Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 4 He's Ours!!! Part 2

I decided to make this post two parts because there is so much to say and each detail is so emotional.  I hope you will be okay with all the details because as much as I may want to hide some of these things in my heart I also recognize that this is not my story to be told.  Yes, I may be walking through these scenarios but ultimately this is God's story and I hope He will be glorified by its telling...

Along with the letters from Jed's birth parents we also received letters from each member of the Foster family.  These letters touch my heart now just like they did the afternoon I read them in Hong Kong.  These letters express such joy for having been able to love Jed.  They wrote about how much fun it was to play with him and snuggle with him.  To have him crawl all the way to the oldest daughter's room and knock on the door until she opened it.   They wrote about how Jed is changing people's view of Down syndrome and adoption.  They also shared little things they will miss like Jed's little whisper babble when he first wakes up.  I have come to enjoy this too.  They do discuss the joy he brought them and how hard it is to say good-bye.  

I have tears in my eyes as I right this.  This family is amazing and was so perfect for Jedidiah.  You want to know my favorite part about this family?  They love Jesus!  It is so evident that they love and serve God.  Another answered prayer for us when we heard Jed might be going to a foster home.  God matched Jed with this family for a reason and I will forever be grateful for the love they poured out on our precious boy.  A boy that was introduced to the love of God by this great family.

That same afternoon Jed woke from his nap unsure of where he was and a little sad.  This was the first sign that he knew something had changed.  We comforted him and he seemed okay after a little while.  The sadness came and went that evening.  We decided to cancel our plans with the social worker and just take a walk to the mall and make it an easy night.  What the evening revealed in time was not unexpected.  Jedidiah  was grieving.

I knew this was coming.  I had had a conversation with Justine, another adoptive mom, who assured me that it was important for this to happen and that it would be okay.  So I prepared myself the best I could.  I was NOT prepared.

There was a period of about twenty minutes, that night, when Jed cried this quiet, deep, tear filled cry.  The pain and sadness on Jed's face ran deep.  He would look at me and bury his face in my chest to cry.  He would look up at Josh and do the same.   He did this multiple times.  I was so thankful that he found comfort in my arms.  During this time Josh and I made eye contact and we would start to cry.  We both felt it.  The helplessness, the loss, the pain.  He missed the only family he knew in the Fosters and it hurt so bad to see him like this.

I don't know that you can prepare for anything like this but I kept thinking about my conversation with Justine and remembered something Joanie, another recent adoptive mom, said about her daughter's sadness.  Joanie wrote about not letting her baby girl cry alone.  Joanie was going to assure her daughter that she was there for her and so she held her while she cried.  We did that!  We held him, loved him, affirmed his pain and let him know we loved him and would take good care of him.  That was a hard twenty minutes!

After this difficult time we changed Jed for bed, I gave him a bottle and after he fell asleep I lay him in his crib for the night.  I was so glad he was able to sleep.  Sleep is really important after a long day like this one.  Josh and I decided to do the same.  After all it had been a very long day.

I did realize something important after going through this with Jed though.  This time allowed us a chance to bond because the three of us where going through it together.  I believe the fact that all three of us stood there is part of what made Jedidiah so close to both of us.  Our social worker made a comment about how most children will attach to one parent.  I'm so thankful something beautiful came out of this time.

Because I don't want to leave you on a sad note, I will tell you that Jed never cried like that again.  He did have a few sad moments when he first woke up and had to remember things were different.  Here is a picture of Jedidiah playing on one of the beds in our hotel room.  (No we did not ask for separate beds but we didn't feel like dealing with a room change since we had arrived so late that first night and just wanted to sleep.)

I would like to leave you with the verse Jed's foster mom put in her letter to him...

"Surely God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;  he has become my salvation."  Isaiah 12:2

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 4 He's Ours!!! Part 1

This morning Josh and I woke and fulfilled the same routine of getting ready, going to Starbucks and chatting with the girls.  The only thing that would change about this routine tomorrow is Jedidiah will be joining us.  We would soon be a trio.

I was taking each moment at a time having an idea of what this day would hold because being at the Fosters the day before made things seem a little familiar.  I was as ready as could be.  We have waited, almost two years from the start of this process and about nine months since we first saw Jed's picture, for this moment to come.  These last nine months have been the hardest to wait.

We made sure that we were on time this morning because we did not need a repeat of the day before.  As we headed out for this trip that would change the rest of our lives, I was excited when our social worker suggested we take the bus this time so we could see more of the country.  Josh and I loved the idea and I'm so glad we did this!  Our social worker shared some cool history about Hong Kong, showed us the lion head at the top of Lion Rock Mountain, shared the story behind the rock that looks like a lady with a child on her back -- The legend is a woman's husband was lost at sea so everyday she went to the top of the mountain with her son on her back to look for him.  Everyday she went up and everyday she went down with no view of her husband.  Her heartache was so great that she only made it up the mountain one more time before she froze. -- We also got to see the beautiful green mountains that are hard to see in the city because of all the big buildings.  Here are a few pictures from our ride.  These are not that great but at least it's something.

Lion Rock Mountain

Our bus ride ended and we made the same short walk to the Fosters.  We walked past the two guard stands, went up the elevator and rang the doorbell.   The door opened and we were greeted with the same kindness as the day before.  I can't recall the immediate details but I  do remember, at one point, it was time for Jed to have a bottle and I offered Mrs. Foster this last feeding.  There were lots of watery eyes this morning as we talked, knowing what was coming.  Jed needed a diaper change and I had the chance to change my sweet boy for the first time.  Mrs. Foster was gathering things from here and there, like a mama does, to make sure we had everything we needed.  I saw the sadness on her face and it was so hard to be so thrilled for us yet so heartbroken for this family.  We took a picture of the four "parents" and it was obvious that good-byes were coming but no one wanted to initiate this next step.  I think I may have finally asked our social worker if it was time to go.  She said yes and Jed began his round of good-bye hugs and kisses with the Fosters while I put the Bijorn on and we all gathered up the last of Jed's items.  I watched every face as each person said good-bye.  It was so hard to watch but I wanted to remember the love they had for him.  I hugged the Fosters, teary eyed now, actually trying not to loose it, and took Jed from Mrs.Foster, a woman who will forever have a place in my heart.  This woman and family went through so much with Jedidiah and did so much for him!  She was there when he had his heart surgery, made sure he had all his medications, took him to countless doctor appointments, and so much more.  She was his mama at heart!  She loved him!  They all loved him!  Thank you Fosters for taking such great care of our precious boy!!!

Now was the hardest part of the morning...walking out the door and knowing that we could not have contact with the Fosters for six months.  Walking out the door with a boy who was leaving a family behind.  Jed was secure in the Bijorn and by now every eye was wet.  We waved one last good-bye and left.

By the time we were out of the building and walking towards the train station I was feeling a lot, but mostly I felt at peace.  It was hard to say good-bye but Jedidiah was our son and we were ready to have him in our family.  Jed was really doing well.  He was quiet for a little while but soon became his chatty self during lunch after he saw himself in a mirror.  We assured him that the boy in the mirror was coming too.  We had a great lunch with our social workers.  They introduced us to milk tea, in my opinion this is like the Chinese version of horchata.  It was yummy!

So much went on during the afternoon hours that Josh and I can't remember what order things went in but that really doesn't matter over all.

That afternoon we met with someone from the Social Welfare Department in Hong Kong so they could give us some documents.  When we found out about this appointment that morning.  We also learned we would receive a letter from Jed's birth parents written to Jed (Ho Tin), and had been looking forward to reading it all day.  What we didn't know was that along with these letters came a beautiful gift box filled with gifts from Jedidiah's birth parents.  We were definitely emotionally overwhelmed.  We signed all the forms said good-bye to everyone and sat to look through everything again and read the letters.

Inside this box was a framed photo of Jedidiah's birth parents, a photo album containing memories from the first days of his life, a necklace with Jedidiah's given name, Ho Tin Pan, and his parents' names engraved on it, a jade bracelet that belonged to his mother and a blue jacket that also had Ho Tin Pan and his birth parents names sewn onto it and a pack of toy cars, a gift from them for his first birthday.  These gifts are a treasure!

Then we read the letters and we both cried.  They wanted their boy!   Here is one short piece from their first letter, "I visited your Mom and went to the ward to see you.  We both cried.  We could not notice anything wrong from your appearance.  But the truth is cruel.  We visited you everyday and fed you.  We were reluctant to give you up (we had no other alternative but to leave you in Hong Kong)."  They go on to explain that because of their situation they could not afford to take care of his heart condition and since they live two hours from the hospital they could not get there in time if something were to happen.  They chose life for their son!  I am so thankful!  They also asked for their sons forgiveness for the decision they made.

The second letter was for Jed's 1st Birthday.  They again wrote about why they left him in Kong Kong and how sad they are about the situation.  They expressed a desire to know how he is doing so their minds could be at ease.  They explained why they chose his name, Ho Tin meaning "blessed by God and recovery from the illness".  We have decided that Jedidiah Nathan's full name will now also include Ho Tin.  We want to honor his birth parents for not only the sacrifice of giving up their child but the pure love behind the act.  Josh and I plan to write them a letter in six months and detail all God has done even before baby Jedidiah Nathan Ho Tin Weitzman was born because it's a beautiful story these two people should be a part of!

Jedidiah will one day know that his birth parents are incredible people. Josh and I also hope that someday we will have the opportunity to meet them and introduce them back to their son.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 3 We Meet Jedidiah!

This morning started out as usual, well Hong Kong usual, with a trip to Starbucks and the morning chat with the girls.  Hannah asked about the Baby Boy and we told her we would see him today.  The girls wanted to see him so badly and I wanted Hannah to see us with Jed so she would know that our words were true.  We left her behind to go get the Baby Boy.  Baby Boy was and is still Hannah's favorite name for Jed.  It's funny because no matter how many times we tried to tell Hannah his name is Jed she always responded with, "No Baby Boy".  The only way we got her to attempt his name was to say that he is Baby Jed.

The plan was to meet with the social workers in the lobby at 10am.  We had an agenda with times and places we would be going each day.  So we kept the conversation short with the girls and went back to our room for the Bijorn-so excited to need this again-and went downstairs to wait.  A few minutes after 10 I was a little concerned that no one was there because you would think that this would be something important enough to be on time to, right?   I decided to ask the front desk if we had any messages because for some odd reason Josh and I thought there was no phone in our room-there was- and so we thought the only way for us to get a message was for them to leave it at the front desk.

I am so glad I asked!!!  Let me just pause to say that this was the Lord's leading because as it turned out we were supposed to meet the social workers at 9am not 10am.  The note stated that they had waited 20 minutes and decided to go back to the office.  My heart sank.  So many thoughts ran through my mind but all I could do was ask the front desk lady to please call them for us.  It wasn't long before they returned and I apologized  to them about hundred times for our mistake.  These ladies were so understanding and it didn't seem to bother them.

We finally set out on our walk, through the busy streets of Hong Kong, to the train station where we would start our journey toward Jed.  I tried to get a picture of the view of the train from our seat but this picture does not do it justice.  The train looked like it went for a mile.  It looked really cool.

Here we are taking the train on our way to meet Jed!  Since I'm not good at hiding what I feel it is clear by this next picture that I was feeling both happy and nervous for what the next hour would bring.

I wondered if Jed would like us?  Would he recognize us from the video?  Would he cry?  Would he let us hold him?  I also wondered what his foster family would think of us.  It kind of felt like meeting the In-Laws for the first time or having your parents meet your finances parents.  You get the point. I wanted Jed's current family to feel good about us and be assured in their hearts that we were the best for Jed.

We finally got off the last train and entered a mall that lead us to the street where Jed lived.  I don't know how to explain what I felt as we walked closer to Jed.  It was like I had no feelings but at the same time I had so many, it was just tucked away because I did not want to walk in with any expectations.  That's the best way I can explain it.

We walked past not one but two security guards before we made the elevator ride to Jed's floor.  As we neared the door one of the social workers asked us if we were ready.  I wish I could tell you that I screamed with utter joy, "YES OF COURSE WE CAN"T WAIT!!!!" but all I did was shrug and say yes.  The doorbell was pushed and I could hear the quiet noise inside.  When the door opened I could not see Jed so I peered around until I saw him laying in his foster mom's lap.

Can I just tell you this was a very awkward moment.  There was our son in the arms a woman I have never met and now I am in her home with her family all around, two social workers and the foster care worker.  The up side to having all these people around was having people to take pictures of all that went on while we marveled at our sweet boy.

Jed woke up pretty quickly and snuggled into his foster mom's chest for love.  I knew that watching Jed love his family so much was going to be the hardest part of the trip.  Not because I was jealous but because separating them from Jed would be so sad.  I will talk more about this another time.  Jed's foster mom came over to us pretty quickly so we could have the opportunity to meet our son.

Because I have to be very careful not to show Jed's face I can't show you all the first's (first picture, first time we held him etc. because he is looking at the camera).  So without further ado here are some of our first moments with Jed.

I look like I am making a big commotion but really I was just saying Hi.

It is so hard to love someone so much yet need to be reserved with our affections because the reality was Jed really didn't know us and although we could have easily grabbed him and lived happily ever after Jed needed us to move slowly into his world.  Well as slowly as you can in a day.

I think this picture better describes what we were feeling...complete joy mixed with uncertainty for what to do next.

We eventually moved to the couch and began having more conversation with everyone in the room.  The conversation at this point was soley focused around Jed.

This is me waiting for Jed to feel comfortable enough to let me hold him.  I grabbed a toy so unsure of myself and what I was doing, hoping it would attract Jed's attention.  Honestly there is no way to plan an experience like this.  No way to set up a perfect scenario.  Especially when your embracing a 14 month old.

As I remember and write about these days my heart is so full of emotion.  This day reminded me of what tomorrow would hold for Jed, both the joy and pain that would come with it.

Here is Josh trying to get his first hug from Jed.  We do not have a picture of this but just like with each one of ours girls Josh got to have the first kiss with Jed.

We knew the girls would want to see Jed so we asked Jed's foster family if we could FaceTime them.  They graciously said yes.  So here we are talking with the girls and bringing them into our first encounter with Jed. The girls smiles were priceless!

As our visit continued we became very comfortable with the Fosters (this is what I will call Jed's foster family for the rest of my posts since I can't use their names).  They are a great family and their children are so sweet.  It was very clear that Jed was very loved by everyone in this family.  We decided to go out for lunch and I am so thankful the Fosters were able to join us.  I was hoping to have an opportunity to get to know them a little more.  We went out for Chinese food-imagine that-HeHe.

Josh found it interesting that instead of just saying were going to eat at the restaurant across the street, assuming chinese food would be eaten, they labeled the restaurant like we label Mexican food or Italian food.  It seemed strange since we were in China and when we go out for burgers we don't say, "Let's go get some American food tonight."  Their son even exclaimed, "I love Chinese food!"

We had so much fun with the Fosters, the social workers, and of course Jed.  He was so much fun to watch and I got to feed him.  It was like I was getting a new doll at five years old.  We do have pictures of our meal together but again Jed's sweet face is too clear in these photos so all I can show you is what we ate.  Please don't ask me to name anything on this table because I have no idea.  Thankfully the social workers ordered for us so all we had to do is eat (after asking what each item was).

The Fosters were great too.  We had such great conversations and throughout lunch I realized more and more how God answered my prayers.  When I first heard that Jed might end up with a foster family I prayed that they would be a family that looked like us.  By this I mean have kids our girls' ages, speak English and most importantly love the Lord and attend church.  Not only did everyone of these prayers get answered but Jed's foster mom and I have similar hair and skin coloring.  Josh and the foster dad both have gotees and are tall and slender.  As we got to know this family I felt like we were looking through a mirror and the reflection was so familiar.  It was very apparent that the Fosters have a huge heart for kids with special needs.  I really love this family and hope to stay in touch!  (We are not allowed to have contact with them for six months for various reasons.)

After lunch we walked back to The Fosters' home, took some pictures of us all together, gathered Jed's huge suitcase and said good-bye for the night.  You may think it was hard for me to return Jed to the Fosters after spending some time with him but it wasn't.  Honestly I felt no rush to get Jed because I knew that tomorrow he would be ours and this would be the last night the Fosters would have with him.  I wanted them to have this night.  This last night of rocking him, feeding him, watching him play, listening to him babble and getting as many sweet baby snuggles before they had to say good-bye.  I wanted the night to move slowly because the pain of tomorrow was going to come no matter what.  We would be back to pick Jed up and that would be it for them.  I put myself in their shoes and I ached for them.

We left the Fosters home full of what we experienced.

You might assume that after such a morning and afternoon our day would be over, but no it wasn't.  We decided to check out the Ladies Market, a shopping area similar to what LA locals know as "The Alley".   To make this trip more exciting we rode on top of the double decker bus.  It was so fun and we had a great view of all the businesses below.

The Ladies Market was both stressful and very fun.  I loved the busyness of it but hated the bargaining.  I was informed that bargaining was expected and so I should ask to pay half of whatever I price I was quoted.  My first purchase was a mustard yellow purse that I really like and almost didn't get except the lady at this store was so persistent, she literally took my hand and brought me back to the store so we could discuss lowering the price.  My walking away was not an indication of wanting a lesser price but rather a decision that I did not want to pay what she was asking.  She then lowered the price again and we payed for the purse and went on our way.  A few blocks down our social worker said her good-bye and we were on our own. I am proud to say that we bargained well and got some great fun items to bring home.  The problem with bargaining is 1) I don't want to cheat the seller and 2) I don't want to be cheated.  See my dilemma.  Here is one more photo of a street near the market.  Who ever told me Hong Kong was like New York on were more than right.

After such a long day and an eventful shopping trip, Josh and I headed back to the hotel.  We decided to walk the busy streets and enjoy the warm evening in Hong Kong.  It was a good decision!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 2 A Day to Ourselves

On Monday morning Josh and I woke up to a day that would be spent on our own.  We decided to get ready and head over to Starbucks for breakfast and to FaceTime the girls.  We spent some time looking at a map and decided to go see Kowloon Park, which was just down the street from our hotel.  Before I say anything else let me say that the weather in Hong Kong is different from what we are used to in Carpinteria.  The humidity is not a new thing but coupled with the extreme heat it makes for one hot sticky day.  Thankfully we had a great amount of cloud cover because when the sun did hit us it felt like it would burn through our skin. (Mom-yes I wore sunscreen the whole week:)  Josh even made a comment about why anyone would want to visit the sauna in our hotel when all they have to do is go outside to get the same effect.  Yep, we picked one of the two hottest months to be in Hong Kong but it was all worth it...

The street our hotel was on (it's on the right with the rippled windows)...

Kowloon Park

The first thing I loved about this park was the five pools they had spread out in this one area.  It was really cool and looked so refreshing.  The other thing that stood out was the gorgeous green of all the tress and plants.  The grounds were well taken care of and the climate, in Hong Kong, ensured a beautiful view from any direction once inside.  We found a rooftop garden that was empty except for one a gardener who was checking out the grounds.

As we walked around the park we found some beautiful ponds, a play ground that any child would love and we stumbled across an old fort with canons and stone walls used to protect the land back in the day.

While walking through this beautiful garden we found a foot bridge that lead to a beautiful view of the bay and we could see Hong Kong Island perfectly.  

We also saw some amazingly tall building being built on the opposite side.  Hong Kong has a VERY dense population and is not big enough to house everyone without building up.  And when I say up I mean up! 

These buildings are so tall and each one houses so many people it makes me claustrophobic just thinking about it.  The reason behind the density is due to the fact that Hong Kong is run separate from China even though in 1997 it became a part of China again after being a part of Britain for some time. I won't dare say more than this because I am no expert on this topic.

I would like to pause from the city to say that even though we had plenty to do on our own Jed was definitely on our minds.  We knew it would only be one more day until be met Jed and honestly the realization that a new little one was becoming our responsibility made me really want to enjoy these few days with just Josh.  I also had to keep in mind that tomorrow was only a visiting day.  We would get to spend a few hours with Jed and then he would have one more night with his foster family.  So even though I have not mentioned him much, in this post, we knew that he was the reason we had this privilege of touring Hong Kong.

Now for a few fun things we saw and did in Hong Kong...

We noticed that the construction workers use bamboo as scaffolding!!!  Check this out!

We found a very fancy mall, Harbor City, with a whole section of baby stores like Baby Dior-I'm not kidding-, Armani Junior, Burberry Kids, Gucci kids and so many more like this.  Josh and I didn't recognize half these stores, probably because we will never have the opportunity to shop at one.  I've added a few pictures so you will believe me.  Do you see the little mannequins?

Before heading back to our hotel for the night we stopped at this yummy bakery for dinner!  The food was so good!  Josh had a good time in this place.  Can you see the smile on his face.

This was our dinner.  So good!

Tomorrow we meet Jedidiah!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 1 Travel

I have wanted to write this down for days now but have struggled to find the energy to do so.  Jedidiah had his first nights sleep last night so I think my mind is ready for this...or not, we shall find out.

I have become very aware that I am not the best communicator.  Both my written and verbal expression are any thing but poetic and sometimes I feel like I am no longer capable of using big words. (Being a stay at home mom can rob you of such things;)  Nonetheless I find writing helps me process experiences better and release feelings I have been holding on to.  I find freedom in getting the information stored in my head out.  All this to say that I may never fully be able to convey the depth of all that took place in Hong Kong, with it's roller coaster of emotions and all the experiences we had while there, but I will write it down anyway.  I want these memories saved for later when ten years down the road I want to remember those precious details we may have forgotten.  So with all that said here we go...

Our journey started June 30, 2011 when we said good-bye to the girls at 9:30am and headed to the airport. (Mia thanks again for the ride-that was a huge blessing! And it was nice to catch up a little too!)  We arrived four hours early and were checked in and ready to board with three hours to spare.  Josh and I walked around the airport for a while just to get some exercise and tire out our legs since we would be sitting for close to 16 hours.

Once on the plane I looked at Josh and we both felt it, the reality that we were finally on our way to get our son.  It was really happening, wow!  The flight was loooooong and I will leave it at that.  Once we landed in Hong Kong, after a short stop and plane change in Taipei, everything just seemed to flow.  We arrived at 11:30pm so no one was able to pick us up so we just took things step by step and before we knew it we were in a taxi on our way to the hotel.  Let's talk about this taxi ride for a second.  First it was very startling when your driver is on the wrong side of the road and you find out that is the right side after all.  This taxi driver drove like we were in a pin ball machine driving quickly and not slowing much for curves yet we never hit anything.  This man should be a race car driver, really!

The other thing that shocked us about this ride too was it only cost $7.00!  Half a mile will cost you that in the US.

After gathering our luggage we checked in to The Kimberly Hotel, unpacked and went to sleep.

Tomorrow would be Monday and we would be on our own to tour this place our son called home.