It’s hard to believe that we have only been here five days and still have another eight days, including a plane ride from Shanghai to Guangzhou. We are certainly trying to soak in as much of the experience as possible–as much as our tired minds and bodies will let us. Shanghai is so incredibly large and diverse. Each day’s events take us through completely different areas of the city, which seems to stretch on and on with no end. We already can’t wait until we can return as a family and visit more of Judah’s home country without the interruption of appointments.
We are continually amazed by Judah and just how good God has been in the middle of all of this. It has been barely two days since we met him for the first time and there is already a family bond taking place. Even with the two that weren’t able to come with us–he talks about ge ge (older brother) Daniel and jie jie (older sister) Brittney.
Communication is difficult at times, more because we don’t understand him as much as he understands us. He told our guide and translator yesterday that he knows that mom and dad don’t speak Chinese, but he has learned to talk to us using hand gestures. And his English expands and improves by the minute. I wish everyone could just be a fly on the wall and see and hear it all. I completely expect that by the time we make it home we will have almost forgotten how little undertood each other that first day.
His personality is definitely a fit for our clan. God knew what He was doing. Our friend, Kathy, texted and asked me to describe him in 10 words. I’m not sure I used 10 exactly, but my reply was that he is an incredibly-smart-all-boy-eating-machine-Casonova. Oh, and he really needs our five acres to run around on. I’m sure the hotel room and bus rides and appointments are driving him crazy. But he has adapted amazingly well for being 100% outside of his daily routine.
There is so much that has transpired since the last update. Yeterday we completed the paperwork at the DMV-like agency as well as the notarizing of our paperwork–it’s legal now for China, he is ours. Last night found us terribly exhausted. We ended our evening by venturing out of the hotel for more affordable food and into a small resturant where Judah took mercy on us and ordered dinner for us, which included some elaborate purple warm-milk drink for Grace (which she would not drink) and some delicous noodles and sticky buns. If potstickers are your thing then sticky buns will rock your world! Judah kept up a string of chatter with several of the staff there and kept trying to order more food (he is a tank). I think he is really handling this all much better then we are. Pray for Grace as she is terribly homesick and misses American food.
Today we toured the Bund, and area across from the famous Financial District; bordered on one side by a row of the most impressive banks you can imagine, literally about 15-20 banks, large and domineering. The other side by the river and a very familiar Shanghai skyline. Everywhere we go we get a lot of attention. I think that Americans are facinating; Americans with a Chinese daughter are interesting; American families with an apparently normal and healthy Chinese boy is downright STRANGE! I think when they can (and even when WE can’t) they try to talk with us and discover what’s going on with this mixed-culture family.
After the Bund we went to a Chinese Temple garden. I can’t describe it well enough but I can tell you it was everything I imagined when I thought of China. Like we stepped onto the set of Fearless. It was HUGE and was a 15th centuary home of an extremely wealthy family. You could walk for hours around the grounds. It was also the site of our 2nd episode of run-away son. It seems that the biggest ‘issue’ we have to overcome with our new son (besides food and table manners) is that he was terribly spoiled by his family. We have confirmation on this but I’ll get to that soon.
After that was shopping–which was fast and furious because it was literally shoulder-to-shoulder and our guide warned us of thieves and hawkers. Rob and Judah stayed at our group meeting place while Gracie and I shopped for a charm for her, mostly to keep him from making a get-a-way in the midst of thousands of people.
The ride back was probably the highlight though. Judah and I sat with our guide Ming Ming so she and I could talk with him. He told her that his parents did not speak Chinese and asked her to talk to him so he could speak Chinese. This makes my heart so sad and at the same time I am so grateful for Ming Ming and how smart and resourceful our boy is. In our three-way conversation Judah said he lived in a village in a large house with two stories. His family lived with many people and until recently he shared a room with them. They had chickens, but they ate them, and 2 ducks–but they ate one and gave the other to relatives, some rabbits (wait for it) but they ate them. We all laughed about this. He also was sure to tell us that he got ice cream in the summer once a day, sometimes twice.
We asked Ming Ming to come back to our room and translate for a while. She was able two tell us that he loved to read and tell stories and asked that I read to him, even if it was in English. We described our house and animals and showed him his room (which he was very putoff to learn he would share and asked how long before he would have his own room–in days). He was concerned about our big dog most and when i told him all she does is sleep he said “don’t you let her at least standup?”
We talked about him coming to America, he said he would but he would always be Chinese and would one day come back and teach his Chinese Mama English. He also asked Ming Ming to tell us we were saying his name wrong and then he proceeded to teach us (it took a while) how to say his name properly and agreed to be Jia Yu in China and Judah once we got to America. We spent some time talking about how we would discipline him–which was my favorite part because he told us that he always got what he wanted and never did his parent discipline him. He wanted to know what we did in America and we explained the ‘naughty chair’ and he was so funny because he said
“I can sit there and do anything as long as i don’t get up?”
“What if i have an itch, can i scratch?”
“What if Jie Jie (sister) is bad?”
“Oh, she gets a spanking.”
After this he rolled around, thought about it and ‘agreed to our terms’. He is quite the charmer/negotiator. A handful and perpetual motion…I mean never still. In half of the pictures we have he is a blur…no…really!
Tomorrow we return for a tour of the Institute. We asked him if he was ok with that and he said yes, as long as he could show us his bed.
I am amazed at how well he is doing, he has not cried once and seems genuinely happy. He is a handful and is VERY attached to BaBa and wants to be with him and have him hold him all the time. He behaves better for me but I think that is because I am like Chinese MaMa and he is used to that. Rob is his personal jungle gym and we will have to find creative ways to get his energy out. He did say he would like to do Tae Kwon Do with us–and he promised to listen.
On a personal note, thank you all for your text messages and words of encouragment. Please keep it up (on Rob’s phone). They have been timely and needed. His adjustment and ours has been SO much better then it could have been and even though he is a handful we are so thankful he is heathly and has been loved so much that he is rotten. We are all weary though, and it’s a bit stressful playing defense and not having a break, in a place that is not home, while missing the rest of our clan.
We will try to update more but we do not have WiFi and so our updates are by phone. Friday we fly to Guangzhou and we hope for WiFi there as well as a slower daily pace–and fewer episodes of run-away son.
Love you all!