Saturday, December 11, 2010

Good to be in Guangzhou

You know, I felt conflicted leaving Guiyang. It was a tough place to be as an American tourist. There was nothing Western about the city at all. Essentially, no one understood a lick of English, it was dirty, smelly...though, oddly, I kind of got used to the sour stench of the city by week's end...very poor, and as much as I'll eat about anything put in front of me that isn't still alive (and that really is more of a guideline rather than a rule), I just didn't like the food there. It wasn't funky, or scary...I just didn't like the tasted like the city smelled.

It was a relief leaving Guiyang...yet, on the last night, we played in a pedestrian park that sits between our hotel and the river that runs through the heart of the we walked home, I looked at little Tao Tao...she was so happy, so excited, having so much fun...and I was about to take her out of a city that she was her home. If you know Tao Tao, and you know Guiyang, you'd understand this. I understand where we are taking her, I understand what is better and what is not...I also understand that people from New York think Franklin is the sticks. I was sad, and she was clueless.

All that said...I'M SO HAPPY TO BE IN GUANGZHOU! Whew. It even felt good to say. This really is a nice city. It has a life to it that you expect in a big city...and even though I'm pretty much a small city, Southern sort of guy...I like this in small doses. It's clean...relative to China, at least...and they have pictures for all the food options on the menu, so I'm OK.

We're getting to know Maggie more and more each day, and she's getting to know us better too. I think she had a really awesome foster Grandmom...and it's obvious that Maggie loved her so much. She grieves hard...hard at times...but in a healthy way. She wakes up from a nap, for instance, and she is sad...really sad. This is typical. Then, after a few minutes, she cries. Hard. She calls out for her Lei Lei, and Stef rocks her in her lap. Once it is out, she's on her way...about her business. I think her grief is real...and I think she is really dealing with it. This makes me think that she'll be pretty healthy...mentally.

A young Chinese lady told our guide the other day that Maggie is so lucky to have a "foreign" family...they know we're not Chinese, but they don't immediately know we're American, which I find odd in my obvious USA centric sort of thinking...I started to tell our guide that the lady was wrong...Maggie would be better off if somehow she could stay with her foster family...but I wasn't sure it would be appropriate, so in my Southern style...I stayed quite and smiled.

Maggie, on one hand, is shy. On the other (big) hand, she has an extremely strong personality. I know those statements don't make much sense, but a lot now doesn't. She shys away from people when they talk to her. She covers her eyes with her hand to hide...but she peeks out the other side. Stef is the one she's attached to...and Stef is doing a great job with her.

Maggie needs to be told "no" a good bit. I feel a little uncomfortable doing that, considering the circumstances, but knowing Maggie as I do...well, let me just stay it needs to be done. Stef really does a good job with this. Me...not so much. Tonight at dinner, I decided that Maggie had enough fried bean curd with peanut sauce, so I moved the plate to the person who actually ordered the dish...Stef. Well, Maggie didn't appreciate my insensitivity, so she threw her chop sticks at me. With cat-like quickness, I was able to dodge, and swat them away as the Chinese man behind me snickered in an international sign of "thank god it's you and not me". I semi-panicked...Maggie screamed Chinese words that everyone except us frustrated white people understood. Stef, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber (not really, but in comparison to me she was, at least). She grabbed Maggie up, and whisked her outside the restaurant. I don't know exactly what went down between the two of them...I stuck my face in a bowl of beef noodles in spicy broth in an attempt to hide my shame...but every time after that, when Maggie was about to get out of hand, Stef would gesture to the outside of the restaurant, and Maggie was suddenly in control.

We had the medical exam today. I know I saw this last time, but the scene at the medical exam is kind of surreal. You're surrounded by families who are so happy to have finally been united with their little angel that they've waited for, for so long. You see little Chinese kids with T shirts that say "Little Princess" and such...but the faces are heartbreaking. If you look past the Tshirts and American tourists with fanny packs and digital cameras, there are kids whose lives have been turned upside down, who are devastated and wonder who are these odd people who've taken me away from "my home". The medical visit made me sad. On the other hand, I think of little Corinne, and how much I love her, and how much she loves she sneaks into our room early in the morning hoping that we're still in bed so she can cuddle with me...and how I wait a few more minutes most mornings hoping she shows up...and I'm suddenly happy because I know that is the future for these kids.

Tomorrow I think we're going to a zoo....I hope we enjoy it. These are odd trips. There are so many awesome things you see and experience...but you JUST ADOPTED A KID!!! Stress is high in our hotel room, so I ask that you pray that we be calm, be safe, enjoy our time here, bond as a family and enjoy each other before we GET HOME SAFELY!

Oh...a couple more odd tidbits...I thank our government for infringing on our rights to smoke in public places....I also thank God for Starbucks and McDonald's...when I pointed out a McDonald's to Graham, he said he didn't like McDonald's. I said "me neither...but I sure like looking at the Golden Arches".


PS...trouble with pictures tonight...I'll give it one more shot and then I'm going to bed. Otherwise, it will be tomorrow morning...or tonight for you guys....and I'm putting up a couple short videos this time too.


  1. Aaawww Guangzhou! Almost feels like home for a day or so after being out in the other province! Haven't stopped by your blog for a long time. Dropped by today and am so thrilled to see that you are in China! Praying for you all! My youngest China doll has the same personality as your newest and was about the same age when adopted! Enjoy the rest of your trip and SAFE travels! P.S. Hang in there dad! I know you know this but I must say it again ...she just needs time. :)

  2. Brook, Thanks for your open and honest thoughts. I can still smell the smells from Inner Mongolia....but the next time we go to China, it will all have a brand new meaning. I am so sad to know how much Maggie is grieving. It has to be SO hard for her, and I am thankful she has parents that will support and hold her through it. It is not easy, it requires great selflessness, something that is hard to come by these days.
    Praying for you all......glad that Maggie is bonding, and smiling, and sad at times. Less than a week to go, which I know is happy and sad at the same time......praying for peace.

  3. So glad y'all are safe in Guangzhou... Your words brought back so many memories of our journey with Abby. It truly is a hard path to walk, even when you know with your head that it's for the best... Your heart can't help but break for them.

    Sending hugs, prayers, and lots of love!

  4. hey all you super china adventurers!!! i just now found the comment spot!! i have been reading and enjoying all the comments and pictures and how you are progressing in showing God's love to maggie lei! graham is awesome and she is so fortunate to have such a wonderful big brother!! and then to have mac and corrine waiting for her as more big brother and sister love....well God is amazing!!!! we pray for peace in each heart,calm and good rest!! know you are thought of often and prayers are made.

    love rick and bev

  5. Stefanie... God has given you so much "mommy wisdom"! I love that He has granted you the wisdom, the grace, the patience and the stamina to ride this rollercoaster you all have been on this week. I know the ride has just begun but you all have come so far in just a short time (at least that is how it seems to us!). How great it is to see how your first experience has given you so many tools for this adoption journey!
    Corinne got to enjoy the Saturday morning tradition of breakfast at ONCC with Tony, the girls and Isabelle. Then she went with us to cheer Mallory on in basketball (actually they sat in a corner and colored pictures!). She had a very girly night and then moved right on to her next event at Sloan and Kristin's. The girls loved having her and bathing her in attention!
    1 week from today.... WOOHOO!!!

  6. All I can think to say is WOW!! I am thankful you are in Guangzhou. I am thankful you have Starbucks and some familiar sights. I am thankful it is cleaner and more comfortable. I am thankful that there is instinctive parenting skills which God is giving you as Maggie melds into your family more each day.
    It is less than a week now until you are home. I pray that each of you will continue to be safe and healthy.
    We love you and are so thankful that God has given you Maggie. She may challenge you but I think she is going to bring immeasurable joy to her family.
    Sleep well. Please give Graham a Hug!!
    Mom and Dad(Pop and Saucy)

  7. Ed, Cinamon, Eve and Eliana MeiJingDecember 11, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    We are still watching and praying and understanding all that you are typing about. Today I prayed particularly for Graham. He seems to always be on my heart. When we were in China last, Eve was with us and well...... that added a whole other dynamic to our trip. And as wonderful as she was on that trip (and it appears Graham is the same) they are experiencing so much. This trip is life changing. I know you all understand that.

    I love the McDonalds comments. I remember almost crying when we saw the golden arches.

    Hold on to each other. Know that God is with you. He loves you and knows exactly what you need. He will provide.

    We love you all tons here in PA. Come home to us soon.