Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hope in the Hospital






On Sunday we woke up at about noon. Becky had been aware that Hope had been sick during the night and thankfully Misty and Carmen had been there to take care of her. When we had been up for a while we realized that she was not improving. We had an appointment with her pediatrician, Dr. Timothy who is a member of our church, for Tuesday but knew that she needed medical attention right away. We called Dr. Tim at home to tell him that we were going to take Hope to the Emergency Room and he called back to tell us to take her directly to a room that he would have prepared for her. We were grateful to not have to go through the Emergency Room routine.




When we arrived at the hospital Dr. Tim was there right away and had to prepare Hope for an IV. She was dehydrated again, a little worse than in San Francisco. The Doctor listened to her lungs and ordered a chest X-ray. He also looked at the X-ray she had done in San Francisco for comparison. The X-rays confirmed his diagnosis that she had pneumonia in one lung. He had to put the IV in her foot and Becky held her and tried to comfort her. It was very difficult, Hope was hard to hold, and it is a helpless feeling when you don't know if your words of comfort to your child are understood. Dr. Tim was very gentle and did as good a job as was possible, but Becky worried that the trust we had been trying to build had suffered a major setback. Afterward Hope would turn her head from us when we spoke to her for about an hour.




Hope was very lethargic, a far cry from the happy smiling, singing little girl of a week ago.


It was difficult to see her like this. No matter what hopeful dreams we had there was almost a regretful feeling that we had brought a lot of stress and confusion into this little girl's life. At times fear would come, what if this was something that she couldn't recover from? We prayed with our doctor, and with each other. Later, Pastor Steven and wife Angie came in and prayed with us, and the next day Pastor Jonothan our senior pastor.




Doctor Tim assured us that several hours of the fluids would perk Hope up. Becky and I slept in the room with Hope, Becky on the bed with her and me in a sleeper chair. At three in the morning we were still wide awake, I guess we were on China time. We finally slept about two or three hours, and the doctor came in fairly early to check on Hope. Sure enough Hope did look better, but was still listless all day. On Monday night I went home at about sundown and fed the cows. Becky slept on the hospital bed with Hope in the crib for part of the night and with her the rest. On Tuesday Hope was looking better and the doctor said that if she ate and drank and could hold down her food she could go home.

Texas or Bust





I'm sorry for getting behind on the story and the photos but I've got a bad case of jet lag and Becky has her hands full (and arms). When Becky and Hope arrived at the airport we barely had time to get a little breakfast before time to board the Dallas bound plane. Somehow they changed our seating and separated me from Becky and Hope by about ten rows. The very back seat was empty and we three moved there. Hope went to sleep after we reached cruising altitude and slept most of the way. The trip seemed very short this time. All of our exhaustion was being replaced with joyful anticipation of seeing our family again and introducing them to Hope.


Becky, Hope, and I were as usual the last ones off the plane, and Jewell was waiting on the ramp for us. We all walked to the baggage area and saw part of the family headed to meet us. Not everyone who had been there the day before was able to make the trip again. We would have had a really big crowd if they had. Hope was not feeling well and clung to Becky. I'm sure it was overwhelming to her to meet so many new people, but the family could not help but want to get close. We totally understood.


Carmen, Ben, and Sunnie had made some welcome posters. Misty, Caleb, and Tyler were there along with Bethany and Tillman, Jewell's husband. Also there were Janet, Becky's sister in law and her daughters Raina and Kaila from Oklahoma. They were there the day before and spent the night at our house to be able to stay for the homecoming.


We had sort of planned on stopping somewhere to eat together, but everyone could see that Hope was just not up for it. We headed for home and Janet, Raina, and Kaila took the exit to Oklahoma. Mom had soup and cornbread ready for us at her house, and we stopped and grabbed a couple of pizzas for the grandkids. It was Hope's first time to have to sit in a baby car seat and she didn't like it, but finally accepted it. She was feeling worse and threw up twice on the way home.


Misty, Carmen, and Sunnie spent the night with us to help with Hope. Becky and I had so little sleep in the last three days that we were afraid that we would not wake up if Hope needed us. Hope slept with Becky and woke up sick several times during the night, and the girls tended to her.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

A Hard Trip Home Part 3






When we reached the motel in San Francisco, we were exhausted but elated to be back in the USA. We wanted real American food and glasses of ice with tap water or tea or cola. We had meal vouchers from the airline that were good at the hotel restaurant and Becky and Jewell went down to start supper while I kept Hope in the room for a while to give Becky a rest. I took Hope down after 15 minutes or so and Becky finished her meal and tried to feed Hope, but she seemed to have lost her appetite. Becky and I looked forward to a full night's sleep and hoped to be fresh in the morning for the last leg of the trip to Dallas.
By the time we were getting ready for bed, Becky began to notice that Hope felt like she had fever and her cough had returned. I thought so too, but didn't think it was real high. I walked about a quarter mile up the road to a convenience store hoping for diapers and a baby thermometer and found neither. I was thankful that we packed an umbrella, it rained steadily all the way. We asked the front desk if they had either in the hotel, and surprisingly they had thermometers, little cardboard disposable ones. We used one and it showed that Hope had 101.8 fever under her arm, so it calculated to 102.8. We had baby Tylonol that we had been giving Hope in half doses earlier in Hefei, and we now used it full dose. In a while Hope's fever was down, but just a couple of degrees.
Becky and I agonized over what to do. Our greatest desire was to get Hope home as soon as possible, but what if she had some infectious disease that the people on the plane would be exposed to. We remembered the Chicken Pox incident in Guangzhou and we scoured her belly and back for signs but found none. Our greatest fear was that she had something serious that would require hospitalization in San Francisco, or t0 be quarantined from traveling by air. We discussed the possibility of having to rent a car and drive to Texas. We held Hope in our arms and prayed for her and Becky asked that the Lord would show us what to do.
Hope's fever went down a little more and we tried to interest her in eating. She took just a little bit of a bottle and refused her favorite Chinese snack sticks. I found a wrapped cookie that was part of an airplane meal and offered her that. It was a Pecan Sandie shortbread type cookie and we were pleased that she ate one entire cookie and a few bites of another. We got her to drink a little water but she turned down orange juice which she usually liked. About a quarter hour later I noticed Hope scratching her hand. I took a look and there was a row of welts across her wrist that looked like ant bites or bee stings. We checked further and found them on her other hand, and then on her ankle and calves.
This was the last straw. As the welts grew bigger almost as we watched, we got dressed and bundled Hope up. I called the desk and asked them to call us cab to take us to the nearest emergency room. We woke up Jewell next door and gave her the boarding pass that I had been carrying for her and agreed that she would go ahead in the morning and make her flight even if we didn't get back in time. Within ten minutes were in the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in South San Francisco.
At the hospital the doctor determined that Hope was already somewhat dehydrated. He ordered blood samples and a chest x-ray. He asked us where we had come from and how Hope had been in the ten days that she had been with us. We told him, and explained how much we needed to be able to make the flight to Dallas. The welts on her hands had almost gone away, maybe they were an allergic reaction to the cookies, or caused by the fever. He assured us that he would help us, but he wanted to give Hope a round of IV fluids to help her make it to Dallas. He didn't find anything that would forbid her from traveling. It was getting on toward 6AM when they started the IV. and we decided that I would take a cab back to the hotel, repack our bags and get them to the airport while Becky and Hope finished up at the hospital.
It was a mad dash back to the hotel, pack the bag, search the room for something that I was sure to forget, and get them to airport. I actually made it back in time to get on the shuttle with Jewell back to the airport and she helped me with our five check-in bags and three carry-ons as well as hers. If you have ever seen that TV show, The Amazing Race, I think that I may know how the contestants feel. About a half hour after we got the bags rechecked, Becky called the cell phone and said that she and Hope would be leaving the hospital in about half an hour. I told her which door to come to and Jewell and I waited.

A Hard Trip Part 2






The trip from Hong Kong to San Francisco was long, boring, and tiring most of the way. Hope obviously didn't feel well, and Becky and I didn't get much rest. Unlike the flight from San Francisco to Beijing which was all daylight, it became dark shortly after we started and stayed dark until about 2 hours before landing. There were about a half dozen other families with new children and the airlines put us all at the rear of the plane. There were quite a few vacant seats around us, and the aroma of dirty diapers filled the air frequently.




The trip became a little less boring right at the end. About thirty minutes before landing the pilot came on the intercom with an announcement that went something like this: "folks we have been informed by the tower that we have unusual weather conditions in San Francisco at this time and they are not allowing any aircraft to land. We are going into a holding pattern with several other craft and if we are allowed to land it will be on the "Tens" which are only used during strong east winds. Since international planes usually come in fairly low on fuel we may have to divert to another location for refueling." OK, I'm thinking, how much later will we be? No matter, as long as we stay safe. A little while later, the pilot comes on again,"well, folks since we're low on fuel they have decided to put us at the front of the pack, so we will be landing in about five minutes." Now, I'm really thinking, we are the first plane today to land on the "tens", and we get to be first to see how it works.




The next five minutes seemed a lot longer than that. The plane made a turn and started descending. The farther down we went the rougher it got. We heard some pounding on the lavatory door. We learned later someone was stuck in there when the plane started pitching and yawing. Several times I thought that the landing would be aborted, and just when I thought the worst turbulence was over it started again. Becky and Hope were two seats away and I told Becky to tighten her belt and hold Hope really tight. At about that time Hope threw up all over her and Becky. Finally we felt the plane come through into smoother air and soon wheels on runway.




Becky had dressed Hope earlier in a cute little red dress with a blue bow in her hair, the closest she could get to red, white, and blue to celebrate Hope becoming a citizen when we landed. Now she had to take off the pretty dress, clean Hope up and put her in her pajamas. I held Hope and walked around the plane, while Becky washed up and changed clothes in the lavatory. By now, it was just us and the stewardesses on the plane. Our big celebration would be dampenend a little bit.


No matter how wrung out we felt by the flight we had just completed, it was a very emotional event when we went through the new immigrant line and Hope officially became a citizen of the greatest nation on God's green earth. After we got through customs and Becky had anguished over whether we should have declared the snacks we had in our carry-ons we tried to leave our checked bags at the airport, but they wouldn't let us. We had to claim all our luggage and carry it to a motel that the airline had provided for us. We waited for over thirty minutes under a small awning that wasn't quite big enough to keep the cold rain off, for a shuttle to the motel. We had used our cell phone on the plane to tell the girls back home that we had landed and found that the E-mails we sent had not arrived, or had not been read. Almost our whole family was in Dallas waiting for us and we would not be there for 24 more hours.


Ronnie

A Hard Trip Home for Hope





It has been a long 72 hours or more since we left China. We are home, but Hope is sick and we are with her in the hospital. We brought her in on Sunday afternoon after calling Bro. Tim from our church who is Hope's pediatrician. He had her admitted directly to a room, and she is receiving fluids IV. She has pneumonia in her right lung, slight ear infections, and has had diarrhea. Here is a synopsis of what has transpired since our last post.


On Fri. morning at 6 Am China time we had our luggage in the hall of the White Swan and we went to eat breakfast at 6:30. We checked out at about 6:50 and got on the bus to the Guangzhou airport at 7:00 with about 12 other families. I tried to take in all of the scenes of China on that bus ride, knowing that I will probably not be back again. It was a little bit sad, thinking that 10 years from now, I will probably remember more about China than Hope. Our guides, Jason and Kathy did a great job, making sure that we had all of our documents for customs and immigrations. We got off on schedule and landed in Hong Kong at about 10:40.


Our flight to San Francisco was supposed to depart at 12:40, but we were informed that it was delayed until around 4:30 PM. We immediately started trying to phone home but found that our calling cards would not work in the airport's payphones. Another family loaned me their card and it wouldn't work either. I called the airport help desk and they told me that I would have to buy a calling card from the airport, that only theirs would work. I went to a currency exchange booth and found out that a calling card cost 50 dollars American. In the process of trying pay phones I had noticed an internet kiosk with six laptops available. We decided to send E-mail to the kids about the delay since it was about noon in Hong Kong, it would be before daylight back in Texas.

We sent three different E-mails figuring that at least one would be read before the family back home started out to DFW.


We had a free lunch on United Airlines due to their delay, and finally about 2 PM they posted the departing time and gate for our flight to San Francisco. We went to the gate and waited. We noticed that Hope would not each well at lunch, but figured it was the stress. We boarded the plane at about 4 PM. We were leaving four hours late and were told that there would not be a connecting flight from San Francisco to DFW until 24 hours after our original time of 10:40 Friday, PST.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Delays

Their flight leaving Hong Kong was delayed 4 hrs causing them to miss their flight from San Francisco yesterday. They are scheduled to arrive home today around 4:00pm. Hope is not feeling well please pray for her. Also, please pray for their safe return home.

Hope's Family

Friday, January 25, 2008

Coming Home

We are on our way to the airport to meet the newest member of our family. We will post pictures from the airport and home as soon as we can.

Thanks for all the prayers and continue to pray for our safe journey home.

Hope's Family

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday in Guangzhou








Thursday in Guangzhou was another big day. After breakfast we took a cab to Li Wan Plaza to go to the pearl market, for the second time. The first time we went with Kathy, our guide, and now we felt brave enough to go on our own. Kathy wrote us a note to give the cab driver and told us the fare would be about 9 to 11 yuan. She told us to hail a cab when ready to come back and just show that cab driver our hotel room key with White Swan logo. When the cab driver pulled over and let us out we noticed that the area didn't look the same as it did on Tuesday. I got the stroller out of the trunk and paid the driver, and Becky, Jewell, and Hope got out and there we were, lost in a city of eleven million and it looked like about a tenth of them were massed in our immediate vicinity.

We all looked around and came to the same conclusion. We were not where we were earlier in the week with our guide, Kathy. Hopefully we were close. We noticed a McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and KFC within walking distance and they were certainly not noticed on our first trip. We walked about a half a block to what seemed to be something like the pearl market and went in. It looked a little like the place, but it was not. We walked all the way to end of the building that opened out into a large courtyard, but this obviously wasn't the pearl market. We asked one or two passing by, but they didn't speak English. Two teenage girls and a boy came by that could speak a few words and we tried to ask them, showing them the note from Kathy. They shook their heads yes, this was Li Wan Plaza, but couldn't help us find the pearl market.

I turned on the Panda Phone and called Jason to ask for Kathy's number. I walked back outside so I could describe landmarks. Kathy happened to be with Jason and she took his phone, and began asking me how much the cab fare was. I guess she was afraid we might quite a ways farther off than we were supposed to be. I was telling her how much, when Jewell came outside and told me that the teenagers had returned and said they would show us where to go.I handed the phone to the boy and let him talk to Kathy. He hung up and gave me back the phone, then he and the girls led us back through the building, across the courtyard and into the back of what we knew as the pearl market. We thanked them and offered 20 yuan as gratitude, but they wouldn't take it. Once again we were impressed with the friendly actions of the Chinese people we have met.

After Becky and Jewell had purchased their wares we went to the McDonald's to eat, The food was good, chicken tenders and fries. I ordered two fried pies that I thought were apple and blueberry, turned out to be pineapple and sweet taro. After lunch we caught a cab and went back to the hotel. We had to go with all the group to the American Consulate in what I think was downtown Guangzhou about a half hour away for the visa for Hope and swearing the oath to care for her. It was handled really well by our guides, and was pretty mundane except when you realize that it is part of what makes Hope legally and forever our child.

When we got back to Shamian Island at about 4:30 Becky and Jewell went on their last minute shopping frenzy. I would say that they were spending money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair-----to drunken sailors that is. We came in after dark and ordered pizza and pasta for supper. Becky is finishing packing now, trying to stuff 40 cubic feet of souvenirs and gifts into 20 cubic feet of luggage. Hope has had a bath and is asleep, and I'm trying to stay out of Becky's way. We leave for Hong Kong very early in the morning. We will be on planes and in airports for at least the next 24 hours. Please pray for Hope to make that long Hong Kong to San Francisco trip OK. You may not hear from us for a few days, unless Misty posts more pictures at times. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us and encouraged us in this great adventure. For us and Hope the adventure is still to come.

Ronnie

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday in Guangzhou


















Another eventful day in Guangzhou. Today was consulate appointment day. The way the agency does it is that the guide goes to the American consulate for us with all of our signed, official documents in hand. We had to stay in the hotel room during the time of the appointment in case there were any discrepancies in our paperwork, in which case we would be called and advised of what we needed to do. Our guide called at about 11:50 to tell us that the appointment was over, all was in order, and Hope had been approved for a visa to get into the United States. When we touch down in San Francisco Hope will have full American citizenship.

There is one situation that is a little troubling. Two adopted children in another agency's travel group have come down with Chicken Pox. They and their parents will not be able to leave China until they are deemed no longer contagious. Every family now has fingers crossed that their child will not break out. We have not knowingly been in contact with anyone in that group. We have an immunization record for Hope from her orphanage, but can't remember if it says that she has been innoculated for Chicken Pox. We can't look at it right now because it is at the American Consulate and will be returned to us tommorow. Pray. We want to go home on schedule.

Today was "Red Couch Photo Day". It is a longstanding tradition at the White Swan Hotel for adoptive families to have their child's picture taken on one of the red couches in the hotel lounge overlooking the Pearl River. We will have photos to post showing the chaos. All the children are really cute. The biggest, toughest part of the tradition is the children's group photo. It is sort of like trying to herd cats, getting that many little ones to sit still long enough for a picture. Hope was probably the oldest baby there and also the biggest baby. She refused to participate in the group picture and started to pitch a fit.

We used the stroller again today and most of the time Hope was as happy as a lark. We did a lot of strolling and exploring while Mom and Jewell spent their time in dark, dank little hole in the wall shops.Hope gets a lot of attention from the locals. Many stop to talk to her and tell me how pretty she is. Apparently Hope's skin color is considered a rare beauty in Guangdong province. One local told me that the people of Anhui where Hope comes from are bigger and have lighter, clearer skin. I do notice that the local people around Shamian Island tend to be very small and remind me of the Vietnamese people. The people here are very friendly and personable. They smile and say hello often.

The one time that Hope gave trouble about the stroller was late in the evening when we were getting ready to walk with our group down to the Cow and Bridge Thai Food Restaurant. We were early and decided to take some pictures by the hotel waterfall. Hope was in the stroller and happy and we took her out for pictures. When it was time to meet the group we put her back in the stroller and she didn't like it. She had a walleyed, kicking, screaming fit. I pushed her around a little but she kept up. We went toward our group and met Jason, our guide. Hope was still wailing to beat the band. We told Jason that we were going to take Hope back to the room and order pizza. We felt that it would not be good for Hope to give in and take her out of the stroller when she was testing us. We got in the elevator and went to our floor. Before we made it to our room she hushed. We turned around and went back to the elevator and before we got back to our group she was happy as could be. No more trouble the rest of the evening, just smiles, waves, giggles, and happy singing. Pray that we we will have wisdom to help her make this transition to a whole new world.

Ronnie



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Making Progress






LOOK BETHANY SHOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I TOOK AFTER MY BIG SISTER BETHANY


HOLLYWOOD








Today, (Tuesday, Jan.22) in Guangzhou has been a day of momentous events. First of all it was a free day, no adoption work to do, so we slept until about 8:00 and had breakfast at a leisurely pace. Then it was time for Becky and Jewell to do some serious shopping. We have been discussing how to get Hope to allow me to hold and carry her more and to ride in a stroller. It has really been wearing on Becky having to carry her nearly everywhere. When I woke up this morning I really prayed fervently for some kind of change. What we decided to do was borrow a stroller from a shop next to the hotel and put Hope in it and push her in an area with fewer people to hear her wail and see if she would settle down after a good cry. We would never do anything to add to the trauma she has been through, but we had a feeling that in this case she might be using tears to get her way. If we could see that she was genuinely scared of the stroller we would get her out and return it.

Sure enough, Hope resisted when we put her in the stroller and began to wail like a banshee as we walked down the sidewalk. One pair of parents with their year old baby offered words of encouragement as we passed. I pushed and Becky and Jewell walked alongside trying to comfort Hope. I was almost about to suggest giving up when we noticed the crying was tapering off. Could it be? Was she starting to accept it or had she just run of energy to cry? Within a few minutes it was all over. Hope now loves the stroller. We pushed her all around the shops. While Jewell and Becky haggled with shop clerks Hope and I enjoyed the sun and sights of Shamian Island. Tonight after supper we walked around the shops in the hotel and Hope laughed hysterically when I pushed her in circles and side to side.

We all came back to the room at about 7:30 and Jewell and Becky wondered if they could sneak away to the store next door for a few more gifts, we are running out of shopping time. I told them to go on and I would try to keep Hope occupied. We had a DVD that Becky had bought of Kiddie cartoons set to children's songs in Chinese. I played it on the laptop and fed Hope small pieces of soft peppermint for about forty minutes until they returned. Hope made it just fine. She realized that Becky was gone fairly soon, but didn't get too worried. After Becky was back Hope put on quite a show, playing, singing, and wearing Mommy's sunglasses. Once again we are thankful for our network of friends, family, and church that are praying with us for this little girl's healing and peace of mind.

P.S. Hope came to us with one pair of sneakers that were about 3 sizes too large. As of today she has 7 pairs of new shoes with built in squeakers.

Ronnie