Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Village Visit

Thanks, popo and gong gong, for the super cute "I love my dad" shirt!

Our guide, Jack, took us to an area called An Ning where the foster families who take care of kids from the Kunming orphanage live. Although we couldn't visit the actual families or village, he told us that there are three things foster families must have--1. a large open area, 2. the refreshing air (I love how Chinese translates!), and 3. kind families. An Ning lies right outside the city of Kunming, but it took about two hours of winding mountain roads to get to the area. For we who live in the concrete jungle of Shanghai, it was phenomenal to see mountains, trees, rivers, rice paddies, and even water buffalo! It was so gorgeous, reminscient of the countryside of Ecuador, Peru and even Seattle, and I feel like it's been forever since I've seen nature!

Even though Sojo was only in foster care for two days, we are gathering as many pieces of her history as possible to share with her in the future. This trip to the countryside was a highlight of the trip for us, although it was a bit long. Sojo did the best in the car out of the three of us. She reallys digs car rides and just stares out the window. Hmmm, perhaps she is ready for a road trip in the yellow vw van this summer? Oh, yeah! Back to Shanghai today...

Dear 2TE,
Hope your song rocked at the assembly today! Yo ho ho! Yo ho ho! :) We went to the coolest village yesterday with tons of trees and mountains and even water buffalo that have these huge horns shaped like a big U. I wish we could all go on a field trip there because it had so many farms and was so beautiful. I bet we could learn a lot about planting from the people who live there because many of them are farmers. I even saw some ladies climbing trees to pick apples. Sojo got to live in this village for a little while before she met us, and I think she was lucky to live somewhere that has so much fresh air and nature. We are coming back to Shanghai today with Sojo. Have a super day--I miss you guys tons! Not many more days of school left for you. Love, Mrs. E.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Finding Spot

A big part of the adoption process is going to the place where the baby was first found, or the finding spot. We found out that Sojo was found under a bridge, and part of yesterday was going there as well as to the hospital where Grace, our fellow traveller's child, was found.

Let's just say it was heavy. Real heavy, thinking of the reality the mom must have faced leaving little Sojo there. Across the narrow river by the bridge was a white wall behind which there is a community of migrant workers who have come from the countryside to work in the city. We saw people loading and unloading fruit off trucks and lots of women with babies strapped to their backs in the beautifully embroidered baby carriers. Our guide said most likely her parents were from there since the bridge is very close and a busy place where she would certainly be quickly found. We stood there in silence wanting to somehow leave graffiti on the wall that said, "We have her, and please know that she will be ok. Thank you for her." We obviously couldn't leave that sign so instead we put Sojo's hands in our hands and sent a silent thanks in a prayer while facing the migrant area.

Afterward, we discovered another great piece of Sojo's history at a museum we went to. The curator is an expert on minority tribes and simply looked at Sojo and said she is from the Miao tribe. The other couple travelling with us has a daughter who looks very different from Sojo, and he knew right away that she was from the Yi tribe. Very cool to know that! The Miao are known for their expert embroidery and their love of silver jewelry (oh, yeah, how much did I love that one!), so we bought some Miao embroidery for her and even a Miao doll with so many little pieces she could choke on so we'll keep that one for later.

Dear 2TE,
Hi Cuties! Tomorrow is beach day for the assembly, and I'm sure you all will have a great time dressed up for your big song. I'd sad I will miss it, but I hope you'll tell me all about it when we see each other soon. Mr. E. and I will sing the pirate song to Sojo tomorrow! Congrats to the award winners this month--Hayataka, Laurent and Candice. Great work for all of you. Love, Mrs. E.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

So Much Love

What an emotional day for us. First, we headed off to the orphanage with our guide Jack (the one in the picture kissing Sojo--he just loves that she is happy and has kind parents). Jack's friend is one of the sub-directors, and she met us outside with excited hellos for Aini. We went inside and she heard Sojo's cough and immediately sent for the doctor and then cuddled up with her while we waited (she is the one in the long-sleeved green shirt--can't you just feel the love she has for the kids there?). Jack then brought in a feeding schedule (HUGE sigh of relief for the greenhorn parents who thought we were getting this yesterday and were flying blind!) that was printed in English with the huge word LOVE written on it and special instructions for everything. And just as she wrote, Sojo just went to sleep at 7:51 and her schedule says 8:00. They also gave us a printed book of photographs of the kids and the orphanage--we'll have to have it translated but it's a wonderful keepsake for her.

We had the chance to tour the orphanage and see how incredibly clean and beautiful it was. There are only 40 or so kids there and most are special needs. The majority of the others are in foster care. We were so impressed the whole time, from the physical therapy room to the massage being given to a boy with cerebral palsy to the wonderful care that was being provided. No photos allowed at all inside the orphanage, but that's ok because we will never forget. The second building was the one with about 15 three month old kids without special needs. Man alive, what a room of love! We entered to a chorus of "Aini! Aini! Aini!" and all sorts of howling noises that they did to her and she did back. (sidenote: she has been doing these and we just thought it was cute. Guess she was waiting for someone to howl back! We are now all howling away!) We found out that Sojo/Aini (she feels like Aini today) was only in foster care for two days, so these seven ladies were the ones taking care of her for the last five months. I cannot explain the sincere love and quality of care that little cutie was given by these wonderful ladies. They grabbed her out of my hands and passed her around with Sojo smiling at all of them, telling us how she loves to dance around in her walker and she is always happy. We left feeling even more grateful than before.

I'll write about the visit to the finding spot tomorrow as that deserves its own posting.

Dear 2TE,
I think today was one of the most special days of my life. It makes me think of Byrd Baylor and her special celebration days. I've thought about it and I want to call May 29 "Grateful For So Much Love" day. We got to meet the ayis who were taking care of Sojo since she was born, and they loved her so much, just as much as Mr. E. and I do. The ayis were so excited to see her because they have been missing her, but they are happy she has a family now. See you all soon! Love, Mrs. E.

Baby Sleep

Ok, baby sleep rocks! The whole sprawled-out, hands outstretched, legs splayed, complete abandon of it is just awesome. Neither of us remember it looking so cool before or even noticing it, to be honest. Let's just say we spent a lot of quality time "noticing it" last night. Sojo is one itchy baby though with mosquito bites on her back and excema on many other parts. Lots of scratching her excema and wiggling around like a bear on a tree to get to those mosquito bites. We've been putting hydrocortisone on the bites and medicine on the excema but still...scratch, scratch, scratch. We finally resorted to putting socks on her hands to prevent her from adding more red marks to her body, and it worked. She only woke up once last night for a bottle and slept the rest of the night. Let's hope that is a habit we'll keep!

Off to the orphanage this morning and then to her finding spot. They will only take us to the town where she was in foster care but not to the foster area itself. We did all the paperwork yesterday instead of today, so we might go home a day early just to get back in our own space.

Dear 2TE,
Sojo is on my lap right now as I write this. She is one itchy girl with mosquito bites. It's a little bit cute because she wiggles like a worm to try and scratch her mosquito bites on her back. I know you guys have your practice for the Pirate Song today, and I know you are going to rock! Don't forget to be money-makers and not money-breakers. By the way Sojo is not freaking out, so she will get to meet all of you next week. Yippee! Love, Mrs. E

Monday, May 28, 2007

Our First Night Pics

1. She loved sitting on the pillows like this. Thanks Gwen for the blankie and there is the real Flat-Out teddy!

2. First baba feeding

3. Ok, please note not only how cute this picture is but how HIGH her pants are!

She is not quite fitting into the 6-9 months clothes, and I put her in the too cute jeans too early!

4. Fussy tonight b/c of her cold, so eating while moving around with the Baby Bjorn was the way to go until she fell asleep.


WOW is the only word I can use to describe today! After being almost nauseous (ok, I really was, not almost) from the nervousness, we headed to this non-descript building where they bring kids to meet their new parents. A car pulled up and four kids got out of the car, two older and two little ones wrapped in pink blankets with hoods. What a wild feeling to know that it was Sojo being brought in. Once they gave her to us, it was just like she looked at us and said, "Hi there! What's up? What took you guys so long?" She was totally mellow for quite a while and then let loose with some good ol' fashioned yelling. We figured out she likes to be held the way you see in the pictures, so we wound up singing the tune to "Girl From Ipanema" (never too early to get a kid to like bossa nova) and that seemed to work. After about two hours of paperwork and the requisite "intimacy period" (this is seeing if we liked each other--um, we did!), we went to another building to sign more papers and then came back to the hotel to chill. She is just fabulous--smiling, laughing, riding around in her baby bjorn, and just a dream. One minor glitch is that she is a bit sick with congestion, but nothing too bad. However, when we tried to feed her the formula, she basically freaked out and screamed for a while, so we had to figure out that she needed the hole in the nipple to be bigger (thanks to the many, many adopting blogs that passed that one on). Done deal and then she was happy! Heading out again at 3:00 to do something--not sure what but just blindly following our guide.

Random thing--wound up meeting a nice lady named Tara who was adopting a 5 1/2 year old son. She came up to me and said, "Is your mom named Helen?" Turns out my mom, the grandma-to-be obsessive adoption blog reader, had let this lady know that we would be at the same place today. Very cool connection, and their son was so brave in his new world where he didn't understand a word they said to him.

Dear 2TE,
Here is Sojo! You can see that she has more hair now than in the other picture. We think she is even cuter than before and just love her to pieces. I thought of you all today because she was crying so hard and we couldn't figure out what she wanted. It made me think of Sam in All About Sam when the baby was saying, "Take off this hateful hat!" but the grownups only heard "WAAAHHH!" We finally figured out that Sojo was trying to tell us that the bottle needed a bigger hole so she could get more to eat! We fixed it and then she was happy. I wonder what her next crying will be trying to tell us. Hope getting ready for the Pirate Song is fun this week! Love, Mrs. E., Mr. E. and Sojo the Cutie

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chillin' in Kunming

Scrabble, anyone?

Just LOVING Kunming so far--wide open, tree-lined streets, a perfect 70 degrees, only 2.5 million people (it does feel like a small town compared to Shanghai!) and a backpacker vibe that we are soaking up. Our guide told us that Kunming's people are like the weather here--not too hot and not too cold.

Chilling today and heading to Wal-Mart to see if we can find a stroller with a carseat. I can't picture what Wal-Mart looks like here because the whole country is like one big Wal-Mart. Other than trying to set up this really, hmmmm, not so great-looking porta-crib the hotel sent us, and getting a massage (of course!), we're just waiting until tomorrow at 9:00. We're finding ourselves staring at every girl on the street looking for Sojo's features. The enormity of tomorrow is both beautiful and daunting...

Dear 2TE,
Kunming is beautiful! There are so many trees and even mountains and rice paddies. Down the road from our hotel is a park that looks a lot like Century Park. We are going to get Sojo tomorrow morning at 9:00, so when you are doing your poetry, we'll be meeting her for the first time. Maybe I'll write my own poem about that very special small moment. Have a great week! I'll be thinking of you all. Love, Mrs. E.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Flat Out Teddy Bear and 3 More Wakeups!

Completely random, but these Flat-Out teddy bears from Australia are just so cool! They are flat and made of sheepskin (softness like you wouldn't believe!) and just fabulous. The gals on my second grade team gave it to us, and it went right in the suitcase. Um, about that suitcase going to Kunming--there is a lot in there for one small kid for only 4 days...

3 more wakeups until we meet Sojo. We just got word that we will pick her up at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. People adopting from China use an organization called Bridge of Love in Beijing, and you pay them to organize everything for you, from getting a crib in the hotel room to translators to picking you up at the airport. Worth every penny! There is also another family living in another part of China that will be with us in Kunming and picking up their daughter at the same time.

On your mark...get set...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Schedule

Did I say "official" travel dates in the last email? Got a bit ahead of myself with that. The ticket delivery man (yes, a great perk of living here!) was almost on his way when I found out that the official letter from CCAA was posted only yesterday and so will not arrive until Friday. We must have this letter to go to Kunming, so we have to wait for it before traveling. No worries, though, as it means that we have a few more days here in Shanghai to get things organized.

Found out that Sojo is indeed in foster care at the moment, so they need to go out to the foster care area and bring her back to Kunming as well.

Here is the schedule:

Sunday, 5/27 fly to Kunming (Happy bday to Mojo Matt and Tisha!)
Monday, 5/28 Pick up Sojo!
Tuesday, 5/29 Adoption paperwork
Wednesday, 5/30 Free day--hoping to travel to Sojo's orphanage and the foster care village
Thursday, 5/31 Back to Shanghai (Whew! Fast turnaround!)
Friday, 6/1 Vacation for Tara and Dale--chillin' by the pool with Sojita!

The wildest part of all of this is that by this time next week, PLOP!, there will be a kid in the Ethridge/Russell household! Can't wait...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Outta Here!

We are officially headed to Kunming on Friday, the 25th of May. We'll hop a quick flight to spend the weekend in Lijiang, a town in the area famous for its beautiful mountains and general cool feel, and then back to Kunming on Sunday to hopefully pick up Sojo either Monday or Tuesday. Having been told by the Chinese adoption agency, CCAA, that we will not receive the actual piece of paper with the dates on it until this Wednesday cuts things a bit close, but we'll take it anyway.

I'm attaching a picture of the area of China where Sojo is from, the land of eternal spring. It's down near Burma/Myanmar and Vietnam. There is a very cool website that sells maps like this one and many other things from the different cities and provinces.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Why "Sojo?"

Now that the dust has settled, people have been asking us why we chose the name Sojo, and I thought I would briefly explain. Plus, my mom sends me emails if I don't post something for a few days, so I'm searching for something to write for her to read (insert hug for mom here). At the beginning of the adopting process, we thought the name Sojourner was so cool because of the whole "one who takes a journey" meaning since we feel our lives are both a physical and spiritual journey, but then also for the strength of Sojourner Truth, the freed slave whose "Ain't I A Woman?" speech is so famous. We decided to name her Sojo instead of Sojourner as the world always needs more strong women. Here is an excerpt from Sojourner Truth's speech and a wise-looking photo of the first "Sojo:"

"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain't I a woman? ... I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me -- and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well -- and ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me -- and ain't I woman?"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Groovy Guy

Probably not hard to guess that the groovy guy is Dale. For Mother's Day (so weird still to think that Mother's Day has to do with me!), he wrote a really cool song called "Cutiepie" for Sojo and put it on my Ipod. Definitely one of the perks of living with a musician! Now, here's the thing--Dale doesn't use the word cutiepie EVER, but I guess he heard me saying it a few times as I was talking to Sojo's picture, and it resonated for him. I'll make it a tech goal of mine to figure out how to put a song on the blog soon...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Foster Care?

I've joined a yahoo! group of people that are adopting or have adopted from the Kunming orphanage, and some people post to it as they are in Kunming to give others information. Yesterday I read a posting from a couple that visited the orphanage and learned that only kids younger than 5 months were kept there while the rest were in foster care in the neighboring village of An Ning. Local women from the minority tribes are the caregivers, and they take the kids out in these gorgeous embroidered baby carriers into the fields to farm. I love the idea of her strapped onto the back of a tough farming woman, resting against her heartbeat all day in the sun. Whether she is in the orphanage or in foster care, we feel good about how she is being cared for.

Monday, May 14, 2007

She'd Better Love Breakie!

Sojo has become a Flat Stanley* of sorts in that we are treating her as if she were here already--she watched her first Mariners game, is a big fan of Blake on American Idol and even had her first breakfast at our neighborhood cafe (look closely at the picture). Since we have coffee every morning at this restaurant, the waitresses are our buddies and can't wait to meet Sojo (us, too!)

Our tenative travel date to head to Kunming is May 25, which means running at turbo speed as teachers to get ready for the end of the year before the end of the year is here! It's all good, though, as we are ready to go and get her at a moment's notice.

*Flat Stanley is a character from a children's book that gets flattened and then winds up doing all sorts of random things b/c he is flat. Teachers around the world create "Flat Stanley" from paper and mail him to other places in the world as a class project.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Groovy Friends

I wanted to post a picture of our wonderful friends Doug and Linda whom we work with here in Shanghai. Linda has been our unofficial Chinese liasion for documents and also helped us by translating a long letter to the ayis at the orphanage who are taking care of Sojo. The letter, in both Chinese and English, will be put into Sojo's special journey book. We are so grateful for both Doug and Linda, plus they are such a great couple in general! And, for the small world twist, my brother Matt used to work with Doug in Tucson years ago. Hen Duo Xie Xie Pengyou!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Finding Ad

Through reading other blogs, I have come across a company that helps people adopting from China have an extra piece of their child's past. Law in China requires that orphanages run pictures of the babies found in the local newspaper in case anyone is looking for them. It's called a "finding ad," and along with the photo of the child as a wee baby, there is usually a bit more information about where the child was found. I have heard back from the guy who runs the company, China-Research, and he has found Sojo's finding ad, so it's on its way to us. We're throwing in a DVD of the orphanage and the surrounding area of Kunming.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Looking Good for Travel?

Made a bunch of calls yesterday getting things organized--one to Bridge of Love, which is this great organization that basically does everything for you from picking you up at the airport to getting a crib in your hotel room to providing guides and translation. A lovely lady there is helping me try to get the ball rolling for our travel date. She said that China usually sends a letter in two weeks that indicates the travel date on it. Ugh--we kinda wanted to be in Kunming in two weeks, not finding out when we have permission, so the lovely Lisa is trying to work some magic. My next call was to Beijing to see about our very important US immigrant I-171H paper, and this awesome guy named Fred heard my case and said, "OK. I'll get the new paper to you fast." No groveling, nothing, just good ol' kindness and helpfulness! He THINKS he can have it to us in about 3 weeks, which means we probably get to go home this summer. We still have a week in Hawaii for naturalization, and we won't get there until the end of June so Sojo probably won't get to see the glorious Arizona (poor thing--she won't know what sunshine is if we only go to Seattle!), but still...YIPPEE! Blueberries in the morning, fish in the pond, sleeping in a hammock, FRESH AIR! Mind you, you never know what will transpire, but it's looking good for travel this summer.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Care Package to Kunming

We're sending a care package to Sojo today with a few things from both sets of her grandparents, a disposable camera and a picture of us so she can get used to our faces. Years ago at the Shanghai orphanage, I remember seeing a crib with a picture of a couple tied to the bars, and I thought it was a great idea. Dale wrote a beautiful thank you letter to the ayis (nannies) taking care of her, and our great friend Linda translated it last night. Look for a pic of the lovely Linda coming soon! We're hoping they can take some pictures of Sojo in the orhpanage and her with the ayis as well, but who knows? The yahoo group I joined for the Yunnan kids says that our orphanage doesn't allow inside pictures, but it's worth a try. My job today is to call the US government office up in Beijing today and begin round two of begging and pleading to expedite our paperwork (round one was via the answering machine and a bit pathetic!) so we can take Sojo home this summer.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Next Steps

Our acceptance paper (you literally have to check a box saying we accept this child) is on its way to Beijing to the head office of adoption affairs, and it should arrive tomorrow. We then wait for permission to travel to Kunming to pick up Sojo. Our hope is that because we are in Shanghai, we can get a quick travel date, so both Dale and I are starting to get our heads around preparing for leaving before the end of the school year. I did discover today that another couple in Shanghai have received a referral of a daughter from the same orphanage, born just 3 days after Sojo, which is so wild.

Random quotes from my lovely students...they are so literal that they didn't quite get why there weren't twins. I explained that China decided to give us one, and we are incredibly happy with that. Still, in their eight-year old minds, it took them a few days. Here are their thoughts...

"It's ok that you didn't get twins because if you had two, there is no way they could both be as cute as Sojo is."

"I can't wait to meet Sojo, but remember guys, we can't freak her out when she comes to visit!"

"I don't get it. She's Chinese."

These snippets are from a while ago when I first told them about the adoption...

"If you and Mr. E decide to have your own kids, does that mean you'll give her back?"

"I don't get it. You don't really speak Chinese well (oh, the honesty of kids!). How will you even talk to her?"

They are just as excited as we are to get Sojo. I even got a birthday invitation from a student today that said "HI SOJO" on the envelope. And Dale's middle school students keep asking to see her picture on the computer.

p.s. Thanks for the crocs, mom and dad! They rock! Even Dale, "one pair of shoes" E. likes them, and WOW, those of you who know him well know how shocking that is for him to even make a statement about shoes!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Where Sojo Resides

Ok, a few days have passed now, and the novelty of just having a picture of Sojo wore off yesterday around noon. It hit us both, maybe harder because everywhere we look are Chinese people, and we both just basically want to go and get her now. Since we can't do that, I joined a yahoo group of people who have adopted from Kunming and am gathering as much information as I can about the process from here on out. The orphanage looks wonderful and very similar to the one we have gone to in Shanghai--austere, yet modern and clean. I am reading that we will be able to tour the orphanage (yippee!) but should not expect to be able to take pictures, so I'm glad that someone from years past had posted the picture of the cribs and I could copy it. It really does look just like that--rows and rows of cribs filled with kids. One thing we found fascinating was the absolute routine in the orphanage here: when it was feeding time, the toddlers all walked to their chairs and sat there like fish, opening and closing their mouths waiting for food! Let me tell you--no picky eaters in the orphanage!

And I must give a big shout-out to the Chinese in general for working so hard to make adoption in China a special process. A little known fact, outside of the adoption world, is that the Chinese take matching children to parents very seriously and asked us to send six close-up pictures of ourselves doing something we like to do. They then take our pictures and likes into the matching room and go through photos of kids around China, looking for the closest match they can. So, it really isn't so weird that Sojo's eyes looks a bit like mine and she has Dale's bald head, as well as loving music.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo Chica

Happy Cinco de Mayo! The secretary at school decided to put Sojo's picture up in the office until we got her in person, and Dale added a bit of the Latin flavor to her serious yet soulful look. We do love hats in this family!

This guy is going to rock as a dad!! Can't wait to watch him in action. I've also put him in charge of all future fingernail clippings (as he does with the cats) because it freaks me out! Haven't convinced him yet to change all future diapers.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Yunnanese Shoes

Who needs Robeez when you have funky Yunnanese shoes? A lovely woman who works at our school named Jacqueline gave us these shoes for Sojo. She recently went on a Habitat for Humanity trip in a village near Kunming and bought them from an old lady there who had made them by hand. Lovin' the curled-toes.

Tried all day today to fax our acceptance letter to CCAA in Beijing, but to no avail. We'll try again on Monday as that is what gets the ball rolling to get permission to go to Kunming.

One more groovy thing--my friend here in Shanghai, Jenna, told me today that she thought we named her Sojo as a means of saying "so much joy." I'm adding it to the list of reasons why her name is so cool!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More and more info

As there are some out there who are hanging on every detail about the groovy new addition to the Ethridge household (no names mentioned--MOM!), I am adding more and more info as often as I can. Who am I kidding? It's as much for me as anyone else. So, here is some more info:

1. Sojo can hold her head up by herself and follows people with her eyes.
2. She likes to be in her "shaking chair" (aka those cool vibrating chairs and it's basically the only item we purchased and brought back from the US!)
3. When she was brought to the orphanage, she had jaundice, was treated for that and is now ok.
4. She is so adorable!
5. If you look closely, you can see that her right eye is a bit scrunchier than her left eye. Tara has exactly the same thing on the same eye...hmmm...lovin' it!
6. Um, did I mention she's cute?
7. She is active and likes to listen to music. SCORE! I believe that little tidbit gave Dale permission to go and buy the Hello Kitty pink guitar he has his eye on.

We are of course anxious to go pick her up, but all the offices are closed this week due to the May workers holiday, so we can't even fax our acceptance until Monday. At that point, we have to wait for permission to travel, which we think will be about 2 or 3 weeks. Then we are off to Kunming to meet Sojo (pause for cheering!)

Sorry no more pictures. The only other one they sent us was of her buttocks, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that no kid would think that was cool to have plastered into cyberspace. But, it is a bit strange to get a picture of your kid's buttocks, especially when they are so tiny! The reason they sent us that picture is because she has what is called in English a "Mongolian Spot." It's something very common in people of Asian descent and looks like a purplish birthmark right on the tailbone area. They wanted to make sure we knew and didn't think anything bad had happened. They fade in Chinese, it's called a TAI JIE (pronounced tie jee) and folklore says it is the gods giving you a good whack on your way out into the world. It means she is going to have a good life. Oh, just you wait, Sojo!

Love to everyone who has supported us through this very long process. We have been showered with such goodness and love in this life, and we are grateful to be able to bring Sojo into such a warm, loving circle of family and friends.

Sojo Aini

Here is another pic of her--after a night of going through names and sleeping on it, she is officially Sojo Aini(pronounced ah nee). We wanted a strong name and Sojo comes from Sojourner as well as keeping the name she was given at the orphanage. Plus, one of my students said, "Sojo. I like it. It makes me feel brave," and what a cool endorsement that is from an eight year old. A few name tidbits--It is custom here in China to give all kids the same surname when they come to an orphanage. However, Sojo is from one of the provinces that has minority tribes, so her name in general is very different than most (at least that is what the Chinese staff here is saying) and not common at all. She may even be from a minority tribe. Hoping we can figure some of that out when we get to Kunming.

How about that hairline? Ha! Seriously, I didn't think I would be this schoolgirlish about the whole thing, but I have spent most of the morning just checking on her picture while teaching.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More Details on the Cutie

Basically can do nothing but stare at her picture...and this may sound weird, but she does look a lot like Tara did as a child. I think it's the chubby cheeks (she looks so serious--we are going to scan another one tomorrow that shows a hint of a smile). So here are the details that our friend translated for us from Chinese.

Xi Ai Ni (still not sure what we are going to call her as of yet) is in good physical health at 6.5 kilos (ok, a wee bit skinny, but we'll work on that one), and 62 cm long--that translates to 14.3 lbs and long enough. :) She was found when she was one day old by someone and brought to the local police station and then brought to the orphanage. She can hold her head up and pays attention with her eyes when someone is in the room or when she has a colorful toy. What makes her happy is when someone plays with her (pick us! we'll play with you!), cries to express her feelings, and can make simple sounds.

One comical thing is that we need to reread our baby books because we had studied what to do and what to feed year-old kids, and now we have a 7 month old! She is now eating formula and is being introduced to egg yolk (don't freak out, mothers out there. They feed eggs to kids earlier in China than other countries, and there are very few food allergies in Chinese children) and juice.

We'll post the additional pics tomorrow--we didn't even know there were more because they were under the first one.

Back to staring at the pictures. So hard to believe that we are all going to be together.

Cute Things Come To Those Who Wait!

YIPPEE!!!!!! Still a bit speechless (in a good way!) over on this side of the world since we got our referral of our super cute daughter this afternoon! Her Chinese name is Xi Ai Ni (Shee, ai, nee), which means one of two things depending on the characters: "Love you West" or "Small beautiful grasses from the West." Both are very beautiful meanings. Here is what we know--she was born on October 9, 2006 and found on October 10, 2006. She is a tiny little thing at 6.5 kilos, but we'll fatten her up as soon as she gets here to Shanghai with us. She is from the Yunnan province of China (in the western part, hence the Xi--West part of her name)--a fabulous place that we have been wanting to go to for 4 years now, so here is our chance to go when we pick her up.

More info and pictures really soon! We had a friend translate the documents for us and I'll post that information really soon. For now, just eat her up!