Sorry for the lag in updates. We have much to share! We are in Guangzhou now but I have some catching up to do about the rest of our week in Shanghai.
Where to begin…these days are just so sweet. There is some difficulty, of course, but as I lay on the bed with Samuel this afternoon and watched him sleeping I thought about what a gift these weeks are. I have no other purpose right now than that of connecting with my son and experiencing his culture. Hours (and I do mean HOURS) spent watching him stack and restack his plastic cups and cheering wildly every time he puts them all in order. Holding him on my chest each day while he naps. Long Skype dates with our girls where they watch his tricks and experience him from afar. Snapping pictures of every first and landmark. It is lovely.
Wednesday was orphanage day. It was a tough one, not surprisingly. Early in our journey to Samuel I read somewhere the idea that adoption is always born of pain. It is so true. Though there are moments I feel like my heart could take flight, there are other moments that tether it to this beautiful and broken world. A trip to an orphanage is a sobering reminder that there is a need for such an establishment in the first place.
We were so very grateful to have had the opportunity to visit. Our hostess was so very gracious. We were able to see Sammy’s room and the other children he shared it with. They were just waking up from nap time when we arrived. I walked between the cribs stroking a few of their hands and wondering who of them had families coming for them. Such beautiful babies. Just like our Sammy. I can’t type the word without my eyes brimming with tears. Each one of them so precious, designed with such purpose, each so deserving to be cherished and loved within a family. I told Jason when left that I wished I would have been more prepared for that part, prepared to linger and touch them and pray instead of nervously shuffling through and wondering if we were staying too long or saying and doing the right things. We also walked past rooms of school age children and passed teenagers in the halls. There are approximately 600 children living there of all different ages.
We saw Samuel’s bed (already occupied by another little one) and the play area and visited with the caretakers that were on duty.
It was a surreal experience, considering that a mere 72 hours before and every day prior in his first two years, our son was waking up in that room, unbundled from his puffy blanket, dressed in clothes and shoes and shuttled to the playroom for a snack. We were able to take pictures of his caretakers and our guide expressed our thanks to them for the care they had shown him. As we were leaving, one of the nannies handed Sammy a hard-boiled egg. He clutched that little gift and ate every last bite on the way back to the hotel.
My heart was definitely at peace, knowing he was cared for so well. He handled the trip better than I could have possibly hoped. I am so glad to have had that window to his world and to be able to lead him back to that window whenever he needs to gaze inside.
Thursday was a free day. It was so nice to have a break from being shuttled between appointments and just go at our own pace. We started the day with Sammy’s first bath with us. We were encouraged to follow Sammy’s lead in changing him out of his clothes from the orphanage as they could be a comfort to him when everything around him is so very new. This was definitely the case for our boy so we have taken it very slow. That morning, though, Baba (daddy) opened a carbonated caramel-colored beverage that shall remain nameless and when Sammy got animated about sharing, Jason took the opportunity to earn a little bonding love. It spilled all over Sammy’s pants so a bath was in order. After some hesitance on Sammy’s part and some less than orthodox tactics on ours, he was in the bath and living it up! Happy boy!
After bath time we walked and celebrated Sammy’s first Starbucks date! No coffee for the little guy but he devoured some kiwi juice.
Up next was a trip to the shanghai IKEA. I have always wanted to visit one…who would have thought my first time would be in China?! I made Jason swear not to tell our guide! Of COURSE we were soaking up Chinese culture all day long! We just took a wee little detour to behold sleek storage solutions and Swedish meatballs.
Thursday evening we took a taxi to The Bund, a famous river walk in Shanghai.
It was very beautiful and there were so many people strolling around. SO many people interested in our family. A gaggle of cute teenage girls surrounded Sammy, snapping his picture and squealing over him. He looked like a deer in the headlights. It’s tough being the most handsome boy in Shanghai! Jason crouched down to comfort him and the paparazzi wasn’t budging so he turned his camera on them!
A friend asked how I was doing with culture shock since this is my first trip to China (Jason’s fifth, but first to Shanghai). I feel like it has mostly been really smooth. The things that have gotten under my skin are kind of bizarre, like the availability of only two cocktail napkins to keep two adults and a toddler tidy through an entire meal no matter the restaurant and the vehicles that lurch straight at us while I have said toddler strapped to my person. Jason **may** have had to restrain me a bit as the mama bear in me flared up and I shouted at the driver. I tried to convince Jason that was not China vs. American culture that was mother vs. the rest of the world culture! I do tire of the endless stares at the three of us, followed by chatter and folks pointing at their lips as they notice Sammy’s cleft. It was surprising to me, actually, how few looks we got in the days before we had Samuel. Foreigners in Shanghai don’t seem to warrant a second glance. Foreigners with a Chinese baby are another matter. Here is where we are grateful for that “conspicuous families” training 🙂
Thanks for following this wild ride with us. More to come soon!