Well, we have had our first day and night with Elijah! It has surely been hours of ups and downs. The poor thing was so overwhelmed when he got here. His orphanage worker brought him to Dad and Matt's hotel room. When he walked in, he almost immediately kneeled down and began digging in the pink backpack he brought with him. This basically turned into him hiding behind the backpack for the next 45 minutes or so- so overwhelmed and scared! We tried to coax him with toys, snacks, and even Mom on the webcam (he stole a few glances, which I think helped him feel comfortable) but the turning point was when we found some Chinese cartoons- he finally dropped the backpack and began to look at things we had brought for him- playdough, toy cars, coloring books. He started interacting with me a bit when I would make a playdough shape and he would try to recreate it with his shape. I'm not sure head ever seen playdough before, though!
He eventually got comfortable enough to show us the snacks he had brought in his pink backpack (lays chips, seaweed, some jello-like thing, milk tabs, and a bottle of water) and also to try ours- some trail mix that mom had graciously packed us and some cucumber flavored Pringles that dad had picked up in Beijing- those were his favorite. Angela spoke to him and told him that he could leave his things in our room, and that we were going to lunch. We ordered him some noodles, and shared some steamed buns and gyoza with him- so entertaining to see the little guys with chopsticks! I think he was really overwhelmed with everything- so many people, us crazy looking foreigners, so much food, bright colors in the hotel. It took him a good fifteen minutes before he would eat, but eventually he did some serious damage on the food we gave him!!
After lunch, he and dad went up to the room together while Matt and I walked a bit around the hotel. When we got back to the room, dad said, "first smiles! The bubbles!". Elijah came up to us and promptly blew bubbles into our faces and giggled- and I think we all let out a sigh of relief.
The afternoon alternated between giggle fits and moments of frustration as we tried to bridge the language and culture gap- but all in all, everything seems to be progressing . slowly but surely. He did not react kindly to the pajamas when they were brought out- he quickly packed his little pink backpack and headed straight for the door! But a lot of hugs, some cartoons, and snacks later, and he and dad were both asleep together around 7pm, clothes and shoes still on! It is 645am now, and he is just waking up! what a day!
Today, we go to the civil affairs office to finalize the adoption and then to the Zhengzhou orphanage. Pray for peace for his little heart, more giggles today, and understanding for us all!
Ps happy birthday samalamadingdong!
So, apparently all of that never went through, so I am resending it with my current update.....
Yesterday began with a trip to the civil affairs office, where we waited for about a half hour for the official to show up so that we could sign papers and leave. We were thankful That there was an area set up for children to play in, with some bouncy things, colorful chairs, and balls that kept Elijah quite happy. Speaking of, he is still very much going by "guozhou" or guojo, but we are slowly trying to convert to "lijah" and see if he will start responding to that. Anyway, the official, once she arrived, was very nice, and told Dad how thankful she was and what a great thing it was that Guozhou was being adopted. Dad also wants to make sure that everyone knows that she also complimented him on his Chinese pronunciation- well done, Dad!!
We made a quick trip to the notary, then back to the hotel for lunch. Lunch proves very comical, especially because Dad orders a big bowl of hand pulled noodles for himself and Elijah and then tries to transfer some into a smaller bowl for Elijah....which sounds easy enough except each noodle is about two feet long and is intricately wrapped into the rest of the noodles, making transferring just a portion near impossible. After trying to use the chopsticks as scissors failed, he resorted to mashing the noodles against the bowl with a chopstick, which seemed to work. Needless to say, it kept us laughing...
For those keeping score at home, the chopstick challenge is still going strong. Matt, dad, and myself have not used one fork since arriving! Exceptions are made for spoons, only when spoons are provided- mostly soups and cereals. Rice and noodles- chopsticks only!! We will let you know if one of us breaks the streak...
After lunch yesterday, we took a trip to the Zhengzhou orphanage. I must first point out what a wonderful help my husband is- his incessant Chinese study in the past months, his experience with adults with downes syndrome, and general patience with children have proved such a blessing in the past few days! I am so thankful for him. When we arrived at the orphanage, Matt graciously took Elijah to the playground in the middle courtyard while dad and I toured the orphanage itself. While I have never been in an orphanage in China, I think I can still confidently say that this was one of the cleanest, beautiful, and well run that I have ever heard of. There were so many nannies, the children all seemed very happy, there were murals in every hallway, music and craft rooms- it was really lovely, being that it was an orphanage that serves over 600 children- 300 living on the premises. Each wing was for a different "category" of child (90% of their children are special needs)- infants with severe special needs, blind children, special needs over 6, etc. the children were so beautiful. I honestly expected The orphanage visit to be a very intense and difficult thing for me to process, but I can't stress enough how great this place was. It made my heart glad to see these children being so well loved and nurtured as they wait for their families!
Meanwhile, Matt and Elijah were making friends outside and entertaining each other on the swing set and the "gym"... In China, it is very common to see what look to be colorful, electricity free exercise machines in parks and on sidewalks in cities-they crack me up, but they are brilliant! There are leg and arm press machines, some funny swivel one that I think works your core, and even a "treadmill" which utilizes about 20 cylinder tubes that spin as you 'run' on them. We took lots of video of these with Elijah- hopefully some of them make it to the blog in the next few days.
Last night was very low-key- Elijah fell asleep pretty early (in all of his clothes, still) and Matt and I walked around the hotel and went down for a late dinner in attempts to stay awake to a half-decent hour. The hotel staff are so nice, and really hilarious- I think they sort-of fight over coming to our table to try their English and laugh at/help us with our Chinese. That said, we are extremely well taken care of- and they all smile at Elijah, even when he makes a huge mess of rice on the floor! We are thankful for them.
I am happy to report that we all slept during normal hours last night- about 9pm to 730am! Angela laughed at me this morning when I rolled over and looked at my watch and got so excited- after waking between 4-5 every day, 7:45 was a very welcome sight! I was surprised to find that the boys were just starting to stir in their room as well- definitely a relief for all of us.
Breakfast was normal and uneventful- except that as he was getting ready to leave, Elijah took off his second layer of clothes- another jacket! Little did we know that in just about an hour, he would finally have his first shower- I was not in the room for this blessed event, so you'll have to get a firsthand account from dad, but from what I understand, dad tried to get Elijah in the sower, and he refused, so dad got in instead. Elijah went out to Matt and got a big grin on his face and started undressing- quite a process considering he was wearing 2pairs of split pants, a long sleeved shirt, a sweater, jeans, and socks (remember, he had just now taken off the second of his two jackets- the kid was bundled!). Once his clothes were off, he ran stark naked into the bathroom and ambushed Dad in the shower!! What a surprise when I came to the room and saw a clean, less puffy looking boy in a spiderman shirt and sweatpants- I think that shower and clothes change made him officially a Rumbaugh :)
Elijah is at a really fun point right now where he has decided that he likes us, but doesn't quite want us to know yet. If you ask him to share something with you, he will say no, then throw it at you when you turn your back, and laugh! Matt taught him to fist bump, which he thinks is a passing game- Elijah bumps Matt, Matt bumps me, I bump Elijah. He also thinks he is very clever when he steals people's seats during meals- I think he sat at four different place settings at lunch today! He also loves pushing elevator buttons, and knows exactly what to push to go to the room and to go to meals. He is incredibly smart. We are also showing him a few simple signs, like 'more' which he has pretty much picked up already. This is useful because his Chinese is very difficult to understand- though we are figuring out 'elijahnese' slowly but surely :)
Before lunch, I ventured over to the sister hotel, the Crown Plaza, for a bit of treadmill time- that place is the ritz! They imprint the hotel logo in the sand of their ashtrays every day! Wow. They have a small but functional gym/pool/sauna/steam room, and I found 500 Days of Summer on the movie channel. Definitely worth the trek across the parking lot in the rain/snow to get the blood moving....
After lunch's routine noodle comedy (okay, I tried today, and it actually is really hard) Matt and I set out to explore the city. We found a very large mall-like complex, mostly with Chinese retail stores but some versions of American stores- apple, Nike, adidas, converse. Very expensive- ironic, because most of those things are made here! I found a store that sold products from The Body Shop at 3x the normal price! Nevertheless, window shopping was very entertaining, as was explaining that we didn't speak Chinese and fending off stares from people as we walked through. By the way, the name of the mall was the 'manhattan beauty of street'- so funny.
Dad and Elijah went out walking while we were out as well- not for too long, though- it was very cold! Dad said that Elijah was extremely well behaved on their walk, held hands, and that they only got yelled at by one old chinese woman that he wasn't dressed in enough layers (i said they must not have walked very far haha). Now we are just hanging out in the hotel, thawing and relaxing. Every room has a 'hotpot' to boil water in, and a supply of Nescafé packets- those are so good! They are like instant coffee, but also already have sugar and milk in them, and some yummy malty-nuttiness to them. I usually drink my coffee black but even I think they are great. Very useful for getting through the midday jet lag slumps. I remember Corrie hyping these after her trip to Thailand- they totally live up to the talk!
I have to give serious credit to our dear friend Angela- she ran all around Zhengzhou yesterday going back to the civil affairs office and notary yesterday afternoon, and is currently on her second trip to the train station today to get our tickets to Xi'an for Monday. I don't know that we would do without her- she certainly is our unsung hero for the trip!
We are all praying for sweet Jack, as we prepare for Gotcha Day Monday afternoon and as he fights respiratory issues. We are also praying for Vanessa/Newman family and Mira- meeting so soon! Can't wait to see you in Guangzhou.
Also, I just got word that Elijah just took his second shower of the day. Stripped naked and walked right in without warning. What an addition to the family he will be! He is too funny :)
Peace and Love to all of you at home :) until next time, zia jian!
Sent with AGAPE LOVE from my iPad!