Gettin’ to know Max

We have learned so much about Max in just the few short days we have had him in our arms. I feel like each day we are learning more and more about him….from his dislikes to his very playful personality!

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For example, the first day I was so overwhelmed and TIRED. I felt like the jet lag didn’t catch up to my until after gotcha day, which is not necessarily good. This has led to tears and a lot of stress. Even though I didn’t give birth to Max, at times, I feel a lot like I did after having Landon: overwhelmed. Each day has gotten a little better though and we are slowly “learning” each other. This is the little sheet the orphanage gave us on gotcha day…

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Yeah, that is pretty much all we had to go on, and since he was only at the orphanage for 3 days before we got him, this probably isn’t all that accurate. Right after we picked up Max, our guide took us to the Walmart to get some formula and rice cereal….the same Walmart I shopped at several times before :) Here are the instructions for the formula:

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Try reading THAT! Ya’ll I can barely remember any of the Chinese characters and our guide didn’t understand me when I asked how to make it. By the second day I figured out how he likes it and he has downed quite a few bottles since then. It is strange to me that Max still drinks a bottle with formula,even though he is almost two, but hey he also likes it STEAMING hot! Do I test the temp. on my wrist? Uh, no, I don’t want to get burned.

Let me tell you, this boy can DOWN some food, especially rice. It is so funny to me because he eats his rice just like all Chinese – really fast and with the bowl close to his mouth. He also does an awesome Asian squat. You can tell this boy is 100% Chinese and I LOVE it!

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Sleep has been difficult and easy. Easy, because once he is out,he is OUT. Because his hearing is very limited, Dave and I don’t have to be quiet when he is sleeping. I think this is also what helps him to sleep so soundly. The first day he went to sleep so easily. I just put him in the crib and he didn’t make a peep…just fell right to sleep for a good 10ish hours. Yeah, that totally gave us the wrong idea and we did not expect how difficult it is now to get him to go to sleep. Our little guy has a TON of energy and I think he has a lot of sensory overload right now. Combine that with being an almost 2 year old, being stuck in a small hotel room, not being able to understand mommy and daddy and it is a recipe for a few tantrums at bedtime. Because we are still attaching, it is best to not leave him in his crib crying until he falls asleep. Dave and I have been putting him in the middle of our bed and just letting him flail his arms, kick his legs, and scream until he gets so tired he falls asleep. We try to rub his arms and head to soothe him. This probably lasts about 10-20 minutes and then in a matter of a few seconds he is OUT. It is crazy how fast he can go from being so upset to falling into a deep sleep. This really has been one of the most difficult times. Other than being made to go to sleep, he is so happy and smiles a ton!!

When he first smiled at us, I thought he was about to cry because his bottom lip sticks out and he gets this mad look but breaks out into a smile/laugh. It is the cutest!

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So far, his favorite time of the day is bath time! He absolutely loves it. He was even trying to get in with his clothes on the other day. He must have watched his foster mom clean a lot because he always takes rags or tissues and pretends to clean – he spent a lot of time in the tub “cleaning” it. He has also “folded” clothes with me and likes to pretend to make food with this eating utensils. All of these are good signs that he has had a lot of interaction! I even caught him today turning on the tv and switching the channels! He was watching it like he understood everything going on.

As you can tell, he imitates us a lot. The day after we got Max,we had to go back to the gotcha day location to sign papers saying we will adopt Max. We were pointing and talking and so he decided to do the same. It makes sense,the documents were about him! He started babbling and pointing like he knew everything about what we were doing.

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Even though he cannot talk, he sure knows a lot about the world.As far as I can tell, he is not behind developmentally and is very smart. Just yesterday we were getting ready to leave the room and he went to go and get the Ergo baby carrier for me to take with us!

He can actually hear really loud noises. If we say his Chinese name, which is Xi Guo Ping, really loudly he will turn towards us. He also gets excited when he hears loud music/sounds. We think this is a really good sign for him being a candidate for the hearing aid he might get!

We are getting ready to leave Kunming, which is now a special city to our whole family! We head to Guangzhou for a little over a week before we can come home.Stay tuned for a post about the orphanage visit!

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Gotcha Day … Tricia’s Experience.

At 2:30 this afternoon we had some pretty excited faces! Here we are sitting in the hotel waiting to drive to meet Max for the first time.

 

IMG_0173I know you must be curious about how our “Gotcha Day” went.  There  is really no single word to describe it. I have watched gotcha day videos, read a ton of books/blogs about it, attended adoption training. All of this these gave me an idea of how this special day might go, but I did not realize that each one is a unique experience. It is a lot like having a biological child , because no matter how much preparation and reading and training you do, the contractions aren’t always 5 minutes apart, your water might break before the hospital or maybe, just maybe, you might go past that due date.

Ya’ll, today was so so so hard, but amazingly beautiful all bundled up together. We went to an apartment building (I was expecting some kind of government building) and walked in to two rooms full of kids of all ages. They were being united with their families who had traveled to China from all over the world, not just America. Some were crying tears of grief and some were full of smiles.

And then I saw him. Our Max. He was grieving hard…I looked into his eyes before holding him and I knew right then and there that he had been through way too much for any almost 2 year old. He told me with those big brown eyes and through many, many tears that he had been hurt by this world one too many times. My heart broke,but understood, when he pushed me away. I cried inside as he wept. I began to feel hope as his deep stare and beautiful eyes watched me intently as I stepped a few feet away to sign some papers.
For a brief second I thought to myself “I can’t do this, I can’t take him away from all he has ever known.” And that is when I knew I HAD TO. Something kicked in and I knew at that moment I would do everything, with God leading, to help mend his broken little heart. I would FIGHT for him to have a future, a future not like his beginnings.

My precious little one, I know this world will fail you. I know at times we will fail you. But know this, we will ALWAYS love you and you will ALWAYS be our son. And most importantly Jesus loves you. Welcome to the family Timothy Max Eshleman !image

 

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Expect the unexpected….Dave’s experience

So after talking to Trish I decided to post my experience and perspective of Gotcha day. The day started off early as neither Trish or I could sleep. After breakfast and getting our bags ready to meet Max we went out walking around Kunming and got lunch at place called Salvador’s – it was very cool. I would compare it to a Starbucks atmosphere but better.

Then we headed back to the hotel to clean-up and meet Paul (our guide). It took us about 30mins to get to the building where we would meet our precious lil son. We were so excited, like the day Landon was born. Trish and I walked into one room, following Paul, but Max was not there so we were taken to a second room where he was waiting for us.

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As soon as we saw him our hearts just were torn. He looked so sad and afraid. I cannot imagine the emotions that must have been running through his mind. Trish went to hold him but he turned away and started crying……so heartbreaking for us to see him and know he didn’t know what was going on. Pretty much right after that I was taken away to a table near by to begin signing and completing a bit of paperwork…..

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I had read and seen videos of different Gotcha Day experiences. The training and preparation that we went through told us not to have high expectations but I didn’t expect this. It was really hard for me because all I wanted to do was begin bonding with Max with Trish but couldn’t. It didn’t make sense to me after just taking what seemed like a glimpse of Max I had to go do paperwork. It felt very rushed and just not part of the Gotcha Day experience I prepared myself for. I was expecting to be with Trish and Max, not off doing paperwork :(

After all the paperwork for that day was signed/fingerprinted we left to go to Walmart and pick up a bottle, formula and some more socks (for Max, not Tricia ;)) Let me tell you, this Walmart was off the chain!! It had at least 3 floors from the ones we were on and lots and lots of people. Trish and I received lots of stares, some smiles and some not so nice due to having Max. It made us really sad.

Then we went back to our hotel and played with Max. It was really exciting to finally be able to see Max and his little personality. Trish and Max were bonding so well and I could tell that he was attaching to her really well!! This was a huge praise. BUT it was also very hard for me. We were not really bonding….he did not want me to pick him up and hold him. Max would begin to cry if I tried so I stopped trying.

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So….instead we began to play with a few toys we brought. Some of which were and still are Landon's….haha, but he will be learning how to share soon enough :) However, right before we went to dinner Max let me get close to him to give him a hug….totally made all that I had been through ALL day worth it!!!!!

Trish and I decided to go back to the same place we went the night before with Paul, Jim and Lisa. It was so much fun and tasty :) By the way, I have been using chopsticks every chance I get and am getting much better. At the end of this trip I should be good enough to catch a fly with them on my first try!! MAYBE :) After dinner we headed back to the hotel for Max's bedtime. Trish got him ready and was holding onto him and cuddling. I came and sat down next to them. I prayed for us and while I was praying he grabbed my shirt and pulled me closer to him…..PRICELESS!!

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God is sooo BIG!!! Although there are times we have disappointments He reminds us that we need to completely TRUST Him. He is a sovereign God who wants us to come to Him with everything in our lives….the big and the small. How AWESOME is that?!?! That He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him….that’s where we will find our ultimate satisfaction. It is for our good and His glory!

Trish and I cannot wait to see Landon meet Max and Max meet Landon via Facetime :) Hopefully coming soon!

Now it’s my turn….

So the time has come for me to finally post on our blog. Trish has done an amazing job putting this together and I am so proud of her. Two words summed up our trip to China…I’m tired. The 26 hour trip was quite exhausting but well worth the journey. Once we got to our hotel the first thing we wanted to do was not sleep but take showers. I felt bad for all of the Chinese people that had to be around us, yikes!! As Landon would say with mommies help, “daddy you stinky”. Oh how we miss our little boy so much but know he is in good hands!

We finally got to bed around 2:00am and I got up around 9am. Trish was already up for 30mins or so posting on the blog. We got ready and went down to breakfast where we met another couple, Jim and Lisa who are adopting from Kunming too.

After breakfast we met our guide Paul and did some touristy things around Kunming. We had the chance to go to a lot of places Trish went to when she was in China for a year learning Mandarin. It was exciting to visit these places as these are dear to her heart. It also gives me a small glimpse of what it must have been like while she was here.

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I must say that some of my favorite things about today were the people. Everywhere we went they wanted to get my autograph….they thought that I was apart of the BackStreet Boys. I almost had to break out in a song…okay, so that’s not true however we did receive lots of smiles and looks. Especially Trish with her “robot boot”. It was quite comical. We came across some kids along a sidewalk that were playing and they jumped up pointing and smiling at us. They were saying “hello” and “bye” it was really fun to see their excitement.

I am really enjoying the culture. There are so many people in Kunming (approx 4 million) and it’s been really fun being the minority. I’m saying small phrases in Mandarin, such as Ni Hao (which means hello) and Xie Xie (which means thank you). It’s amazing how difficult this language is….but I really like seeing the Chinese Characters all over the place. I just wished I knew what they all said.

Well, coming to China has given me quite an appreciation for their authentic Chinese food!! Sorry Pei Wei, PF Changs, local Chinese store down the street that should be shut down….”real” Chinese food is amazingly good!! Now I’m sure you’re wondering or asking yourself….dave don’t tell me you like the weird stuff like chicken head, congeilled blood, etc. Well, I can’t tell you I like those delicacies (sidenote: I have not tried those….yet) but I have tried cow stomach, chicken tendon from the foot…or was it cow tendon. hmm, I can’t remember either way I wasn’t much of a fan however the rest of the food so far has been really good. Below are some pictures from lunch and dinner our first day eating out.

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Here is a group photo from dinner:

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Let’s just say…dinner was unbelievably terrrrific!! It was soooo good. There were so many platters of food on a turn table that you could just move around between everyone at the table. Whoever came up with this idea was a genius!

Well after dinner we walked around a little more and then headed back to the hotel to crash. We are super tired but even more thrilled that we will be meeting Max TOMORROW!!!!!!!! How cool is that?!?!? Landon is going to have a lil brother!

Ya’ll it’s getting really late and I should be getting to bed now but I have to finish this post with one last thought…..God is so BIG. It’s a theme that Trish and I have been talking about the past month or so through this adoption journey. Many do not know that at first I wasn’t so sure about adopting a child with special needs. I just thought of how are we going to be able to provide for this little one…will we have the money and resources? Well, my amazing wife is so patient, understanding and godly. She told me something that I pray I will never forget. It went something like, “There are a lot of orphans in the world both “healthy” and not. Many children that are adopted are healthy but I feel God is calling us to adopt a child with special needs because God loves these little ones JUST AS MUCH as the healthy ones.” So I asked her that she would pray for The Lord to change my heart as did I….and well He did. I looked past the unknowns of financial costs, worry over family dynamics, the hardships that we “might” have, etc…

Just like God’s love for us. He loves each and everyone of us. No matter our skin color, nationality, ethnicity, healthy, etc. It is truly amazing that God would show His love for us by sending Jesus Christ to die on a cross to save us from our sins. That is why we chose to adopt. Not only to show love on a child and bring him or her into our home but also to show symbolically how God has adopted us into His family because of Christ’s work on the cross for those who believe. What a perfect example! There is nothing we have done to merit or earn God’s love or favor toward us just like Max has not done anything for us to love him. We chose him because we wanted him…just like God chose us because He wants us.

Well, tomorrow is the BIG day….time to try to get some sleep!!

Goodbye Raleigh..Hello Kunming

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The day has finally come- we are waiting to board our plane that will take us to Detroit and on to our son’s first home – Kunming, China. I have so so much to write about, so this might be the longest post yet.

Here is a “brief” recap of the last two days:

On Thursday, we said goodbye to Landon for 19 days. This will be the longest we have been away from him and we were both pretty emotional. We know he will have so much fun with Dave’s side of the family in NY, he will be well taken care of and we hope to Skype with him often. Although we knew all of these things, worries still filled my mind the day he left, such as “what if he feels replaced by Max?”or “what if he thinks we have abandoned him?” Even though these worries might creep up again, right now I feel so peaceful about where he is (thanks to a lot of prayer and encouragement from friends). I know God is much bigger than my worries and He knew, way before we did, that this day would come. We do miss him terribly, but he has and always will be in God’s hands (and those are much safer than mine, I might add). I have taken comfort in this so many times past year when I have wanted to protect and care for Max.

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The morning before Landon left for New York, he immediately woke up, packed his little suitcase with his blanket and all of his pacifiers, as well as a pair of his new undies. Way to remember to pack the underwear! I thought he was still sleeping, and when I went to his room to get him, he was standing at the door saying “mommy, I ready to go on airplane with you and daddy now”. THAT did not help this emotional mommy. Our sweet boy will get to ride on an airplane in a few weeks, but it will be for about 2 hours, not 20+ hours.

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Now on to the “robot “boot”…..

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Yep, I have to wear that thing for the next 4ish weeks. If any of you have been to China, you know it is not the easiest place to get around and walking is pretty much inevitable. So, how did it happen? About a week and a half ago my foot was in pain, but it wasn’t that bad. I thought I had just irritated an old injury and that it would quickly go away with some ice and ibuprofen. That happened right around the beginning of the crazy last two weeks we had. When we found out we only had two days to prepare to leave for China, Dave noticed it was swollen and I realized it wasn’t getting better, but was getting worse. I called and scheduled an appt. with Raleigh Orthopedics that day, had x-rays, and found out I have a stress fracture in the middle of my foot. Honestly, it sounds and looks a lot worse than it is. Hopefully, with the help of the fashionable boot, it will heal properly and won’t turn into a serious fracture.

I’ll be honest, at first I was discouraged because it was just another “thing” added to one of the most stressful, exciting, emotional weeks ever. But, you know what? We wouldn’t be in Beijing right now if God’s hands had not orchestrated all of the details to get us here in two days. I can see God in the doctor’s appointment I was able to schedule so quickly, in the fact that I went to the doctor before China and didn’t wait, in how Dave’s dad drove about 22 hours in two days to come and get Landon, and most importantly, that we get to meet Max THIS Monday.

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I have been working on this post at different layovers and right now we are in the plane that will take us to Kunming. I have missed China. Even though Dave and I have not slept in over 24 hours, I am so happy to be back in a country that holds such a special place in my heart. I pray that one day the love that God has given me for China will be used to help create a special bond between mother and son….

Good night to us and good morning to you :)

2 Days

Yep – you heard that right – we are LEAVING for CHINA in TWO days!!! 

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That’s the most creative I could get for these adoption acronyms, sorry ya’ll. I have lost the mind capacity to think of anything else, so Landon’s magnetic drawing board will have to do. 

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster. Like I mentioned before, we had hoped to leave this week, but all of the CA’s (consulate appointments) were full for September and the next available one wasn’t until the end of October. Our TA (travel approval) didn’t get here until yesterday afternoon so we thought leaving this month was nearly impossible. Well, guess we are wrong, because we will be on a place to get our boy this Friday!! 

I seriously haven’t heard of anyone leaving in two days, but in the past 10 hours we have managed to get a consulate appointment, figured out where Landon is going to stay, booked our plane tickets, had a “sprinkle” baby shower planned by some pretty amazing friends, and booked Daisy’s stay at the “Moss Resort” in North Raleigh. The next two days are going to be full of packing, paperwork, running last minute errands and telling Landon goodbye. Telling Landon “goodbye” is gonna be pretty rough…I’m not gonna lie. I am thankful he will be in good hands though!

Words cannot express how happy we are that will have our entire family together on the 28th (when we will be flying back into Raleigh). We leave for China Friday morning and  will have Max in our arms THIS Monday!

Well, I am off to bed. Gotta try to get some sleep before the craziness starts again! Thanks to everyone who has been praying for us. We are so thankful for supportive friends and family! 

Ups and Downs

When we began this journey of adoption a year ago, we knew it would be messy. We knew there would be ups and downs. We knew there was no definite timeline. We knew our hearts would get hurt along the way. We knew we didn’t have the money. We knew all of these things, but they didn’t stop us from following what God laid on our hearts. 

Did we still pursue adoption because we are some kind of “heroes” trying to save a child?? No. We pursued this crazy, messy road called adoption because it’s NOT about us. 

It’s about a little boy in China who need a family. A little boy who needs a forever mommy to tuck him in at night. A little boy who needs a daddy to wrestle with him. A little boy who has waited far too long to see good doctors….doctors who might be able to help him hear one day. 

I am writing this to REMIND myself that when I want to give up, it’s not about me. 

The last few days have had a lot of ups and downs. On Tuesday we received the news that we had soft Travel Approval and thought we may be able to travel as soon as next week! Unfortunately, our hard copy TA did not arrive to our agency this week and they could not make the Consulate Appointment (the last thing we need) without it. The next available CA is not until the week of October 20th. 

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I had my heart set on traveling this month. I wanted to be with Max on his 2nd birthday (Sept. 26th) and I wanted to beat the holidays in China that would postpone our travel for yet another month. And as I whine, and cry and complain, I am reminded once again that this adoption is not about me.

It’s about a little boy…..

and a BIG God. 

 

The Boy’s Room

Back at the beginning of the year, I shared Landon’s nursery that Dave and I decorated/renovated together here
Since then, we have been making room for Max and changing things around a little. Landon now has a big boy bed! Some sweet friends from our Life Class gave us the bed AND another family gave us the Pottery Barn sports themed bedding. We LOVE it and it goes perfectly with the room.

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We moved the crib to the other side of the room for Max and left it as a “toddler bed” since we are not sure if Max will be used to sleeping a crib or not. When we first arrive home, he will sleep in a pack and play in our room until we transition him into his room.

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I painted Max’s letters to match Landon’s name above his bed. And the wall art?! I made it out of fabric and cornstarch glue! One of these days I will try to write about the super easy peasy process. I love it because it can easily be removed one day. From the pictures, it looks like I painted it on the wall. I actually used leftover fabric scraps from Landon’s crib bedding and curtains to make it. Do you recognize the design?! It is the same one we used on the t-shirts for our fundraiser. Here is a closer look at it

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On the other side of the crib we have a little “reading corner” with the kid sized rocking chair I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and gave a little facelift.

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I still have a few more “dreams” for the room, but for now it is all ready for our Max!
We still do not have travel dates, but are hoping and praying to have them by the end of this week. Please join us in praying that we will receive travel approval by Friday so that we will be able to travel in September. If we receive it this week, we will try for a 9/15 Gotcha Day! We would love to have Max in our arms before his 2nd birthday on the 26th. Thanks everyone for your prayers and t-shirt purchases. We are so grateful for each and every one of you.

Baby to Toddler

I thought it would be fun to post all of the pictures of Max we have in order that we have gotten them. Ya’ll it’s difficult to watch your baby grow up in pictures, but I am so thankful that we have gotten these little glimpses of him over the past year.

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