Saturday, June 28, 2014

Yuexiu Park

The Five Ram Sculpture
It is noted to be the Guangzhou's city emblem
The past two days, I have felt at home being in what I call "real China"....
While Guangzhou is great with its more western ways, it is merely a large city much like New York is loud, dirty, crowded, filled with restaurants and shops, and not really a big touristy area so there is little to do....
However, we ventured to a new sight today, Yuexiu Park, and it was full of what I have been longing to see....the people were dancing, groups of people were gathered together playing cards or chatting, groups were singing karaoke....
and then there was this guy...not sure what he was up to but we are thinking maybe it is some sort of exercise?
To think that this beautiful, green park exists in the middle of a city of 16 million people - double the size of NYC!
Yuexiu Park consists of three lakes and sits atop of a mountain....these boats looked like fun!
Speaking of fun, our guide took us over to the amusement area where the girls enjoyed riding several rides....
I am pretty sure Maddox's squeal of pure delight could be heard across the ocean!  She was in her element!
Look out Pop, this girl drove a Panda car and said, "Hey, now I know how to drive!  So when I get home, I can drive the golf cart, right?" Ha!  
Whether is was dropping from significant heights or bouncing on kangaroo rides, the girls were in heaven!
Though we were all incredibly hot, and may have bought a few fans along the way to cool us, we had a wonderful day!
And this little one....y'all she is so sweet!  She just hung out and watched as her sisters hopped from ride to ride....she let out one little peep when she needed a moment of rest from the stroller and of course I scooped her right up!
She loves to wave at everyone and points at everything! 
We came home from the park, immediately showered, went to the pool for a bit, rested and then headed out to eat at the Banana Leaf restaurant....such a fun night!  We are traveling with a very sweet family who has an almost 3 year old daughter and they are adopting a 2 year old boy - both are precious!  By the end of the night, the children were dancing a jig with the entertainers at the restaurant and we all left with full bellies and great memories!
Meeting some of Maryn's friends....this little guy was full of energy, definitely the life of the party and admired by the ayis....he was so stinkin cute!  He even tried to get on the elevator with us and go home....that would not have been a problem at all;)
 And this baby sweet and fragile.  She was recovering from surgery and being cared for in a special area where the children receive 24/7 care by nurses and doctors....praying she heals well and is listed soon for adoption!
 Then it was time to visit Maryn's home for the last 22 months....her nannie was so excited to see her!  When she left the office on Monday, Maryn was one unhappy girl.  She was so pleased to see her without a tear in sight!  Well, at least the tears did not begin until we moved on to another room and we had to say goodbye again!
 Maryn's playroom....
 all of the little ones had gone down to their sleeping rooms for rest time so there were none to watch and play with while we be a fly on the wall - this I would love for just one moment of a day when Maryn was there....
 Maryn's crib....
 Our angel friend, Tammy!  Tammy is a volunteer at Maryn's orphanage and has been sending us photos and videos during our three month wait.  We were so blessed by her!  The wait is so tough no matter which way you look at it but to know that someone is checking in on your little one weekly is incredible!  
 The orphanage director and the director of international adoptions at Maryn's orphanage.  We met the director of international adoptions on gotcha day....she is so kind and truly cares for these kiddos!  We toured the orphanage with her and I positively drove her crazy asking about each child and if they had been listed for adoption yet, their need, etc.  I told her of my friends at home who were wanting to adopt and my love for advocating for these children!
We have been fortunate enough to visit all three of our girls' orphanages.  Words cannot express what an invaluable experience this is for us and for our girls when they are is a piece of their past that we can share with them in pictures and video.  
MK and Maddox were both in foster care for the majority of their time in China.  This provided them with a family, outside experiences, interactions with both females and males of all ages, more one on one stimulation.  For Maryn, she lived in the orphanage walls for all of her 22 months of life.  She had likely never been outside until her first car ride to meet us on Monday.  She had never heard the sound of a horn beeping or the loud adult chatter or the city life....ever.  Imagine.  
Maryn continues to adjust.  She smiles more and more each day.  She cries very little.  She is weary of Ryan but actually played with him last night without tears.  She loves the girls and is constantly pointing at them as if to ask, "what are they doing now?!"  She loves water.  She is a girly girl, always patting her head to make sure her bow is still there!  She is a good sleeper but the crib is not her preferred place of resting!  She is full of expressions.  She babbles the cutest little songs ever!  And her squishy-ness is irresistible! 


Imagine being a face on a wall or a number on a list....
Imagine waking up to the same walls day by day, listening to the same noises - crying babies, in-house construction, nannies chatting....
Imagine eating the same food day in and day out - thankful you have food, no doubt, and you likely don't know that other foods even exist....
Imagine going to a playroom everyday to explore - always the same room, always inside, same toys, maybe your nannie plays with you, maybe not....
Imagine looking outside each day through bars, never seeing the beautiful blue sky, never encountering a bird or bee, never seeing the clouds overhead....
Imagine not knowing the touch of the crisp, green grass on your feet....imagine not knowing the sounds of the air and the feel of the wind on your cheeks....
Imagine not knowing the feel of genuine love, the kind of love that only a parent can give....
Imagine NOT being someone's everything....

Friday, June 27, 2014

A day on the island strolling along the Pearl River....its what everyone does right?
We are staying in Guangzhou, China, for our entire two week stay.  Guangzhou houses the US Consulate and is the place that all adopting families end up to finalize their adoptions.  We have been to Guangzhou for MK and Maddox's adoptions.  For them, it was our final piece to the puzzle and then we were on our way home.  
 Back in the day, all adopting families stayed on Shamian Island.  It is a gorgeous area of Guangzhou!  It reminds us a lot of Savannah, Georgia, or Charleston, SC....the gardens are stunning, the statues are aplenty, shops on every corner, bridal photo shoots going on in every corner, and a Starbucks to boot!  
 The girls wanted to take photos with the statues but someone was a bit unsure about that particular idea so we opted to go into a few shops instead!
 MK and Maddox have been excited to purchase their very own fans!  Have I mentioned how incredibly HOT it is here???  Georgia has nothing on Guangzhou, China!  
 And what does one crave more than anything on hot summer day?  Why, hot chocolate of course!
 We enjoyed our time on the island sipping hot chocolate, reminiscing of our stays on the island, and just taking in a familiar site when we are so far away from home.  It was good for the soul!
And our newest princess was quite the trooper through it all!  She is such a sweet girl and continues to grow in comfort with us!  For this, we are so thankful!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

One of my favorite things about adoption is the people you meet along the way.  Guangzhou is full of families from all agencies adopting children.  I  could sit in the lobby and visit for hours listening to the stories of how the children came to their forever families.  Our morning began in the lobby of our hotel where we ran into a family adopting two girls, one who is 13 and one who is 2.  Both of these girls were in Maryn's orphanage and the 13 year old immediately began waving to Maryn and our travel buddy Zach, also from the same orphanage.  This 13 year old girl was one excited person and she was so proud to see the other kiddos.  
 We visited a while and then we went to the medical exam.  A short ride and then into a building that Maryn immediately recognized as a threat.  She was not a happy camper but most kiddos aren't when they are being poked and prodded by total strangers.  
 She was deemed to be a 23 pound healthy baby girl!  23 pounds of cuteness, leg rolls and all!  
 We came back to the room and played - the girls love her to pieces!  My absolute favorite thing to hear is when Maddox scrunches up her face and says, "Awww, Maryn is so adorable! Really she is, mommy!" **Take note, "Awww" has at least 3 syllables!
 And of course I tried to snap a few photos to share with everyone at home....Miss Bright Eyes is not one to smile much yet but she is always taking note of everything going on around her.  She has waved to everyone today and she as babbled more.  She loves to push the buttons on the elevator and points to things around us and makes the cutest little surprised face ever!
The girls could not be doing better!  MK is quick to step up and assist me with getting things that Maryn may need.  MK's eyes lit up when Maryn walked to her for the first time and she was able to hold her.  She really enjoys playing with her and showing her how to stack cups or build with blocks.  Maddox is a mommy's girl!  She is quick to tell her daddy how handsome he is but mommy is the one who she goes to for most everything.  She has been the baby for over three years now and everyone caters to her.  So, all of that said, we were concerned about her adjustment.  God has shown up big and Maddox could not be more pleased with her new role as big sister!  She delightfully squeals at least a gazillion times a day, "Mommy, I am big now because I am a big sister!"  Granted this is all new to everyone and we know bumps will occur but for now we are rejoicing!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A water girl!  The girls enjoyed an afternoon swim with Maryn!  Can you see that her little belly?  She is a healthy girl, leg rolls and all!  
 Her skin is flawless...
 and we got smiles at the pool!  So sweet! 
Our time here has been low key thus far.....we will be in Guangzhou our entire stay in China.  Guangzhou is a huge city and has a variety of smells.  We have done a lot of walking around the hotel and the girls hold their noses as we go.  We finally had a good day of eating - we found Pizza Hut and McDonalds....both are not places we frequent at home but both were a welcomed taste of western food.    Our guide is great but she is quite busy with several families from our agency on different timelines.  Therefore, we are finding ourselves on our own which is a new China experience for us....but our time here has been good thus far.  We have enjoyed meeting the children who have recently joined their families, the stories that brought them together warm our hearts, the hope that fills the air is breathtaking.  

**I am blogging as I can - the internet connection is not very good at all unfortunately.
Maryn had her first bath with Maddox Monday night and LOVED it!  Of course, Maddox was thrilled to be the big sister in charge of bathtime!
 Our first was like Christmas for the girls as they waited by Maryn's side for her to wake up.  They kissed her and watched her for almost an hour until she awoke.
 Our activity for the day was going to the civil affairs office to finalize our adoption.  Maryn is proving to be a smart girl - she knew exactly where we were, the place where her nannies had last been seen and her life had changed forever.  She let out a few noises of distress as we entered into the building and the playroom but she eventually opened up and played with MK.
 It's official!  Maryn Gentry Drafts is ours....all papers have been signed and sealed and we could not be  more excited to be parents once again!

A Few Things About Maryn

Things we have learned in the last 24 hours about our girl.....
  • Maryn is one strong little one.....she can arch her back like no other in protest....and last night as I went to place her in her crib, she clung to me with a death grip - pretty sure that had I let go, she would have just been hanging there....
  • She smiles....90% of the time she is serious and taking every detail around her in; however, 10% of the time she will crack a smile and it is the sweetest little grin ever!
  • She loves water....bath time and pool time are lots of fun when you can splash with your sisters and play ball too!
  • She waves bye-bye and hello 
  • She will make the funniest expressions when she sees something that interests her
  • She likes to drink and eat most anything we give to her
  • She enjoys the Ergo 
 Things I heard today....
  • "Mommy, I am so glad we got Maryn because if we didn't, I would have to go and adopt her!  She is so adorable!"
  • "Mom, wait, if you did not get me then would I still be in the orphanage?" - eye opening
  • "Zhang Fen, you  know, that is your name in Chinese."
  • "Maddox, why are you in this room?" Her response, "I don't like the way it smells in there." - Maryn's diaper was the root cause of the smell:/ - Maddox walks around now with her nose covered most of the time!

Monday, June 23, 2014

A bright eyed, hesitant little one walked into our lives today forever!
 In the blink of an eye, we became parents again and our children became siblings once more.
 Maryn, your sisters prayed for you just before we left.  One said she was so thankful for adoption and for you joining our "big, big family!" and the other said she couldn't believe you had a heart big enough to love us all!  
 My favorite picture...those eyes have so much expression.
 Then it was the moment of truth, the exchange.  Let's just say that Maryn was less than excited about this taking place.  There were a lot of tears and the arching of the back occurred.  
 She soon tired herself out with all of the tears and fell fast asleep on my chest.  Sweet girl!
 And then she awoke, the make or break it moment of gotcha....and she didn't scream!
We have played in our room most of the afternoon and given her a bath....she is so very scared and continues to shy away from Ryan!  Bless.