Jinan Reunion!

Greetings from the Woodards! It has been a great two weeks since our last blog entry. We’ve mostly been hanging around the house, unpacking from our trip and spending time together. We also took a few trips to the local YMCA pool, went peach picking and had some friends over for dinner.

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Last night, our friends, the Patricks, came over for dinner. We met the Patricks last Fall after they had recently completed an adoption from the same orphanage in Jinan that Simon was living in.  We soon found out that their son, Max, and our son, Simon, were best friends in the orphanage.  We knew only God could have orchestrated this and our families got together several times while we were still waiting to travel.  Last night, Simon and Max finally got to see each other for the first time in over a year!  They were tentative at first but definitely seemed to recognize and be happy to see each other.  Max brought Simon a gift of a shirt that matched his, some matchbox cars and a pack of M&Ms.  Simon kept all of his stuff in the gift bag it came in and carried it around proudly all night!  It was sweet to see these two boys back together and with their forever families.

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Max (age 6) and Simon (age 5) in RVA. 7000 miles from their birth city!

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We stuffed all ten kids in the back of our Suburban for a tour of our property!

We stuffed all ten kids in the back of our Suburban for a tour of our property!

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Simon’s transition is still progressing.  He has started using some English words and, every day, seems to understand more of what we say to him.  He’s incredibly smart and has surprised us by how many things he knows how to do.  Our other kids have been amazing at helping him feel welcome here.  Of course, we’re going through some challenges as we all adjust to our new life together.  🙂  We have our first doctor appointment for Simon next week for his initial check-up.  We appreciate your continued prayers!

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Travel Retrospective

We’ve had about three days of family time around our house and things are going well so far.  It is neat to see Simon and the other kids playing together.  We are all trying to teach him a little bit of English day-by-day but so far he still speaks Chinese 99.9%  of the time.

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Nat and Simon have spent a lot of time playing together outside.  Seems like they are going to be great buddies.

Nat and Simon have spent a lot of time playing together outside. Though they still argue and fight over toys, we are sure they are going to be great buddies.

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While the travel experience is still fresh in our minds, we decided to provide some thoughts on bringing our other kids with us to China for the adoption travel.  Our agency strongly discouraged bringing other children on the trip.  We understand their reasoning,  but are convinced this was God’s plan for our family.  We hope the thoughts below are useful to other adoptive families planning their trip.

  • Transition – in Simon’s case, since he is five, we felt like having our other children there with us made his initial transition easier.  Since he was used to an orphanage environment where he was always around other kids, we felt like having them there was beneficial because he could watch them and follow their lead (he still does).  When he saw the other kids getting ready for bed, jumping in the pool or following Mommy and Daddy through an airport, he would usually join right in.
  • Bonding – we like that all seven of us have had the same amount of time together to bond. We also felt like having all of us there gave him an accurate representation of our family life.  It might have been more difficult for Simon to accept being the center of attention for two weeks and then coming home to an environment where our other kids have been without us for two weeks and are very needy of attention and maybe he isn’t given as much attention.
  • Waiting – during the actual business part of the adoption in China, there is one day where we spent a lot of time just waiting. Several of these locations were without air conditioning and were quite hot.  We were prepared for this day ahead of time and brought each child a backpack full of activities.  They did a great job of staying busy and being patient on these days when we had to focus on other things.  Then, during times when both parents had paperwork to fill-out or be interviewed, our other kids were especially helpful to entertain Simon.
  • Travel – one of the huge reasons we wanted our kids to join us on the trip is to get to experience the culture of Simon’s homeland and to have the shared experience of traveling halfway around the world.  In the weeks leading up to our trip, we spent lots of time talking to our kids about exactly what to expect in China and during the trip.  We gave them each a printed copy of the in-country itinerary so they could see what we were going to do.  We also told them that it wasn’t a vacation and wouldn’t be fun all of the time.  We kept telling each other, that this trip would be “hard but worth it”.  That phrase describes adoption in general!
  • Broaden horizons – we live a pretty comfortable life in RVA.  We felt like this trip was an opportunity to broaden all of our horizons by giving us perspective on how most of the world lives.  One thing we were particularly excited about was the chance for our children to visit Simon’s orphanage.  The number of orphans in the world is staggering and we are praying that God will give them a heart for the fatherless.  While in China, we also prayed for the people of the country and that we would reflect God’s glory for the short time we were there.
  • Cost – we realize that many people may not be able to afford the extra cost to bring their kids along on the trip so we’d like to address this item too.  We had some generous family members who believed in our vision to travel as a family so much that they sponsored our kids’ portion of the trip.  If you’re considering bringing your children on an adoption trip, we would recommend starting with prayer.  If God gives you a vision like ours, He will provide the means.

Looking back, we are incredibly thankful that we were able to take all of our kids with us on this family adventure.  What a blessing it is to be able to share the memories of this trip for the rest of our lives!

 

We all use chopsticks for many meals now.

We all use chopsticks for many meals now.

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Julia loves to make tea for us in her special teapot from China.

Julia loves to make tea for us in her special teapot from China.

 

I interviewed our kids after we got back from the trip to find out the best and worst parts from each of their perspectives.  I will be providing some excerpts from these interviews in our next post.

Finally Home in RVA!

We are so glad to be home – what an amazing Independence Day!

We left our hotel in Hong Kong at 9 AM on July 3rd and arrived home in Richmond, VA at 1 AM on July 4th, after 28 hours of travel. Our day started yesterday with beautiful weather in Hong Kong, blue skies and huge white puffy clouds. We didn’t really get to see the city of Hong Kong, but from the airport it sure looks like paradise. Reminded us a bit of Hawaii with the large mountains in every direction.

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Our first flight took us to Chicago and was 14.5 hours long. The kids did great again, mostly watching movies for the whole trip. Just like the flight to China, each seat had its own TV and the passenger could choose from a huge variety of movies. We shared this flight with at least 6 other adoptive families. One of the families that we had met at our hotel earlier in the week is from Tennessee and had previously adopted from Kazakhstan! They have a four year old daughter that they adopted from the same orphanage in Karaganda as our Sally! That was a pretty cool thing to travel halfway around the world and meet another Karaganda girl adopted by an American family.

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Once we made it to Chicago, we had to go through customs and immigration. After immigration, Simon officially became a U.S. Citizen! Once we re-checked our bags and went back through security we were ready for our final flight to DC. Hong Kong, Chicago O’Hare and Dulles are all HUGE airports. As we were walking through these airports we were constantly counting kids, suitcases and our backpacks to make sure we didn’t lose anyone or anything. We made it home with all seven backpacks, suitcases and people!

Unfortunately, when we got to our gate we found out that there were big thunderstorms in the DC area and our flight would be delayed about 2 hours. Since no one had slept much on the previous flight, most of us took a nap at the gate. We also used the opportunity to celebrate with some American food. Janalee and Jon had Starbucks frappucinos and the kids each had an Auntie Anne’s cinnamon and sugar pretzel. A short while later we were able to board the plane and head for Dulles.

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Since you can’t drink the water in China, this is the first time Simon ever used a water fountain. He loved it!

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When we finally got to baggage claim, there was a surprise waiting for us. Janalee’s Mom and her step-Dad (Grammy and Grampy) had driven out from Front Royal to meet us. It was so great to see some familiar faces. As you can see in the photos, Simon seemed really happy to see them too. Each of them was able to hold him and he talked to them a bit. Grammy and Grampy also blessed us by bringing us a HUGE cooler full of granola bars, sodas, peanut butter crackers and candy for our car trip home.

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We got home at 1 AM and everyone was SO excited to see their own beds again. Another surprise was waiting for us at home – our dear friends had decorated our house with streamers, balloons and flowers, created a huge Welcome Home banner for Simon and written cards for each of our kids. They also completely stocked our fridge and planned at least a week’s worth of meals. Once most of the excitement of arriving home started to wane, we got everyone in bed and were all asleep around 2:30 or so. Janalee and Jon woke up around 9:45 this morning, not completely rested but thankful for decent sleep in our own beds. Believe it or not, we finally woke the kids up at 12:30 PM!!! We didn’t want them to sleep too long and then not be able to sleep tonight.
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Grant had put tons of special thing on Simon's bed to welcome him.

Grant had put tons of special thing on Simon’s bed to welcome him.

 

Praising God this morning for His goodness and for the privilege of traveling to China as a family and bringing home this special little boy. Thank you for following our story and for your prayers along the way!

Next stop, U.S.A.!!!

After our Consulate appointment yesterday morning, we spent the afternoon shopping and going to the pool one more time.

These girls love to shop!

These girls love to shop!

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This morning, we went back to Yuexiu Park and rented two electric boats with machine guns to ride around one of the lakes.  It was boys in one boat and girls in the other. We both had a lot of fun.  After that, it took us several hours to pack all of our suitcases again for the trip home.

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At about 4 PM, we got Simon’s Visa and document package to enter the U.S. with and we immediately left Guangzhou to travel to Hong Kong by van.  The trip took about 4 hours total and included crossing the “border” from China into Hong Kong.  Even though Hong Kong is part of China it is still a separately governed entity and is treated like a separate country.  We are now in a hotel at the Hong Kong airport and our flight will be leaving here tomorrow at 11:40 AM, bound for the U.S.A!!!

 

Grant and Simon got these awesome "Big Brother" and "Little Brother" Chinese shirts

Grant and Simon got these awesome “Big Brother” and “Little Brother” Chinese shirts

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Free Day in Guangzhou and Consulate Appointment

Yesterday we had a free day so we ventured out to Yuexiu Park, which is right across the street from our hotel.  This is a huge park on the side of a mountain.  It has several attractions including lakes, memorials and the Five Rams Statue which is famous all over China.  The park was covered with lots of beautiful bushes, trees and flowers.

Yuexiu Park

Yuexiu Park

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These rental boats even include a machine gun!

These rental boats even include a machine gun!

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This soccer stadium was at the top of one of the hills in the park.

This soccer stadium was at the top of one of the hills in the park.

Even though we started early in the morning, the day was hot and walking up the hills had all of us sweating.  Once we made it to the top of the park, we all got an ice cream from a vendor and enjoyed a cool breeze.

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The famous Five Rams Statue

The famous Five Rams Statue

After the park, we enjoyed hamburgers and fries for lunch at McDonald’s.

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Then we spent the afternoon doing some serious souvenir shopping!  All of the kids found a few more things to bring home with us.

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This morning we got up early and headed to the US Consulate for our 8:30 AM Visa appointment.  When we arrived, we were able to go in the entrance for American citizens which took us right around a HUGE line of Chinese people waiting for Visa or Immigration appointments at the consulate.  There were 10 other adoptive families there with us and the whole process took less than an hour.  We are back at the hotel now (11 AM local time on Tuesday July 1st) and planning the rest of our day.

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Wine vending machine

Wine vending machine

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No cameras or cell phones were allowed inside the Consulate, so this is the only photo we have of the Visa appointment.

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In Guangzhou, we also saw the Canton Tower.  At 600 meters tall, this is the tallest TV tower in the world.  On last season’s Amazing Race, we saw the teams ride a slow moving Ferris Wheel around the top of this building.  We wanted to ride this for ourselves but found out the ride is only open on the weekends.  Maybe next trip!

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Simon’s Visa to enter the U.S. will be available tomorrow.  Once we have the Visa in-hand, we will leave Guangzhou at approximately 4:30 to travel to Hong Kong by van.  We will spend the night tomorrow night in a hotel at the airport and then fly home on July 3rd!

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Shamian Island Guangzhou

Today we visited Shamian Island in Guangzhou.  This island is famous for its European architecture and beautiful scenery.  It reminded us a lot of Savannah, GA.  We saw several wedding parties getting photographed there today as well as several different clothing models.

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When I offloaded the pictures from my phone this morning I was surprised to discover 78 selfies of Simon.  Apparently, someone taught him to use an iPhone in the orphanage.

When I offloaded the pictures from my phone this morning I was surprised to discover 78 selfies of Simon. Apparently, someone taught him to use an iPhone in the orphanage.

 

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Mmmm….

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While we were here, our main objective was to find some good souvenirs.  Nothing in the shops on the island is priced, so you have to negotiate to get a good deal.  Even Julia and Grant were negotiating for some of the things they bought today!

 

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Grant and Simon got amazing matching traditional Chinese outfits, though we couldn’t convince Simon to try his on.

 

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There is a large park on the island with a playground and many bronze statues.   Once we finished shopping, we played a bit on the playground and posed for pictures with the bronze statues.

 

Though they compete for attention, we think Natalie and Simon are going to be very close friends.

Though they compete for attention, we think Natalie and Simon are going to be very close friends.

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Lots of water needed on this brutally hot day.

While in the park, we also decided to try out a game of featherball ourselves.  After a while we all decided that we will need a lot more practice, preferably in cooler weather!

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We enjoyed a nice Western style lunch (fried chicken, hamburgers and french fries) at Lucy’s on the Island and then returned to our hotel to cool off in the pool.  Simon LOVES the pool and starts squealing with delight as soon as we get out his swimsuit.  He’s getting braver at jumping in the water.  He’s also starting to say some English words.  So far, we’ve heard, “Mommy, Bye Bye, One, Two, Three, Four, Thank You, Good Job, and Simon!”  We love this sweet boy and feel so blessed to be his parents.  We asked our guide why his transition seemed so much easier than we were expecting.  She said that all of his friends had been adopted and he was the last one left in his group.  She said he was so ready!  She also said the caregivers at the orphanage kept asking her why Simon couldn’t find a family, because he was one of the smartest ones there.  That makes us sad to hear, but we know God intended him to join our family.  And we agree, he is incredibly smart!  We only wish we could have brought him home 5 years ago!

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This morning we discovered that Simon loves yogurt

Only 3 days until we come home!

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Medical Exam

Yesterday was a great first full day in Guangzhou.  It was hot and humid again but we didn’t really mind.  We are counting down the days until we come home – only four days left!  Janalee took Simon to his medical appointment in the morning and he did great.

 

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After the medical exam, they made a short stop at a grocery store to pick-up some snacks for us (instant noodles, peanut butter, bread, Oreos AND Coke Zero).

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While Janalee and Simon were gone, Jon took the other four kids to the hotel pool.  After that, they grabbed some gummy bears and soda from the market in the hotel for a treat.

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In the evening, Jon and a parent from each of the other Bethany families did a document review with our guide here in Guangzhou, Shiyan.  Shiyan checked through all of our documents to ensure we have what we need to get Simon his Visa to enter the US when we go to the Consulate on Tuesday.  All of our documents were in order!

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Shopping at a street vendor

After the document review, we went to dinner with the other Bethany families in our group at a local Chinese restaurant.  Thankfully, Shiyan was there to order for us.  The food was great and we cleaned every plate!  The kids really loved looking at the tanks full of live seafood that could be cooked to order; we were definitely NOT eating eel!

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Simon loved the broccoli.

Simon loved the broccoli.

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Fresh seafood tanks in the restaurant.

Just before bed, Sally lost her second tooth since we’ve been in China.  I normally give them a golden dollar coin for each lost tooth.  Sally asked me if I would pay her 10 yuan instead!  Of course, I agreed.

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Later this morning we will be doing some touring around Guangzhou with Shiyan.

Travel to Guangzhou

Yesterday began the final leg of our China adoption trip. We checked out of our hotel in Jinan City and then flew to Guangzhou, China (2 hour flight). This was Simon’s first flight and he did great. In fact, all five kids did great.

Apple Store in Jinan City?!? Does Steve Jobs know about this?

Apple Store in Jinan City?!? Does Steve Jobs know about this?

Simon was really excited to be boarding his first plane.

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Jules took care of Natalie for the whole flight

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Grant and Sally were very independent - they sat in their own row together.

Grant and Sally were very independent – they sat in their own row together.

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Goodbye Jinan!

Goodbye Jinan!

Simon knows which suitcase is his and is very protective of it.  He loves to pull it around just like his siblings!

Simon knows which suitcase is his and is very protective of it. He loves to pull it around just like his siblings!

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I'm not sure what this means but it sounds very important.

I’m not sure what this means but it sounds very important.

Once we arrived in Guangzhou, the first thing we noticed was the heat – it was 97 degrees and humid!

"Angel in U.S. Cake"  Yum?

“Angel in U.S. Cake” Yum?

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We checked into our hotel last night and ran into three of the other adoptive couples in our group that we hadn’t seen since Beijing. Each of them now has a new child with them!

The hotel is really nice and the staff speaks English. The first floor has many shops and restaurants – seems like it will be a great place to stay for the next few days. We are again blessed to have adjoining rooms. They put a “Pack and Play” in the room for Simon before we arrived. When we came into the room we immediately thought “that isn’t going to work for him.” He proved us wrong though. As soon as it saw it was next to the king sized bed, he knew it was for him and climbed right into it and curled-up.

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We got these little welcome baskets from the hotel since we are here under an adoption rate.

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After getting settled-in we grabbed a nice Chinese dinner at the restaurant downstairs and headed to the pool. The pool is outside on the fourth floor of the hotel. It felt SO great to be in the water after the day of traveling! Simon really loved it too – he was literally screaming with joy the whole time.

Awesome hotel pool with a huge screen for watching the World Cup.

Awesome hotel pool with a huge screen for watching the World Cup.

 

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Today, we will be going for Simon’s medical exam. He will be tested for communicable diseases before being given a visa to enter the United States.

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Tired kids after a long day of travel!

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Touring Jinan

Wednesday night it was Natalie’s turn to throw-up all night.  We are guessing that she must have inadvertently drank the water or that something else she ate disagreed with her system.  It is definitely hard to remember not to wash our your toothbrush under the faucet or drink any water while in the shower.  We bring bottled water with us everywhere because most restaurants don’t sell it.  Anyway, it was another answer to prayer that Natalie woke up yesterday morning (Thursday June 26), feeling better and happy.  She was able to eat a little breakfast and went the rest of the day without any more sickness.

 

After breakfast, we spent a couple of hours seeing some sights around Jinan City.  Jinan City is often called the “City of Springs” because there are 72 natural artesian springs in the downtown area.  Our first stop was to a park on the outside of the old city moat.   Here we saw four or five springs all feeding the moat.  The city used to be surrounded by a wall and a moat, the moat was kept full by the springs.  The most famous of these is the Black Tiger Spring – the locals line-up to fill jugs with water to take home.  They say the water here is especially good for making tea.

 

Tour boats lined up ready to take visitors around the moat

Tour boats lined up ready to take visitors around the moat

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Julia and Nat watching locals in the park play Jianzi or "featherball".

Julia and Nat watching locals in the park play Jianzi or “featherball”.

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Jianzi is played in a circle and the objective is the keep the shuttlecock off of the ground.  We saw some great moves!

Jianzi is played in a circle and the objective is the keep the shuttlecock off of the ground. We saw some great moves!

Black Tiger Spring.  Notice the local filling a bottle of water.

Black Tiger Spring. Notice the local filling a bottle of water.

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You’ll notice weeping willow trees in almost every picture – this is the official tree of Jinan City.

 

We love seeing all of the small cars here.

We love seeing all of the small cars here.

 

Our next step was a short visit to Daming Lake.  All of the springs in the downtown area of Jinan feed into this lake.

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Daming Lake was traditionally used to by local farmers to grow Lotus flowers like these.

Daming Lake was traditionally used by local farmers to grow Lotus flowers like these.

The Lotus flower has a gourd-like root that the Chinese use in many foods.

The Lotus flower has a gourd-like root that the Chinese use in many foods.

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Our third stop was to visit the site were Simon was found.  As with many orphans in China, he was abandoned by his birth family in a public area in order to ensure he was found.  He was left at the gate to a continuing education school in Jinan.

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Simon is already imitating his big brother.

Simon is already imitating his big brother.

Our final stop of the day was to pick-up Simon’s passport.  Simon is officially cleared to leave China.  Now we just need permission to enter the United States, which we’ll take care of with our visit to the US Consulate in Guangzhou.  We fly to Guangzhou later today.

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Simon is cleared to leave China!

 

The Yellow River

The Yellow River

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Noodles for lunch again!

Noodles for lunch again!

Here is the main mode of transportation in China, an electric scooter.  The gloves and skirt on the front are to prevent tanning of the arms and legs of the driver.

Here is the main mode of transportation in China, an electric scooter. The gloves and skirt on the front are to prevent tanning of the arms and legs of the driver.

We got laundry back from a local laundromat today.  It was two small bags of laundry for $65!  We are guessing that is the tourist price.  :)

We got laundry back from a local laundromat today. It was two small bags of laundry for $65! We are guessing that is the tourist price. 🙂

We closed out the day with dinner at Pizza Hut!  The menu at Pizza Hut is very different than in the US – including mixed drinks and steaks. We were very glad it had English though so that we could point and order.

Escargot?  At Pizza Hut?!?

Escargot? At Pizza Hut?!?

 

The menu at Pizza Hut is very different than in the US - including mixed drinks and steaks.  We were very glad it had English though so that we could point and order.

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We cause quite a commotion when we are moving around Jinan City. It is hard to get used to people staring and pointing. The hotel room offers us a refuge.

Orphanage Visit

Today we had the privilege of visiting the Jinan Children’s Welfare Center orphanage.  This was an incredibly rewarding and hard visit.  We drove about an hour from our hotel in Jinan to the orphanage.  On the way we were struck by how much construction is going on in this region of China.  It is hard for me to describe.  There were probably 15 – 20 large skyscrapers being built and many other large buildings.  In addition, they are currently building an elevated highway which is marked with huge concrete piers everywhere along the roads.  Our guide called this phenomenon “Concrete China”, which seemed completely appropriate.

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Pier construction for the elevated highway.

Pier construction for the elevated highway.

"Concrete China"

“Concrete China”

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Our guide told us that this is the largest orphanage in the Shandong Province – serving 300 – 400 children, though about half live in foster homes in the area.  There are six other orphanages in the Province most with 70 – 80 kids.  A child can live at the same orphanage birth through 18 years of age.   Before we started the tour we asked our guide to reassure Simon that we were just visiting so that he could say goodbye and that he’d be leaving with us at the end of the tour.  He seemed totally fine with that and almost annoyed that he had to be told!  As you can see from the pictures, this is a fairly new building that is beautifully decorated.  It sits at the foot of several mountains which makes it very picturesque.  It was rainy today which made the photos a bit dark.

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Simon's Adoption Orphanage Visit 149

courtyard statue

courtyard statue

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Our first stop on the tour was to meet with the Director of International Adoption at the Orphanage.  Her office was covered with photos of kids from the Jinan orphanage who had been adopted by families around the world.  She gave us a gift with all photos and videos that they had taken of Simon during his time at the orphanage.

photo with Director of International Adoption

photo with Director of International Adoption

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The next stop was to some of the baby classrooms to meet the caregivers of the children adopted by the other couples in our group.  Every single caregiver that saw Simon called him by name and greeted him with a huge smile.  Several of them gave him candy for him and his siblings.  There were three caregivers in particular that I could see had an affinity with him that followed us for the rest of the tour.  Right before we left, I got Simon to pose for a photo with them.

 

We saw lots of rooms full of little beds and cribs.  This always makes my eyes fill with tears.

We saw lots of rooms full of little beds and cribs. This always makes my eyes fill with tears.

Several caregivers greeting Simon in the baby hallway

Several caregivers greeting Simon in the baby hallway.  Notice the one on the left giving him a handful of lollipops.

 

Next we got to visit the apartment where Simon lived for his first five years and meet his foster mother and father.  The apartment is a very nice three bedroom apartment with a little living room and kitchen.  Each child has their own bed and we were able to see Simon’s.  There are 12 apartments like this one attached to the orphanage.  The foster mother and father had several bowls of fruit and treats out when we arrived and insisted that our kids all take tons of treats and at least one piece of fruit.

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Simon and his two Mommies

Simon and his two Mommies

 

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Simon with his bed.  You can see there are tons of photos of him stuck to the wall at the headboard.

Simon with his bed. You can see there are tons of photos of him stuck to the wall at the headboard.

 

This is the living area of the foster family's apartment

This is the living area of the foster family’s apartment

 

Here is the picture I got Simon to take with the four caretakers that followed us around on the tour.  The one to his right seemed especially emotional.

Here is the picture I got Simon to take with his Foster Mom and the three caretakers that followed us around on the tour. The one to his right seemed especially emotional.

 

 

Unfortunately, our guide was in a hurry to leave and didn’t let us stay long to chat.  I shook hands with the foster Dad and told him “thanks”.  The foster mother asked Janalee to take care of Simon and said that he’s a gentle boy.  We gave her a small gift with a note in Chinese to thank her for pouring her life into our sweet boy and promise that we will take good care of him.  At this point, they asked Simon to say goodbye and his foster Mom shared one last hug with him.  She was crying hard and so was I.

Goodbye with Foster Dad

Goodbye with Foster Dad

Goodbye with Charlie.  Charlie coordinated all of the orphanage paperwork for our adoption.

Goodbye with Charlie. Charlie coordinated all of the orphanage paperwork for our adoption.

Final goodbye with his Foster Mom.

Final goodbye with his Foster Mom.

The final part of our visit was to go to Simon’s class.  When we entered, the kids chanted “we miss you” to Simon.  I wish we knew what Simon was thinking at this point, I’m sure he had mixed emotions.  When we arrived there were three teachers in his class but when we took a photo, I noticed one was missing.  When I looked for her, I saw her in the corner of the room crying her eyes out.

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With his classmates and two of his three teachers.

With his classmates and two of his three teachers.  Aren’t they all so cute?  I wish we could take them all home!

This was an incredibly poignant moment.  Our guide was hurrying us out of the room so we wouldn’t interrupt school.  Later I wished I had gone over and gotten a photo with her and Simon and maybe tried to assure her we will take good care of him.  On the trip to the orphanage our guide said that some of the workers at the facility were previously residents there and as I reflect back, I wonder if this could be the case for her and seeing a student adopted into a family opens up old wounds all over again.  Regardless of the reasons behind her tears, we could feel lots of love in this place for our son.

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Contemplating his day as we leave the orphanage.

 

Yum - this boy LOVES noodles!

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The hotel added an extra bed in our hotel room for Simon. This is his third night with his new family and he is sleeping great so far.

We know that Simon will mourn the loss of his orphanage family in the coming days, months and years but we are thankful that God allowed us to visit with them and hopefully encourage them that he will be well taken care of.  We are praying for comfort for all of those impacted by our adoption of Simon and also for forever families for the children left behind.

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