Saturday, September 3, 2016

All About Chapman

The beauty of adoption is the first year and seeing a child blossom from orphan to orphan no more.  Everyday is new.  Every experience is new.  
Each of our girls have come to us in very different ways.  One was very vocal in letting us know her space limits but otherwise was happy, one was so sad with tears in her eyes even when we began to see smiles emerge, one was so very scared without ever knowing a life outside of the orphanage walls, and Miss Chapman came to us somewhat dazed and confused with eyes wide  open studying all around her.  She never flinched.  She never cried.  She just looked at us and everything that surrounded her.

Five days later and this girl is full of spunk!  She smiles with her entire face and her laugh is one of the sweetest sounds one will ever hear!  She speaks.  She tells us to put her shoes on, she starts saying the word for dog when she sees one, she tells us thank you, she babbles and babbles, she tells us when something is hot, she says ma-ma, ba-ba, ge-ge (brother) and she waves and says bye bye to most anyone!  
She loves to be held in the carrier.
She runs around our room like she owns the place.
She now loves taking a bath and even allows for Maryn to pour small amounts of water on her head while playing beauty shop - oh the things these two will get into together!
She quickly shifts her head to the side, quite diva-ish, if she doesn't want something you are offering her and then slowly turns back, her eyes first, to see if it is still there.
She loves eggs, bananas, muffins, chocolate, corn, pizza....she will not have anything to do with a food that is green.  The head shifts fast with the green!  
She doesn't like to drink much but when she gets thirsty, she will though I do worry that it isn't enough.  Definitely something to work on.
She really is a dream.  Very endearing and we are all loving seeing the glimpses of her personality as our time with her continues!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Datong, Shanxi Province
Chapman was born in Datong, Shanxi and it is required that all adopting families with children from her orphanage make the trip to the public affairs office for more paperwork in person.  We have been to all four of girls' orphanages so I am thankful we were able to make the trip.  During our four hour trip there, we drove past more portions of the Great Wall of China.  This portion was made out of earthen materials, dirt in particular, and is much older than the sections of the wall that stand today in Beijing.  Spectacular sight to see!
 We are in a very mountainous  area of China.  They seem to stretch far and wide!
 Driving into Datong City - I continue to be amazed at how one can drive a scooter and smoke a cigarette all at the same time AND keep it lit!  
 Datong appeared to be a very new city though it is actually several thousands of years old and is considered an ancient city.  The name Datong means Great Harmony because the people of the city just wanted to live in peace.  Today, there are 3.3 million people who live in the city of Datong.
 The orphanage from the highway.....
 The orphanage is home to 100 children onsite and 400 children who live in foster families offsite.  500 children total.  
 The onsite foster families live together in this apartment building.  Chapman lived in a foster family with four other children, three with cerebral palsy and one with a developmental delay.  
 The grounds of the orphanage were very nice.  

 And after were toured the orphanage, this happened.  Be still my heart!  
 When we arrived, the first person we met was the foster mother and let me just share that Miss Chapman perked right up and beamed from ear to ear with excitement!  And the foster mother was all smiles too!  She quickly scooped Chapman up and for the next twenty minutes, she engaged Chapman in saying words and giving kisses and just hugging her tightly!  And Chapman soaked it all in.  She was quite the princess with the orphanage staff.  They all passed her around and played and she was soooo happy and in her element of comfort.  She waved and gave the all kisses and smiled the entire time!  She is really just the sweetest little girl and her voice is so delicate and gentle sounding, so soft and precious.  I even asked her foster mom if she was always this sweet and she didn't hesitate to tell me YES!  
And then the moment of truth came.  It was time to say goodbye to the face that she has known as her consistent caregiver for the last year of her life.  She willingly came to me but quickly pushed back trying to get down.  And when I continued to hold her and get her adjusted in the carrier, the tears came and the arms went out for the foster mom.  And once again my prayers were answered.  This child of mine has known love.  
 And we were told that everyone in the orphanage office adored our baby girl!  She was the orphanage rockstar.
 They all took turns scooping her up and talking to her....she was loved by all and that puts a smile inside my heart!
 Then we were off to see the children....I was sure to touch each of them!  There were littles ones and big ones too....each so precious!
 Following the orphanage tour, we drove over to the public affairs office for a five minute paperwork event and then it was a quick photo of our girl's finding spot, the local hospital.  
And just like that, our day was done and we were on our way home to the hotel!  It was a late night but one worth staying up for!

Foodie Post

We have a lot of downtime on our hands while we are spending the week in Chapman's province.  We decided to take a walk "across the street" to Wal Mart.  But, before leaving, we turned to take a picture of our hotel.  It is a fabulous hotel though hot water does not seem to be on the list of important amenities:/
We did very well staying with the crowds and crossing the streets....and then the picture taking began.  I figure the Chinese are all staring at us so it must be ok for me to take pictures of them, right?  I really hope they don't mind!  
No worries, this guy even smiled for the camera!  Ha!  Cantaloupe on a stick anyone?  
Or maybe you are in the mood for freshly squeezed orange juice?
Or pizza complete with corn and other assorted vegetables that one does not normally find on pizza....
This guy was making dumplings right in the middle of Walmart.  I don't think I have ever seen someone in person make dumplings so I stopped to watch for a bit.  And then I snapped a picture:)  
Miss Maryn needed some beauty rest so she slept during our entire outing in the stroller....and Ryan pulled this cute little basket around as we shopped for a few necessities like diapers and wipes!
And then, lo and behold, there was the meat selection....all shiny and ready to be purchased....
Or raw chicken assortment....the thing that blows my mind about all of this is that it is like shopping for vegetables at home only you put your hands amongst the raw chicken to choose exactly which piece you would like to place in your bag. 
And if you don't care for chicken, there is always duck by the whole!
And then there is the seafood department.  
Squid, octopus, live fish, dead fish.....
crabs in a was all there just waiting to be chosen!  Ryan and I both commented that Walmart was very clean compared to the others we have been in, especially the ones at home. And there wasn't a crowd....usually it is packed!  And the odor was very doable until we set foot amongst the fish....
Just in case none of the above tempts you, please consider the tomato, cucumber or lime flavored potato chips.  
Or maybe the grilled pork?  Goodness, this makes me smile.  I love knowing that these snacks are right at the tip of my fingers!  
Maryn, on the other hand, has little positive to say about the odors anywhere in China.  She is less than impressed and can always be found in her daddy's arms with her fingers holding her nose!  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sleepless in Seattle, ahem China.  Never at home do I say, "Oh good, it's 5:00am" but here, I long for it to be 5:00am!  That has become my "ok" time to get out of bed though I have been awake for hours.  
So, Tuesday began at 5:00am.  And it was good.  I am so thankful we have Maryn with us on this trip.  The transition from baby to big sister is going well yet I know she needs assurance she is loved and cherished as much as our new little one.  So, at 5:00am in the morning, it is good to grab her and hold her for a bit before she is ready to pop up out of bed for the day.  After a bit of Chinese morning tv entertainment and playing, I checked on Chapman and found her sleeping peacefully on her tummy with her little thumb placed in her mouth for comfort.  She loves her thumb and though it is so cute, we can already see where orthodontics are going to play into her life later in life.  Bless.
We made our way down to breakfast where Chapman enjoyed her round of scrambled eggs, millet congee, and hashbrowns.  Breakfast of champions for sure!  We offered her regular milk and the face she made was hysterical and let us know that maybe milk is not her thing.  Then it was back to the Civil Affairs office to officially finalize Chapman's adoption.  A few red thumbprints and even more signatures later, we were able to meander our way back to the van through the same construction site as we trumped through yesterday.  It is just one big dusty mess. 
We played for a bit in our room and then decided to take an adventure "across the street" to Walmart. Now, "across the street" is a loose phrase when in China.  It is more like we took an adventure "across a ten lane highway" and lived to tell the story.  Ha.  Ryan describes it best as playing a deadly game of Frogger.  We did well as we navigated our way across the traffic with cars, trucks, little car thingies, bikes, and mopeds all coming towards us from different directions.  When in China....
We really enjoyed the walk....the street foodies, the people watching, the crazy expensive cars, the sounds and even the smells.  And Walmart didn't disappoint though it was the most calm Walmart we have ever been to in China.  And somewhat clean.  Cleaner than home, except for the fish department.  Bleck.  Squid, Eel, Octopus, crabs, lobsters and an assortment of whole fish, eyes included.  And then the just sits out in bins and you use your bare hands to place your raw choice chicken organ in a bag.  In the US, we would find everything wrong with this.  Here, it is just their way, their culture.  We gathered a few needed items and headed to checkout.  Calmly standing in line waiting on the family in front of us, minding our own business and then out of nowhere I feel this push on my back and I knew the person wanted to go by.  So I stepped to the side thinking maybe the person was with the group in front.  NOPE.  He held up a bottle of Coke towards me and smiled, then held up his money to the cashier and proceeded to "cut" the line and make his purchase!  There was the preschool part of me that wanted to shout, "NO CUTTING!" but I refrained.  Again, a culture thing.  Different boundaries.  

Back in the room, the girls and I played for a bit while Ryan made a water run and attempted to find some traditional Shanxi style noodles for dinner.  Bath time was up next so I went in to run the water. It was cold.  Here we are in this fabulous hotel and the water has been less than hot  So I called the front desk - this is the second day we have had to do this - and they sent someone up to "fix" the water.  Two men, a few tools, a few minutes, they tell me it is all good now and say goodbye.  Ok.  I go to run the bath again and, again, it is freezing cold!  Ugh.  So, I turned the sink on to see if that was hot and it, Maryn and I began a little game of pouring hot water from the sink into the tub.  Ryan walks in as we are doing this and looks puzzled.  I told him the story and he looks down and says, "Well, actually, the hot water goes this way" and sure enough he turned the faucet the other way and boom, hot water.  Bless.  Those two men are probably getting good laugh on my behalf.  Bath time did not go well.  Though Chapman tolerated it the first night, she cringed at the sound of the running water and then promptly let us know that taking a bath was not on her list of favorites.  We settled her down and bathed her quickly while Maryn held her fingers in her ears. A little chatting with the children at home and our agency later, we were settled into bed by 8:00pm for the evening, and, once again, Chapman laid herself down and snuggled in tight for the night. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Gotcha Day for Chapman

After a restful morning in our room, and a little indoor baseball game with Maryn and her daddy, we carefully packed our bag full of everything we could possibly think of to take to meet our little girl.  We were all so ready for this day!  We drove for a bit, stopped the van in the middle of a street, got out and proceeded to walk in the street around a construction site, mind you, cars, motorcycles, mopeds, and bikes were all swarming towards us and around us.  And the dust is amazing here - this area of China is known for coal mining and, on top of that fact, there is construction everywhere.  I have never thought of wearing a mask in China until yesterday when I desperately wanted to just hold my breath until we got inside of a building.  We rounded a corner and heard a loud noise only to look to the side and see a huge bulldozer pushing four huge concrete barrels right at us - yikes.  He yelled something and stopped long enough for us to pass by.  Phew.
We were making our way to the Civil Affairs office to meet Miss Chapman and finally I spied a building that looked a bit official and asked the guide if the girls were inside.  She said probably but she wasn't sure.  We walked inside and right as I was about to ask how we would meet the girls - together or separately - I saw her!  She squeaked right across the room from me behind a door.  And as soon as I said, "That was Chapman!" she came back and made her debut.  We scrambled to get the camera and she walked out holding the hand of a lady from the orphanage who she had traveled with for her big day.  They were telling me "mama, baba..." and she just looked and looked all around not knowing exactly what or who she was to fix her eyes on.
Chapman was ours in that moment.  She is so dainty, much smaller than I had imagined.  Not a tear was shed.  She allowed us to chat with her and she willingly gave Maryn her hand to walk around.  I picked her up and though she looked a bit concerned, she took it all in stride.  We eventually gathered into a smoke filled room with several other families from other agencies as well to sign papers stating that we would love her and protect her and never harm her.  
After signing, we ventured out a bit more for a walk thru more construction to a little building that reminded me of a Hansel and Gretl type cottage type place to take the official adoption photo, just the parents and the child who is being adopted.  This is where Maryn lost it and was highly offended that she was not to be included in the picture.  Bless.  She eventually gathered herself and we found ourselves ready to make our way back to the bus and then finally back to our hotel.
From the time we first met Chapman, though she didn't cry, she didn't smile either.  Really, she showed very little emotion.  We walked into our room and we pulled out all of our tricks.  Little by little she began to open up laughing and smiling and playing peek-a-boo and babbling....and then I said thank you in Chinese to her and she smiled and said it back!  I melted.  It was the cutest thing ever.  And then it became a game....she would give me a toy, I would say thank you and she would say it back and laugh! Our guide was in the room at the time and she said Chapman was also asking for her drink and then there was just a lot of to my ears!  We eventually made the decision to try out a bubble bath.  Chapman was a bit hesitant and her little lip went out a few times but she allowed us to bathe her well and I feel like she will be a bubble bath indulger in no time at all!  Then it was pizza time!  After not eating really anything since before we even landed in China, I was READY for this moment.  I did take it easy and only eat one piece, a little nervous about how this was going to turn out but also starving and craving some comfort food.  And we learned Chapman loves pizza too!  She has probably never had it but she definitely didn't say no to it!  So thankful she was open to eating with us!
And then it was time for bed!  Bless her little heart, she sucks her thumb.  And we laid her down in her bed next to Maryn and there she stayed with those eyes looking around the room as she laid flat on her back with her arms down by her side surrounded by all things new. It honestly makes me so sad that she did this.  It gave me a vivid recount of our mission trip days seeing the babies laying there in their cribs, crying out but not moving and not being held.  I said a quick prayer over our girl and gave her a big kiss on her head.  She turned to the side and the only peep we heard from her all night was a barking cough here and there.  On that note, please pray for her health.  She does not have a fever but she is certainly very congested and the cough is not the best sounding one I have heard.  
And that was Gotcha!  A blessed day for sure!  Cannot wait to see this girl blossom into her own little Drafts self!  It's going to be good, ya'll!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Maryn loves the squatty potties.  She calls them the "little potties" and actually looks for them to use instead of western potties.

We arrived in Shanxi, got to our room and Maryn exclaimed, "Oh NO!  They took our room.  We don't have our room anymore!"  She missed Beijing.

Back at home, the children are doing amazing!  And my parents are happily surviving thus far.  Sleepovers, birthday parties, playdates, church, lake days....they are staying entertained!  So thankful!


We arrived safely in Shanxi China, the province our daughter resides in, yesterday afternoon via train.  To say Maryn was a first-class-world-toddler traveler is an understatement.....she was AMAZING.  She walked and held tightly onto the stroller as we whisked through the crowds of people to make our way onto our train.  There were no tears until we got off of the train and she realized Chapman was not meeting us at the train station.  Poor girl has been anticipating the arrival of her baby sister  with each and every outing we have been on since first stepping onto the plane in Atlanta.  
It is Monday, August 29, 2016, and right now I can only imagine what our little one is experiencing.  Chapman is two now, her birthday was yesterday though I am positive it was just another day for her.  I picture a lot of hustling around to get Chapman and her friend, Harper, dressed and ready for their big day, a day when their whole lives will undoubtedly change forever.  I do wonder what they are being told, if anything, about their drive in a car for the first time; are the nannies transporting them familiar faces or just two officials whom they see periodically around their room?  
I pray she feels safe with us.
I pray she knows love and will allow us to love her too.