Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

Forever Family Day!

August 15, 2012 marked 1 year as a Family of 4!  What a year it has been!  To celebrate the day we got Xander a gift that he opened 1st thing in the morning.  It was an airport and boy does he LOVE it!  He spent the entire day playing with it.  That night Patrick, Xander, and I went out of Chinese food to celebrate.  We love you Xander and are so happy you are in our family now!

Bringing the big box in to open!

What could this be?

So happy to see it's an airport.

2 hours later Mama finally had it all put together. It had a LOT of pieces.

Loving his "China fried rice"

Legos

Today my friends at work asked me to share a slideshow with them of pictures from our trip. I did and then they presented me with gifts for Xander. They were all lego sets (including a zoo set with giraffes, etc which was a neat reminder from our Safari Ride in Guangzhou).

Tonight we let Xander play with them, and for the first time since we’ve had him home he has sat and played with something for more than 3 minutes in a row. We must have spent 45 minutes playing Legos. He was able to put a few pieces together and enjoyed sitting there with all of the pieces. Of course, he also loved destroying any towers created by his father.

When it was time to put them away and get ready for bed, he picked up every single piece and put it in the lego bucket that came with one of the sets. He has always been pretty good at putting things away – I think his foster moms must have worked on that with him.

Pictures added by Kimberly:

Getting his 1st look at what's in the bag & he wants it!

Let's get this open so we can play!

Learning what to do with Legos

This is really fun!

Final Thoughts on the China Trip

Here are some final thoughts (albeit 2 weeks late) on our trip to China.

What Surprised Me

  • Women in stilletto high heels – they even wore them walking up and down the stairs on the Great Wall of China – they also all had umbrellas with them even when it wasn’t raining to keep the sun off of them
  • Not too many Chinese hats except all landscapers on side of road seemed to have them
  • Men didn’t wear T-Shirts but wore short-sleeve dress shirts
  • Men everywhere were hacking up phlegm – apparently an acceptable practice in China
  • Lots of smoking – especially in elevators and bathrooms and pretty much anywhere else
  • China Air from Beijing to Nanning was our nicest flight – much nicer than our other Delta flights
  • Most everywhere had air conditioning, but they didn’t always use it – shops would turn it on when white people walked in – the train station was a sauna
  • The familiar American Restaurants were McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut – Pizza Hut was very fancy like our Olive Garden and was referred to locally as “The Italian Restaurant”
  • McDonald’s had no one over age of 25 – all teenagers and young adults
  • Squatty Potties – I’d never seen them before but they wound up being preferable for our family versus the traditional Western toilets as they seemed more sanitary
  • Nanning – it was so green with beautiful blue skies (versus smog of Beijing where we never saw the sun or the stars)
  • Guangzhou – there were so many people that spoke English
  • How modern the cities are
  • More cars than bicycles (I had expected the other way around) – nice ones too + mopeds
  • Traffic was crazy – no traffic cops
  • Advertisements – mostly white people except for Yao Ming (NBA star) and Liu Xiang (Olympic gold medalist in hurdles)
  • The lack of suburbs – it seems to be either high-rise apartments in the big cities or extremely rural villages out in the farmlands
  • And last but not least…the FOOD was DELICIOUS (I didn’t think I’d like it and expected to lose 15 pounds) :)

What I Miss

  • Our guides – Shirley, Mary, and Helen
  • The Food – I grew to love it and can’t quite get the same thing back in the US. Sweet and Sour Chicken and Fortune Cookies are American items and were not found in China. I miss things like pork dumplings, Oolong tea, fried rice that isn’t brown, etc.
  • Practicing my Mandarin
  • Employees at the Nanning Marriott were so nice and obviously trying hard to practice their English with us – we got to know them after a few days and I miss seeing them
  • Being in another part of the world really helped get away from stresses of home & work
  • Beautiful architecture in some of the temples, etc
  • The Views of beautiful cities (especially Guangzhou) lit up at night

What I Don’t Miss

  • People staring at us everywhere we went without smiling – it was creepy (although we’ve had some of that back here in the US…our new reality)
  • Using bottled water to brush teeth
  • Smoke
  • Long Airplane flights

What I Loved To Come Home To

  • Schubie
  • Clean Air (or relatively clean air)
  • Safe Tap Water
  • My Bed
  • Family and Friends – telling stories from our trip

2 Weeks Home & Almost 1 Month Together

Yesterday marked 2 weeks home from China and on Monday we will have been together, as a family of 4, for 1 month.  So how has it gone?  Well considering the circumstances really well.  However, even really well is really hard.  There have been lots of really great moments over the last 2 weeks and also some really hard ones but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world because I fall more in love with Xander every day.

The good news was that Xander adjusted to eastern standard time the 1st night.  We all went to bed around 11 pm the night we got home and he slept until noon the next day and that was it… he was on our time zone.  Unfortunately, Mama & Baba were not so lucky.  It took us several days to get back on east coast time and we found ourselves awake at 3 am often that 1st week home and lack of sleep is just hard.

That 1st week is a blur of lack of sleep, getting used to having a 2 year old who got into EVERYTHING, and doctor’s appointments for me.  Xander loves to open and close things.  So he was into every door, draw, and cabinet he could reach.  The nice thing is he isn’t really into taking anything out of them so it wasn’t too messy.   We also discovered that he wasn’t supper comfortable staying in the house that much.  He was constantly asking to go outside and once he discovered the car he wanted to go somewhere in the car.  This also became hard at 1st because he never really wanted to be in the house and there are only so many places you can go.  I’m glad to say that by last weekend he was settling into his house better.  Now we try to have an outing in the morning and one in the afternoon and the rest of the time he’s happy to play at home.

He likes to go anywhere and everywhere.  We’ve had some fun times at Colerain Park and the play area at Northgate Mall.  He likes to ride in shopping carts which is awesome.  So we’ve been to the grocery store several times and went clothes shopping this week for pants (it got cold here fast).  We also took a trip this week to the Cincinnati Asian Market and he picked out some different foods he likes.  And we’ve made a few trips up to the High School to pick Ariel up and he’s just takes it all in when we head up there.

The boy still likes to eat but it’s been a challenge to find foods he likes.  Apparently not all rice is the same :(  So far his favorites are bananas, banana pudding, watermelon, grapes, Amish friendship bread, Ramen noddles, french toast, chicken nuggets (sometimes), Chinese dumplings, and sometimes rice dishes Mom or Chinese restaurants make.  We’re working on expanding his diet and I’m hopeful he’ll come around soon.

Our 1st week home we went up to Children’s Hospital to have Xander evaluated by the International Adoption Clinic.  It was a 4 hour visit and he did so well.  We had an interpreter with us the whole time.  Xander didn’t really want to look at or interact with the interpreter but he did listen to what he said.  We met with an occupational threapist, social worker, and an infectious disease specialist.  The poor boy got 2 vaccines, had to redo the TB test, and have 7 viles of blood taken that day.  We’ll get a full report in a few more weeks but no news is good news :)  Oh and the other fun thing about this appointment was I had to bring 3 poop samples with us… lets just say collecting that was not fun!

We also ended up visiting the pediatrician our 1st week home because Xander got a bad cough and fever.  He did so well with Dr. Smith; I was so proud!  It turned out that he had a mild ear infection and also his lungs had some junk in them.  So we’ve been on meds and they seem to be working well.

We’ve had some grieving to deal with which is very normal but also really hard.  Plus there has been some plan old 2 year old behavior that can also be hard.  But there have also been a lot of really fun and great times too.  He can now say bye bye and hello.  He loves to leave a room and look over his shoulder and say “bye, bye.”  I also gave him one of my old cell phones and he loves it.  He carries it around with him and opens it up and says, “hello”  all the time.  He LOVES his Spiderman car and rides it all over the house.  He also loves his stroller and taking walks.  He and Schubie have become best friends.  Xander loves to do whatever we are doing which is really fun to watch.  I have a helper in all of my cleaning around the house.  He’ll unload the dishwasher with me and knows where certain things go.  He likes to mop and vacume and if I don’t let him help he’ll get mad.  He blows kisses and a few days ago I got my 1st unsolicited real kiss from him :)  He gives great hugs and his smile and laugh will light up a room.  I have to say I’m having so much fun with him during the day.  Everything is always new and he picks things up so fast right now that it seems like there is something new he can do almost every day.

OK, here are some pictures from the last 2 weeks at home.

Riding on his favorite toy... his Spider-Man car

Playing Basketball with Baba

Helping Mama Clean

Xander Loves His Bike

Best Friends

Bye, Bye

Xander Loves His Noodles!

Playing with Baba

1st Day of School Family Breakfast :)

The Rest Of Guangzhou

Sunday, Aug 21, 2011
Today we went to the zoo. Wow – what a zoo! It was enormous. We only saw a tiny portion of it. First we went on a safari ride. Instead of seeing a camel, we saw a dozen camels. Same goes for bears, lions, tigers, ostriches, elephants, rhinos, and giraffes. It was unbelievable. The after the safari ride we walked to the panda exhibit – again with about 10-12 pandas (not just 1 or 2). Our last stop was the koala exhibit. The other families didn’t want to go because they were hot, tired, hungry, and dealing with their whiny kids, but I said that I wanted to see the koalas so we all had to go. :)

Ariel carted around Riley on her back for much of the zoo trip; she was so patient. I rewarded her with a neat Panda hat as a souvenir.

For lunch, we ate at McDonald’s in the heart of Guangzhou. It was very crowded there – we felt like sardines. It was also interesting to note that there was no one over age of 20 at McDonald’s. Apparently the adults in China haven’t adopted it.

For dinner, we decided to eat at one of the nice restaurants nearby the hotel. We chose a Thai restaurant. I’m sure the food was fine but all I can remember is what a meltdown Xander had there. Kimberly had to take him back to the hotel before we finished eating our meal. Ariel and I finished eating and paid the bill.

Ariel and I went swimming that night – what an awesome pool with a beautiful view of the city, a waterfall, etc. We had a great time and were able to relax/unwind after the crazy dinner episode.

McDonald's was very crowded

McDonald's was very crowded

Monday, August 22, 2011
Today we visited two temples. The first was a Buddhist temple and the second was a family temple (Chen family) where we got a scroll for Xander and a calligraphy set. At the Buddhist temple, one of the families had their child blessed by a Buddhist monk. It was interesting to watch and involved a chant, some incense, removal of shoes, and bowing 3 times to the statue of Buddha. Kimberly was adamant that we not do that with Xander. I suppose that would be pretty bad for a Presbyterian Minister to participate in that. :)

On the way home, we stopped at the clinic to have Xander’s TB test read and it was OK. We then stopped at Subway for lunch which was pretty much the same as at home.

Next, Xander took a nap and Ariel and I went shopping which was a lot of fun. Our favorite shops were Michael’s where there was a really nice lady there who would play with Xander and help me practice Mandarin (I also bought a few children books with Mandarin/English in them). There was also another place where Ariel got her tailor-made dress where we spoke with a guy named Jack who told us all about where he grew up, how he learned English, and his thoughts on China vs the US. He didn’t hold back any viewpoints which was fascinating.

We had dinner at a really neat outdoor restaurant with Red Lanterns lit up and hanging from the trees above us. We were served tea and ordered the Oolong tea that we had liked so much in Beijing. For our main course, we tried eel fried rice; the eel didn’t have much taste to it.

That night, Ariel and Kimberly went night swimming while I had the bedtime duty with Xander.

Food offering at the Buddhist Temple

Patrick eating eel

Tue, Aug 23, 2011
Today 3 families from FTIA as well as other families from other adoption agencies went to the US Embassy for an Oath and Visa paperwork. The US Embassy wasn’t really all that neat to visit to be honest. Just a big building, like any other office building.

When we returned to the White Swan hotel, all six FTIA families met to get the traditional Red Couch pictures. Just beforehand, Ariel and I ran to the shop where we had ordered her dress. It fit perfectly.

Of course, for the picture of the children in their traditional outfits, guess whose kid was the only kid screaming and not smiling?

We also got pictures with our Guangzhou guide, Helen. Three of the FTIA families left to head back home while we still had one more day.

We had lunch again at Lucy’s. We ate dinner at a deli right next door to the White Swan. What excellent food!

That night, we took our river cruise. The city was so beautiful all lit up in different (and changing) colors. I’ve never seen anything like it.

We took a taxi home and then Ariel and I went night swimming again.

The six adopted children

Our family with our Guangzhou guide, Helen

My favorite picture from the trip

Ariel looks beautiful in her new dress

Wed, Aug 24, 2011
Today we did our final shopping. We bought souvenirs for family and friends as well as heritage gifts for Xander for future birthdays. We left for the US Embassy around 2pm where we got our Visas. We then went to the train station which we hated (no air conditioning, no money so no food, Xander not happy).

The train ride was awesome! We loved it – great seats & leg room – very smooth ride. Ariel sat next to and made friends with Alex, a 15-year-old who was from another adoptive family. Xander waved goodbye as we left the station. He didn’t realize it, but he was waving goodbye to his country.

We entered Hong Kong at night. We could tell that it is a very large city and is very built up with lots of neon and advertising. At the Hong Kong train station, we and one other family ate McDonald’s on the floor by our luggage as we waited for our driver to arrive. We spent the night at a very expensive hotel (although not that great and no breakfast). It was over $400 a night.

We all loved the train ride

Thu, Aug 25, 2011 – the longest day of our lives

We had 3 plane rides back home. They were awful and I am already starting to repress them in my mind.

Ironically, of the entire trip, our own country was the one to give us the most trouble. When we arrived in Seattle we had to wait almost 2 hours for the immigration officers to even look at our paperwork. We felt so loved by America.

Once we arrived home in Cincinnati, Mom, Dad, Aunt Ree, and Aunt Bev met us at the airport. Aunt Marlene got there a few minutes later at the baggage claim. We exchanged gifts and took pictures. Ariel left her butt buddy on the Fast Park van – we took that thing to the other side of the world and back and left it in a van in Cincinnati. Oh well.

We ate dinner at Arby’s where Xander was pretty happy and his grandparents and aunts got to see him and hear about our trip.

Our family greets us at the airport. Not pictured is Aunt Ree who took the picture.

More stories from Guangzhou

Kimberly last wrote about our first 2 days in Guangzhou. So here is some more.

Our guide’s name is Helen and she is great. She talks to Xander a lot calling him by his full Chinese name, Lin Zi Xuan. She also calls me by the name on my passport “D. Patrick.” HAHA. She tries to prepare him for our adventures so he isn’t so scared but he seems to ignore her.

The White Swan is the 3rd hotel in a row with a free HUGE breakfast buffet – breakfast is our best meal everyday. The lobby in the White Swan is amazing and definitely the best of the 3 hotels we’ve stayed at. Same with the pool which overlooks the river and the city. The room, however, is the worst of the 3. Our bed, for example, feels like we are sleeping on the floor, and the carpets in the rooms and in the hallways are badly stained. The lighting is also poor making you feel like you are staying in the Bates motel. In fact, next month the White Swan will be shut down for one year in order to upgrade the rooms.

Guangzhou is very different from Nanning. The people here all seem to speak English – probably because so many Americans have to stop here as they process paperwork for their adopted kids. There are lots of white people here (other adoptive families) which was strange to see after being the only white people in existence in Nanning. There are six families, including us, from our agency, but dozens of others from other agencies. It is neat to see them all with their new children.

The immediate area near our hotel is very ritzy. There are a lot of rich people walking around. There is a high-end photo studio where dozens of brides and grooms are getting photographed. In addition, perhaps due to the architecture here, there are lots of models on photo shoots with their set of photographers following them around. It is really surreal. We feel pretty out of place walking around in our shorts and T-Shirts.

The restaurants are also very expensive here. Our first night here, we opted for some Ramen noodles which we cooked in our hotel room using the coffee pot. That’s just the kind of people we are.

More to come from the rest of our stay in Guangzhou – these are just some thoughts of the city in general.

Videos from Guangzhou

These are our videos from Guangzhou – our final set from our trip.

Visa Medical Exam (Xander had to get a medical checkup from 3 doctors in this office – this equated to 3 long lines in a very busy doctor’s office):

Checking Out Guangzhou:

Safari Park (the zoo in Guangzhou really blew us away – best zoo we’ve ever been to – our camcorder stopped working due to the humidity so we didn’t get any video of the pandas or koala bears):

Pearl River Cruise (the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen at night – they really do a neat job of lighting everything up):

The White Swan Hotel (the city’s first 5-star hotel which caters to adoptive families):

Street Market and Downtown Guangzhou:

Videos from our First Day in Nanning

These are videos from our First Day or so in Nanning, China where we met our son for the first time.

Our Arrival to Nanning:

Meeting Xuan Xuan (Xander):

Bonding with Xuan Xuan (Xander):

Playing with Xuan Xuan (Xander):

HOME!!!!

Well the McCoy’s, all 4 of us, have made it home!  We arrived home yesterday around 10 pm after 28 hours of travel and being up.  We are so glad to be home and Xuan even seems happy to be here so far.  Over the next few days we’ll update the blog with all of our adventures from the last week and also some of the videos from the last 2 weeks.  So if you’re interested stop by again to see it all :)

Yes we are still alive

Sorry for being quiet for a few days.  It’s been a very hetic and busy schedule and we also no longer have free internet at our hotel.  I’ll try and give you a quick recap of the last few days.  The 2nd half of Friday was AWFUL.  It’s a day I’d rather just forget and hope to never relive.  Let’s just say there was lots of crying (and not just from Xander, Mama may have cried a few times too) and we didn’t get to bed until about midnight.  The only bright light of the day was Xander LOVED the actual plane ride.  From the moment we took off until we hit the ground he was a happy boy.
Saturday morning we had Xander’s medical exam.  All 6 familes from our agency went together for the exam.  1st stop was at a little shop to get his visa photo taken.  He didn’t like it at all and his photo is of him screaming :(  Then for the medical exam we went to another building and it seemed like about 50 families were cramed into this tiny building.  We had 3 doctors we needed to see.  1st was the surgen who just looked over his body to make sure everything looked ok; Xander didn’t like that and screamed.  Next was the ENT who looked in his ears, glanced in his mouth, and played a few notes on a keyboard to see if he could hear.  Again he didn’t like that and screamed.  Final stop was to get his weight, height, and temperature.  And yes you gessed it; he screamed for that too.  After all of that he needed to have a TB test done.  Our guide talked with him and explained what was going to happen.  He cried when they put the neddle in but stopped as soon as he candy when he was done.  The rest of the day we had free and we took naps and then explored the Island we are on right now.  There are tons of little shops and resturants.  Patrick described it as the Virgina Beach of China.
Sunday we got up early and went to the Safari Park.  It was about a 45 min ride from our hotel.  The 1st thing we did there was go on the safari ride.  It was AWESOME!  The animals were everywhere and so close to our tram.  Some of the highlights were elephants, camels, deer, tigers, bears, lions, zebras, and graffes.  After the ride we went and saw the pandas.  They were really cute and there were several of them to see.  The final thing we saw was the kolas.  Ariel, Patrick, and I loved the park.  We thought Xander would like it but it seemed to overwhelm him.  He feel asleep on the tram ride and only saw a few things.  The park was extremly crowded and it was very hot.  For lunch we stopped at McDonalds on the way home.  We got back so late we just skipped the nap yesterday and went to the pool.  Xander loved the pool.  It’s a beautiful pool and we had a great time there.
Monday we met the group again and this time we went to 2 different temples.  The 1st one was very simular to the one we went to in Nanning.  The 2nd one had a lot of art in it which was very cool to see.  I have to admit I saw very little of it because I was chasing Xander around the place.  It really wasn’t very interesting for a 2 year old :(  Right now everyone else is napping as I type.  The rest of the day we have to ourselves and hope to do a little more shopping and maybe some swimming too.
Tomorrow we have our consulate appointment.  We’ll go there 1st thing in the morning and finish all the paperwork for Xander to get his visa.  Then the rest of the day is free to do whatever we like.  On Wednesday afternoon we’ll be able to pick up Xander’s visa and then we’ll take the train to Hong Kong for the night.  Thursday we fly home.
Here in Guangzhou we are staying on a little island within the city.  It is a very pretty island and it really doesn’t feel like your in China anymore; the architecture is very European.  There are lots of gift shops everywhere and many other American families who are adopting children.  It’s nice to see the other families but we all kinda of miss the “real China.”  Xander is doing OK.  We are sleeping through the night again which is so helpful but we still have a lot of whining and some melt downs.  All of this is to be expected but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with and at times it can be very overwhelming.  It’s also really hard to decide what things or behaviors are adoption related and what things are just because he’s 2.  All the families with us who have adopted before keep telling us that adopting at age 2 is the hardest :(
We will probably not post again until we are back home because the internet isn’t free here.  If we get a chance to get online in Hong Kong we’ll update again.  Please be praying for our trip home.  24 hours with a 2 year old could be really hard and I’m a little nervous about it.

Xander's 1st plane ride eating a roll

Nap time

It's a Panda

Ariel's new hat!

Midnight on the night we got into Guangzhou; we were all so tired!

Lunch at Lucy's... there was an Ohio license plate on the wall behind us.

How Xander spent most of the Safari ride

Our group walking up to the place for the medical exam.

Family photo after seeing the pandas.

Adoption Timeline
  • Summer 2010 - started talking about adoption
  • Aug 19, 2010 - participated in webinar
  • Sep 22, 2010 - mailed in adoption application
  • Sep 28, 2010 - adoption application accepted
  • Oct 8, 2010 - fingerprints for home study
  • Oct 14, 2010 - fire inspection done
  • Oct 25, 2010 - Patrick & Kimberly complete physicals for the adoption
  • Nov 4, 2010 - finished Heart of the Matters Parent Education
  • Nov 9, 2010 - Ariel's physical is completed
  • Nov 15, 2010 - 1st Home Study Visit
  • Dec 10, 2010 - Kimberly's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 16, 2010 - Patrick & Ariel's Individual Interview with Social Worker
  • Dec 19, 2010 - Received rough draft of Home Study to review
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Received Final Home Study
  • Jan 7, 2011 - Sent I800A form into USCIS
  • Jan 18, 2011 - We see our son's face for the 1st time!
  • Jan 21, 2011 - Submit Letter of Intent to China
  • Jan 27, 2011 - Receive Pre-Approval from China
  • March 7, 2011 - I800a approval
  • March 24, 2011 - Dossier to China
  • April 2, 2011 - Log In Date
  • May 16, 2011 - LOA
  • June 2, 2011 - I800 Approval
  • June 10, 2011 - Cable sent by National Visa Center
  • June 13, 2011 - NVC Letter & final paper work sent to Agency!!!!
  • June 23, 2011 - Article 5 papers dropped off
  • July 8, 2011 - Article 5 pick up
  • July 19, 2011 - Travel Approval!!!!!!
  • August 15, 2011 - Forever Family Day!!!!!!
  • August 25, 2011 - Arrive home; Xander becomes a US citizen :)