The first day's breakfast buffet was a busy one. This hotel is enormous but it is also heavily populated by other adoptive families. It's easy to pick us out - we've got transracial families, at least one child in some state of growing attachment (which means that we don't always know how to make the smiles come or the crying stop or food exactly right). BUT we are trying and we're all learning; we can spot another parent across the very crowded room. We exchange knowing glances, sugar free suckers, ibuprofen between adults, and halfhearted jokes about extra sleep. It was these big groups of adoptive families that caused us our first "minor hiccup" of the process.
Our guide had told us to meet at 9:40 in the lobby. She had also said we were traveling with a large group - and due to the size of the group that sometimes another man (who we hadn't yet met) was going to lead us. At 9:40 our guide wasn't in the lobby, but a giant group of adoptive families, and a man, were. We approached, hung on the fringes, he said hello ... and then they all left for their bus! Well, I guess that wasn't it. So, we waited and walked around, worried we had missed something. We were just about to phone our coordinator when our guide came scurrying in. She was collecting 3 families from 3 different hotels - and we were the last stop :). So, thankfully, we hustled ourselves into the mini bus and were shuttled away to the medical appointment.
All kids submitted to a Visa photo and then were ushered upstairs to a very crowded health clinic. The adoptive families were roped off in their own section, and we each awaited our turns in the various rooms. I'm sure to the kids sitting there it felt like a series of torture chambers, at least for most of them we were all allowed to accompany our children. It was only in the final room where we weren't permitted behind closed doors. Joshua saw a doctor who did a thorough exam. He told us the hypospadia in the file was non-existent. We'd need to visit a doctor for a circumcision, but we don't have any other special needs in that department (as we had previously been told). AMEN! There was another small concern about spina bifida, but he was almost positive that was a false alarm. We need to have that confirmed with an MRI, but he was "reasonably sure" it wasn't a problem. That leaves us with "just the ears." Since we've noted that our boy is able to hear and follow commands, he answers questions, and he speaks (he has even started repeating some English for us), we simply have to assess the magnitude of the hearing loss and see what we can do to help that .... AND, as time goes on, what we can do correct the way his ears look (if he chooses to do that). We are not in any hurry for the cosmetic portion of the procedure, but we do know where to start that process when its time. And we have seen the dramatic results that can happen for kids who wish to "look like everyone else." Overall, our guy checked out really very well - and we are hopeful that his bloodwork will reveal the same.
Bloodwork. Yup. That was the room where we were not allowed to enter. We watched 3 people hand over their sweet children and then the door was closed. Each time the children came out just wailing and sobbing. (We really do understand that this is a necessary thing and fragile attachments could probably be damaged by attending to what happened in that room) BUT as J watched, he became more and more anxious. Maybe it was his age, or maybe its wisdom, but he began to sob before he even approached the room. He knew this was a place he didn't want to be. Nevertheless, he persisted, and Steve was there to comfort him when it was all over. (I also got my share of snuggles in after the fact). ***Incidentally, later on in the evening J and B were processing the day in the tub. Ben pointed to the band aid on J's arm and asked him what happened. J explained, "These people took me in a room and poked a hole in my arm. I need to keep this bandaid on because there is a hole in my arm now." A hole in his arm .... precious boy.
Lunch in the room was great.
Nap was great (once he got there).
J saw Ben and Steve leave (to go get documents arranged with our travel coordinator) and he was furious with me that I wouldn't let him lace up and chase after them. He does NOT appreciate missing out on anything. So, he went to bed fuming ... he would sigh and pout and then suck his thumb, sigh and pout and suck is thumb. After about 2 minutes of this pathetic little tantrum, he fell sound asleep. He woke nearly 2 hours later happy as a lark and ready for more adventures.
Enter - hot tubbing in the rain. He originally wanted nothing to do with the pool, but, when he saw the hot tub, he was ALL about it.
Upon changing from the raining hot tub party, we decided to figure out dinner ... As Steve so accurately describes in his post - Dear Vladimir - "only a true man with unquestionable navigation skills can set off for Chinese food and end up in an Irish Pub." Little dude LOVED his "fish and chips" and Ben (he wants you all to notice his Maranatha t-shirt in China) destroyed his not-so-mini mini burger and chips. In the end it was a beautiful accident - and, if budget allows we may just be back to the Paddy Field Irish Pub.
Bath time was an absolute blast last night. We ended up FaceTiming the girls while they were having breakfast so they could laugh at the ruckus their brothers were making in the tub. (We kept it PG ...) It felt so nice to have them all laughing and giggling about something so normal as bath taking. I can't wait to see how all of the sweeties blend together and meld - how Team Van Dyk expands and changes and reforms around the new personalities and new challenges. What a hard and beautiful journey this is.
Thanks for joining us.
For faithfully following
We've got some days of touring with our large group here in Guangzhou. Our next big appointment is Tuesday morning - at the US Consulate for our Visa application. Between now and then we will visit Shamian Island and the Zoo. We skipped the river boat cruise last night (it would have been pretty but its so wet!!!), but we look forward to the other opportunities to site see in the next couple of days.
As it's Sunday morning now, we are thrilled that it means THIS WEEK (Lord willing) we will be heading back home!!!! In fact, by this time NEXT week we hope to be all home together. (Again, I'm sure there will be challenges, but at least our journey to the "new" normal can begin).
One last thing (this post feels extra long for some reason), Benjamin slept on the couch last night due to his cough. Normally I'd oil him up and not worry too much, but we don't have our oils along and he's feeling pretty congested. Please pray that he kicks this cough quickly and that it doesn't spread to the rest of the family. We need our restful sleep days so much right now.