Adoption Daddy Blog Family

Getting Through the First Day of Adoption

As nice as it would have been to just hang out for the rest of the day, we couldn’t afford to waste any time in getting all of the paperwork done, or in some cases just started, so that we would be able to leave China on time.  So after having a couple of minutes together, we put Ty into the baby carrier and headed downstairs for our first of a slew of appointments.

We really didn’t know how he would respond to being in the baby carrier since he had likely never been in such a device, and if he didn’t want to be in there we probably wouldn’t have been able to force him as big as he was.  It actually was a little weird trying to put a three and a half year old into a baby carrier, but we didn’t really have much choice.  It is also important in the early stages of adoption to bond as much as possible, so we really wanted to be able to keep him close to us.  Fortunately, he didn’t seem to have too much issue with it so we put him in, and took off for our appointment.

Yes we bribed our new son with candy. You do what you gotta do to make it through. I should mention this was the only time in China Crash Aunt carried Ty. Guess who carried him the rest of the time?

This was a pretty simple appointment, or at least we thought it would be, as we were just supposed to get his picture taken for the passport application that needed to be turned in.  However, Ty was not really interested in getting his picture taken.  First we had to get a family picture taken and he did okay, though he really didn’t want to look at the camera.  Once the family picture was done we had to get a picture of Ty by himself, and he simply was not having it.

They have very specific requirements for these pictures in terms of being able to see all of his facial features including his ears which means he had to look straight at the camera.  If you think that would be challenging with a three and a half your old, you would be right, and it is even harder with a kid who is now being carried around by a bunch of strangers.  He started screaming, and squirming and refused to sit still at all.  I am sure this was very reassuring for the other family that was waiting to get their pictures taken.  We did ultimately get the pictures done, but it was not fun.

Then it was back to the hotel to try and get him calmed down before bed time and clarifying with our guide what the rest of the week would hold.  Our guide was kind enough to go and pick up some pizza for our dinner so that we could just stay in our room.  When she came back with the food she also suggested we take some of his clothes off so he would be more comfortable.  This may seem a little strange unless you understand what exactly he was wearing.

As you may have seen from the video in my previous post, Ty was wearing some super cute overalls and a sweatsuit.  What you need to know about Chinese people is that they always think their children are cold so they put lots of clothes on them.  (In fact, we got plenty of dirty looks while we were in China when we put Ty in shorts and it was only in the mid 90s.)  As we took off the overalls we could feel how many clothes he had on.  As we took off the first sweatsuit you could see in the video, we found another sweatsuit underneath, and you could tell he felt a lot more comfortable without so many clothes on.

He didn’t have much issue warming up to his new mommy, though it was a lot cooler with only one layer instead of three. (You see what I did there?)

It is always a bit of an uncertainty with how well adopted kids will eat initially, and as we have learned in the time since, those behaviors can change very rapidly.  Some kids just inhale everything and make themselves sick.  Others just cram it all in their mouth and try and save it for later which is called chipmunking.  Other kids refuse to eat anything at all, and you find yourself having to almost force feed them just so they get some calories in their body.  Fortunately, Ty ate like a champ that first night.  He enjoyed what was probably his first ever pizza and some chicken wings.  Apparently, he is not much of a connoisseur yet because Crash Uncle and Aunt did not enjoy the pizza nearly as much.

While we were eating, our guide went over our schedule for the rest of the week to make sure we understood when we needed to be where, and what paperwork to bring, and what we would actually be doing at each appointment.  Once that was all clear, she left and for the first time for more than five minutes, we were alone as a partial family since our other three kids were at home with grandma.

I should take a moment right now to thank Crash Grandma for staying with our other kids.  It was a great relief knowing that they would be well taken care of, and that we had nothing to worry about in that area.  I would venture to guess they enjoyed her more than us in some ways since her complete focus was on taking care of them and not work and other responsibilities that we have.  I am so grateful that my kids had this time with my mom to make some memories and bond a little more.  I only wish I had gotten more time with her, but you take what you can get.

As we finished eating and the night wound down, it came time to get ready for bed, which was the next big uncertainty.  Like most things, every kid is different when it comes to sleep, and for every different kid, their is a different self-proclaimed expert who knows how to get them to sleep.  Anywhere from co-sleeping to letting them just cry it out until they get so tired they fall asleep.  Co-sleeping is out of the question for us since neither of us would be able to sleep ever again, but fortunately we didn’t need to.

Don’t get me wrong, we had our struggles the whole time we were in China with getting to sleep, but once we got him to sleep he slept through the night.  Some nights it took an hour or more of talking softly and rubbing his back to calm him down and get him to fall asleep, but we always got there eventually and he would sleep through until 7-8 the next morning.  That was a huge blessing because despite all of the other challenges and struggles we would face, mom and dad were always at least relatively well rested.  A blessing that I know not everyone else in our group was so fortunate to have.  A common phrase that we heard, and used ourselves, was to just focus on getting home from China.  You may not parent the same way when you get home, but your number one priority is just to get home.  That meant a few nights of melatonin just to help him get to sleep, and it worked wonders.

As I think back now on that whole first day, it seems like moments of complete clarity surrounded by significant amounts of time that are just a blur.  I remember people talking, or things happening, but the whole thing was incredibly overwhelming.

I can’t even imagine how overwhelming it must have been for Ty.

I was at least still in control of what was going on, he was just thrust into the hands of complete strangers, granted we are incredibly awesome strangers, but he didn’t know that.  For all he knew we were just another pit stop in his life and he would be passed along to someone new.  He was sleeping in a new bed in clothes that probably smelled funny to him having just eaten weird western food with people that kept making weird noises and giving him hugs and kisses.  I am pretty sure his mind was about ready to pop.

For that matter, I don’t know that the overwhelmingness (that’s a real word, I promise) of the whole thing has even gone down for him even now.  I remember looking at him, and even many of the other kids, and being impressed with how well they handled the whole thing.  For the most part they were all relatively happy and taking in all of the change incredibly well.

Children are amazingly resilient little things.  It sucks that so many of them are asked to take on such trying circumstances, but I am always impressed by what they are able to handle.

Adoption Deep Thoughts Family

How Are You Supposed to Feel Right Before You Meet Your New Adopted Son?

Visiting Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City in the days before we met Ty.  The families behind us were also their adopting. We had a total of 17 families with us.

I have written a little bit about the emotional roller coaster that is the adoption process, but having just returned from China with our new son Ty, I have experienced emotions that I never expected to feel.  It is funny how often I think I know exactly how I will react in situations, but the older I get the more I am realizing I have no idea how different situations will impact me.

The one thing that I am convinced of at this point, is that the emotional ride is only just beginning.  I don’t know how many people that will read this are in the process of adopting, or might even be considering it, but I feel like it is something that I just need to share.  It may not help anyone else, but writing is very therapeutic for me so I am writing just to get it all out.

I already wrote about my feelings the night before our son arrived at our hotel so I will go ahead and skip that, but just the very next day presented a whole new range of emotions for me and my wife.

It is bit of a surreal experience standing in a hotel room waiting for your new child to be delivered.  If it sounds like we had ordered a pizza or something and were just waiting for it to be delivered, then you kind of understand the mix of emotions that I was feeling as we waited.  This may sound cold or emotionless but that could not be farther from the truth for all of the obvious reasons, the biggest being that we are talking about a human being having his entire life changed.  To top it all off, we were the ones changing it.

Crash Aunt and I have discussed a few times since then how hard it must have been on him, something that we can in no way comprehend.  Adoption on its own is a beautiful sincere thing where you are trying to provide a better life for an orphan (more on that word later) but I am not sure that I had actually considered how incredibly hard this event was going to be on him.  He is about three and a half years old, and for the last two years his entire life has been essentially one building with the same beds, and the same general foods, and maybe most difficult to leave behind, the same nannies.

While I am someone that generally enjoys change and looks forward to new experiences, my stuff, my bed, and most importantly the people close to me, namely my family, are things I always get to take with me to help me feel comfortable and safe.  While Ty no longer had an actual family that he knew, those nannies have been his family for more than half his life, and he will likely never see them again.  The thought of losing all of the people I know forever just strikes fear into my heart, and I was doing that to this sweet little boy.  But this sweet little boy was no longer going to be an orphan.

I can honestly say that I don’t think I ever connected my new son with the word orphan until right before we met him for the first time.  Obviously I was aware that he had been abandoned and had no parents, but for some reason the specific word “orphan” had just never been something that I associated with him before.  In the past when I thought of orphans I thought of the ones that you see in movies like Annie or even Cinderella.  Sure they had a tough life not having parents, but they always seemed so happy, and it ultimately worked out for them.  But when I finally did connect that word with Ty I couldn’t help but feel sad for him.  He had lost his parents and would likely never know anything about them.

I really just wanted to cry.

Those are the perfect feelings to be having right before your son walks through the door to have his life changed forever, but nevertheless they were my feelings.  Everyone reacts differently in these types of situations, and I have found it hard to be totally honest with people about all of the feelings I felt, but never was that more true than in the hours and days after we first met our son…

Daddy Blog Deep Thoughts Family

I’m Going to be a Dad Tomorrow…Again

I really find it hard to believe that I am actually where I am at right now.  I am laying on a bed in a hotel in Lanzhou, China anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new son tomorrow.  

These words may not trip you out as much as me, but in a lot of ways I still find it hard to believe.  It has taken about a year to get through this process that at times has felt like forever but the day is finally upon us.

I really can’t put into words what I am feeling right now, so naturally writing a blog post makes a lot of sense.

As a father to three other children I am not inexperienced with the anticipation that comes with the arrival of a new child.  With both of my girls I also knew the date they would come since my wife was induced.  My son didn’t feel like waiting for his induction date and came a few days early.

But obviously this one is different.  My new son is already three and a half and has developed some of the skills and abilities that you would expect at that age.  He does have some special needs that we will gain a better understanding of once we get him back home.  

Oh yeah, and he only speaks Chinese.

So while I have never been able to communicate with any of my other children on the day they were first in my arms, this one is going to try, and I will have no idea what he is saying.  It is hard enough as a parent when you are trying to love your child and give them everything they need but I worry about the struggles we will face as we all get used to each other.  

I know that it will all work out, and that there will inevitably be some bumps along the way but isn’t that what life is all about?  Moving forward in pursuit of what you know to be right.  Finding things that you can put your whole heart behind no matter how daunting the task may be.  Relying on those that you love most to fill in the gaps where you have weaknesses and working together to do something more grand and amazing than you ever could have imagined.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to stand on the Great Wall of China and wonder at the sacrifices and effort that countless people put into building that wall.  I wonder how many of them really understood what they were doing, and how they would have felt if they had known it’s full purpose.  With that being said, the work of those people has lasted thousands of years as a testament to their dedication and devotion to accomplishing something far more incredible and inspiring than they likely ever imagined.

So as I lay here wondering how this first day together will go tomorrow, other than the obvious waterworks that will be flowing from my eyes, I do have a certain sense of peace knowing that this little boy has the ability to change the world and leave a mark far more lasting than even a wall that is thousands of miles long and thousands of years old.  He will ultimately choose his path and determine what that mark will actually be, I just hope that I can play my role well when I enter his life tomorrow.


Adoption is a Long Journey That is Worth the Wait

I’ve waited a long time to post about this because I really didn’t know what I wanted to say.  Now that we are nearing the end of the process I figured it was as good of a time as any to share a little bit.

If you would like to read about the whole process then please head on over to our adoption blog where we posted a lot of good information.

The short version is that after mountains of paperwork, and a seemingly endless wait, we have finally been paired with a child from China.  The name we have given him is Ty Drechsel Lynn.  He is about three and a half years old, and has some developmental delays that seem to have been improving since he has been in his orphanage.

I can’t even begin to tell you about the range of emotions that Crash Aunt and I have experienced over the last eight months.  There have been periods of tremendous amounts of excitement followed by months of anxiously waiting for paperwork to get approved.  In some ways it is like having your own biological child with all of the waiting, but on the other hand there is even more uncertainty as you wait to see the age, gender, and special needs that you know your child will have.

While we have been confident in our decision since the day we started, there have been plenty of days where the uncertainty just starts to wear on you.  At the same time, it is amazing how quickly a lot of that stress just fell away once we were paired with our new son.

It actually still trips me out a little when I type those words, our new son.  We have three kids already that each have their own unique arrival story, and Ty is no different than them, it is just an even more unique story.  I think part of the challenge has been the lack of physical change in preparation for his arrival.  With our other kids you could see the physical change in my wife that showed how close we were getting.  In this case the only physical changes have been with paperwork and the shrinking of our bank account.

Even with all of the challenges we have faced, and the seemingly never ending wait, I can honestly say that it has all been worth it.  We are now about two months from bringing Ty home and I couldn’t be more excited.  The thought of holding him in my arms and bringing him home just leaves me beyond words.

If you have ever considered adoption I would encourage you to go the distance and make it happen because each of these children need a special family of their own.  If you have any questions about the process please feel free to ask.

If you would like to contribute to our adoption we are running a T-shirt fundraiser and would really appreciate the support.

These awesome T-shirts turned out even better than expected. You should get some.