Thursday, March 29, 2012

Getting Settled

We have been home for almost two weeks.  Brooke is settling in well and gaining language so quickly.  Each day is a new adventure for all of us.  We have been to the Children's Museum, several parks and started home school.  Yesterday was a beautiful day here so we took school outside and did some lessons with sidewalk chalk.  We started with art.  

Notice she wrote her name on her house.
We moved on to gym and learned how to play hop scotch.

I don't have pictures of this but we did a lot of math practice while we were out there as well.  It was a fun way to work on her math skills.  She is adding two digit numbers well and is learning how to carry.  

We also enjoyed some time with friends last night.  The kids played in the backyard and we went to the park too.  Our neighbors came over to welcome her to the neighborhood as well.  Their daughter was along and had a bike she had outgrown to give to Brooke.  It will work for her in a few years so that is great.  She also would like to babysit so we now have one babysitter to call on when we need one.

Brooke at the park a few days ago.
Dennis is planning on going back to work next week.  We will miss having him around to do stuff with.  Today we went to a great park in Sun Prairie.  We got a call from a friend tonight who wants to go there Monday with her grandkids so we will look forward to going back.

We have also been to church together.  At this point Brooke is staying in the service with us.  We have a great children's program but will not start with that until she is more settled and has more language.

We are grateful to God for the gift of this wonderful little girl.  Please continue to pray for her and all the changes that are happening in her life.  Pray for us as we teach her, love her and tell her about Jesus.

Friday, March 23, 2012

How are you doing?

I think "How are you doing?" is the most common question we are asked.  The answer is OK.  We are settling in to what is our new normal.  Mostly we are over jet lag but it still bites us with needing to go to bed earlier than normal but overall we are recovering.  Brooke seems to be fully recovered and is sleeping though the night.  

Brooke is adjusting to her new life here as well.  It is not without its bumps along the way but she is doing OK.  We had sent her a disposable camera in a care package and we got it developed a few days ago.  We were pleased to see pictures of her and her foster family when we picked up the prints.  We sat down with her and showed her the pictures and put them in a photo album.  She seemed glad to see them.  Our social worker suggested we also print some pictures of us with her for the book and when we picked them up she wanted to put the in her photo album without us even suggesting it.  For the remainder of this school year we are homeschooling Brooke.  Our focus is on language development.  She is doing really well.  When we were doing math flash cards today, she not only was getting the answers right but doing them in English.  

We brought the dogs home on Wednesday.  She was excited for them to be coming home but was a little apprehensive at first.  It did not take long for her to warm up to them.  They are all getting lots of hugs and kisses from her.  They are very tolerant of her affection for which I am thankful to their breeders for committing to breeding dogs who are of good temperaments.

Brooke and I went and got our hair cut this week.  She wants hers to grow out but it really needed to be trimmed.  She loved the end result.

Today we went to play with our friend's girls who were in China when we were to adopt their son.  When we told her we were going to play with their girls, she asked if we were going on an airplane.  The girls all had a great time together.  

Dennis and Brooke in the Tea Cups at Disney in Hong Kong.

Brooke with the furry part of the family.
Brooke at the park in our neighborhood.
I absolutely love hearing her laugh when she plays with Dennis.  He is so good with her and they have a great time together.  Today they went shopping together for my birthday present.  It sounded like they had a good time and from what I am told, a successful shopping trip.

We also took Brooke in to see her pediatrician this week.  He said she is doing great.  He did some follow-up tests because of her positive TB skin test in China and the result of them was negative.  The most likely explanation is that she reacts to the skin test because she was vaccinated in the past.  We are thankful for this confirmation of her not having TB.   

Please continue to pray for us and for Brooke.  I can't even imagine how hard it must be for her to leave everything familiar behind and adjust to all the changes.  Pray for us for wisdom as we help her navigate this time in her life. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

We're Home

Just a quick post to say we are home.  We got in yesterday around 4 pm.  So good to be home.  I'll post some pictures from Disney in Hong Kong soon.

We are doing well.  Brooke only got up once in the night.  She said she was hungry and ate some yogurt and went back to bed.  She's been up all day so hopefully jet lag is not affecting her too much.  Her parents are doing ok with the jet lag too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Around China

We are all looking forward to getting home.  We leave Guangzhou tomorrow evening and drive to Hong Kong.  We are thinking we may go to the zoo in the morning.  We can't leave earlier because we have to wait for our paperwork from the US consulate.  

Today we were at the US consulate and turned in the last of our paperwork and took an oath.  We will get an envelope of papers to turn in when we land in Chicago and Brooke will then be a US citizen.

I thought you might like to see some pictures that Brooke has taken.  I'll follow with some of ours.  


Yesterday we went to this wonderful park not far from our hotel. We had a great time playing with the Parsons.  The park has exercise equipment that mostly the senior citizens use but the kids loved it too.  

And here are a few more from today.  

No we are not bringing one of these puppies home.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Family Time Today

We had a fun day today exploring some places around Guangzhou as a family.  I will probably have a chance to upload a few photos tomorrow.  We did not take a lot of pictures today but Brooke did so when I look through them I'll post of few so you can see China through her pictures.  I'm glad we have digital cameras now so she can click all she wants and we don't have to have them all developed.

This evening we walked a few blocks to a park.  We were with our friends from Wisconsin and the girls had a great time together.  The park has lots of exercise equipment that the senior citizens use but the kids had a great time on it too.  We do tend to draw attention when we our out together with five Chinese children and two couples.  

Tomorrow morning we will be up early and go to the US Consulate to finish the US part of the adoption process.  We get the paperwork the next day and then head to Hong Kong.  We are looking forward to being home and settling into some routines.  

Brooke continues to do well.  When she is around people who speak Chinese she is such a talker. It has to be frustrating for her to with us and not able to easily communicate.  She does know some English and uses that to get her needs met or she is good with gestures.  She is so dramatic.  Can't wait for you all to meet her.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Safari Park

We had a great day today at Safari Park.  It has a drive through area like Disney's Animal Kingdom but much larger.  As we drove by the park rangers would toss food to the animals.  It was very fun.  After the drive through park, there was a walking zoo as well.  We all had a great time.

These are the kids in our group.  It has been fun having them along.
They are a great group of kids.

Daddy and Brooklyn feeding a giraffe.

And the highlight of the day for me was petting a tiger cub.  Brooklyn got to feed it.  (Petting a tiger was on my "bucket list."

We spent a quiet evening out and about around the hotel.  Brooke saw some of our group with with ice cream cones so we promised her one after supper.  We are sure it must have been her first one because Dennis had to show her that you eat the cone part.

And here is a picture Brooke took of herself in the mirror at a store.

We are really doing well.  We are amazed at this incredible little girl we are privileged to call our daughter.  

Tomorrow we have decided to spend a day as a family rather that with the group.  Our plan is to do a little shopping and just spend some quality time together.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Restful Day

The day began with a return trip to the clinic to have Brooke's TB test read.  I knew she would have a positive on it when I saw it.  She had been vaccinated so this is not unusual for a skin test to come up positive.  She had to have a chest x-ray to prove she did not have TB and it was fine.  

From the clinic we headed to Shamian Island. This is a very restful place to spend some time.  Brooke enjoyed playing in the park there.  There was even a nice gentleman who played badminton with her.  

The park has many sculptures in at and some really great places to get some pictures.  

In the past, most adoptive families stayed on this Island as the US Consulate and the clinic for the children's physicals were located there but they have moved off of the island now.  

This shop owner, Jordan, did Brooke's name in Chinese characters for her.

This was the first day that Brooke did not need a nap in the afternoon so we stayed on the island longer than some of the families and took a cab back to the hotel.  Cabs are very inexpensive here.  

We relaxed back at the hotel for an hour before going to dinner.  Brooke got a mini-tea set today and had fun serving us tiny cups of water.  

We had a fun evening with the Parsons and went to a genuine Chinese restaurant for supper.  


After dinner we walked to a local grocery store and got a few supplies.  We were almost out of bottled water.  

Tomorrow is a waiting day for us as we could not get a consulate appointment earlier than Thursday so most of our group is heading to Safari Park.  

We are all doing well.  Brooke puts a sticker on the calendar Dennis made for her and each day counts the number of days until she goes to America.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Today in China

Our day so far has been interesting.  We met for breakfast with our friends.  It is so nice having friends from home here with us.  It certainly has been a blessing for us as new parents to be able to  have someone we know and trust to ask for advice.  God was so good in working out the details so we could be here together.

After breakfast we headed to one of the few remaining old homes in the area.  China's rapid growth in the cities has meant that most of the older homes have been knocked down to make room for high rise modern buildings.  

Brooke and her new friend from our group enjoyed their time together.  This little girls is so sweet and has been such fun to be with and so good for Brooke.  It is amazing to see how kids can get along and communicate even with language barriers in place.

We also went to one of the markets.  Guangzhou is a harbor city and known for their pearls.  We saw bag after bag of pearls in the stores.  

Your prayers on our behalf helped us through a very tough time with Brooke today.  To this point we had not seen one single tear but when they came today, they came hard.  The grief of a little girl who had her world turned upside down was very hard to see and hear but in the long run we know how important it is for her to grieve.  We stayed with her, assuring her of our love. We knew this would come and expect it to happen again but that did not make it easy to see.  She is doing OK and has needed extra hugs and kisses this afternoon.  We are glad to supply these.  Our agency requires pre-adoption training that helped us prepare for how best to support her through the transition and grief and we are so glad we knew what to do when this happened.  

Later in the afternoon she had a good time playing with some of her toys.  She did her dolls hair to look like her own.

Tomorrow we will go to have Brooke's TB test checked.  From there we will go to one of the favorite places for adoptive families to relax and get souvenirs - Shamian Island.   

Thanks for your prayers.