McGowan Twins

McGowan Twins
We can hardly wait to get our precious girls!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Finding Place

January 17, 2013

This was the first time we rode the high speed train in China, which reached a high speed of 167 miles per hour. What would be a 4 hour train ride on the regular train from Changsha to Chenzhou, became a 70 minute train ride. China has a great train system, but getting on and off the train is quite challenging for our family. After getting the twins, our train travels have become much more difficult, but at least we have been able to provide entertainment for many people in China! There are constant stares and smiles everywhere! Chinese people cannot seem to figure out what we are doing with 3 little Chinese girls. Marshall continues to get stopped for photos. Several more people thought he was Nicolas Cage again at the train station and he had to pose with them. We have determined that the best method of loading our family and luggage onto the train is for me to wear Annie in a baby carrier and to hold Aliza’s hand and hold Victoria’s hand with my other hand. When Aliza decides she is not walking anymore and tries to throw herself on the ground, then I carry both twins and hold Victoria’s hand. Marshall pulls a large suitcase behind him in each hand and one also has another suitcase strapped to it, as well as a computer bag. Daniel and Trevor each pull a large suitcase as well. Then we walk as fast as possible to be at the front of the line so that people don’t shove us.

Annaliese and Aliza are from Chenzhou, so it was important that we make this trip to see where their lives began. After arriving in Chenzhou and repeating the craziness at the train station again, we were picked up by a driver and went with the driver and translator to the location where Aliza and Annaliese were abandoned. They were left in a box by a gate outside a Children’s Hospital when they were 2 ½ months old. This is a picture at the finding spot. I cannot imagine what that must have been like for their mother to have loved these two little girls all of that time and then had to leave them.

Marshall toured the orphanage and we decided I would wait to see it until the next day because we needed to stay in Chenzhou an extra day so that I could meet other orphans that need a family. Then we went to dinner with the orphanage director and three nannies. The orphanage workers all confirmed what we had guessed about Aliza. She was indeed the queen of Chenzhou Orphanage. Aliza did whatever she pleased and everyone let her have what she wanted. She was never told the word no.

It really is amazing how quickly both Aliza and Annie have adapted to our family. The only time Aliza has been upset with us was when we first met her. Since then, she has been happy with us except for when she does not get what she wants. She is sweet with Annie and wants to help her. Annie is so happy to have attention and loves to be held. They are a blessing and we are thankful things are going so well.

Meeting Orphans at Chenzhou

January 18, 2013

The translator, Amy, traveled with us to Chenzhou and spent the night and an extra day with us so that she could return to the orphanage with me to help me interview boys and girls that need families. While Marshall, Daniel and Victoria entertained Annie and Aliza in the hotel, Amy, Trevor and I headed back to spend several hours with orphans. We met quite a few sweet boys and girls that would do wonderful in a family. Once we get all of the pictures uploaded, I will start telling you about these amazing children that just need someone to give them a chance. Maybe YOU can be a child’s answer to prayer.

It was great to see that the Chenzhou Orphanage staff really cares about the kids. There were many tears shed by a nanny that took care of our little girls. She was so happy that the girls now have a mom and dad, but she will also greatly miss them. I am glad that someday I will be able to let our daughters know that someone cared so much. She and the orphanage director said they were so happy that Annie and Aliza were adopted into a large family. They know it will help Annie a lot to have so much attention lots of people that love her.

In the past, have visited some orphanages where there are no toys and the walls are bare. At Chenzhou, there are bright murals painted on some of the walls, toys and exercise equipment. They are trying to make the orphanage the best place that they can until moms and dads come find their kids.

After we finished meeting the boys and girls and learning about them from their nannies, we needed to eat and head to the train station again. We said goodbye to our wonderful translator, Amy, and she returned to Changsha. Of course Marshall had to pose for the usual photographs with Nicolas Cage’s adoring fans at the train station. Daniel had several girls telling him how “beautiful” he is again and wanting pictures with him as well. A lot of them seem to be fascinated with his blonde hair and blue eyes. Even some older man came up to touch his hair! We took the high speed train again after going through all the craziness at the train station again and headed to Guangzhou.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Adoption Finalized Today

This morning we returned to the Civil Affairs Bureau, signed adoption paperwork and promised to love, never abandon and never abuse Aliza and Annaliese. That was a promise that will be easily kept. They are such sweet girls and we all love them.
At lunch, we noticed that several waitresses were hovering over us and we know how interested the Chinese people are in figuring out our family dynamics, but this was getting really annoying. Then we saw that the entire kitchen staff was lined up and watching us excitedly. People all over the restaurant seem to be watching and talking about us. Well, it soon became apparent that it was because they thought that Nicolas Cage was dining in their establishment! As you may know, Marshall regularly hears how much he looks like Nicolas Cage and has been asked a couple of times if he is actually Nicolas Cage. Anyway, we were glad that Marshall could give these Chinese people a thrill for the day.
Aliza enjoys eating so much. Not just her food, but everyone else’s too.  She does not know how to use chopsticks, but tries to eat with a fork and spoon, and her fingers are the last resort. If she does not have something tasty on her plate, she will grab something off another person’s plate. Aliza is happy and very curious, a typical 2 year old.

Annaliese is such a sweet little girl and doesn’t cry about anything other than when she kicks her leg between the crib slats and needs her leg freed. She is alert but cannot control her legs, arms or head very well. I am sure she will be able to do so much more once she can catch on to how to eat and gets started in physical therapy. She is so extremely malnourished that I don’t think she has had the energy to do anything either. I just wish we could get her to eat now. If the hotel scale is accurate, she only weighs about 13 pounds.

Meeting the Twins

As we waited in the Civil Affairs Bureau receiving room in Changsha, China, a little girl started to walk into the room, followed by two nannies. One of them was carrying a baby. Then I realized those were OUR girls! While Marshall held Annaliese, I picked up Aliza, who was very upset by this. Marshall handed me Annie and he held Aliza and began singing to her while she kept doing backbends trying to get away from him. Aliza continued to cry for a long time and was extremely upset until she fell asleep in Marshall’s arms. Annie, on the other hand, was happy and not at all afraid of us.
Friends that have volunteered at the orphanage the girls are from had told us a lot about their personalities and so this was exactly what we had expected. Aliza is one of the favorites at the orphanage and has had a lot of attention and has obviously had too much food to eat. Annie has cerebral palsy and is extremely malnourished and is so happy with all of the attention she is finally getting. When Aliza woke up, she was no longer upset and was fine leaving Civil Affairs with us.
Back at the hotel room, Aliza was happy eating fruit and a bottle of formula and Annie drank her bottle. Annie does not know how to eat, but we will keep trying and she will learn.  All she has ever had is a bottle of formula with rice cereal in it. She is so thin that it makes me wonder how she has been able to survive this long.

We were told that Aliza likes to have a lot of snacks and that her favorite food is candy. She came with a bag of her favorite treats, which was a bunch of sugary junk food. No wonder our 2 year old weighs about 40 pounds! If I had known, I should have started weight lifting!
Daniel and Trevor wanted to go to Pizza Hut for supper, which ended up being a 30 minute walk. We were quite the spectacle pushing 2 strollers with little Chinese girls, a 5 year old Chinese girl and 2 blonde, blue eyed boys. People were stopping to stare at us the entire evening. It seems like they are trying to figure out what we are doing with children that do not look like us.
Aliza enjoyed her 2 pieces of pizza and Annie had a bottle. The meal cost $15 more than we would have paid in the U.S.!
Both Annaliese and Aliza went to bed without any tears. They are so sweet and precious. We are so thankful that God has given us the opportunity to give these two little girls a family and look forward to introducing them to their other big brothers and big sister soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Visiting Orphans

Today we visited 2 different orphanages and met 26 that have their paperwork completed making them available for adoption. Lots of wonderful boys! There are some real sweet kids that we will tell you about soon. Maybe one of them will be your child. The orphans were so excited about the hats we brought that the Effingham, Illinois ladies crocheted for them.  Photos will be posted when we get the chance.
In approximately 14.5 hours, we will meet Aliza Lingyi and Annaliese Lingli for the first time!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Putting the Puzzle Together

Yesterday we were all excited to visit the orphanage where Victoria use to live. We discovered that the translator we had when we adopted Victoria 4 years ago had misinterpreted and gave us wrong information about where she had lived. The visit started by going to visit the orphanage director at the new orphanage location. He pulled out Victoria’s official file and we were able to see a picture that was taken of her the day she arrived at the orphanage when she was only 10 days old. There were several copies of it and we were given 2 of them. This will mean a lot to Victoria someday since she was probably at least 7 months old in pictures that we have. Her footprints were also in the file and her government I.D. card. The file also contained a copy of the photo I.D. card of the woman that found Victoria. I asked him if he knows where she lives because we would really like to meet her. He said that she lived in an area where the people were all relocated so he does not know where she is now. The director allowed us to take pictures of anything we wanted in her file. He said that when a child turns 18, the government allows the person to request her file, so she will be able to have everything else in it someday.
I asked if we could go to the old orphanage, meet Victoria’s foster mother, and go to her finding place. He said yes.
Four years ago, we had been told that Victoria lived at the old orphanage and during the process of moving to the new orphanage, that she had lived in a foster home for 1 month and then moved to the new orphanage. We were quite surprised to learn that Victoria never lived in the new orphanage, but in fact lived at the old orphanage and then moved next door to live with foster parents. Her foster mother had actually been the woman that cared for her while she lived in the orphanage and when other children moved to the new orphanage, Victoria was one of the three babies that moved into the apartment with her foster parents.
The old orphanage is only a short distance from the new one. When we got out of the van, people were drying noodles in their front yard. Noodles were everywhere. And there stood the orphanage that is now rather run down. It is now used for another business and it looks like some people live there too. Victoria’s foster mother came outside to greet us when we arrived. She was so happy to see Victoria and said she remembered her well and that Victoria was the last baby to leave her home before her retirement. We were able to look through the window of the room that Victoria lived in while at the orphanage. Then the foster mother invited us to her apartment.
At the apartment, we also got to meet Victoria’s foster father. They are probably in their 70’s and are raising their 1 year old granddaughter. They had a nice 2 bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen and bathroom. We even got to see the crib that Victoria used to sleep in. We were able to visit with them for a long time and Victoria enjoyed playing with their little granddaughter. The foster mother thanked us for coming to see them and expressed her gratitude for us adopting Victoria. We told her how thankful we are that she cared for our baby. She told us that Victoria will always be part of her family and she said that makes us part of her family too. She asked that we all come back and visit again someday. We left with hugs and tears of thankfulness in learning that our daughter was loved and well cared for. What a blessing to have been able to put some of the pieces of the puzzle together and find that the pieces are so much better than we ever thought they were.