Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lost at the zoo and much, much more

Today we went to the zoo. We had a great time! We saw the panda, the monkeys, and a lot more. Speaking of monkeys, we were going to take a picture by the monkeys. Just as Kurt Onken was about to take a picture, a monkey on a roof layed down on the roof and looked like he had split pants! Well, we were walking through the zoo when Kurt thought we better start heading back to the hotel so we wouldn't be late for the red couch picture and the consulate appointment. We THOUGHT we had to go to the NORTH gate but that's the way we came in. So we went around trying to find the north gate, but then we decided that we came in the north gate so we had to go to the SOUTH gate. So we wandered around for a while but then we FINALY made it out. So we got back to the hotel and just hung around for a little bit, and then went down for the red couch pictures which went great. Then it was time for the consulate appointment. Which also went great exept one little thing. Hour long drive there, be there for about 7 minutes and then an hour long drive back. Other then that it went great. Today was the final day we are going to be here so that means only one thing: by by Lucy. ( my girl friend ) ( "sniff" ) Man I am going to miss her. I wish we could keep in contact with here, but nope! Tonight we went to Lucy's to eat. ( Not my girl friends ) It was good. Aidan got a little mad during supper. Thank you everyone for following are blog. Kai Anders Newell

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kai Newell, Ladys Man

We just got back from dinner and I thought I would post a picture of Kai and his new girl friend or should I say friends. These girls work at one of the many stores that line the streets around our hotel. We have stopped and looked around many of stores and have actually got to know the people who work in several of them. However, my son has developed quite a following with the girls at the "Home of Love". That's right it's called the "Home of Love". Now you might think as Kai's dad I might be a bit concerned with him receiving attention from girls working at an establishment with that name. Well, the name actually refers to their focus on adoptive families. Anyway, every time we walk out of the hotel and start down the street the girls start calling out Kai Kai! It is too fun and Kai is totally eating it up and thinks he is a chick magnet. The one on the left is his favorite and her name is Lucy. She has played hacky sack with him(she has given him two free ones) and tried to teach him to speak Chinese. I guess it's just another experience in China!

Trip to the orphanage!

Today was our big trip to the orphanage where Leah spent the first 3 1/2 years of her life. We had been on the road for about 30 minutes when I started thinking that this was a bad idea. The driving here is insane and our car was the fastest one on the road. I was pretty sure we were risking our lives for a trip to the orphanage. I cannot tell you how happy I am to say that our very nice, friendly, speed racing driver got us to Huizhou and back without any problems (if you don't count Leah throwing up in the backseat and Kai's eyes turning yellow because he had to pee so bad). The trip there took a little over 2 hours.

Our guide Jack went with us and we really appreciate his help. He has become a friend to us. He did great guiding us, translating and making sure we didn't get into trouble. He even stopped at the supermarket at my request so I could buy some candy and snacks for the workers and kids at the orphanage. Jeff told him later that if Mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. He said it was the same way in China. Thank you so much for today Jack!

It was an awesome experience to get to visit the orphanage. It looked very clean and well kept. There is about 60-70 kids that live there. Most of them with special needs, some severe and other minor special needs. There is also around 70 older people that live there. We saw many of them, because they were outside, but we only saw a few of the kids while we were there.

We had tea with the Director and the Nanny in charge. We also met the lady that is in charge of adoptions. She is the one that brought Leah to us when we arrived in Guangzhou, one week ago today!!! On our way out, we walked by the building Leah had lived in. The nanny that had the most responsibiliy for Leah in her last months at the orphanage came out to say hi. Eventually there were several more nannies that came out to say hi to Ying Ying. Leah's best friend at the orphanage, a blond little girl that is going to get a home in Belgium, came out and gave her hugs. Everyone was very smiley and happy to see YingYing. They all talked to her and wanted to touch her. Leah didn't smile at all but she would look around and went to people that wanted to hold her. The wonderful thing was that she came back to me as quickly as possible. There is no doubt in our hearts that she wants to be with us. We are now back in the hotel room and she is laughing and playing and showing us over and over again that she is happy to be part of our family. We are so very happy to have her!!!

Leah with her friends!

We are standing outside the building where she used to live.

Leah saying bye, bye to the orphanage and everyone there!

We stopped for lunch at KFC

What we saw of Huizhou city was beautiful. This picture is taken at one of their squares. The landscaping along the road we were driving was also beautiful.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Going to the orphanage tomorrow!

We got most of our shopping done today. Had a meeting to prepare for the paperwork for the Consulate Appointment. I think it is all in order. The whole group went to an Italian Restaurant for supper. The food was great. We have talked to our family in Norway on Skype tonight and our family in the US. Sofia was not awake yet, but we got to talk to our big boy Karsten. He got very excited when he looked at his calender and saw that we are coming home soon.

I cannot write more tonight, it is late and we have to get up early tomorrow. We are going to the orphanage. We are excited to have this chance to go and visit. But we are also a little bit nervous. Our guide told us to tell our driver to drive slowly. Pray for our safety tomorrow and that everything goes well. We will post more tomorrow!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Medical exam

The Dr. at the medical office was prodding and looking at Leah. She was doing great sitting on my lap quietly. He just kept looking and looking at her hands and feet, and finally she couldn't take it anymore. She started crying so hard, her tears were just flowing. My heart was breaking for her. He finally had me stand up and hold her while he measured her legs. He decided that one leg is shorter than the other. That might very well be, I don't know, but you can not measure any one's leg that way. He asked me if she could walk, I said yes. He asked me if she limps and I said no. At that point I wouldn't have told him if she had the biggest limp in the whole wide world. Anyway, she passed her medical exam. Now we have to get ready for our Consulate Appointment. We have a meeting with our guide tomorrow to work on our papers.

Today's update on Leah is good. She seems to get more and more comfortable with us. Every time we go back to the hotel room now she warms up and starts smiling and laughing. She is still very quiet and shy when other people are are around. So don't expect her to be super friendly the first time you meet her. She likes to turn her head or ignore people she doesn't know.

Karsten and Sofia, we are coming home very soon. Only a couple more days. Cannot wait to see you and give you a big hug and kiss! We love you and miss you a ton!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Things we did not eat in China!

Jeff writes:
Hi everyone! Today we headed out for an adventure that I will call "Things we did not eat in China". We took a 15 minute walk from the hotel to an area that was Guangzhous answer to the "Farmers Market". I could see that our friend Kurt was very tempted when we passed the live scorpions and my mouth watered a bit when my eye caught sight of the dried sea horses but we all held out until we reached Starbucks. The trip was our most eye opening experience to date as to how our lives differ from some of the people living here. After Starbucks we went to Miss Jan's room and gave thanks for the Pappa Johns pizza we were about to eat. Tomorrow if the weather permits we may go to the zoo and Kai would like to hit the pool. We are only four days from going home and I for one am looking forward to getting home to Karsten and Sofia. It has been wonderful to use the technology of today to be able to talk to and see them through the internet but it will be even better to hold them and tell them I love them in person. Good night from Guangzhou China.

Anne Marie writes:
We are doing well. Today was kind of a lazy day at the hotel, after our trip to the market. It rained, so we didn't feel like going outside anymore. We spent several hours at the White Swan Play Room. Leah sat on my lap most of the time, played a little bit at the end. She has been very serious all day.

Not a smile...until we get back to our hotel room. Right now she is playing with her pappa. She is running around giggling and smiling. I think she might even be speaking Chinese. I have never heard her do that before! It is the best sound ever. It is like turning a light switch on. She is so happy right now. I will let the pictures speak for themselves!!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ying-Ying and Ge-Ge. Kai is wearing his Ge-Ge hat today. Karsten - you are getting one also.

In front of Dr. Sun's Memorial Hall

Kai's skating picture for the day!!!

Part of the Guangzhou Folk Art Museum

One of the guards that guarded the doors in the old days

Tea house, we tried black tea and green tea

We haven't been very good at keeping you all updated on the process and what we have been doing. I will try to give a quick update. My time at the computer seems to be more and more limited.

Monday: We got Leah!!!

Tuesday: We went back to Civil Affairs office to finalize the adoption from the Chinese side. We took family pictures and had two interviews. The first interview was with an official person (I am sorry I don't know her official title). The next interview was with the Notary. He was the real funny guy that Kai talked about in his post. When all that was over, Leah was officially ours.

Wednesday: We went to a official office and applied for Leah's passport. After that Jack took us to the super market, I posted pictures from there yesterday.

We have done some walking around on the island and done some shopping. For you that have already been here, we visited Jordan's shop. He wrote Leah and Sofia's names in Chinese. We hope to frame it when we get home. We had our laundry done in a local shop right by the hotel. Kai loves that place, because they played hacky sack inside the store with a girl there. When he left, she kicked one out the door for him - free gift!

We have been eating supper every night with our best friends here, you have seen pictures of them in our other posts. Kurt Onken and his cousin Jan, and Kurt's beautiful, mischievous boy Aidan. Kurt's wife is afraid of flying, so his wife's cousin is traveling with him. This is their second trip to China. We received our children together and we have really enjoyed being able to do things together with them. This is their link if you would like to follow, they often write about us and Kurt is much better at telling the details of what we are doing. You would enjoy his blog. http://redthreadtomarysville.blogspot.com/

This morning we went to Dr. Sun's Memorial Hall and Guangzhou Folk Art Museum. We had a lot of people be very curious and staring at us. I don't know if it was in a good or bad way because I could not understand what they were saying. But we defenitly stood out today. We came back to the hotel to drop off our stuff and eat some snacks. I am trying to do some blogging. I feel like I have not been very good at keeping everyone updated. It was a lot easier to stay on top of it when we were in Beijing.

Kai and pappa are resting and watching TV. Leah is sometimes sitting on my lap and sometimes playing on the floor right by my feet. She seems to be more attached to her mamma today. She wants me to hold her a lot or hold her hand. She will go to pappa, but it seems like she prefers me more today. We are hoping this is part of bonding with us, but it makes it harder for me to get anything done.

We had a great evening last night when she was laughing and giggling. She is very active today, just like she was last night. But so far today, we have not seen a single smile. I wish she would smile, but I don't feel the same hopelessness I felt yesterday at this time because I know she can smile and have fun with us. I believe she will do it again. She started whimpering again last night when we went to bed. I was holding her and she was lying on me, I would tell her that we love her, but nothing would make her stop. I finally gave her some water from a zippy cup, she settled down after that. She laid with me and Kai in our twin bed until she fell asleep, then I moved her over to her small bed right between our beds. She woke up crying again this morning. I wish I knew what she is thinking (or maybe I don't want to know). She is a different child today than she was the day we got her, but I think we still have a lot of ahead of us when it comes to bonding.

We have been talking to Jack about going to visit the orphanage Leah lived at. He could arrange a car for us tomorrow, but no English speaking guide. We have heard it is between 2-4 hours to go there. And not real safe since the driving here is crazy, compared to US and Norwegian standards. We are not too excited about making the trip. But I want to go if it is going to make a big difference in her abilities to bond with us. To those of you that have adopted before, do you have any advice for us? We would love to hear your opinions.

We are now heading out to explore some more. We will have dinner with our best friends again tonight. The choice for tonight is Chinese food (what a surprise) I actually love the food here and could eat Chinese every day.

She is smiling!!!!!!

With our guide Jack at the Supermarket

She just started smiling!!!! I cannot believe it, she has been so serious this whole time and without any emotions. She whimpered a little bit last night, but that is about it. I have never been happier to see someone smile, ever! Our daughter smiled at us!!!! I hope there will be many more smiles to come. I was starting to feel like we were never going to get through to her and then it just happened. She started smiling and giggling and she even through a tantrum. I am so excited that we are finally seeing Leah or YingYing (her Chinese nick name). I cannot miss this time with her so I will sign off for now. I will post some pictures before I go. Thank you God!!!

PS: Thanks to all of you for following and leaving messages. Reading them makes us feel so loved and closer to home. I hope you will enjoy the pictures. Hope to capture more smiles tomorrow.