reflections on the first two weeks home

And here we are, having logged two weeks and two days home...just as long as we were gone.  

up early that first morning...and discovering that he did in fact like blueberries
 That first morning I heard the faintest little footsteps in the hallway around 6am.  All I wanted to do was roll over and try to chase the elusive sleep jet lag was stealing from me, but I considered that if others in the family were still sleeping, someone had to take one for the team and keep Nicholas out of trouble.  It turned out to be a sweet morning with him discovering more of the playroom and that he did indeed like blueberries.

this build a truck has seen many construction supervisors

 As the morning wore on other faces began to emerge from their state of slumber.  Natalie was "oh so happy" to have a swinging buddy!

 My sister had stayed the night in a hotel down the road and did a bit more grocery shopping to top off what friends had stocked our fridge and pantry with before we got home.  She also did all five loads of our "China laundry" and prepared us a NC BBQ dinner before heading back home.

nerf guns seem to bridge language barriers
"grandma's boys"

Much of the first week was a blur if I'm going to be perfectly honest.

someone had a "case of the mondays"...or maybe it was just jet lag catching up with him
 I have no idea how my kids did it, but they attended school AND their first week of swim practice for our summer league team.  Of course all of us were in bed and sound asleep by 8:15 at the latest.

That first day was hard for Nicholas.  We were able to tell him in Mandarin that his siblings were going to school and they would be back in six hours, but he was every melancholy...I'm not sure he trusted us.  He slept a good bit that day and we did a good bit of unpacking (though I still have a small suitcase full of souvenirs yet to deal with).  Let me tell you about that smile when his siblings got home that fist day...

eyes on the prize

Our little guy was giving American food (that so many of our friends were kind enough to bring to us as we came out of the fog) a good try, but some things just weren't hitting on much.  Therefore Ian and I decided that a "field trip" to our large Asian market on Tuesday of that first week was in order.  We were trying to find a few things he had enjoyed on the breakfast buffet at the Marriott (oh China Hotel breakfast buffet I miss thee so!).  As we walked the aisles he made it VERY CLEAR that he wanted a can of fried dace with salted black beans.  And then when we went to the food counter to get BBQ pork baozi, he refused one and insisted on eating his fish instead.

It was sorta a "because China" moment and we popped the can and let him go to town.

i should have taken a picture of the bones after he cleaned them...
From there our days fell into a routine.  Jet lag had everyone up at the crack of dawn, so there was plenty of time for a morning Beyblade battle before the older set left for school.  Ian, Nicholas and I played games, took walks, and made a few quick ventures to places within our community.

Thankfully Ian was also able to help break the ice between Nicholas and Amber, now mostly known as "Xiǎo gǒu" (little dog). At first it looked like one or the other was going to have to go, but finally there was a breakthrough and Nicholas was willing to touch her...though not look at her at the same time just yet.

Folks have asked how the other kids are doing with him.  Overall they ADORE him.  Part of it may well be his tiny size.  I'm pulling a blank at his height, but in the stair steps when you line them up in age order, he is significantly shorter than his "twin" Nat (older by a mere four months) and weighing in at 35.2 pounds, he's super easy to heft around...or sit on your lap and look at books together.

Ian stayed home with us the first Monday-Thursday and gave himself a "soft re-entry" to work on Friday.  That left Nicholas and I walking home from school drop off with just Xiǎo gǒu, but at least they had become friends. And I learned that if we go at a pace slower than the one I'm used to, Nicholas will happily walk if he can hold the leash.

It was a beautiful no humidity morning, so we met a friend and her twins (who are year rounders that were tracked out) at a nearby park where Nicholas enjoyed both the playground and the soccer field.  He enjoyed kicking around for a while even if he did tire often.

That first Friday we got back to our usual routine of Friday movie night.  Turns out this kid LOVES Darke County popcorn and it made my heart happy to watch him and his five siblings eat it out of my grandma's popcorn bowls.

Saturday morning we took it slow.  The kids had their cartoon time.

my couch is almost as full as my heart
They did some Zoob construction.

A ninja was about...

...protecting his princesses.

A mountain of pancakes were made and consumed.

And then we headed to the pool as a family.  While the water is still cold for him to stay in long, he was THRILLED to realize he can touch the bottom in the shallow end of our neighborhood pool.  Thankfully kid #6 is also a water lover...we were nervous that he wasn't going to be a fan.  That would have made for a LONG summer.  As soon as he gets a bit more language he'll jump in on the swim team as one of the beginners.

Over the weekend Nicholas was introduced to friends that are like family as we hosted a cookout.  He was outside playing touch football in the yard along with the boys as if he'd always been here.  We chilled at home and visited an area science museum to play outside in the treehouse/creek area and the mist.

Finally on the 30th we went for his initial cardio appointment.  It wasn't good news per se, but it wasn't bad news either.  Mostly just confirming that indeed his heart defect is what it was believed to be, though the reason his heart functions the way it does was slightly different than what was suspected.  Our next step is a heart cath to determine pulmonary hypertension levels and then we'll see which road to take next.  The ultimate hope is that he will be a candidate for an advanced palliative surgery, but we'll have to see if he needs some further intervention before that.

it was obvious this was not his first echo rodeo...
 As far as how things are going?  Honest, it's like a dream.  With seven years of orphanage living under his belt, we expected bonding and adjustment to be a much rougher ride.  As we've done in the past, we braced ourselves for the worst (I've read and re-read The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis so many times I could quote a good bit of it) and hoped for the best.
Truly, in this department I'll say that it is better than the best we hoped for.  He knows who is family and is only affectionate with us and really only interacts with people that we introduce him to as friends.
And speaking of he's not quite ready to join swim team practice just yet, he's making the rounds with kids at the pool while his siblings are swimming.  He loves to play games, is good at sharing, and is in general just a splendid kid.

rubik's race is a GREAT language necessary
 There's much more to say, but this little one is keeping me BUSY!  Kinda like a toddler getting himself into mischief when I take my focus off of him too long.  His morning cartoon in Mandarin (we're hoping that by watching he won't lose his native language completely) is almost over and I've got a kid to chase!

our radio flyer trike is seeing some new action these days!


Wǒmen zàijiā!

Nicholas had long been in our hearts...for Ian and I since last March when we first saw his information, for the kids since last Mother's Day when we told them about him...and therefore  on our van family.  It was therefore a must to show him everyone was represented on the back of our Transit.  His smile of understanding was precious as we pointed out Daddy, Mama, each of his siblings and then himself.

Next came the getting settled into the confinement of his car seat.  Thankfully while there had been no seatbelts available in China as we rode around the cities, he didn't protest the sudden addition of restraints and rode happily home.

Can't tell you how wonderful it was to pull in our driveway and announce "Wǒmen zàijiā" (we're home)! Added to the joy of arriving home after so long were welcome signs and a cooler which held our breakfast (36 eggs, plenty of fresh fruit and assorted bagels with cream cheese).

Nicholas happily followed his siblings in the front door.

And didn't manage to get very far once he saw the playroom.

Legos...containers of building

And so as tired as we were we let him explore for a bit.
After all, you only arrive home for the first time once...

We let him open (and thankfully put away) nearly every container on the shelves before we managed to distract his attention enough to head upstairs and see his room.  Repeat awe and wonder when he saw the boys' Beyblade collection...

It was a late night after a LONG day, but it was worth the additional 30 minutes of awake time to watch him explore his new home.


the journey home

Our time in China was far exceeded our expectations.  We grew by one, enjoyed cultural highlights, loved seeing their birth country through the eyes of our children, and benefitted from the company of two loving grandparents.

We truly hated for the trip to end.  For all its frustrating parts and occasional weirdness, we love being in the land our children come from and would probably visit more if it weren't for the cost and time involved in flying there.

The time involved...the ONLY reason we were the sole folks in the lobby of the China Hotel at 4:10am on Saturday morning (Friday afternoon at 4:10 *home* time) waiting for our van driver to take us to the Hong Kong border.

while this next picture is out of sequence, I just had to show the front/back of our awesome team M8 shirts designed for us by my talented friend Melissa.  If you can dream it, she can create it on a variety of mediums not limited to shirts.  
check her out at Ridge Farm Designs!
did i mention that this is the softest, MOST comfy shirt I've ever owned? 

Our driver was a *wee* bit tired and was giving all the classic signs of struggling to stay awake.  That meant that both Ian and I (he sitting in the front seat beside the driver and me right behind the driver) were on full vigilant duty to react if he dozed off.  Most stressful two hours I spent in the country...

Finally we arrived at the border, piled out of the large van and then into two smaller vans which would actually drive us across the border and then take us to the airport.  So four hours after we left our hotel in Guangzhou, we were zipping through the Hong Kong airport looking for our gate.

After a 15+ minute walk...yes, that airport is HUGE...we found a section of seats and made ourselves comfortable as we waited to board our long haul flight.

Before we knew it we were getting settled in for the 15+ HOUR flight.  (All told it ended up being something like 15 hours 12 minutes in the air.  And yes, it felt that long and maybe longer).

In cattle class the seats were configured 3/3/3, not exactly perfect for our party of 10.  We worked it out with my Irish triplets in a center section and I had "the wee ones."

Grant had the luxury of siting by himself and even sitting next to an empty one to tap him to fix their screen or have to go to the bathroom.  I may have been a bit jealous of that fact...

That left Ian, Daniel and Mom to their little pod.

We watched movies.
We watched TV.
We played video games.
We read books.
We did sticker books.
And when that failed to entertain us, we slept.

For the record I was SO JEALOUS of my new son and his tiny shapeshifter abilities to fold in half and sleep in that seat.  Because for whatever reason I just couldn't get comfortable and had a really difficult time staying asleep when I did finally doze off...probably because of the whiplash I was giving myself as my head jerked about.

After what seemed something like eternity plus a day...honest, you'd think after seven trips back and forth I'd be a bit better of a flyer...we finally landed.  Some of us were even still smiling.

We paused for a second as we deplaned (which wasn't a big deal...we weren't holding anyone up.  We were the last ones off as we had to stop for a barf bag fill up.  Dramamine can only last so long...)

 to commemorate that Nicholas became a US citizen in Newark.  While I wish inwardly that there was a direct flight from China to NC so his immigration Visa would be stamped in our home state, one other of his siblings also achieved citizenship in Newark, and citizenship is citizenship.

I carried my sweet boy down the long hallway to immigration check where our family waited in the visitors line with our Chinese citizen family member instead of going through the returning US citizens line.

Our immigration officer welcomed us home, asked a few questions about our adoption process, offered congratulations and then sent us on our way to have Nicholas' documents checked and collected.

Before long we were reunited with Mom and Grant and made our way down to our gate for the final leg of our trip where my son once again made me jealous with his ability to get comfortable and sleep through anything.

Three of his siblings did the same.

And then finally we were in the air.

This time I wasn't interested in slowing down...

I knew that we had quite the crew waiting for us on the outside.

This is my sister and her kids plus most of our "Sunday family adoption fellowship group" that met for about five years plus one other local adoptive family we've become friends with.  
And let me tell you that when you're tired out of your mind and have been missing home, there's not much of a sweeter sight than your big kids running ahead and being embraced by some of their closest friends.

We chatted a bit, men went down with Ian to retrieve our luggage and then we were noisily escorted to our van by folks we love.  It was an awesome welcome home!

Wordless Wednesday {what's your sign?}

May 18, 2017
Yuntai Gardens