Follow by Email

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Conclusion



I have to admit, that my own blog title has been bothering me for quite sometime.  "Voiceless Orphans".  I almost feel the need to apologize when I give the web address to friends.  "Well," I think to myself, "I made the blog title a long time ago.... before I knew Zac.... before I knew Melia.  Afterall, no child of MINE is an orphan.  A voiceless orphan..... hmpf!

It practically sounds politically incorrect.  Voiceless children, maybe.  That sounds a bit better.  Ryan's children.  That's more like it.  That's what they really are:  MY KIDS.  It's that simple.  They're just ..... my kids.

But sometime recently it hit me:  I realized that MY KIDS were indeed once ... orphans.

It makes me sick.  I don't want to believe it.  I'd rather quickly dismiss it.  It truly brings me conflict.... and confusion.

Friends, there are many orphans out there.  Waiting to be adopted.  The second a person chooses to adopt, these thousands, no.... these MILLIONS of children are immediately touched and transformed into a miracle.  They become someone's KID.

Less than 2 weeks ago, Melia was a distant image in my mind and a photograph on my wall.  Today, she is a miracle and most importantly she is MY DAUGHTER.

I am so thankful for the gift of adoption and want to shout it out to the world that adoption is a beautiful thing.

Thank you for listening to my thoughts.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Home

Got home last night.  We were all so tired that the room was spinning.  Blogging was out of the question.

We were so thankful for the friends and family that met us at the airport.  What a special time.  We had some "event photographers" there.  When we get the photos, I'll post something.

Today, went extremely well.  We took things very easy and tried to just play... and do some unpacking.  Melia is pretty flip flopped with her days and nights so she was a bit tired and moody.  (Hard to imagine)

Nevertheless, we managed a trip to Wal Mart this afternoon.  It went pretty well.  In fact, I've been referring to Melia as, "The chosen one who is to bring balance back to the force".  Meaning that 4 kids actually may be easier than 3 in many respects.  We'll see.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Last Day in Guangzhou

Today was our last day in Guangzhou.  It was strange, but Katie and I both had mixed emotions as our adoption trip is coming to an end.  On the one hand, we are excited to get home, see our kids, see our friends, get back to normal, and start raising Melia Xin Ai to be a Horner.  On the other hand, there is almost a "summer camp" feel here with many other adopting families wandering the hotel hallways and restaurants.  We've made quite a few friends on this trip and we're sad that we won't ever see many of these people.  Also, it's so nice for the kids to all play together and not be judged in the least bit.  Katie and I know that once we get home, she'll get lots of stares.  While we're here, it's Katie and I that are getting the stares, and we're completely OK with that.  But back home....

Knowing that today was our last full day in Guangzhou, we really wanted to make it count.  So we went to the craziest spot that we could think of:  The train station and wholesale market.

Take a look at the videos, b/c words cannot begin to justify the intensity of "the market".



I'm thinking that there were actually some pretty incredible deals, but Katie and I were way too nervous to put Melia down for even one second.  In hindsight, it was a completely "safe" experience, it was just that we weren't really used to shopping with that much pushing and yelling.



It wasn't until I watched these videos that I realized how much I stick out here.  Katie and I really had a laugh.



So I feel as if I should start to "conclude" this experience that has been our China adoption trip.  Tomorrow we'll be in Hong Kong so I may have one last post, but I think after that I think I'll be home before I get another chance to blog.

Certainly, our adoption adventure is only just beginning, but the trip adventure is coming to a close.  I have no doubts that sometime in the future, I will look back to these 2 weeks I just experienced and remember them as some of the most special and significant two weeks of my life.

I have Melia to thank for that.

Thank you Melia.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for coming into my life.  Thank you for giving me life.  Without you, these past 2 weeks would have easily been "forgotten moments".

More than that, I look forward to many more significant moments that you will provide me by being my daughter.  I love you sweetie.




Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Great day in Guangzhou

Today was an absolutely awesome day.  ....and jam packed full of activities.  So let's see if I can remember them all.

We started off by meeting in the lobby at 7:40am for our US Consulate Appointment.  This is what we've been sitting around waiting for for the last 4 days, so it was nice to finally do something.

There were approx. 10 other families there and we all took a 45 second oath and then collected some paperwork.  So now it's really REALLY official that Melia is ours.  And she's close to being a US citizen.  One more round of paperwork tomorrow and then we can begin our long journey back home.  (Which includes an overnight stay in Hong Kong.  I'm pretty excited about that.

After our US Consulate appointment (which we weren't allowed to take any pictures) we came back for an early lunch and then an early nap.  Melia wasn't really interested in the nap, so we said, "OK girl.  If you're in the mood for adventure, then we are too.  Let's introduce you to the way that Horner's do things!"

So the adventure began.....

It started with a trip on the Subway.  (Which required two different line changes)

It didn't take long for a local to recognize that we were from out of town.


Although this man was very nice, he successfully bought me two tickets to the wrong Subway stop.  The funny part is that this was our 2nd Subway excursion and I actually kinda knew what I was doing.  Nice enough man, but.....

So here were are on the Subway.  Crowded as expected.  We felt pretty darn cool when we arrived at our destination.  










We wanted to see some more "cool things" here in Guangzhou, but we weren't really sure what to do.  So I went on the Internet and found some thing called:  Canton Tower.

It turns out that the 2010 Asian Games were here in Guangzhou and that the entire area by this "Canton Tower" (which was built in the Mid-1990's) was where the Games were held.  It was absolutely stunning.  I no longer even felt that i was in China.  It was clearly some financial district / downtown part of the city that was just as (if not more so) developed as the United States.  Let's just quit calling China "developing".  I'd say that they are more than on their way.

Take a look:



Here's me feeling like an idiot for walking across the wet paint that they were laying down in preparation for the New Year events.  (In my defense, I couldn't exactly read the sign in Chinese letters)

As luck would have it, it was an oil based paint, so the nice employee took my shoe and wiped off the paint from the bottom of my shoe.  Of course, in the process, he managed to get paint on the top of my shoe!  Hmmm... I guess..... Thanks for helping?





It's worth mentioning that it was here that some tourists stopped us to not just "sneak a picture" of us (which we've gotten used to) but actually pose in a picture with them.  So we all stood there.... like a family.... and took pictures by Canton Tower.  


Note:  There are two tall structures here in Guanzhou.  Both of them are around 110 stories high, but there are two separate structures.  Take a look at the video.  One is a bank (commercial tower), the other is Canton Tower.  Nothing more then a decorative structure..... a really, really expensive decorative structure.



Melia, being the awesome kid that she is, managed to fall asleep in my arms, take a 90 minute nap in the stroller and not even make a peep when we woke up.  In fact, Katie and I walked around for a total of over 4 hours today without a single incident from Melia.  This is one easy going kid.

We returned to the Hotel and let Melia play around at the outdoor play area for about an hour before we succumbed to eating dinner at McDonald's.  Not our favorite place, but it's too close to our hotel to ignore.

After a laid back evening at the Hotel, we ventured out one more time to the Park and then came back to go to sleep.

Up until this point, we've been lying down with Melia during Naptime and Bedtime in order to help her fall asleep and give her comfort.  Tonight, we just put her in her crib and said, "Night Night!"  She immediately rolled over, put her right index finger in her mouth and shut her eyes.

Wow.  Like I said, this is one easy kid.  I can't begin to tell her how awesome she is.  Every moment she reveals another piece of herself that makes us fall in love with her even more so.

Becoming her parents has been such an easy process, that this trip has felt more like a vacation than anything else.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Trying to catch up with stories

Katie and I had a nice lunch today and we were trying to recall each day's events.  I realized that I have missed a handful of stories from this trip so I am going to insert a "Bonus Post" where I capture the forgotten stories.

1.  Shijiazhuang - When we arrived in Shijiazhuang, we were all exhausted from such a long drive.  The kids immediately fell asleep, but the adults were hungry.  We had heard that there was a Pizza Hut nearby (and we were getting tired of Chinese food at that point), so Bill and I headed out to find food.  Shijiazhuang was a bit different than Beijing in that VERY few people spoke English.  Therefore, the hotel (knowing that we may have trouble finding Pizza Hut) wrote down the phrase "I want to go to Pizza Hut" in Chinese.  Then Bill and I walked around downtown handing the note to various strangers and they pointed us in the right direction.  It made us all laugh.

2.  Umbrellas - We were supposed to give gifts to Melia's caretakers upon our receiving her.  Knowing this well in advance, Katie purchased these nice little umbrellas for each of the 4 people that we were to give gifts to.  Only after we arrived did we learn that giving an Umbrella as a gift is considered a very rude gift in China (for real!)  Apparently, the word for umbrella sounds very similar to "separate".  Therefore a gift of separation on the day that we separate Melia from her caretakers isn't exactly poetic.  Therefore, we had to buy some last minute gifts.  The funny part is that 2 days ago when it rained so hard, I made the comment, "At least we have lots of umbrellas".  To which Katie realized, "Oh no! I sent them all home with my parents and our kids!"

3.  The Great Wall Post - I tried and tried to post this video when we were still in Beijing, but our lovely Internet connection was partially blocked.  (A large source of frustration for me on this trip).  Our connection at this Marriott seems to be much more cooperative, so I'll go ahead and post it now.




4.  Arthur - Arthur was our guide and translator in Beijing.  His job was to make sure that we were having fun, and believe me - as long as he was around, we were having fun.  But Arthur had one small problem:  His English was 50% understandable.... at best.  Fortunately he told us about twice as much information as we cared to know, so it all worked out in the end.  Here is a clip of Arthur trying to teach us Chinese.  It should also be noted that it's funny that he's using the fog on the window to write things down.  We marveled at how they never seemed to turn on their heat anywhere.  Including the defrost in the cars!


In case you're wondering, that last word was supposed to be "discuss"  (Discarse)

Here is another clip funny of Arthur:  It is supposed to be of Katie and I "locking" our love to the forever structure of the Great Wall of China (and throwing away the key), but Arthur kind of stole the show with his narrative.



I'll never know what he just said.



Monday, January 16, 2012

We headed to Yuexiu Park today.  (yea, I don't know how to pronounce it either).  It was absolutely awesome!  Although many people in Chinese live in HUGE complexes of apartment buildings, (sometimes a over a million in 1 complex) I WILL say that they compensate the crowdedness with incredibly cool public parks.

The other thing (if I haven't said this already) is that a word I would use to describe the Chinese is: PLAYFUL.  No matter where we go, we are constantly seeing grown adults (and often time old adults) all out playing in the park.  Above are a group of "hacky sackers".  (Editors Note:  This picture was taken in a different park over by the White Swan Hotel)

They are getting geared up for the Chinese New Year, so we are seeing decorations going up everywhere around us.  Of course most of the celebration starts up around the 21st or 22nd.... and we're leaving the 20th.  Bummer.  But it's always more fun to see things as they are getting set up and not the week afterward when it's all being taken down.  There is certainly is a buzz of excitement going on around here.  

Culture lesson:  The Chinese New Year starts on the first New Moon in January and ends at the Full Moon. (15 days)  This is their time to get together with family, friends, etc. and celebrate life.  Kind of like Christmas... without the Jesus birth part.


Take a look at the big dragon tail going across the picture above.  Can you tell what it's made of?

Take a look below.  Can you tell now?


That's right!  An entire sculpture of China plates!

Check out the detail with the Dragon Claws.  Just ignore Katie being a dork...


Old men playing Ping Pong in the park.  One with no shirt, one with a knee brace, and one with no shoes!
I've been told that in China the big three sports that everyone follows is:  Soccer, basketball, and Ping Pong.  



Another look at the park.

And on our way home, I saw this little gem being loaded into the car dealership!

Melia continues to be awesome.  She is the sweetest, happiest little thing I've ever met.  It's really hard to believe that we've known her for less than a week.  It really seems like she's been with us for much, much longer.  I can't begin to convey how "easy" this first week has been.  Even the fact that we went out to that Park and walked around for over 2 hours and she didn't complain or fuss or whine once.  Sometimes she walked, sometimes she rode the stroller, sometimes she was carried.  Whatever.  She was happy no matter what.  We may have to change her name to Joy... or Happy.  (I'm kidding, I don't want to start any rumors).  





Today is another free day.  So who knows what we'll find.  




Sunday, January 15, 2012


What a little cutie.  Things continue to go so well here.  Yesterday, we headed to a Catholic church to attend mass.  It took us well over 30 minutes of walking, catching a subway and more walking.

Melia just patiently rode on the stroller and never once complained or threw a fit.  For as "on the go" as our family is, she is going to fit in perfectly.  Just throw her in a "backpack" so to to speak and let her come along for the ride.  Her disposition is awesome.

She loves her right index finger.  It gives her comfort.


Her head was shaved in the orphanage, but they started letting it grow out once she was moved to a foster home.  We've still got a ways to go, so we're trying to accessorize this little lady with bows.  She doesn't really like them, but each day she leaves them on a bit longer.


Eating a snack and looking at herself in the mirror.


The long walk to the church.  Oh yea, it it was raining.  Big time.  We got pretty much soaked on our way there.  Clearly, she's our 4th child.  I'm pretty confident that we would not have left the hotel had it been our first child...

Inside the church.  I'm not sure as to all the details, but this church was built in the 1800's as was in remarkable condition.  A beautiful structure as you would expect from an old Catholic church.  As long as you're not a member of the Communist party, you are indeed free to worship here in China.  Less than 20% of the population is actually a member of the communist party.  More people want to be, but it is very difficult and selective.  

Here's the outside of the church.  Right in the middle of town.  


Again, it was quite beautiful.  And it was packed once the service got started.


The Bible was a bit difficult to follow along with.  But the service that we went to was in English, so it pretty much felt like church.  The message was spot on.  No funny injections of Communism or anything.  Just plain old Christianity!

It seems that my connection is better in this Hotel, so I'll try to post some more videos which I was unable to post up until now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In Guangzhou

Things are continuing to go so well here.  Melia is an absolutely delightful child.  We are so thankful to be her parents.

We arrived in Guangzhou night before last.  We will be staying here for the remainder of the trip as we have a handful of things to do before we can bring Melia home.  Today was the required medical check.  (See pictures)

I wasn't pouting here, I was pretending that the doctor was a "sad" place.  Of course, she didn't need any shots, and as usual she was quite happy.  Why should we be surprised?


Lots and lots of adoptive parents here.  I'm guessing well over 100 people all jammed into this place.  


We already knew of her heart condition, but otherwise a very happy, healthy child.


We've already really come to enjoy Guangzhou.  This city is significantly farther South than Beijing, so it's quite a bit warmer.  High 60's, plenty of humidity.  Therefore, we were able to do a lot of outdoor walking and playing.  The boys and I even took a dip in the outdoor pool!




We were very sad that we had to say goodbye to our older 3 kids as they and Katie's parents headed back home this afternoon.  (A fun 30 hour adventure for them!)  We will stay here for a 2nd week, but they had to head home.  Very sad, very emotional, but we'll all meet up soon.

After they left, Katie, Melia and I took a walk around the area in our newly purchased stroller.  (Cheaper and easier to buy one once we were here).


We may have ventured a little too far from the hotel, but we were able to eat some very authentic Chinese food tonight.  Can you see the picture in the lowest middle  Oh my!  What in the world is that?  It's looking at me!


No forks around here!  I had to feed my baby with chop sticks!  She really didn't seem to mind.


It's worth sharing that Melia has really taken a liking toward me.  (Ryan)  It is not uncommon for adopted children to favor one parent over another.  I have to admit that it's really fun to be the "favorite".  The cutest part is that she's been calling me "Ma Ma".  

Also, we continue to get big time looks and stares for the local Chinese folks around here.  One lady even stopped us in the middle of the street with wide eyes and said (quite loudly)  SHE'S CHINESE!  I thought for a moment she was going to call the police.  But then she smiled and said "Good for you".  Thank goodness she spoke English....  

Tomorrow should be interesting as we are going to venture on the Subway and attempt to go a Chinese Catholic Church service.   



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Presenting Melia Xin Ai Horner

Here she is:

We started out this morning around 8:45am and were driven to the Civil Affairs Office.  I was surprised that we were escorted to a tiny room that didn't even have a real door to the outside.  (See plastic strips hanging from the door frame.  We waited...  And waited..... and waited some more.


It's hard to entertain anxious kids for a long time, so we played Charades.  



Then we saw a minivan pull up right outside and we knew that something special was about to happen...



Suddenly in came a small child.



The first sight of our daughter was this very moment.  She had apparently been eating and the caretakers felt no need to wipe her mouth.  Cute....

First she was held by mom.  No tears, but she definitely looked stunned.


She quickly went to dad.  (Who she would later call Ma Ma ..... yes, things have already gotten confusing.  Hallie too, she called Ma Ma.)

Then, in came the kids to attack!  One big happy family!

She spent some special time with each of her brothers and sister.

Then we had to sign and fingerprint things to make it all official.

In no time at all, we even got a smile from her.  This is quite rare in this situation.  Clearly, this is one special little girl.

And then, she started all-out laughing!  What a sweet little voice.... and a great laugh!

Then we had to jump in the car to go to somewhere else and get the papers notarized and made more official.  


Then, she really won our hearts when she started giving out kisses.



Yep.  One big happy family right now!