Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sweet Home Alabama - Two Months with Hudson

I am so guilty of starting things and not finishing them.  A dress sewn for Henley, behavior charts for the kids.  I am determined to follow through and complete this blog!!!  I have to remember this is not just for me...this is something I hope Hudson will read and treasure one day.  I don't know if I will keep up with our "ever after" part of the story.  My main two reasons for starting this blog were...
1.  To record this adoption story for Hudson and our family
2.  To hopefully be a voice for orphans, and to ignite a spark in the reader's heart for the fatherless

"Learn to do good.  Seek justice.  Help the oppressed. 
Defend the cause of orphans.  Fight for the rights of widows."
Isaiah 1:17

We arrived home on August 9, Griffin's 6th birthday!  After more than 24 hours of travel (and no sleep for mom and dad) we arrived at the Birmingham airport around 9:30 pm.  We were so surprised to be met by our family and some members of our Sunday school class.  Everyone there to greet us also made Henley and Griffin feel very special - that meant A LOT to us.

Getting off the elevator to be greeted by friends and family

Happy Boy!

We missed Henley and Griffin SO much!
Finally, our family of five is together.
I can't lie and say that life at home has been a flawless transition.  I always admire the bloggers who tell it the way it is, even life's messy moments.  But I can say it has been ok, and getting better each day.  Thankfully, Hudson's transition has been pretty good.  Getting a sleep schedule worked out took a while, but he is finally sleeping through the his own room!  I was completely prepared to co-sleep with him for a while, and he did sleep in a crib in our room for the first two weeks.  However, he wanted to wake up and play with us for about two hours each night.  I do know that part of this was from having to completely flip-flop his nights and days.  However, these little "play times" did not last as long if we were not in the room with him.  After a couple of nights of Nathan in the guest room, me on the couch, and Hudson in the master bedroom all by himself, we decided to try him out in his bedroom (which is very close to ours).  A few nights later, and he is sleeping through the night!  At first I was sad, thinking we had totally failed at the co-sleeping for bonding idea.  But hey, each child is different and you have to do what is best for your circumstances.  At least that is what I am telling myself:)

The change has been hard at times for Henley and Griffin.  A lot of it has to do with the timing...a new school year started only one week after we came home.  But the good thing is that they are totally in love with Hudson, and love showing him off.  Jealously comes when he gets a lot of attention from others.  On one particularly hard day I was trying to explain to Henley that all babies get more attention for a while, that they are more dependent on the families for a while.  She said, "But he's not getting attention because he's a baby.  It's because he is different!"  Ouch.  That really opened my eyes to how they are feeling.  And I couldn't deny this statement.  It just means that I have to reaffirm daily how much I love them, no matter how they came to be in this family. 
The kids are not the only ones having to are Nathan and I!  I had always heard that going from 2 to 3 kids was difficult, and to that I can say "Amen!"  On one particular hard day I made the following comment to Nathan..."How is it that I can manage a classroom of 20 students, but I can't seem to manage my own three kids!!!"  I just have to keep reassuring myself that the "picture perfect" life does NOT exist...and I have to stop looking at other people's lives on Facebook:)  It is so easy for the enemy to whisper words of doubt into my heart.  This experience has kind of lately been a battle of spiritual warfare for me.  Satan is definitely real, and battling against God every second!  Questions of doubt such as "is your home really the best for this child" and "wasn't life just easier before?"  It embarrasses me to share these things, but I want to share the truth.  Adoption is not easy, it is not a fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after.  It is moments of such joy and awe that you did not believe were possible, and it is sad, low moments that just take your breath away.  My verse of comfort lately has been...

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
 He will never leave you or forsake you. 
 Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged."
Deuteronomy 31:8
One of the most amazing things is to witness how many milestones Hudson has mastered in such a short time!  When he came to us two months ago, he was army crawling to get around.  He is now crawling around on all fours, pulling up on everything, cruising around on two feet while holding on to something.  He waves, feeds me some of his snack, and wags his finger back at me when I tell him "no no no."  And the best are his deep belly laughs.  The boy definitely has a sense of humor.  The funniest is when Henley or Griffin are crying, and he mimics them and acts like he is crying too.  It is so funny that it makes them stop least for the moment:)
Here are some pictures of our sweet new son since we have been home.  Thank you tremendously for your prayers and support during this time in our lives.  We are truly blessed with wonderful friends and family!




Thursday, September 5, 2013

Our Last days in China (wow...that was over a month ago!)

     Time does not stand still:)  I had such hopes for being a better blogger, but life has happened and I have gotten sooo behind.  But the important thing is that I pick up and finish this for Hudson and the family.  So let's see what I can remember...
     I believe that I left off in Guangzhou.  Our last full day was Thursday, August 8.  We had the opportunity to visit the local zoo.  I knew that Hudson would probably not even be really aware of the animals, but my thinking on this was "now how often can you say that you have been to a zoo in China?"  I think what was just as interesting as the animals was seeing the Chinese families there.  School was out, and the zoo seemed like a very popular place to be.  Nathan noticed that there were SO MANY little girls there.  It seems apparent that the preference for "boys only" is definitely changing.  Many people still think that only girls are available for adoption.  We have gotten a lot of comments on Hudson being a boy - people not familiar with today's Chinese adoptions always ask us how did we ever get a boy?  The face of China's orphans has definitely changed in the last few years.  A program once known for healthy baby girls is now full of boys and girls...most of them "Waiting Children."  A "waiting child" is a child with a special need or needs, or an older child who may be considered harder to place because of their age.  What China considers special needs can seem so minor to us...being premature, having some birthmarks, or having had ANY surgery, to name a few.  I do have to admit that signing up for the waiting child program was scary at first, and took a LOT of praying.  But once you see these children (and have one!), your eyes are opened and they are JUST CHILDREN who need a loving family.  I know that I am rambling and have gotten off track here, but I just have to share that there has not been a day since we have gotten Hudson that I don't stare at him in awe and marvel at the fact that God blessed US and allowed US to be his family:)  
     So back to the zoo.  Most of the animals that we saw were animals that you would probably see at most zoos in the states.  Except for pandas!  The zoo boasted two of these bears...they had been away but had just recently returned to Guangzhou.  Unfortunately for us, the two of them decided that it was just too hot to be out.  They stayed inside their home and would not come out for us to see:(  However, the black and brown bears were very impressive...

Unfortunately, their habitats were not.

Next were the majestic tigers...even a white one.


Here we are at the end of the trip...Hudson was just barely hanging on here.
     These next two pictures are kind of funny.  One of the attractions at the zoo was a wading pool area for the kids.  Imagine our surprise when we noticed that bathing suits were optional!  So many differences here...don't worry, no one from our group participated. 

     After a much needed nap, we were free to spend our last afternoon any way we pleased.  After shopping for a few last minute souvenirs we decided to take some pictures of Hudson in his consulate appointment outfit.  There had not really been a good opportunity to take any at the consulate, so we went to a small park that was connected to our hotel.  If you have read previous entries of this blog, you might remember this special outfit!  Ladybugs are a symbol of good luck for Chinese adoptions.  I never guessed I would find a boy ladybug jonjon.  And holding American flags!  I think God has a sense of humor and sometimes surprises us in silly little ways like this:)

     We finished our evening with room service and packing.  At one point I thought that I would be very emotional getting ready to leave Hudson's homeland.  At this point though, I was just so ready to get the dreaded 30 hour trip over with and to see Henley and Griffin.  And even though Nathan swears he will never be visiting China again (he is definitely an Alabama boy), a small voice in my heart thinks differently:)
We left our hotel at 6:00 am the next morning, and took a van to Hong Kong.  From HK it was off to Chicago and Birmingham, AL!  Praise the Lord for a smooth flight with was better than I had dared to hope.  Now on with this new chapter of our a family of five!!!




Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Guangzhou in Pictures

We have been very busy since arriving in Guangzhou.  Hudson is doing well-he just gets very tired easily.  Naps help:)  We arrived here on Sunday.  We were very glad for a change of scenery, but are just so ready to get home and see our kids.  And ready to get Hudson settled into his new home!

Goodbye, Zhengzhou!

 A small park behind our hotel in Zhengzhou
 A Buddhist temple in Guangzhou
Burning Incense

The entry to the Chan family home and grounds...


Our group waiting for the kids' medical check-up
(Hudson slept through the whole thing!!!)

Views from the river cruise

Hudson in his traditional clothing

CCAI Group 2012

Our group's babies with Kathy, our Guangzhou guide 

All the babies love Kathy! 
When they get fussy, she sings to them in Chinese. 
It works like a charm:)