The Family

The Family

Sunday, January 30, 2011

No New News..... But Some Pictures

Well, there has been no new news to report over the weekend on when we can bring Gideon home.  Waiting to find out more tomorrow from our agency which is remaining in touch with his orphanage where he is being cared for until we can return to get him home.  They are checking in to see if any results from his smears have come back yet and if so, what the results are, and also if any medical treatment has begun yet.

So for now I thought I would share just a few of the many pictures we took during our time together in China.  Beijing really was a fabulous place to visit and the week produced many fond memories in myself and my son Evan, and hopefully in Gideon's mind as well.

We got to visit the Great Wall, which was great indeed, as well as visiting a jade factory, a cloisonne factory and silk factory.  We got to experience a rickshaw ride through the Hutong which is a very old part of the city, and of course we got to eat a lot of fabulous Chinese food while we were there.

More pictures to follow, but here are just a few of our adventures and our beautiful new boy!

Brothers meeting for the first time at Gideon's orphanage

 Me, Evan, Gideon and our guide George at the orphanage for Gotcha Day!  We had just met him only moments before this picture.

At the Great Wall

Right before we made the arduous climb up that massive staircase in back

Hello up there!!  The boys made it up to the fifth tower, the highest you could climb, while I watched from the third.  That climb was enough for my thighs to handle!

Standing in front of some of the weaponry they would have used hundreds of years ago to fend off the invaders

Massive Cloisonne vases at the factory

The artisans begin with vessels of copper and then inlay the beautiful patterns and intricate details over them

We walked the site of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  Pretty impressive that they built so many buildings in such a short amount of time specifically for that event.  It was a great sight, but extremely COLD that day!

The Birdsnest Stadium.  Even more impressive in person.

Friday, January 28, 2011

We're Home.... but with complications

My son Evan and I arrived home this past Tuesday from China after going over to adopt the newest member of our family Gideon Sage Lie Rowe.  Turns out, there is some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that our adoption is finalized!  Gideon was officially adopted just two days before he turned 14 and by China's laws would have become un-adoptable.  We praise God and thank all those whose efforts help get us to China in time to add this precious boy to our family.

Now for the bad news.  After a week exploring and touring in exciting Beijing, we flew down to Guangzhou to have Gideon's medicals done and to have our consulate appointment on the 25th.  We were so excited that the Consulate had granted  us our originally requested appointment, despite them having a busy schedule.  It was the last piece of the puzzle fitting in perfectly and we were ecstatic.  We thought there was nothing else standing in the way of getting our new son home now before the Chinese New Year.  Unfortunately we were wrong.

When we went for Gideon's routine medical physical which is required before he can receive a visa to enter the United States, we found out that he tested positive for TB.  This was of course a major blow, and one we had not expected.  His TB skin test had been a bit abnormal, and I had told the doctor that he had been coughing a little, but many skin tests come back looking a little raised and usually it is nothing.  The doctor told me Gideon probably had bronchitis.  But a chest x-ray just to be sure told them that it was most likely TB.  I was stunned and so was our guide.  The doctor told us we were only the 4th case of TB to ever turn up there.  Lucky us. 

And poor Gideon, he was just beside himself with the news.  He thought this would mean we wouldn't want him anymore.  He told the doctor he was afraid we were going to abandon him.  I told the doctor to tell him no, that I was on the phone with his father right then and we were going to find a way around this.

The whole diagnosis of TB took me aback though I must admit.  I didn't know what our options were with him.  Was he still going to be able to be part of our family?  Was this curable?  Could we now be infected?  All these things were running through my mind at once.

Fortunately I was able to find out answers to most of my questions.  Since Gideon has officially been adopted we are now his parents.  No one can take him away from us now or tell us that he cannot come here to the US, thank God.  He just needs to have testing done first, which happened this past week, to determine if it is TB or not for sure, then he needs to begin treatment so that he can be cured and not be contagious when we bring him home.  Treatment lasts for a full 6 mos, but it is usually only a matter of weeks for most cases until you are not contagious anymore.

As for Evan and I, we are not contagious unless we start to exhibit symptoms like fevers, night sweats, and severe coughing.  We will get tested in 8 weeks and then go from there depending on the results.

For right now, we are focusing on what we need to do to get our newest baby home more quickly.  There are waivers to be signed by the health department and our pediatrician, but the health dept won't sign until he has been confirmed to have TB and until they can see that he has received treatment and is not contagious.  The doctors in China are differing on what they want to do as well-- one wants to begin treatment right now, the other wants to wait the 8 weeks for definitive results before treating.  If we wait that long it just adds months to the time when he can come home.  If we could just start treating it now, he would be non-contagious a lot sooner and thus home much sooner too.

Please pray for our family as we make the necessary decisions to get our son home.  God has already put some extraordinary people in our path helping us along the way.

Thank you for everyone's support and encouragement as we weather yet another storm and climb yet another mountain on this adoption journey.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blessings Abound!

I just wanted to share some amazing news-- I woke this morning to see that I had a text from my husband on my phone.  We were granted the consulate appointment that we requested for January 25th!!!!  I cannot believe it!!  To say that I am overjoyed at the moment is an understatement.  This was our very last hurdle to jump over and as usual, God did not disappoint!!  And Heidi from our agency said that this appointment should not be taken for granted either-- the Chinese Consulate MADE an appointment opening for us at 9:30am because they new our situation and that we already had tickets booked to go home and that we had come over here to adopt a child who was aging out.  Otherwise, they have NO OPENINGS until the END of February!!!!  Amazing.  I am still in awe at God's love and mercy.  The Consulate even said they are looking forward specifically to meeting us and him at his appointment.  I am so looking forward to meeting them too!
I have never felt so surrounded by love and have never felt such a peace about something I am doing in my entire life.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that this child was meant to be in our lives.  He was brought here only because of miracle after miracle and our faith has been stregnthened beyond measure because of it.  I explained on one of my Yahoo groups that I feel like a kid in a candy store, or maybe it should be a child on Christmas morning, who has just gotten EVERYTHING she asked for!  I almost feel guilty!  We have truly gotten EVERY THING we have asked for in this journey-- Tim to have a good job, a social worker who would approve us and get our HS done quickly, an agency who would work with us despite the short time frame, help from others financially to get this thing accomplished, paperwork and travel dates and expediting from both the USCIS and Chinese government to come through, and much more.  And certainly that last one has been a biggie-- when has anyone here known of two governments to work together so willingly and so quickly to get something done and they actually do it and do it well!!??  A miracle in itself, that is what that is!
And as a result we have the blessing of a sweet new child to call our own.  He really is such a sweetie too.  He is quiet, but not shy.  He is so friendly and go-with-the-flow.  I know he will be a blessing to our family.  A child who would probably not get looked at twice here because of his cleft lip and the way it has made his mouth and nose look, will have the opportunity to get some of that fixed once he gets home, and more importantly have the love of a family.  Brothers and sisters waiting for him-- which he is so excited about-- and a Mama and Baba to call his own.
And TODAY is his 14th birthday!!  Happy Birthday sweet Gideon Sage Lie Rowe!!  It has all come together for good and we love you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More from Beijing

Yes our sightseeing yesterday was wonderful and the visit to the Great Wall was spectacular, but perhaps the greatest thing about the whole day was that we FINALLY got our luggage!!  Just kidding of course, the other things were much more wonderful, but I don't think I know a person who has ever been so happy to see two bags as I was last night at midnight when they were brought to our room!  I simply could have kissed the bell boy-- had I not been in my pajamas, hair piled on top of my head and sleep still in my eyes because I had been asleep since 7pm.  (that hike up the Great Wall will WEAR YOU OUT!  Especially if you are trying to do it in Ugg-like boots because you still don't have your sneakers!)
Truly though I am greatful to have my stuff back.  I am sure the poor people at the desk downstairs and at the restaurant have gotten just as tired of seeing me in the same sweater and jeans as I have gotten of wearing them.  And as a side-note-- if you ever find yourself having to buy underwear in China..... make sure you size up!  Quite a bit!!  When I opened my package of sz L undies from the WalMart here  (yes, I said WalMart believe it or not) I was shocked to find that they looked like they would fit my 12 year old Schuyler quite nicely.  Nevertheless, I squeezed myself into them because they were fresh and clean and I made them work! ;)
So our sightseeing trip yesterday truly was a blast.  A once in a lifetime adventure that I know I will always remember, and it was fun to see it through the eyes of my two boys too.  Gideon had never been there before either, as I had imagined he hadn't, and the awe and wonder on his face was awesome!  Evan and I took lots of pictures, but they truly don't do the Great Wall justice.  The steepness of the stairs just cannot be adequately explained, and knowing that you are walking on centuries of history and visiting one of the great wonders of the world is extraordinary.  Our legs were burning as we climbed it huffing and puffing in the 20-something weather, but at least it was not windy and it was very sunny out.  We panted and wheezed with the rest of the visitors around us as we ventured up to the third tower, which was where I said I had had enough.  The boys and our guide continued upward to the fifth and final tower that you are allowed to go to at that section and even Evan was complaining that his legs were like Jello as we later made our way down.  My legs were shaking so badly, and so were Gideon's!  He laughingly had to stop and sit after we got down he was so wobbly!  Truly an awesome experience, and I wish the rest of our family could have been there too.   I know my Grayson would have been racing to the top with his brothers!
Before the Great Wall we actually stopped at the Jade Factory.  Can't wait to post pics of that too.  Amazing craftsmanship was all around us.  Such beautiful pieces and the place was huge!
After the Great Wall we visited the Cloissene factory.  Again, truly amazing!  They start by heating up and molding copper into whatever shape they will be making-- beads for jewelry, vases, figurines, little boxes, you name it.  Then they painstakingly apply jade powder in different colors to make the intricate designs on the copper.  Really beautiful work and again the place was huge!  We ate lunch at their restaurant and it was marvelous!  We had dumplings which are like our potstickers, fried rice with shrimp, spring rolls and sweet and sour chicken with green tea to drink.  Yummy and amazing lunch!  And very inexpensive considering the amount of food we got- only about $23 for the three of us and we were very full!
So today we are off to the notary to get his visa, then tomorrow to pick up his passport.  Friday we fly out to Guangzhou where I am told the weather is much more balmy-- 50 degrees, flowers and palm trees!  Cannot wait!  My parka has been great, so glad I brought it, but I am ready to give it a break for awhile.
We received our letter from the NVC today (National Visa Center) which told us that our I800 has been officially approved which means we can now claim Gideon as a member of our family.  Yeah, another step down!  But we still have no word on our consulate appt.  that will be our last hurdle, hopefully getting one before the Chinese New Year.  That would be a TRUE miracle at this point in time, but I am still hopeful.  We will wait and see.  If we don't get one before the new year, we won't be home till mid February.  Oy vey!
Anyway, we are just having a marvelous time visiting this truly amazing city.  Good food, such nice and helpful people, and amazing sights.  Most of all of course, we are doing it in the company of my newest son and Evan's new brother.  He is a very sweet child, so happy all the time despite us dragging him around everywhere for paperwork or sightseeing.  He is quick to smile and seems to be having fun too.  I am so glad he and Evan have hit it off so well despite still not being able to talk much.  But hopefully the communication will come in time and they can grow even closer.
Can't wait to get back and introduce him to the rest of the family!  He is definitely not shy which is great, very outgoing and polite!  But he doesn't say much, he is pretty quiet, so I hope the other kids don't overwhelm him.  My kids like to talk!! (like their mother, yes I know those of you who know me were thinking that already!! :) )
That is about all for now.  Can't wait for breakfast.  It is about 6:30 our time and I have been up since 3.  We have adjusted really well to the time difference, but I was so tired yesterday I conked out at 7 and then of course woke up way before I should have.
I will try to write more before we leave Beijing-- keep us in your prayers!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gotcha Day

I am happy to report that Zou Lie (pronounced Zow Lee-yay) is now officially Gideon Sage Lie Rowe!!  We had our Gotcha Day this past Sunday January 16th and were presented with our son at 10:30 in the morning!
This whole journey has truly been a miracle!  Even our guide here, George, said that it was a miracle for Gideon to be joining our family.  He knows how quickly we had to do things and how very very close this was to not happening at all.
We left on our trip to China on Thurs. Jan 13th.  The very first thing we hit a roadblock, and as usual the Great Almighty found a way around it for us!  Our plane was supposed to take us toAtlanta then Seattle then Beijing, but the wing of the plane was damaged by a catering truck of all things!  So they decided the plane could not fly and I immediately got on my phone to call the 1-800 number they gave us to see what our alternatives were.  The Delta agent found a flight for us going to Minneapolis instead then to Tokyo (!!) then to Beijing and it would arrive only two hours after originally planned.  So I said YES put us on it-- my 15 year old son Evan is traveling with me while my husband holds down the fort at home.  Well, we got over to the gate for that flight and wouldn't you know it, that plane is having computer trouble.  They aren't going to let that one fly either!  So I got on the phone to Delta again, and just as she is telling me there are no other flights out that day that are not booked solid already, the pilot comes back on saying they got it fixed and we are going!  Thank God for miracle number one in this leg of the journey!
So we got on our flight and off we went.  It was a great trip really-- got to see tons of snow in Minneapolis and then hang out in Japan for a couple hours!  The plane rides and landings were smooth and we even got to rest a bit.
Bummer part of this was that they of course lost our luggage because of the flight change.  I had a feeling they would.  So we filled out forms when we got to Beijing which took a while.  Our poor guide George almost left the airport without us thinking we might have already gone to the hotel.  I am so glad he didn't!  But don't you know, we STILL don't have our luggage 4 days later!  They told me today it is in Manila.  Manila!!  My luggage is more of a world traveller than I am!  Now they tell us we should be getting it early tomorrow morning.  I pray that we do because one can only wear the same two shirts and two pairs of pants so many times without getting wierd looks!
So we got dropped off at the hotel by George, and luckily had the next day to rest.  Evan and I ate breakfast then explored the city a little.  We went to the silk market and to the Starbucks-- of course-- then headed back for a long nap in the afternoon.
The next day was Sunday, our Gotcha day, and as I said, we got to meet Gideon at 10:30 in the morning.  That was miracle number two pulled off by wonderful Heidi at our agency and also the wonderful Chinese government, because when I left we still did not have TA.  Through both their works it got issued late Thurs afternoon or early Friday China time.  I am so glad because if it hadn't George said the orphanage would not have let us come get him until we had it.
Our first meeting went well.  The orphanage director was very nice.  He told us Gideon is a good boy.  He is of average intelligence, and his favorite subject is Science.  He also loves soccer and computer games.  I showed him pictures of our home and family on my phone and we tried to talk a little with George's help.  Gideon is a very happy boy, and told us he was really glad to be getting adopted.  He was also thrilled that he had brothers and sisters waiting for him at home, and he loved looking at the pictures of his Baba waiting for him in the US.  He is not a talkative boy though, probably in part because this is all new to him, but in general I think that may just be his personality.  Very friendly and sweet and happy, but a boy of a few words.
He has been great with all the running around we have to do.  I often wonder what is going through his mind as we drag him hither and yon and if he really knows what all is happening.  We had to go to the translator's office yesterday, and the civil affairs office today.  Tomorrow is a break and we get to go tour the jade factory and the Great Wall of China!  I used my Google Translateto tell him that and he seems very excited!  Then the day after we go to the notary.
The journey to get everything done at the Civil Affairs office today was miracle number 3 and perhaps the happiest one of all!  We have been working off copies of all our paperwork since we got here because the originals never made it to my house because of the snowstorm.  SO when my husband finally did receive them, he sent them right off so we could get them here at the hotel.  They were to arrive by Tuesday, tomorrow for us, at the latest.  The lady at the Civil Affairs office made it very clear to George that although she could work with the copies for now, that the adoption could not be legally finalized without the originals, and they HAD to be here by Wednesday at the latest because he turns 14 on Thursday.
So knowing this, we were both very stressed and worried, hoping there would be no more mail delays to hold this up or even prevent it from happening altogether.  We headed back to the hotel and George came in with me to make sure the Concierge knew that paperwork was coming for us and that it was imperative to get it to me as soon as it arrived.  I also wanted to check on the status of my luggage again.  Well wouldn't you know, right as we are all standing there, in walks the Fed Ex delivery man.  I casually said to Evan, "Wouldn't that be great if that envelope was ours?" knowing it couldn't be because it wasn't due to arrive until tomarrow.  So we are watching the man behind the counter entering info onto his computer and trying to look up who the package was for when Evan says, "Mom, that looks like your name on there."  I said, "Evan, that couldn't be." and he goes, "But I think it is!"  Sure enough I look closer and see my name!  Well poor man, I really did practically grab it out of his hand to see it, and sure enough, it was our paperwork!!  Well I let out a whoop and George and I were hi-fiving eachother and hitting the counter and laughing, and all the poor men behind the concierge desk are looking at us like we are absolutely crazy!  So I explained the situation and then they understood and were offering us their congratulations.  It really was amazing that it got here a day before scheduled.  We were sooooo grateful!  So we all set back out with paperwork in hand back to the civil affairs office to give them the original power of attorney forms.  The lady was really glad to see us and told me that the hard part was now over!  Now we don't have to be concerned about whether our son is actually coming home with us or not!  We are so grateful!
So today we explored again, this time WalMart and the mall shopping center by it, as well as the mall beneath our hotel which is huge!  We ate lunch at the mall food court and it was really delicious, then we came back to the hotel, hung around for awhile and went to dinner.  Oh, and while at WalMart I had my first experience with a Chinese toilet!  It went way better than planned, but I am so glad I had tissues in my pocket.  There is no toilet paper in sight.  Don't really know what the locals do about that one!  The Walmart was a cool experience too.  It had lots of food so we got to see everything from frozen frogs to all sorts of meats, chicken feet, whole roasted ducks with their heads on, as well as a variety of fruits, veggies, fish and baked goods.  I would have loved to snap pictures in there, but didn't want to come across as a complete weirdo taking pictures in the grocery store!
So tonight I will sleep a little more peacefully, with the exception of Gideon's snoring :), knowing that my boys are both sleeping on either side in their beds.  It has all been a good experience for us so far.  I hate that we cannot communicate more, it makes the getting-to-know you stage that much more difficult.  But hopefully with time that will change and we will be able to get to know more of his personality when he is home with our family.  Soon it will probably be like he was always there, just like it is for the daughter we have adopted too.
Thanks to everyone for their continued prayers!  Please keep praying that we get one of our originally requested consulate dates so we can all get home more quickly and not have to stay until February because of the Chinese New Year.  That would be very long to wait and as much as we are enjoying and savoring our experiences here, I cannot wait for him to meet the rest of the family and for them to welcome him into their lives as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

God is in Control!

I know he is, I just have to remind myself sometimes.  I know that everything will work out according to His plan and His will, but at times like these it gets hard to trust.  There is sooo much at stake.

We received word today that our paperwork has not reached the National Visa Center and is waylayed.  Now I haven't received the paperwork I NEED to bring with me from our agency.  It is somewhere with UPS in Greensboro.  This snowstorm has really messed things up. 

Oh Lord, please help us get everything we need on time and get it all to where it needs to go on time.  Please hear my prayers Lord, you have each and every time before and have answered them.  This child's very life depends on those little pieces of paper.  We have such a short time, no time to spare really. 

Please everyone pray that all this comes together the way that it should, that there are no more delays in paperwork or in flights, and that we can adopt our son before his birthday next Thursday.  He is our son.  I have to go and get him and bring him home.  Please let it be so.

Almost There!

I cannot believe I am actually writing this post saying that in just TWO short days my son and I will be flying to Beijing, China to bring a new son into our family!  Wow!  Wow wow wow!  Words cannot express the emotions and the excitement right now.  God has been so good to us.  Without Him none of this would have been possible.  He has carried us through the ups and downs, the uncertainties and the victories in this whole adventure and He has shown us every step of the way that He will provide a way for us to do His will if we just remain faithful!  He has used His people to aid us and encourage us every step of the way on this journey as well and it has been so uplifting!  I know He will guard and guide us and keep us safe as we step out into a foreign land to bring this child home.

There are so many things going through my mind right now it is hard to keep it all straight.  There are the logistics of it all-- making sure my bags are packed with everything we will need, making sure they don't weigh too much, thinking of all the necessities as well as some fun things to keep two teenage boys occupied for two weeks!  There is the paperwork we have still yet to receive from our agency but which is due to arrive today, the paperwork I need to remember to bring with us, the money I need to have and to top it all off a snowstorm which is hindering me from being able to get out and get some of my last minute errands done!!

 I tell ya, so many obstacles have come our way.....the house fire recently and now LOTS of snow.  But I am confident that God will overcome any of these obstacles.  He always does.  They might have made things more difficult for us-- being out of our home for two weeks, and now not having my regular computer or my printer and fax which I have relied on heavily, or ice covered roads preventing me from now going somewhere to make those copies I need to bring!!-- but maybe this is God's way of testing me, testing my resilience and endurance. No matter what things are put in my way, this adoption will get done! 

In addition now the NBC is saying they are behind on processing our paperwork, along with many other families' paperwork, because of the recent weather.  Our agency was hoping we would be a bit more ahead by now.  We still probably won't get our TA until we travel which means we won't know what day our consulate appointment is until after we get to China.  We are praying that it is one of the days we requested so that we don't have to wait until after the Chinese New Year.  That would make us stay in-country another 10 days!!  This would incur much more expense and also mean that I would be away from my family for a month!  Please pray for our appointment to be either the 25th or 26th as requested and that all our paperwork continues to move forward on time!!

As many others have told me, we would not have been enabled to come this far by He who sees all things, just to have it all end now.  We have to stay strong, believe and have faith, and move forward. 

I absolutely cannot wait for our Gotcha Day this Sunday January 16th!  To actually see my child's face for the first time and to be able to embrace him and introduce him to his new brother will certainly be one of the greatest moments of my life.  Just like a birth, it is looked forward to with much anticipation as well as anxiety.  But rather than worrying over labor pains, I will be worrying about adjustments, transitions and all the pains that come with him acclimating to a new family, a new language, a new culture and a new life. Right now my husband and I do not even know if he knows we are coming.  He might have been told by now or he might not have.  We worry about how he will feel about this news, if he will be excited that he is coming home to America, or perhaps not.  We know that the love and the bond will take time to form, we just can't wait to begin that process.  It is an exciting time for our whole family!

Please take a look at the video below and listen to the words.  I cannot wait for the day when I can put pictures of our family, complete with our newest son, to this video and KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that he is OURS and that he finally has a HOME!!!!!  All his fears will be relieved, his anxiety about not knowing what his future holds can come to an end, he will have a family to love him forever and a home to return to whenever he needs to feel love.  God will have finally given him a home. Keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We Leave in Just 9 Days!!!!!!!

Wow!  I cannot believe the time is almost here for me to go to China and pick up our new son!!  It really has flown.  It has been lots of hard work to get to this point, but I never could have accomplished this without the help, support (both financial and otherwise) and prayers of so many other people.  God has truly worked through His people to bring this child home to us and we are supremely grateful!!

Please continue to pray that all will go according to plan-- that our flights will arrive safely and on time, that our consulate appointment will be one that we asked for so that we don't have to remain in China through the Chinese New Year, and that Gideon adjusts to us well as his new family.
We are also still in need of about $2000 to cover our basic expenses.  Perhaps a little more, but we have not gotten our final numbers from our agency yet regarding accommodations and such.  Please pray that these funds will appear when we need them just as the others have so far!  And if you can donate to our adoption, we would be so grateful!!

Thank you for everyone's support and love throughout this journey so far.  I hope it continues to move forward without any challenges or pitfalls.

Also pray for my husband at this time.  I will be leaving him to contend with our 4 other children at home, as well as a house that is still in need of some repair after the fire back on the 26th.  Ask God to grant him strength and wisdom throughout all of this so that he will not get even more overwhelmed!

Our God is an awesome God and we give Him all the glory!!  Can't wait to meet my new, not so little, boy!!!