Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things are getting better!

It is getting better around our house, the first week we were home in Iowa was brutal. Miaya took nearly a week to adjust to the 13 hour time difference, and no one got much sleep that week. Finally on Sunday night, she went to sleep at a near normal time and slept through the night. There are still problems getting her to sleep some nights, but things are generally improving and becoming more "normal" all the time.

The trip to China seems more and more like a dream, but one look at Miaya brings the reality back. We feel more blessed every day, and soon it will feel like we have had her forever. Oh, yes we remember the long wait and how it felt like it would never end, but that has paled in the reality of finally having our daughter home where she belongs.

We can see so many advances in her development in the month we have had her, she is now toddling around, and soon will be walking with ease. Her coordination is improving, and her verbal skills are improving, and although talking will take a while, it is no longer all baby babble. She easily recognizes mommy and daddy, but is still open to meeting new people. There have been real challenges, but her smile makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Home And All Those Things

An armload of Miaya for Cousin Nora

We did make it home in good order, the trip on Amtrak was good, although for the last two hours of the trip we were ready for it to just be over. A chocolate break brought things back into perspective, I guess low blood sugar does have an effect on your attitude. Kim's Aunt Carol and Uncle Kenny, and her teacher friend Belinda and Belinda's mom and sister met us at the station in Creston. Miaya scored big points with Aunt Carol when she went right into her arms. We made a quick stop at WalMart for necessities, grabbed late supper at McD's drive-through and hit the road for the last 20 miles home. A big thanks to Belinda who looked after the house, cats, and dog while we were gone.

We got to see some of the flooding in the Burlington, Iowa / Gulfport, Illinois area where the train crossed the Mississippi River. It will be a long time before all the water drains away, and many people can return to see what can be salvaged of their homes, farms, and businesses.

I guess I should step back a little bit and tell about our arrival in Champaign, After gathering our planeside luggage, we paused in the gate waiting area to change Miaya into her party dress that cousin Kassondra picked out for her over two years ago, change her diaper, and collect our wits a little before heading out to meet some of Michael's family.

We rounded the corner and there, out past the security point was Michael's mother, sister Laurie, and nieces Kassondra and Amy. AND, a woman with a very large video camera! It was Checky Beckford, a reporter from Channel 15 TV in Champaign. Michael's sister Laurie had called the station about our story, gave her the address for this blog, and she decided to do a story about us, our Illinois connection, and a little about international adoption in general and some about adopting from China specifically. She did a great job on the story, got the facts straight, and put together a nice piece. We were the second or third story on the 1o o'clock news. It took a lot of concentration to sound coherent after being up around 26 hours at that point, and spending nearly 20 hours on airplanes! But, we pulled it off.

There was also the little fact that we were about an hour late leaving Guangzhou on the flight to Tokyo! First, they had to work on the air conditioning on the plane, then there was a line of severe storms to the north that prevented flights from taking off for a while. With only a ONE hour layover in Tokyo, we knew we were in trouble! On arrival in Tokyo, we had to wait for space at the gate, and we were getting really worried. Then came the announcement over the PA that would all passengers NOT connecting to Northwest flight 26 to Detroit (we were to be on NW 26) please remain seated to allow those who were to exit quickly -- yeah, that REALLY worked!! After we finally got off the plane, there were NW people with signs directing us directly to gate 22 as they were holding the plane for us! It was a mad dash up and around and across, frustrated by the security checkpoint, but we made it. Less than 10 minutes after we stepped on board, the doors were closed and the plane was being pushed back from the gate. Now we were free to wonder for the next 11 hours if our luggage had made the flight as well. The appearance of our gate-checked stroller was a good indication when we arrived in Detroit. (yes, all four suitcases made it) At the security check in Tokyo, they confiscated Kim's sewing scissors (short, blunt nose), the same ones that had made it through at least 5 other security checks including the same checkpoint in Tokyo. It had been a bit worrisome in Guangzhou when there was a special security point for NW 28 passengers (our flight), and another security check on the jetway just before boarding.

Irene, Miaya's possible cribmate, and her father and godfather ("Two Men And A Baby" as we referred to them) were also on flight 26 to Detroit. The two girls must have been close, because whenever Irene cried or fussed on the long flight, Miaya would turn around to look for her (three rows back), yet would ignore the cries of any other baby on the plane.

The first week home is kind of a blur, Miaya was kind enough the share her cold with Michael, and he was really out of it for several days. That plus trying to get a schedule established, and getting Miaya changed from China time to Iowa time made for a very sleepless and exhausting week. Things are getting better, Miaya is going to sleep easier, and earlier now, and we are beginning to recover. We felt very helpless, clueless, and inadequate on those long sleepless nights as we tried to convince an overtired toddler that it really was time to sleep. It really did not help on the occasions when, about an hour after she went to sleep, she would be standing in the crib screaming, so mom or dad would go to comfort her, and at the first touch, she would giggle and laugh! A great little actress this one is.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

MorePictures for Ms. Sophie!! Per Your Request.

Early morning on the plane.

Do I look Pretty Mommy?
Miaya at the Champaign, Illinois airport in her party dress ready for her family debut.

Extreme Cousins!
Amy (in black) age 25, and Miaya age 14 months, the oldest and the youngest.

Miaya at her first antique tractor show.
Take a close look at the sign! A big thanks to Uncle Jon for the surprise.
Miaya meets Cousin Jennifer

Miaya with Uncle Jon (Michael's brother).
Thanks again Uncle Jon for bringing the tractor Michael inherited from his father to the show.

Miaya with Aunt Dee

Newest American Citizen

Detroit, Michigan - July 10, 1:32 PM EST

Miaya Annalyn Marie Fourez became America's newest citizen when Northwest Airlines flight 26 touched down at Detroit Wayne County Airport. Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2001, Miaya became a citizen the moment she landed on American soil. The law confers immediate citizenship on minor children adopted abroad when both adoptive parents saw the child before the adoption was finalized overseas.

Back In The USA

Yep, we are back on American soil, though not all the way home to Iowa. We are in Eastern Illinois visiting Michael's family, and will continue the trip home to Iowa in a couple of days. We were sweating it for a while, as we are returning to Iowa via Amtrak, and flood damage had closed the rail line across southern Iowa. But, the line has been repaired enough to allow traffic, and we will be able to keep our original travel plans intact.

I have been a bit lax in my blogging lately, but we have been caught up in getting to know our new daughter, and in enjoying our last days before returning to reality. In Guangzhou we visited the Chen Family Temple, went to a Buddhist temple where our babies were blessed in a traditional ceremony, enjoyed time in a local park, and haggling with shopkeepers on Shamian Island for souvenirs. Eating at Lucy's, a semi-American style eatery near the White Swan Hotel, and at the Cow Bridge Thai Restaurant were also high points of our stay. Of course, the highest point of all was the hair-raising bus trip to the American Consulate to get Miaya's visa and other paperwork for entry to the United States. None of us had a death wish, but we were not so sure about the driver! As we settle back into "normal" life, I will review my notes and the 1,700 or so photos to post more about what we saw and experienced.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Worth A Thousand Words -- And Then Some!

Quality time with Mommy in Nanning

Based on pictures we received, and Irene's (in green) parents received from the Guiping orphanage, we think that Miaya and Irene were cribmates. Miaya certainly seemed to recognize her when we were taking the picture. We were told that Miaya was always concerned when her cribmate was gone.

My new life as a pack mule.

A sleepy traveler.

On the bus in Guangzhou

Happy Miaya at the White Swan Hotel

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The things we talk about!

We talk about pee
We talk about poo
We talk about every
little thing
they do

(with apologies to Toby Keith's I want to talk about me!)

But that pretty much sums up our days right now, we should probably have a scoreboard for who's child has done what! Miaya passed her final milestone of the "necessities", it was a memorable one - and it was quickly hustled out of the hotel room. The topic of conversation when our group meets for meals or in the hallway, etc usually involves the bodily functions of our children.

Today was a light one, a late start, then a trip to WalMart here in Nanning. This Supercenter is a lot smaller than one in the States, and the selection of many things is much more limited. It is located on the second and third floors of a building near downtown. The shopping carts steer on all four wheels, and brake automatically when you ride the conveyor between floors. We were able to find several things we wanted, although it was a bit of a treasure hunt interpreting/guessing at the labels on some packages. We had lunch at a KFC downtown before heading back to the hotel and a free afternoon,mostly spent resting, a heavy rainstorm postponed till tomorrow a visit to the Peoples Park a few minutes from our hotel, a beautiful park where people gather for all kinds of activities.

Miaya is coming out more all the time, she recognizes both of us, and wants us both near whenever she has her nap. I did not know it was possible to feel so much love for someone so fast.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Where Miaya Is Now

What more can I say?

Except that under Chinese law, she is ours now and forever! This morning, we went to the government offices and signed all the papers and promised to "never neglect, abuse or abandon" her, and that yes, we did want to adopt her. Once we get her passport, it's onto Guangzhou, and the American Consulate for her visa and other paperwork. Nine more days, and we'll be back in the States, and 12 more days and we will be home.