Small steps...Taiwan journey

Small steps...Taiwan journey


This is the story of our lives, especially concerning adopting 3 siblings from Taiwan.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Well, our first week has been eventful and mostly oriented around survival: figuring out what foods they will eat, how to get to bed, and how to keep people happy. Han-han was the only one who loved Max from the start...this video of them watching him eat through the glass back door speaks volumes. They were plenty confident from behind the door. dog! Mei-Yun screamed and ran from him for days, so thankfully, a few days ago, Tom did some dog therapy and cured her. Now that we're all more comfortable, we're working on kind and appropriate treatment of animals.
Food is another biggie. I knew two of the kids ate pretty well, so I decided that rice with every meal could be the base and just change the toppings. So, now it is congee for breakfast (cooked rice plus more water to make a soupy porridge) with toppings they can't resist: mushrooms, seaweed and dried pork.
Dinner, rice with a few cooked veggies and a bit of chicken or fish. It's working!! Today, everyone had seconds of the congee, and every meal we're figuring out another vegetable they like. It's been a great influence on us. Tonight, it was rice, salmon, cooked broccoli and kale. Fruit is like dessert, so I've had to hide the bananas. Usually we're at the park for lunch, so bread and various finger foods...I'm feeling good about our progress on food!!
Language acquisition has been different than I expected...yes, it has only been a week, but they pretty much can be counted on to say: "thank you, amen, and good dog"...and sometimes "more please". We high five them for good English, so we're probably establishing an unchangeable pattern that will embarrass us all in the future. They definitely understand more than they speak. One hilarious experience was them being in their car seats and hearing our Simple Chinese for Adoptive Families cd and being SO happy. They repeated all of the Chinese phrases just beaming with perfect pronunciation, so really, they're learning English while we learn Chinese!
more on siblings, sharing and parents later.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Someone saved the BEST alaska weather just for me...sunny and clear, incredible fresh evergreen smells, every color of green. It has been amazing!! So glad we can be home to enjoy it. We came home to a gorgeously clean house complete with welcome signs and a Taiwan flag...SO nice! (thank you SO much good friends! Our first few days looked like this: Excitement about new rooms and beds: great at the regular stuff like toothbrushing mealtime is fine...try to have a few choices that I know will work (like rice or fruits or veggies I know they like, and then have a few other options to try. park outing every day and they've loved that: Bedtime has been the roughest. The goal has been to have everybody in their own room, whether it's on the floor or in bed. Since we got in at 1 am Thursday and are jet lagged, the last child was asleep by 5 am that day, 12:45 am the next day and 11:30 last night. Slow and steady. Mei-Yun goes to bed happily and falls right asleep. Han-han has always been in a crib, so more adjustment there...running around, testing his freedom. Usually a late night walk calms him down. We are just doing the basics: eating, playing, sleeping. That's been quite enough.

Friday, June 22, 2012

the play by play to HOME

At 9 am Wednesday morning, we got word that our visas would probably be DONE later in the day. The typhoon moved slower than forecasted, so offices were open (miracles #1 and 2). We repacked since our Yunlin County journey added MUCH to our store of stuff. We checked out of the hotel, headed to Han-han's old house to pass the day and wait. News at 1:30 that the visas were ready. LONG day of struggles with sharing, mostly Han-han since they had all been HIS toys. He finally fell asleep mid afternoon. We took a cab to the airport, checked in for our flight 3 hours early, and found a Hello Kitty nursing room where we spent the next 2 hours passing time (there were many visitors checking it out-hello kitty is BIG here). The kids were excited to get on the plane and handled things relatively well, aside from Mei-Yun who was already asleep. Finally at 1 am, I turned off tvs and hoped for sleep. They all slept, with han-han thrashing and pushing in ways that just don't suit airplane travel. He finally was able to sleep on the floor and maybe i got 3 hours of sleep on a 12 hour flight. The kids did better, probably 9-10 hours each. Tom was about 10 rows in front of me; at the end of the flight, Mei-Yun threw up-I'm not sure if it was motion or stress or crying, but not so pleasant. She was trying to move away constantly and ending up in the aisle. Off that plane, through immigration, last in line, missed flight to Anchorage. Miracle #3 (i know there were smaller ones along the way) was an Alaska Airlines employees getting us all on the same flight almost sitting together in serious record time. I had made numerous phone calls for hours each to try to accomplish what she did in 20 mintues. SO GRATEFUL...we were sure we'd be spending the night in Seattle and getting on a 6 am flight. Then AK Airlines employee #2 whisks me and the kids (while Tom finished payment etc) to the front of security and the gate. She was AWESOME and I really just felt like crying. I was so physically and emotionally spent and she did all the things a great parent would do...doing wheelies with the stroller, speaking in Japanese (haha) in a cheerful voice, getting them laughing. Weight OFF my shoulders. Tom made it on, switched seats and aside from SERIOUS fighting over the window seat and random crying and screaming the flight was uneventful and they all slept another hour or so (the kids don't look any worse for the wear, right?). Home...walk toward baggage, see Emma and Sam and just CRY. So happy to be home, to see them, to APPRECIATE friends who picked up, who videotaped. HOME...I was in such focus on finishing in Taiwan that I rarely thought of home.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

AIT and typhoon

Today was the AIT interview with its multitude of papers. It went without incident except for some health information that was different than any we'd seen before. We were told that the aforementioned machine didn't work (from a different post), meaning the visas would probably not be ready today; an additional wrinkle is that a typhoon is supposed to cross over Taiwan tomorrow which generally means government offices will be closed...leading to no visa and no going home on our flights. Call at 3:00 confirmed that visas would not be ready today. Another painful parting (for Mei-Yun) from Janet, our guide/helper who has assisted in many ways. We went to 228 Park for awhile where everyone got along swimmingly, then to Han-han's old house where we had lunch and played for the easier home base than the hotel room. Hui-li gave us an hour's respite, which was WELCOME and helped them take a "rest". She also helped with dinner, another painful parting, and we headed back to the hotel, where they took a bath. It had to be another first. They were completely insane. I know none of them have had bathtubs in their previous homes and finally Zhong-Lin had to get out because he was so hyped. We shaved three and 1/2 hours off our bedtime from last night...thank goodness!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

our children-or gotcha day as some call it!

wow, a whirlwind of events. we went to the various addresses in the county the kids were born with a translator. It was sobering to think of the tragedy that leads to no longer parenting one's children. We spent the night in Douliu, the county seat of Yunlin County, got up early and did AIT paperwork then walked around the old part of the city. At 1:30 we went to the county government offices, walked in and saw the kids eating lunch...yes, McDonalds!! Then to the press conference which was held in a small charming cafe available to county employees in a large complex of buildings. There was a table set with beautiful puppet dolls and various other decorations; I will admit that my first thought was that I hoped all of it wasn't for us. (because i just spent half the day sunday packing and cleaning in ZhongLi) There was also a little table set with tea and little cakes for all five of us. It was beautifully done. The press conference began with introductions and we were asked to share how and why we adopted three siblings. We were presented with the beautiful puppet dolls-one for each child plus Sam and Emma as well as many other gifts including a backhoe, large stuffed animal and blocks. Parting from the social worker was painful for Mei-Yun. she cried for 30 minutes in the car and would not be consoled; in fact, she cried louder and harder when we tried to comfort her. She eventually calmed down and within an hour they were all three asleep...a banner moment. Three hours to Zhongli, pick up our stuff, kids met John and Ching, which was fitting since they made such a wonderful trip possible. Long, emotional, dramatic and wonderful day. more pictures when i get them from other people.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

fast and furious

The days are coming fast and furious now!! We spent Thursday making MANY arrangements; Friday we stopped by Han-han's to return something. One of the first things he did was go to his room and get a plastic bag with his sandals inside. He brought them out and ceremoniously plopped them in Tom's duffle bag. Huili, his caregiver, said he knows he's leaving and is counting the days. Saturday we left early to take the train to Taichung where he met the older kids for the first time. They were ALL over him from the first moment they met him. Mei-Yun was back to her old self, hugging and wanting to be held. It was a day of lots of tiger, chasing and feeding them like mama birds feed their babies. They really took to him; Tsung-lin sat on his lap for 15 minutes...first I've seen him do that. He loved dressing up like Superman, strong and powerful. They were really hyped, and my guess is that they've had very little roughhousing from an adult figure; they were plenty tough fighters!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

dates and changes and miracles

Tom is back in Taiwan for the final arrangements. Yeah!!! He met Han-han on Wednesday, we spent the night with him and miracles were worked on Thursday. As it was on paper, we get custody of the kids on June 18 in their home county and then didn't have an AIT appointment (US Immigration) until June 25, then maybe not get visas til 28th or 29th. YIKES....8 days with 3 small children in a hotel with a language barrier...I DON'T THINK SO! Everyone seemed slightly baffled by my concerns, but we went to AIT two days in a row, begged and pleaded (in the most polite gracious way, of course) and were able to get our appointment changed to Tuesday the 19th. So, on to arranging flights which is taking hours also since I'm on a different class of tickets etc. Bottom line, we should be able to fly out on the 20th IF a certain AIT computer machine works on Tuesday. So, pray for that!! There was a big party for Han-han when we got there Wednesday, so after it was over, we spent the evening with a mom and her 5 y/o daughter who was in the same orphanage as Han-han (she also fostered him on weekends for 6 months). It was a blast watching them together. This is a video of them running around in Taipei Main Station. He would NOT cooperate for a picture. GOTOVIDEO and another one of them singing--we haven't seen him much with other kids, so extra fun!! GOTOVIDEO

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

the best advice

In the midst of our preparations to adopt, there was MUCH we did: documents and classes (hours of reading books, blogs and courses) associated with home study and dossier: fingerprinting, physicals, financial forms, 25 page parenting resource plan to show we had researched transracial, medical and older child adopton. Once that was done, there were other lists: trying to learn some Chinese, beds and space for new kids, new clothes, overhaul of house…cleaning, organizing, etc. (above, clothing purchased by the orphanage caregiver) Then there was the list for coming to Taiwan, what to pack-clothes, school related stuff, new kid clothes, gifts and donations, who to care for house and dog. I remember in the midst of all those lists emailing someone I found on a yahoo group who had also adopted siblings from Taiwan and asking her what advice she had in terms of preparing for having three new kids in our home. Her advice brought me back to reality in a different way: Pray for them! So simple, but profound. I had prayed for them, but as a point of preparation like all the other lists??? So we did pray for them by name daily in the time leading up to Taiwan and while here. We prayed they would be prepared to become part of a family, that they would feel peace and comfort. Back in February, I journaled about Isaiah 53:4, “surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” It is literal…he can, will, has borne our griefs. And during that first week of visits, I remember walking in Taipei thinking to myself: They have been prepared by Heavenly Father…they are ready.