they'll run you over if you're not careful!. We're always pleased that she's such a cautious kid. She hasn't been using her Chinese language skills as we thought (yet) and seems to be shy around most everyone. It's obvious she still feels out of her element.

We were told by our airport transfer guide yesterday that Holt is sending a representative from Beijing for us. We are hoping to hear from her this weekend for some tips on where to go and what to see; although, we also have the concierge to lean on. Our guide will be arranging our Gotcha Day on Monday. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we get a chance to visit Charlie's orphanage. This is something we've never done before, and it would be a good opportunity for all of us to see where Charlie is coming from.

Our eyes were drawn to every Chinese baby we passed by today. The time is drawing near, and the three of us are getting excited for our new reality!

It's 6:00 p.m. now, and Madi's out cold. We're not far behind her...

Friday, March 18, 2011

We are in Shanghai!

Just wanted to let everyone know we made it safely. We were so wiped out when we arrived that I couldn't have formed a blog post if I tried!! Anyway, now that my sleeping pill's worn off, I am up and realized that I still had enough power left in my computer to try to communicate (before we hit the bed at 7pm, I made the realization that I don't have the right adapter for my power cord).

Love you all--Madi's doing GREAT. She's an awesome traveler. We were pretty blown away by how she did on that 15 hour flight and 24 hour day!! She managed to sleep about six hours on the flight. Jimmy and I didn't fare so well. She's pretty mesmerized with China, but reading her face says she loves the comfort of Delray Beach.

Back to bed. Will see what I can do in the morning...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gate C-125

As we descended into Newark, the pilot announced, "We are arriving at Gate: Charlie - 125" 

"HE SAID CHARLIE!" Madi's head spun in amazement. 

We made it safely and now wait for our plane to Shanghai. Madi was great on the flight here. She had us in stitches a few times. She's such a stipulator sometimes and was very busy allocating time limits on the armrests.  She heard the flight attendant announce a "snack service" and we knew we weren't getting out of that one. Pringles at 7:30 a.m. never hurt anyone, not that I know of anyway.

I also wanted to mention that we arrive in Shanghai at 1:55 p.m. Hopefully, you will all be sleeping!

God bless:)

All Checked In

Good morning!  We are all checked in at PBI. Check in and security went smoothly, and we should begin boarding soon. Jimmy and Madi just went over to Starbucks to find something for breakfast.
elated  -  terrified  -  excited  -  anxious  -  hopeful

These are all emotions that we are feeling. All bundled up into one. 

We likely won't have a chance to connect in Newark, so the next time you hear from us, we will be in Shanghai. We will be 12 hours ahead of most of you.

We want to thank you so much for all of the prayers and good wishes before we left. We received your Facebook posts, blog comments and emails. We are so blessed to be surrounded by so much love.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shanghai Charlie

Isn't it simply amazing how the Lord works? I woke up yesterday morning on a full-blown emotional rollercoaster and then my prayers were answered by an update, with photos, of Charlie! 

I love that Charlie is dressed in green, my favorite color. Madi was the only baby girl dressed in green on her Gotcha day.  I also love that he is holding a flower, since Daddy has always been in the "Green" industry.

He appears to be doing great! We received his current measurements:
Height: 70cm, Weight: 9kg, Head: 47cm, Chest: 48cm

We confirmed that he sleeps in a crib.

We also confirmed that he takes lots of formula. Good thing we bought a baby bottle to take along. We can't wait to kiss those chubby cheeks.

Madi rolled over this morning with a big smile on her face and said, "Tomorrow I go to China!"  Now the days are melting into minutes:)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Dream

"I had a dream about Daniel last night."

As I spoke the words to Jimmy and Madi this morning, my eyes began weeping without approval.  I finally saw my sweet son in my dreams.  Actually, I think I should refer to it as a visitation.  Then Jimmy informed me that I was giggling in my sleep. The tears became uncontrollable. I knew Daniel had been with me.

We went into the orphanage (it looked more like a hospital) looking for Charlie and came upon Daniel's familiar little face. He was in a wheelchair and his hands and feet were wrapped up in bandages. He had aged only a little, but we clearly knew it was him. As we approached him, he looked up at me and said, "Mama!"  We were so thrilled to see him and knew instantly that he would be leaving with us. I was excited to tell him that I had Juice Plus gummies for him, and he squealed with delight.

We continued looking for Charlie in the orphanage but had difficulty identifying him. I'm sure this stems from the fact that we haven't received updated photos of Charlie since November and his appearance will be somewhat of a mystery to us.  I just remember feeling so profoundly warm having found Daniel.

The dream went on for a while, but sadly, many of the details escape me now. What doesn't escape me is how I feel this morning as I reflect on what happened last night--it seemed so real. I feel as if I really saw him. I feel as if I truly had him back for a while, and it warmed my heart more than I ever imagined.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Grasshopper

Saw something in the backyard today that we've never seen here before--a bright green grasshopper stuck to the back of our house. It was so unusual to me, that I told Madi that I would look up it's meaning.  Maybe it's just me, but I found some of these to be quite apropos:

A grasshopper's appearance indicates a time in which we will experience great leaps of happiness. It teaches us to trust our inner voice and to act upon it.

The grasshopper’s coloring is significant.  For instance, green grasshoppers indicate fresh starts (new beginnings), as well as the concepts of youth, rejuvenation, sentimentality, nature, adventure, growth and health.

Further, it’s a good luck charm as well as a symbol of fertility among Chinese symbolic language. Grasshoppers were thought to be fertility symbols, specifically, omens of the birth of a son. The grasshopper also symbolizes prosperity, wisdom and a leap of faith.

The grasshopper can be an enlightening messenger of ingenuity, resourcefulness, joy and honor.  In China, grasshoppers were kept as family pets. It was believed that grasshoppers embodied the personalities of deceased family members.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Festival

Every year, it is tradition for us to attend the Spring festival at St. Vincent Ferrer, our parish. Once again, it was a fun-filled weekend of over-eating and little sleep.

It is so wild to watch Madi's sense of adventure evolve every year. In her first couple of years, the rides were more of a spectator sport for her. Last year was mostly about accompanying her little brother Daniel on rides than immersing herself in them. We are thankful for that, by the way. I still have fond memories of Daniel's face hanging over the side of the ferris wheel. It sent me into heart palpitations at the time, but I am so glad he was able to experience so much fun. He loved every minute of being a "big boy" and trying to keep up with his sister.

This year, Madi was simply unstoppable. Jimmy agreed to get a wristband too, so they could be buddies on all the rides. That worked for half of the weekend. The other half was spent with her little friends, sprinting as fast as they could from one big ride to another. They would run up to the height marker with excitement, hoping that they were tall enough to make it on. The funny part was that they would do this almost every time they approached the rides!  They just enjoyed knowing that they passed the test.

We promised Madi this year that she could stay until closing Saturday night, as long as she could "hang" without a meltdown or passing out. We stayed true to our word and they actually shut the rides down before she was ready to leave!  It was a great time for all of us.

We are tremendously blessed by our community at St. Vincent Ferrer.  We connected with many great friends this weekend--some old, some new. It was an extra bonus being able to share our exciting news of travel to get Charlie. We can hardly wait for next year to get him to the festival too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our official travel plans

Here's what we know so far:

We leave on St. Patrick's Day!

We are the only family from Holt traveling to Shanghai

We were able to skip the Beijing leg of the trip this time, so we will get to spend all our time in Shanghai and Guangzhou

Gotcha Day is March 21st and we might be meeting Charlie for the first time at the SWI (Social Welfare Institute)

We arrive back in Florida at around Midnight on April 2nd.

The suitcases are coming out today, so we can begin the packing process!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We Got it!!!!

Dear China Family:

Your travel approvals have arrived and we have begun working on your travel schedule. Today the Consulate confirmed your visa appointment but we are still waiting for our staff to send the confirmed travel dates. We expect to have dates tomorrow or Thursday and will send them by email immediately when we do.

The tentative dates we offer here are based on the visa appointments so the US return is accurate but the China arrival day is uncertain. Using this information, you can consider your travel plans or book tickets but we emphasize that these dates may change: if you buy tickets before we confirm them you may need to pay a penalty to change them.

Based on your visa appointment, we expect your travel dates to be:

Beijing arrival: 18 or 19 March.
U.S. return: 1 April