Hello everybody! First of all, the most important thing from today is that we got TongJie's visa so now he can enter the US. It's a US immigrant visa in his Chinese passport, so when we get to the LA airport we'll go through immigration and he'll officially be a US citizen. We also got a sealed packet of documents that we will present to the immigration officials in LA when we get there.
After my post yesterday, we had a fairly good night's sleep with TongJie only waking up once in the middle of the night, but then of course he was up at 5:45. We ate breakfast at the buffet early and then we had a long wait before our 10:30 meeting time for going to the park, so Jeff and I took a walk with TongJie in the stroller while we were waiting. Even early in the morning, it was already hot and humid so we were all sweaty by the time we got back. At 10:30 we walked to the park with Elsie and one other family, Carsten and Nicole and their two kids. The park was beautiful and a lot of things were blooming. We saw a lot of people out and about doing Tai Chi, dancing, playing hackey sack (and they were old people!), and singing folk songs in a large group. It was really hot and humid. The other family, whose kids are older, went to a playground area for about 40 minutes - it looked like a super cool playground but TongJie was too young to participate in the types of play equipment there so we walked all around the park with Elsie and took some pictures. On the way back, our group separated and Jeff and I went to Subway with TongJie. I think this was only the second time we've had lunch outside of our hotel room, the other time being the day we went to Wenzhou on the train. We're getting sick of instant soup and oatmeal. Anyway, Subway was pretty good, and it was good to be somewhere with air conditioning and sitting down for awhile. They didn't have any highchairs or booster seats, so TongJie sat on my lap and did really well.
We had a difficult afternoon when we got back to our room. I haven't exactly been trying to "sugarcoat" the truth in all of my blog posts, but I never go into the details of how difficult this transition has been for all of us. I don't want to make it seem like things are going terribly wrong, but I also don't want you to think it's been going smoothly either because that wouldn't be the truth. I usually leave out the parts where TongJie is crying inconsolably and thrashing around and pushing us away. Sometimes, no matter what we do, we can't get him to calm down. This afternoon (and evening, and part of the morning) was no exception. He wouldn't take a nap again and was mad a lot. I don't blame him. It's the sleeping that is the hardest, and we were expecting that because we know that a lot of adopted kids have issues with sleeping, especially at the beginning. But it's still really hard, even when you've researched it and you're expecting it. The poor kid has got to be so tired because I know he's not getting enough sleep, but every time he starts drifting off to sleep he wakes himself up crying and he's scared and mad, so it feels like we have to start all over again. Sarah has been pretty helpful to us and she's been understanding to what we're going through and has offered a few suggestions. I'm not sure that other people really believe that TongJie is having that hard of a time because usually he happens to be fairly calm when other people are around. Sarah, on the other hand, was with us when we were on the train for almost eight hours that day we went to Wenzhou last week, so she has seen a glimpse of the difficulties we're all having. I'm so glad that day on the train is over, by the way. And I'm so glad we leave tomorrow evening, even though I'm NOT looking forward to all the traveling. It will be nice to be home where we can understand what people are saying and where we know our way around and we have friends and we can cook our own healthy food at home and drink the water from our faucets and where we can begin to get into a normal routine.
Anyway, after the rough afternoon, we picked up TongJie's visa at 4:00 like I already mentioned, then Jeff and I went with TongJie to the Trust Mart supermarket several blocks away. It's kind of a long walk, but we had gone before with Sarah so we knew how to get there. It was nice to go somewhere by ourselves and not with other people. We mainly just went there for something to do, but we bought a few things too. Then we had dinner at KFC (how's that for our last dinner in China?) because it was cheap and we knew what to order and TongJie really likes the vegetable salad that comes in a little container that's just the perfect amount for him and it's cut up in small enough pieces that he can eat it himself with his fingers. When we got back we started the bedtime routine and it only took maybe two or two and a half hours before he was asleep, but he's asleep on our bed this time instead of in his crib, so we'll probably leave him there for tonight, at least until he wakes up crying in the middle of the night.
I don't mean to make it sound like things have been going really bad, because we're seeing little and big improvements every day. For instance, the last two days, TongJie has drank out of his bottle several times without crying. This evening before bed he even drank his whole bottle of formula, which we were super happy about. Another thing is that he's been increasingly steady on his feet and has started being okay with walking around on his own in our carpeted hotel room. That has been helpful because it has cut down on his frustration about being able to pick up items that he wants. He doesn't always use his new walking abilities though. Sometimes he still flops down and cries. Another positive change we're seeing is that he can play with his toys independently while frequently looking up to check to make sure we're still there. At first we had to be physically holding him constantly or he would cry. He's been sitting on our laps when we're sitting in a chair, which was very rare the first few days we had him since he wanted us to not only hold him constantly but also to be standing up. He's been babbling a little more and he said "Mama" a few times, even though I know he was only imitating me, but still that's a big step because he doesn't usually try to imitate sounds at all. One time, he looked at a picture of me and Jeff and seemed to recognize that it was us. He made a sound and pointed to the picture of Jeff and then looked right at him and smiled. Mostly he just flips through the pages of the photo book and we don't see any signs of recognition. So those are just a few examples of the positive steps we've seen recently. We have to remember we've only had him for just over a week, so I think he's doing exceptionally well. I'm already sure he's a genius, can you tell? Ha ha
So tomorrow we'll spend the day packing and getting ready to leave. Probably what will happen is that one of us will pack and the other will take TongJie for walks in the stroller. I feel kind of sad that tomorrow is TongJie's last day in China and he doesn't even know it. We plan to come back when he's older though. And, really, we've had a great time here and this has been such a cool experience. I'd do it all over again in an instant!
At 4:30 pm we check out of our hotel, then we have a 3.5 hour van ride to Hong Kong. We'll be there plenty early because our flight doesn't leave until 11:40 pm, then we travel back in time and arrive in LA at 9:50 pm to stay overnight in a hotel and catch our 7:20 am flight Thursday morning that arrives in Seattle at 10:00 am. I don't even want to think about how all that traveling is going to go, it seems so stressful. We thought 4 hours on a train was bad, so 13 hours on an airplane could be a disaster. I think it's one of those things that we'll just have to grit our teeth and make it through.
In case I don't get a chance for another blog post until after we get home, Jeff and I both want to say thanks to all of you who are following our blog! We appreciate all of your prayers, comments, and emails and we always look forward to checking our email every morning to see if anybody has sent us a message. We miss all of you guys! Just so you know, we plan to keep up our blog, at least for a while, after we arrive back home. We plan to lay low in our home and work hard at establishing our new little family and our new routine, so you probably won't see all of us out and about or at church for awhile yet. We want TongJie to be securely attached to us only, and to understand that we are his mom and dad and that nobody else is going to take him and we aren't going to leave him. So please don't feel like we're being rude if we prefer to keep our distance for a little while as we're bonding as a family. We'll keep posting updates and photos on our blog and we'll love to hear from you as much as ever via phone calls, telegraph, smoke signals, email, and blog comments - and by then we'll be able to log onto Blogger and perhaps change the settings to allow people to post comments easier! Thanks again for coming along with us, virtually, on the trip of a lifetime!