Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Zai jian (goodbye) China

Happy boy eating Mommy's birthday cake!

Checking out the cake...

Me in my glasses and PJ's with William and Grace, Wed. AM.

Becoming a family.

Today is my birthday and this morning I was able to have some quiet time to myself to think while I walked through the Qing Ping market to Shamian Island to finish up some final shopping. 7 years ago if someone would have told me that someday I'd be a mama to 3 (2 of them young children) at my age now, I would have said they were crazy. William is the most precious gift I could ever have today. What a journey it's been and so different from the one to Grace 5 years ago in so many ways. What an amazing, vibrant, rich culture that is China's gift to my children and to share with Dan and I. I tell people that I am part Chinese, I am because my children are. I am happy to be going home in some ways, but also very sad to leave the place of 2 of my childrens' birth and ethnic heritage. William will be welcomed to the United States by 2 Grandma's, 1 Grandpa, a big brother, Aunts and Uncles, a cousin Matthew and too many to count second cousins, a large black lab named Molly and a cat named Jack, many loving friends that we consider our family, and a neighborhood of little children...all waiting to meet him. Today we completed the final step before we can leave for home, the visa ceremony at the US consulate in Guangzhou. When our plane lands in Chicago on the afternoon of July 31, William becomes a US citizen. There have been so many experiences here that I haven't been able to write about. I have a great deal to say in a later post about China's orphans and some long conversations I had with Deena Van't Hul, the director of William's foster home. For all those waiting parents, keep the faith please. I know the wait is agonizing. The orphans of China need you so very much. They wait for their forever families. As for when will we be back to China, I can't say. Sometimes I think that our family will be complete now with a 3rd child, but I never say never. I am forever changed by this country, culture, the children and people of China. Goodbye beautiful China, you are always in our hearts. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers on Thursday July 31, for a safe and calm plane trip with a busy 2 yr. old and Miss Grace. With love and thanks, Gail

Tuesday-Guangzhou zoo and William

Tiger at the zoo.

Grace and Joshua(4 yr. old) that has been with his forever family for about 8 days.

Seals, we also saw dolphins. Grace loved them all.
Today Grace and I went by ourselves with the other family from our agency that we have met here to the Guangzhou zoo. Grace asked for some time alone with just me and that's what we did. Grace and Joshua loved seeing the animals and the seal and dolphin show. Dan and Will stayed back at the hotel and then went out to do a little shopping for diapers and snacks to take on the plane home. When I said goodbye to leave for the zoo, William became very upset and didn't want me to leave. This was a big first. When we returned I came into the room and he ran up to me, grabbed my legs and let me pick him up and kiss him! He was genuinely happy to see me! There has been a huge change...he sits on my lap for long periods of time and now I can carry him or pick him up when he falls down. After 9 days of being with us, he's warming up to me and showing me affection( he spontaneously gave me a kiss right before bedtime!). I'll admit I was very sad the first few days after we received him because he was rejecting me and going only to Dan. I changed my expectations pretty quickly about what this experience would be like, and kept hoping and praying he'd eventally allow his mama to love him and take care of him. I can't tell you how it makes me feel ...more than great if there's such a thing, immensely thankful and so proud of this little boy and how far he's come with the monumental changes in his life. God has given us this gift of William Michael.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Here are some pics of the Qing Ping market that we walk through everytime we go to Shamian Island. Grace has been quite interested in the small animals, turtles and fish. William Michael loves the fish. Today William had his medical exam on Shamian Island and his visa picture taken. He was not happy being examined by the physician. He weighs 13 kg or about 26 lbs. His cleft palate and lip repair were looked at but there was no comment made by the physician. He is a very healthy boy. Later in the afternoon we went to the jade and pearl market and shopped for pearls. The last time we were here we bought some jade items, this time we bought pearls for some gifts, for Grace(when she's older) and for me. The pearls here are amazing and there are so many to choose from. You pick what pearls you'd like and they hand string them very quickly right before your eyes! Tomorrow we are going to the zoo, finish up some shopping on Shamian Island and go out to dinner with another family that is here with our agency. They've adopted a 4 yr. old little boy with a repaired cleft lip and palate. He's doing quite well. 3 more sleeps until we leave for home! Our trip has gone very fast and we've enjoyed it so much.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A beautiful Sunday on Shamian Island

Grace having fun.
Busy boy.

Dan and Grace.

Sharing a fruit snack.

One of many bronze statues on the island.

Stroller parade.

Gail and Gracie.

Colonial architecture.

Quiet Shamian Island.

Today we walked with the kiddos in strollers over to Shamian Island, about a 20 minute walk. The walk was quite interesting as we passed through an authentic Chinese market that was at least 4 blocks long. We saw turtles, fish, lizards, dried and live scorpians, dried seahorses, hundreds of types of different mushrooms, spices, vegetables, small dogs and cats, birds of all types and even some chipmunks. I'll post pictures tomorrow of the market. We made our way across the bridge to Shamian Island. We were there last 5 years ago and it brought back wonderful memories of our trip adopting Grace. I love the colonial architecture, so I took many pictures, we saw the White Swan Hotel and looked at some of the shops there, did shopping in some of the local small stores and had William Michael's chop (stamp) made of his name. William took about an hour nap in the stroller and when he woke up we took all went to the playground to play. There's a Starbucks here now which is new, so of course we had to stop and have some cold drinks and enjoy the air conditioning. We met a family from Kansas with their 22 mo. old son, and another family from Tennesee with their baby girl. I will make an observation in that there seem to be less adoptive families here compared to 5 years ago. The people on the island are so friendly and we get a lot of attention with both of our children together. William has had an amazing day and I constantly have to remind myself that's he's only been with us for exactly 1 week. We are so blessed!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In Guangzhou now...

Coming into Guangzhou.
View outside our hotel room, looking toward Shamian Island and the Pearl River.

Such a handsome little boy.

William sucks his finger when he's tired.

Happy boy with his 'blankie.'

Sorry no post for yesterday, it was a very long day with traveling. William did well with the flight here from Fuzhou, we managed to keep him occupied for the almost 2 hours. He did have a big tantrum before getting on the plane but we got through it. He doesn't transition well which is to be expected...he's only 2 and he's been through so many changes in this week. He really is a happy boy, very busy and VERY active. Grace keeps up with him just fine. :) These are some pics of yesterday coming into Guangzhou and in our room last night. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Shifu (a gorgeous hotel), which is a little north of Shamian Island. Oh I will add that in the van on the way from the Guangzhou airport to our hotel, William sat on my lap, faced me and played with my mouth and nose. We made faces at each other and he even gave me a spontaneous kiss on the mouth! I had tears in my eyes after that one. He sat with me for about 30 minutes and we looked at all the cars and trucks passing us by. He loves cars. Slow and steady he is coming to me. Today we visit Shamian Island for some shopping!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Strong Will

Right before bed.

Grace standing by an incense burner.

West Lake which is in front of our hotel.

Mosaic wall of a Kindergarten.

Things are always on William's terms with me. He flirts, I flirt back. He pulls me in and pushes me away. When I think it's okay and engage him, sometimes it's okay and sometimes it's not. I've read many books about toddler adoption and now I'm smack in the middle of it all. Bonding and attachment is a dance and I'm not the one taking the lead. There are times that I'm sad that he's attaching first to Dan but I can wait, I'm a patient person. I know from visiting his foster home and meeting his family there that he was firmly attached to at least 2 women, the first one Deena when he was a baby and the second one Sha Yu the young woman who was his primary caregiver for the last year.
Today we packed because we are leaving for Guangzhou tomorrow morning, picked up William Michael's passport and did a little shopping. Fujian province is known for it's tea. I will be very sad tomorrow leaving Fuzhou, the place where our little boy was born. We will be back someday and take both Grace and William to the cities where they were born, but I know it will be quite awhile before that happens.

Saying goodbye to those who loved him first

William and primary caregiver, Sha Yu.

William Michael has lived for the past 2 years in the Hidden Treasures Foster Home, in a tiny village outside of Fuzhou. Today we had the great pleasure of visiting this place. I can't really describe what I just saw but I will try. Outside of Fuzhou is an area that is so poor there are no addresses - people just exist - in simple old buildings among spots of land no bigger than 100 ft x 100 ft where six people were "farming" vegetables to feed their families. I have seen poor but these were way beyond that. A concrete road about 1-2 ft wider than our car serpentined through this village. Our driver asked directions from locals to find our way to the "oasis". Imagine 2 people with 3 young children of their own relocating from Florida 4 years ago, to Fuzhou with no real destination other than to help the sickest and neediest children. I'm crying as I write this because there is so much emotion there - love and acceptance beyond belief or description. Children with cleft palates, cerebral palsy, heart conditions, it doesn't matter... all are loved and nurtured as Mike and Deena's own. It is simply beautiful. Mike and Deena Van't Hul started as volunteers at the Fuzhou Welfare Institute just helping get food or help the care givers (they weren't even allowed to hold the babies) and have ended up buying an old school which they have rehabbed magnificently into a structure that anyone in the USA would wish was their child's preschool or school. All with no government funding - only donations from individuals like you and I. Mike and Deena go to the Welfare Institutes and take the sickest babies - the ones with no hope who will likely die if they stay where they are - and bring them into their home. They have over 20 of these children and now they have one less because we have been blessed with William Michael.
The Hidden Treasures Foster Home
On their website William Michael is called 'Michael.'

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Playing with Daddy's hat.
Miss Grace standing by a small lake near the pagoda.

Sleeping Buddha.

Walkway to pagoda.

Beautiful pagoda.

Today we had a day all to ourselves, no official appointments. William Michael was up very early today. We went for a long walk after breakfast and found this beautiful pagoda, walked around a park that's just across from our hotel and took many pictures. The heat is oppressive and that is how it is in China in the summer. After that we took both kiddos swimming which they loved! I'll tell you some things about Will: he loves watermelon, bread, noodles, broccoli, and meat, he can count to 12!, speaks in 3-4 word sentences, is quite self confident, loves to swim, adores Grace and is now letting me pick him up if he falls down. Grace, Will and I have been playing a lot of 'chase' in the hallway...they chase me and I chase them. :) He's come so far in the 3 days we've been together.

Much progress

Brother and sister!
1000 year old Banyan tree.

Many fish.

Feeding those fish.

Grace and Echo our social worker, on a ride at the Bird Park. Grace adores her and so do we!

(It's Tuesday here)
First of all thank you for the comments, emails, thoughts and prayers for our family. We've had a good day. Some testing with Dan but that's to be expected. This AM we were in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the van to arrive because we were going to do some local sightseeing. William looked right at me(Dan was holding him), put his arms out and asked for me to hold him...I can't even describe what it felt like to hold him for the first time! He was so sweet and relaxed. When the van arrived he let me sit next to him for 45 minutes-I gave him some little crackers to eat and he seemed quite content. We arrived at the Fuzhou Botanical Gardens, saw a 1000 year old Banyan tree, fed many fish(Grace and William loved this!), and went to a Bird Park and saw all kinds of tropical birds. Many local people came up very close to us. I felt like a celebrity because 4 different families asked to take my picture with their children, our social worker told us they don't see many Western people in that part of Fuzhou. It was very sweet and the people so kind. William let me sit next to him on the return back to the hotel. Later after lunch and back in our rooms, he initiated 'hide and seek' with me over and over, probably 5 times. he let me tickle him(he is very ticklish), and engaging me more and more, making eye contact and playing when I ask him to. He's flirting with me. It's what I've been praying for and it's still on his terms and will be for a long time. I'm proud of our brave little boy, we've only had him for about 48 hours. I know I keep thanking everyone for your prayers and I can't say that enough, we so feel them at work.
And Miss Grace has been a shining star and amazing big sister!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Busy day and many changes

Today William Michael's adoption was registered and notarized in Fuzhou. We got in and out of both offices very quickly. After that we went to the police department to apply for his passport. We completed the morning with a trip to Walmart. It's been 5 years since I was in China and it's much more modern and westernized. If you haven't been to China before it's so different from the U.S. I think of it in a way as sensory overload- distinct smells, sights(many signs), sounds, so many people, cars, bikes and scooters.
Lots of changes, Grace has had a bit of jealousy sharing her daddy. William is doing some major testing which I fully expected. He's had some tantrums, pinching of Dan and me and saying no! loudly when he doesn't like something. Things are definitely on 'his terms' with us. Dan is the man still--he can carry him and console him (not me). I am allowed to change his diapers, and he accepts food and drinks from me, he does speak to me but ignores me at times when I speak to him. At the last 2 meals together as a family he 'fed' me watermelon off his fork many times. He initiated that himself. He does smile at me and engage me when he wants to. Hey at least he's not screaming every time I look at him...strong little boy with a strong personality. He's had so many changes in the last 24 hours and his world has turned completely upside down.
He's calling Dan 'Ba Ba' now or Daddy, me 'Mommy' still and said Grace's name for the first time. Our social worker has been immensely helpful with the challenging times and given us some great hints. Again thank you for your prayers, we are needing them right now and always appreciate them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


our son, William Michael Yousheng.
Well, it was a bit rough at the start with many tears on William's part when we first met him. When we walked in the conference room the little guy was already lying on the floor crying very hard. With the help of a small Lightning McQueen car I had with me and some M & M's the tears stopped. William bonded with Dan right away, which I wasn't surprised about. After only 3 hours with him we are seeing his personality already immerge, he's all boy, he's very polite...says 'please' and 'thank you.' He calls us Mommy and Daddy and is quite facinated with Grace. I'm so proud of Grace, all the attention has been on William and she's been patient and so sweet to her little brother. I would have more pictures but we've been pretty busy. All I can say is thank you for your prayers, I feel them at work. We are so grateful that he's part of our family now.
© Aging with Grace and strong Will
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