Old friends, new victories, and typical challenges
Me and my panda buddy.  And Dad.

Me and my panda buddy. And Dad.

Things are going better with Carrigan in some ways, and worse in others. We arrived at our hotel in Guangzhou, another huge transition for him to make in a short time, and bedtime is getting worse each night. The more comfortable he gets with us, the more free he feels to let loose pent up anger and frustration and also to resist us as authority. We are at the Garden Hotel, the same place we stayed last time, however this time we are staying in their “apartments” because we have too many to fit in the regular hotel room here. You’d think with what we are paying (our agency requires us to stay here- we tried to stay elsewhere because we are here during the Guangzhou “Trade Fair” and hotel costs double over the weekend during it, but the agency likes all the families in the same hotel for ease of transportation to and from outings and meetings), that it would be amazing, like the rest of the hotel. But, no. We are paying a premium for the space, not fancy amenities. The hallway to our room reeks of urine (but it’s really just mildew from a water issue they have in this wing of the hotel) and nothing about this place is nice, but it is plenty of space and has all the utilities we need (including a washer we have been running non-stop since we got here. This thing washes AND dries, though only halfway, so we are wearing lots of damp clothes), so we can’t complain too much.

Unstoppable cuteness.

Unstoppable cuteness.

First, the ways Carrigan is doing better each day. He eats like a truck driver, preferring meat such as duck, lamb and lump crabmeat, though he settles for 4 hard-boiled eggs at breakfast. I hate to break it to him that we will not be eating this way when we get home (with the exception of the eggs)! He is speaking more words each day- “thank you” and “you’re welcome” for everything. His little raspy, sweet voice is so cute- I was able to get a short video of it. He says thank you after each bite of food we give him- such a sweet guy! He is also letting me cuddle with him more and more, and asking to be held and comforted (especially when he doesn’t want to go to bed, which is good and bad!) Last night he even fell asleep (finally!) while I was holding him in the bed. I’m thankful for his affection and realize this is huge- he is making eye contact, giving hugs and kisses and continues to make us laugh with his cute gestures and antics.

Fun by the pool.

Fun by the pool.

His preferred vehicle riding position.

His preferred vehicle riding position.

However, we are still struggling with his fits when he doesn’t get his way. Our guide has been able to communicate with him and today on the bus when he started another stomping his feet whiny fit, she told him she did not like his fits and whining and he needed to cut it out. She said a lot more than that (we have no clue what) but whatever she said worked. Most of the time he throws his fits, it’s fake- we can see a little ornery smile underneath the fakery fit, and sometimes just a little tickle will get him to stop- though there are other times it escalates into a full blown, big crocodile tear tantrum. He acts a lot like our two-year-old, Griffin, which we actually expected. It will really help when we are better able to communicate with him. Right now he has no schedule and he has no clue what to expect or what will happen next. When he throws a fit because we take the ramen noodle bowl away from him, he has no idea it’s because we are on our way downstairs to breakfast- he doesn’t even know if when the elevator opens we might be back at his orphanage, so we are trying to understand where he is coming from and praying for compassion to react lovingly and wisely to his understandably dramatic responses to being told “no”.

On the upside, Garrick remains popular with the ladies.

On the upside, Garrick remains popular with the ladies.

So popular, in fact, that he doesn't do pics without a sitting fee paid in advance.

So popular, in fact, that he doesn’t do pics without a sitting fee paid in advance.

Carrigan’s medical appointment was yesterday morning and thankfully Joey was able to take him so we didn’t have to drag all of the children to wait around for that. He got a TB test, required to leave China, and a very basic medical check to be sure he has no obvious contagious disease before traveling home. We also discovered at this appointment that he’ll likely be having surgery at some point in the near future to fix an undescended unmentionable- we pray this is the only medical procedure he will need, but we won’t know the condition of his hepatoblastoma until we get home and can have a thorough exam and testing at an oncologist.

This isn't half-bad.  What is a "blood draw"?

This isn’t half-bad. What is a “blood draw”?

Last night we decided to have dinner at the Irish Pub near our hotel we remembered liking from last time. After the dinner was served we remembered it was the ambiance we enjoyed and not the food. On our way, however, we were caught off-guard by the same beggar I wrote about from our last visit here. Two years and two months later, he is still here, lying on the street, lame and convulsing, with a metal can set in front of him to collect change for someone. Grace was horrified and begged to walk back a different way- it really was upsetting. I told her to prepare herself that we will see others like him- Guangzhou is not the same atmosphere as Shanghai. We took a walk several blocks to find a playplace I had heard a lot about that we somehow missed last time- we thought we’d check it out to see if it was a place we might want to take the kids back to. We had no idea what we were walking into. The “Children’s Palace” was unlike any playplace I have ever seen in America. It’s the brightest, most colorfully busy, sensory assault I have ever witnessed. Carrigan went wild, pointing and whining to get out of the stroller to go play. His fit lasted the entire walk back to the hotel, all the way through it and up to the room, drawing the attention of every passerby and pedestrian within 100 yards of the area.

Lovin' the pub!

Lovin’ the pub!

It's like Chuck E. Cheese.  On steroids.  And crack.

It’s like Chuck E. Cheese. On steroids. And crack.

 

A really neat coincidence this trip is that Charlotte has been able to reconnect with her best friend who was at the orphanage with her in Suixi! Lucy is here with her family adopting a little boy, too! During our last adoption, I connected with this mother through our agency by e-mail, and we communicated through our adoption process, sending the girls a cake together to celebrate their “forever families”. We had hoped to travel together last time, but it turned out that their family went a few weeks before we did, and they were able to meet Charlotte on their trip to get Lucy and send us pictures and tell us about her and their orphanage. It is such an amazing blessing to get to meet them this time, and so neat how the Lord orchestrated the timing of their adoption and ours so our families could connect in person. Charlotte has been more excited to see Lucy again than she has been about meeting Carrigan!

Little friends, two-and-a-half years ago...(Charlotte is the cake-faced one)

Little friends, two-and-a-half years ago…(Charlotte is the cake-faced one)

Reunited!

Reunited!

What are friends for?  Buying jewelry, of course.

What are friends for? Buying jewelry, of course.

We spent the day with their family and two other families adopting through Lifeline with the guide and went to the Jade & Pearl Markets (a HUGE 6 story jewelry warehouse) and then back to the Chen Ancestrial House we visited last time. We had a calligrapher make a panda picture (stamping with his fist) and write Carrigan’s name on it, along with his Chinese name, “Ya Ning” in Chinese characters, like the one we got for Charlotte last time.

It's better with more people.

It’s better with more people.

There was even time for an international photo shoot.

There was even time for an international photo shoot.

We are soaking up all we can of the culture and life here and we know a piece of our hearts will always be connected to this people and place.

 

This is still funny.

This is still funny.