Sunday, March 21, 2010

adoption day 3

It’s Sunday, and today we went to the Emperor’s Summer Palace. We took 2 subways, which I could write about for pages, and we finally arrived at the Summer Palaace after about an hour of travel time. We were supposed to have the van and driver today, but there was a mix-up of sorts; the van was booked up, and we decided to take subways instead. We went with Cheng’s parents again, and it was an amazing experience. More like how we envisioned China. Mostly Beijing looks like NYC, or any other major metropolis. Nothing special, and nothing ancient or Asian. However, the Summer Palace is a preserved tourist area, and it is like what you see on National Geographic. Again, the kids were just fabulous. John told us he’d been to the Summer Palace before. As David commented, we have less and less stock in all that we read to prepare for our adoptions. We were told that our children have probably never been out of the orphanage, would not know how to use a westernized toilet, and might have sensory adjustment issues. Too much stimulation might send them into crisis mode. We were told to be prepared for post-traumatic stress disorder, eat all meals in the hotel room, and not even let our own relatives come visit for several weeks after arriving home. Well, our two children already kn0w how to buy and use tickets to the subway, ride the escalators and elevators like pros, ran around the Summer Palace with no problem, and are knowledgeable about both restaurants and swimming pools. It’s great that the children in Beijing orphanages are not denied a normal existence, but after preparing for the worst, we find we have adopted normal, everyday kids. No special needs that we can ascertain, unless you count Ben’s endless energy. Everyone was almost asleep on the subway home (and John and Connor actually Were asleep), and Ben was still just wired for sound. We occupied him with the digital camera on the hour subway trip. He is still taking 100’s of photos a day, and now he knows how to zoom in and review the photos too. I have to tell you, it’s going to be a long, long trip home on the airplane if he won’t sleep. Ben reminds me of Austin, at age 6. For instance, when we were waiting for Cheng’s parents in the lobby of the hotel, Connor was sitting in a chair and Ben came over to him, stuck his butt in Connor’s face, and made a fart noise with his mouth. Then he laughed hysterically. Apparently, farts are funny to 6 year old boys no matter what language they speak! We went out to dinner with Cheng’s parents again, to an elegant restaurant lavishly decorated. Our room was separated from the main dining room by a curtain of beads. Again, the boys took it all in stride. They were exhausted by then, and Ben was starting to show signs of the grumps. He is a picky eater (only likes meat and rice) and he was starving, but all the dishes had vegetables as a main ingredient. John coaxed him into eating some of the dumplings finally. What a good big brother John is going to be. He is protective of Connor and Ben already, and he often puts his arm around one or the other to guide them through a crowd. He’s not much bigger than Connor, but it’s obvious that he’s almost 14 and probably took care of younger children at the orphanage. Speaking of orphanages, we knew that Ben had been raised in a foster home outside of Beijing, under the orphanage umbrella, but not actually in an orphanage.Yesterday Ben told Cheng’s dad and John (over and over and over again, until he could get them to understand) that he lived in a certain town outside of Beijing. It turns out that the foster home where he lived is way out in the country, which is why he has such a different accent. Honestly, Xiao and Cheng’s parents and John can’t understand Ben half of the time. Xiao said it would be similar to us talking to a black person from the ghetto. We would understand only about 50% of black vernacular. On the subway, a woman was trying to chat with Ben. After a few minutes of conversation, she said to him in English, “Do you speak Chinese?” Cheng’s dad answered by telling her that Ben doesn’t understand English, he is Chinese. The woman responded that he doesn’t speak Chinese either! In the afternoon, Ben and Cheng’s father were actually arguing about how to pronounce something (this is when Ben was getting cranky). Cheng’s father was trying to correct Ben’s pronunciation, and Ben was insistent on his own pronunciation, repeating it louder and louder. Xiao told us, “They are arguing over how to say something. But they are both wrong because Mr. Liang is from Lanzhou, and he has an accent, and Ben is from the country, and he has an accent. I am from Beijing area, the capital, so I say it right.” In Chinese, one word can mean 100 different things, depending on the tone in which it is said. There are only 400 words in Chinese (opposed to the minimum 10,000 words a normal English speaking person uses), and each time the meaning is determined by the accent and tone, so you can see why there might be misunderstandings. After dinner, Cheng’s parents took David out for a drink and to see Tiananmen Square at night. I stayed back with the boys and went to bed by 8p. David got back to the hotel about 11p, and we were both up for the day at 3:30am on Monday morning, which is why this entry is so long. This time change thing is a killer. It is now Monday morning, and today our adoptions become official. We can’t take them out of the country yet (they don’t have passports or visas yet), but they are legally ours today after we go to the Department of Civil Affairs and complete the paperwork. We also have to take Ben to the hospital to get his T.B. tine test.Oh boy, it's going to be a long day!

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