If you are new to our journey, start here first!

Monday, June 27, 2011

PADS

Hard to believe it's been 10 days since I last posted...it really feels like an eternity.  We have been home in PA for a week now, and it's honestly been the hardest week of my life--right up there with those mind-numbing, sleepless weeks after giving birth.  Sophia has had a very hard time adjusting to sleeping at night, and we have had a hard time knowing how to help her.  As a result of very little sleep, high anxiety, jet lag, etc., etc., my health went downhill very quickly last week, resulting in a doctor's visit and trip to the ER.  Consequently, I have been diagnosed with PADS--Post Adoption Depression Syndrome--a very real and crippling syndrome akin to Postpartum Depression.  Fortunately, my husband and I recognized the symptoms of depression and I am now on some medication to help me over this hump, and my wonderful mother is here for the first week of Dave being back in Indiana to help me get some rest and proper nutrition.  This is uncharted territory for me...I usually have it all together and under control.  But this was beyond my control.  But not beyond God's.

This afternoon I began feeling somewhat like myself again, but I know I have a long way to go, and proper rest is so key.  Sophia has been doing pretty well during the day, alternating between playing by herself or with her brothers and wanting to be snuggled.  We have gone to the pediatrician and tomorrow she has blood work to endure, but so far things look good.  Eating has been a struggle, but she is doing better every day.  So I really have a lot to be thankful for.  We are getting to know one another and the bonding is coming slowly but surely.  Last week it was hard to even be around her...it was a conscious choice each day.  Now I am beginning to enjoy her little personality.  We have a long way to go in our bonding and attachment, but it's starting.

I can't thank you all enough for your prayers for us during this time.  So many of my fellow adoptive parents have been my cheerleaders during these three weeks.  I am indebted to all of you.  Adoption is a beautiful thing, but it's not without it's challenges.  And adopting a toddler, as my sister who adopted two at once says, "is not for the fainthearted!"  But as my mom said just today, she believes that Sophia will be a blessing to many in the years ahead, and I am beginning to agree.  I can't wait to get her therapies started and see just how far her determination and strong-will will take her.  God has given her so much potential!

I promise some photos soon, but several children are clamoring...back to the reality of motherhood!

Praying for a good night of sleep!!!


post signature

Friday, June 17, 2011

It Is Finished!

Last night Sophia woke up a couple of times.  The first time she settled back down herself, but the second time, I had to rub her back and eventually she fell back to sleep.  I'm sure the mid-night awakenings are just the start of some sleepless nights for Dave and I as we attempt to settle her (and ourselves!) back to EST!

I was up again before the alarm at 6 a.m. to get ready for the day.  We eventually had to wake Sophia up before she was ready, but she didn't fuss and drank her bottle, for which we were very grateful.  Yesterday she really didn't eat or drink much, and we were really concerned about dehydration, especially in this wicked heat and humidity!  Today she has done so much better, and I attribute it all to your prayers!  God is so good!

We ended up arriving a couple of minutes late at the American Institute in Taiwan, or AIT, for short.  This is where all Taiwanese citizens who want to enter the United States must go to get a tourist, student, or immigrant visa.  The first floor was packed with people waiting to get tourist and student visas.  The second floor was where Americans could take care of business if they were living in Taiwan (voting, updating passports, reporting births, etc.) and the third floor was immigration.  That's where we went.  We met our social worker who had already got the ball rolling for us.  There weren't many people in immigration at 9 a.m. today.  We waited a little bit and then went to a window and answered some questions, handed in our tax return from last year, and signed a couple of things.  Then we waited again to be interviewed at a second window.  Our interviewer was a very friendly African American officer who basically had us sign some things, congratulated us, and sent us on our way!  We were told to come back at 2 p.m. to pick up Sophia's visa...from start (a few minutes late!) to finish we were there an hour.  Again, your prayers being answered!!!

So now we had time to kill.  With our social worker, who lives in this area of the city, we went in search of some socks for Sophia to use with her leg braces (thanks for the heads up, Mandi!) and then were among the first lunch customers at the original location of Din Tai Fung.  It was so nice to see Sophia drink water with her spoon from a bowl, and try a few noodles and some broth...set my mama heart at ease a bit!



Our social worker showed us the proper way to eat dumplings (oops...no wonder people were laughing at us the last two times we ate there!) and we had a great time of fellowship.  After lunch we went to a local tea store and tried two types of oolong tea, made from tea leaves harvested in the high mountains of Taiwan, and jasmine tea, Dave's favorite.  We bought some to bring home, then continued on to a little food store for some dried pork powder to bring home for Sophia.  (Think ground pork rinds...only thing I can compare it to!)  We exchanged a few more dollars at the local bank so we could pay for our taxi to the airport (after spending money today!) and headed back to AIT to wait for Sophia's visa in the AC...it was hot!!

Promptly at 2 p.m. we were handed Sophia's visa and it was finished!  I took a photo of our "sealed envelope", but then thought twice about posting it...probably not kosher to share all that info with the world!  But we do have it in hand, along with her passport...praise God!  Now back at the hotel Sophia took her typical 45 minute nap and is now vegging on the bed, watching TV.  Good times!

We're not sure what we are going to do tonight...maybe venture out and check out the neighborhood a little bit...we'll see.  Last night we took the subway to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and it was lovely...much cooler than during the day.  The area around the memorial is a cultural park, and there are two buildings dedicated to the performing arts there, the National Theater and the National Concert Hall.  So many people were milling around in the cooler night air, practicing their break dance moves or ballroom dancing in the open air.  The subway station hallway leading out to the memorial was lined with beautiful paintings, and when we arrived, a blind musician was playing his violin accompanied by piano background music.  Sophia loves music and was simply mesmerized.  I tried out my camera's night feature...what do you think?




All in all, our time in Taiwan has been good.  Dave and I commented today that we want to bring Sophia back some day when she's older, along with her brothers...and it must be at a cooler time of the year!!  Had it not been so hot and humid, I think we would have meandered around a lot more outside, but it was just too hot.  I have never sweat so much in my life!  Sophia loves to be out and about...she just watches people and things and takes it all in.  However, we are ready to come home and allow Sophia to begin to adjust to her family and home.  It has been difficult to watch her grieve and not know what to do.  It has also been difficult to be far away from our sons.  Sophia's needs are different than we expected, and this has produced some anxiety and lots of talks with God on my part about unconditional love.  As is so typical in our journey of life, God uses circumstances and events to teach us more about His grace and character and our need to utterly rely on Him.  I'm a slow learner sometimes...



In less than 24 hours we will be hanging out at the airport.  This may be my last post from Taiwan.  I can't even begin to put into words my utter gratitude for all of you who have prayed us through this journey thus far.  Don't stop now!  God is answering your prayers in amazing ways...our faith has been strengthened beyond measure.  God is SO good!

Humbled and grateful...

post signature

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Visit to Cathwel

Thanks to all of our prayer warriors, Sophia settled down last night and slept well.  This morning we allowed her to wake up slowly, as is her custom.  She sleeps fairly late, and today it didn't really matter.  She didn't want her bottle this morning, although in hindsight, having used a new bottle, I don't think she could really get the thick stuff that she drinks out of the bottle.  But she didn't complain.  She did eat a little egg, rice porridge, and mashed banana at breakfast, but still not a lot of anything.  She definitely needs more practice with solid, even soft solid, foods.


Around 11 a.m. we headed out the door to visit Cathwel and the Jonah House.  Cathwel is the organization here in Taiwan that our agency uses for Taiwanese adoptions.  They are a Catholic organization, and we have been very pleased with what our experience with them.  Our social worker suggested that we come down to visit today, and I'm so glad we did.  We took some extra diapers and other gifts for the workers and children, and spent about three hours in one of their play rooms which allowed Sophia to run around and play.  It was SO nice to see her playing.  It really gave me hope and settled my nerves some about how she will react when we get home.  I think she is bored in the hotel a lot of the time.  (Can't say that I blame her!)



We were able to see the baby room at the Jonah house with all of the cribs and the sleeping babies (it was nap time).  Upstairs the older toddlers were also sleeping, but one little guy woke up early and came to join us in the play room.  If I understood correctly, he is 20 months old and has cerebral palsy as a result of his birth mom's drug and alcohol abuse while pregnant.  Interestingly, the caregiver left him in there with us so I was able to interact with him and play with him and hold him.  He seemed to love the attention!  Sophia was not very interested with him, but she didn't seem to mind him.  Later, one of the therapists came in and showed us how she was teaching him to crawl.  Dave and I commented later that it felt as though we were watching a commercial for this little guy...he sure was a cutie, though!



I know that a lot of people think about little girls when they think about adopting, especially from Asia.  But the majority of the children at Cathwel right now, ages 0-3, are boys.  We were told that next year the laws in Taiwan are changing regarding adoption because the Taiwanese birthrate is at an all time low, and the government wants to keep its citizens.  But many Taiwanese do not want to adopt children with special needs, so Cathwel expects that special needs kiddos will be very much available going forward.  Could there be room in your heart and home?



We left Cathwel about 2:30, right before a good, old fashioned thunderstorm.  Cathwel is located in a suburb of Taipei that is sort of in the mountains a bit...so beautiful.  We enjoyed our taxi ride there and back.  Now Sophia is napping and Dave and I are vegging.  We might try to venture out tonight...we'll see what the weather holds.  Last night we got Chinese take out...thought you might enjoy that photo.  It still makes me laugh to get Chinese takeout in Taiwan!



We have been able to change our flight to Saturday, so tomorrow, Friday, will be our last full day in Taiwan.  We have our AIT appointment at 9 a.m. our time.  We will probably visit the original Din Tai Fung restaurant for lunch, as it is right near AIT, and then hang out downtown while waiting to pick up Sophia's visa.  We plan on inviting our social worker to join us...she has been wonderful and we are so thankful for her!

Thank you so much for your prayers and words of encouragement after yesterday's post.  I found this quote in an article on the Empowered to Connect website today and it really resonated with me:

"As an adoptive dad, like all adoptive parents, my tendency is to focus on the miracle, blessing and joy of adoption – and rightfully so. These are the undeniably beautiful realities of the adoption journey. But they do not negate the equally unavoidable reality that there is no adoption without loss and pain. Adoption is at the same time born from and a response to hurt, loss and sorrow."

While the bulk of the article was pertaining to his adopted son's grief and loss, I think that most adoptive parents realize that there is grief and loss in their own lives in some way as well through this process.  I so appreciate my adoptive parent friends who have honestly shared their hurts and hopes with me these last 48 hours.  I also am so appreciative of all of my family and friends who have been praying us through this journey...some for the last three years!  Dave and I told Sophia today that she is one prayed over little girl--God has big plans for her!

With continued gratitude...

post signature

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back to Taipei

This morning I had a total meltdown.  (Is it okay to admit that?)  Last night took a lot out of us.  We were prepared mentally for the grieving process, but I have never heard that kind of cry before.  And there's nothing you can do about it.  This morning, I took my turn at grieving.  It has been a crazy few months at our house with Dave living most of the time in Indiana and the boys and I in Pennsylvania.  I had to parent, prepare a house for showings, finish a school year, and get ready for Taiwan.  We had behavioral issues, sickness, and other stresses.  Through it all, I kept it together pretty well.  But today, I had myself a good, ugly cry.  I think it all came to a head and I needed to let it out.  Poor Dave!  But he handled it brilliantly!

My youngest sister, who has adopted five times, told me in the midst of my ugly cry, via Facebook chat, (don't you love technology!)  that I could be grieving the loss of my "normal".  I think she's right.  I couldn't help but think about how bringing Sophia home is going to change our life completely.  Of course I already knew that, but having met her in person, I realize just how much things are going to change.  I was also thinking about my boys, and all of the little routines and nuances of our life together pre-Sophia, and how those will inevitably change.  I'm not saying that the change is going to be all bad, but it is change, and we have so many changes in our lives right now.  So, I had my good, ugly cry, and hopefully, it's mostly out of my system now.

Being back in Taipei is definitely helping all of us.  The hotel we stayed at in Taichung was a boutique hotel.  It was stylish and unique, but not very conducive to having a young child who doesn't walk very well.  We also were in a part of town that did not have a lot of restaurants nearby and was hard to walk in, so we felt very isolated.  We are now back at the hotel where we began our journey, and we feel right at home.  We decided to upgrade to a triple room so that we had more room to spread out, and we have already sent three bags of laundry to be washed.  (That was one of the things I liked about this hotel...you can load up a bag of laundry to the tippy top and only pay per bag instead of per piece.  I have no idea how our clothes will be returned...hopefully the same size and shape as they went!)  The only downside to this hotel is that it is also not near a lot of restaurants, so I'm not sure what we will do for dinner tonight.  I don't think Sophia will sit well at a restaurant without some sort of restraint, and she doesn't seem interested in food, so it could be hard to sit and eat.  Dave might go check out what kind of take out might be around...we did Pizza Hut last night in Taichung and it was pretty good!

Below are some photos from the day.  We didn't do anything too exciting, just hung out at our hotel and took the train back to Taipei.  Tomorrow we plan on visiting Cathwel and dropping off some things for the orphanage and, if the weather and Sophia allow, we will go on to the zoo and the Makong Gondola.  Friday is our AIT appointment and we will probably hang around that side of town if we are told that our visa will be ready for pick up that same day.  Our social worker has assured us that it should be possible, so we are hopefully going to be coming home on Saturday, rather than on Monday...we are just ready to get home!  Thanks again for all of your prayers and encouragement...pray especially for a peaceful night of sleep tonight!







With a grateful heart...

post signature

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Gotcha" Day!

For whatever reason, it has been hard for me to sleep through the night here in Taiwan.  I keep waking up around 3 or 4 a.m., and that's all the sleep I can get.  Maybe God's preparing me for a lack of sleep with our little Sophia, whose current sleep schedule leaves little to be desired!  Right now it is almost 5:30 p.m. and she has been--FINALLY!--napping for about an hour or so.  She fights sleep just like her brother Nathaniel.  We will be working on a schedule for her ASAP when we get home!

Dave and I had a leisurely morning this morning.  We knew that our social worker would be bringing Sophia to us around 11 a.m. or so.  We went to breakfast and I organized all of our stuff to make it more manageable.  I also haven't been feeling well with a cough, sore throat, and congestion, so it was nice to have a little calm before the storm!

Sophia arrived all dressed up around 11 or so with not only our social worker, but also the foster family's social worker.  Apparently it was a teary goodbye, and while she went to Dave right away, she was very quiet and pensive.  She seemed sad.  We were told that the foster mother had said that it felt as though she was giving her daughter away in marriage, so that's why she was all dressed up.  I tried to take a photo, but she was walking around by this time and didn't want to comply.  I'll post the best I could get!



Along with Sophia came more clothes and photos and an umbrella stroller that the foster family insisted on buying for us.  We decided that our plans for today would include a trip to a local mall to buy another suitcase for all of Miss Sophia's things!  The social workers didn't stay long, and we were finally alone with our little girl.  I think the emotions of the last few days got to me, and poor Dave had to deal with a blubbering wife and antsy little girl all at the same time!  He's my rock!

We changed Sophia into something much more comfortable and cool, fed her a bottle, and took a cab to one of the local malls.  The malls in Taiwan are vertical, not horizontal, and this particular one had three 15+ story buildings to it, which were attached via catwalks on most floors.  We found an English map and guessed at the floor where they might have suitcases.  We guessed right.  Now we were pushing a little girl in a stroller, who didn't always want to be in a stroller, and pulling a suitcase.  Two big Americans with a strong-willed little Taiwanese girl...you get the picture.  We went down to the food court, walked all the way around, and decided on Dunkin Donuts--which tasted nothing like Dunkin Donuts.  That was lunch.



We went back to the hotel and have since been playing with Sophia while watching television and resting.  She seems to finally be warming up to me a little more.  She loves music, and I had seen the foster mother doing some hand motions to music with Sophia, so I did the same and she really liked it.  We have no idea what goes through her little mind, but if she wants something, she will figure out how to communicate it.  For example, when I stopped humming, she moved closer and touched my mouth.  She's no dummy!



I'm not sure how tonight is going to go.  I think we will have to wake her up soon, but even so, she may not go back to sleep until really late.  Pray for us in that regard, as we are both very tired.  We leave Taichung tomorrow around 1 p.m. our time.  We will have a day on Thursday to just bum around, and then our AIT appointment is Friday.  I'm a little concerned about what we are going to do each day with Sophia.  She won't eat anything solid for us yet--just her bottle--so it's hard to gauge meal times and such with her, and our hotels here and in Taipei do not have restaurants in them for quick and easy meals.  We have to go somewhere to eat, and nothing is really close.  We have also been told that she doesn't do well in restaurants, which I can imagine, especially if there isn't a high chair to restrain her.  So, we are in a conundrum there, but we'll figure it out, or lose a lot of weight!

On a side note, I'm really missing my kids right about now.  I didn't realize how much I would miss them, and now that we have Sophia, we are really ready to get her home and get on with life with all five of our kids.  Pray for strength and resolve as we continue to adapt to our daughter, and she adapts to us.  It's a delicate balancing act!  Enjoy the new photos!

With our daughter Sophia at long last in our arms...

post signature

Monday, June 13, 2011

What A Day! Part Three

When the foster parents left the room, the two social workers, ours and the foster family's, and us were there with Sophia.  The foster parents had kind of snuck out of the room, but even when Sophia realized they were gone, she didn't fuss or cry.  We talked with her from a distance for a bit, trying not to smother her or anything, then came over to her and tried to engage her now and then.  Dave had a big break through when he got her laughing hysterically as he walked her around and around the seating area...check this out!


video

We were served lunch--Chinese take out (ha!)--while hanging out for awhile, waiting for the time we could check into our hotel.  Finally we packed everything up--including the duffel bag and big box--hailed a cab, and headed to our hotel.  Sophia loved riding in the car.  She loves to observe what is going on around her, and she thought the beeping of the cab's meter was especially entertaining!

Our hotel, called Le Parker, is a small boutique hotel.  Our room is definitely not conducive to a small child not too steady on her feet!  It has two levels with the main bed up a step on a wooden platform.  Sophia loves to walk around, so it was up and down the step, on and off the beds, always with an adult close by holding her hand.  She never cried with us, was very comfortable, and even took another bottle for me (her foster mother wasn't sure I would make it right, but Sophia took it right away!).  She is especially fond of Dave, which I was prepared for, and I figure when he goes back to work, we will have to get better acquainted!  She isn't totally snubbing me, though, which is good.  Our social worker was amazed at how well she adjusted to us, and when we told her that we had been praying and we had lots of people praying, she said she had been praying, too.  God answers prayer!

Siophia got very tired, but never slept.  Apparently she is not used to long naps, and only would nap for an hour at school.  She typically doesn't go to bed until 11 or 12 at night, either--we have some work to do!!  We believe that her foster parents loved her very much, but they might have also given in to her strong will just a tad...her strong will and determination will be a blessing to her as she grows and matures, but she will also have to learn that her way is not always the best way!

Around 5:45 p.m. we took a cab back to the Foundation where we met the foster family's children.  Sophia has had a 16 year old sister and a 15 year old brother, who are both very attached to her.  Our social worker explained to the family that this was their goodbye to us, and that tomorrow (which is actually today here!) they will say their goodbyes to Sophia and the social worker will then bring her to us.  The social worker doesn't want us to have to be there when they say goodbye to her.  The foster parents were a little surprised, I think, that Sophia had done so well with us and that we were transitioning so quickly.  In fact, we were a bit surprised in that we will be leaving Taichung a day earlier than anticipated.  We will have to pay for a day that we had reserved here at this hotel as it was a no cancellation type of reservation, but God made room at our previous hotel for an extra day, so we are taken care of.

Sophia went back to her foster father, but you could tell that she was a bit confused, not to mention very tired.  I just pray that they had a wonderful night with her, and that God will comfort them in this time of loss.  I am so thankful for all they have done, and pray God's richest blessing on them.  I gave the foster mother a hug when I said goodbye and hope that we conveyed our gratitude in spite of the language barrier.



Needless to say we were quite tired by the end of all of this.  We couldn't find a restaurant nearby for supper, so we hit the local "Family Mart" convenience store where we picked up Ritz crackers with cheese, Lays potato chips (Dave had seaweed flavor!), and oreo cookies.  In debriefing our day, we both commented on how tenacious and smart our little girl is, in spite of her special needs.  She's going to fit right in with her big brothers...let the games begin!

One more day and she is with us forever...

post signature

What A Day! Part Two

The train ride to Taichung was very quick.  We figured the train was traveling at speeds upwards of 100 mph at times.  The scenery was absolutely beautiful.  Taiwan is such a green, gorgeous island, and it was nice to get out of the city and see some of the country.

When we arrived in Taichung, we were met by a government social worker who drove us to the Foundation building.  Sophia is basically a ward of the state, so her case has been managed by the Taiwanese equivalent of Children and Youth.  Sophia has been in care since she was a few months old, and is with her second foster family.  We met her first social worker who filled us in on her history from about six months on, including a little about her first foster family and why she was switched to her current foster family.  Her first foster family was an older couple, who nurtured and cared for her through some significant emotional issues early on in her life.  However, as she reached the age where she needed more physical therapy and educational type therapies, they could no longer care for her adequately.  Her current foster family, who have cared for Sophia for two years, have done a fantastic job in that department.  Her foster mother is actually a teacher, and developed many of the therapy toys that we have seen in photos.  In fact, her inventive toys are now on exhibit somewhere for their ingenuity and creativity with special needs kids.  Pretty cool!

But I digress...when we arrived at the Foundation, we only waited a couple of minutes and the foster family walked up, pushing Sophia in a stroller.  It was an emotional moment, seeing our daughter in person for the first time.  Right away the foster father pulled out laminated 5x7 blown up photos of our faces, and showed Sophia that now her "mother" and "father" from the photos were standing in front of her.  You could see that she was trying to process this information in the midst of the greetings going on around her.  Immediately we could see that this little girl was quite savvy--a thinker.




We were all ushered up to the third floor of the building where we found a room that was probably used for visitations with children and families.  It contained some chairs for sitting on one end, and then a round area with wooden floors and more child-friendly seating, surrounded by books and toys.  For the next couple of hours, Sophia roamed around, mostly accompanied by her foster father, while Dave and I let her get used to us.  It didn't take long for us--especially Dave!--to elicit some smiles from her, but she was definitely wary.  During this time I was able to interview the foster mother and take some more notes on routines, etc., and she showed me all of the things she had brought for us to take with us...a big box and a big duffel bag full!  Sophia was the sweetheart of her school, and her teachers has sent gifts for her, as well as some of her schoolwork which will be treasured.  The foster family had gifts for our entire family, and new clothes for Sophia.  We found out how to make Sophia's bottle, which consists of some sort of rice powder and grain powder, both of which the foster family and the school teachers gave us an ample supply to take home.  We will definitely be needing another suitcase!!



In the midst of all of this, I noted that Sophia has a very close relationship with her foster father.  He was very attentive, but very quiet.  The love that he has for her is so evident.  I didn't let myself dwell on that too much, as I didn't want to make a scene!  But I know that this is very hard for them.  In fact, the foster mother told me that she had already cried a lot the night before, but upon seeing us, she just had a peace that we would take care of their Sophia and love her the way that they did.  Of course, that made me cry.  What an answer to prayer to have a foster family who loved our daughter as their own, and yet prepared her for us.  What a blessing!

After a couple of hours, it was decided that the foster family should leave and we would have Sophia to ourselves for awhile.  The plan was to eat lunch there, then check in to our hotel with Sophia and our social worker and allow her to acclimate there.  We then were going to come back to the Foundation around 6 p.m. to meet the foster family's children, and give Sophia back to them for one last night.  I really think that Sophia's foster parents fully expected her to break down and cry when they left, but that did not happen...



More to come...

post signature

What A Day! Part One

I'm not even sure how to begin processing the events of yesterday, here in Taichung, Taiwan.  For posterity (and especially for Sophia) I want to chronicle the days happenings, but if it's a bit random and rambling, please forgive me!

I couldn't sleep Sunday night very well.  We had had issues with the alarm not going off at the right time the day before, and I was half afraid we wouldn't get up on time and would miss meeting our orphanage contact at the train station on time, but I was also very unsure of the days events and what was going to happen, so sleep was elusive.  I eventually got out of bed around 5 a.m. and got myself ready.  We were able to leave two pieces of luggage at our hotel in Taipei, but the piece we brought to Taichung was our largest, and was quite heavy.  It contained all of our foster family gifts, clothes and toys for Sophia, and all of our clothes and necessities for three days away.

We weren't sure we were going to eat breakfast at the hotel as they hadn't given us our tickets for that day.  I thought maybe since it was our check-out day you didn't get to eat, but as it turned out, the receptionist handed them to us as we came down to inquire about where to leave our luggage.  So we quickly ate, checked out, and were on our way.  We had received instructions to meet our orphanage contact, Bernadette, at the 3 East entrance to Taipei Main Station.  The taxi driver dropped us off on the west side, so we walked through the station and waited at the correct entrance.  We had no idea who we were waiting for, but a little after 8:30 a.m. a woman came toward us smiling.  Bernadette has been a social worker with Cathwel for two years now, but worked for the hospital as a medical social worker prior to Cathwel.  Her English is pretty good, although I have to strain to understand sometimes.  She had already purchased our tickets, so we went to the waiting area.  She told us that we were going to meet Sophia upon arriving in Taichung.  We were going to go to the "Foundation" building and meet her foster parents and kind of hang out for awhile so that Sophia could get used to us.  From there, we would play it by ear, depending on how Sophia adjusted to us.

We didn't have to wait long for the train.  I am so impressed at the transportation system in Taiwan!  We rode the HSR--High Speed Rail--to Taichung.  The whole trip took less than an hour.  On the train, Bernadette gave me a document that Cathwel had translated that was basically a questionnaire that the foster mother had answered regarding Sophia and some of her needs and routines.  It was quite thorough, as all of the foster mother's reports have been.  Bernadette commented several times on that fact, because it was a lot to translate each month.  However, it showed how much the foster mother loved Sophia.  At the end of this document it says:

"At last we want to tell you:  Our family are very grateful of you, and respect your loving heart and courage, to willing to give our Sophia a happily and joyous life and future.  Me (FM) and FF are very sad, but when we think of your attention love and care for her and all the lovely presents you have sent for her, all in which moved us and make us resting assure.  All our family is wishing your family always health and happiness!"

I could tell it was going to be quite a day!

More to come...
post signature

Introducing....


Sophia Elizabeth Chia-Lin Fisher


post signature

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day #2!

We had another good day here in hot and humid Taipei!  We left a little after noon from our hotel and took a cab to the National Palace Museum.  This reminded us a lot of our Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C.  It is a museum that contains Chinese artifacts that used to be housed in the Forbidden City in Beijing, but were brought to Taiwan for protection in the early 20th century.  Since we have visited China before, a lot of the things we saw were not new to us.  However, the museum is very well laid out and the exhibits were pretty interesting.  There was an especially fascinating exhibit that took a well-known Chinese painting, and with the help of technology, brought it to life.  Very cool!





After leaving the museum, we hopped another cab to the Miramar Entertainment Park.  This was another huge, vertical mall that also contains an IMAX movie theater with the largest commercial screen in all of Asia.  At the top of the mall there is a huge ferris wheel.  Each car is air-conditioned and plays music for your entertainment pleasure.  When you reached the top of the ferris wheel, you could see pretty far...we got some good pictures, but it was cloudy again, so they are not as good as they could have been.






From the Miramar, we took the subway back into town.  Using our handy map, we made our way to the Eslite Bookstore where we picked up a children's book and some children's CD's in Chinese.  It's a HUGE store!  We then walked back to Din Tai Fung for dinner.  It was much more crowded tonight, but we got in pretty quickly.  This time I took photos!  Enjoy!





We arrived back at our hotel hot and sticky and tired.  Tonight we pack up and get ready for the real reason we came to Taiwan--to meet our daughter Sophia!  When you are sleeping on Sunday night, we will meet her for the very first time.  I'll post photos as soon as I'm able!  Thanks for all of your prayers and well wishes...keep them coming!

One more day until we see her face to face...

post signature

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our First Day in Taiwan

It is Sunday morning here in Taiwan.  We have had the privilege of speaking with our three children who are at my parent's house in Delaware, as well as one of my sisters in Chile, South America, this morning.  Isn't technology wonderful?  As we get ready to head out for our second day of adventures in Taipei, I want to let you know about yesterday's happenings...

----------------------------

After arriving at our hotel and getting cleaned up and acclimated, we decided to head out and see what we could see.  It looked like rain, so we ditched the idea of going to the open air flower and jade markets and decided instead to head down towards Taipei 101 and that area of town.  The subway was pretty easy to figure out, although I'm pretty sure we looked stupid at first, trying to figure out how to get the card we needed.  But, we figured it out on our own, so I'm pretty proud of us!  The subway itself reminds me a lot of the metro in Chile--clean and efficient.  It was Saturday here, so I guess we were seeing the weekend crowds and not necessarily the business crowds.  We made it to the station where we were to get off for Taipei 101, but we had to walk quite a distance to actually get to the building itself.  We managed to make it before the rain, but by the time we got to the observation deck on the 89th floor, it was raining below.  We still got some photos, which I will post, but I'm sure the vista would have been much more stunning without the rain! 

Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world from 2004-2010.  To the tip of the needle at the top it is 1610 feet tall.  The basement floor is filled with a large food court and some shops, while floors 1-4 contain some very prestigious stores like Tiffany's and Coco Chanel (no shopping there for us!).  You catch the elevator to the 89th floor on the 5th floor.  It takes 45 seconds to get there--amazing!--and once you reach the observation floor, you can observe the entire city all the way around you.  The mountains in the distance are just breathtaking!  Taiwan is truly a beautiful island.

A street view of Taipei 101 as we walked towards it.

 
Looking up from one of the bottom floors of the mall

One view from the observatory


This is the counterbalance...check out the cables!

By the time we finished observing, we were feeling a bit tired and hungry.  We decided to hop a cab to the Din Tai Fung restaurant since it was still raining.  We weren't quite sure how to hail a taxi in Taiwan, but waving your hand and yelling taxi did the trick!  Dave always climbs into the front seat--which I'm not sure is kosher, but he does it anyway--so the drivers always have to throw the seat way back in order for his large frame to fit.  This taxi driver was a hoot.  He didn't speak much English but he communicated his family history and the history of Korea and China and Taiwan to us via hand motions and doodles on his notepad, all while driving through rush hour traffic!  I may have to take back my thoughts about the driving here after that ride!  He used his horn well and we made it in one piece, thankfully.  I'm sure we made his day!

Din Tai Fung is a world-renown chain known for its dumplings and stuffed buns.  We had been forewarned about how you ordered at this restaurant, but what we weren't aware of was the size of their helpings!  We were pretty hungry, so everything looked good, and I think we ordered too much, to the humorous delight of the young couple sitting next to us!  To order, you look at the menu to decide what you want, and then you fill out this order form with how many of each menu item you want.  As the items are prepared, they bring them out to you, so your food comes in shifts.  Dave LOVES Chinese dumplings and stuffed buns, and these were outstanding!  The prices were very reasonable, and we are planning on going back again.  I'll take some photos next time!

After dining we attempted to find our way back to a subway station.  I think we took a wrong turn and missed the closer station, but along the way I found a cool little stationery store and bought a couple of things.  (Tiffany, if you are reading this, tell Amy Grace I have a neat Hello Kitty item for her!)  We eventually found a station and made our way back to our hotel.  The rain had stopped by now, but the humidity was quite oppressive.  We exited the station near our hotel at a different exit than where we had entered, so we were a bit turned around at first, but with our handy map we made it back in one piece.  The corner 7-Eleven was our last stop for an ice cream bar, and then we basically collapsed into bed.

-------------------------

This afternoon we are heading out again to see what we can see.  Stay tuned...and one more thing...the humorous event of the day yesterday was when we were getting on an elevator in Taipei 101 and the door closed on me.  Now it was a little startling to me, but the 10 year old kid on the elevator thought it was hilarious!  His mom tried to shush him, but then gave up and told him to say "Hello" instead.  Glad we could be the comedy relief!!

Another day closer to meeting Sophia...

post signature