The Law/George Family

The Law/George Family

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Week 2

Maggie has learned the fun in giving a thumbs, especially when she likes her food.

We got the jog stroller out of the garage and are now using it for walks around the neighborhood and for going to and from activities. This photo right before our first trip out. She loves putting the sun shade down and having her own little space.

Sebbie resurected the teepee and they had some great fun in it together.

Maggie attended her first Gymnastics class this week. It is a great way to burn off energy. Although, Mommy was way more tired after class than she was.

Sebbie swam in the CAT all-comers meet this past week while Maggie cheered her big brother on.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Week One

Our first week at home was a time for settling in and lots of fun (and funny moments) along the way. Maggie hunted for her first Easter basket, did lots of "work" in her kitchen, went to a couple of different parks, and read a lot of books (she is learning to be "gentle" with her books).

Maggie enjoys, with great interest, following GeGe to his baseball activities and watched his first game on Saturday. On Sunday we went for our first family swim (sorry--forgot the camera but will bring it next time). She wasn't too sure about getting naked, putting on a swimsuit and then walking across the wet concrete, but she loved the water once we got in. I think we may have another swimmer in the family! Sebbie is participating in an all-comers swim meet this Friday, so the whole family will go to that.

A full week of school for Sebbie meant shorter naps for Maggie but also many trips to the school play park. When Mommy goes off to work and Sebbie goes off to school, she keeps a pretty close eye on Daddy--just so he doesn't disappear! Luckily he has been able to work from home and does a great job of juggling things. She absolutely loves when visitors stop by the house and likes to show them what she can do and the things she has. Turns out she LOVES to talk on the phone (see below).

Last week, Maggie had her check up with Dr. Pat (our good friend and pediatrician). She passed her TB test and, so far, there are no really bad results on the various other tests she had (more results to come still, though). We have our first appointment with Shriner's Hospital in Portland on May 15th. This appointment is the starting point for developing a master plan for how to proceed with her cleft palate and lip.

We are aiming to create a new post once a week for a while, so stop back in if you want to see what we are up to. (:

Monday, April 13, 2009

We're Home

The first leg. Guangzhou to Seoul, South Korea.

Sebbie sleeps on the first leg.

We made it to LAX. Maggie Xudi Law is a US citizen after stepping on US ground for the first time.

Sebbie and Didi's cousins from Portland. Their birth country is China too!

Give her her own bag to carry and she is a happy girl!

Our awesome family cheers our arrival at PDX!

Well, we made it. What a trip home! Total elapsed time from take-off to our home in Corvallis was about 27 hours. The first flight from Guangzhou to Seoul, South Korea was only about 2 1/2 hours. Didi didn't like her seat belt fastened and cried so hard we thought she was going to pass out. I held her in my lap for the landing. Sebbie even napped on this flight.

The long flight from Seoul to Los Angeles was 11 and 1/2 hours. We boarded the plane at 8:00p.m. Didi was so exhausted from playing in the play area with her big brother and missing another nap, she fell asleep in about 3o minutes. Sebbie was so excited about having his very own TV monitor, that he stayed awake until after 3:30 a.m. playing battleship and then watching a full length movie. Mommy was a real champ and stayed awake with him. She got about 30 minutes sleep the whole flight. I did better, sleeping in between being kicked by Didi. I thought it better she kick me instead of the man sitting in the seat on her other side.

We arrived in Los Angeles at about 3:30p.m., tired, a wee bit cranky, totally smelly and wet from Didi's soddy diaper. After a spit bath, a change of clothes and some food, we felt a bit better. The flight from LAX to PDX was a piece of cake, except when the flight attendant spilled red wine all over Sebbie's pants. The good part was she gave Cathy a large bottle of Curve Ball Blonde Ale as a way to say apologize. Sebbie and Didi even sat together and played, laughed and giggled for about an hour of the flight.

Upon arrival at PDX we were so excited and pleased to see some of our family there to greet us. They had balloons, gifts and really cool, hand made signs and posters. Sebbie and Didi's cousins Grace and Matea were even there too. They understood how arduous the return trip is because they did it just a few years ago with their mom and dad, Brian and Kim.

With the extreme crying about the seat belt on the first flight, we were worried about the child seat for Didi on the drive home. However, when she saw her really cool big brother strap himself into his car seat (we didn't tell her it was just a booster!), she wanted in her car seat and was happy to have it buckled up. The final leg, driving from PDX to Corvallis was maybe the most difficult, but fun too. Cathy kept going in and out of semi-consciousness to see if I was ok driving. I would say she was delirious, asking me "hey, you got any tartar sauce?" or "do I smell kitty litter?" Her silly, but well timed questions kept me laughing and awake. Pulling up to our house about midnight, I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. The last 2 1/2 weeks went by so fast, and it seemed almost like a dream. Blue and Goofy were there to greet us and there was a really fun sign hanging in our kitchen entry way. There were flowers on the table, cards to welcome us home and even a couple of welcome home Maggie gifts were waiting for her. What a trip! What an incredible journey this has been. Thank you for following along with us on our blog. We have appreciated your love an support along the way!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Heading Home

Today is our last full day in China. We are leaving for the airport tomorrow morning. After sleeping in and enjoying the brunch buffet, we spent the remainder of the day poking around the local area, buying some souvenirs, swimming, and enjoying a nice Cantonese meal.We are looking forward to heading home, but will miss China and feel a little conflicted about removing Maggie from her birthplace. As a family we are more committed than ever about returning to China as often as we can.

Big Happy Smiles!

Cantonese dinner. Maybe one of our best!

Thank you deeply for sharing our journey with us. Many of you have been there every step of the way over the last decade as we have struggled and triumphed to create our family and we are so happy that you, and all the others we have met along the way, can share our joy with us now. It has been such a blessing to have all of you in our lives and be able to look back at all the struggles as just water under the bridge. Please visit our blog later after we get home, to see little Maggie Xudi as she settles in to her new, forever home.

And last, but not least, we want to somehow express and send our deepest thank you to little Dang Xudi's birth mother and father. We believe that they loved her very much. So much, that just one day after she was born, they bundled her up and left her on the doorstep of the Datong Social Welfare Orphanage. Not because they didn't love her, but because they knew they were not able to afford and provide the extra care that this special, precious little girl would need. We imagine that they think of her every day and miss her deeply. Maybe if we all give thanks to them, they will somehow know that their wonderful little girl will always be loved and cared for in the way that they had the very way that every parent wants to love and care for their own children.

Maggie Xudi Law

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oath at the American Consulate

Today we went to the American Consulate, with about 70 other families, to take our oath. This enabled Maggie to get her visa to travel to the U.S. and was the very LAST step in the adoption process. She will now become an American citizen as soon as we go though immigration in the Los Angeles Airport.

I think we were caught a bit off guard about what a moving experience this would be. More than once we could feel the tears welling up. Riding on one of three buses that were a caravan over to the Consulate, you could look around and see all of the other families who had endured so much for so long to adopt their precious child. It was an amazing sight. As we took the oath (choking up as we held back the tears), it signified the end of a ten-year long journey to create our family. We hugged and kissed each other as we reflected upon the moment. Through her body language and expression it became obvious that Maggie seemed to have some idea that this was a significant moment too. Maybe she sensed it from us, but it was almost like she relaxed into a wet noodle and let go. I think she is emotionally spent and is fast asleep.

After we arrived back to the hotel

At the park on the way to dinner

Celebration dinner at a really nice Italian restaurant

We have been receiving more and more unsolicited hugs and kisses from Maggie. She seems so happy to recognize us as her family and is interacting with us pretty much like you would expect a two-year-old with a very strong personality to. It has been so wonderful to see her become more and more secure and comfortable with us as the days pass by.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 5 in Guangzhou

We started our day with a morning snuggle. Maggie continues to get more and more affectionate and is asking for our attention--in all sorts of ways! (:

After breakfast we had our appointment with the U.S. Consulate. Our guide Lee actually went to the appointment for us while we waited in our hotel room in case they had to call with any questions. After two hours of trying to keep busy in a small space we were a bit stir crazy, but all the paperwork went through smoothly. Yeah! This means that tomorrow we can take our "oath".

In the afternoon, we took a trek across the river to the local shopping district. Here you can find a huge variety of very interesting things.

In the medicine section we found dried snakes.

...and live scorpions!

In the pet section we saw all kinds of critters, such as rabbits, rodents, puppies, fish, and KITTENS!

On the way back we went by this bike shop...

...and then this really cool tea shop, where a very nice young couple educated us about Chinese teas and poured us several cups before we decided what to buy.

We got a little Thai take-out for dinner by our hotel and then finished up our day with some rambunctious play time in the play room downstairs. Maggie finished up her day just like she started--a long snuggle with Mommy before she got into bed. She looked at me fondly saying "Mama, Mama, Mama..." as I rocked her--it was very special!

Monday, April 6, 2009

We're Back

We're back, limping along with our blog. Internal hard disk went kapooey, but the external seems to be running just fine. Lee, our guide will bring us a 16GB flash drive tomorrow to back up the photos on our external drive, so we should be covered.......

Yesterday (Sunday in Guangzhou) we went to the Guangzhou Safari and spent most of the day there. Everyone had fun, especially Didi (the name she seems to like the most right now), who talked and pointed non-stop at all of the different animals we saw. Sebbie really liked the Australian animals, telling us all he learned in Ms. B's and Maestra Aida's classrooms about kangaroos, Wallabees and Koala's.

Hola Maestra Aida and Ms. B!

Feeding the Giraffe!

More Giraffe Feeding

By the end of the Safari, everyone was really tired, and a bit cranky. Little Maggie fell asleep in the backpack carrier, and Sebbie was ready for a break too. Dinner that night was Sebbie's choice and we ate at a really nice Italian restaurant, about a 15 minute walk from the White Swan Hotel. The food was really tasty and the chef even came out to help me order gluten free. Sebbie really enjoyed is authentic Italian pizza. Of course, Maggie loved all of the food, especially the different shaped bread sticks and the tomato and basil pesto dips.

Medical Exam. Hearing is good!

It was scary and she needed some hugs!

Winding down with Ge Ge after the medical exam!

Monday (today in Guangzhou) was the medical exam for Maggie. It was about a 20 minute walk. Should be a 10 minute walk, except, since she is 2, she insisted on walking there by herself! She didn't need help with the steps or the curbs and especially didn't want to be carried. The exam was fairly short, about 20 minutes and the clinic was full of Western families and all different ages of adopted girls and one 9 year old boy. The staff was friendly, but poor little Didi looked scared and very apprehensive. She doesn't like a Chinese person to reach for her or touch her (she is warming up to our guide, Lee) and we think she thinks they are taking her back. She passed the exams consisting of hearing, weight/height, lungs and heart. On the written questionnaire, they were concerned about her cough and wanted to prescribe antibiotics and cough medicine, but we were not as concerned and opted for the Chinese herbal cough syrup.

We ended the day with a really fun evening cruise on the Pearl River. We boarded the ship a couple of miles from the hotel and spent an hour and a half on the boat. It was fun to see all of the modern high rise apartments, the bright, neon lights, and some of the huge (I mean tremendously HUGE) digital displays/high definition television quality screens are incredible. Some are on the sides of skyscraper buildings and some of the cruise ships have them covering the entire sides of the boat. The bridges are all lit up with flashing neon, the river banks are all lit up. Amazing! Of course, I am easily amazed here in the BIG city, coming from Eastern Oregon. Not near as much neon out there!

Another successful day of bonding and getting to know each other better. Maggie prefers to feed herself now, dumping off anything we put on her spoon and then scooping back up the same bit of food. She communicates very nicely when she needs to sit on her little potty, especially when it is #2 and she is always quite proud when the deed is accomplished. She loves to help Ge Ge by bringing him his shoes and his socks in the locker room after he goes for a swim. We are still getting hugs and kisses, even after a being told NO (and having our first time-outs) when she does things like throw her blocks at Ge Ge. We believe the bonding is getting even deeper because she is not afraid to show anger at us or to lay down on the floor in the middle of the lobby and have a good old temper tantrum!

We are all very happy!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day 3 & 4 in Guangzhou

Stay tuned...we are experiencing technical difficulties. Steve's hard drive appears to be almost dead and we are trying to save files (and pictures!) while we can. We'll post as soon as we can.

Still having fun, though!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day 2 in Guangzhou

Today we started our day visiting the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. In the center the amazing Six Banyan Pagoda. It was a very special time to visit the temple since there is a holiday taking place right now where people come to pay their respects to their ancestors. While we were there we were very fortunate to have a monk give our little girl and our family a blessing. This was a very moving experience for us.

People paying respect to Buddha.

Then we were brought in through the partition for the blessing.

The Smiling Sebster!

The Laughing Buddha

We can only hope!

Six Banyan Pagoda

In the afternoon we filled out a LOT of paperwork with our guide, Lee, and then spent some time at and around the hotel. Sebbie discovered the game room while Maggie took her nap and had a great time. Before dinner Sebbie talked me into going swimming in the beautiful palatial pool (with a waterfall!) despite the fact that the water is less than 70 degrees right now! Maggie sat on Baba's lap watching and looking very concerned. I ended up swimming a lot more than he did and actually found it quite invigorating. We plan to go back again tomorrow. We have met a lot of other families here at our hotel from all over the United States. Most are here adopting, in many cases older children (6-8 years old), but we also spent some time chatting with a family that is accompanying their nine-year-old who was adopted from China as a toddler and is doing a "homeland tour". It's really fun hearing the stories of these families and learning about their journeys.

We have had some fun "firsts" today. After breakfast we had our first two-year-old tantrum. It wasn't a big one but it was classic, complete with throwing herself on the floor in the hotel lobby and then being pretty angry with me (I carried her up the stairs when she wanted to run through the restaurant instead). We figured this is a good sign that she is feeling secure enough to do this! She had her first orange with us and gobbled it gleefully. Each day we discover more and more about what she loves to eat and do. After watching Sebbie draw for a while, we gave Maggie her own paper and pencil and she drew her first picture. The best "first" today was right before bed where she learned from Sebbie how to give hugs and kisses to Mama and Baba. It was a great moment for all of us!

First Hugs and Kisses

Friday, April 3, 2009

First Day in Guangzhou

Team Law/George in the Taiyuan airport. Maggie Xudi's first airplane ride coming up. Notice she has a team (tie die) shirt too!

The first airplane ride.

Maggie Xudi loves her money (1 Yuan). She holds it all of the time.

It's a Waterfall - she gets really excited!

Get Baba wet. Isn't her laugh fun?

Today was a travel day to Guangzhou in the southern province of Guangdong. Maggie Xudi was very sad when we got in the taxi to drive to the airport. We think she associates a taxi ride with taking her back to see the Orphanage people (like we did on her second day with us) and maybe thinks uh oh, my vacation with these nice people is over. She kept looking at Mama with big worried eyes and nervously played with her sippy cup. Once we got to the airport and we all stayed together, she was back to her jubilant self.

Maggie Xudi was a champ on her first airplane ride. The only part she didn't like was buckling her seat belt. She cried a tiny bit until Mama distracted her with a few of her blocks and her 1 Yuan bill--her favorite toys. For the landing, I just held her and everyone was fine with that. She missed her nap today and did rather well for a 2 year old without a nap. No real meltdowns or crying. We ate at a very nice Thai restaurant and we've noticed that she is changing almost by the hour. The first and second day with her, she wouldn't feed herself. This morning, she would use a small spoon for about 1/2 of her breakfast. Tonight at dinner, she refused to be fed anything. She had to do it all by herself. By the end of dinner, if Mama put noodles on her spoon or fork, she would dump them off (while giving Mama a dirty look) and then scoop it up herself. Dinner took a bit longer this way, and big brother was getting very impatient, but she fed herself the whole dinner--and she still eats a lot! Back at the hotel, she was asleep almost before her head hit her tiny pillow.

Some people have asked how we communicate with her and all we can say is somehow it works. Her Chinese is very difficult to understand, even by native speakers (probably, at least in part, due to her cleft), and we try but know very little. She, of course, spoke no English when we met her but she seems to be picking it up quickly. But, somehow we all communicate quite well. Can't explain it, but it's pretty cool.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 3 in Taiyuan

First Carousel Ride

Sebbie's Carousel ride

Her boat ride was scary at first, then she liked it.

Sebbie's Elephant Slide

Today was a day off from anything official. Emily took us to Taiyuan's amusement park, which operates year round, located in the center of town. It was a cold, dreary day, with lots of smog/pollution. We did a lot of walking and Maggie Xudi was a real champ. Still dancing and skipping in her new shoes. She didn't like the Safari ride much, but warmed up to the Carousel and the Boat rides. She really enjoyed watching her BaBa (Steve) and GeGe (big brother) in the bumper cars. No governors in the bumper cars - they were really fast and we had to be careful not to bump at full speed or whiplash could've been the consequence. After the amusement park, Mommy and Sebbie were in need of some comfort food, so Maggie enjoyed her first chicken nuggets and french fries. She was quite dainty in poking the end of her french fries in the ketchup. GeGe even shared a bite or two of his ice cream. Maggie has seems to like any kind of food we offer, her favorites so far are noodles, eggs and tofu.

After a late and short nap, we were off to the department store a few blocks up the street. The main street our hotel is on is the main shopping district and there are malls and stores crammed in everywhere. Taiyuan is a "small" town of over 3 million people, and the streets and shops are always crowded with people, cars, taxis and bicycles. I have yet to see a new bicycle, all seem well used, dusty and in dire need of oil on the chain and air in the tires. The shopping mall is about the size of a large Fred Meyers, but inside the store are about 300 or more small stalls or little tiny stores, selling everything imaginable. Today, Maggie Xudi got her first hair barrettes (Hello Kitty, of course), purse and small pouch (Hello Kitty too, guess who else in our family just loves Hello Kitty?). She loves her clothes that she wears too--an assortment of really nice hand-me-downs from soon to be friends Alice, Madeline, Teagan, Sophi, Linnea and Kate (friends back in Oregon). I would love to know what is going through her little brain with all these new clothes and possession. Of course she does talk almost non-stop (another chip off the 'ol Mommy block) and tells us when we need to help with her buttons, or to put on her hood when we go out in the cold, or when her socks aren't on just right. We've received the most scolding when we mess with her highly organized and stacked blocks--Poppers is going to love this skill and interest that his new granddaughter has! After shopping, she enjoyed another American comfort food--a pizza from Pizza Hut. The Chinese are rather proud of their pizza at $8.00 for a really small pie! But it was yummy, or so she told us.

A few minutes ago, as we were trying to encourage her to sleep, she was pulling the covers over her head and giggling with a really fun belly laugh, then throwing the covers back with a huge smile on her face. She smiles with her lower lip and then giggles like crazy. She is definitely having a good time. Her first bath was tonight with Mommy and cried a bit at first, but then with some hugs, she started to relax and then proceeded to wash and scrub her feet and legs. Oh, the other highlight for her is to push the elevator buttons. She even knows now, just by watching us, to push the #10 button. She laughs when it lights up.

Tomorrow she will experience her first plane ride when we fly from Taiyuan south to Guangzhou in the province of Guangdong. We are supposed to receive her Chinese passport shortly before leaving for the airport. In Guangzhou, she will have a medical exam on Saturday (US doctors, we think) and then we go to the US consulate for her citizenship paperwork a few days later.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Adoption Day

Today we went back to the Civil Affairs office where we met with the orphanage director and her assistant to confirm that we were happy with our daughter and wanted to make the adoption official.

In the taxi on the way there

Waiting for the proceedings to start

There was A LOT of paperwork, with the notary documenting everything and some more questions for us. After the money was exchanged, we signed about a dozen papers and put our finger prints on everything. Maggie put her hand print on the final paper and then we had officially adopted our wonderful little girl.

Daddy signs

Mommy signs

Notary and Orphanage Director sign

Maggie signs

We weren't sure how she would react when she saw the people from the orphanage, but, much to our surprise, she became terrified we were going to give her back. She reluctantly let one of them hold her for a little bit but then would break into tears and start to say things in a very sad voice when they approached her. She clung to me and tried not to make much eye contact with them. The people from the orphanage understood and seemed very happy that she bonded with us so quickly (last night when I put her to bed I reminded her I was "Mama" and she looked at me and smiled). Hugs and appreciation were exchanged between us and the orphanage staff and they invited us to come see the orphanage and meet her foster family in the future. They are planning a party for adoptive families within the next couple of years and encouraged us to come.

After our trip to civil affairs we went to buy some formula and clothing for the orphanage director to take back with her. Then we spent the rest of the day having a relaxing time around the hotel--lunch, a LONG nap, some shopping (boy does she LOVE her new shoes!!), and some leftovers and play time back in our room (she loves to organize her new blocks).

Proud Big Bro

Maggie had a little trouble settling down tonight after all the excitement and an Oreo for dessert. She kept trying to get our attention from her crib by smiling and showing us her belly (her cue that she wants us to tickle her). We are seeing some really good signs that she is settling in: asking us to help her, showing us things, and engaging us in play (with lots of laughter). Wow....we couldn't in our wildest dreams expected things to be going this smoothly at this point.

Tomorrow we are going on an outing to the park with our guide. Now I will join the three heavy breathers behind me (after a few more looks at my precious family).