Friday, May 22, 2015

Anything is Possible

"Mom, did you know that anything is possible? Anything is possible."

"Hey Mom, did you know that some people use forks with their feet? Cool, huh?" 

These are 2 of the comments that my son made as we were driving away from hand camp last month.  


It all started about 6 months ago.  My son doesn't really talk about it, but likes to watch videos and find pictures of people that have a similar physical difference. He's pretty insistent to do everything on his own and plays every sport that is available. He's actually one of my most athletic children, and has a drive that will make him successful with all that he does. While looking at different pictures, I found a camp in Florida offered by Hands 2 Love. I thought the camp sounded really great, and I am always down with a trip down south.  I brought up the idea with Ting, and he was thrilled to go!  We went back and forth, trying to figure out if we should bring the whole gang or if I should just go down. Based on the website, we couldn't figure out how friendly it would be for a gaggle of preschoolers, and given that it's on a lake we were honestly concerned about safety.  

And sleeping arrangements.  

My little ones may or may not *ahem* be noisy at night.  

I *do* have some little runners, that would giggle at the idea of running into the lake.  

The final day that the application was due, my husband suggested that I just fly down with Christian to check it out.

Deal. I had no problem leaving my winter jacket behind and hopping on a direct flight to FL. 
My son talked about what camp would be like for months.  He asked to look at the pictures every week or so.  He requested zip lining.  He wanted to know about the beds, the food, the activities.  I'll admit, I just didn't know what it would be like, and we would just have to figure it out when we arrived. The packing list was extensive, and we filled a suitcase with our sleeping bags and pillows.  
After check in, we grabbed our bags and found our beds.  We stayed in a boy cabin, that included lots of bunk beds. There were 20 or so of us in our cabin, including boys, parents, and siblings. 

We started to walk around to check out the camp, but Christian was nervous.  He didn't want to go on the scavenger hunt or find different locations.

All of his anxiety was gone as soon as he found the GaGa Ball Pit. 
He quietly watched the other kids for a few minutes to see how to play, and once he jumped in I couldn't get him out unless it was time for the next activity. 

As it turns out, EVERY activity was AWESOME!
 My son's goal was to climb to the top of the tower.  
 As he watched the other kids climb up, he began to doubt himself. 
 He did so great, though!
However, he put such pressure on himself...
 and was pretty upset that he didn't get any higher.  
 He tried tennis, and really ended up enjoying it. 

 My personal favorite was watching him with a bow and arrow. 

 I'm sorry to tell all the other campers, but we actually had the best Camp Pal, Heather. 
 In fact, the camp is run by a group of incredible volunteers!  Former campers, future medical professionals, camp families, AULDS (Adults with Upper Limb Differences), Family Pals, etc. 
On prom night, we were serenaded by the gorgeous and amazingly talented Rion Page.
My little date showed me his beautiful handprint on the banner that the campers made. 
On the final night of camp, there was a serious card game going on in the cabin.
You know, some typical post-prom fun. 
The card crew!
I have to post these for my husband, who could not quite believe the living arrangements that I described. 
These were our beds, and besides some beastly skeeters that got into the cabin, it surprisingly wasn't bad at all. 
Upon leaving, we hit up the beach. Obviously.
Ahhh, I could live here.  Seriously.  
They need teachers in Florida, right?!
Just to make this the most awesome, amazing vacation ever...
I gave him the option for 1 day at either Disney or Universal Studios.  
The Transformer ride sealed the deal for Universal. 
Otherwise, we spent as much time at the beach as I could squeeze in. 
Shark teeth, as identified by my son. 
On our way back to the airport we stopped at one of our favorite places, Angell and Phelps. They have a fantastic chocolate factory tour with samples.  Seriously though, everything is amazing~not just the free samples.
Christian even tried the chocolate covered bacon. 

For anyone considering hand camp, GO!  You won't be disappointed.  They even have a teen adventure camp starting this fall. 

Until next year, H2L!!  
I might just bring the entire crazy crew down! 
*If so, I apologize in advance to my future bunkmates.*

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Monday, March 23, 2015

A Little Wuhan Love: Part 1

I was so nervous. 

Terrified, really.  In many ways, it was similar to being pregnant.  I had many months to prepare, but felt completely unsure of what to do when we actually met. Do I swoop him up and cover him in kisses?  Do I give him a great big bear hug?  
I ended up just quietly a few feet away from him for a few moments, taking him in. 
My daughter and I met Christian in Wuhan on November 28th, 2010. 
There was 1 other child also meeting his family that day. 
I watched him play as I took pictures. 
I wasn't sure how close to get initially, so I just observed. 
My poor boy was not prepared. 
I snuggled him, but he was so hesitant...not that I blame him. 
It was a really overwhelming moment for all. 
Toys and treats helped, but I was not to be trusted a few hours in.
He was so angry at me for taking his sneakers off, and he insisted on sleeping in them for weeks. 
After a bath and after many hours, he cried himself to sleep. 
He did not trust me at all... and I don't blame him. 
We got a little goofy, 
and he giggled cautiously...until he realized that he let out a giggle. And stopped. 
I brought 2T clothing, not even considering that my 2 1/2 year old child would be a solid 3T kiddo. 
We had a great view of the city from our hotel window, but we didn't get out much without our guide.
Christian wasn't interested in the stroller, the back carrier, or holding my hand.
A 2 year old runner in the city?!  I think we'll stay in, thank-you-very-much.
Did you know that McDonald's offers delivers in China?
The playrooms in China got us through our days,  
and Christian let his guard down a little. 
We went to visit Christian's orphanage. 
He actually didn't spend a lot of time here, since he was in a foster home. 
We spent some time walking around outside. 
There were so many babies with their beautiful caregivers. 
I wonder if they have been adopted yet?  
I wonder if their files have been prepared?
These ladies must be exceptional due to their Half the Sky training. 
I was not allowed to take pictures while inside the building with the older kids. 
But outside?  I obviously couldn't get enough of these babies. 
The director showed me different rooms and again reiterated:  no pictures.
Thankfully, it was nothing like what I thought I might see after watching The Dying Rooms.
This is the view of the city from inside the orphanage building. 
I remember standing in the stairwell taking these, 
wondering how far away his foster family was. 
I remember wondering where all the kids were.  
It was so very quiet inside. 
I believe they said there were around 700 children there 
at that time, but many were in foster care. 
The young babies and children with more involved medical needs 
stayed in the orphanage, but really...
I didn't see more than 50 children total in the building. 
There were other buildings that I was not allowed to see. 
The director took a final picture with Christian, and our tour was done. 
We walked around for a bit. 
Our tour guide was the cutest little thing, and we just loved her. 
We walked around a lot, just trying to take it all in. 
I was trying to memorize so much of it for my son. 
The park. 
The fisherman. 
The scenery. 
I remember chatting with our guide at this park about the 1 child policy.  
She wanted more children besides her daughter, but since her husband worked for the government, 
it was not financially an option for their family. 
He would lose his job.
They would not be able to pay the hefty fee for a 2nd child. 

She was so kind towards my children, and went above and beyond as a guide. 
I'm thankful that she is the one chosen to love on kids going through this difficult transition.    
If you haven't been to China, you haven't had a decent buffet.  
Seriously, it cannot be outdone. Christian took advantage of the deliciousness. 
We did a little more sightseeing the following day. 
After a few days, Christian was more comfortable. 
Towards the end of our week, I finally felt brave enough to venture out alone with the kids. 
Looking back, I wish we spent more time just walking 
around the city instead of sitting in the hotel room. 
There were so many smiling faces,
especially as they noticed my daughter. 
Everybody was so kind...and completely concerned that 
we didn't have on enough layers of clothing. 
Even with the language barrier, we all understood each other. 
No guide needed.  
The people here worked hard. 
See the little pup? Yup, right in the food area.
I tried to envision my son's life if he stayed here. 
I hated the idea that I was stealing him away from everything that he ever knew, 
and I hoped that we were doing the right think for him. 
We stayed at the White Rose Hotel for the week in Wuhan. 
Besides the smell of smoke that I just couldn't get away from, it was beautiful. 
My Little Wuhan Love, we have come so far!

I remember the night after the orphanage visit, I held my son tightly and felt complete peace. It was a stillness that I had never felt before in my life.  I felt a warmth inside, and I was just where I belonged.  There were no more questions about if I was doing the right thing for me, for our family, or for this child.

 I knew that I wanted to adopt again, and I remember wanting to start the process again as soon as we got home. 

Oh the way to the airport, I lost my cell phone in the taxi.  

Christian screamed during the entire flight to Guangzhou, 
enraged that he needed to be strapped down with a seatbelt. 
Other passengers were yelling at him. 

We still had another week left in China, and I already finished my entire loaf of banana bread 
that I made for myself back at home.  

I was feeling a little down (and lonely), but the warm GZ weather perked me right up.

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