I meant to post last night, but fell asleep while Ralph was uploading photos, so here I am this morning remembering what a great day yesterday was and knowing that today will be even better. Ralph is out for a run with another dad and the kids are sleeping soundly. Yesterday, things just clicked - not sure how to explain what that means, other than maybe Joshua feels comfortable knowing we are his forever family now. Joshua is interacting more with Makena, he is playing with us and smiling and laughing more and the things that used to bother him and make him cry seem to be a little easier on him now. Our favorite part of the day has become right after the kids have had a bath and before they go to bed. We sit Joshua in bed with us and Makena and read some books. He loves to play with the books while we read and last night he was rolling around the bed, rolling all over the Makena (to her, "Hey!") and opening and closing all of the books. They both fell asleep easily after a busy day and I looked out our window at the amazing view - all of the lights, the boats the night sky - and just smiled at the wonder of it all. It had been a magical day.
We have more of a busy schedule here and yesterday was an early morning. We went across the street to a little store where they take the kids Visa photos. After that it was a short walk to the medical clinic to get Joshua checked out. They have a special section of the clinic just for adoptive families and we recognized some of the doctors that checked out Makena when we were here last. There was some paperwork to be filled out and then the fun began. There are three separate areas the kids go through - the ear, nose and throat check, the height, weight and temperature check and the general medical check. Joshua didn't really like the tongue depressor in his mouth or the ear check, but he did great with pretty much everything else. Some of the kids just screamed, which I think unnerved him more than anything. He came out with a clean bill of health and then we were back to the hotel for a paperwork meeting with Holt. Ralph stayed with the kids while I went to the meeting. He is such a great dad. Watching him with the kids is the most amazing thing. He is so relaxed and comfortable and he cracks them both up.
At the paperwork meeting, Holt went over all of the documents that we need for the consulate step by step (Holt is an incredible agency) and we placed everything that they need into a pink folder which the Holt reps will take over this morning. It is always a relief knowing that we brought all of the correct documents and have everything that we need for the appointment. One missing thing or something filled out incorrectly could really throw everything off, but we were all set.
Holt actually has an office in the hotel and it is a really cool set up. They have an area where you can drop items off for use by other families if it is something you didn't use or don't need - things like formula, cereal, clothes, strollers, diapers, etc. In turn, you can also take anything that you need. They have photos of adoptive families and children all over the place and they have these great photos of Harry and Bertha Holt (who founded the agency) back in the 40's or 50's with the children they brought back from Korea. I'll see if I can get a photo of some of them and post them here - to me, it is just really amazing to think that this is what really paved the way for International adoption and what it is today.
Went for a quick bite of lunch after the meeting - there is a little restaurant called Lucy's here that serves quite a bit of American fare. The kids had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - Joshua actually spit out most of his. I guess we may have finally found something that he doesn't like! But the french fries that they came with were a big hit! Aahh, a chip off the old block!
After lunch we stopped at one of the stores to pick up traditional Chinese outfits for the kids. Makena picked out a beautiful dress and we bought a little pantsuit for Joshua. They looked so darn adorable!! We had the famous red couch photo in the afternoon - not sure how that got started, but all families take a group photo on the red couches that are on the 2nd floor seating area of the hotel. It is quite a feat getting all of the kids to sit there while everyone takes photos. This time, they had a professional photographer taking a picture too (the same guy from the little store that took the visa photos) - felt a little sorry for him trying to get photos as all of the parents were crowded around trying to get their pictures too.
The kids were done after that and we came back for a nice long nap. Had dinner (Lucy's again - we really miss American food) with some of the other families in the group and afterwards the kids played in a courtyard area. It was just so fun to see all of the kids running around (well, Joshua waddles more than runs at this point) playing together and having a great time. We have met some really wonderful families here. Will and Debbie are from Arizona and they are bringing home their daughter Emily, who is just a week older than Joshua. Amazing story - I had met them when I took Makena to Legoland when we were on a business trip a few years ago. They said they were starting the process to adopt from China through Holt. We exchanged numbers, but lost them and got in touch earlier this year again through Holt. When we got back in touch, we had both just received our referrals and have ended up traveling at the same time to bring our kids home. Steve and Bev are from Hawaii and are bringing home their son Caleb, who is 2 1/2. Turns out their room is right across the hall from ours. Ralph and Steve were the early birds who went out for a run at 6am. Both such wonderful couples that we hope we will stay in touch with.
We stopped at one of the stores on the way back from dinner to try and find another outfit for Joshua - still trying to find things to fit his little waist. One thing we have found - there are way more girls clothes than boys clothes available here. Shopping here with Ralph is hilarious. The workers just love him. I'll find something I want to buy and ask the price, then Ralph suddenly appears and starts to bargain ("too much, too much!", he'll say) You never pay the first price they give you here - you can always bargain. We ended up getting an outfit for Joshua and Bev got an outfit for Caleb for 60 yuan, which is about $8 total for two outfits. Not bad, I think.
Makena likes to pat Joshua on the head. Joshua likes to be flipped upside-down. Makena loves using her Chinese words ("Ni hao - hello, Zhai jin - goodbye, and xie xie - thank you"). Joshua laughs when we play, "I'm going to get you" and chase him down. Our kids are beautiful and amazing children of God and we are so blessed to be their parents.
Well, sorry for my long, long posts - by now you can likely tell the difference between when Ralph writes - very brief and to the point, and when I write - probably way more detail than you are all interested in knowing. But thanks for reading and following us on our journey. We are almost home! Will post again tonight.....before I fall asleep :)