Thursday, June 24, 2010

Heng Yang City

We had Donovan for about 3 days when the opportunity to go and visit the orphanage had come up. We were not all able to go unfortunately so Kendall went on all our behalf. I felt sad about this but there wasn't a way that it was going to work.

We were unable to just travel around China. We had to purchase a special permit for Kendall to go to the orphanage. ($75 USD) We also had to pay for a guide to accompany Kendall for the day ($50 USD) also all her travelling expenses. Kendall was required to have a guide "for his safety" and I think this was partially true... maybe 10%... the other 90% of the reason was so they could keep tabs on him.

Our guide's name was Tania. She was super nice and it was comforting to know that Kendall would not be travelling completely alone and had someone to interpret signs, train schedules..etc. They took the fast train to Heng Yang. This train travels about 350 km/hr. So the trip which normally takes 2 hrs took 1/2 an hour. Big difference!

Once in Heng Yang, Kendall and Tania were picked up by Ron who is a retired man from Australia. Him and his wife are resident grandparents at the orphanage. :) Kendall then met Kyla from International China Concern who we have been in contact with since December. She showed him all around the orphanage. He got to see Donovan's room and where he slept. Donovan pretty much spent his time between two rooms in the orphanage. The room where he slept had 8 cribs in it. And the second room was like a play room. At the end of the hallway was another room where he would have had his "kindie classes"

I am going to tell you a little bit about International China Concern (ICC) for a sec. Changsha is the capital city of Hunan province in China. They have a Social Welfare Institute (orphanage) where ICC has partnered with and had great success. The Chinese government has appreciated ICC's efforts and asked them to do the same in Heng Yang. So ICC partnered with the SWI there. Now, that is exactly what ICC does is PARTNER. They come along side the SWI and work within the system. They do not take over the orphanage. They are given space to work along side the SWI. Essentially there are 2 sides to these orphanages. There is the ICC side and the SWI side.

Having said all that: Kendall had an amazing tour of ICC. They are doing such great things. The children are happy there and well cared for. In Heng Yang, ICC has about 130 children and the SWI has about 50. Kendall was able to take lots of pictures of ICC and video. Kyla then took Kendall (& Tania) over to the SWI side. He was forbidden to take any pictures on this side. I can not say much more in writing about this side of the orphanage. I will leave it there and I can talk about it another time. What Kendall witnessed there can only be described by the word "heart wrenching."
Once there is an opening on the ICC side of the orphanage they transfer a child from the SWI over to ICC. Because we adopted Donovan this opened a bed for a child to come over to ICC. Donovan left the orphanage on Monday morning and in the afternoon Kyla received a baby from the SWI side. (Truthfully there were two children that left ICC that day. They had room for 2 to transfer but they took 4! PTL!) This baby is now in Donovan's bed and he is doing so well since the transfer. In the three days that ICC had him he had started to gain a bit of weight and his color was looking really great! The staff at ICC were very hopeful that he was going to survive. We are so grateful for what ICC is doing and all they have accomplished already!

For more info on ICC feel free to visit their website: Lots of information! There is even the possibility of sponsoring children on a monthly commitment.(similar in cost to World Vision) Lots of great ideas.. more on that in another post!

When Kendall and Tania made it back to Changsha it was time to say good-bye. They had an amazing day together and lots of great talks. In the end Tania was so touched by the day that she refused to accept payment for her guide services. We have been e-mailing her since we have been home. It was very gracious of her to volunteer her time that day and we were very grateful.

While Kendall was in Heng Yang, Crystal and I had the kids for the day and we went in a taxi to... you will not believe this... WAL-MART! HA! Yep we travelled literally to the other side of the world and we went to Wal-Mart! That is just a pre-cursor to my next note! I know you can hardly wait..... it was a day I will never forget! I will tell you about it in my next post!

Monday, June 7, 2010

And Now We Are Six!

Here is the update from our first 2 days in China with Donovan! Sorry it is a bit long!


Our trip to Beijing was very good. The flight was 13 hours but it went by very well. The girls did amazing on the plane and in the end we have lots of extra things to do on the flight home that we did not get to yet! Beijing was hot and we were absolutely exhausted when we arrived. Our guide picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel where we met Yulin (the lady from our agency in Ottawa.) She is so organized and informative. Great to put a face to the name!

We all had a short sleep as we were having a wake up call for 4:30 am to get to the airport and fly out at 7:55 to Changsha. We were awake around 2 am (which is 2 in the afternoon for us) because we are jet-lagged. So we were ready for our wake up call for sure! Flight from Beijing to Changsha was very good. No goats or other animals. Just a regular flight. I was a little disappointed to be honest! I am thinking that Bob (Yulin's husband) was joking about the farm animals on planes???? We will find out!

Once we landed in Changsha our guide picked us up and brought us to our hotel. We were under the impression that the hotel in Beijing would be very nice and other hotels would be of lesser quality. This has not been the case for us. Our hotel in Changsha is quite extravagant. Marble everywhere, huge pillars, paintings, artwork, woodwork...etc. It is quite exquisite. So our instructions were that we would get ready get some lunch and then we would be off to the Hunan Civil Affairs office to meet our children! YAY!

The time went by fast as we had lots to do. We made it to the Civil Affairs office at around 3:00. Our guide was very good and got us to do a bit of paperwork. The girls were so good. We were all pretty tired but Cait and Becca hit a "wall" around 3:15. They each curled up on a chair and fell asleep. At about 3:40 we heard that Donovan was there. Lauren looked out the door into the other room and she said "I see him! He is here!" A gentleman brought him to us and Donovan was a little scared and started backing away. Kendall reached down and picked up Donovan. The man who was holding his hand just left the room. Donovan realized then he did not know anyone in the room and he was very sad. He was trying so hard not to cry. He was very brave. We brought him to a window to look outside and that seemed to be better.

Lauren tried to give him a toy that we had brought for him but he did not want anything to do with it. I (Tam) tried to hold him for a minute but he was sticking close to Kendall. He only wanted to look out the window.

Cait and Becca were still asleep on the chairs at this point. We tried several times to wake them up but they were right asleep. Completely out. Crystal even moved Caitlyn and she would not wake up. Eventually though Cait roused and she was able to meet Donovan too. He did not want the toy that Cait had for him either. It was kind of cute!

Crystal had the brains to bring a little toy truck. Donovan took it right away. :) He loved the wheels and how it rolled around. He was totally taken with the truck. And it was a good distraction. He is such a little boy! I had brought these stuffies for him but all he wanted was a truck! I am on a great learning curve! Lots of fun!

I was able to hold him for a little bit in the room there after he had his truck! So that was amazing. He looks so good and he is very solid! He is a heavy little guy! He is known at the orphanage for being a good eater. I can see that he is doing well.

It was not very long until our guide said that it was time for us to go back to the hotel. Wow! Just like that we are now six! Donovan would only go with Kendall still. He was unsure about us and everything, which is totally understandable. He observes everything around him and is taking it all in. You can see that he is very bright and understands so much.

We had a really late supper and went straight to bed. Donovan ate A LOT. It was awesome to watch! He would eat everything from his plate and then we would put more on and he would just continue. It seemed like he would eat until we stopped putting food on his plate. He did not eat fast he just kept eating. Amazing! It was encouraging to see him eating and fitting in with us at supper. He had already become more relaxed.

When we went to bed Donovan was very sad. He cried for about 30-40 minutes. Kendall layed with him for a bit but we realized this was probably not the greatest idea since we are sure no one lays with him in the orphanage. Once he was by himself he settled a little better and was shortly asleep, probably around 9:30ish. He slept the whole night until 7:15. In the middle of the night I checked on him and he had fallen off the cot onto the floor. He did not wake up and he stayed there until morning. Becca was amazing through all this. She went to sleep just fine with Donovan crying. She did not complain or fuss. We were so proud of her. She is a wonderful big sister.


When Donovan woke up we thought he might be sad because he woke up in a strange place and still doesn't know us. But this did not happen. He woke up and Kendall said "Good morning! Would you like a drink?" Donovan rubbed his eyes and went over to Kendall. Had a drink and Kendall got him dressed. He was ready to go!

We all came into the room at this point and the girls all said good morning to him and it was just like regular. We all hung out and got ready for the day. Went down to the first floor for a big breakfast buffet. The buffet had both Chinese and Western foods. It was spectacular. I took Donovan through the buffet and pointed at foods and he would nod his head or hesitate. If he hesitated I did not put that food on his plate. It is quite mind boggling how much can be communicated with out words! He is very expressive and is good to tell us when he wants something or doesn't want something. Again, he ate A LOT! Very good appetite. He is very neat. If there is some food that has fallen off his plate he makes sure to eat that first before eating what is on his plate. After he is finished he pushes his plate gently away, but he has to be sure there is no more food on the plate. He finishes everything.

At 9:00 we went back to the Civil Affairs office to make everything official. Today is the actual day of adoption! We were interviewed by a government lady and then had to have documents notarized. This process ended up taking about 2 hours as we were waiting with several other families and had to take turns. During this waiting time Donovan was hilarious. He was playing with all of us. He was running around and giving hugs to us and playing with the girls. It was a real bonding time. He has changed so much in the last 17 hours. It was amazing to watch that as well. He was starting to be a little jokester. And he had his first real belly laugh. It was fantastic! It is feeling like he is fitting in so well. Lauren had said, "I feel like we have always had him." Awesome!

Donovan is having a nap right now and later today we have to get some clothes for him. I brought a little bit but not enough. So will be good to get somethings he can wear!

I will update more when we can. I know these big long updates are overwhelming. Sorry this was so long. Will try to keep it shorter.
Until next time,

Friday, June 4, 2010

Well, That did NOT work!

Hello Friends!

I will write all about our trip in a later post. I just wanted to update everyone now and say that I could not blog in China. One of my friends told me before we left that I may not be able to blog as a lot of websites are blocked in China. This was good to know because that is exactly what happened. My blog site was blocked and I could not update. FRUSTRATING!!!! So I am sorry everyone!

A short version of the last 12 days is that Donovan has transitioned really well. Things have been amazing and I know this is only because of the prayers of everyone. He has been really easy going so far and has just slipped right in to our family. Lauren said the other day "It feels like he has always been with us" So that was super encouraging and confirming because I was thinking the same thing!

I will post a note about our first couple of days in the next post. Our first meeting with him and all that. Thanks everyone for following and for your prayers. They have definitely made all the difference!
More to come later,

Friday, May 21, 2010


Okay, we are officially unplugged tonight. Next time I write we will be in Beijing! Bags are packed and ready to go! We are pretty exhausted (and might I add GRUMPY - okay it might be mostly me that is grumpy =) So we are going to bed and tomorrow morning it officially begins!
Cherishing everyone's prayers.
In His Grip,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

China Itinerary

For those interested in what we are doing everyday while we are away I have posted the itinerary below!

Thanks so much to everyone for all their prayers. They are already making a difference and I know they are a major factor in our transition and Donovan's transition going well!

May 23 Last Day for arrival in China

May 24 am Departure for Changsha
pm Receive children

May 25 8:30 Family Picture
Registration at Provincial Gov Office
Notarization of documents

May 26 9:00 Admin activities
14:00 Shopping

May 27 pm Receive Child's Documents and passport

May 28 13:20 Leave for Airport
16:20 Leave for Beijing
19:20 Arrive in Beijing

May 29 9:00 Children's pictures in Hotel, group picture, assembling documents for Canadian Embassy
pm Beijing Zoo

May 30 8:30 The Great Wall
Jade Factory, Cloisonne Factory, Olympic 2008 grounds

May 31 pm The Summer Palace, The Silk Factory

Jun 1 9:00 The pearl market, the Indoor Market

Jun 2 9:00 Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City
Receive Child's Canadian Documents
Good-bye China/ Birthday Party

Jun 3 Depart for Canada

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And Here We Go!

Here we go! Set up a blog and we are off! Saturday is coming very quickly. Lots and lots to do before we go.

Today is a packing day. Getting all luggage ready to go! Trying to figure out what we are all going to need and use while we are away.

Lots of different emotions: unsure, excited, anxious, overwhelmed, thankful, amazed...etc. Lots going on!

Becca has been sad the last two times going to school. She has not done that for a while. I think she is feeling that her world is going to change a lot in the coming weeks. She is the one sharing a room and she is getting 'bumped' from the baby spot in our family. Lots for a little one to adjust to and understand.

Huge answer to prayer this morning. =) The director at the orphanage was informed that Donovan is being adopted as well as a little girl. So Donovan will not be travelling with the Government Official alone. He will have a travelling buddy! She is 4 years old. What a relief to know that they will have each other as they leave the orphanage to meet their forever families! Our next little project is to find out if she is among a group staying at the same hotel as us. Would be great to keep that connection and to know someone from the orphange. Also to get infomation to her family! Super exciting!!

Glad this is working and looking forward to keeping in touch this way while we are gone!

Thanks everyone who is reading and following!