School, Colors, Breakdown

Today’s been a full day, and it’s only 3pm.


Since Asher’s been doing so well with us, we felt it was okay to bring him out into the community. Today there was a magician assembly at the school, so we brought him. Inevitably, he got a lot of attention. There were a number of times that he turned his head when we introduced him to people similarly to how he did it when he first met us. It was apparent that having so much attention from so many people was a little overwhelming at times. But all in all, he did wonderfully – better than we could have expected. Interestingly (or not?), he took to the children at the school faster than he did to the adults. Even with adults with Asian features like his own, he just doesn’t want to associate a whole lot at first. Our Mandarin speaking friends even have trouble getting words out of him, though it’s probably because he’s just meeting them for the first time. We toted him around the school for a bit and let him play on the playground. He even got to join the girls during their recess, which was great fun for him and them. They love showing him off. Here’s a video of Asher going down the slides on the playground:


We walked home after that, and we wanted to spend some time reading to him. One of our language goals for him is to get him to learn his colors. Whenever we’re outside, we try to point to things that are yellow and get him to repeat the word. He’s had trouble with that – he just starts calling everything yellow. So, we wanted to use a book and some legos to help him understand the concept. We tried to read a couple of books, but he has no patience for that, so we moved on to the legos. We put some legos on the board separated by color and pointed to each, saying their name. Again, we started with yellow, and asked him to find yellow ones. He kept bringing different color ones, so we modeled yellow for him a number of times. With how well he’s grasped other words, we figured this would be an easy one for him, but after 5 or so minutes of practice, he still wasn’t really consistent in pointing out yellow blocks (got it a few times, but could be just guessing). We looked up the Mandarin word for color – yanse – and we would go to each color saying “yellow yanse, blue yanse, red yanse” etc. He still didn’t seem to understand. At this point, I wasn’t so much getting frustrated, but wondering why there was a hang up. A few thoughts occurred to me: 1) he might not have learned his colors at all yet (though his original medical file from 6 months ago says he can recognize the color red), 2) his dialectical word for “color” might not be the same as standard Mandarin, and we might have a problem with translation, or 3) he might be color blind (though again, the medical file says he could recognize red 6 months ago). As a last ditch effort, we called over our house keeper, Sun, to have her talk to him. We asked her to ask him some questions, none of which he could answer:

  • Where is the yellow/green/red block?
  • What color is this? (pointing to different colors – he couldn’t answer)
  • Are these two colors the same? (holding up both a red and a green one – he said yes)
  • What is your favorite color? (no answer)

It was so odd to us that he couldn’t do this as he’s been so capable in just about every other area. We’ll work on it some more later, but I (Russell) have this sneaking suspicion that he’s color blind. He’s usually fairly organized with his things, but in the compartmentalized lego tray we got him, he mixed up all of the colors indiscriminately. That along with the color difficulties just don’t seem to add up. Time will tell – not too worried about it at this point.


Following the color activity, we asked him if he wanted to do an ABC puzzle with us. We got it out and started working on it, and he joined, but quickly lost interest when we tried to help. So, he started pushing the pieces around messily where we were building. I asked him not to, but he continued, so I picked him up and set him down away from the puzzle. In Mandarin, I asked him if he wanted to do the puzzle and he said no. That was fine, we continued to work. He went over to the telephone and started pushing buttons. From where we were, I told him no in a firm but calm voice. He continued pushing buttons. I asked again in the same way, he looked at me and continued. So, I made my voice even more firm without raising it or shouting. He continued. In the book we read, The Connected Child, they say that eye contact is important, so at this point, we went over to where he was, turned his face toward mine (he resisted quite a bit, but not to the point where we had to forcibly wrench his head to see me) and resolutely gave him a “No, Asher” while pointing to the phone. Of course, he reached out and touched the phone one more time. Aarrgh..

At this, I picked him up and set him in a chair in the middle of the room for a “time in.” We don’t want to seclude him away from us. He understood he had to stay in the chair, and he did not leave from the spot. But his body language changed – he became rigid and cold, and he began grunting and pulling at his shirt. It was very obvious that he was upset with us (or maybe just me). Jess and I went back to building the puzzle, and after a minute or so I asked him if he wanted to join. He gave me a head shake and an angry grunt and kept pulling his shirt. We went over to him after a bit and sat near him, trying again to get eye contact. He avoided our eyes like the plague, and was grunting and shouting angrily so we just sat there for about 5 minutes just trying to get his eyes before moving on. It was clear he wasn’t budging, but he also wasn’t being violent, so I picked him up and he began bawling. Not so much an angry cry as it was just a broken, sad cry. He’s done this once before, but this time it was more intense and lasted about 20 minutes. Jess and I passed him back and forth a few times, rubbing his back and still trying to get eye contact. Finally, we took his shirt off and rubbed his back and he started to calm down enough for us to get eye contact. It was almost like he was giving in to it. We made face to face eye contact and told him over and over again that we loved him (in both English and Mandarin), and he finally started to calm down. Five minutes later he was smiling and laughing again as we prepared for lunch.

I think we handled this breakdown fairly well. And even though he was completely distraught during the episode, it wasn’t like he hit or kicked, spit or ran away. He just sat pulling his shirt and stewing for a while before breaking down and crying. This kid is pretty special, and even if the breakdowns do get worse, this one actually gave us some confidence.

Bonus video 1- Asher and I playing ukulele very poorly to the song show he likes:

Bonus video 2- Asher playing the xylophone keyboard in the playroom. This kid loves music:

Bonus photos:


Quirks and Questions

The fact that Asher spent the last two years in a foster home and not an orphanage is a huge advantage. He’s had a chance to bond in a familial way within his first few years of life, which, according to what we’ve read, has a huge impact on social skills and even cognitive abilities later. We’re so thankful for that. However, one disadvantage we have is that most of the coaching and reading they’ve had us do before adopting has taught us how to bond with children from institutions. As far as we can tell, Asher doesn’t fit the behaviors that we expected him to have. He seems like a normal kid.

And there in lies the problem. Do we treat him normally? He’s such a great kid – funny, loves to play, smart, tidy. But like a normal kid, he likes to test the boundaries. He wants to hold our phones and iPads so bad that he just has to go back for it even after we’ve told him not to 12 times. If he were Micaiah or Selah, I’d get that stern voice, give him the stink-eye and a swift reprimand (side note here for those curious – we’re not legally allowed to spank him, not that we would). I’ve found myself in the frame of mind that he’s a normal kid, and he needs to learn not to test boundaries, so I’m going to get stern. But he gets a bit cold and angry when you do that, and it feels like it puts a kink in the bonding process. After thinking it through, I believe we need to stick with what we’ve read, and just try to be ultra patient, but man, it can be hard when you feel like the little stinker knows what he’s up to!

Today, the girls went back to school. I got to go out and watch the Superbowl for the first time in 3 years while Jess stayed at home with Asher. He got in on some of her exercise. When I got back, we took a trip out to IKEA to get some more things we’ve realized we need. The whole day, Asher talked about Micaiah. He just loves her. Not that she doesn’t deserve it – she’s super patient and kind with him, much more so than with Selah – but every time he talks about her, we make sure to mention Selah too. He’s just not into Selah as much yet. When the girls came home, we all went down to the bus stop to get them. After homework, I took all three kids to a play place patio in our building where they could ride their scooters and rollerblades. Asher got mad at me when I told him we had to leave (he does this angry grunt-growl), but we had a great time while we were there.

He’s got some funny quirks we’re noticing too. Like after going to the bathroom, we have him wash his hands. Every time after getting the soap off, he has to turn the water on and off about 2-3 times. I’m not sure if he’s doing it just for the fascination of it or if it’s a kind of impulsive need. Either way, just interesting to note. And he’s been sucking his index finger when he’s tired. He didn’t do that at all for the first week we had him, but then yesterday it just came out of nowhere. Now he does it every time he’s tired.. not sure why. He’s also very neat. While he likes to make a mess with the legos and other small toys, he has no problem cleaning them up when I ask him to. That’s refreshing – Micaiah and Selah are definitely not that way.

He’s learned to say “you’re welcome” and he’s basically replaced his Mandarin with English for that and “thank you” by now. Next, we need to get him to start using “peepee” and “poopoo” exclusively. It’s fairly easy to know when he needs to pee, but so far we’ve had a few different miscommunications in stores where I bring him to the bathroom only to find out he didn’t actually have to go.

On another language note, many of our friends and colleagues speak Mandarin here. We’re finding that the few that have met Asher want to speak to him in Mandarin. It makes sense, but it makes us feel a bit defensive. I mean, they’re able to connect with our son in a way we can’t. We came back from Shijiazhuang feeling like we had created this super strong bond already, and that the mother and father roles had been established. After one or two of these Mandarin conversations where Asher has no problem speaking to a stranger, it makes us reconsider that thought. On the other hand, we have also seen it as a benefit living in China so that he wouldn’t lose these aspects of his culture. There’s a bit of tug-of-war going on in us about it. Not quite sure how we feel about it at this point.

All-in-all, things are still going fantastic. We feel a strong bond with him, and we feel like we’re still adjusting to each other’s rhythms and idiosyncrasies. Life is good.

Wrapping Up Week 1

I had the best intentions of writing a blog post every night in our first week with Asher. Alas, exhaustion set in. Turns out, he’s a normal four year old boy who loves to romp and who never stops moving. Exhaustion.

In our last two days in Shijiazhuang, we had a smattering of firsts. Asher began repeating “I love you”. At first, we know he didn’t know what it meant, but we think he does now, as we’ve said the phrase in Mandarin as well (wo ai ni) and always follow it with a kiss:

When we first saw Asher’s file from the adoption agency, his caretakers had said he was “obstinate, but we don’t see it as weakness”. In our first few days with him, we thought either they were crazy, or the file must be outdated. Heh heh.. nope. In the last few days, Asher has become more comfortable with us, which means he feels free to say no. He especially doesn’t like to go to bed, so we have seen some definite obstinance during these times. We call the girls to the couch to read the Bible, and we get “byao-byao-byao” from Asher, and him busying himself with another activity. After asking him to join about 10 times, he still doesn’t want to come, so we have to pick him up and hold him at the couch. It doesn’t take long after that for him to start getting drowsy (during prayer), and fall asleep quickly in his bed. But it’s clear that he’s got a stubborn streak. He fits right in 😉

On Friday, we checked out of our hotel at 4pm (we lucked out with a late checkout) and headed to the airport. Asher didn’t have a passport when we bought his plane ticket so we had to use his Chinese ID. Because of this, we had to check in with the police station at the airport. Then, it was off to Asher’s first plane ride. He took it pretty well – had no problems with the take off or landing – but did NOT like the seatbelt. He asked about 9,999 times for me to take it off. He even told me he had to go to the bathroom twice, but once we got there he told me he didn’t need to. Stinker.

We got home that night at around 1:30am, and the kids went right to sleep. Asher’s been sleeping fairly lightly since coming back. Last night, he was up for a couple hours whining. Jess was up with him twice, and me once. He seems to be a bit uncomfortable in such a warm room, wearing PJs, and having a pillow. He’s loving being in a new place with so many things to touch, buttons to push, and toilets to flush. He’s got a fearful fascination with our cat, Naija, often calling her over only to run away. When she comes near, he gets a worried look on his face and points with a whimper. He’s getting braver by the day, though.

We went to church for the first time this morning. He wore this awesome little outfit with suspenders (boy clothes are fun!). He did such a good job in the service being quiet and respectful. He’s attached to this little cell phone toy of Micaiah’s, and brought it with him in the service. He pushed the button once, and I told him no. After that, he was very careful. He fell asleep during the service, and Jess held him. She was afraid he would drool on her nice shirt… nope. But he did sweat a huge patch right on her chest. Haha.. this kid sweats SO much. After church, we had lunch with friends from school, the Jacobsens.

On the relationship front, Asher’s still pretty attached to Baba. He’s getting closer to Mama as well, and we’ve been intentional about Jess laying with him as he sleeps, giving him the bath, etc. Interestingly, he’s grown pretty fond of Micaiah and seems to push Selah away a bit. When Micaiah and Selah fight, he goes to Micaiah to offer his love. We were wondering why this is so, and we think it’s because Micaiah never tells him no. Selah, on the other hand, is a bit more maternal, and has no problem telling him not to do things. She’s also a bit more territorial about her own things, whereas Micaiah lets Asher touch any of her things. When Selah asks for her things back, Asher gets a little snippy with her. She admitted to me when I laid with her in bed tonight, “It’s hard being a big sister.” Balancing giving the girls as much love and attention as they need as well as Asher has been a bit difficult. By nature, he just takes the attention. We’ll be looking for ways to make sure and even this out. Luckily, the girls go back to school tomorrow.


Adoption Week Day 6: Asher’s Birthday!

We didn’t know how much to play up Asher’s birthday. We woke up saying shengri kuaile, which means happy birthday in Mandarin, but he didn’t really respond to it. He speaks a local dialect, which is slightly different than mainstream Mandarin, but still it seemed like he just didn’t really have a strong concept of what a birthday is. This would make sense if he was raised in an orphanage, but he was with a foster family so we thought he would have at least some idea of it.

At breakfast, Asher didn’t seem too hungry. He ate a few bites, ran around, and drank a bunch of juice. Then he threw up all over the floor and we knew why he didn’t want to eat! Once he was out with it, he was right back to his cheerful self.

We spent the rest of the morning in the hotel room playing, and at lunch time, we went down to have some KFC. We’re getting so sick of fast food, but there’s really nothing else here we (or the girls) want to eat. Uggh, can’t wait to get back home. After lunch, we went back to the giant ball pit we had taken the girls to earlier in the week. Asher and the girls had a blast playing in the balls, sliding down the slide, and jumping on the small trampoline in the pit. Jess went in with him while I went to Starbucks to get a little work done.

I then spent some time looking for birthday presents around the mall. After a little while, he was ready to be done in the ball pit. He learned that he can get out of something by saying buyao, which means “I don’t want” in Mandarin. Since the afternoon, he’s been saying it A LOT. When he says it, he repeats it a bunch. It sounds like “byao-byao-byao-byao-byao“. We’re starting to see why his foster family described him as obstinate. There has been a few times in the evening around bed time that he buyao-ed us about a hundred times because he didn’t want to get to bed. When we got a little stern with him, he got a bit frustrated and growled a bit. In the end, though, he settled down and laid down with me and fell asleep. Still, we got to see a side of him that we hadn’t yet fully seen, and we don’t think we’ve seen the full extent yet.

After the ball pit afternoon, we got an ice cream cake at Dairy Queen and saved it in the freezer for after dinner. We ate at the hotel restaurant, and it was fun to see Asher loving the live music on the stage. At one point he went and sat close, putting his head down on his arm and watching intently. He’s also begun doing this funny little dance where he waves his arms back and forth and shakes his rump.

Back in the room, we lit the candle and sang him Happy Birthday in both Mandarin and English. He didn’t really register what was happening, but enjoyed the cake nonetheless. When we brought out the presents, it was clear he didn’t know what to do. The girls helped him open the first one, and by the third one he was off to the races. He loved the gifts (markers, a drawing pad, some toy cars, and play dough). After presents was bath time and bed.

Today’s milestones:

  • He’s saying peepee and poopoo (though he needs to be prompted a bit)
  • He called himself Asher instead of XiaoYu when looking at a picture of himself
  • He loves watching videos of himself and talking to himself in them
  • He’s bonding more with Micaiah, and uses her name quite a bit
  • He’s pronouncing the word “up” better, and knows that he needs to say it correctly to get what he wants. He corrects himself when he says it wrong.
  • He’s repeating more words like: ball, all clean, down, please, and more


Adoption Week Day 5

More smiles this morning as we all woke up and spent some time snuggling before getting up. Much of the day was spent in the hotel room, except for the afternoon when we took a few hours to go to the mall across the street. We had fun playing in the coin machines, riding bumper cars, and riding a boat in the Venice-themed section of the mall. Asher has learned quite a few new words, including “up”. We want him to learn English so that he can get what he wants with language. He’s tried speaking to us in Chinese, but all of our Chinese language is so limited that he’s resorted to grunts for most of his communication. So, when he raises his arms and wants to be picked up, we have taught him the word “up”. For a while we refused to pick him up until he said “up” (he pronounces it ahpa at this point), and soon he was saying it every 2 minutes. Then, we wanted him to learn to address us correctly, so we wouldn’t answer unless he said, “Baba” or “Mama”. He learned to call us that pretty quickly!

He’s also readily calling Micaiah and Selah “jiejie”, which means big sister. He also knows their names, and is using them a bit. As well, it seems he’s committed a few words to memory and is using them without prompting: waterhello, and funny enough, nipple. We had a fun time learning that one. It’s continually amazing to us how fast he is willing to repeat words and names. He’s even been outgoing in video calls with family back in the states, repeating names and saying hello.

We’re also learning that he can be a headstrong little boy when he wants something, and today we had our first sibling disagreement when he wanted to touch the buttons on my computer but Selah didn’t want him to. I wanted to see how he would react to watching our Gotcha Day video. He sat enthralled, talking to the screen. It was particularly interesting when it came to the part when Micaiah gave him the toy truck, as he was talking to himself (in the video), and raced to get the truck from his pile of toys. In a bit of irony, I captured the moment on video, and I plan to have one of my Chinese speaking friends translate what he was telling himself.

Another fun part of the day was bringing him in the pool for the first time. We have an indoor pool here at the hotel, and although it was a bit cold, he loved getting in and splashing around. He doesn’t like having his head go under, but he was all smiles, even holding Baba’s hand and jumping in from the side. We’re thinking of bringing him to a water park tomorrow for his birthday.

The night time routine is just a bit tricky as he doesn’t know how we do things quite yet, and has a hard time sitting still for reading (unless there’s a pop-up). He seems to have endless energy, unless we’re walking and he always wants to be picked up. Once he finally lays down in bed, though, he’s out pretty quickly. Though, he wants someone to lay with him (usually Baba). He’s utterly attached to Baba, and doesn’t like to leave him out of his sight. It can be a bit exhausting. In fact, I need to get some more sleep. No pictures or video tonight- maybe I’ll add them in later.

Adoption Week Day 4: Back to the Orphanage

Here’s all of the video clips we took from today (9 min.). You can read all about our day, and see photos below the video:

More firsts today as we got to see how Asher sleeps and wakes up. We heard a few whimpers through the night, but nothing further than a little cry of a bad dream or two. He woke up slightly disoriented, but quickly was back to the quirky, fun-loving kid we saw yesterday. We’ve found that he’s such an obedient little boy (let’s get that on the record that there was at least one day of it!). Throughout the day, we saw him test some limits, but after telling him no, or do this or that, he would obey within a few tellings. Even when it was easy to see he was tempted by something, he went along with what we asked.

After getting ready, we went to breakfast where he was happy to eat anything we put in front of him. He especially liked the sausages – his caretakers told us he likes meat, guess they were right! We met our guide and began the two-hour ride to Handan, where his orphanage is. To be clear, he only spent two months in the orphanage, and that was two years ago before he was put in a foster home with a “grandma” and “grandpa” figure, and a younger boy named Panpan. He lived at the orphanage again for just a week leading up to the adoption. So, his experience with the place was actually pretty limited. Our goal in going there was not really to see the orphanage, but to connect with the foster grandparents. We were told that they would be there.

When we got to the orphanage, we could see that Asher recognized the place. He got a little quiet in the van, and we told our guide to tell him that we would not leave him there, and that he would go home with Mama and Baba. We were greeted by two of the workers we met yesterday, and another man. Asher was quick to reach his arms out to the man who they said was a leader at the orphanage. As we walked in, however, he pulled out the reserved, scared boy we had first met in the parking lot yesterday. They began walking us through the halls, and Jess held him close to make him feel better. They then brought us into the room where Asher stayed during his week-long visit. The first tears – Asher immediately broke down and started balling. Jess held him closer, and spoke whispers to him and I joined in cuddling him. We took a few pictures in the room, let the caretakers see him and ask him a couple questions (he wasn’t in the answering mood), and then we got out of there.

We asked about the foster family, and were told that they couldn’t come. It turns out, they actually live 3 hours away from the orphanage. That would have been nice to know. So, the whole point of coming was defeated from the start and we didn’t know. Our guide, trying to make the best of it, got us in on a conference call with the foster grandma, and we were able to ask all the questions we wanted. We asked about Asher, about her relationship with him, and if we could visit. She said she’d love for us to come. We also asked to, to no avail, for a picture of her and her husband, and of their house. The orphanage said they would try to acquire one for us. We left feeling a bit disappointed, but at least we have the foster family’s contact information and can get in touch in the future.

On the ride home, Asher was a bit melancholy for a good 20-30 minutes, but warmed up with some playful kisses from Baba. He took a little nap on Mama’s shoulder and spent the rest of the trip playing with his toys and learning the word “car”. He’s a clever little boy – so far, he’s learned (repeated) a few English words: car, truck, airplane, water, and bubbles. He’s also began to respond to his new name. At first, he wouldn’t turn when we said Asher, only XiaoYu. Now, he’s responding to Asher pretty much 100% of the time. It’s incredible how fast he’s adapting to that.

When we got back to the hotel, it dawned on him that he was “home”. He got downright chipper, running around the room and hamming it up. He gobbled down his chicken nuggets from KFC, and had a good old time feeding french fries to Baba. We spent the rest of the afternoon snuggling, playing, and reading books. For dinner, we got a cab to a different mall and tried a sushi place. Asher gobbled down anything we gave him (as usual – this boy likes to MUNCH). He had a great time playing with a balloon animal he was given. We also had a little fun in the Toys R Us in the mall. He fell in love with a large version of the Hexbug that Selah let him play with yesterday, so we bought that and a few small cars. One interesting thing about the trip was that when we got in the cab to go to the mall, he again got a bit quiet and detached. Our guess is that he’s grown a bit distrustful after being brought back to the orphanage (for good reason). It must be difficult living with that unknown hanging over your head. To him, this won’t feel permanent for quite a while. We have a lot of trust building to do.

More fun milestones of the day:

  • He’s begun to call Micaiah and Selah “jiejie” which means big sister.
  • He’s started referring to Jess and I as Mama and Baba.
  • He speaks a few phrases of Chinese to us, which we’ve been told mean “open this” or “I got it!”
  • He loves the shower and bath – we had a good time playing in the shower to help him feel comfortable with water on his face. Consequently, he’s learning the word “peepee”
  • He now waves goodbye to his pee and poo when we flush. I’ll take credit for that.
  • He loves kissing. He kisses Baba the most, but has offers kisses to everyone in the family.


Adoption Week Day 3: Gotcha

We got him! Here’s a movie of all of the video clips from the day (warning, it’s 15 minutes long… if you want to just watch the moment when we got him, scroll down to the next video):

We started the day out with some nervous jitters. After getting ready and having a quick breakfast at the hotel, we met our English speaking guide, Carina, in the hotel lobby at 8:30am. She ushered us into a van and we headed off toward the Civil Affairs Bureau. When we arrived, we found out that Asher and his caretakers (two employees from the orphanage in his district, as well as the orphanage director) had not showed up yet. They were coming on a 3 hour drive, and were just a bit late to our 9am meeting time. We waited in the car for about 25 minutes playing “I Spy” until we saw a car pull into the parking lot. It was them!

We had imagined our first sight of him to be in a room where they bring him through a door the union takes place. All of the “Gotcha Day” videos we’ve seen are like that. Not for us. We got out of the car when we saw them pull up, and we met him right then and there in the parking lot (in freezing temperatures!). It was apparent that the little guy was scared, and as we approached, we heard his caretakers tell him that this was his ‘mama’ and ‘baba’. He turned his face away, and wouldn’t look at us at first. After a little bit of cajoling and us introducing ourselves and talking sweetly to him, he began to look our way a little. We gave him a little toy truck that he immediately latched onto. It became his way of escaping the moment as he held it tight and kept putting it up near his face. We waited outside the Civil Affairs Bureau for the officer, only to find out he was in a meeting all morning and wouldn’t be able to meet with us until 1:30pm. Here is a condensed video of the moment we met Asher:

We took some family photos and went back in the van to head to the hotel until later. On the way, we stopped at a photo store to get an official family photo for the adoption paperwork, as well as a couple passport sized photos of him for paperwork. The people at the photo shop were very sweet and asked us a lot of questions.

Back at the hotel, we pulled out all of the toys out of his little backpack, and he immediately dove in. He again latched onto the little toy trucks and Duplos that were there, but it was the small board books that really got him going. They had these hide-away pictures in them, and when I read them to him in a funny voice, he finally broke down and smiled. Soon, we were laughing and playing, and he warmed right up to us. We played for a while in complete joy that he wasn’t crying or tantruming, and then went to KFC for lunch before meeting back up with Carina (our guide) and heading back to the Civil Affairs Bureau to meet the officer.

Back at the CAB, we waited outside for quite a while for the officer to arrive. I used the time to ask many questions to the orphanage workers about where he was found, where he’s lived, and a whole range of other questions. Finally, the officer arrived, and we went inside to complete all of the necessary paperwork (which included finger prints and a red handprint by Asher). We then headed to the Notary to get some final paperwork done. By this time, Asher seemed to be fully in love with his new family, laughing and playing with toys and his sisters. He was particularly fond of a vibrating little bug (called a hexbug) that Selah showed him.

Following the Notary, we went back to the hotel and played in the room for a while. We watched some TV, and he had fun shooting us with a toy gun that the orphanage workers left him. After a while, we went to dinner at Pizza Hut where we weren’t surprised to see that he likes to drink warm water like all other Chinese. After dinner, we went back to the room and got him a bath. He was a bit apprehensive at first, but was soon splashing and having fun. He was a bit unsure of the shower head, but again, soon seemed to enjoy himself. His only cry of the day (which wasn’t really a cry but a worried shout) came when we had to wash the shampoo out of his hair. He does not like to have water on his face! We read the Bible as a family, said our prayers, Facetimed with family, and then all got in bed. The girls fell asleep almost immediately, but he did not want to sleep in his own bed. Instead, I invited him to lay next to me (Russell) in bed, which he did so readily. We lay next to each other pretending to sleep for about 10 minutes. He mimicked me with eyes closed, and kept having me kiss his little stump hand over and over. Finally, his eyes stayed closed for good, and he was out.

It’s been such a full day, and so good. We were prepared for the worst – shouting, crying, running away, kicking, hitting, spitting, and tantrums. But we got none of that. We feel beyond blessed to have received a little boy who is as sweet as can be (at least for now), and who took today like a champ. We’ve been praying that God would prepare his little heart to be in our family for the last 6 months since we knew who he was, and it seems that our prayer was answered. We know that things can change; we know that we might get a slightly different child tomorrow, and that we won’t really know who our son is for the next couple weeks. But for now, we’re so very glad that he seems happy to be with us. There’s so much more that I’d like to write here, but this post is getting long. Maybe in the next one, I’ll highlight some of the fun little adventures we had today (like going to the bathroom for the first time!). It’s been an adventure already. Tomorrow, we head back to his orphanage, and we get to meet his foster family. This may seem a little counterproductive, and it may be, but we want to have pictures with them and ask them questions that Asher may want the answer to when he’s older.


A big part of today for me was making sure Micaiah was okay. She was a bit apprehensive coming in to today, and I continually wanted to make sure she knew she was just as special as before. I asked her a few times how she was feeling, and she let me know in her own way that she needed our love now as much as ever. I made sure to give her lots of snuggles and spend as much time with her as possible. She admitted to me once that she was a bit jealous, but at other times in the day, she was quick to want to help her new little brother out with a book or toy. I’m sure glad she was here for this. I love this girl!


Adoption Week Day 2

I’m writing this as we lay in bed, preparing to fall asleep. The thoughts and feelings and nervous excitement has been swirling for a while now, but it all seems to be coming to a head. Tonight, we ate our last meal as a family of four. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not mourning that, but it seems natural to think of those kinds of last times.


Fun at the ball pit playground. Can you spot the biological beauties?

Today, we hung out and just did normal family stuff. We ate breakfast here at the hotel – they have a decent selection of western and Asian breakfast foods. Then, after lounging around our room for a while, we went down to the Wonder Mall, which is attached to the hotel, and let the girls play in a massive ball pit playground they had seen yesterday. They got to play for a full hour and a half while I (Russell) finished some work at the Starbucks next door. Then, we went to the grocery store downstairs and bought some gifts for the people involved in Asher’s adoption; the officer at the Civil Affairs Bureau, the director of the orphanage, and the local guide. We spent much of the afternoon hanging out in the room until dinner time, at which time we went back to the Venice-style mall and had some yummy Korean food for dinner. It’s so cold here compared to Guangzhou that we’re not used to it. No one really wants to spend any time outdoors, so we’re finding ourselves being pretty lazy during the day.


Baby, it’s coooold outside. Last photo as a family of four!

Tomorrow, however, will be different. Tomorrow, we get Asher. At 8:30am, we’ll meet our guide in the lobby and head to the Civil Affairs Bureau where we will meet him for the first time. For Jess, the emotion is so strong it brings her to nervous tears when she thinks about it. What will we do? Do we hug him? Is he going to be shy? Is he going to throw a scared fit? How will we help him to go the bathroom? What will bath time be like? All of these crazy questions just keep swirling, even though logically we should know that it’s just going to be what it’s going to be. After we cross each bridge, we’ll probably realize we had nothing to worry about. But for now, the butterflies in our stomachs are racing.

The girls seem a bit apprehensive as well. Selah is excited and shows it pretty readily, although she has expressed a little bit of nervousness. Micaiah doesn’t talk much about the adoption, and when I questioned her today, she admitted that she was afraid. We’ve been talking so much about hugging him and loving on him. She doesn’t open up to new people in that way very readily, and asking her to accept in a strange little boy as her brother has been a bit overwhelming for her lately. We’ll make sure not to push things too fast for her. It will certainly be interesting seeing how they both react tomorrow. We’ll try to get some video for the archives. We don’t want to miss anything.

Adoption Week Day 1

Today, we flew to Shijiazhuang to kick off our week here picking up Asher and finalizing the adoption. Our day was pretty low key- we settled into our hotel (Holiday Inn) and got to know the area a bit. It’s much colder here than in Guangzhou, and that was a bit of a shock to our systems. We stocked up on some new gloves, hats, and scarves and strolled through an indoor mall that is set up to look like a Venice canal. All in all a good, relaxing day.

Tomorrow is another day with no official schedule, but we need to buy gifts for the people who have cared for Asher. We’ll keep this blog updated each day.

Travel Approval

It’s nearly time to get Asher, to get our son. That’s been a bit of a weird thing to say – “our son” – but it’s been rolling off the tongue a lot more easily lately. For the past couple months, we’ve been waiting for one document to arrive, and just yesterday morning, we received notice that it’s been issued. That document is our travel approval, which basically says we’re cleared to go get our son.

In the past half a year, people have been asking us when we can go get him, and now we finally almost have a definitive answer. The reason I say almost is because we technically can’t fly until we have the document in hand, buuuut we know it’s been shipped to us and have no reason to expect anything else. So, we’ve officially informed our school that we’ll start our adoption leave in a week, and we plan on flying to get Asher on January 27. However, we still can’t book the flights until we actually have the paper in hand, just in case.

In preparing to travel, we’ve been briefed on the process, and what to expect through emails, documents, and a few different conference calls. Apparently, we’ll fly on Saturday to the capital city (Shijiazhuang – pronounced sher-juh-zhwong) of the province he’s in (Hebei – pronounced huh-bay) and will be handed our son either that night or the following day. Then there’s a 24 hour period where we have him before we sign any official documents. Apparently, this is so that people can make sure they’re getting the child they expected to get. During this time, we can order any medical checks to be done, etc. We don’t anticipate needing any reassurance- we’re committed. We’ll stay in the city at our hotel with Asher (the girls are coming, too) returning to the Civil Affairs Bureau on some days to sign documents and waiting to receive his Chinese passport. The plan is to fly back to Guangzhou on Friday. After that, life begins back at home. We have an appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou to get his American visa on February 12.

We’re hoping to get a chance to meet the foster parents at the home where he’s at, and see the place where he was found, but we’ve been told this isn’t really how things work. Likely he’ll be delivered to us at our hotel. We’ll keep this blog updated throughout our travel week as a record of what we experienced. For Asher’s sake, we don’t want to forget anything.