Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let's Talk About Arwyn

Hey Ya'll.  Well I'm remiss in my posting duties!  Tonight we are in Guangzhou, Guangdong in the SouthEastern part of China.  I am hanging in the Starbucks listening to Louie Armstrong and really missing home but glad to be here and thankful for Nathan, Noah and Arwyn.  We arrived in GZ on Friday night around 8:30 after a short flight from Guiyang.  I want to tell you about Arwyn, or at least a little bit about her, tonight.

I'll start with our first meeting.  Last Monday, after 3.5 years of waiting, the director of the  Tongren Social Welfare Institute along with one of the teachers, walked into the Guizhou Center for Adoption Affairs with a confused but smiling little girl who instantly won our hearts.  She was introduced to us and pretty much came right to us (which concerned me just a little - but now I think all is well).  Right away the paperwork started and our guide and the adoption center folks worked on that while we all got acquainted.  Arwyn right away seemed as if she was beginning a grand adventure and was happy to be with us. 

I remembered the picture album we sent to her and asked for it.  Luckily the orphanage director remembered it and gave it to her (it is often forgotten so I was thankful for this.)  We began looking at it with her and gave her a couple of more things to occupy her while we worked on our portion of the paperwork.  She was so pleasant the entire time and looked so big (thanks to the many layers of WOOL she was in.  Of course, it was VERY cold that morning, so I was glad she was dressed warmly.) 

We then had the opportunity to ask questions of the teacher about her and her habits and what she likes and doesn't like.  They seemed very fond of her and her of them, which is a good thing.  I have to tell you, Arwyn is SO healthy compared to so many children that come from orphanages and foster care - I don't mean just in terms of China, but the US, parts of Africa, Asia, all over.  The care of the children in the orphanges in China is SO much better now than it was 5 years ago even, thanks in part to the donations made by adoptive families. 

We have folks in our travel group whose first children came malnourished, had scalps covered in boils, were covered in bugbites.  Not to say that does not still happen still here of a few orphanages that do not provide adequate care for the children....but out of the 10 families in our travel group, all 10 children seem well cared for (they came from 8 different orphanages)

Back to Arwyn!  She has the most incredible spirit and she loves us so much.  The days have been fairly easy with her.  We have been wearing her in the sling quite a bit ( not small feat as the girl is heavy!).  Yesterday we finally bought an umbrella stroller as we are getting tired of  carrying girlfriend everywhere, though she loves it!!!!  Actually, we are still wearing her part of the time as we understand the importance of touching her and caring for her to facilitate our bonding. 

She is picking up English very well. She is really lacking in her Chinese.  We thought this was due to her cleft issues, and largely are.  However, what we have realized is because of her cleft the orphanage workers more than likely allowed her speech to develop on its own without correcting her pronunciation.  Judging by the English words she is already saying, I am guessing that once she is in speech therapy, the mechanics will come easily. 

Arwyn is so independent.  She is not used to adults doing everything for her.  Part of me wants to be sure to not curb that independent spirit but I also want her to know that we are here to love and help her.  We have put on her shoes almost everytime they were needed and I dress and undress her, but she can do that and more on her own.  I can tell you that she can do things that Noah could not do until he was 5 - all due to having to do everything herself.  She also is a clean freak, which Nathan is thrilled about.  If anyting is out of place, she immediately puts it back.

She is one of the silliest children that Nathan and I have ever seen.  She has these faces she makes at us.  Though I felt like we were doing great as a  family and one on one bonding with her, it was not until the past 2 days that things really clicked.  While waiting for our luggage on Friday night (I had her in the sling), she was making faces at me.  She had been making these faces at us all week, but we had no idea what she was doing.  I finally started making them back at here and she laughed hysterically.  She had been waiting all week for that reaction!  She and I stood making these faces over and over again for 10 minutes while waiting for Nathan and Noah to get the bags.  We both laughed and laughed.  People around us were staring and laughing as well!

Then, yesterday, we were finally able to get her down for a nap (thank God!).  She was so rested and last night was the first night she went to bed with no fears and no tears.  We made a huge breakthrough on that one.

We are both so amazed that this kid has not been with us forever.  I think that most of us adoptive parents have many fears surrounding our adoptions.  Are we making good decision?  Will we be good parents?  Will we meet their needs?  Will we be able to attach???????  Every fear melted away when that little girl walked in the room.  We are so happy with her and she seems to be happy with us.  Noah loves her and she him.  In fact, Noah was probably the first thing she said after "mama" and "baba." 

Well, I'm exhausted and want to get back to my book - The Lost Symbol.  I'll try to post more in the next couple of days.  I want to share my thoughts on Guiyang here as well while they are still in my mind.

Have a great night....see you in 8 days.  (Someone make me some sweet tea.....PLEASE!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Photos

Ni Hao Ya'll.  Here are a few photos from Day 2 in Beijing.  They are mostly of the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.  There is one of Nathan and Noah in Tiennamen Square (notice Chairman Mao's picture).  Finally, there is one of the mountains we flew over into Arwyn's province.    The children with Noah are the children of the other parents in our travel group.  If Noah looks unhappy in a couple of the photos, don't get alarmed.  He is pretending to be the Emperor.  Please keep us in you thoughts today as today is the day we get Arwyn.  I am visualizing an easy transition for her over the next few days that are full of love and without fear. 

Day 3

Well, here we are once again waiting for a plane.  I'm beginning to see a pattern.  I'm several chapters into The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown and Nathan and Noah are playing travel checkers so I thought I would take this opportunity to blog. Our plane to Guiyang is delayed due to heavy fog.  Luckily, the Beijing airport is very nice and modern.  In fact, we are in Terminal 3 which is a magnificent structure built to accommodate the heavy plane traffic from the 2008 Olympics.  Of course, that would indicate that there is not normally heavy plane traffic.  Let me assure you, there is heavy plane traffic at all hours of the day.  This airport is not the 3rd largest airport in the world and is built to represent a turtle when viewed from the outside.  It is all glass and steel and has every modern convenience imaginable, including all Western potties! 

I want to find a way to convey to you some of my thoughts thus far of China.  First of all, there are many minorities in China.  Very many cultures and peoples melted together into one, much like the US.  Of course, in China, there are similarities in appearance, unlike the US where we have many different complexions, hair color and eye color.  As a Westerner, I have walked through life having largely two ideas of what China is like.  The first is a bit romanticized and looks like a movie set in ancient China.  The next is a much less positive view of China set in post Mao times where the colors of grey and green dominate everything.  The reality???? Amazingly, somewhere in between. 

The people of China seem both very solemn and very joyful all at the same time.  We have seen so many smiles and so much laughter from the people, but there is an air of harshness that hangs over life here.  I am not sure why.  It has not been so long that China has been largely industrialized and in the larger cities there are many people that have migrated here from rural areas in recent times.   Life is definitely harder here than many Americans are used to.  To be clear, many Americans do not live in cushy suburban or urban areas and I realize that.  But it is obvious here by the cramped living quarters, laundry hanging in the windows of even the tallest apartment buildings, the still many people who not only travel to work on a bicycle but use thier bicycles to conduct work....that life here is harder than in the US.

Many of the younger people - most really - have embraced the modern times.  Cell phones, lap tops, very hip clothing - these things dominate the younger culture.  Many of the older folk that lived through uncertain times still wear the Mao jackets in the color of Army green and have a very tired look in their eyes. 

Among all of that is the dominate color of red.  Of course, Westerners immediately associate that with Communism, but it isn't so.  Red and yellow were the imperial colors and are still used today.  It is so fascinating to see a country who is working so hard to modernize and throw off all ideas of superstition and religion to embrace these ancient symbols and colors in such a profound way.  I don't even know how to fully put into words my thoughts on this.  I am thrilled to see the continued use of the principles such as are seen in the art of feng shui and am saddened at the same time to know that many of China's youth are throwing out the traditions and superstitions that have long since guided this ancient country.

We are so fortunate that our adoption agency employs such incredible coordinators/guides.  Our guide Cindy is a history and culture buff and was such a fount of information.  She answered so many questions candidly.  She is a native of Beijing and has an obvious love of her culture.  In addition to working for CHI, she is a local guide and worked during the Olympics as a guide for the athletes and their families.

Speaking of the Olympics.  We drove by the stadium and it was very interesting.  Immediately upon entering the Beijing airport I was struck by the fact that everything was not only in Chinese but also in English.  I had been under the impression that very little English was in the airport - anywhere really.   I wondered how much impact the Olympics had on Beijing.  Apparent it had a huge impact.  We saw few store fronts, malls, restaurants, etc. that did not have English signs while on our whirlwind tour of the city.  The airport was easy to navigate thanks to the signs as well.  In preparation of the Olympics and the unveiling of the new China to the world, much transformation took place.  Much of the city was razed to make way for new hotels and skyscrapers.  The city streets were cleaned up (okay, I cannot imagine how they looked before if this is the cleaned up version), pollution cut (see previous statement about the "before"), roads where created, Western style toilets added (I'll post separately on the squatty potties).  Ultimately I am sure these changes were for the better.  From what I understand, the last 6 years have brought great change to the citizens of this capital city.

Well, that is all I have for now.  Noah wanted to send a shout out and you can read that below.  I am uploading some photos of our 2nd full day in China that  include the Forbidden City, Tiannamen Square and the Great Wall.  Oh, Noah fell asleep yesterday around 5:00 again and slept for several hours.  I am hoping that today will bring more of a settling in as we will spend the next 6 days with Arwyn in Guiyang, Guizhou.  We miss you all and will see you soon.  Hugs.

Noah's commentary:

We are going to see on Saturday my friends that I saw the last few days.  Their names are Avery, Julia, Emma and Jade.  They are all 6 years old and were all adopted from China.  They are the children of 4 other sets of parents in our travel group.  My favorite thing I saw was everything.  We went underground so we could get to the Tiennamen Square.  And, I went on the Great Wall of China.  I climbed many steps.  It was freezing cold.  And there was snow everywhere (but it was melting) except for the airport.  And, our plane was delayed in Newark. 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 2

Hi All.  It is 4:47AM in China and I have been awake since 12:30, yes, AM.  We've all been up for a few hours.  Apparently my stirrings woke up the sleeping King and Prince!  Actually, Noah had been asleep since 5PM yesterday so, he was scheduled to wake up.  Today, we will all try hard to stay up later so that we can sleep better.  We are packing our bags and heading to Guiyang which is the capital city of Arwyn's province.

Once we arrive and get settled, I'll send another post with photos of our Great Wall tour yesterday.  I have so many thoughts to share about China and have been journaling for Arwyn.  I will try to share some of them here after we get settled.

For family wanting to know where we have been staying in Beijing, here is a link to our hotel so you can see:

For now, keep us in your thoughts as we hop to the next city where we will receive a great gift tomorrow from the country of China.  We will be thinking of you all as Thanksgiving approaches.  We have so much to be thankful for during this season of gratitude.

"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." - Henry Ward Beecher

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 1

It's 4:00 AM  Beijing time.  Nathan and I are wide awake having slept for the last 8 hours.  Noah is still conked out, thankfully.  I cannot tell you when the last time was he fell asleep in the car during the day time, but after lunch yesterday we could not keep him awake. 

I have to tell you that the entire trip is a little surreal.  Part of me feels like it is a normal vacation, except we are coming home with a child.  Part of me feels so out of sorts and knows this is really monumental but I can't quite wrap my mind around it.  We have 2 families that have adopted previously and it seems sort of the same for them.  It has been interesting to see many of the Chinese people really staring at us.  Also, since two of the families are traveling with older adopted children from China,  many of the locals will stop and openly stare.  It will be interesting for us once we get Arwyn in Guizhou.  I am wondering how people will react to us.  With a population of a billion, I suppose the 10, 000 or so children adopted out each year are not really very many, so I am guessing many people have never seen a foreign family with adopted Chinese children. 

We began the day with a great Western style breakfast buffet in the hotel and then our group of 4 families left for the tour of the Temple of Heaven.  It is an incredible example of Chinese architecture and Feng Shui.  It is a sacrificial temple where the Emperor made sacrifices to the God of Heaven for the prosperity of his people.  We were there for quite a while and I can tell you that it is cold in Beijing.  The Temple park as it is now covers several hundred acres and much of it is barren of any landscape (right around the Temple) and it is cold and extremely windy.  We did not bring heavy coats but we are very layered and fared well in the cold.  Some of the families were not entirely prepared and as we were out in the cold most of the day, were quite chilled.

After the tour of the Temple we were taken to a traditional Chinese restaurant complete with entertainment.  We were served Chinese family style and it was quite tasty.  While we ate, dancers did traditional Chinese dances on the stage in front of us.  Today several other families will join us but yesterday there were 4 of us and two of the other families each brought a 6 year old girl with them.  One of those families has 5 girls (they brought one and the other 4 stayed home).  They are an amazing family.  One of their children is a bio child, 1 adopted from China and the other 3 are adopted from Ethiopia.  We were so touched at lunch yesterday as they shared their Ethiopian adoption story. 

She told us of a young mother that was clearly starving that showed up at the guest house where the Mom from our group was staying.  She was in labor and the families staying at the guest house held a piece of plastic over her while she gave birth on the doorstep.  They brought her in.....there was more, but in the end they helped her to the orphanage where she could get formula for her child as it was apparent that she was too malnourished to make milk.  Her stories were touching and heartbreaking and to hear them reminds me that while we are not adopting to save a child, in the  back of our minds, we know that these kids need help.

After lunch we headed to Hutong, the last remaining part of old Beijing.  Around 20 years ago, the older traditional areas of Beijing began to be torn down to make room for the hundreds of skyscrapers that are here.  We had the pleasure of taking rickshaws through this old city area and visited a traditional family home.  In fact, this family has owned this courtyard home for 40 years and one of the grandchildren was there giving tours of the family home.

By this point, we were all quite chilled having been outside since early that morning and we took the tour bus to our final destination, the Acrobatic show.  Noah and one of other children slept through the show, as well as myself and a few other parents.  Jet lag has definitely set in. 

After going to bed around 8PM last night and getting a full 8 hours of sleep, I think we are finally acclimating to the time change.  We are all starving - no dinner last night - too tired!  Today we are seeing the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.  If I had it to do over again, we would have hung out at the hotel all day yesterday and rested.  Oh well. 

I'm posting some photos of our tours yesterday for you guys to see back home.  There is Temple of Heaven, Noah, and the 3 of us in the rickshaw.  I have my face covered as the area we were in was very dusty and the wind was blowing.  Will post again tomorrow of the adventures of the Croys in China!

Hugs (2 days to Arwyn).



Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
-Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We Have Arrived!

Hey Ya'll, we have arrived in Beijing.  I won't give you all of the dry details of the trip, but here is a brief synopsis.  We left the house at 4:45 AM Nashville time on Wednesday.  Our first flight was on time and after a couple of hours layover we prepared to leave Newark on a Boeing 777.  After boarding the plane, we sat on the runway for approximately 2 hours as a maintenance problem was checked out.   Luckily, we were seated with and within a couple of rows of several other adoptive families.  2 other moms and I got up and "visited" the empty business section and chatted while the dads and kids vegged out in front of the seatback entertainment systems (every Waldorf child's dream - movies and games on demand!).

After 2 hours we were told the fuel pump needed to be changed (not exactly reassuring) but they allowed us all to disembark and gave us vouchers for lunch.  The fellow adoptive families regrouped after lunch and hung out until we boarded once again.  The flight itself was uneventful (what we want in a flight).  13+ hours later (6 hours late) and we were met in Beijing by a representative of our agency and taken to the hotel.

The hotel (the Radisson SAS) is an older but very nice hotel.  We had a very late dinner and hit the bed and are now back up (only 5 hours later) to prepare for a day of sightseeing. Nathan and I are very tired but ready to go.  Noah slept for at least 6 hours on the plane so he was not that interested in going to bed.  Now that we are here we hope we can get back on a good schedule of eating and sleeping.

It has been years since I have traveled on a long flight such as this one and now I remember why.  Noah and Nathan did very well but my severe motion sickness kicked in.  I snacked, wore sea bands for acupressure relief, took Bonine and ginger pills and still was extremely ill.  We have two short plane hops to take while in China and the plane ride home is 2 hours longer than the one here.  So, happy thoughts are appreciated for our trip home if you want to send them my way.

I have talked about this before and will tell you that the adoption program in China is slowing down and it will not surprise me if it comes to a complete halt within the next 5 years.  My personal thoughts are this is a good thing.  For China to no longer have the need to find homes for its children outside of its own walls means that it has reached a good place economically and more people can either afford to pay the fines associated with additional children - thus bringing the abandonment numbers down; it means more as well, but I will not write about that in this post. The reason I am saying this is all of the families we met are travelling for a special needs placement.  With the slow down of healthy China referrals the placement of SN children has increased and I cannot tell you how positive I believe this is on so many levels.  

Well, we are off now to breakfast, the Temple of Heaven and a Chinese acrobatic show.  I hope you can see the photo I posted of the Croys at the Nashville airport getting ready to leave.  Nathan's sister stayed with us and took us to the airport and we are so appreciative of her.

I'll try to post each day a little something.  We have 3 days before we will be given Arwyn and we are looking forward to that day but trying to stay in the moment and appreciate the time we have in Beijing.  Hugs to all and we miss you.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
-Henry David Thoreau

Monday, November 16, 2009

Less than 2 Days!

Hi All.  I have only minutes to spare as we are on the countdown.  We leave in about 36 hours for Beijing.  We are so thankful for so many of our friends and family and the support that has been given to us.  We look forward to seeing you all upon our return.  We'll be posting about our trip and uploading photos. 

Please keep Arwyn in your thoughts as she transitions over the next few weeks.

With love and thanks.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
-Henry David Thoreau

Monday, November 9, 2009

Getting Close

Well, I thought I would update where we are!!!

First, we are waiting for the US Consolate to grant us an appointment prior to leaving China. So, a few prayers in that direction would be great!!!!

I am busily getting us ready to go. Today, I am cleaning the den and putting it back together after the plumbing work we had a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, Nathan did some deep cleaning on that front as well.

Tomorrow...committee work for school and on to Yankee Candle.

Wednesday and Friday will be spent painting Arwyn's room. Yes, I know we leave in a week.

Saturday we'll just be cleaning and doing laundry and getting ready to go.

Sunday Nathan's family is coming over to see us.

And Monday will be serious packing mode getting us ready to leave Tuesday or Wednesday, not sure which! is all good and we will be ready.

We'll post in China, so stay tuned for more updates. As you can see, right now I can do more than create simple sentences!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

17 Days

Happy Day of the Dead. Or, Happy New Year in the Pagan World! I'll post later on Halloween, but right now my focus guessed it.....our journey of a million miles. Okay, 11,402 miles according to Google to be exact.

We are slated to leave on November 17 and are anxiously, and I mean anxiously, awaiting a final document allowing us to travel. It's our I-171. It had to be updated with new fingerprints. Along with the fingerprints, our social worker had to send and updated homestudy detailing our new home and our updated financial information. So, that's where we are.

The next two weeks for me will be so wonderful and intense. I am not working much, thankfully. I will be putting the house back together from the major plumbing overhaul we had last week, deep cleaning, finishing Arwyn's room and prepacking.

We are all getting really excited. Last week Nathan shared with me that he is "ready" to get Arwyn. We are so ready to be parents again. So ready to bring this little bundle of joy into our lives.

And, can I tell you how supportive folks have been? It has been wonderful.

Now, if I could just get my little girl shower Thank You's mailed out, life will be good!