Friday, June 29, 2012

Extra Chromosomes and Reverse Culture Shock

"Can I get an Amen?"...or a Peace Out?  Or "I am two."

 So we are in the final stages of moving back to America.  Elisabeth and I leave in just over a week and will land in the San Francisco area.  Paul flies a few days later as he has some things to finish up.  We are keeping our little guy with us until the very end then he will go to his ayi for about a year...we hope no longer.
It is excruciating to leave him but we do have great peace about his future.  That makes all the difference.
  After landing in the US,we will spend some time with family.  Then Elisabeth will fly up to Portland to spend two weeks a teen re-entry camp with kids from all over the world.  Paul and I will go to Central California to spend about a week at a re-entry de-brief.  Then we will drive up to our new city just over the river from Portland and begin to weave a new life.
   So why re-entry camps and de-briefs?  Well, for many reasons. There is no way you can live in another country and come back the same.  You come to another country anticipating change.  But when you go back, you are going to a place that is the same, yet different.  There are issues of grief and loss to deal with.      For us, we are leaving a place that we love, leaving a child that we love and getting ready to be empty nesters.  Plus, even though we are from the West Coast, before coming to China we lived in the MidWest for 12 years.  All huge changes.  Sometimes things that feel familiar can be stressful-the internet makes the world smaller but there are still movies, TV shows, cultural things that we don't know about.  We are coming back in an election year....and not looking forward to all that negatives advertising  and issues that goes with that!
  China is the third country that we have lived in.  We lived in Germany for a few years in the1980's. It was magic- no kids, two income and no debt.  We traveled, worked and just really enjoyed our time there.  We also lived in the deep South- outside of Savannah, Georgia.  That was our hardest cultural adaptation- so close but not quite the same as where we lived in California.  That sense of the familiar but not quite familiar can be disorienting.
  We came back from Germany with two paychecks and no jobs.  Paul went back to school and I went to work.  Now we are coming back with a kid in college, financial obligations and all that comes with adulthood.  We will need to buy a car...and at some point another car.  It feels massively expensive to come back to the US.  Fortunately we have a house to stay in until we find another.  That is a huge relief.
  So re-entry programs help you deal with loss, grief and re-adaptation.  We need to grieve well so that we can move on.  It's an emotional time for us.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The foster families came back.

A few months ago  I hosted the foster care get-together for the foster moms and dads.  It was a relatively small gathering and very enjoyable.  So even though we are emptying out our apartment, I agreed to host another gathering.
This time, about 30 or more people gathered-children and adult.  We had foster moms, foster dads, foster kids, caregivers and a few more people.  The children played, the adults talked and prayed.  It was a good morning.  It's amazing to see these families break out of cultural and social norms to care for these children.  The concept of blood and family is strong here- caring for someone outside of that circle is rare.  The true love of these families for truly high need children is amazing to see.  Many of these children will not be adopted as their medical issues are high.  They need families like these to foster them in order to live and thrive.

Caregiver to child ration was pretty good!

The heartbreaking-this little guy has undefined issues...and even an undefined age.

I think she has cerebral palsy.

These two littel guys are so sweet-one handed out candy and the other played with trains all morning.

Some have autism.

Some were exhausted!

This liitle guy was  happy to have a lollipop!

This liittle guy is really dexterous despite hand malformations!

The "I like attention kid!"

Dr. Eva talked.

The moms listened to other's stories.

Our ayi with our little guy, our foster care liaison  and a German nurse who has fostered three children.

This woman talked about the amazing changes in her family that having a foster child in her  has brought about.

Lots of listening.

Loving feeding of a new guy recently brought to an orphanage in another city.  He has cerebral palsy.

The child care giver and another little cutie with Down Syndrome.

Lot' of interaction with the caregivers.

Isn't he a doll?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scenes from good-byes

Our friends took us out for dinner last night.  Some of our Columbia friends may recognize the woman second from the end Paul's left.

We got gifts of traditional DongBei fabric.

Our friend, Hongwen.  We have known her since about 2002!

The fish with imaginative eyes.

Shrimp and mushrooms and more.

Jiaozi with orange skins (from carrots)

Rick Warren came to China again and took a call at our house.

We took the little guy on a walk by the river near our house.  We ran into a friend who took this picture  I love it!  I can't tell you how many startled looks we get in public when we are out with him.  People don't know if he is ours, adopted,  or our grandchild.  It's even funnier when Elisabeth is with us as people can't figure out if maybe she is the mother!

Again with his beloved ayi-can you see the love between them?

Paul just took the HSK- Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi.  This woman was his teacher and tutor.  She was also my speaking teacher when I was at Dong Bei Da Xue.  She is fantastic.

Finally- the boxes.  The shipping company sent three men to drop off 14 empty boxes and to confirm that we did not have an elevator in our building. We live on the sixth floor of our six floor building.  You need seven floors for an elevator.  So we do a lot of stairs.
After the boxes were packed, they sent one man back for the boxes.  One- for 14 fully packed 30 kg boxes.  After some phone calling, another guy came and the boxes went off to Qingdao to get on the boat! 
We are hoping they will join us in the US in about 50 days.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

For this child I prayed.

When Elisabeth was about three, I was reading her the story of Hannah taking Samuel up to the temple.  If you don't know the story (found in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel 1:1 - 2: 10), Hannah suffers through many years of childlessness.  She prays and promises God that she would dedicate a child to Him if he would just give her a child.  She conceives and has Samuel.  She keeps him for three years and then brought him to the temple to be brought up by Eli the priest....not exactly a model parent.
As I read this story to Elisabeth, I suddenly understood exactly what Hannah had done...she brought her three year old to the temple to be brought up by a less than stellar parent...and she would only see him once a year.  Her three year old.
My heart clutched as I looked at my three year old....could I trust God with her life?  Could I do what Hannah had done?
Now my three year old is 18 and is less than 100 days away from starting college, as she likes to remind me. Can I trust God with her life?  Can I even trust that she will get out of bed on time to make it to her first class at 9:30?  Can I trust that she will make it to the cafeteria to eat?  That she will study?  Make it to church on Sunday?  Grow in her walk with the Lord?  Can I trust that God will be faithful to matter what?

Now we have our little guy.  We have two weeks left with him. The tears are flowing pretty often for me.  Can we trust God with his future?  He is two and a half...and wonderfully alive.   If his adoptability status hadn't changed and his future was to be in an institution rather than with a family, would I still trust God and say that He is good?  I want to say with Habbakuk 

Though the fig tree does not bud
                                    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails

    and the fields produce no food, 

though there are no sheep in the pen

    and no cattle in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 

    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habbakuk 3: 17 - 18

I want to say this...but it would be a struggle.

If there is any thing that I know about God, it is that He is faithful and that His faithfulness depends on His character, not mine.  Despite my lack of faith that our little  guy could ever be adopted, despite anxiety about our daughter going away to college...He is faithful.

I can say this with Isaiah

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel: 
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, 
    I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. 
For I am the Lord your God, 
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; 
Isaiah 43. 1 -3

I believe that God will be with them...both of them for the rest of their days. For these children,  I prayed.

When our little guy first came to our home, we used to sing this over him. 

He is trustworthy...and mighty to save.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On boxes and stuff.

We are deep in moving mode now.  Most of our furniture has been sold and making its way to new homes.  Our boxes from Seven Seas World Wide shipping have arrived and we are determining what goes in them and what doesn't.  Apparently Chinese books have great priority.  Our plane tickets are purchased, our de-brief plans are confirmed, and we have a house to stay in for a while.  I am uploading resumes and Paul is preparing for his new position.  We are saying good-bye to someone almost every day and that is very, very hard.

Our little guy is getting ready to go to stay with his ayi.  Of course he has no idea what that means and it is tearing us up.  We are so thankful that we are leaving here with his future settled.  It gives us great peace to know that he has a  secure future ahead of him.
China has no official foster care system.  Foster care is done through orphanages or charitable organizations. We have received no renumeration for our care for him-it has come from our own resources and the kindness of people in our local community.
Currently there are no funds available in our foster care charity to pay our Chinese helper to care for our little guy for the year or so until his family arrives.  It's not a high salary by any means but his expenses and her salary add up to too much for us to carry alone. People often think that China is cheap and in some ways it is.  But inflation is rampant and costs are going up.  Diapers alone are about $50.00 a month.
So many people have loved and cared for our sweet baby and we are so thankful.  Would you consider helping us care for him until his family comes?  Small amounts add up to big amounts.
You can click on the paypal link below and I can guarantee that 100% of what is given will go to his care.  It's hard for us to ask, but we need to be sure he is well cared for.  Thank you so much.
If paypal isn't a good way for you to donate, e-mail me at the e-mail in my profile and I will give you another way to give.  Thanks!

If the link doesn't work,  my paypal is  Thanks!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Toddler Wrangling.

Paul had to travel to another country for a few days so we sent the little guy to his ayi's while he was gone.  That gave me an opportunity to sort through some things and get a little break.  He is a super fun little guy but  six days of solo care would have been too much for me.
So we got him back yesterday, sweet as ever.  Here was his day today.

Up at 6 AM for breakfast of scrambled eggs.  Wait until big sister wakes up so he could bug her.

Trying to prepare for her tutoring job with an audience.

But the book has to go up high.

Trying to check e-mail...if you look at her mouth you an see she is saying "Noooo'

Computer out of danger...he is obsessed with trying to get the computer.

He crawls all over the place. See his cute haircut?


Getting up on the couch-this is such major progress for this little guy!

Talking on the phone to his friend, the recording that says "please hang up and dial again."

A little break to read the daily devotional "My Utmost for His Highest."

Break with his favorite blanket and a little texting with my cell phone.

Now for some magazine reading/ripping.

Down off the bed...

Off down the hall.

Lunch-noodles, cherry tomatoes, banana and peanut butter smoothie.

Looking at his cards.

3 hour nap!  Yay for both of us!  He is a deep and hard sleeper.  We have changed his diapers while he has been asleep and he doesn't wake up.

Practicing for soccer by kicking paper.

Off to the market with Mama and Baba. Yes, we do walk through traffic!  It's the only way.

His favorite gate guards- they love him too.

Jie Jie was forced into hard labor- she had to make crumb muffins to go with the chicken and salad  for dinner.  Please notice the C and H brown sugar- heaven!

A little crying time with Baba since he closed a door on his hand.  It may sound strange but the crying because of pain is a huge step for him and we really make a big deal of comforting him when he cries.  It's common for children from orphanages to not cry when they are hurt as there isn't always someone to comfort them.  He needs to learn that crying is the right response for distress.

Brushing his teeth before bed.

A little milk and his bunny and then out like a light at 7 PM.