Friday, December 28, 2012

More Adjectives for Eyann (with Funny still included)

I thought I didn't have alot to say about our girl today.  

                   We like her.  

          She's pretty much just kinda melting into our family.  

Every kid has different things they play with her.  

She karate chops Zeke and tries to pick him up and throw him.  

She sits and plays video games with Baz, and Baz is patient enough to let her take over.  

September and Eyann get together and do the girly stuff.....dolls, hair, coloring, weaving....

Soren and Eyann play games together and fight about who is the winner. 

This kid has our sense of humor:  I know I've said she if funny before, but we keep seeing more and more of that.  So, again, the kid is funny.  She runs around yelling stuff that we don't understand, chasing down the boys and whipping them to the ground.  She does cool dances that make us laugh.  (See the video on Facebook).  She says what we assume is naughty stuff in Chinese and laughs REALLY hard about it.  We're all jealous that we can't do that too.  

She bugs:  Soren said the other day, "Mom, my brain knows lots of stuff.  It knows I like to bug and it knows I bug alot...." I think if Eyann could speak English, she'd have to say the same thing about herself.  She grabs stuff she knows we're using.  She calls people by the wrong name on purpose, and she does exactly the opposite of what we ask with that smirky little grin on her face....the same grin her Grandpa Donald Peter gets alot...

She's sweet and very, very much likes to help.  This girl has dusted my living room, cleared the table, and washed my dishes many times in the last week that she's been home.  

She passes everyone's food to them at dinner time, and she is actually a really "good sharer", as her brothers and sister call her.  (Except her backpack that she came with.  NO ONE can touch the backpack! She'll go kung fu on you.)  

For the first few weeks, we'd tell her we loved her, and she would be ticked off.  Understandably: we took her from the only place she knew and loved.  She'd say, in Chinese, "No I love you" and "No hugs".  She liked to be carried, which happened all over China....both Keith and I lost about five pounds while we were there....but she didn't really like to be hugged.  And so we gave her space when she was in those moods.  But lately.....lately....she says "I love you" back.  And tonight?  SHE held out her arms for a hug and kissed every family member on the cheek without our even asking.  

When we were at the Embassy, doing our adoption vow, we saw a ton of adoptive families, and we saw lots of newly adopted kids.  And all I could think as I looked at all of the other kids is....I am so glad that God gave us her.  Not that the other kids were not fine, but just.....We like her.  She fits.   Every funny, stubborn, buggery, huggy, sweet, helping, adorable part of her.  

I'm hearing that the road might be long and tough and bumpy and stuff, and I believe it.....but I am glad that we are on this road with her.   

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Her Big Little Sister

When we were still in China, I showed Eyann pictures of her brothers and sister, saying each of their names as she pointed at each one.  She smiled, nodded, and repeated each kid's name.  Except September.  She would call her Mei Mei.

We were playing a card game yesterday, and when it was September's turn, I would say, "Seppy's turn", and Eyann would shake her head emphatically and say, "MEI MEI's turn!"  

We found out recently that Mei Mei actually means little sister, and Jie Jie means big sister.  We used google translate to correct Eyann, telling her that Seppy is her BIG sister, Jie Jie.  

She laughed, shook her head, and said, with all the stubbornness she could muster, "Mei Mei!"  We pointed at her and said, "You are Mei Mei" and she shook her head again, and laughed.  

The kid is determined to have a little sister.  And Seppy?  She thinks Mei Mei sounds cooler than Jie Jie anyway, so for now, we don't think it's a fight worth fighting.  With that said, Sep will continue to be called Little Sister, and Eyann will continue to boss her around....just like a Jie Jie (big sister) would do.  

We had been traveling so much with Eyann while in China, and we even ended up staying at my parent's house when we arrived in Michigan, because we hadn't slept for 30 hours, and Keith and I  were having to take turns driving home from Chicago (which is really not a long drive).  When we finally did get home, we wanted Eyann to understand we were finally to her real home, so we took her around the house, showing her the photos of her we had hanging on the walls and on the fridge, along with her brothers and sister.  And we showed her all of the kids' beds, naming each kid and pointing to their bed, until we got to hers.  

I wondered if she would still want to sleep in Keith and I's room, because she had been with us in the hotel room for two weeks.  

She didn't. 

She wanted to sleep with Mei Mei.  And while adoption issues are confusing and we most likely won't do everything (or anything?) "right"....maybe some people would tell us she should have slept with Keith and establish attachment.....I felt like her wanting to sleep in her bed in her room with her sister, Mei Mei, was a first step in being a part of a family.....  

She still gets up and crawls into our bed in the morning, but she is confident enough that we will be there that she can feel comfortable sleeping in her own bed down the hall.   (I am okay with that, because seriously, the kid is a giant bed hog and I like to get good sleep.)

September told us yesterday that she sometimes hears Eyann whimpering a little bit, "like she is sad or something", so September has been singing to her until Eyann is quiet again.  

The girls have been playing together alot, and sometimes September is pushed to her patience limit, because Eyann wants to do whatever September is doing.  September got a new doll house for Christmas (Thank you, Auntie Ange), and Eyann pushes right in to play along.  She knocks the toilet over and takes over the pets of the house.  September tries to teach her words to use, and gets all excited when Eyann repeats "toilet" or "puppies" or "bed".  September sat down to make hot pads with her new loom she got from Santa, and Eyann pushes in to help.  September sighed a little, and then taught her how to put the yarn over the loops to make a pattern.  

That girl?  She a good big sister....

Or little  sister, depending on who you talk to.....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Her Name

Eyann was named by the orphanage staff when they received her.  They named her Yan Rui.  If you are American, you would spell that Yenn Rae, because that it is how it is pronounced.  Yenn Rae. 
Because our sweet girl is five years old, and she has been claiming “Yenn Rae” as her name for all of her five-year-old life, we didn’t want to change it significantly.  We know some people do change their child’s name when they adopt, and we understand there are many valid reasons why.  Yet, we really feel like so much of who she is wrapped up in how she was raised in the orphanage.  The people that named her were significant.  They claimed her as their responsibility when no one else could.  And they offered as much love as they knew how to give.  We wanted to respect their place in her life.  And so . . .   
We searched and searched and thought and considered names that would respect her past and the people in it.  Names that would not change her name “too much”.  And finally, we added one syllable to the front of her name. 
                                                                An E.
And that additional E changes her name to Ian.  We like Ian.  We like that it keeps the sound of her name.  And while some people responded with, “That’s a boy’s name”, we know that Morgan and Addison and Parker and Dillon and Kennedy were boy’s names too. 
                  Until they weren’t. 

Until someone named a girl one of those names and it stuck.  And we decided Ian could be one of those names too.  But we changed the spelling to make it look more feminine.  And so we spell it Eyann. 
We looked up the meaning of the name Eyann recently, and we found it means “God’s gracious gift”.  God’s grace stirs up remembrances of bad gone good, or even good gone better.  And we believe that Eyann makes our good family even better.  And we thank God for the gracious gift of Eyann Rae and the place she has taken in our home.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We are finally to the end of this long, long trip!

I can’t wait to see our kids, but I can see how good this has been for Eyann to have Keith and I to herself during this time of so many goodbyes and changes.  She has been held and carried more in this week than probably all four of our other kids have ever been carried in their lifetime.  And she is not “fine”, but she is finally coming out of that sadness that consumed most of her every moment.
Eyann spent LOTS of time tonight showing us her Kung Fu moves.  She took turns wooping Keith and I and cracking up when we were “hurt”.  Zeke and Baz, I know you have been learning Tai Kwan Do, but be warned.  She might have been taught by a Kung Fu master.  Her moves are unmistakably good.  (She thinks so anyway….)

We feel like we’ve finally figured out how to trek through China, and now it is almost time to go home.  The guides tend to take you to places that the “American families will love”.  We figured out that usually means expensive.  With time, we found the shops that weren’t for tourists and we finally found a side-street, back-alley, family-run restaurant that we’ve been to twice now and that we wish we had found earlier.  I think it cost us $5 for the three of us to eat there, as opposed to the $20-30 we have been spending on each meal.   And their food is the best we’ve found so far.  We are never sure what we are ordering, exactly, because the words are not in English (unlike the touristy places), but they have all the meals pictured on their wall, and we point at them, hoping that what looks like chicken really is.  I guess if it is anything else, it still tastes good enough for us to hope to make it back there for lunch before we leave. 

Tomorrow, we take a train to Hong Kong.  The next morning,  we get on the plane at 1130 am, and we arrive in Chicago at 1130 am the same day. We will drive from Chicago to Grand Rapids, and Eyann will finally be able to meet her family; all of whose names we practiced tonight.  She has tried to memorize all of her brothers’ names, but she does not call September by her name.  She will only call her Mei Mei (May May), which is sister in Chinese.  I guess September is too hard to say, or else she is just really excited to have a new big sister. 

Can’t wait to get home!  This will probably be the last update until then.  We’ve got lots of traveling to do!  If you think of it, throw up a quick prayer for our plan ride home.  That’s a LONG 14 hours to be quiet and still for me; much less a five year old!  We might BOTH be crying for our mamas by the end of that flight!

This Girl is a Charmer

It has been a few days since I have updated everyone, because the internet is iffy over here in this hotel.  We pay for it each day, but that doesn’t guarantee it will work.

We arrived in Guangzhou on Saturday, and we will stay here for the rest of our trip.  It is really hot here.  Like Florida hot.  And we only packed for winter.  I am wearing big boots all over the place, because when I went to buy new shoes, every store owner looked at my (big) feet and literally laughed.  Apparently, in China, a size 9 means you need shoes specially made for you or shipped over from some other country where people have “plus-sized” feet.

You can tell by the fact I am talking about the weather and shoe shopping that today was a better day.  I knew, with time, it would be.  Not that the hard times are over, but they are not constant.  And that is really good.

We shopped, ate out, sight-saw (is that a word?), and searched some of the side alleys, and Eyann seemed to actually enjoy herself.  Keith took lots of pictures proving that she is actually requesting that I pick her up sometimes.  This is a long way from the little girl who would only tolerate me if I worked REALLY hard to make her laugh, but would not even look at me if she was scared or upset at all. Which is everywhere in public.

It’s really hard to know who our girl really is at this point, because she has been forced into so many new situations and been with so many new people while at the same time grieving all of her old life and the people there.  We’re not sure which parts of her are just because of the new situations she is in and which parts of her will stick, but what we think we can tell you about her is this:
She loves music.  She sings almost constantly.  Between Keith’s whistling and her singing, there is no end to the music in our room. 
She likes eggs.  She eats boiled eggs like candy.  Two almost every breakfast time, and if I bring some back to the room, she will eat those too. 
She’s a jewelry girl.  So far, we bought her a bunch of hair ties, a bracelet, and a necklace, and she is constantly requesting more.  We have to watch to make sure she isn’t walking off with one or two on her arm as we walk out of the stores.  Queen Eyann, you might say.   
I don’t think those things will change. 
Last but not least, the girl is a charmer.  And funny.  Everywhere we go, she has people laughing out loud.  Most of the time, we have no idea what she is saying, but whatever it is, it is funny.  The nurse and the doctor laughed during her medical exam.  The shop people laugh when she talks to them.  The elevator guy laughs.  The breakfast lady laughs.  Everyone, everywhere, laughs, whenever the girl opens her mouth.  And charming.  Oh my word.  Tonight, in less than five minutes, she had acquired some new barrettes and a little toy duck from the shop keepers, because they just think she is “so beautiful”.  The nurse at the doctor’s office gave her a handful of candy, and somehow, after she stuffed all of that into her pockets, she almost got the guide to give her more.  I told the guide no, and she looked visibly upset that I would deny this poor girl anything.     
This kid?  She gets what she wants from anyone. 
She’s got some major skills.

Okay.  Last, last.  The girl likes to be held.  We have hauled this big lug all over China, and even when we are both sweating our butts off, somehow, she is still being carri
ed like the princess that she is.

We love this funny, charming, girly-girly who likes to sing a lot.  We can’t wait for you to meet her.  And we can’t wait to get to know her more. 

To Our Kids

Hi Kids,

We miss you so much! We know you are having so much fun and we are glad you get to stay with the cousins and aunts and uncs and grandma and grandpa. It is so cool and fun there, isn't it? I know they are really good at taking care of you, because they all took care of me when I was about your age. (I might have been naughtier than you though...I bet Uncle Tim doesn't have to throw you into bed 100 times like he did me when he used to babysit. And I bet you aren't sneaking into the brownies when you are supposed to be in bed.)

Basil, I keep thinking about how patient you are with Soren, and then I am glad that Eyann will have such a nice big brother to come home to. She will need someone that can be patient with her for awhile, because she is having a hard time with all of the changes that are happening. She's crabby and stubborn when she is sad, so I am glad I know how patient you are with Soren when he is like that. :)
Zeke, Eyann likes to laugh alot when she is happy. She thinks it is really funny when Papa and I drop things or when we pretend to run into things and get hurt. She'll love all the funny things you do all day. Also, maybe you and Baz can teach her some of your yellow belt moves! She might woop ya though. She is tough. And very determined.
September, Eyann has been living with three boys and one girl in her foster home, just like she will be at home. The difference is, she is the oldest of the kids in her foster family right now. They said she is responsible for helping the younger kids get dressed and stuff, and she is expected to help pick up and clean the apartment. I think she will LOVE having an older sister who will play with her like crazy. She likes me to do her hair, so she might actually sit still for you to put a thousand barrettes in her hair and to dress her up in all of your bee-tee-full dresses!
Soren, I know you don't really understand exactly what is happening, but I think your Auntie Angie is right: You and Eyann will soon form an alliance and dominate the world (or at least our family). The two of you will probably have to work out some sort of compromise about who is boss. Papa and I know that it will be one or both of you; not us; as neither of us even comes close to being as stubborn and determined as the two of you. Together? You can rule the world.
We miss you guys a ton, and we know that our bringing Eyann home to our family will be better because of all of her cool siblings that are in it. Love you!


Saying Goodbye

I want to use this post to answer some of the questions people have been asking.
People have asked what disabilities Eyann has:  Eyann was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Keith and I were not sure where she would be developmentally, because her medical reports were quite vague and somewhat contradicting.  We can tell you now that she seems to be a very bright little girl.  The guides have all said she is very “clear”; that she communicates very well.  For being five years old, she has learned quickly how to show us what she wants when she is not able to tell us.  That takes some major skill and patience.  I know, because as an adult in this foreign country, I had a hard time just asking for coffee this morning.  I often feel like it is easier to just not ask at all.
Eyann has some difficulty with her right hand.  She uses it most to hold things, while using the other to do what she needs to do.  For instance, she will hold her sucker (yes, she has requested lots of candy) in the right hand but uses her left hand to open it.  She has learned to get dressed mostly with one hand;  including putting on her shoes.  While it is difficult for her to use that hand, she does not let it at all limit what she can do.  The orphanage guide told us today that had she not been given a diagnosis, she would have been adopted long ago.  I am thankful that her diagnosis means that Keith and I have been given the opportunity to parent her, but it makes me sad to know that she had to wait this long.

You have also asked about her foster “mama and baba”.  We went to the orphanage today, and it is actually a very nice place.  They recently moved to a new (huge) building, and because she has had a more difficult time with basic daily skills, they placed her in an apartment attached to the orphanage where foster parents are assigned five children each.  The apartment is small, but was very clean and welcoming.  We met the foster parents and her four “siblings” and could tell that the kids in her “family” were very well taken care of. 

I really left this place questioning if what Keith and I were doing was best for Eyann.  It seems it would be easier to recognize this as a good thing if I knew that she was obviously lacking care and food.  We just took her from the place she wants to be most.  Her foster mama was crying because she was leaving, I was crying that I was taking her. 

It was then that the guide said that the kids in these foster families are constantly having to accept change; as the foster parents usually only stay for two to three years.  Over the course of Eyann’s lifetime, she would have had to endure this heartbreaking change every time her foster parents left and new ones came in.  These parents, the ones she calls Mama and Baba right now, are her second set since she went into the foster apartments.  She has been with this particular set of parents, though, since she was two years old, and they are probably all she can remember.  The guide also said that her “siblings” constantly change, and even as we spoke, one of her “sisters” was preparing to go to Italy the next week to be adopted by a family there.  The guide reminded us that our taking her is giving Eyann a chance for a “forever family” where the siblings and parents stay constant for her lifetime.  I recognize that as a good thing, but it is still really difficult to see her go through this sad, sad time; knowing that we are partially at fault for her pain.
We were also told that the kids in China are usually adoptable until age five, and then they are usually taken off the adoption list.  Sometimes, very rarely, kids will be adopted up until the age of fourteen  but at fourteen, it is made impossible for them to be adopted.  I'm not sure what that looks like, exactly, that is just what we were told.  The kids that are not adopted can stay in the orphanage until they have finished high school, at which time they can go through the process of looking for employment.  We were told that their chances of finding a job outside of the orphanage are very low.  Often, their only chance at “making it” is to stay in the orphanage as nannies for the younger children.  Right now, I have to take some comfort in knowing that her adoption will give her a chance to be whatever she wants to be when she gets older.  I believe that with her determination, which is very obvious already, she will accomplish whatever she wants to do and will become whoever she wants to be, and we pray that what we are doing is giving her that chance.    

Keith's birthday was today, (it still is today for all of you), so if you think of it, wish him a happy birthday.  We didn't realize it was his birthday until about 5 'o' clock tonight, with all that is going on, but someone remembered (not sure who) and had the hotel staff bring him a cake.  That was a happy ending to a really emotional day.  Thanks, whoever you happen to be....??


Tomorrow, we will go to the orphanage to see where Eyann has been living.  She has been waiting to see her foster "mama" since she met us, and tomorrow is the day her "mama" will give her "permission" to go with Keith and I as her forever parents.

This will be a difficult day for her.  Throw up a quick prayer, if you think of it.  For all of us.  Difficult days for Eyann mean difficult days for us.  If Eyann wasn't crying today, then I probably was.  Poor Keith has had to deal with his two girls (Eyann and myself) and our range of crazy emotions all day today.
Tomorrow will be hard, but here's to hoping the day after tomorrow will be a better day.  And the day after that, just a little bit better yet.  
I'm guessing that it will be.  They say that's how it goes. 

Meeting Eyann

We finally got to meet our Eyann Rae!  We recognized her right away from the pictures we had been given before.  She is busy and outgoing, just as the orphanage had described her.  She is bossy.  Maybe even bossier than Soren, which is a pretty difficult thing to match.  She knows exactly what she wants,  and somehow….even while she is speaking every word in Chinese, she finds a way to tell us.   
She eats. 
And eats and eats.  It is funny to see a tiny kid like her eat with such big chopsticks.  She likes weird things, like boiled greens and what looks like egg porridge.  But she also stole all of our fries tonight, and learned quickly that she liked them dipped in ketchup. 
Most of the pants we had brought with us are really tight, even though they are just the right length.   Her dough-boy tummy hangs over the top, and we laugh about how she might have been getting fed better than our other four kids at home.    
She likes to play hide-and-seek.  Her Papa taught her how to play Angry Birds on the Kindle today, and she thinks it is HILARIOUS to make the birds smash into the floor at full speed.  She “washed” the entire hotel room with a wet wash cloth, including Keith and I, and she spent lots of time popping balloons and laughing really hard when we acted like it scared us. 
She has been so so happy and funny during the day, but at night, she remembers that we are not the “Baba and Mama” that she knows, and she cries.  When she is sad, much like the rest of the Foisys, she wants her Papa.  Keith says it’s because he is more affectionate, and it is probably true. 
Nope, I know it is true…I didn’t even hug her when I met her because I didn’t want to scare her.  Keith gave her kisses on the forehead and dragged her on to his lap.  Yep, he is more affectionate. 
She likes me to make her laugh and to help her squeeze out the wash cloth when she wants to wash the hotel room.  She likes me to hide while she counts, and she loves it when I pretend to get really mad and growl when she turns off my computer.  She wants me to spin her around and throw her into the bed, but she wants her Papa to tuck her into bed, and when we are outside of the hotel room, she likes him to pick her up when she is scared. 
Today, our adoption has been made official.  We have a paper that says we are Eyann Rae Foisy’s parents, and we are so so glad to get the privilege to parent her. 
We still have a LONG time in China.  While I am really glad to give this cute, funny girl ALL of our attention, I miss our other kids more than I knew that I could.  I can’t wait for them to meet their sister, and I am excited to see how Eyann likes being a part of our family.  She doesn’t know what she is missing right now without knowing that she he has four really cool siblings to play and laugh with.  And to bug.  Bugging is definitely a part of who she is and how she likes to play this life. 
I think she’ll fit right in.

My Old Age Dream