Thursday, November 27, 2014

Going to get Brooks (Part 9)

San Antonio 10/17 @ 1:40 AM

Nanjing 10/17 @ 2:40 PM

Our final day in Nanjing, and our flight to Guangzhou has been delayed twice. Thank goodness we found out this information prior to checking out of our hotel room.

Yesterday while in Xuzhou, we visited the One-to-one orphanage that EAC (our agency) has partnered with to try to get as many children into forever families as possible. I was totally blown away by this place. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the area where it is located in looks like. There are beautifully landscaped trails and parks. And the building looks so modern and high tech.

 

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This is our 3rd day with Brooks, and he has really taken to Jace.

 

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We’ve discovered, that when Cohen takes a picture with Brooks, it’s best to have him hanging on for dear life, that’s when he laughs and smiles.

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Starting to slip…

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…starting to find it funny…

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…now this is fun!

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The entire place was decorated with Mickey ears and Disney characters. I wonder how Disney feels about that.

 

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Inside the orphanage, everything is so colorful and clean. The babies are so well cared for! Brooks spent a little time in this particular orphanage right after he was found, but he was transferred to Beijing for surgery, and stayed in Beijing. Before we took a tour of the facility we had tea in the lobby/waiting room. We mostly just played on the floor and had fun. They had several strange bottled drinks that Cohen and Jace tried (like some milky tea drink??)

 

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It was really nice to see how they handle older children, children with minor medical conditions, and children in need of major therapy and surgeries. In this one facility there are over 300 children, and nearly 100 caretakers. That’s an excellent ratio! (Now they are on shifts and as you know, older kids have fewer caretakers, babies have more…but still great!). The three babies that did stay there recognized their caretakers and were super excited to see them again. It’s a good sign when a baby is happy to go back to their orphanage. Most kids in China don’t have it this good.

 

We started our tour with the older children’s play room. They had a piano, drum set, art supplies and lots of other fun creative things for these kids to do. They actually sang for us while we were there. I cried. It was so beautiful!

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These pictures were taken in the baby rooms. The beds were all occupied by babies with the exception of the 3 beds previously occupied by the 3 babies that were visiting with their mom and dad. There were SEVERAL rooms in the orphanage that looked just like this. If ever you thought, “hum, maybe I should adopt a child from China” this should help you answer that question. There is such a great need for forever families for each of these precious children.

 

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Brooks didn’t remember anyone from this orphanage because he was so much younger when he stayed here. One of the ladies there remembered caring for him and actually tried to hold him. If you look at the second picture you see him putting his head on Jace’s shoulder. This is HUGE in terms of attachment and bonding. This lady probably looked a lot like his caretakers from Beijing (or really any adult he had ever seen before us crazy white people came on the scene). This just shows that he felt safe and comfortable with us, after only 3 DAYS!

 

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Here are a few pictures Cohen took with his camera while we were touring the baby rooms. It’s just interesting to see things from his perspective.

 

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They also had play rooms for the younger children.

 

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In the pictures above, you can see Cohen with his camera. Here are a couple of his pictures.

 

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The orphanage also had a wing where children from the community could come and get services such as physical therapy or minor medical care. The government is also building a new hospital nearby to help handle more severe issues. It was all quite impressive.

 

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At the end of the day though, it is a very sad situation. No matter how many caretakers there are, or how wonderful the facility, these things do not take the place of a forever family…of a mom and dad. In one room we saw babies that were only a few weeks old, lying in a bed, soothing themselves. I was in tears, and I’m crying again just remembering. These babies should be held, they should be getting the constant love and attention that only a mom and dad can give them. I wanted to bundle them all up and take them all home with me, but sadly that’s just not how the system works. It will take those sweet kids months to be placed in a forever home, because of all the government red tape and required waiting times.

Of course, Cohen went with us to tour the orphanage. He has no memory of ever being in an orphanage. We had prepped him as best we could for what we would see there, but there is no way to be fully prepared for that as an adult, I can only imagine what was going through his little head. So, when we left, I asked him what he thought. He said it was nice. I said something like “those babies have so many nice things and such a beautiful home.” Cohen looked at me and said, “Yes, mom, but they need a mom and dad too.” So true, baby. So true.

I left the orphanage with a very heavy heart. I pray that God will allow us to return and take a few more kids off their hands. This process is certainly not for the weak, but in the end, when I look into my son’s eyes, I know that there is no price that I wouldn’t pay, and no amount of paperwork to file, that could get ever in the way of my love for them and the desire to have them home with me forever.

I also pray that, maybe, just maybe, by me sharing my story that you may consider adoption as well. There are so many wonderful children out there in desperate need of a mom and dad.

 

If you ever have questions about adoption, or anything you see here, please post them in the comments below. I will do my best to answer them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Going to Get Brooks (part 8)

 

San Antonio 10/15 @ 6:45AM

Xuzhou 10/15 @ 7:45PM

Today we rode a fast train into Xuzhou. This is the city where the orphanage is located. The fast train was something new to us, because we don’t really have trains like this in the states. It can reach speeds of 180mph. While riding the train, we got to see areas of this country that we never would have seen from the air. The country side is absolutely beautiful. There were patches of rice fields being harvested or burned, there were areas of construction that span miles and miles, there were rolling hills and trees and small country homes. It was amazing. I think the thing most surprising about this area is the construction. There were areas where 10-12 identical 20+ story apartment buildings were being built all at the same time. They would be in the middle of nowhere…no major highways to be seen, no other tall buildings nearby, no other infrastructure. Then we would go a few more miles, and the same thing…10-12 identical new buildings. It was odd, because essentially they are building homes for hundreds of families in a very small area, very quickly. That means that there is a need for that many homes in that short of a time. The amount of people in the China is just mind-blowing!

Xuzhou is a city of nearly 10 million (if you include the outer areas of the city). Since we now know that Brooks was not in an orphanage, instead he was in a foster home, this trip is mostly just to tour the one-to-one orphanage that EAC supports. I had no idea that we would have time during this trip to visit Brooks’ abandonment location.

As with most Chinese orphans, he was abandoned when he was a few days old. We knew that he was found near a stairwell at Hospital #6. Today, we took Brooks back to that place to take a few pictures. It was bittersweet. I’m very sad that he was left there for who knows how long with no one to look after him, but at that same time, whoever left him (I’m assuming it would be his birthmother) loved him enough to leave him in a public place where he would be found quickly and he would be able to receive medical care immediately. I don’t know anything about his birthmother, but she chose life for this beautiful little boy, and for that I will be eternally grateful to her. She’s such a strong and brave lady!

 

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As you can see in all these pictures, Brooks has really found a friend in Jace. The two of them have hit it off really well. He’s not smiling much yet, but he’s not crying anymore either.

On the ride to the hotel, Cohen sat next to Brooks and Jace. I snapped this sweet shot while he wasn’t looking.

 

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We’ve been emailing family while here and they have all asked how Cohen is handling being a brother. I think this picture pretty much sums it up. Cohen is such a great kid, and Brooks really is so lucky to have a big brother like Cohen. And Cohen knows how blessed he is to have Brooks too.

 

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Also, at this point, I think Cohen is the only one who can get Brooks to smile.

 

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We made it to our hotel (3rd hotel in 7 days) around 4pm. Cohen saw the pool and started begging right away to go swimming. Jace and Brooks rested in the room for a minute and I took Cohen out to the pool. The water was so COLD that he could barely move, but he wanted to swim so bad, that I let him do a few laps before bringing him inside to take a nice hot bath.

After that, we decided to break off from the rest of the group and try a local restaurant. We found a place that had some fried chicken nuggets and French fries.

Overall today was a good day. We are really starting to feel the effects of constant travel (did I mention…3 hotels in 7 days…well that doesn’t include the 3 airplanes, 1 train and numerous bus rides we have endured over those 7 days…we are exhausted). Oh and Brooks doesn’t really sleep, so there’s that too.

Tomorrow after the orphanage visit, we head back to Nanjing for one more night before flying out to Guangzhou. I hear that Guangzhou is a beautiful city with lots of fun places to shop and see. I believe there is a zoo there as well…and I hear it has pandas! YAY!

 

For more information on EAC’s one to one orphanage CLICK HERE.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Going to Get Brooks (part 7)

San Antonio 10/14 @ 7:00 AM

Nanjing 10/14 @ 8:00 PM

Brooks Lizheng Raney is officially a Raney!! Today we signed the final paperwork to complete the adoption. The adoption center in Nanjing was very busy. There were 5 from our group finalizing adoptions, and several other families there as well. It was such an exciting atmosphere.

In this picture, you will notice that he’s much more comfortable with us now.

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We met with a notary first, and in China, when you have something notarized, you also have to stamp your fingerprint on the paper. We had red ink all over ourselves.

In this picture, I like to imagine that Brooks is doing a little cheer… “Yay, I have a mom and dad!”

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As if we didn’t enough red ink all over us, then we had to get Brooks to put his thumb print on the paper.

 

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I know you are wondering, “What was Cohen doing while you were signing those papers?” Well, he was taking selfies again.

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Have you ever met anyone with eyes that color?

 

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Last pics at the adoption center. At this point it’s totally official. He’s Brooks Lizheng Raney, son of Jace and Emily Raney.

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Jace and Cohen celebrated by taking a swim in the hotel pool while Brooks and I played/napped in the room. We went up and visited with the boys later, and they were both wearing these odd looking swim caps. Of course, Cohen wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to take his picture, but the cap was sort of the same material as his swimsuit. Oh and evidentially only the Americans had to wear the odd caps. There were several Chinese ladies swimming as well, and they did not have caps on, but our friends were swimming with their newly adopted son, and they were sporting the odd swim caps. Who knows!

Here are a few shots of us just hanging out in the room.



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The language barrier isn’t as big of a deal as you might think. In Nanjing, most of the shops and restaurants have things written in English, and lots of the younger Chinese people can speak both Chinese and English. We haven’t had problems getting food or groceries here.

After dinner, to celebrate Brooks’ official adoption day, and to celebrate his birthday (which was on 9/23) we got a little cake from one of the shops at the mall.

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Overall, it was a great day. Brooks has adjusted much better than we thought he would considering how much he cried yesterday. He’s not super smiley yet, but I’m sure that will come. I think he’s still just very overwhelmed.