The Road To Ren

Our adoption journey to our son Ren William.

Musings by Elaine and other Blitherings. This blog was origonally intended to document our China adoption journey to our son Ren. Now we are home and this blog is about our family. I would love to have you sign my guest book.

Scroll to bottom to see slideshow pictures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Update on the Home Front

Things are going remarkably smooth here. You would think Ren has been living here all along. Oh I know that we still have adjustments and we are continuing to bond, but the changes have been swift and amazing. God has really blessed us.

Ren does not particularly like nap time or going to bed, but he has begun to let me rock him to sleep! He is an extremely sweet and affectionate little boy! He has now accepted me. I guess he just needed time. And why not, I was a complete stranger to him at first. Now I get hugs, kisses and smiles that would melt anyones heart (all day long)! He snuggles in now when I hold him instead of being stiff and pulling away.

Mark went to work yesterday and he hugged and kissed him and waved goodbye to Ba Ba and he was fine the rest of the day. Mark also got a HUGE reception when he came home, complete with squealing and jumping and more hugs and kisses!

Today Eden goes back to school. This might prove challenging to me. He is an active little boy who loves to play and he will be losing his playmate. We will see what happens. He is really pretty easy going. We still have some melt downs over the fact that he has lost his ability to communicate with us, but he is starting to use English now. Yesterday he asked me for an apple in English! I think he understands a lot more than we realize. He is a smart little boy.

Eden is probably having the biggest adjustment right now. She has to share mom and dad and all her toys. This has been a little hard for her. I think being back in school will help. She loves school and I can bond with Ren while she is there and focus on her when she comes home.

On another note Ren went #2 on the potty yesterday. We made a big deal about it. I don't expect this to happen all the time but hey, this is a huge step! At least he tried and wasn't afraid of our western toilets. For those of you who are wondering what is NOT a western toilet I am posting a picture of the toilet Mark took at Wuxi SWI. The smaller children also use small potty chairs. Here is a picture of what we call a squatty potty. The blue tile is the floor.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Eden and Ren in GuangzhouMark's beautiful birthday cake. It tasted as good as it looked too. The numbers are backward LOL!
Sweet Kevin with the most adorable cheeks!


The blue legs are Ren's. Trying to get the kids to pose for traditional red couch pictures.


Ren posing with Eden and his best friend beautiful Su Su!



Red Couch picture.





Family Red couch picture.




We are home and we are happy!! I am sitting here typing this while my 2 littlest, Eden and Ren are happily playing Lego's! they have been building things and chattering happily for the last hour. Yes we have our very normal "he's not sharing!" spats and sibling rivalry stuff, but it is all normal stuff and then they are back to playing. They are pretty much inseparable!

Our trip back home was very uneventful. We left Beijing at 6:30 PM so the kids fell asleep at their normal bedtime and slept the rest of the way home! The jet lag has not been that hard this time (hallelujah!).

So how was our trip in China? It was hard but VERY worth it :-). It probably wouldn't of been so hard had we not gotten sick. Dr. Gong met us in Nanjing on gotcha day and was a lifesaver for us! He is a wonderful man who comes and sees the children when you get them. He also checked Mark and I out and brought back Rx meds for us that saved us and our trip! Kudos to Dr. Gong!!! Anyone meeting him will love him.

I must say that adopting a 3 and a half year old was quite a different experience than adopting a 23 month old (Eden). Of course every child is an individual and every experience will be different for everyone.

So in the spirit of keeping this blog real I have decided to share some of my feelings. I am normally a very private person, but I feel sharing my feelings with anyone who is about to embark on an adoption trip for an older child or toddler might help. I knew it was going to be hard, and it was. We had a easy "gotcha" moment but the first week was tough. Ren bonded first to Mark and wanted nothing to do with me. This is quite normal, but it still hurt after waiting over a year for him and not being able to hold and cuddle him like I wanted to do. Mark took over the parenting duties the first week and was AWESOME with Ren. He was so patient with him (but maybe not so much with the locals, he he he).

He had many melt downs and huge temper tantrums. In public I might add. In China staring and pointing are not rude. It is just a cultural difference. So being out in public with your screaming child while everyone is taking notice is a bit disconcerting. Especially when they are pointing or video taping you for their amusement (yes this happened). We learned very quickly to just stick close to the hotel and to ignore the staring, these people are not being malicious.

When we first met Ren and during most our trip he was bouncing off the walls, sometimes literally :-). We had thoughts of "what have we done??" during our first week and was sure he was hyperactive (just keeping it real people). I can say with certainty he is not hyperactive. One of our Directors of our adoption agency gave us very good advice. She helped me realize that during the adoption transition sometimes these children's brains become very overstimulated because of the changes in their lives. I would agree that this is exactly what Ren went through. Now that we are home he is a very different child. He is cuddly (with me too, YAY) and very relaxed. He has a very long attention span now. So for anyone adopting from China, your first 2 weeks may not give you a good picture of your child's personality! Hang in there and wait! 2 weeks is not enough time to see the real child. We are probably in a "honeymoon" period now and I'm sure we will be tested, but really now, he is a typical 3 year old :-D.

The first two weeks were a transition for Mark and I too. There were a lot of moments of stress and times we just had to use humor to get through things. So how do we feel now? Sometimes the most rewarding things in life are the hardest things to do. We are blessed with an adorable sweet little boy who we are in LOVE with!!! We will never forget our time in China. We traveled with AWESOME travel mates who were so supportive and wonderful! Love you all and miss you too if you are reading this!!!

Thank you God for Ren and for bringing us home safely!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Packing up!



We have started packing up today. We fly to Beijing tomorrow afternoon and have a 5 hour lay over (yippee). Then we fly straight through to DC. We are ready to go home. It will be nice to sleep in our own beds and eat home cooked meals again.




Today we go to the American Consulate to take our oath, get Ren's Visa and final paperwork. It is now off the Island so we take a bus and it will take up most of our afternoon. Then we come back and take the traditional red couch pictures at the White Swan.




Every day has gotten a little easier with Ren. He is pretty much a wild man :-D! He is starting to understand more and get frustrated less. He will listen if he knows what we are saying. His temper tantrums are now only a few minutes instead of lets just say a long time. He is a very sweet, compassionate, and smart little boy. We just love him and know it takes time for all the adjustments to happen, his life has changed so quickly in the last few days.




Thank you to everyone for the well wishes and comments! I loved reading them. Eden really enjoyed all the comments from Mrs. Faulwell and her class at Jenifer Elementary. Thanks again and sorry I haven't had time to respond to all of them but they meant so much to us!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Guangzhou








We are enjoying our time in Guangzhou. It has changed a little bit since we were here last and it is fun exploring and walking around. There is now a Starbucks here!! Yay!! The coffee tastes just like it does at home. That's kind of nice when you are a little homesick :-).

Last night we took the kids on a river cruise down the Pearl River. We had a wonderful time and the city was lit up like Christmas!! It was really beautiful. The kids really enjoyed it too. We all had a wonderful time until Ren wanted to stick his head out the railing of the boat. I did not feel like jumping in the Pearl river to get him so I had to tell him no. Funny thing is he doesn't like to be told no. Mark (my hero) intervened and held Ren while he had a melt down, emotionally and literally. Unfortunately while Mark was holding him Ren also had a poopy diaper =O. Lets just say they both had to change their clothes. Mark was a very good sport about it and we all had a good laugh on the way home in the Taxi. I'm sure the Taxi driver thought we were crazy!

Ren's Mandarin for a 3.5 year old is incredible. He has long conversations with anyone he can and loves to talk to the Chinese girls. He is such a flirt ;-). He has gone from being able to communicate quite well to hardly at all with us. We tried to learn as much as we could before we came but it is very difficult for us to communicate in Mandarin so we have many tantrums. I can imagine how hard it is for him. We are also using sign language and he has picked up well on this and even makes up his own signs!!! He is a remarkable little boy. If anyone is wondering whether to learn Mandarin before being united with their older children I would say YES!
Today we go for Ren's medical exam and then more shopping.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Last Stop

videoWe arrived late last night in Guangzhou which is the final stop in our journey. Ren loved the airplane ride! When the plane took off he turned to us and yelled"WOW!" Ren and Eden are getting along great. More later. Mark

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Last Day in Nanjing

This is our last day in Nanjing! Nanjing is a very interesting city. We toured a brocade factory yesterday and saw incredible dresses and clothes. Then we went to the Nanjing city wall and walked around. I got a lot of pictures but I am not going to attempt to download them here today (sorry). I will try and post them later in Guangzhou. Hopefully my computer will work better there.

We had a wonderful celebratory dinner last night with our whole group and our guide Anna bought Mark a surprise birthday cake!! It was beautiful and very delicious!

Ren is doing wonderful. He is smart and absolutely adorable. He is adjusting more and more each day. He is still more attached to daddy though, which is OK. I am getting precious kisses now so I don't need anything else!!!!! He is starting to use more English also, I wouldn't say he is communicating in English but he is learning. He speaks mandarin so well that I think he thinks we should learn his language. He is such a sweetheart! He loves seeing his friends in our group and they all are sharing their food and make sure they all have something to eat. He sings and dances, I think they spent a lot of time in class learning things!

I was initially worried bout Eden and how well she would do on this trip. She has been an only child in the house for awhile. She is doing really well also. There is the normal sibling rivalry but nothing major. We do have to have 2 of everything for now though :-). She has been a great traveler and a very good big sister!

Eden wants to give a big shout out to Jenifer Elementary!!! She says hi and she misses you , she will see you when she gets back!!

Today we fly to Guangzhou and stay at the famous White Swan Hotel. Our whole group is looking forward to warmer weather. The weather in Nanjing has been nice actually just a little chilly at times. Guangzhou should be in the 70's!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What A Day!


Waking up in China on any given day is exciting, but waking up in China on your 45th Birthday is especially cool! The best part is being with my family! Having such a beautiful wife and two of the cutest kids to share my birthday with make it the best ever, as far as I am concerned.
Today we are going to take a walking tour of Nanjing which should be cool. Ren is definitely a Daddy's boy! He wont let me out of his sight and yells "Bah Bah!" which means Daddy in Chinese.
Yea... I would say this is starting out to be the be the best birthday ever! I can hardly take it all in without getting a little choked up. Ren is already learning English words... Not bad for day three. He is a "charmer" Last night at dinner we were walking back to the table and he walked up to a pretty Chinese lady and smiled. She rubbed his cheek and told him what a handsome little boy he was. He knodded in agreement... I need to find out what the Chinese word for "little clown" is. He told the Nannies that he was Edens big brother, NOT her little brother. You could tell by the way Ren acted at the Orphanage, he pretty much ruled the roost during his tenure. Ren loves to see the other children that were adopted, and when he does, he talks to them and takes them food. Right now he is going through his photo album naming every person in the pictures. Did I mention this was the best birthday ever...
Mark




Internet Finally!



We had thought we would be able to post pictures and journal everyday, but I have not been able to get on the internet. Broadband is a "relative" term I will forego telling you all my frustration with it. I have so much to share i don't know where to start. This is the first day I have felt halfway human since we got here. Our whole group has been battling a weird array ailments since our arrival and are all doing better now. Yesterday we finalized our adoption of Ren! He and Eden are getting along like two siblings do. The play, hold hands, laugh, and then fight a little, its all pretty funny. Today we went to Ren's Orphanage and had lunch. I was expecting duck bill soup, but what I got was one of the best meals I have ever eaten in China (Pic above). By now you have probably figured out this is Mark posting this instead of Elaine because I am talking about food.
Ren is a little "ham" and even marched up to the bell hop at the Hotel and gave him a salute. The salute was a little weak, but I will will work on it with him LOL. Ren is defininitely the right kid for us! Last night he told our tour guides that he tried steak once and liked it! He has a great appetite and will know if he wants or doesnt want something.
One thing I forgot was that sooo many people smoke over here in lobbies and restaraunts. It is a little hard on the eyes and lungs when you are not used to it.
Tomorow we are going on a walking tour of Nanjing. This city is beautiful! lots of hustle and bustle, people with all their possesions on a bicycle, but somehow its flow is a a symphony of chaos. Sorry for the internet problems (common here). We will try to post more tomorrow.
Mark