Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Today we went to a Primary school but it was not as busy as the other one. When we got to the school we saw kids going out onto their play area but they were not going to play, they were going to exercise! The kids in Grades 1 to 6 stood with their classes row by row. They did all different exercises to music. After they exercised they played outside for 10 minutes and they played with people that were in all different grades. Their school starts at 8:10 and ends at 4:30. After we went into a grade 1 classroom to see what they were doing. They were writing in Chinese. After that we went to a grade 5 classroom and they were learning English. Then we went to a grade 6 classroom and I introduced myself and I saw their English book then we said bye. I guess that school wasn't too bad after all because they did not crowd and run after us. In some ways the school is different and in some ways it's the same as our school.
Anya continues to amazing us! She woke up this morning, looked around and saw the girls playing on the next bed and wanted over to join them immediately. She was quite cuddly and wanted to be in my arms when we were out and about...unless she was hanging out with her sisters or brothers playing games. Daddy, Anya and I went back to the government building today so Anya is officially ours. We met up with the other families who also received their children on the same day and they all seemed to have settled in well...including the 6 year old so that was somewhat of a relief to see. Then I realized that we hadn't brought anything for the directors and staff at Anya's orphanage, although she only lived there for her first 2 months. The donations that we bought were to go to the foster home floor of the orphanage and not directly to the director. So our guide suggested that we go over to the supermarket and buy some powdered milk and other things that the kids would need. We had fun filling the cart with supplies for her orphanage and Scott commented that our guide loves to shop as much as I do. Always good to have someone who knows what they are doing when shopping in China. You never know what you could or may not come out of there with. We then drove out to the orphanage where we were able to visit with some of the babies and children. We had paperwork to do (paying fees, notary paperwork, etc.) which is always an interesting process Our guide did some talking and was able to get my Mom into the local cleft surgery building next door and we met with a couple of families whose babies had just had their surgeries. After that we were fortunate to be able to visit two very special ladies who volunteer by taking in some of the children from Anya's orphanage. Jenny is from Australia and has the top floor of the administrative building where she and some other ladies run a program called COAT (Chinese Orphans Assistance Team). She collects up as many of the at risk children that she can and provides a loving and more family friendly environment for them. We were also able to drop off some supplies a few minutes away to an American lady named Donna who quit her job this past December to move to China to do the same with some of the orphanage children in an apartment nearby. These are amazing people with big hearts who make a difference one child at a time. Since we were halfway there we also decided to visit Anya's finding spot which ended up being a long way out in a very rural area. We would have loved to have had more time to explore those rural areas so far out but perhaps another time. Today my Mom got to check out the famous squaty potties that she has heard so much about and got to take in some real rural driving in China. Basically solid lines are optional, bikes and scooters appear not to have lights even at night, whoever gets there first gets to go (or whoever is bigger), and the key is for the drivers to try not to make contact and just to go. I think Scott's advice to my Mom was the best...just don't look! We are back and the kids are tucked into bed. Hard to believe Anya has only been with us for two days. The staff at the government building commented today that we are lucky that Anya knows english and they are so surprised does not speak Mandarin. They also commented that she really likes our kids and they also really like her. The highlight of the day...yesterday when Anya hopped up on Scott's lap they played a game that he would pretend to sleep and start snoring. Anya would then hit him to wake him up. Then he jumped awake and she laughed and laughed. So today we were in the van and Scott though he would close his eyes for a few minutes. Suddenly Anya looked over and saw him with his eyes closed and whacked him!! Serves him right I might say!!! Tomorrow we are off to a local primary school (Bailey is questioning the safety of that after our last visit) and then an afternoon to hang out and swim.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Hard to believe that Anya is with us today and is now part of our family. The last few days can only be described as miraculous. We have had many people praying that our transition in bringing Anya into our family would be smooth and secure and that it was. We officially received Anya this morning a little differently than expected. We were on our way down to the lobby to meet our guide who was bringing us over to the Henan Civil Affairs Office. My Mom went down first and bumped into our guide who had actually bumped into Anya, Jaime (a close friend of the foster family) and Sara (an amazing lady who works for Philip Hayden) who were standing with the staff from Anya's original orphanage who were there to do the handover. Our guide realized that they had been staying at the same hotel we were at so our family came down the elevator and there they were. Jaime was holding Anya and she checked us out as the staff did the introductions. The director asked Jaime to give Anya to her Mama and before I knew it Anya was in my arms. We spent a few minutes there, took a couple of pictures (I barely had the camera ready as I wasn't prepared for a hotel lobby meeting) and then said goodbye to Jaime and Sarah who were on their way back to Beijing that afternoon. Anya made an amazing adjustment as she pointed and checked everyone out. She was quiet and calm but obviously very confused. Then we rode over to the government building to do some paperwork. At the office there was a great deal of commotion when we walked in as 3 other families were waiting for their children who they were about to adopt. It was a little bit of a whirlwind with Anya in my arms, the kids wanting to check her out and visit with her, babies meeting their families for the first time and the staff asking us to sign paper after paper (and it was a very small room). Anya was a little concerned (and so were we) as one of the children who was meeting her family was 6 years old and it was both very traumatic and difficult as she did not want to leave her nannies. I think the hardest time for me was when the lady next to me who was waiting for her new son to arrive turned and said, "I also have hemi-facial microtia like your daughter and want you to know that it will be okay." I was lost for words but did ask her if she can see that she has it just from looking at her and she said yes. Anya will go through some tough times ahead as she not only has cleft lip and palate (most of which has been repaired) but she also has a facial deformity which will require ongoing treatments as she grows. At that point I was so saddened to think about what lays ahead for her but am so happy that we will always be there with her every step of the way. As my friend told me back at the beginning of our journey when we were questioning various special needs, "God won't give you more than you can handle." And this is what we can handle. We returned back to our hotel once the paperwork was done and things continued to be a little chaotic as we ventured out for lunch and to find a different hotel as we had nothing but problems from the time we arrived in the one that was booked for us. Not what you want to be dealing with when your little girl is joining you for the first time.
Today has been one with many emotions. We are so thrilled that Anya is finally with us and the kids have been vying for her attention continuously. She seems pretty good with that which is lucky although when she doesn't like something she will come to me and ask to come up for a minute or call Mama which is a good start. It is so obvious that her foster family spent a great deal of time preparing her for this transition into our family. She knows that I am her Mama and about her brothers and sisters which is amazing. Earlier in the evening she hopped onto Daddy's lap to see what he was doing and they played together and laughed. On the other hand everyone (including Mom and Dad) have had their emotional ups and downs. It is already apparent how life will change for each one of us (I have to start remembering how to pack a bag for a baby...with a bib in case we end up eating). This evening after going out to dinner we came back to the hotel and discovered that Anya likes to run around in her diaper. She and the kids went up and down the halls and every so often Anya would stop and do a great little dance...wiggling her hips around. Wouldn't I love to know where she learned that one from. She will be our entertainer for sure. Many fun times to look forward to!! Anya had her milk and fell into a deep sleep...exhausted from the day's events. All of the kids are tucked in, relieved and happy that little Anya who had been in our hearts for a long time is finally here in our family. Tomorrow we do some more paperwork in the morning and then visit the orphanage where Anya lived for her first 3 months and to meet some amazing ladies (American and Australian) who are serving in China and taking care of those babies that live there. The last of our donations will be delivered and now with many empty suitcases we will have to do some shopping to fill them up again. Thank you to all of those who have been thinking and praying for us and for Anya and her foster family. We can't wait to bring our daughter home to Canada and for her to meet you all.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Today we traveled by plane to Zhengzhou in Henan province. We are very excited about receiving Anya into our family tomorrow morning. It was a busy day and everyone is tucked soundly into bed. We will post tomorrow once we have Anya in our arms.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Today for our final visit with the kids we brought a bunch of balls that a friend of ours donated. They weighed down both my Mom and our suitcase but were they ever worth it. They watched Scott and our kids pump up the balls and then they were so excited to throw them around. We were always good at getting the kids all wound up when we visited (oops!).
Today was a happy day in that we are so close to receiving Anya into our family but also a sad day as we had to say goodbye to so many wonderful children who have enriched our lives so much. Their sweet faces lighten up the day and the stories of their lives make us see how fortunate we are and the big struggles that some of our youngest children have to live with. There are so many amazing people who work here at Philip Hayden and who have made our stay so enjoyable. Bailey is on us BIG TIME about wanting to move to China. He thought we could live here and he could just see the babies and kids everyday. He decided he would even give up his schooling to do that. Very generous indeed.
Today is Kayla's Family Day (Gotcha Day)! It was 4 years ago today that we first set eyes on her for the first time and she became part of our family. What is most amazing is that Anya's Family Day will be just two days later (March 30). That is a lot to celebrate!! We had a cake which Scott picked up...that is certainly a different experience here in China. Happy Family Day to our travel group and all of their little girls...Kayla's China sisters!!