Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from China!

I know I haven't been a very good blogger since we made it to GuangZhou, but between all the tours, adoption stuff, shopping with the kids, and being sick, I just haven't found the time! So today is Thursday, and it's nearly 5 pm. At home I'm guessing all the crazy shoppers are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their morning paper, and in just a few hours will be gathering with family to celebrate Thanksgiving.


Here, it's just another day, and that is a bit surreal. This morning we were able to sleep until around 9, partly because Matt napped super late yesterday and was up at midnight wanting to play, so we didn't get him back down til after 1! After breakfast we came upstairs, and finished packing. We realized we needed to get 1 more suitcase, just to be on the safe side with the weight allowance, so we headed next door, and found a great deal on one, then proceeded to the next stall where the twins got a new pair of shoes, and we bought Annabella a couple new pair. We bought some gifts for the kids classmates, and then headed back to repack!


We promised Andy when we were in ZhengZhou that he could have McDonald's every day while we were in GuangZhou, so we've made good on that. Greg and I finally had absolutely all we could stand and begged him to eat some papa johns for lunch. After getting our lunch, we've just been sitting around watching some old war movie, waiting on 5:30. From here we will have a van ride to Hong Kong, straight to the airport. We should arrive around 9-9:30 pm. After getting checked in, we will board at 12:55 am flight to Seoul, then have a 5.5 hour layer over before heading to Dallas, where Matt will officially become Americas newest citizen! After another 5.5 hour layer over we will board our flight to Memphis where we will be met by Greg's Dad and my parents at 3:30 pm. We then have a 2 hour drive to get home. So you can see it's going to be a loooooooooooooong journey! After we get home, and get back on our feet, I'll post more pictures and more about our time here in China.


It's truly been an amazing experience this time, and I know that some day we will be back again, and I just can't wait! Pray for safe travels for us, and especially for Matt. He wasn't too keen on the last flight, so we are a bit weary of how all this traveling will go over with him. Thanks for following our family through this amazing time, we pray that God blesses you each and every one!


"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus" 1 Cor 1:4

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our first few days in GuangZhou...

Sorry for the shortest blog post ever, but yesterday was a long day, and we were dead tired, and that was just about all I could manage! When we landed I started having dizzy spells, and woke up the next day with a nicely full blown sinus infection. We began yesterday with breakfast in the hotel, and then went back upstairs to get the final things packed before heading off to the airport for our flight to GuangZhou. Our flight was originally supposed to leave around 6:30 pm, but we received word that it had been moved up to 4:30. That was both good and bad news. Good in the sense that we were able to get to GuangZhou earlier, but bad in the sense that we needed to receive our kids passports before we flew out, and just getting them by Friday was going to be a challenge, much less early on a Friday. In the end, though, our agency was able to persuade all of the cities to expedite the passport process and we all received our children's passports before the flight left.

Once we got checked in to the flight, and said good bye to our guides there, and headed to our gate. The flight took off on time, but we did have a snafu with the stroller. Usually you can "gate check" them, meaning you give them to the flight attendant when you enter the plane. They didn't seem to know what to do with them, so originally we took it to our seat, then they came and asked for it and told us it would arrive separately, the. We were told it would be with the baggage. Whatever. We just needed to take off at that point, so we prayed for the best as we all relinquished our strollers.

Sitting in the plane and even taxiing down the runway was fine, but when the plane began to ascend, and the pressure began to build, Matt began to get pretty unhappy about it! It was a booked flight, and I had a businessman in a nice expensive looking suit sitting next to me. I did the bes I could to contain Matt, and to keep him from wailing loudly, and finally found that cookies worked best, so I gave him several, and we were ok again for awhile. After about 5 more minutes, he again got pretty fussy, and kept spinning and twisting, so I put him down and let him stand between my legs, and he was one happy camper again.

After another 30 minutes or so, they brought out some dinner, and while we were eating, I felt my leg, and it felt like it was wet...sweat or??? Turns out, it was ??? Yep. I got pooed on. On an airplane. With no clothes to change into. That's me, alright, just call me poopy pants. So after the meal got taken away, I made my way to the bathroom, and changed mr stinky pants into a clean diaper, and clean clothes, so at least only one of us smelled bad. Landing was tricky, as he didn't like being held, and all that shaking and noise one little bit. Not really looking forward to the flights home. Not. At. All.

After we landed, we hiked over to the luggage claim, where we found our "baby wheelchairs" (as the airline called them) along with the rest of our luggage and when we turned around there was Grace, or guide from last year smiling and waving at us. It was so great to see her again, and our other guide, Jocelyn is super sweet too. Getting back to the hotel, and checked in was a breeze, and when we made it up to our room, we found a gorgeous, two room suite with 2 bathrooms. It is so perfect for our family, and the boys think it's the best room ever. After getting somewhat settled in, Greg was able to get Matt down for bed, and the we settled in for the night.

This morning we had breakfast at the Buffett downstairs, and then headed off for the medical exams. Matt, master of the poo, soiled his only short sleeve outfit in the lobby before we even left, so he got changed into his "emergency" outfit, which was the silk outfit we bought for him in Beijing. All the other clothes we have are for cold weather, so this afternoon, we are headed off to find some clothes for him, and to the toy market that the boys have been anxiously awaiting.

Fast forward... I didn't get to finish posting this yesterday, so let me catch you up on the rest of our day yesterday, and today! So yesterday, the medical exam went seamlessly, and we quickly finished the process and were back to the hotel. After letting Matt grab a much needed nap, we grabbed a cab and headed to 1 Link plaza, to the toy market. The boys racked up with more Lego sets than I can count, remote control helicopters, a remote control car, and a few other odds and ends. Matt go a tambourine, and a wooden pull toy, and he's been running around all afternoon pulling it around behind him.

Getting there was easy, getting back, not so much! We stayed until they closed, so there were hundreds of people trying to catch a cab. After hiking over to a hotel a few streets over, we finally were able to get a cab back. Once we made it back, all the boys played for awhile with their new toys and I crashed into bed. My sinus infection is much worse today, but I'm hoping that starting antibiotics yesterday will kick this thing in the tail, and that I'll wake up feeling better tomorrow.

Today we started off early, again, with breakfast, and then we headed off to do the city tour. We visited the same places that we saw last year, but it was good for the boys to be able to experience it too. The first stop was the 6 Banyan Temple, then we were off to the Chen Family Academy, and finally the provincial Arts and Crafts store. We spent the rest of the day just relaxing at the hotel as it began raining shortly after we got back. This evening we ventured down to the pool where the boys swam awhile, but the cool wind finally chased us back upstairs around 8. We also made a quick trip to the 7/11 next door to get batteries and when we got back in, the boys were able to play with their rc cars. Nathan bought one that was called a wall climber, and we soon found out it also drives on the ceiling. I have to say it's pretty darn cool!

Matt's been pretty good the past couple of days, but bedtime is still a challenge, and he wakes up at least once, usually twice a night too, so we are really feeling it. Already we are scrambling trying to figure out how to fit everything in to the time we have left that we want to do. Tomorrow morning is our consulate appointment, and by the time most of you are getting ready for bed, we will have taken his oath to become an American citizen. Technically he won't actually gain citizenship until he steps foot on American soil, but the oath is what allows that to happen, and what we must do to receive his visa. After the appointment tomorrow, we are officially done with all of the steps of the adoption process, and it's just a waiting game until the consulate issues our visa which should be on Wednesday afternoon.

Well, it's late here, and we've got to be up by 6:45, so I'm going to attempt to upload this before bed. Thank you to everyone who has commented, either here or on Facebook, and to all who have prayed for us along the way. We surely feel every one of those, and all the love they show. Tonight I would like to ask you to especially pray for the people at the 6 Banyan temple, that they will be reached by the truth of Christ! and will be open and accepting of that truth. Being there a second time, was especially heartbreaking for us, and it weighs heavily on me tonight. Thanks again, and may God bless you!

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. Isiah 43:10

One last picture from ZhengZhou

Greg getting Matt to bed

6 banyan temple

The leaning pagoda has a hidden story in each one you see

Each of the golden Buddhas weighs over 10 tons

Banyan tree

Cute one from the bus...


The Chen Academy, all of this is hand painted every few years



Looks like a photograph...but it's actually hand woven silk

Look who's a smiley happy man!




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A free day...

After the hectic pace we've been on since first arriving in China, it was so good to finally have a free day to relax and explore on our own time. Matt woke up around 5:30 needing a diaper change, and he was WIDE awake afterwards. So finally around 7 he and I went down to breakfast while the others slept. After breakfast we headed back to the room to find the boys all awake. Matt began imitating them and soon the game was on to see what all they could get him to do. Watching them all play together was so heart warming! He really blossomed, and began to chatter away, crawl around, and even stood and tottered around. He is incredibly curious, and Oh. my. Goodness. Did he start getting into things! We are really going to have our hands full trying to keep him out of things!


We met up at 11 with Rachael and Adam, the sister and son of one of the other adoptive families. We walked down the block to the park, and spent the next several hours playing, walking, climbing, riding rides, and chasing pigeons. On the other side of the park was a mcdonalds, so we had lunch there, before heading back through the park for more fun.

The kids got mobbed to take pictures after we entered the park! Andy was too shy, but the other boys all wee really good sports about it!

You know my boys HAD to climb the trees
Paddle boats on the lake, Matt snoozed through most of the ride
Enjoying the swinging ride at the park
And having fun with the bumper cars
Blowing bubbles
Just chillin'
Climbing the rock wall
A flock of pigeons
And only one black one


When we got back to the hotel, we took the opportunity to try to get some school work dome with the kids. It's really the first opportunity we've had to do any, so we spent about an hour on it before heading out to meet Kim and Mike at the swimming pool. They had the kids pool closed, but the boys enjoyed swimming in the big pool, and matte njoyed running back and forth on the spongy walkway around the pool. After Kim and Mike came down, he had the brilliant idea to go put the little kids in the empty kids pool with some stray ping pong balls (there are ping pong tables on one side of the pool, and always ping pong balls in the pool, and the floor surrounding it.) they had so much fun running around in it, chasing the balls we would bounce for them!

The are renovating the hotel, so the walk to the pool is quite cold!


Finally, we were all getting tired and hungry, so we ran upstairs to change and then headed next door to the noodle place. We got some corn and pumpkin soup for Matt, Nathan ordered dumplings, Greg got chicken satay, I had tomato and egg soup, and Alex ordered a dish that had fried rice with a fried egg on top. Andy refused all food, so the rest of us enjoyed our dinner before heading back to the hotel for bed. Matt had been trying to nod off during dinner, and in the short time it took to walk from the holiday inn express to the crowne plaza, he fell into a deep, deep sleep. We got him changed and put in bed, and he never even cracked an eye open!


Around 1:30 we met the "mad" Matt that the orphanage had described. He woke up with a fury, and we could not feed or change him fast enough! We listened to him scream and cry for the next hour, as nothing we did could soothe him. Finally he gave it up, and went back to sleep, and we fell back into bed exhausted both physically and mentally. It's good for him to get that out, even if it's hard for us to manage, because he will see that no matter what he does, we will still be her, still love him, and still care for him, so we are building the trust with him, that we need.


Knowing that doesn't make it any easier though. Hearing him scream and cry, and throw his bottle, and kick his feet, and try to bang his head is just heartbreaking. Knowing that he is grieving and that there is nothing I can do for him, is so incredibly hard. I just long for him to see how much love we have for him, and I know that he is beginning to, but we are still so new to him, and he still has a long way to go before he can truly understand and accept us.


Today we were able to go to LuoHe, linyang county, to see Annabella's finding place. Not being able to go last year, has weighed heavily on me, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to go there this time. I think it's important to share with Matt and Annabella everything we can about their past. They will never know if they have biological brothers or sisters, or what their parents looked like, what their name was at birth, or why they we given up. Even their birthdates are just estimates. So what I can do for them, is to gather every shred of what we can about their early childhood, so that one day, we can say with confidence that we did everything we could to give them as much history as we could.


Annabella was found at the gates of the women's and children's hospital. Here are the pictures of where our baby girl was left.


She was found here...


Tomorrow we leave ZhengZhou behind, and head to GuangZhou. Our time here this year has actually been pretty enjoyable. Being able to get out and see and do more, has made this time easier, but I'm still looking forward to moving on. Please pray for us to have a safe flight, and that we will all receive our passports for our children. Without them, we will be unable to make our consulate appointments on Monday, and have been told that our next opportunity will be December 4 to visit the consulate to get Matt's visa, which means we will be delayed an entire week. We are confidant that won't happen, but as we learned last time, you just never know for sure! Well, I'll wrap it up for now. Our next post should be from GuangZhou!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The longest day...

Yesterday began very early, with breakfast at 7:45, followed by a trip back to the registration office, where we first met Matt. There we received our official adoption certificate, and everything we have prayed for became 100% official!!! An Ze, officially became Matthew Gregory Bennett, one less orphan!

After the adoption was finalized, we headed over to the notary office, to sign some more paperwork, and then we headed back to the hotel.

We had about an hour and a half before we had to leave for the orphanage and passport trip to Anyang, so we ordered so e room service for lunch, inhaled it, and were off for the long drive to Anyang. The drive took about three and a half hours, and when we arrived, we found it was actually a really big, well developed city. We passed a beautiful building, that our guide explained housed the oldest piece of Chinese history, some ancient writings on tortoise shells. Here is a link to the Wikipedia page that talks a bit more about it.



And here is the picture of the's a bit blurry, because we were speeding by in the van...


Shortly after we passed the museum, we arrived at the Anyang PSB (public service bureau) where we made the formal application for Matt's passport. It was a very quick process and soon we were off to see the orphanage. We were expecting it to take at least 15-20 minutes, but in just about 5 minutes, we arrived at the gates of the Anyang social welfare institute. The place houses both orphanaed children, and the elderly, and it was huge. It was very rundown, with paint peeling from all of the buildings, and no doors, just heavy plastic strips to keep the cold out.

(the building with the playground equipment is the orphanage)

We were allowed to go into 2 of the rooms, and I tried to love on every child I could. We had taken some silly bands to give to the children on the street, but this time of year, we haven't encountered as many as last summer, so we took all of them to the orphanage. We were allowed to pass them out to the children there in Matt's room, and the looks on their faces were absolutely 100% priceless!

Some of the precious children at Anyang SWI

Passing out silly bands


Saying goodbye to Matt's building


The open door in the middle is the directors orphanage

The orphanage director

After leaving the orphanage, we made the trek to Matt's finding place. It was about an hour from the orphanage through traffic, though without the traffic, it probably would only have taken about 20 to 25 minutes. We had to stop a couple of times to ask if anyone knew exactly where the place was, and finally, we were there. The road there was a service road, and was filled with factories, and run down or abandoned buildings. The road was filled with pits and potholes, and big trucks hauling trash, boxes, and fruit. There were vendors and small shops along the way too.


His finding spot was just in front of the entrance to a factory. It was a busy road, so I know that whoever left him, knew that he would be found quickly...that's a consolation at least. I knelt and prayed for the family who had lost a son there, and asked God to grant them comfort and give them peace. We took lots of pictures of everything that could be seen at night, and then we left the place where our son was left.





We stopped on the way home to get dinner at a service area (rest stop) along the highway. They had a bot food buffet, which Greg, Matt, and I all enjoyed...the boys...not so much, lol! It was all very traditional Chinese food, and was really, quite good! Once we were back on the road, Greg and all four boys f ell fast asleep, and slept the 3.5 hours back to ZhengZhou. We finally arrived around 9:30p.m. And after a quick snack in the room, the twins quickly crashed. Nathan and Greg watched a bit of TV while I posted a quick blog! And tried to get Matt to sleep. Getting him to bed last night was much more difficult, as he would begin to writhe and scream each time we got near the crib. Finally, Greg was able to get him down, and we managed a couple of hours before he was up again. Greg got him back to sleep the first couple of times, and I took the next couple. Finally and around 5:30, he had a major blowout, and after the clean up, he was up for good. We went down to breakfast around 7, then headed back to the room, and went to the boys side of the suite to let Greg catch a bit more sleep.


The boys and Matt have really enjoyed playing this morning. He is really opening up, and smiling and laughing today. He has begun to walk some on his own, but he is still very wobbly. He has started imitating the boys too, which is precious! I'm going to try to post a video later today, if I can get it to upload!

Bath time!




Seriously crazy boy

This was the longest day. From here it's all downhill. We have a free day on Wednesday, then we believe we will be able to go to Annabella's finding spot Thursday. On Friday we hope to receive Matt's passport, then late in the afternoon we will head to GuangZhou. Well, it's time to give Matt a bottle, so I'll wrap it up for today. Please continue to remember our friend George in your prayers, that he will find the truth in Jesus, and lead his family to salvation too. We are forever grateful for all of the messages, emails, and texts we've received from all of you!


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13