Journey to China

This blog documents the Spitlers' progress towards the adoption of Xia Ping He (Noah Spitler) from the PR China. It also documents Noah's medical process in pursuit of a total repair to his CHD (congenital heart defect).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Noah Pinghe the American

We are in Chicago!

The flight from Hong Kong went well. Our seats worked out well- the gate
agent swapped them around so we had 2 and 3 together.

Noah enjoyed his first flight; made a few remarks about us flying and
seeing clouds; then closed the window shade and went back to his Nintendo.

After our first meal, Robin took the seat beside Noah's and I sat with the
girls. Robin said Noah slept well, but did a lot of kicking and squirming,
so I don't think Robin got much rest on the plane.

We got to Chicago O'Hare early and were surprised to find extra security
there to meet us. We later learned that Hong Kong had identified a man with
a fake passport on our flight. Regardless, customs took us a little longer
than normal; and when it was over, Noah was an American! Very
anti-climactic (again)- no cameras or phones allowed in customs- so just a
few "yeahs!" and that was it.

We grabbed some good 'ole American food (McDonald's) and now we're waiting
for our flight to Atlanta (at 8pm EDT). The kids are playing card games and
visiting with the Wells (another adopting family from Augusta-we've been on
parallel tracks).

I got some decent sleep on the plane (4-5 hrs), but am at a low point right
now. We'll see how tired (or awake) I am when we reach Atlanta. It'll be
10am for us at that point. Hotel or drive on home- we'll see.

I've ended almost each posting with a thanks for your prayers, and that's
still the case here. Please also join us in praying for a lady (Lily) we
met on the plane from Hong Kong. Just as we were landing in Chicago, she
started telling me about her life and recent events. She has lived in
America for 30+ yrs and has 2 sons in Hong Kong. She had planned to visit
them in HK for 1 month, but had to extend that to 3 months, as 1 son
discovered he had a form of urinary cancer. As that visit was wrapping up,
she got a call (yesterday) that her husband (back in Chicago) had just had
a massive heart attack and was in the university hospital. So- she rushed
home and was headed to the hospital. She also told me she was a Christian
and that only by her Faith was she able to handle all of this. So- as your
time allows, please add Lily, her husband, and her son to your prayers.

It will take us about a week to get our "clocks" back to Statesboro time.
We hope to see (or speak to) each of you as soon as Noah can handle all of
the changes. Please be patient as we assess his transition and
sleeping/eating cycles. We have his first appointment with the pediatrician
on Thursday and first cardiologist appt the following week.

Thanks again for following and praying-


Friday, July 30, 2010

Headed Home!

Good evening / Good morning!

It's 8:45am for us here - and pm for most of y'all. We're in Hong Kong (Marriott SkyCity near the airport), and we're finishing up our last packing. Our United 747-400 will depart at 12:25pm (midnight for you) and fly 14 hours and 39 minutes to Chicago. That will be one of the longest flights I've ever been on, and I must admit I'm not really looking forward to it. Some good news - although the flight is reportedly overbooked, we checked in and got better seats (all 4 in a row) than we'd originally been planned into. Noah is presently sitting all alone (yeah, right), since his supplemental oxygen was set up separately. He is also traveling on his Chinese passport and name (Xia Pinghe), so we'll have to straighten all of that out at the check-in counter.

We will arrive around 2:45pm into Chicago and have a few hours there to clear customs and connect to our Atlanta flight. As Robin mentioned previously, Noah will become a US citizen once we arrive in Chicago and go through customs. My backpack is full of his medical records, immigration records, birth certificates, etc... no doubt we keep an eye on that backpack!

To backtrack some; yesterday's train ride to Hong Kong was good. The kids really enjoyed it. We were in the "premium class" and rode on the upper deck of a double-decker passenger car. The seats were similar to a business class airliner section, and the train went about 70mph. The only hitch we had was when we arrived into Hong Kong, the tickets said "Kowloon"; and we'd expected that to be "Kowloon Station" (which would connect to the airport train and our hotel). Instead, we were in the "Kowloon District", but at another station. After a little fretting and map-reading, I did the unexpected...I went to an information desk and a kind lady pointed out how to get on a transfer bus to the correct station. (For all you ladies who think men never ask for directions - this should count for at least a decade's waiver, right?) We made it to the airport express train and had a nice ride out to the Marriott. After a quick swim in the pool (Noah is back to sitting on the edge), we rode over to the terminal and got some Popeye's Chicken.

Noah is doing well - giving lots of kisses to his "jie jie" (big sisters). I've had him on the pulse oximeter and his average O2 sat level is 66% - probably about what we expected. We'll put the oximeter on him during the flight today and try to regulate his oxygen (by putting his annulus on/off) to keep him at 66%. We are very grateful that United still serves supplemental oxygen on their flights...they are one of the few remaining airlines doing so.

Gotta run and get on a long plane. We'll arrive into Atlanta around 10pm tonight - 25 hours from now. Unsure if we'll drive home or grab a hotel. It'll feel like 10am for us at that point - I guess we'll see.

Thanks again for all of your prayers and support. God is certainly the Maker of this whole world (which seems much bigger after this trip). He also knows where we all are and what's going on. The Bible says He never sleeps, nor slumbers; and that is refreshing to know when one is on "the other side of the world" from everybody they know.

Looking forward to rejoining you in the Western Hemisphere soon - God Bless you.

Adam (for Robin, Madison, Olivia, and Noah Pinghe) Spitler

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Last Night in GZ

We have had a good day. We were able to get up and have breakfast whenever we wanted to this morning. It was nice just to go with the flow. We spent some time doing a little shopping and picking up a few things here and there. Again, Guangzhou is very beautiful so it is fun to walk around and just enjoy the trees and flowers.
The girls, Noah and I went with some friends across the bridge to the market area to see some animals. Our friends had seen the animal/pet area before and wanted to return so we tagged along with them. It was quite an experience I must say. The smells were not too pleasant and the food they were selling was not exactly the same as in the US. We saw all kinds of dried animal parts such as snakes and lizards plus many things from the sea. I am including some photos from our trip for you to enjoy.
We then went to the swimming pool for a while and had some fun. After finishing at the pool we had to meet Jason in the play room to receive Noah's passport and the infamous brown envelope. We have to give the brown envelope to customs/immigration at our port of entry in America (Chicago). Once we have made it through this point Pinghe will be an official US citizen. Yeah!!! We are really looking forward to returning home. We have enjoyed many parts of our trip but are ready to get back home.
Tonight we went to eat at Lucy's for the last time. It was fun and Pinghe is continuing to do well. On the last note, when he went to bed tonight he cried a little and called out, "Mama", over and over again. I let him cry for a few minutes and then went into the room and told him, "I love you, good night and I am not coming into the room again", and when I left I did not hear one more sound. He went right to sleep. Yeah (again)!!! I think all he needed to know was that I was here for him and I love him. I am so proud of him. We love you all and are very appreciative of the prayers. We couldn't have survived this trip without the prayers and the hand of the Father on it. God's blessings, Robin
PS-I am also including a picture of all of my children playing their DS game. It sure doesn't take a child long to learn how to use one of those things no matter what country you are from or what language you speak.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Three and Four Part II

Hello everybody,
We had a small gap in our blogging - so please read this blog and the next one down, as that should get things caught up.

Wednesday started off with Robin and Noah walking over to the clinic to have his TB test evaluated. Thank God - the test was determined negative, so he did not have to have any X-rays or extra paperwork! As he's been exposed to TB in the past, we'll probably have this looked at again in the States.

After the TB test and a check of the weather (it was drizzling), we decided to press on with the group's plan to visit Guangzhou's 50-yr old zoo. It was a good trip, though very humid, hot, and exhausting. We saw many animals that we hadn't seen in zoos in the US, and many more tigers and lions than normal. And - we saw the panda! Robin got some video of him eating and walking around - very neat. The mosquitos there were rather aggressive, and we had left our "Off" in the hotel room; so Jason (our guide) helped us buy some insect repellant - a small glass bottle of oily perfume. A few dabs of the pepper-minty liquid fought off the insects, but then 3 minutes later, we also found it had an "icy-hot" burning feel (like Ben-gay). Ouch!

We got back to the room, got cleaned up, and put Noah (and Dad) down for a quick nap. Noah only cried about 20 minutes this time - yeah!

At 2:15, we had to meet 30 other people for the bus ride to the US Consulate for the oath. The reason we are here at the White Swan Hotel is that the US Consulate was formerly located directly across the street. However, they moved to a temporary location across town - and that was a 40 minute bus ride for us. Up escalators (did Robin mention Noah loves escalators - like any other 6 yr old boy), then through security and a 30 minute wait. We signed a simple paper, heard a short speech from the foreign service officer, and stood and took the oath. A few "Yeah - congratulations!" went around, then we boarded the bus and returned to the hotel. That was it! Like Robin said - the time here in GZ has been rather anti-climactic; after all the waiting for appointments and paperwork - we are in a serious "wait mode" here.

Speaking of "wait" - that's the last thing left for today's agenda...wait until 5pm, at which time we'll receive Noah's Chinese passport and US visa...which will let him enter the US. So - one night left in the White Swan, then tomorrow we'll head to Hong Kong!

Since I don't know what our internet will be like - here's a pre-view. At 9am tomorrow, we'll take a hotel bus to Guangzhou's East Train Station. There, we'll board an express train (1 hr, 50 min) to Hong Kong's Kowloon Station. The train tickets are very reasonable - and only cost us $100 usd. (total!) Many other families here are flying to Hong Kong, and wish they were on the train.

In Hong Kong, we'll be staying at the Marriott out near the airport. We were told that we couldn't depart Hong Kong until Friday at 1pm, and the last United flight left at 12:25pm - therefore the extra night out. Perhaps this will give us a 1/2 day to see some sights in Hong Kong. None of us have ever been there, before.

Okay - I'll try to post some pictures from the past couple days.

Thanks for your support and prayers. Noah's grieving and goings-to-bed seem to be getting MUCH better. Last night he only cried for 8 minutes before falling asleep. Oh - and we put the pulse oximeter on him twice - his oxygen saturation levels were 69% and 76%, as expected - much lower than a normal +98% (which the rest of us scored). We'll get a few more data points today, in hopes this will assist our assessment of his condition while flying home.

Recap of Day Three & Four in Guangzhou

Hello Everybody (Adam here).  Robin ran into some computer issues last night, while trying to post the blog. Sorry for the long gap in info - everything is going smoothly over here.  I'll load part of her saved message, then post some pictures.
Recap of Day Three & Four in Guangzhou:
On day three in Guangzhou we had our very important (CA) Consulate Appointment.  Some of you may remember that this was the last and final straw that drove our journey to China.  It is kind of funny but our job during this appointment time was to stay in our hotel room from 10am until 11:30am.  We had to be in our rooms in case our guide Jason had any issues arise.  Jason was the one who actually went to the appointment for us as our rep.  During this time we received a call from his stating that everything went well and the only thing left to do was to go to the US Consulate the next day to sign some paperwork and pledge our oath that all information given was true.  After the call was finished we then changed clothes and went to the lobby of the White Swan to do the infamous "red couch" photos.  I am including some of these for you to see.  The photos went well and Pinghe did great during the photos of just the adopted children.  I was a little concerned that he wouldn't want to sit there without one of us but it was no big deal for him.  He was surrounded by cute little girls so I guess it wasn't very intimidating. 
For the afternoon time we got together with another family that we have really gotten to know and love to play games.  They have four older children and have just adopted a precious little two year old girl.  You will notice her on the red couch sitting to the left of Pinghe.  She is the cutest little thing.  We ended the day with a dinner cruise that went up and back on the coast of the island where our hotel is located.  Pinghe loves boats so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take him on one.  These boats are beautiful at night and have lights all over them.
---------end of message--------

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Two in Guanzhou

Hello Family and Friends,
We just finished up day two in Guangzhou and I must say things are slowly improving. Pinghe and I started off the day early by having a great breakfast and then going with our guide to the medical clinic. This check up was supposed to occur on Saturday but because of our delayed train ride we missed it. We arrived at the clinic about 8 o'clock and found it to already be quite busy. Our guide, Jason, is great and he was able to talk with the head doctor about Pinghe's medical problem and thus we were able to forgo any shots. This was a huge answer to prayer. This situation does not occur very often for adopted children. Pinghe did get his TB injection and he did pretty good. He cried a little but was a trooper for the rest of examination. Jason even commented to me that he was a very smart little boy. We are finding this to be true more and more as the days go by. We then returned to the hotel and went to play in their playroom. It is a big room with carpet and many toys. Most of the toys are below Pinghe's age but he has enjoyed playing anyway. Some of the pictures on the this post show him in the playroom.
We then spent a lot of time walking around Guangzhou looking at all the beautiful scenery. It is so tropical and lush here. Most of the flowers and plants we have seen are the same plants we have in Georgia. I will add a few more pictures of those on another post.
We went to eat at a Thai restaurant this evening and it had some very exotic foods that included eel and many parts to animals that we don't usually eat. We decided not to venture out and try these kinds of dishes at this time.
We ended the evening with a leisurely walk back to our hotel. They are doing many renovations in Guangzhou right now to prepare for the Asian World Games. Adam and I noticed that a lot of the new construction looks like Savannah with their large fountains and decorative plants. It is very beautiful.
We continue to ask for your prayers for Pinghe. He is doing better but still needs prayers for nap time and bed time. This seems to be the most difficult for him. We try very hard to keep him busy during the day so he isn't so sad but I know when things get quiet for him all he can think about is his foster grandparents. I don't blame him because I too would be sad. It is hard to see this and I hate it for him. It is draining for us all but I know it is a process that he needs to go through. He is making progress in many ways. He is slowly learning how to be a little more gentle and not too rough. He is a boy and don't expect him to act like a girl but there are some issues that have to be directed in a healthy way such as not hitting others just because you want to . He and I were playing a game together tonight and he was so polite and gentle where two or three days ago he was throwing the pieces of the game at others. I also received a spontaneous kiss on the cheek today. It made me so happy. He has also done that with the girls too. This is a very good sign of bonding. He is really starting to get closer to Adam also. Tonight in the playroom we were watching a cartoon and he laid his legs over Adam's legs. This is a sign that he is starting to trust and he wants to have the comfort of touching someone. These are all answers to prayers. Again, this will be a slow process but is so great to see these little gifts from the Lord.
What we know about Pinghe: he loves... hard boiled eggs, sausage links, bacon (with a little salt on top), his DS, the popular goat cartoon here in China, moving his legs, boats, airplanes (of course), his foster family (of course), drawing, sweet milk, ice cream, any kind of meat, the computer, french fries, to be carried where ever he goes (Adam is the main person to carry him, lucky Adam), books, math, going to the swimming pool, throwing things, listening to our electronic translator, riding on a train, candy, fruit, and playing with the girls. This is just some things we know about him so far. There are many more. We continue to look forward to getting to know him even more. Oh, I forgot to mention that he is totally cute and likes to share, most of the time :)
Thanks to everyone for the prayers and support. God's blessing to all of you, Robin

I also added one special picture for my Mother-in-law Rita: Yes those ladies are playing Mah Jong. I thought you might enjoy seeing it being played in China.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

White Swan Hotel

Hello from the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, China. I have a couple bits of good news - 1) We fixed the blog and 2) we can now access our blog directly, so hopefully the posts will look better from your perspective; though we "lost" Robin's fancy wallpaper in the process.
We did get some much-needed rest since last blogging. I'm sure we could use some more, so again, I'll keep this brief and hope to post more pictures later in the week.
Today was Sunday for us. The hotel's breakfast buffet is very impressive (and included in the price of our room!). After our meal, our guide (Jason) met us and took us down the street to have Noah's visa photo taken. We then returned to the hotel and let the kids play in the hotel's play room (very nice) while we reviewed paperwork for the visa application. We then took a nap (Noah normally sleeps from 12:30-2:30pm), and went swimming. We met several other American's for dinner at a restaurant down the block (Lucy's), and finished the night off with an exploratory walk around the hotel. Robin and I were approached by a Chinese man (a translator) who asked us to speak to his son and let him practice his English. The father was rather verbose (part of being a translator?) and anchored Robin for over an hour! I was sure the entire thing might end with a sales pitch for a fake Rolex -but that never actually surfaced. (We did get the Rolex pitch on the street, earlier; check that square.)

Noah has been accustomed to eating 5 small meals everyday. Although that's rather healthy, it's not "very American" - and after our big dinner out tonight, we were about to head to the bed when he started asking me, "When are we going to dinner?!" Fortunately, we stocked up on his favorite "comfort foods" (bread, milk, and a spam-like ham sausage) - and that's what he got for his final meal for the day. We watched couple episodes of the "Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf" cartoon (his favorite), and off to bed. Tonight's crying lasted about 40 minutes - Robin rocking him the entire time. Robin thinks things are improving...but we both forsee a long road of grieving ahead for our little boy. We are happy that he had such a great foster family, but that only makes the departure more painful for him, now. Thanks again for your prayers on his behalf.

We need to go. I'll post a few pictures from the day of the train ride. Ahh, the train ride - catch me on a good day and perhaps I'll share that story with you. For now - I think I'd simply like to erase those 30 hours from my brain...

Before the train - killing some time at Nanning's Peoples' Park - waiting for Noah's passport to be delivered. This is a typical scene - 40 lb pack and 40 pound boy. Noah's foster gma apparently carried him everywhere.

Here are the kids on one of the 2 top bunks in our train compartment. The beds were pretty comfortable; the quarters close; the air sometimes stuffy; the washroom - no comment. I am so proud of the girls. They have a new appreciation for the comforts and conveniences they had back home!

A picture of Olivia standing between the beds and across the door / mirror to our compartment. Our bags went up on the ledge over her head. I don't quite remember how I hoisted them up there at 4am when we boarded. Oh yeah - I said I'd try to forget that part of the journey...

A picture of Robin curling up with a book. Robin did a great job painting a smile on this day!

One of many beautiful scenes from our train ride. We saw the topography change many times.
Off to bed. Have a nice Sunday afternoon--

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hello from Guangzhou

Hello, friends.
We understand the blog "went empty".  Most likely, this happened because the wallpaper apparently had an expiration date - which was Friday.  Robin didn't know that when she "beautified" the blog - so if this posts, we're back in business - simply without all the schnazz.
We are in Guangzhou and it's almost a miracle that we made it.  I (Adam) feel like I've taken some pretty exhausting trips in my life -but the past 28 hours surpassed all of that.  The train was 9 hours late (due to a landslide) - so instead of leaving Nanning at 7:15pm, we left at 4am.  (While waiting for the train, the girls got some sleep - I spent most of the time carrying Noah around on my back - trying to keep him from crying.) On the train, we did get some sleep (perhaps 4-5 hours), but the promised 12 hour train ride turned into 15 hours.  There are other details to cover later - the train was some fun, but adventurous to say the least.  We saw some very beautiful countryside.
We are now in the somewhat-notorious White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou (pron. "Gwang Joe" - GZ for short).  GZ is a very modern city on the water and rather close to Hong Kong.  We have a US Consulate here, and since Noah needs a visa on his Chinese passport - we must stay here 6 nights in order to have that processed.  When the train was on time, we were scheduled to have Noah's medical checkup this morning at 11am.  However, since we were still on the train - that was put off until Monday, and hopefully the rest of the week will still go as planned.
Like I said - test message here; hope this does come through.  We took some great pictures from the train today (and also a park in Nanning last night - before going to the train station)...I'll try to post them tomorrow.
Thanks again for your prayers.  We could really use them - for rest and health, especially.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some Good and Some Difficult

We had another up and down day today.  Before I mention that, however, let me say that I know without a doubt that many of you are praying - it is very apparent.   Thank you for bringing up our little boy's name before the Lord. God is stepping in and making it clear something supernatural is happening.  God certainly knows what we need before we even ask, but He also wants us to come ask Him (in prayer) for our needs.  And that's all I understand...the rest is beyond me.
We had a great breakfast this morning.  Noah is really bonding to the girls - in the middle of playing Nintendo, he spontaneously leaned over and gave Olivia a peck on the cheek.  I thought I'd imagined it - but he repeated the kiss about a minute later.  Very cool.  Later that afternoon, Robin took out the camera for a photo and on, "yi, er, san" (1,2,3), Noah leaned over to Madison and gave her a kiss on the cheek!  Sneaky brother - Robin called for a second picture and he repeated the act the second time!  So - I think he really likes having 2 sisters...
We hit the hotel pool again today.  He didn't jump into the water and try to swim (like yesterday) - he was a little more timid, and just sat on the top stair.  We tossed the waterball a lot, and he seemed to have a lot of fun.  The girls certainly did; and I even slipped in a few laps to get some exercise.
Our "difficult" portion included a phone call to the foster family (our social worker did encourage us to allow that on a limited level).  The phone call went well, but shortly afterwards, Noah wanted to call again - and started weeping.  We started thinking, "Wow - this is getting worse, not better - should we put an end to the phone calls?"  Instead, our guide/translator intervened and called the foster family - learned that his bedtime snack schedule is very rigid, and he doesn't like being in the hotel room as much as we've been there.  I also think there's confusion on his part as to why we haven't already flown to the US. (At our meeting yesterday, his foster grandma kept telling him, "You are going to fly all the way to America and then get your heart fixed!") I think he's confused and our guide thinks he thinks he has "done something wrong" and that's why we haven't left yet.
The truth is that we'll finally get Noah's Chinese passport tomorrow at 5:30pm.  We'll then board a 7pm train for Guangzhou.  So - the 3 days of sitting around have been simply to wait for the passport.
Oh - the other good news is that Noah went right to sleep tonight!  Robin gave him his milk and bread, read his Chinese cartoon book with him, and he went to sleep with no crying (a first since Monday).  Again, thank God.
No pictures to post today, sorry - my laptop wouldn't hook up - I'm on the hotel's business center computer.
Tomorrow's train ride should be fun. (We certainly hope!)  12 hours in a 4-bed sleeper car (called a "soft sleeper").  The trains here are very reasonably priced.  Unknown is what kind of food will be available - I understand people get on/off the train and simply sell food as they walk down the aisle.
As you'd guess, we won't have internet until Saturday evening (Saturday morning for you) this will probably be our last blog until Saturday.
Have a great Thursday and look for more info in 48 hours.  Thanks over and over again for your prayers!  Adam
PS. We have read some of your individual message posts, but we cannot reply to them with the internet restrictions here.  Thanks for the notes, as they are very encouraging.  Madison was so happy to hear from her TCS friends!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chinese Rollercoaster Ride...

Hello all,
We've had a rather exhausting past 24 hours, so I'll be as brief as possible and sign off to get some rest.  We do wish to pass enough details that you can pray with us for Noah.
Some of you that have adopted know that these adoptions always include a "grieving process" for the adoptive child.  It varies from child-to-child, but is generally harder for older kids.  Well, Noah hit it last night at dinner.  I think I told you about that yesterday.  I'll jump to today -
We had already asked, and planned, to visit the orphanage and meet Noah's "foster grandparents".  Both converged and we were invited to the orphanage where the foster family would meet us.  Noah was very happy to see them.  We were VERY encouraged by the foster grandparents; we immediately assessed their great love for Noah and that he had been under very good care by them.  We visited about 45 minutes; met the orphanage staff, delivered some gifts (400+diapers and wipes), and toured the grounds. We took a few pictures and got a chance to ask the foster grandma many questions about Noah.  She is a very "in charge" lady - and told us that we would need to be "very firm" with Noah, as they had sometimes spoiled him.  At her direction, we got in the van to leave, then she came up last and put Noah in the van; we closed the door and drove off.  It went well.
Tonight, however, he began tearing-up again at dinnertime.  I took him back to the room where he began sobbing again.  Robin ended up rocking him in her arms for 40 minutes - until he fell asleep, exhausted.  Madison and Olivia are a bit "rattled", but understand what is going on.  They have joined us in what seems to be hourly prayer for Noah and his foster family.  Robin and I have contacted our social worker (in Savannah) and expect to hear from her shortly.  She has counseled international adoptive familes for about 20 years.
To end on a good note - we had some fun times today (the up part of the rollercoaster).  We did get to visit the "Anji Passenger Station" (bus station) where Noah was abandoned on Feb 27th, 2005 (at 14 months old).  He was found in a basket with a note attached - which indicated his birth date.  We were able to snap 2 family pictures at the station, and, later - the orphanage staff provided a photocopy of the note from his biological parents.  We also got a photo album of 8-9 pictures from Noah's earlier years.

Other "up" parts of the day included a walk through the mall (connected to our hotel), lunch (and ice cream) at KFC, and a trip to Wal-Mart, where we bought Noah a suitcase and some clothes that actually fit!
Thanks again for following the details and thanks for your prayers.  Naturally, we are rather tired, but the Lord is really helping us.  We have no doubts; we are 100% on this.  We knew it would not be easy, but also know it is something God specifically told us to do.  We feel very Blessed to be given this opportunity.  Thanks for praying with us...we hope you are Blessed too.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Noah - Xia, Ping He

Hello (again!),
If you wonder why I just left a blank blog entry - it's because we are unable to post our blog here from China.  Due to some filters here in China, we must email our entry to the blog - and I guess my laptop "hiccupped" and sent a blank message.  So - thank for your understanding if occasionally we have a technical issue.  We have no idea how the pictures are showing up - so please realize we cannot imbed the pictures into our email - in order to provide explanations for what you see.  I do try to put descriptive labels on the file names...perhaps you can see that on the blog?!  I don't know...
We haven't really started calling Noah "Noah" yet.  He has been called "Xia, Ping He" (Shu Peeng Huh) and that's what he responds to - so we are continuing that for awhile, and hope to work "Noah" into his name in a few weeks.  There is so much change happening to our little boy - calling him a new name might be too much right now.
Well, today has been a GREAT day.  Noah and Olivia slept together in a double bed last night.  They got a good night's sleep (better than Dad did, anyway), and as soon as he woke, I could hear his little stomach growling - so obviously he is hungry early in the morning.  We get a complimentary breakfast buffet in the lounge near our room (which is very nice) -and Noah enjoyed some chicken sausage, hash browns, and bacon.  I offered him some watermelon and he loved that (chalk up another Firebaugh watermelon-lover).   He drank water (which he is very good at doing throughout the day) - and said "no" to orange juice.
We left the hotel at 8:30 sharp and headed back to the Lottery Hotel - where we got Noah yesterday.  I was a bit worried he'd think he was being "returned" (this has happened to other orphans in the past), but he didn't seem to be concerned.  We officially adopted Noah this morning at 9:30am.  Robin and I were interviewed by a state official and were asked questions such as "Will you promise to never abuse this child and care for him like your biological children?" and "What is your education level?" and "Do you have time and finances to accept another child into your family?".  We then signed several papers, put our right thumbs into red ink and pressed them over our signatures, and then Noah got to add his right footprint (also in red ink).
We left there and went to a notary for some other questions - I think all of that was for Noah's passport.  More fees and more gifts given to people (thanks for all the hats and gifts y'all donated!)  We ended back at our hotel and Cici (pronounced "Sissy") told us that tomorrow we will get to take gifts to the orphanage that managed Noah's foster care.  We won't get to tour the facility - only stop at the front gate and leave gifts.  We might also get to meet Noah's foster family and take them to lunch.  Although there is some risk in this (meeting the foster family), we have prayed about it for months and feel it is the right thing to do - in order to allow Noah to say "good-bye" to them, to have them say "This is your family, Xia Ping He - go with them!".  It might be emotional, but I'd rather do it than skip it and have that regret later.
We had lunch in one of our hotel's restaurants.  Wow - can you say "New York prices...?"  At lunch, I found myself telling Madison that Noah would probably cry and grieve for leaving his foster family and China - basically everything he knows.  I explained that it would probably be bad if he DIDN'T show some sort of grief.  Well, that foreshadowed events 20 minutes later.  Noah normally takes a daily nap from 12:30-2:30pm.   He was acting tired at lunch, so we put he and Olivia (his sleep buddy) down for a nap and about 5 minutes later, Robin came running to say he was crying and she didn't know what to do.  I went back in there and sure enough - the poor boy was quietly sobbing - shaking all over and just weeping.  I was grateful the Lord had me start learning Chinese 2 yrs ago - I said to him, "Ni neng guo ma?" (are you sad?) and he nodded real hard through the tears.  I told him that we loved him and we were also sad because he was sad.  I reassured him he was safe with us (Ni he women zai yi chi hen an chuan!) and he seemed to calm down some.  Olivia rolled over and gave him a long hug.  After some back rubs - he fell asleep.  Robin and Madison had their own cry session - Madison just kept crying and saying "I can't stand to see him cry like that!"  It is truly amazing how quickly these three kids have become 3 siblings.
Speaking of siblings and happier things...I am rather surprised to see how unselfish Noah's heart is. (We were told to expect hoarding and a resistance to sharing.) I offered him some small candy (like Smarties), and he grabbed a whole handful, and jumped on the bed and tossed a third to Olivia, and another third to Madison.  He really shares well.  He and Olivia are also "DS buddies".  They play DS all the time - and Olivia is doing a great job of teaching him - "Zhe ge" (Jay guh) - which means "this one" (where to click).  He always looks over at her DS to see if she's catching up with him or still playing the same game.  I think he's figured out the DS's are linked together on the same game.  Every once in awhile he yells something in Chinese I don't understand - I think he's saying "Yeah - I won - you didn't !"  :)
Madison turned "teacher" today - with a small magnetic "white board" toy we brought - sort of like an Etch-e-sketch.  She would write "A B C D" and then he would copy it right below.  (He is VERY good at writing and art, it seems).  We then asked him if he could say "A" and he very matter-of-factly said, "Aye".  (insert much applause) That was followed by "Can you say 'B'?"  and "Bee".  (insert more applause).  Then he very simply said "A B C D E F" - and so the guide believes he was taught some basic English such as the alphabet and numbers.  How cool.
Well, I should go. It's past "wake up from nap time" and I promised the girls we'd make an attempt at the hotel's pool this afternoon.  We'll see what he thinks about water (or not!).

Thanks again for your prayers.  It is very encouraging to see such a kind and loving boy emerge from the stress and emotion that we had yesterday.  I can't wait for you to meet our little Xia, Ping He!
PS. I'll post some pictures but not any we shot today (dui bu qi - "sorry")

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Noah - Xia, Ping He

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Gotcha Noah!

We have a little boy named Noah!
We started out as 4 and ended up 5!  At 3pm, we headed over to the Lottery Hotel, a hotel the orphanage uses as a meeting place for their adoptions.  We went up to the fourth floor and into a medium-sized meeting room - where small speeches and banquets are held.  There were several other couples and tour guides milling around, then small kids and orphanage directors began showing up.  We had just gotten our camera going (at the hands of CiCi, our guide), when I turned around and heard someone say, "Xia, Ping He" (Noah's given Chinese name).  There he was!  Oh boy - he was SHY, too!  He wanted NOTHING to do with four non-Chinese-looking people! :)  He was urged our way several times, but kept looking at us and nervously shaking his head "no!"  I squatted down and started fumbling through all the Chinese phrases I'd practiced for hours - and he seemed to hear me, but not really care. The orphanage workers all seemed surprised at my Chinese and kept repeating what I was saying: "Wo shi ni de Ba ba" (I am your Daddy.)"; "Wo men dou ai ni! (We all love you!); and "Zhen dao ni, hen gou xing!" (I'm so pleased to meet you.).
He seemed to know our names - they asked him who "ba ba" and "ma ma" were - and he pointed at us.  Then he seemed to gravitate to Robin, so she spent some time with him and I decided to drop back, somewhat (I thought perhaps a tall, bald red-haired man might be a little too much...).  The girls tried to say "hi", but until we brought out the matchbox cars, we got little progress.  The toys and writing tablet/crayola markers helped.  He enjoyed writing his name.  We ended up on the floor, passing a matchbox truck between 4 of us.  He didn't seem interested in any snacks, though Robin did push some Toy Story Gummi Bears on him - he did try one of those.  After about 45 minutes, we were able to snap a couple pictures - one was required for the adoption paperwork and the other, a souvenier (whole family).
Our guide (CiCi) told him we were going to the hotel, and he seemed pretty fine with that.  I said "La ju wo de show" (hold my hand) and he grabbed it and off we headed toward the elevator.  Next thing we knew, we were in the van, riding home, and he started pulling snacks out of his backpack (his foster grandma had packed for him).   He had small rolls (packaged in plastic) for each of us, an egg (?) which he left in the backpack, and some kind of hot dog sausage food that he quickly finished off.  (Robin turned her nose up to it - reminded her of Brawnschweiger).
In the hotel, he loved the balloons the girls had prepared - and hit and kicked them all over.  He ran straight to the "Chinese cartoons" we'd purchased...some sort of goat (like a Chinese version of Dora the Explorer).  We turned that on and it kept him entertained for about 20 seconds (that seems to be his attention span!).  We then went to tossing bean bags around, then silly bands (a big hit), and finally the Nintendo DS.
After about 20 minutes of paperwork (signing all sorts of Chinese documents, and also pressing a red-ink thumbprint over our signatures), CiCi told us about our 1/2 day of paperwork (and fees) tomorrow, then she had to go.
We walked down to KFC (CiCi said he loved KFC), where we bought some nuggets and fries - headed back to the room to eat that.  He did like them and so did the girls.  More Nintendo, more goat cartoons....everybody asking "Dad - how do I say ___??!" and Dad wondering "Why am I the only one that learned Mandarin before today??"  :)  Nah - it's been fun, and Olivia has really picked up on some basic "this" and "that" and "good" and "no".  Robin picked up on how to use the electronic translator! :)
In between all the "goat cartoons", I managed to download the 200+ pictures we'd snapped.  Many of them, btw - were taken by Noah - it only took one demo to show him how to use Madison's digital camera - and he started taking pictures of everyone and everything - people, toys, etc.  I'll post some of everything.
Robin was heading him toward a bath when Madison and I slipped out to the hotel's executive lounge (where the internet is located).  I should post the pictures and head back to the room.  We'll try to post more tomorrow.
It has been a great day.  Rather exhausting, not as emtional as we were concerned it might be.  Somewhat surreal.  A little bit overwhelming - the challenge of communication.  Noah seems to have attached to all of us equally - and as I began speaking more Mandarin with him, he began talking to me more.  (And when I carried him on our walk to KFC - he laid his head down on my shoulder and hugged me.  Robin was wishing for the camera...).
God is so Good.  The memory of how clearly He directed us to take on this challenge is a constant reminder...especially when exhaustion set in this evening (still battling the time change).  We thank you all for your prayers, and know this is a mission God sent us on.  We look forward to bringing our active little boy home to the States so you can meet him.
Oh yeah - personality??  Well, the most used phrases today have been "Er zi, bu!" (Son, no!), and "Qing deng yi xia" (Please wait!)  Just wait until we get that heart pumping correctly!!! :)
Proud Dad to 3.....Adam

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