Running on Empty
June 17th

At the HK Heritage Museum, you can put yourself in a famous comic. Chaela went with the armed option…

 

…while Corin went with super powers.

 

Daddy led a “who can best imitate Bruce Lee best” contest. He said he thought he looked pretty close until the pic came out.

 

Corin achieved proper arm position, at least.

 

Chaela wins by taking it least seriously!

We made a big mistake this afternoon. After getting back from the museum, our plan was to take the kids to the outdoor pool. But, as it has been the entire time we’ve been here, it was in between thunderstorms and the pool was closed until further notice. With nothing to do, at 2:00 we came back to the room and turned on the TV and laid down on the bed…just to rest for a bit until either the pool opened or the executive lounge did and we could get some food. Gwendolin Rose continues to hold us all captive with her erratic sleep schedule (just like at home!). She does not sleep when we are out doing things- she doesn’t want to miss anything, so she might take a short cat nap in the Ergo pouch, but she’s always up within 30 minutes, and she was exhausted. We’d been up since 3AM and she’d only had two of those brief cat naps. We finally got her to sleep and I told Joey I was just going to close my eyes for a bit because I had a headache- he told me NOT to go to sleep or I would never beat the jet lag, which I know to be true. I assured him I never do that- not to worry. For two hours I did lie there and not sleep. But, by 4 I was a gonner, and so were the kids. Joey tried to wake me at 5 to go to the lounge, but with Gwennie still asleep, trying to move her while in that state was akin to lighting a stick of dynamite, so I told him to just go alone.    Knowing full well we would pay for this later I drifted in and out of sleep for what felt like many, many more hours. I got up hopeful to go and check the clock, noticing Joey and all the kids still face down in their pillows, fully dressed. 9:30 PM…it was a crushing blow. Now I am up, ready to start the day, and I have 6 more hours until it is actually time to wake up. Our flight from Hong Kong to Kunming is at 7:50, so we are leaving the hotel at 5 AM.

Gwennie, happy watching TV at 3 am.

I did have a few startling nightmarish dreams during those few hours of restless sleep. One was of our Gotcha Day for Chad, which apparently I am more apprehensive about than I realize. In my dream, we went in to meet him and he was a tiny, frail, sickly little boy with fingernails that were several inches long and curled around his hand. He had a mouthful of completely rotten teeth and he was delayed to about the developmental age of a two or three year old. I quickly panicked and thought “I cannot do another little boy right now!” (Mom, you will completely understand this on day 4 of watching them!), but he was in my arms and calling me “Ma” and I knew we had to take him home. Now, I know this dream is far from the truth- Chad is likely just as bright and well-educated as Chaela (who is already reading in English on an advanced third grade level after finishing the entire Hooked on Phonics program in less than six months!), his medical needs minimal- repaired post-operative bilateral club feet, and likely very few, if any, developmental delays to speak of. I probably should lower my expectations, but it’s likely the only true issue in my dream will be the rotten teeth and possibly a bit of a frail stature, like Chaela at first. It really, truly, was no giant leap of faith for us to say yes to adopting him. It was almost a no-brainer with the exception of knowing it would be a crazy time for us to be in another adoption process with a move coming up at the same time. I do know why I had this dream, however.
I have been following “Journey to Joseph”, a Facebook friend who just returned from China after bringing home a severely medically fragile aging-out boy with a terminal heart condition. They had to get a medical evacuation exemption from the airline just to get him home, and within a few years, he will die. They went into this adoption knowing all of this- this little boy is going to die, but they want him to have the experience of being loved in a family when he does. It’s an amazing love story I have been following, and the dream I described to you is what they experienced on their Gotcha Day (with the exception of the fingernails- his fingers are swollen and blue, like his lips- it is unreal). These are the kind of selfless people we have met on these adoption trips, and it is faith-building and inspiring to meet them- people bringing home toddlers and older children with everything from Down’s Syndrome to HIV. It’s no small thing to bring home a child who is a stranger to you, but it’s lifestyle-altering to bring home a child with a severe medical need. The common theme we have found is that, by and large, those doing these adoptions are professing, Bible-believing Christians.
In classic Odell China-style today, we did a lot of wandering around aimlessly, looking dazed and confused as we tried to navigate a labyrinth of stores and shops amongst a sea of people out on a leisurely Saturday. After checking out the museum, we thought we’d head to the Pizza Hut (a fancy culinary delight in China!) “across the street”. To get there, you had to go through a ginormous shopping center, connected to another ginormous shopping center, connected to, well…you get it. We realized after a while that we were walking in circles, we were hungry and we had passed the same McDonald’s several times. We were trying to avoid eating at another McDonald’s, but google walking map sent us to a closed down building that maybe used to be a Pizza Hut at some point. We found ourselves back at McDonald’s attempting another ‘Signature Selection’ which was another epic fail, and then found a hotel where we could get them to catch a cab for us. We’ve found that no taxi driver is eager to pick up a large family (by China standards) displaying our whiteness, and therefore ignorance of the language to effectively communicate where we want to go unless we have a hotel card with the location listed in Chinese. We might as well be waving a flag that says: “This is going to be difficult and awkward if you pick us up!” And who wants to sign up for that?

We did find, however, The International Pet House – saw this and thought of Marie C., the USCC Chaplains’ secretary.

So, that’s where it stands now. It’s 10:30 PM, everyone else went back to sleep, and here I sit. At least I have internet easily in Hong Kong. By tomorrow this time we will be in a world of VPN’s just to access Facebook and the blog as the Chinese government on the mainland filters and blocks many sites for its residents. Onward to China!
June 18th
I got up this morning (notice I didn’t say ‘woke up’ because I have been up since 9:30 PM and everyone else since 1AM) feeling really ill. I had the chills and after a shower ended up dry heaving in the toilet. I think I am coming down with a bout of mastitis, which I am prone to…and I actually hope it’s that because if it’s a virus everyone is in trouble. We had an early morning flight to Kunming which was no problem since we’d been up most of the night anyway. I’ve been feeling worse and worse throughout the day and have been running a fever, so please pray I am all better for tomorrow! In just 12 hours we will be with Chad!

At the HK airport, Chaela says, “I think there is some kind of pastor on TV.” Corin, “he looks like a game show host”. Me: “Nope, that’s just a charlatan.”

 

Our guide met us at the airport, and it is the same guide, Susan, that we grew to love those early, difficult days with Chaela. She was so happy to see Chaela and commented how happy she looks compared with last time, how nice her “figure” is, how great her English is…and that she has met Li Xiao Qiang twice and she said he is SO handsome. She went on and on about what a great kid he is, how everyone loves him, and how nice the kids at Pu’Er are, giving credit to the director.

Little kid riding double on scooter with Mom. Seems risky.

 

Just a toddler playing with a ball as the third person on a scooter. No big deal.

 

Two women and two kids. Winners for the scooter packing contest!

Tomorrow we will meet her in the lobby at 1 to go get a cake for Chad’s birthday celebration. He turned 12 on the 13th and we had so hoped we would be with him on his birthday. We’ll just celebrate a week late, and sadly, he doesn’t know when his birthday is anyway and he’s never had a party, so I hope it makes him feel special. We will meet Chad at 3PM China time on the 19th, which is 3AM ET back home on Monday morning. I can’t think of a better Father’s Day gift for Joey than the gift of a new son! We are so excited, but admittedly nervous about how things will go, and how bonding will look with a boy this age, especially for me. That’s the age where boys typically pull away from their mothers and grow in independence…but he’s never had a mother. Will he let me hold his hand? Kiss and hug on him? I am again going to have to put myself out there, way outside my comfort zone and risk being shot down like those initial days with Chaela. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for this, but right now all I can think about is how awful I feel. Please pray this passes quickly!

And the paparazzi moments begin…