We’ve been home 24 days!

I’ve been asked to post a little update on how things are going since we’ve been home, so here it is!

We are all adjusting to our new life wonderfully. Nathan Bao is one amazing kid and we are head over heels in love with him! He is funny, sweet, joyful, smart, busy, kind, ornery…quite a normal kid who has fit in so well with our family and has taken so many huge changes in stride. On the spectrum of older child adoption, we are about as far to the “good” outcome side as you can get. He has a few regressive emotional behaviors (which is actually a good and healthy thing…he needs to go through these stages that he missed while at the orphanage) but they are minor and will pass quickly.  These include tantrums and over reacting to things – reminds you more of a toddler seeking attention when he’s angry or sad or feeling any negative emotions. We just shower him with love and try to discipline him gently and teach him what is expected. Usually the negative emotions and behaviors pass quite quickly and our joyful boy returns. He is still Daddy’s boy but has definitely grown quite attached to Mommy now too. He love his siblings and is especially fond of his big sisters. Nathan is not a picky eater, fortunately. There are very few things he won’t try and even fewer things that he doesn’t like. We’re very grateful that food is not an issue. The language barrier is still there but he is so flexible and easy going about it. I was worried he’d get frustrated but he just gets creative and figures out how to tell us what he wants us to know. And he is super smart and figures out what we want most of the time. The language issue will improve over time. It’s amazing how far he’s already come. I won’t tell you what his favorite English words are or from whom he learned them! ;0) (They’re all G-rated, but not always the nicest way of saying things!) It’s eye-opening when you hear him parrot back a new phrase or word that he learned from one of us!!! It definitely makes us think about what and how we say things a bit more carefully.

We will be moving our oldest daughter to her college dorm in Dallas next weekend. We’re a little worried about how Nathan will do with this separation as he thinks his big sister is wonderful and he like all of us will miss her very much. If you would offer up a prayer for him to be able to accept that transition well (and maybe for her mother too!!!!), we’d greatly appreciate it. He’s been through so much loss already. Hopefully he will be able to see that this is different and that she’s going to be coming back and that love and relationships can stay strong even across the miles.

Here are a few photos of our first few weeks together:

The Ayers kids...aren't they cute!???!!

The Ayers kids…aren’t they cute!???!!

Learning to ride a bike!!!

Learning to ride a bike!!!

Fun with a new train set from our neighbor, Mrs. Ward

Fun with a new train set from our neighbor, Mrs. Ward

Our happy family

Our happy family

Nathan with his proud parents

Nathan with his proud parents

Nathan LOVES to swim! He is a fish. Swim lessons start this weekend!

Nathan LOVES to swim! He is a fish. Swim lessons start this weekend!

That's how he looks most of the time...what a beautiful smile!!! I'll never get tired of looking at it!

That’s how he looks most of the time…what a beautiful smile!!! I’ll never get tired of looking at it!

Brothers and Buddies

Brothers and Buddies

Fun at our parish picnic

Fun at our parish picnic

Nathan loves to draw and write and color. He can already write his name in English.

Nathan loves to draw and write and color. He can already write his name in English.

 

 

 

We’re home!

We’re blessed beyond measure to be home with our whole family! We are a bit jet lagged but doing pretty well.  The trip went as well as something like that can go (!!). Nathan was enveloped in hugs and kisses and love and tears at the airport and he had lots of smiles and handled it all very well. The skyping these past few days was invaluable in helping him become acquainted with his siblings so that when he met them they were not perfect strangers. He seems to like his new surroundings and will have great fun exploring them these next few days and weeks.  The kids all noticed his reaction to walking barefoot on the grass in our back yard…it was obvious he had never done that before! There are a lot of “firsts” still awaiting him and it will be fun to share them with him. Thank you all for all your prayers and support! We couldn’t have done this without you. Please continue to pray for Nathan as he transitions to his new life with our family. God bless you all! (I’ll try to post a few photos later.)

Consulate Appointment went smoothly

The American Consulate moved to a new location during the past couple of weeks and we were one of seven adoptive families who had appointments today on the first day in the new space. We met at 8:30, received instructions, took an oath of immigration on behalf of Nathan, submitted our paperwork and were out of there a little after 9:00. It went very smoothly and the facilities were quite nice. Nathan’s visa should be ready tomorrow by 4:00 and then we catch a 5:30 train to Hong Kong. After an overnight stay in a hotel near the airport we will catch our flight on Friday morning. We can’t wait to get home to see our kids!!! (They are all on the mend at home thanks to your prayers and the help of Grandma and friends! Thank you!!!!!)

We’re really getting into our groove with Nathan. He is getting used to us and to his new life and calming down a bit. (Unfortunately, his *real* new life at home will not include a breakfast buffet, fabulous rooftop swimming pool and french fries for lunch every day! So the adjustment will continue…) He is bonding very well with Daniel and starting to learn more English words and phrases. His most used English phrase is “Sorry, Daniel.” Hmmm, wonder why he’s learned that one so well?!! He is learning the names of all his brothers and sisters slowly (it’s easier to just call them “brother” [ge ge] and “big sister” [jie jie]  or “little sister” [mei mei]) as we’ve skyped several times and he has photos of everyone that he pulls out frequently. He’s a chatter box and is constantly babbling in his native tongue. We wish we could understand him because he sounds so cute! I guess we will soon enough.

I’m not sure if I’ll get to blog again before we get home but I will if I can. Please pray for our safe journey home and we will be in touch when we are able.

We’re keeping busy

We’ve been doing some shopping and walking and just spending time together these past couple of days. Things are going well overall with a few tough times thrown in to keep us from getting bored! Nathan is an amazing little boy. We have to keep reminding ourselves that he comes from a very different background than our other kids and with the language barrier it’s just going to take some time for him to figure out our expectations and what it’s like to live in a family. He’s learning quickly and is a very bright boy. When we get home it will help too. The sooner he can begin to get used to his new reality the sooner he will adjust to it.

Please pray for 3 of my kids back at home who are sick with viruses that have been keeping them down for a few days (Grace, Isaac and Lucas). They have been with their grandparents and are coming home today (fortunately my parents are able to stay and continue to help take care of them). But we’d appreciate your prayers for quick recoveries and no one else getting sick. It’s really hard not to be there when our babies are sick. But we’re blessed that they are in such good hands and know that your prayers will help everyone get through this difficulty.

We went to Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral here in Guangzhou on Sunday at 3:30.

We went to Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral here in Guangzhou on Sunday at 3:30.

The Mass was in English. It was packed! Most of the attendees appeared to be African. We were able to understand the whole thing (well, except for parts of the sermon!) and even knew several of the songs! It made us feel quite at home. What an amazing experience to worship with people of other cultures. This was Nathan’s first experience in a worship setting. He was very quiet and calm (thankfully) at least partly due to the extreme heat and humidity that really lulled him to near sleep. The church was beautiful but the discomfort of the crowding and temps made us very grateful for our churches back at home.

Sacred Heart Cathedral is known locally as the stone church (for obvious reasons)

Sacred Heart Cathedral is known locally as the stone church (for obvious reasons)

Some of the beautiful stained glass behind the altar.

Some of the beautiful stained glass behind the altar.

This photo was taken about a half hour before Mass started. We mistakenly thought Mass started at 3:00; since we arrived so early we were able to get a seat. What a blessing!

This photo was taken about a half hour before Mass started. We mistakenly thought Mass started at 3:00; since we arrived so early we were able to get a seat. What a blessing!

Driving to the Cathedral. Riding in a car here is usually a harrowing experience. The streets are packed with cars, buses, bikes, motorcycles, carts, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Driving to the Cathedral. Riding in a car here is usually a harrowing experience. The streets are packed with cars, buses, bikes, motorcycles, carts, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

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People use their horns all the time here. I think I can probably count the number of times I've used my horn on both hands. But we usually beat that every time we get in the car here.

People use their horns all the time here. I think I can probably count the number of times I’ve used my horn on both hands. But we usually beat that every time we get in the car here.

There are surprisingly very few accidents here. We've only seen a couple of fender benders. Somehow they just know how to merge together and get around one another with very few problems.

There are surprisingly very few accidents here. We’ve only seen a couple of fender benders. Somehow they just know how to merge together and get around one another with very few problems.

Shopping at Michael's Place on Shamian Island in Guangzhou. This was one of our favorite spots last year and again this year.

Shopping at Michael’s Place on Shamian Island in Guangzhou. This was one of our favorite spots last year and again this year.

John and the boys pose by the giant chess pieces in one of the parks on Shamian Island.

John and the boys pose by the giant chess pieces in one of the parks on Shamian Island.

Going for a walk in the rain in a nearby park. It was beautiful and the boys really had fun.

Going for a walk in the rain in a nearby park. It was beautiful and the boys really had fun.

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The breakfast buffets at the hotels have been amazing! There is an abundance of delicious and strange foods...something for everyone! Nathan's favorites include fruit, tomatoes, corn, noodles and rice.

The breakfast buffets at the hotels have been amazing! There is an abundance of delicious and strange foods…something for everyone! Nathan’s favorites include fruit, tomatoes, corn, noodles and rice.

Daniel's breakfast looks very American! (not pictured: the Coco Puffs that were selected on the 2nd trip to the buffet)

Daniel’s breakfast looks very American! (not pictured: the Coco Puffs that were selected on the 2nd trip to the buffet)

Safe and sound in Guangzhou

Our flight was slightly delayed last night but we managed to get to Guangzhou by about 8:30 pm and to our hotel by about 10:00. Nathan was super excited to go on an airplane. When we walked out of the hotel in Nanjing to go to the airport, he was disappointed to see our car there as he was expecting to get right on the airplane. Slight misunderstanding! He did pretty well on the flight. He freaked out when we took off and whimpered and squawked and clung to John for about 10 minutes afterwards until we were able to distract him with a sticker book. Then he pretty much forgot about his fears and became very interested in everything going on around him…pushing every button, unbuckling his belt repeatedly, grabbing the flight attendant, using the toilet (twice!)…busy boy!  His face lit up when he saw the flight attendants bringing drinks and dinner down the aisle. He enjoyed that meal very much. Overall a successful trip and we’re grateful to be on the final stop of this journey. We are not looking forward to the 13 hour flight to Chicago plus 4 hour layover plus 1.5 hour fight home next Friday. But we’ll get through that too, I imagine.

Guangzhou is a very different place than the other cities we’ve been to in China. Many more people speak English here and it’s much more USA-like and more metropolitan. We happen to be staying in the same hotel that we stayed in 10 years ago when we adopted Daniel! It’s been completely renovated but it brings back some good memories to be here again. We are still a big minority here with our white skin, but not as much as other places. In Nanjing people would just stare and stare at us and we got many double takes when they noticed us with our Chinese sons. Here it doesn’t seem to be any big deal.  All international adoptive families come through Guangzhou and it’s also a very big international business location so we are not a novelty at all here. The manager at the breakfast buffet in our hotel this morning is from Mexico and spoke Spanish with John! Pretty cool!

Nathan had his medical exam this morning. Everything went well…it was pretty basic. The worst part was the blood draw for the TB test and so we had a sad little boy for a while again. But he let me comfort him this time (which was a big improvement!) and he was back to his smiling, mischievous self after about 10 minutes. We stopped at a WalMart near the hotel to stock up on a few supplies and are now back at the hotel for the afternoon. We ordered Papa John’s delivery for lunch (amazing…tastes just like at home!). Daniel is a pickier eater than Nathan so we’ve been eating more American food than Chinese. It’s raining here and the pool is outdoors so no one is swimming today. We’re keeping busy with some in room activities and will venture out soon to find dinner and go for a stroll in one of the two nearby parks.

Nathan is a chatter box but we can’t understand anything he says! It frustrates him a bit and he keeps trying to teach us Chinese and gets irritated when we can’t remember it. I think he’s of the mistaken impression that our family will learn to speak Chinese so he doesn’t have to learn English! The boy is in for a rude awakening, I’m afraid. I just hope it doesn’t take too long or frustrate him too much in the meanwhile.

Here are a few pictures of our last 24 hours:

On the plane getting ready for take off

On the plane getting ready for take off

Settled down in the air...this is pretty fun!

Settled down in the air…this is pretty fun!

Medical check-up is required before getting a US visa. Nathan did great.

Medical check-up is required before getting a US visa. Nathan did great.

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Now this is my kind of vending machine!!! Check it out!

Now this is my kind of vending machine!!! Check it out!

This was in the lobby of the building where we went for the medical exam.

This was in the lobby of the building where we went for the medical exam. I’ll take one of each!

Good bye, Nanjing! Guangzhou, here we come…

The boys went to the swimming pool this morning while I got everything packed up. Our guide is picking up Nathan’s Chinese passport so we will then be free to leave his province. We will head to the airport at 3:30 this afternoon for an evening flight to Guangzhou. We will spend the next week there taking care of the US requirements to bring him home.

We skyped all our kids this morning and last night. They are doing very well. The younger four are at Grandpa and Grandma’s for the next several days so the older girls can get a break. Should be a lot of fun!

We’ll see how Nathan likes the airplane!! It will be an adventure for everyone. We’ll let you know how it goes……..

Getting to know one another

Nathan is becoming more and more comfortable with us and is really coming out if his shell. He is quite an ornery, active, sweet little boy. He has a smile that can melt your heart. And that obedience we mentioned from the first couple of days…not so much anymore! He’s testing us a bit, I think. But always in an ornery, mischievous way. He eventually gives in and obeys but sometimes it takes a while. He gets frustrated with the difficulty in communication and told our guide that he wishes he could understand us. We feel the same way! Our guide has lots of experience with international adoption and she told us that with his level of intelligence he will be understanding us well in 3 or 4 months. That’s still a long time to struggle through confusion, but it will go fast. And he’s already picking up some words and we’re developing sign language for others. So it will be fine.

This boy LOVES his daddy! He wants to sit by him, sleep with him, and go everywhere with him. He’s going to be in for a bit of disappointment when his daddy goes back to work and leaves him every day! But he’ll get used to that. It’s so good for him to have a loving daddy in his life so we’re just going to let him enjoy it as much as he can.

Our boy is a bit of a scaredy cat. He freaks out when the car drives into tunnels (“there are ghosts in here?”) or when we go over a bridge. He clings to BaBa and gets quite frightened. He’s real excited about riding on an airplane, but I think it’s going to scare him and he will not like the take-offs and landings. Hopefully he won’t scream! We’ll find out for sure tomorrow evening when we fly to Guangzhou.

This morning we went to a beautiful park and lake near downtown Nanjing. It was very scenic and we enjoyed walking a bit and then riding an electric car around the whole lake.

Here are a few photos we’d like to share with you:

At Xuanwu Lake in Nanjing...striking a pose!

At Xuanwu Lake in Nanjing…striking a pose!

Nathan is so curious about everything, He examined these flowers and wanted to know why some of them looked different.

Nathan is so curious about everything, He examined these flowers and wanted to know why some of them looked different.

The lotus flowers around the lake were beautiful and huge!

The lotus flowers around the lake were beautiful and huge!

The boys in the hotel room - checking out the latest photos our kids back at home sent us.

The boys in the hotel room – checking out the latest photos our kids back at home sent us.

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Daddy's boy

Daddy’s boy

Brothers - tickle time!!!

Brothers – tickle time!!!

The boys are really warming up to one another.

The boys are really warming up to one another.

This is the drawing Nathan did when we first met him. He wrote his name in Chinese characters (top) and then BaBa and MaMa.

This is the drawing Nathan did when we first met him. He wrote his name in Chinese characters (top) and then BaBa and MaMa.

Nathan drew and colored this picture of his BaBa yesterday. Looks just like him!

Nathan drew and colored this picture of his BaBa yesterday. Looks just like him!

 

Everything is new and exciting

Nathan Bao loves life and is thrilled with all his new adventures. Sometimes things are a bit scary at first but he quickly overcomes his fears with his Daddy by his side. Yesterday afternoon he went swimming for the first time ever. He LOVED it! (He swallowed half the water in the pool…but that was part of the fun!) Then we went to McDonalds for an Oreo Mcflurry and we think that may have been the first time he had ice cream based on his reaction and surprise at the coldness of it. But he liked it a lot and finished most of it.

This morning we went to the Nanjing Zoo. They have pandas there which was very exciting for us! We saw lots of other animals too. The boys fed the animals in the petting zoo (birds, ostriches, goats, ponies, etc.). Nathan loved that but was always a bit scared if the animals came too close. It was super hot and very humid so after a couple of hours we headed back to the hotel and now the boys are back in the pool with their dad.

Both boys slept very well last night. We had to wake Nathan this morning from a deep sleep so we know that we really tired him out yesterday. He is adjusting so well! He is so tightly bonding to his BaBa (John) and doesn’t want him to leave his sight. And he is doing much better with Daniel too, although it’s still hot or cold. He is very sweet to me but still sees me as kind of just another caretaker that he really likes. Since he has never had a mother I don’t think he really knows what that even means. Time will take care of that, I hope. He is full of questions and he chats non-stop (too bad we can’t understand it!). He is a teaser and a very neat child. He makes his bed in the morning and he cleans up the hotel room at night. (Perfect roommate for you, Lucas!) He constantly has a smile on his face and is filled with joy at all the new things he is encountering. He’s a lot of fun and has a ton of energy. Thankfully he is also quite obedient.

We had Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza for dinner last night and Nathan liked it. Not sure if he’s had it before or not. For lunch we had a very spicy chicken dish with fried rice and noodles here in the hotel. The chicken was too hot for the boys and had too much cartilage for me (yes, they serve it with the cartilage on purpose!) We’re paying Daniel 1 Yuan for each new dish he will try. It’s quite a struggle for him every time…he debates whether or not it’s worth that price to put something into his mouth. But he has tried a few new things (some he liked; some not so much!) and pocketed a little bit of spending money, so that’s a success for all. There are some very interesting things on the menus and in the stores here. I wouldn’t put them in my mouth for any amount of money!! (Bullfrog anyone? How about some fried rice with eel? We can get it to go for you!!)

Here are a few photos from our latest adventures:

Having a blast in the hotel swimming pool

Having a blast in the hotel swimming pool…swim caps are required in the hotel pools!

Sound asleep this morning dreaming sweet dreams

Sound asleep this morning dreaming sweet dreams

Ready to enter the Nanjing Zoo

Ready to enter the Nanjing Zoo

Father and sons

Father and sons

A quick family snapshot at the Nanjing Zoo

A quick family snapshot at the Nanjing Zoo

The pandas were so fun to watch! Not something we see every day in the USA.

The pandas were so fun to watch! Not something we see every day in the USA.

A bird landed on Daniel's hand to take the Yuan he held up. Pretty cool!

A bird landed on Daniel’s hand to take the Yuan he held up. Pretty cool!

Bao loved riding this bouncy bunny rabbit (the music was the English ABC song!)

Bao loved riding this bouncy bunny rabbit (the music was the English ABC song!)

 

It’s Official!

The adoption is final and Nathan is now and forever our son. The finalization required a trip back to the Civil Affairs Office this morning for some paperwork. The Orphanage workers were there again and Nathan went right to them and became very sad again. This time there was no wailing or trying to get away so it was much better…but he was still grieving and it was hard to watch. Daniel had a real hard time seeing how hard it was for Nathan to leave everything behind. He is so tender-hearted himself and I think this also probably digs up wounds in his own heart that are buried so deep he is not even aware of them. So we have a couple of boys who need lots of love and attention and we’ll be giving that abundantly these next days and weeks. One of the biggest surprises for me is that Nathan really pushes Daniel away. He prefers BaBa (John) and me secondly. But he doesn’t want anything to do with Daniel…kind of a jealousy thing, not wanting to share his BaBa and MaMa with anyone. I really thought having Daniel here would be a good bonding for them and I still think it will be in the future. Just not right now. Daniel is handling it beautifully and is trying his best to understand how Nathan is going through a big adjustment and is regressing and acting much younger than a normal 7 year old would. This is all expected and necessary although not always easy to deal with. So please offer up an additional prayer for Daniel if you would. We’re so proud of how he’s handling everything.

The boys went down to the hotel pool with BaBa right now so I have time to do some laundry and post the latest. Bao has never been in a swimming pool before. When Sophie asked him if he’d like to go swimming, he said no because of the sharks. So hopefully there are no sharks in the pool here! ;0)) We’ll see if he likes it or not!

Bao is definitely becoming more and more comfortable with us and we are so grateful for that. When we left the Civil Affairs Office this morning, he allowed John to hold him and comfort him in his sadness which is polar opposite of what happened just yesterday. And by the time we got back to the pool he was cheered up and ready to go after we promised he could watch some TV. Apparently he complained to the Orphanage workers that we told him “no” when he asked if he could watch TV the first day (which we did…we had plenty of other activities that we thought would be a better way to spend bonding time!). So he did watch some Chinese cartoons when we got back to the hotel. That made him quite happy. I’m a little out of my comfort zone right now…coca cola, TV time…not our normal family routines. But this little guy has lost so much these past 24 hours. If these few comforts help him to adjust to his new life then they will be ok for now.

We’ve been skyping with the kids at home. They are doing very well and it’s so good to be able to see their faces and hear their voices from around the world. It’s amazing and much different than when we did this 10 years ago! Our first skype with Nathan was beautiful to watch. He was familiar with all the kids from their photos so he recognized them and said hi to them and waved to them. He watched intently as they all spoke and smiled at him. Elena was still asleep so was not present on the call. He realized this and asked for MeiMei (little sister). I was so surprised! The kids took the computer into the bedroom so he could see her sleeping; of course that woke her up and she was a bit fussy. But she quickly calmed down and joined in the call and was very excited to see her new brother as well.

Thanks again for the prayers. These have been a couple of emotionally draining days and we’re sure there are still some rough spots ahead. But this initial pain will subside and heal and the blessing of a new family and a bright future will overshadow it all.

Day 1: Striking a pose in the hotel room.

Day 1: Striking a pose in the hotel room.

BaBa and Nathan Bao looking at family photos

BaBa and Nathan Bao looking at family photos

End of day 1: brushing teeth and getting ready for bed

End of day 1: brushing teeth and getting ready for bed

Tired boys (Daniel is by the wall) all slept like babies after this long day

Tired boys (Daniel is by the wall) all slept like babies after this long day

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Adoption paperwork

Adoption paperwork

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Father and Son hanging out at the hotel, watching Chinese cartoons and skyping the kids back home

Father and Son hanging out at the hotel, watching Chinese cartoons and skyping the kids back home

Brothers

Brothers

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Gotcha Day!

And what a day it has been. This is one amazing little boy and we are so proud that he will officially become our son tomorrow.

The emotions of this day have gone from one extreme to the other and back again several times. We arrived at the government office to find that Bao had already arrived. When he saw us walk in, he started crying and screaming and struggling to get away. Not a very hopeful sign that he was eager to meet us. Of course we knew this was a very possible and reasonable reaction to his situation but it was hard to know how to deal with it and very heart wrenching to know that we were causing him pain. We used the only method we knew of to try to comfort him…bribes! Candy, toys…at first he refused us but before too long his normal kid genes kicked in and he couldn’t resist. He was still very hesitant to come near us and it took quite a while before he was willing to sit with us to take the mandatory photo for his adoption decree. But all was getting better it seemed. And then came the time to depart and he was again very anxious and frightened. Unfortunately, we had to take him against his will and he was very distraught. Our guide, Sophie, was wonderful during this whole time. She explained things to him and consoled him. We had been worried that his dialect might not allow him to communicate well with her, but it turned out not to be a problem at all.

In another attempt to bribe him and take his mind off his woes, we offered him food. He wanted to go to KFC and have a hamburger and coke. (Yes, they have a different menu here in China!) So we headed straight to the restaurant and placed the order. He gulped the coke down and just kind of looked at the burger (turned out he had never had one before; must have seen a commercial somewhere?). Then he grabbed his coke and stood up and waved good bye to us and attempted to walk away. We could see that he was still feeling quite scared and wanted to go back to the orphanage workers who had brought him to us. We decided to go to the hotel which fortunately was right next door. We said goodbye to Sophie at the door and headed up the elevator. We were able to keep him distracted with the elevator buttons and the room key. But when we entered the room he got scared again and tried to bolt. I grabbed the Ipod to try to use the translator to communicate with him. When he saw it he grabbed it and started playing an English/Chinese word card activity. It settled him down and kept him happy for a while. Then we started pulling out other games and toys that we had brought and he became quite content. He even let John give him a bath. Now we seem to be doing very well. Of course we are on pins and needles a bit because we know that at any moment he could remember his fears or get homesick and try to bolt again. But we think we are moving very quickly in the right direction. We are gaining his trust and he is feeling more comfortable each minute.

Now let me tell you a bit about this amazing child who stole our hearts months ago and is finally with us!

– he is an artist! When we gave him a paper and pen at the Civil Affairs office he immediately sat down and began sketching his two favorite cartoon characters, a sheep and a wolf. Then he wrote his name in Chinese characters and also wrote Mama and Baba in Chinese characters.

-he likes Legos! One of the first activities we did when we got back to the hotel room was a new little Lego set. He loved it and joined right in. A true Ayers boy!

-he is smart! He is very verbal and he imitates everything he hears (note to the other Ayers kids: be careful what you say and do…he’s a parrot!). Someone has taught him a little bit of English: he can count to 5, he says “how are you?” He recognizes John and I from the photos we sent and he calls us MaMa and BaBa. He is very polite and quite obedient (so far anyway!)

-he is very self confident and outgoing (once you get to know him a little bit!) and VERY curious.

There’s so much more to this amazing kid. We can’t wait for you all to meet him!!

And by the way, Daniel has been amazing! Today was very stressful for him and he became quite upset in the car when we took Nathan Bao away when he saw how difficult it was for him. But he has been a trooper and has really helped by jumping in and playing with Bao. At the civil affairs office, his offer of some coins was the first thing that Nathan Bao accepted from any of us and that really helped break the ice. And he thought of it himself and used his own money without thinking twice about it. We’re so proud of him and grateful he is here.

Thank you all so much for your prayers! We know they are making a big difference. We are so grateful for the gift of this new son and we pray God will heal his grief, calm his fears, and help him to receive the love and support that his new family and friends are eager to shower upon him.

Here are a few photos:

A very frightened little boy at the civil affairs office

A very frightened little boy at the civil affairs office

Cokes and hamburgers at KFC.

Cokes and hamburgers at KFC.

The Ipod turns out to be a very valuable distraction!

The Ipod turns out to be a very valuable distraction!

BaBa, Nathan Bao and MaMa playing Legos and getting to know one another

BaBa, Nathan Bao and MaMa playing Legos and getting to know one another