|There is nothing cuter than a tiny baby bottom stuck up in the air while sleeping|
|Ryan is the best daddy in the world!|
You can't tell in the picture above because his finger is in his mouth, but he had on a bow tie that coordinated with his suspenders. He looked so darn cute! As we walked down the sidewalk toward the consulate, hundreds of Chinese citizens were gathered in an attempt to also acquire a visa to enter the United States. I learned that this consulate processes ALL US visas for the entire country! There are certainly busy there! We walked right through the gate and stood in the line designated for American citizens. You are allowed to enter the consulate with very few items, and no cameras or cell phones are allowed, so I do not have pictures inside to share. It is a very neat building, and I'm glad Noah got to see it! We walked up to the second floor, took a number, and sat down while awaiting our turn. We were number 514, and within 10-15 minutes, we were called up to Window 9 where we handed over all of our required documents. Once the lady finished processing her pieces, we were allowed to sit back down. The man from Window 10 called up one member to represent the twelve families present, and we took an oath that everything we provided in our paperwork and through our interviews was correct to the best of our knowledge. Once that part was finished, I sat back down to wait a bit longer for the gentleman at Window 10 to call us back up for fingerprinting and the interview, which was just a couple questions about Tyson. After we completed that portion of the appointment, we were sent on our way! They kept Tyson's Chinese visa, and if all goes according to plan, we will receive it from our guides late tomorrow afternoon. So exciting! We celebrated our consulate appointment being completed with vanilla milkshakes for Ryan and Noah and a scoop of chocolate ice cream for me while waiting for all of the families to finish at the Consulate.
Several days ago, while Ryan was picking up our first order at Oggi's, he met a mom and a son she had just adopted. Ryan and this sweet boy connected quickly, and every time he sees Ryan, he gets a huge smile on his face! Although his adoption was processed through a different agency, he and his mom rode with us to the consulate together. Ryan and Noah were able to have a lot of quality time with him! He could not keep his hands out of Noah's hair. It was sweet! I share this picture because I want you to see the face of a precious son of the King who turned 14 years old yesterday. In China, this means that had his mother NOT pursued him for adoption, he would have reached the age of being no longer eligible for adoption. Let that sink in. This beautiful boy, in the picture above, the one who loves video games, swimming, and hanging out with people who care about him would never have a family, and there would be little hope for his future. Maybe he would have been allowed to stay at the orphanage to obtain an education there. Maybe they would have dropped him off in the street with a little money in his pocket, left to fend for himself. Maybe he would have gotten involved in a crime ring (75% of aged out orphans) or committed suicide (15% of aged-out orphans). Maybe he would have been part of 10% group who have a positive outcome. Thankfully we never have to find out because this beautiful boy was SEEN by a family who had just adopted 6 months ago. He was then PURSUED by this family. And now he will GO HOME to a forever family and have a chance at excellent medical care, a strong education, a chance to go to college, deep family relationships, healthy friendships, and a successful and lucrative career. He will have his own home, his own family someday. He will learn who Jesus is and what Jesus did for every single person in this world. He will get to see how God called a family to him and how they pushed through all barriers of fear, worry, selfishness, doubt, and superficiality in order to obey the calling that God put on their hearts. I truly believe that God calls SO MANY more people to adoption than the ones who follow through with it because He gave us a free will to make decisions on our own. He will not force us, but like He said to me on July 19, 2012, "This is what [He's] asking [us] to do." I will never, ever forget this 14 year old boy, and he will forever remind me of all the orphans in China who age out and never come home. Once again, please view sweet 10 year old Leo's picture and videos! He is so beautiful and has been waiting too long for a family, simply because he is a boy. It breaks my heart into pieces. I can't imagine finding out that he aged out come 2019 (click link). I cannot wait to see how God uses this precious boy in our lives. Will we adopt an aging out child someday? Time will tell!
We grabbed some KFC for lunch. Don't you love how the drinks are served in a bag here? They do not call it "take out" or "carry out" here. When you travel to China, call it "take away!" :) See that tiny dixie cup next to the bag? That is my serving on mashed potatoes and gravy. Love the portions here!
|A photo of my favorite KFC meal (I am SO SO SO ready to eat a big salad when we get home...or maybe 10.|
When Tyson woke up from his nap, Ryan and Noah were still swimming with the 14 year old boy I mentioned previously. I decided to show him several pictures and videos of our family at home. I wanted him to see what our house looked like, and more importantly, I wanted him to see several pictures of Liam and Tucker. I cannot wait for them to meet for the first time Thursday! I am hoping he will recognize their faces when we see them! I also showed Ty videos of
Once Ryan and Noah returned, we decided to go run some errands. Ty is showing glimpses of more courage, as he will let go of our hands and walk with us for small bits at a time. He still appears to feel more comfortable and secure in our arms or holding our hands, but I am proud of him for taking some brave steps forward.
|Tyson watching his reflection in The Garden Hotel elevator.|
One of our stops included grabbing some items from the grocery store. The store was packed!! My goodness. Ryan said, "Every housewife in China is in this store right now!" I thought maybe the women were all shopping before their husbands came home from work. I told Aron, our guide, how busy it was, and she said, "Oh don't shop on Tuesday or Wednesday! That is double point day and all the housewives are out shopping!" HAHAHAHAHA!!! Won't make that mistake again! We were mostly there to buy 3 huge packages of those circle rice crackers for Tyson for our flight home. Not sure if we've made this clear or not, but "Ty-Ty love cracker" (make sure you say it in our best caveman voice)!! I stood in the check out line for, no joke, 30 minutes. In the United States, we have 27 lines at the grocery store to check out, and usually they have like 6 open. You've shopped with your children, things are barely holding together, and then you had the dreaded wait at the check out. Is this your experience, too? Well, turns out, the experience is exactly the same in China except all 27 lanes are open. It is CA-RA-ZY. Grocery shopping is universally not fun! Haha! For those of you traveling to China soon, make sure you stand super duper close to the person in front of you when in line. If you leave even 2 inches between you, someone will step in front of you. We learned during our first trip to China. So important to know those simple cultural differences to make your traveling easier.
I'm pretty sure a women 6 people ahead of me bought 20 different items and paid for each individual one with her credit card. She kept taking receipt after receipt, signing them, and giving them back. It happened so many times that I honestly thought there was a glitch in the matrix, or I was possibly experiencing my own personal Groundhog Day. It's funny, but I'm really not kidding! I blinked my eyes and thought maybe I was losing my mind. Ryan was walking Tyson around outside the store because it was SO overwhelming there, and Noah stayed with me. He was super clingy, holding onto me and resting his head on my side. When I asked him if he was ok, he said, "I feel sad." While standing in the most crowded grocery store I've ever experienced, homesickness hit my sweet boy. He made it a day longer than me, and I told him I was so proud of him! Noah has really loved our time in China, but sometimes you just miss your brothers, your home, and all that is familiar. I couldn't be more proud of Noah than I've been on this trip. It was such a good choice to bring him this time! Toward the end of our time waiting, a taller guy behind me struck up a conversation with us. Hysan was born in Hong Kong, so it was fun to share our adventures there with him. He loved hearing about our visit to The Peak, our time on the Big Bus Tour, our ride on the Star Ferry, and our time at Kam Wah Cafe eating don tots and pineapple bread. He is the manager of Guest Services at the Crown Plaza Hotel at just 23 years old (I have his card), and he has lived in several different parts of the world for a time, including the US. Meeting him made our time in line much more enjoyable!
|Noah is oh so happy with his chicken nuggets|
After we finished running errands, we grabbed some dinner to "take away." We were scheduled for a Pearl River Boat Cruise and needed to meet our guide in the lobby at 5:30 p.m. Ryan and I agreed that there was no need for Tyson to go on the boat cruise. Things had been going so well, and we didn't want to overwhelm him. During our trip with Tucker, the boat was SO crowded, and if Tyson became really upset, we didn't want to get stuck on a 90 minute boat ride. They went back to the hotel room and played on the floor together while Noah and I had a date.
Before getting on the boat, Noah said he needed to use the restroom. We had our first squatty potty experience together, in a bathroom stall that was maybe 3 feet by 3 feet. I am laughing as I remember that adventure, but my lips will remain sealed. What happens in squatty potty stays in squatty potty!
|Thanks to one of our friends in the travel group, we were able to snap a quick picture in front of this beautiful picture.|
We were assigned to Table 8 with a mom in our group and her daughter. I share this picture for two reasons. First of all, this woman is a teacher who works with visually impaired children. Her knowledge, resources, experience, and natural gifts have led her to adopt two visually impaired children! I love that so much. I love how our experience with cleft lip led us to China, which led us to Tucker, and now we are back to adopt our newest son with CL/CP. God has put certain experiences in your life, and He has given you natural gifts. Is it possible that those might be preparing you for a child who is waiting somewhere in the US or Internationally? Did you parent a child with a heart condition, and now your heart is more open to adopting a child with heart disease? Are you a nurse who works with orthopedic surgeons? Maybe your knowledge and experience helps you feel more prepared to parent a child with limb differences. Those gifts might just be leading you to a child who is waiting for a family.
|I love this kid SO much!|
I enjoyed a piece of light cake and some hot tea while Noah nibbled on his cake and some corn on the cob. He has a loose tooth, so I couldn't help but laugh each time he tried to take a bite! He brought that apple juice on the boat with us. I asked if I could have a drink, and he said, "Sure." While I was taking a swig he said, "I probably should have warned you that you have stuff in there to chew." I almost spit it out as chunks of pulp (I think) poured into my mouth. Hahaha! I like my juice liquid only. Live and learn I suppose.
|Noah snapped a quick picture of me on top of the boat.|
|A picture of us with the Canton Tower in the background|
|Canton Tower lighting up the night's sky|
|Selfie with Noah|
|Noah and me posing with his ballon animal.|
When we were upstairs on the roof of the boat taking pictures, I saw this young kid and did a double take. In person, he looked SO much like my Tucker but grown up! Tyson looks a lot like the men in his province, but when we were in Chongqing adopting Tuck, I didn't see his face reflected in the men around us. You could really see it when this kid smiled! Our guide translated for me, and I showed him a picture of Tucker. His eyes got really big! He agreed that Tucker's picture looks very much like his picture as a child. We took some more pictures, and he made sure to take a picture of Tucker on on my phone. It was a fun encounter!
A juggling act took place with 20 minutes left on our boat ride. Noah enjoyed it! Oh China, I will miss you!
Noah has spent almost every minute of our time here with Ryan, Tyson, and me. This was one of the only times he got to just be a kid and play with another boy. They were having fun sword fighting with their balloon dogs. I loved seeing him laugh and just let loose with this boy. I think it was God's gift to him after missing his brothers and feeling homesick.
The boat tour ended, and Aron took one last picture of us together. It was such a special night to share together! I mean, how many 7 year old boys get to ride on a Pearl River Boat Cruise? This was our last official tour with our group and a perfect ending for our time here.
Aron has been such a wonderful light here in China! I have loved spending this past week with her and Rebecca, who I hope to grab a picture with today (Wednesday). She has helped make this trip to China so enjoyable, and we are so grateful for the work she does! While we are at home, waiting to bring our children home, Aron is working on the China side, helping families move through the process. She is a gift to adoptive families!!
When we got back to our hotel room, Tyson was just getting ready for bed, and Ryan was on a conference call for work. I scooped my sweet baby in my arms, and he snuggled right in, quickly accepting my presence and love. I cannot tell you how much that meant to this momma's heart. I had been away for a few hours, and he was quickly happy to let me snuggle him to sleep. This is a gift! I've done nothing to deserve it, and yet, the Father has made a way. After Tyson was fast asleep, I went back out to the living room and noticed a cake sitting on the table. Someone from the hotel sent it to us, along with a notecard apologizing for the noise from the construction. It was a nice gesture, as the noise has definitely been frustrating at times. It was beautiful and covered with whip cream, so we dove right in. We took our first bite, and it was all cool whip. We took a second bite, the texture was still like cool whip. We realized that there was a small, 1 cm cake layer at the very bottom, and the rest was the texture of cool whip. We got so slap happy eating that cool whip cake! See the video below for some late night silliness.
Today was such a special day, and I found myself watching out the windows of our van a bit more, taking in all the sights. I have such great love for China. She has given me two of my precious sons. I will forever have a place in my heart for this country and look forward to returning with Ryan and all of our sons someday together.