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Showing posts from July, 2011

China Day 21: Just Doing Life

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For the past couple of days, we've had only short meetings or appointments on our schedule.  We opted out of all the group tours.  While we enjoy connecting with other families, we are sure we made the right decision so the seven of us could connect, bond, and just do life together the best we can in a hotel.

Since arriving in Guangzhou, we haven't felt as rushed, antsy, or homesick as we did last week in Fuzhou.  The setting here is beautiful, we have a bit more room, and while it's very humid, it's not nearly as oppressive as it was in Fuzhou.  There is a playroom 4 floors down and a nice park a short, shady walk away.  That and the fact that we're keeping things slow and low-stress have really made this a wonderful last week in China.

It's been nice to get to know the boys better and better.  Each day, even each hour, we see more of their little personalities emerge.  Since we don't have super-exciting adventures to report, I figured I would …

China and America

Someone asked me to compare China with the USA.  Understanding that we are just "tourists" staying in hotels and not living here, I will compare the best I can.  There are major differences and similarities I've noticed while being here.  Some things I prefer the USA's way of doing things, others, I prefer China's.

Health - It seems the Chinese people are very healthy.  We've seen very few overweight Chinese.  They all drink hot tea at least a couple of times daily. Elderly people are out everywhere exercising, dancing in the park, playing a form of hackey sack and board games, playing instruments.  There are exercise parks for adults.  Seeing the activity from the adults, especially the elderly, makes me happy.  I just don't see that in the US.  People go into gyms to workout, but it's different here.  The exercise is a way of life, done in the midst of whatever else may be going on.  It's fun to witness.

Safety - It's just as safe in China, …

Day 18: Medical Check-ups in Guangzhou

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This morning went very well! Despite our late night last night, we got pretty good rest before getting up to prepare for the boys' medical check-ups.

We were happy for some new choices at the breakfast buffet.  We ate tons of fresh lychee fruit and even stashed a few for our morning at the doctor.

Jason, our guide came to get us (the only family in our group staying at the Victory Hotel) to take us across the way to the White Swan.  We then walked with 10 other families to get the kids' visa photos done.  Another short walk and we were at the clinic.  The boys did SO well and, as usual, the older Brownies were a big help.  Both boys cried just a little during the exam when their clothes were taken off, then again the moment they got their TB test shot.  Excellent, considering the stress they could have been feeling.

Ken and I must share about their "hearing test."  It's a joke!  It should be called an "eye tracking test."  The doctor shines …

Day 17: Travel to Guangzhou

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You know how you feel when you accidentally found out you made a wrong turn or you passed your exit?  I don't know about you, but I always feel restless and in a major hurry to "catch up" until I finally reach the place where I got turned around.  Once I'm back on my correct path, I feel more relaxed.

That is exactly how I felt flying to Guangzhou yesterday!  The goal of our trip has been to adopt Tian and Travis.  Once Travis was adopted, I felt like I had gone past my exit and was now anxious to get back on the right path.

Our final day in Fuzhou was so hot, humid and oppressive that we stayed in all day long.  The older 3 kids and I killed some time bowling a couple of games while the little boys napped.  Otherwise, our day was spent packing and watching the ticking clock.

I can't express how thankful I am to God for answering our travel prayers once again.  I can TELL you all are praying for us.  Yesterday, the 40-minute van ride to the airport, t…

Day 16: Fuzhou Zoo

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It's about 5:30pm as I type up this blog.  Believe it or not, I'm here in the room with Tian, Travis and Kenzie and all is well.  Ken and Hannah ran to the store to get some things for the boys to have on the plane ride tomorrow.  TJ is in the other room watching TV and playing with bubbles.

A few of you have been amazed that I'm able to keep up a blog.  I normally write in the afternoon when both boys are napping and the older Brownies are chilling out watching TV.  I'll often type up a few notes so I don't forget what happened, then will put it all together in the afternoon or late evening.

We truly are grateful for our time here.  With all the sympathy I got after my last post, I'm afraid I may have made it sound like we're miserable here.  That's not the case at all.  The "misery" or homesickness comes in waves and are short-lived.  That emotional episode I had in the van yesterday was one of only two since we've been in C…

Great Is Your Faithfulness

With 2 1/2 weeks of travel behind us and just over one more week to go, we wanted to thank you all for your prayers.  They have covered us every step of the way, we have no doubt.  We also wanted to share with you what we are thanking God for today.  We sat around during dinner and named things we have been thankful for thus far.  Below is our list, some from Ken and me and some from the kids.

Thankful for:
Both boys adjusting amazingly well.  They like us. They choose to be with us among a crowd of people. They both seem to genuinely enjoy being a part of our family, even if they don't yet understand they ARE our family.Kisses and hugs already from both boys to each one of us. They don't "dislike" any of us, even though they do have preferences. No illnesses, other than simple cough, headache and sore throat that improved.Now having 3 brothers.Nice hotels.Hotel having swimming pools.Having two rooms.Uneventful flights and transportation.AC in our hotels. We can alway…

Day 15: Is It Time to Go Home Yet?

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We had a great night of sleep last night.  Thanks to lots of prayers, Travis slept soundly all night without even stirring.  (He's throwing a massive fit right now as I type, so I guess he's using all that energy he saved up with sleep.)

We had our usual breakfast buffet, then came back upstairs to pack up and prepare for an outing.  Our guide came around 10am and we drove a short way to a mall.  On our way over, Mackenzie asked me how many more days we had left in China.  I told her we would be home in 9 days, but really, one week from today we'll be packing up to head home via Shanghai.  With that, I started crying.  Sobbing.  The kids asked me what was wrong and I said (much like a small, whining child), "I just want to go home."  I couldn't stop myself from crying.  Just typing that makes me cry again!  We truly enjoy our days for the most part, but are also homesick.

The 6-story mall had lots of neat stores as well as an indoor playground for…

China Day 14: Panda World

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Last night was very difficult with Travis.  Although he went to sleep around 10:30 without any fuss, he awoke just 30 minutes later, crying and screaming (and I mean screaming) inconsolably.
He would do this for a good 5 minutes or so, then fall back asleep.  Every 15 to 30 minutes, he would wake back up, cry (fortunately not scream any more), kick his legs, hit his belly, reject any comfort from us, then fall back asleep.  We think he was only half awake to begin with.  Now and then, he would let me rub his tummy.  He continued this pattern all night, with maybe an hour and a half of solid sleep between about 6:30am and 8am.  Ken had put up with his constant kicking the night before, so around midnight, I told Ken to just sleep I would stay on Travis watch.  I learned he does better on the floor, where he's free to kick around.  I would crawl in the bed and sleep while he slept, then wake with him every 15 to 30 minutes in case he needed to see that he was still with u…

More About Adoption Day

I don't know when I'm going to have time to refine my notes into an actual post, so for now, here are my notes. Hopefully, you can make sense of them.  This is from yesterday.

Breakfast.
Travis not wanting to eat much.
Tian fussy from early morning.

Waiting in lobby, I could tell Tian was fussy.  Peed all over me and the floor in restroom. (Third day of wearing same clothes.)

Met guide, reg office. Kenzie fever and crying. Tian a big fuss bucket.
Waited in a hot room, visiting with the orphanage director and other workers.
Presented us with a beautiful panda plate.

Finally went into room.  Interviewed this time, unlike before.
Tian fussed through the entire thing. Brownies helped a lot.

Finally out, headed to notary office.  Much quicker and less stressful. Across the street was pharmacy, so got Tylenol and Motrin for Kenzie as well as some cough drops for TJ.

Stopped by the laundry on the way to pick up our clothes. Yay! Driving was crazy! Tight squeezes!

Once back at hotel, …

Adoption Day: Travis XuEn Brown

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Last Thanksgiving, Ken and I were considering adopting a second boy.  China changed their adoption laws for the first time, allowing families to adopt two non-siblings at the same time.  We read about this sweet boy on the CCAI website and asked to review his file:



After reviewing EnEn's file, we sent this email to our agency:
Shortly after sending this email, we saw this on the CCAI website:
Now, almost 8 months later, EnEn is Travis XuEn Brown, our son and the Brownies' brother!
We've had Travis only about 30 hours, but the changes in him are amazing.  He came to us pretty scared and acting very babyish.  He was drooling when excited or sad and would watch Ken sign words in a book, but not copy them.  He was rough with the book and didn't seem to understand what we were communicating to him. 30 hours later, he's copying Ken's signs, pointing to photos (airplane and bear are his favorites) and signing them without prompting.  I've only seen him dro…

Gotcha Travis!

Photo album of the day we met Travis aka "Gotcha Day"
Video of meeting Travis

(no time to proofread or edit)

A little before 4:30pm, we headed down to the 3rd floor to see if Travis had arrived. They had indeed arrived and were waiting for us. The room was a steam/sauna room!!! (Added by Ken)

I heard severe screaming as I walked in, but when I saw the crying child, I knew that wasn't "EnEn."  I looked around an immediately saw Travis, smiling from ear to ear.  He started to run to us, but as he got closer, he began to slow down and cry.  He did NOT want to come near us, but was forced to do so anyway.
Before we could even get down to his level, the guides began to say, "Just let the kids play with him. You need to sign paperwork."  Ooo-kay.  So that's what we did.  The other child was screaming at the top of his (her?) lungs while we visited with the orphanage director.  He was very kind.  Another orphanage worker presented us with a photo album fu…

Day 10: Travel to Fuzhou & Reflections

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Today was mostly a travel day.  After our usual breakfast buffet at the hotel, we headed upstairs to pack for our trip to Fuzhou <FOO-joe>.  Everyone else in our group is going to Guangzhou <GWANG-jo>, where we will be next week.

Now that we've had 5 full days with Tian, here are some things we can say about him:
He's smart.  Really smart.  He figures things out quickly.  I'm thinking he has an engineer's mind.  He is fascinated with cranes (of which there were many in Zhengzhou <JUNG-joe>) and enjoys building things and seeing how things work.  At breakfast, I had given him some chopped melons.  He began stacking them, one on top of the other, to build a tower.  If one was too slanted, he would remove it, and add a different piece that made the tower more straight.

He doesn't always respond to us, whether we are speaking or tapping him.  We can sign/talk right in front of his face and he seems to just be zoned on to whatever is intere…

Day 9: Shaolin Temple Tour

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On one hand, we enjoyed seeing the birthplace of Kung Fu.  It was truly a beautiful place.  BUT, we also did NOT enjoy the long bus ride or having to follow a schedule that was not ours.  We've learned that we aren't really "group tour" type people.  We love the people themselves.  We enjoy seeing sights and having a guide to share so much information.  But the schedule is hard to keep.

We arrived a little too late to catch the Kung Fu show, so we ate lunch right then (we had just eaten breakfast less than 3 hours prior, but "go with the flow!"  We then went on to see the Pagodas, then the temple.  At 3:00, it was time to que up for the Kung Fu show.  We were hot, sweaty, and tired.  It's amazing how people crowd in and around.  With so many people, there is no other option.

On the way home from the temple, traffic was horrible, so the already-long 2-hour drive became an even longer drive.  One hour into the drive, Kenzie had to use the rest…

Zhengzhou SWI

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This morning, we met 3 other families from our group to tour the Zhengzhou Social Welfare Institute (ZZSWI). This is where Tian was delivered after he was found on the other side of town. (We hope to visit his finding place on Friday morning.)

He lived in ZZSWI for almost one year before moving in with his foster family.  They moved him back to the orphanage 2 weeks ago.

Tian did well on the hour-long bus ride, thanks to our to-go breakfast and some friends with bubbles.  He, like us, also enjoyed looking out the window at the passing people, scooters, cars, and street shops.

Turning down a countryside street (China's countryside is quite different than Texas' countryside.  Their "countryside" still seems quite urban to me.  It's just not quite as high or polished as downtown.) I immediately recognized the clock tower I've seen in so many photos.  Tian also recognized the place and quickly wrapped both arms around my neck.

The director approached…

China Day 7: Adoption and Shopping

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It's almost 11pm here and I need to get to sleep.  Everyone else in my family is out like a light.

This morning was wonderful and hot and sweaty.  Tian cried for the first time since we've had him.  As we pulled up to the registration office (same place we picked him up yesterday), he looked out the bus window and started crying.  He looked around and I'm sure he recognized the place.  He was likely wondering what was happening to him next?  He was fairly clingy at the office, but did get down to play with his siblings.  
Once the adoption papers were completed and made official, all of the families headed a few minutes away to the notary office.  We trekked up 7 flights of stairs to a warm, muggy conference room and got our papers filled out to be notarized.  As hot and sweaty as it was, I must say it was quite efficient considering the size of our group.
We were happy to head back to the hotel just before noon.  When we got here, Ken fed Tian, then Ken and Kenzi…

Adoption Day: Tian Wendell Brown

It's adoption day!  Exactly one year ago today, we saw Tian's photo for the first time. I sent this email to Ken:
Today, July 12, 2011, here is little Tian Wendell Brown!
It's been a long year in almost every way.  This year has challenged us to trust God.  It's tried our patience and stretched our willingness to let go of "things" for what's truly valuable.  Looking at this photo, I can't think of anything worth more.
We love you, Tian Wendell Brown!

Tian's First 24 Hours

What an amazing day! It was everything I could have imagined and more.

I'll have to blog in more detail about it later. (I've recorded notes so I won't forget.)  For now, I'll answer some of the questions I know you're curious about.

Tian didn't cry once during our first 24 hours together.  We think he was a bit in shock, as you can imagine.  When he was brought up the steps and into the office, he was very shy, covering half of his face with the back of his hand.  I was sure he would start crying, but he didn't.  He sat right in my lap and just stared back at the sea of faces looking at him.  Within minutes, he was holding his Hot Wheels car and eating some snacks.

On the bus ride home, TJ made him giggle by playing hide-and-seek.

He hasn't seemed to pick a favorite.  Right now, he likes all of us. He does look for me when he's fussy. Today, when Ken and Kenzie left the room to get lunch, he pointed at the door and cried.

He does seem to hear at le…

Three More Hours

In just one and a half hours, we meet our group in the lobby and take a short drive over to the registration office.  Some of the kids could be there waiting for us.  Some may arrive later, depending on traffic.  Since Tian lives here in Zhengzhou, we are hoping that means we will either be there waiting or will arrive pretty quickly.

My last thoughts before going are simply that Ken and I can't wait to love this boy!  We know this week will be challenging and beyond anything we expected.  We also know Tian will bring us joy beyond what we could expect.  In our hearts, Tian has been our son for almost one year.  Now it's time to teach him what that means to HIM.

Tian, we're on our way!

China Day 5: Zhengzhou

May I preface this by saying I'm too tired from here on out to proofread these entries. It's good enough that I get my thoughts down, so I apologize in advance if it's jumpy or awkward. I'm just going to write with my train of thought then post.  :)

Ken and I got up around 5:30am and began packing up for our flight to Zhengzhou.  At 6:00, the kids and I went down to eat breakfast at the buffet while Ken ran to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin.

By 7am, our bags were out in the hall to be collected by the bell hops and by 8am, our travel group was on the bus, headed to the Beijing Airport.

While waiting in line at the airport, one of the moms from our group blew up a balloon for her 3 year-old son to play with. This is what happened: (Pictures tell it better)

Our flight was quick and uneventful. We Browns sat at the very very back of the plane. The Zhengzhou airport is beautiful and well designed.  Ken liked how departing passengers were on a higher floor than arriving pas…

China Day 4: Free and Acrobat Show

Loved the day!  Took it easy all morning, swam, watched some TV, ate delicious Chinese food for lunch.  In the afternoon, walked about 1.5 miles to meet our group at the acrobat show.  Excellent!  I should include that we got there just on time and thought we were late.  It was quite the experience to try to communicate with the ticket agents at the door that we were with a big American group and I wanted to go in and look for them.  I was showing them a photo of our guide, George and trying to explain what I wanted to do.  Eventually, they let me in to look while the rest of the family waited at the door.  They were very kind and let us stand inside the door.  They said, "Too hot! Inside. Come."  It turned out that our group was about 5 minutes late.  I was so thrilled to see them, because the kids, especially Kenzie, were really looking forward to the show.  Our group showed up just as a few tears began to be shed, so it was a relief.

We walked back to the hotel to meet up…

Jianguo Hotel Beijing

We spent 5 nights here.  For the benefit of other adoptive families who might stay here, I wanted to share my thoughts so far. I've also included directions and info to a fabulous restaurant a short walk away.  I encourage anyone staying in this area to visit Xiao Wang's Home Restaurant. Here are the directions with photos. (Just past the first photo of Starbucks.)

This has been an excellent hotel.  They allowed the 5 of us to stay in one room, which saves us since, for the remainder of our trip, we will have to have two rooms.

Room: Very clean. No smoke smell at all (although we could sometimes smell it in the hall, we never smelled it in our room). Large king size bed. Frim, butwe like it that way.  Desk for workspace. Chair and ottoman. Wardrobe, safe, fridge, hot pot, bar area. Typical hotel restroom.  Again, very clean. Nice view of the koi pond outside.  We had to make SURE we closed our curtains in the evening though, or the people dining in the restaurant would see us.…