Hintons 2015

Hintons 2015

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back home, settling in

Red Couch Photo of our Hubei Honey

Photo w/Nai Nai (wearing their Di Di, Jie Jie & Nai Nai shirts)

Brother & Sister on the infamous Red Couch @ the White Swan

We made it back safely on Christmas Eve. Sleep was a precious commodity doled out sparingly on the flights home. There was a medical emergency on the flight from Tokyo to MSP, this was something we had only seen on TV or the movies so it was quite an experience. After a couple of pleas in several languages by the flight attendants for a doctor, one was found. He was sitting next to Linda & sprung into action immediately once he realized the request. The passenger made it to Minneapolis & was ushered off by paramedics once we landed.

It was such a wonderful feeling to go through immigration as MSP knowing our son is finally a US Citizen. We were greeted by friends of ours that have kids from China- what a blessing to get such a warm welcome. We were additionally blessed by all the people (friends, family & neighbors) that pitched in to ensure our walk was cleared of snow, repair an issue w/our house, to stock or fridge w/some groceries, & send a box of wrapped Christmas gifts for the us and the kids. What a huge relief to come home to such a warm welcome.

We had a very low key Christmas at home & spent most of the day sleeping on & off. The road to resuming a normal schedule will be long, but overall our hearts are overflowing with happiness at becoming a family of four. As I write this post I am listening to the kids fight (one in English the other in Chinese), ah the sounds of normalcy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Final Step - US Consulate Appointment & Swearing In Ceremony

We completed the final step of our paperwork here in China today. Our Consulate Appointment was in the morning & this afternoon we took the oath of citizenship on behalf of our son, once we land in the US he will be an official citizen. It is such an honor to be part of this important day in our son's life (in addition to the 40 or 50 kids there today w/their parents). We hope that some day Zeke will understand the full meaning of being a US Citizen in addition to relishing his Chinese hertitage. It's such a relief to be done with this part of the trip, now we can concentrate on completing our shopping & packing up.

Ready to go to the consulate!

We had a celebratory dinner tonight at the Orient Express (French Restaurant here on the Island). The food was excellent, but the mosquitoes were dead set on having their dinner too so we had to move inside to finish our meal.

I will try to post one more time, we will take a van to Hong Kong on Thursday to stay the night in an airport hotel before leaving out bright & early Friday morning. We will leave @ 8 am on Christmas Eve here & arrive @ 11 am Christmas Eve at home. Not a bad deal if I had to pick a day to do over: )

After the ceremony, same spot we stood w/Maddy & our travel group 3 years ago

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pictures of night time on Shamian Island

No question about which one is the men's room here

Zeke sat on a stool & pulled one up for Maddy then patted it for her to sit

Boats on the Pearl River

Dinner at Lucy's w/another RQ family

Christmas Tree @Lucy's Place

Life in Guangzhou

We are on our 3rd full day on Shamian Island and love it here. It's so nice to be able to get out and walk around. There have been a lot of improvements since we were here 3 years ago in prep for the Asia Games that are just finishing up (the main games were in Nov & now it's the para games). There are beautiful gardens & a new little jogging track/exercise area. We are also staying in a different hotel than last time & really love it as it is much lower key (& cheaper) than the White Swan.

We went to church yesterday, it was sweet because the kids were doing there Christmas performance. Additionally, we went to the Zoo & our guide took us out for a yummy Cantonese dinner. Today we have been doing a little shopping.

Zeke loves to go out in the stroller & quite often will go sit in the stroller in our room until someone pushes him around. We are discovering lots of things about Zeke, especially what a little charmer (read manipulator) sometimes. He has learned the art of getting his way so we are working with him on this. He really is a good little boy, he just gets a bit naughty when he is overtired & hungry.
Maddy is starting to take her job as a big sister very seriously, in fact she is quick to tell us when her Di Di is doing something wrong or scold him herself. She did have one incident where I saw her stick up for her brother when another child was getting in Zeke's face so I commend her on quickly learning this.

Zeke got an all clear today for his TB test so we are good to go for the Consulate Appt tomorrow. They have changed things slightly so we have the CA & Swearing In Ceremony on the same day. We still have to wait until Thursday afternoon for our visa so we ask for your prayers that we will be able to get this earlier so we can head out to Hong Kong sooner to settle into the last night of our hotel stays before flying out Friday morning.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Daddy's trip to DaYe and other thoughts...

Thursday, I had the good fortune to be granted an opportunity to visit my son's orphanage in DaYe City, Hubei (my mom and Maddy accompanied me for the trip). During the two hour journey, our guide was kind enough to translate the finding ad we were given on metcha day, so we knew where he was found. DaYe is a growing city, much of which has been recently constructed, in some ways it seems nicer than Wuhan.

Upon our arrival we were greeted in the carpark by the Assistant Director, the Secretary and several caregivers. They were all disappointed that we did not bring Yang Yang (Zeke) with us. We climbed the stairs to the 4th floor where they housed the children (the welfare office in DaYe also cares for retired soldiers, the elderly without children and the disabled). They wouldn't allow us to take any photographs inside the orphanage or of the children there. It wasn't a bad as I might have imagined, but it was certainly not 4 Star accommodations, the temperature outside was freezing and it didn't feel any warmer inside (guess that explains why they bundle the child in what seems to be ridiculous amounts of clothing), southern China gets no subsidies for heating in the winter, so most places don't have heat.

The orphanage was basically one large room for children to play in with a half dozen smaller rooms adjoining. One for infants, which we could not see because "the children were sleeping," and one called quarantine, which was where I was told our son slept? One other room contained four cribs and held two disabled children and a six month old healthy infant. The rest of the rooms were possibly storage, offices or just not part of the tour and one bathroom for the children which held the laundry facilities as well. I was able to ask a few questions, expressed my gratitude for the excellent care he was given, provided the circumstances of course (we could tell that the staff loved him and probably gave him extra attention as it appears that he is the only boy that was there). They wished us well, we gave them our gifts. We returned to the carpark and adjoining garden where we were given contact information and took photographs of the staff. We shook hands, said goodbye and went for lunch accompanied by the Secretary who took us to Yang Yang's finding spot which was nearby so I could see the place and take some photo's.

View out our son's window at DaYe SWI

Photo opp w/staff

Following that we had a nice lunch, I expressed my thanks once again to the orphanage Secretary and we left the restaurant. We made one stop before leaving DaYe to purchase a couple of souvenirs from Yang Yang's home town and made our way back to Wuhan.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to my son's orphanage, to meet those who cared for him, to see where he spent the first years of his life, to take in the sights, smells and sounds, to be able to share these with him as he grows. I am also grateful to have seen the place where his parents had thoughtfully and lovingly placed this wonderful child to be found quickly and brought to a place where he might receive what they thought they could not give him, the place where he eventually came to us. To some my words may trite, but I am grateful for the events in both my daughter and son's lives that brought them into the family that we now share and will continue to share and cherish. Without them, I may never have know the joy that is so dear to me now as I proclaim that I have been blessed beyond measure.

Beautiful DaYe scene

Some other things...

Should you ever find yourself in Wuhan or Changsha, and need passage to Guangzhou, might I suggest foregoing air travel and take the bullet train. Seriously, about the same or maybe even less elapsed time as having to arrive at the airport early for check-in and screening, not to mention the luggage weight restrictions. On top of that, if you are travelling during daylight hours you will see beautiful parts of China you certainly won't see from the air. Did I mention that the seats are much more comfortable and there's generous amounts of legroom!

Wuhan to Guangzhou

We wrapped up our official buiness in Wuhan by Noon on Friday with the finale being the receipt of Zeke's Chinese passport. He had his first official taste of McDonalds before we headed out.

One funny little fact we learned about Chinese culture- instead of playing Peek-a-Boo (which Boo / Bu means 'no' in Chinese), they play ' mao-mao' with the kids. We had to laugh when our guide old us this because we thought when Zeke was sliding from under the chair saying this to us that they had cats at the orphanage: ).

We opted to take the bullet train instead of fly from Wuhan to Guangzhou. This train is China's fastest & finest with the ability to get up to 400 kilometers per hour (248 miles per hour). The train we were on only topped out at about 346 (215 miles/hour) which as still a pretty healthy clip. Our trip had one stop in Changsha (a shout out to my friends w/kids from Hunan: ). The train is definately the way to travel, it was very nice inside & the train depots in each city seemed nicer than the airports. We got to see some very unique sites traveling this way that we likely would have never seen on the beaten path.

Wuhan Train Station

Guangzhou South Station

We arrived safely in Guangzhou about 6:30 last night & have settled in for a 6 day visit to Shamian Island. Matt, Maddy & Linda went to visit Zeke's Orphanage on Thursday, Matt will post about that along w/some pictures later.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Around Wuhan

A vision of cuteness

Outside the museum

Out for lunch

Lunch w/our guide

Brushing teeth w/Mama

We visited the Hubei Provincial museum yesterday. The exhibit we saw was very interesting- it was a fairly recent excavation of a tomb found in Hubei of a Marquis. There were many similarities between the way the dead were buried in Ancient China compared to Egypt. Many artifacts for use in the 'after life' according to the customs of the day.

It's been very cold here & in fact yesterday it snowed which is not very common for Hubei Province. That has put a little hindrance in what we have been able to do (outside sights). The other thing that is interesting is that in areas south of the Yangtze River, homes & buildings are not provided government provided heat. It was a cold visit to the museum as parts were not heated. Part of the crew also went to the Stone & Wood museum as there is a rare stone (Chrysanthemum Stone) found here in Hubei & we wanted to buy a memento for our son that is unique to Hubei.

Yang Yang is adapting pretty well & we see more or his personality come out a little each day. He is quite a little jokester- last night he was hiding under one of the chairs in our room & peaking his head out saying 'meow, meow.' He gets a little smirk on his face when he is being mischievous. Maddy is slowly warming up to her brother but it will take time to get used to sharing our attention. We are so thankful for Linda (Matt's mom) being w/us as she has been a huge blessing w/her help.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Officially part of the family

We completed the official paperwork to make our son legally part of our family. We headed back to the Civil Affairs Office to complete this part of the journey in the morning. The orphanage staff came again today to be part of the formalities, they were excited to see their little Yang Yang again (and quickly gave his clothes an inspection to make sure he had enough layers on: ).

There was a bit of sad news today- one of the families decided not to go through with their adoption. The little 5-6 year old girl was returned to the orphanage director and was at the civil affairs office when we arrived. We do not know the full details only that she was more than the family felt able to handle. Please pray that this little one is able to find a suitable family.

After naptime today we went to Carrefour to pick up a few supplies. We decided to have dinner at KFC since it was impossible to get a taxi back during rush hour. KFC has a little slide that Zeke noticed right away. He & Maddy tried it out after dinner and had fun playing there for a while. Zeke is doing really well, our biggest challenge is communicating with him. We had our guide write a little cheat sheet with a few key phrases to help us remember certain words.

Zeke's Daddy:
Yang Yang (Zeke) is such a sweet little boy. He is so curious and it is such a treat to watch him discover new things in his ever expanding little world. He is quite affectionate and has really taken to his mama already, but still has plenty of love to share with his baba. We had fun just before naptime time wrestling and tickling I love hearing him laugh and seeing him smile or seeing his expression when he tries something new to eat like this mornings toast with jam or an M&M (he gets wide eyed and his eyebrows go up) he is really something!!!

I just can't get over how sweet his disposition is, although when he gets tired he gets a bit mischievous and a little naughty. We have definitely been blessed once again. He's asleep right now, but I am excited thinking about the things we will do and share with him tomorrow!

Maddy seems to like her little brother as well, but is showing signs that she may not be entirely ready to share mom and daddy. I'm hoping that over the next few days she will warm up to the concept that mommy and daddy are just as enamoured with her as before we just need to share our time with her new brother.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Introducing our son

We will put pictures first today since we know that's what you really want to see:

Family of three

Yang Yang with a couple of the nannies

Playing with Jie Jie

Family of Four

Today, at a few minutes after 10 we met our son at the Hubei Civil Affairs Office in Wuhan. He is so much more precious in person, his pictures just didn't do him justice. The whole affair was very low key compared to Maddy's metcha day that is was almost surreal. We got there before he did & our guide had us filling out paperwork while the orphanage crew quietly came in with our little Yang Yang. He was dressed in a cute little brown bomber jacket and navy pants. He was accompanied by 2 nannies and the director, you can tell that he has been very loved by the staff.

He was sent off with some wonderful gifts which was quite a surprise. Daye Orphanage gave us a bag with some of his favorite snacks, the bear & photo book of us that we sent to him for his birthday and the best of all- a scrapbook with pictures of him from Day 1 at the orphanage & every couple of months through the time he left.

We are so blessed to see his personality already starting to come out. He is definitely going to give his sister a run for her money. Tomorrow we will head back to the Civil Affairs Office to make everything final.

From Zeke's (YangYang) BaBa:

What a day...

We arrived at the civil affairs office ahead of the Da Ye contingent, as we waited we began filling out the required paperwork for the province. With our attention on the paperwork our son arrived. In an instant, all the anxiousness and feelings of being totally unprepared completely faded away as were were faced to face with our little boy. Everything happened so quickly that there was no flood of emotions erupting in tears save for the Orphanage Director who I caught wiping the moisture from his eyes.

We spent the next 20-30 minutes watching Maddy and Yang Yang play together in the little play area in the civil affairs office. Yang Yang seemed mesmerized by all the new sights during our trip back to the Hotel.

During what was supposed to be naptime Yang Yang and his new mommy enjoyed some bonding time as they played little games through the bars on the crib. As Tanya stated earlier in this post, the pictures and description din not do our little boy justice. He is such a charming and warm little boy. His personality has begun to blossom the more time we spend with him, and we are truly blessed!