Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30th ~ What we expected we now know is true...

Since today is a Free Day for us ~ so far we really have not done anything too exciting! We started off our morning with a walk around our hotel's grounds and toured the other hotels in the surrounding area. The hotels around here are amazing and all top of the line! And don't even get me started about the shops! I said I wasn't going to shop this trip but I just can't help myself ~ you just can't bet China's prices!

{now for an update on Benjamin's health}
All is not what it seems here for us with our precious Benjamin. Our concerns have been confirmed and we now know why he is not potty trained and that all the medical reports and updates we have received on him have not been correct. It seems the surgeries we were told he had done and were a success ~ were not. Our poor little boy is still pooping through his pee-pee and it is not looking good. It all started the day we received our little man. We noticed his belly swollen and that he was wearing a diaper (and it smelled terrible). Since we know the signs of server bowel issues, we kept a watch on him. As the days passed, and he wasn't truly pooping (more like leakage) and the laxatives were not working ~ we knew what we had to do today. That is give him a Fleet enema. Now last night when Keith was bathing him, he noticed some fecal matter come out of his penis. Keith immediately called me into the bathroom. The minute I saw what was happening I knew in my heart, our little Benjamin is not well.

So this morning after limiting his breakfast to yogurt & fruit, we decided to take a walk around the hotel grounds. After returning to our room at about 11:30AM, and he still didn't have a full bowel movement, we decided to give the Fleet enema. It was at this time we knew for sure he is once again/or always has been pooping through his pee-pee. From what I can tell from his bowel movement {after the Fleet enema} is that he is pooping from both his rectum and penis. While this is so difficult to watch him go through this, I feel a bit at peace that we know what to do - giving what we have experienced with Francesca and Annabelle. We are limiting his diet to soup, soft pastas, yogurt, and fruit for he can't have anything that has the possibility of causing a bowel obstruction. We are also giving him a low dosage of liquid laxative two times a day ~ to help break up what food he does eat. All in all it is just truly amazing to me that this little boy's spirit has not been broken and what he is doing in order to survive.

I truly did not what this post to be a downer but I wanted to let our family & friends know what has been going on and to please pray for our little boy. I have been in contact with our doctor in the states and they confirmed that what we are doing is all we can do for now. We also have an appointment set up for the Friday after we arrive home.

The only good thing I see that will come from all this is that his belly button, his testicles, his pooping & pee-pee lines and his circumcision can all be corrected at the same time.

Other than this (which I know is no small issue) all is going extremely well. Benjamin is such a happy camper and truly one sweet little boy! Francesca and I enjoyed a girl's lunch today which I think she and I both needed! And we girls are headed out to the Spa this afternoon for some pampering (again you just can't bet the prices here)!

Here are a few photos from last nights bath! They are all I have. I think you'll be able to tell from the photos he is just not feeling that well but to us he is just too handsome for words!!! Tomorrow we are headed to Zhengzhou's Provincial Museum (which we have visited before) but seeing how it is going to be close to 100 degrees here tomorrow ~ the air condition museum works for us! As soon as our little man awakes (he is still sleeping so peacefully) we are headed to the pool! I promise tomorrow I'll have more exciting photos!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29th ~ Benjamin is offically ours & HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEITH!

Boy, what a day it has been so far...Woke up this morning to skyping with Grandma, Aunt Lisa, Annabelle, and Scott Joe at 7AM China time! It was truly a glorious moment. Annabelle could not stop saying HI to he just sat there taking it all in....

So far things have been going very well. He hasn't cried (expect when getting reprimanded) and he has both bonded to Keith and I the same. Seriously. He goes & responds to Keith and well as me. From what we understand, he was probably in a room of over 400 children at one time and did not get a lot of having us giving him all the love, attention, and affection that he needs when he needs it...makes the transition very easy. He is truly one funny little guy and we "think" he is going to be the passive one in the family. He loves making silly faces, eats everything & anything, sleeps very well, no bottle still, and is one happy camper ~ seriously! We truly have been truly blessed with every adoption so far.
There are other parents in our group where the babies are just crying...and crying...and crying and there is nothing they can do. We have never experienced any of this {with Francesca, Annabelle and Benjamin} and my heart is totally going out to each and every one of them (the parents and the children) as they struggle with all these emotions & new surroundings.

It is amazing and now having done this 3 times does not make us an expert by any means but it does make you more prepared for anything that can happen.

I know you are all probably a little interested in what is going on {medically} with Benjamin and there are a few issues that we were never made aware of (and are concerned about)...

1st - We "think" he has bi-lateral undesended testicles. Just from the look and feel of things - they are not there (but it might have something to do with his surgery so we'll find out once we come home and visit the doctor)

2nd - His belly button is very distorted. Can't really explain it but after seeing Francesca's "outtie" belly button - his is very different.

3rd - His chest bone in the center is really sticking out (if that is making any sense)....another issues we will talk to the doctor about when we got home.

4th - His bowels are crazy but having two children adopted previously with mega-colons - this is the least of our concerns.

now onto some good news...

Today we officially became the legal parents of Benjamin James Zi Leonard (and I do have the photo to prove i)t! And within a few minutes of posting this entry, we will be heading out to Zhengzhou Lotus market for some shoes and some clothes seeing how mostly everything I packed for him is just way too big (I am thinking he is wearing a size 4 shoe and 18 month size clothing).

Benjamin does love his trucks & cars ~ our typical boy! And is also loving the mini battery operated fans I brought along (to cool us off in this crazy heat here)

And after all this time I still can't believe he is finally ours!

"You were so right Mom, Grandma has been watching over him from Heaven and she did organize the perfect "Forever Family Day" for us! We could not have asked for a more perfect day (yesterday) and even today! She is sending us some many blessing (which I knew she would).

Keith LOVED all the birthday cards he has received. He did get a bit emotional today when he opened Ma's birthday card because there was one name missing... and it really hit him hard.

As for our Annabelle ~ We loved seeing you this morning and can't wait for our chat tomorrow! LOVE YOU ALL THE WAY TO THE MOON AND BACK!

As for Keith's Birthday, Yisha (our guide) has planned for a cake to be delivered to our room some time around 5PM and after supper tonight, we are headed to the hotel's upscale Cigar Room (without the kiddos) for our first and probably only Cuban Cigar (OK when will we ever get a chance to smoke a Cuban Cigar again lol)!

So that's about it for now! I know my family has been worried about me ~ seeing how I was so sick the last two times we were in China, but I am doing really well this time ~ sick wise. As for the sleeping ~ I am not sleeping all that well (waking up about 2-3AM and can't fall back to sleep) but other than that I am doing fine...Again Love & Miss you all!

Tomorrow is a "free day" for us which we all are so looking forward to. And today I actually went exploring the city of Zhengzhou by myself! Keith was extemely nervous and didn't want me to go but after assuring him that I had my official name tag {given to us by Yisha c/o CCAI} with all my much needed information on it {both in English and Chinese} he was OK with letting me go and I did have a nice time ~ just missed my mom being with me...

OK that's about it for today ~ enjoy the photos!!!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010



After what seems like forever, waiting this morning for our little boy to arrive at our hotel, I finally could not take it any more and I had to go down to the lobby to check things out for myself. As soon as I was in the main area, there he was! I quickly hid behind a wide column and starting spying on him. After a few minutes, I ran back upstairs to send Keith & Francesca down for a look for themselves. Once they returned, it took over an hour for him to be delivered to our room. As soon as the door bell rang, Keith rushed to the door to open it and there he was. One of his nannies was holding him and as soon as the two of them came into the room, I asked if it was OK for me to hold him. When I put out my arms to him, he simply reached out his arms and came right to me and held on tight. After holding him, rubbing his back, speaking soft words of love and of course feeding him some M&Ms, I decided to change his clothes (unfortunately the sandals I purchased for him are way too big so we will be hitting Zhengzhou Lotus store tomorrow for shoes). So far he has only "teared up a few times"...never really crying and not one bit of screaming, just some soft whimpering and tearing up but as soon as we see it happening either Keith or I quickly reassure him by rubbing his back, arms or legs speaking soft gentle words of comfort to him and he stops. Francesca is loving him ~ she just can't get enough and he is really taking a liking to her as well. We once again ordered room service ~ pizza, french fries and chicken wings ~ and he ate very well, Pretty soon I am going to have to head out to do a bit of paper work so this post will be short but before I end it, I would love to share a few photos that were taken and a little bit of information about him....

Benjamin is very VERY very tiny ~ smaller than Annabelle was.

He is shy by nature and is very observant!

He has really bond to both of us and knows how to put his own shoes on.

He is still wearing diapers...and (as of today) no longer on a bottle.

Might have some issues with his belly button and his testicles plus his bowel is also giving him some issues as well...

And as I am typing this, he is just SMILING away! {which is so priceless!}

But for now, you'll have to settle for these...

OK - that's about it for now for that LET'S GET TO THE PHOTOS!!!!!

I was able to get a few photos posted of Francesca and Benjamin playing - along with Benjamin sleeping! I swear he is taking my breath away and he is such a darling!

{PS - This truly was a blessing that he was delivered to our room for what we heard there were a lot of crying & screaming babies at the Civil Affairs office and from what Yisha said, it was crazy, crazy, crazy! Thank you Oh Heavenly Father Up Above for you had other plans for us today because our union was exactly how we all needed it to be ~ it was calm, peaceful, and simply beautiful!)












Sunday, June 27, 2010

{minor set back}

OK we were supposed to go to the Civil Affairs office this morning at 9:30AM (with our VERY LARGE group) to be united with our son. Our guide Yisha informed as around 9:15AM that the orphanage where Benjamin is coming from is running a bit late (travel time from the orphanage to Zhengzhou it is about a three hour ride) and he will NOT be at the Civil Affairs office for 9:30. While we are very sad to hear this news, we did find out that sometime around 12:00PM he and his care takers should be arriving at our hotel and he will than be united with us right in our very own "home away from home" hotel room. After sending "best wishes & congratulations" to all our other traveling families who will soon be getting {probably already have} their children and watching them all walk out the hotel's main door, Keith, Francesca & I headed to the elevators to return to our room. Once those elevator doors closed I could not stop myself from crying. By the time I returned to our hotel room, I was once again calm & cool. It was also at this time that I realized THIS is how we should be united with our little boy after waiting over ONE YEAR to be with our hotel room with just US, giving him time to adjust and as much space as he needs (and not in that small Civil Affairs office room that will be filled with 14 families and 14 children). I couldn't have asked for a more perfect start to our family of five! Well, it is almost 11AM here and I want to make sure - for about the 100th time - that everything we need in is order. I promised as soon as we ALL get settled I will post some photos!

BTW ~ Francesca is super excited! She has already layed out a ton of cars, trucks, coloring books and crayons along with her DVD player ready to play "Big Bird In China"! She too is counting down the minutes!

June 27th ~ One More Day....(and YES! We are in Zhengzhou!)

We arrived in Zhengzhou early this afternoon, but as many of you know, there is so much to do before "the big day" comes! We will be leaving for the Civil Affairs office tomorrow at 9:30AM - so anytime after that, we should be united with our little boy! We did get an update today from CCAI on him and there are a few surprises. Nothing to be worried about but just things we are not prepared for (so wish you were here Ma)...Anyway, we have the backpack all packed up, all the envelopes stuffed with the necessary funds, gifts all wrapped and all our paper work in order for tomorrow morning. The crib is once again all set up in the room which is totally bringing back so many wonderful memories. Our guide Yisha remembered us today as soon as she spotted us at the airport. She was so excited to see us again. She did ask about LaLa (aka Annabelle) and Grandma. She is also looking forward to helping us along with our newest addition's transition (seeing how he is the oldest child being adopted among our group).

I do have a few photos to share with you all that were between last night & today. The one of Francesca and I in the hotel room was taken by Keith while we were "skyping" with Grandma, Annabelle, Aunt Lisa and Scotty. {Oh how I miss you all so very much ~ and next time when we come back YOU GUYS ARE COMING SO START SAVING NOW!}

As for my thoughts on what is about to happen tomorrow..I think I am doing pretty good. Seeing how this is our 3rd time around, it seems much easier and I think I am prepared for just about anything. Keith has been truly an amazing support to me. As he told me earlier today "You are one hell of a mother Shell and no matter how unhappy & scared he might be, you can & will make him smile and in do time he will whole heartily feel your love." (what a guy I have...) {not to mention the M&MS I already have packed up to get Benjamin to come to me}

Ma & Lisa - are we still on for "skyping" on the 28th 7:00PM (your time)? Just confirm with me here through the comments.

Well, we are actually getting ready to head out for some Italian food here at the Crown Hotel (I know Italian food in China but coming from this full blooded Italian the food here is pretty good). We finally got to meet all of our travel group and so many of them are just super nice but I am so missing our group from 2008 BADLY and a few from our group in 2005...

Now if you are ready, here are the photos I promised! Just think the next time you see a post on this site - IT WILL BE PHOTOS OF OUR BENJAMIN!!!!!!!!! Oh how I can't wait!

Love you all & Miss you so much!

"My Sweet & Spicy Annabelle ~ Mommy, Daddy, and Francesca MISS YOU SO MUCH! I think about you every second of every day as you are in my heart always! I am counting down the days until I can hold you in my arms and give you lots of hugs & kisses..." Love you more than you'll ever know...Mommy"

{a building in the city of Zhengzhou}

{Francesca on the plane to Zhengzhou}

{Franceca & some travel group friends}

{Francesca & I skyping with Grandma, Annabelle, Aunt Lisa & Scotty}

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26th - Turning Lemons into Lemonade

The day started as all the others....we got up and was downstairs for breakfast by 8:00AM. Usually by this time we see a few of the other CCAI group members that are traveling with us ~ but not today. As we ate our breakfast we were still waiting for someone {from our group} to appear but nothing! It is than at this time I decided to have the front desk contact by phone our CCAI guide "George" to see what time we would be leaving for the Great Wall tour. When she finally reached him (about 9:00AM - which was the time our group met yesterday to visit the Forbidden Square), he and the other group members were already on their way to the Great Wall...while never contacted us of departing time. You don't even have to ask me if I was pissed because believe me, I was, but I managed to keep my cool...I did mention to George that just because we did not take the tour yesterday didn't mean we were not doing it today. I made it my business with our guide George when we first met on June 24th that we were not doing the Forbidden City tour but WOULD BE DOING the Great Wall the following day. He said that was OK and our tour rates would be adjusted (becuase you pay by day of touring). Come the night of the 25th, we never received any messages or phone call stating when the group would be leaving for the Great Wall so we just assumed it would be the same time as the day before 9:00AM. Well, as you can see that was not the case. As soon as I relayed the message to Keith that I was receiving from George via telephone in regards to the group status (that they already left) and George insisting on sending a car to get us, Keith & I both agreed & said no to his offer. We knew we would find something else just as exciting to do and boy are we so happy we did! The hotel here offers private tours which we jumped on and not only did we see the Great Wall (by cable cars) but we also visited a local tea shop! The spot where we were able to access the Great Wall was truly amazing & one area we never visited before! It is the place that so many of us are familiar with in seeing in movies, tour books, or posters! It was breath-taking and we walked a ton of it! It was truly one of my all time favorite moments in life! I can only hope the photos that were taken can show just how breath-taking this particular spot was...

Tomorrow we head out at 7:30AM for Zhengzhou! I can't believe our time here in Beijing has once again come to an end. But I must admit, I am so looking forward to Monday saying goodbye to this amazing city is not so bad (and I have a strong feeling we will be back again some time really soon...)


I am going to try to post something tomorrow, but seeing how we might be a bit busy with getting everything organized and ready for Benjamin, you might just have to wait until 28th ~ but we'll see...

Until than ENJOY these photos from today!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25 ~ Off the Beaten Path in Beijing!

First off {before I even get started telling you all about our exciting day} I must give a HUGE shout out to my wonderful & amazing sister Lisa for it is her BIRTHDAY today!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LISA!!!! We here in China all love you & miss you so much! Keith and I did a little celebration on behalf of your birthday& had a few afternoon cocktails at this amazing outdoor lounge here in Beijing! Needless to say, we are all now back in the hotel room ~ resting...Hope you too have a very HAPPY day! LOVE YOU!

Well as you can see, we did have a few cocktails some time this afternoon which if you are traveling with us ~ afternoon cocktails are a must! As I stated yesterday, we decided not to do the group's tour today. Seeing how this is our third time here in less than 5 years and it is blazing HOT outside, we knew we wanted to do something more at our leisurely pace and enjoy some "off-the-beaten" path exploring ~ which we so did!

Our day started off by just walking the streets of Beijing which lead us to this amazing tea shop (where I was able to purchase some fresh Jasmine tea) than from there we found a crazy Hot Dumpling Spot where I was the only one brave enough to try them (seeing how we really could not verbally communicate with the vendors and their "menu" was completely in Chinese ~ it was all "look than point and shake your head YES" when you found the dumpling you wanted to try). Each steamed dumpling I tried was so good that I am actually headed back there for a late afternoon snack. We also stumbled upon an incredible indoor vendors market where we found some beautiful pieces at some amazing prices. We did a lot of walking this morning and in this heat ~ it makes you very tired. It was than that we found the outdoor lounge, sat down under this huge umbrella and enjoyed some refreshing cocktails. I do have a few photos to share with you all today. Many of them are of the crazy traffic here in Beijing while there is also one of Keith & Francesca and another one of Francesca and me.

Once we returned to the hotel I did work on getting all of the US money that is needed for Benjamin's adoption exchanged into RMBs before arriving in Zhengzhou on the 27th. In my opinion, it is just one less "detail" I need to worry about during those few short hours before being united with him. {and if you know anything about me you know that I have already placed all the bills in it's proper sealed and labeled envelope} I figured I better do this now while we are having relaxing day than trying to do it that first night when we arrive in Zhengzhou (which will be sometime around 8PM) or even the next morning before we take that walk to the civil affairs office to finally meet our little boy.

As for tonight, we again have nothing planned but for us this is how we wanted it! We did meet many of our travel group during breakfast this morning and they all seem to be a great bunch of people. We will learn more about them as our days move along during this adoption journey.

Tomorrow we are headed to the Great Wall which we are really excited to see once more.

That's about it here on our end! Only three more days until we are finally united with our little boy! I still can't believe it is really going to happen...

Love to you all & Miss everyone so very much!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

{We Have Landed!}

Well...after what seems like an entire day spent at either an airport or on a airplane flying over the North Pole, we finally landed in Beijing about 2:00PM! When we went to check in this morning at United's Ticket Counter, we were asked if we would prefer a direct flight with an upgrade. Oh course I said yes, but that meant spending the morning hanging out at Dulles International Airport. The good part of the whole thing was we arrived earlier at the airport in Beijing than what was expected. But as many of you know, the traffic around here is terrible and it took us almost 2 hours to arrive at our hotel, plus we were so hungry that we just had to have something to eat before I even thought about doing this post! After being fed {well}, taking a long over due shower, tucking Francesca into bed (while Keith was already fast asleep), I figured I finally got a chance to type up this brief message.

All is well here in China! After spending our first 6 hours back in China, it truly feels like we have never left ~ everything about the place insistently comes back!

I am going to make this short here because I too am truly tired. We all have been up for over 24 hours and it is really starting to hit me as well (and as you can see, it already hit the other two in my group).

We dearly miss everyone especially my mom and Annabelle. We love you all so much and are so looking forward to "skyping" with you all later.

Tomorrow is a free day for us which I am very excited about! Nothing big planned - just headed out among the streets of Beijing to do a bit of self-exploring. I'll be back some time tomorrow with a few photos to share and one very special BIRTHDAY WISH!!!!!

LOVE & MISS you all...!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


{an open invitation for those who have always & will continue to support us}

OK seeing how today marks ONE WEEK until we leave for China, it seems I am finally getting extremely excited and once again nervous! After thinking about it for some time, I decided to make some changes to Benjamin's site!

The first change was ~ I made his web site a site for EVERYONE! Yes for EVERYONE! With a click of the mouse, I made his site a site for ANYONE to post comments! All you need to do is, click on the Comments link below each journal entry (do not click on the "link to this post" link) and wait for the pop up box to appear. Once that pop up box appears, you will see a "Leave Your Comment" block (you may have to scroll down within the pop up box to get to the block to type your message). It is there in that box that you can start typing your message. Once completed, please remember to sign your name to the bottom of the message within the Leave Your Comment block (so I know who is leaving us the message) and scroll down until to see "Anonymous" and click on the circle located just before it (make sure the circle before Anonymous is highlight). And than last step is, click on "Publish Your Comment" (big orange button listed directly below "Anonymous" and within a few seconds, your message will appear! It is that easy! And now EVERYONE & ANYONE can leave us a comment!

Second change was ~ I set up for each & every comment left to not only be posted within the comment link but also a copy of your message to be sent to my email address! Seeing how some Internet sites are blocked in China {and Blogger - at times - being one of them}, I will find it difficult when in China to read all your messages. So with another few clicks under the setting bar, I was able to add my primary email address so I can read every one's message that is left!

There is one thing I want to make clear & it is really sad that I must say this, but I would really appreciate that no one leaves "unwanted" "nasty" or "rude" comments. I have seen it happen before to others and while everyone might not agree with our life style, our decisions, or our beliefs, please don't leave your opinion here! This is an adoption web site for a little boy who will finally be united with his family after a year of surprises, joy, heartache, tears and excitement. YES, this web site is all about our Benjamin. So if you feel the need to tell us something that may not be so nice, please email me privately ~ remember this HERE is not about us, it is about a little boy who has been waiting for a family for over 2 years now...(plus please keep in mind if there is a comment we DON'T approve, it will be deleted)

With that said, I truly hope you all join in on following along in what is most likely going to be our final adoption journey to China. So many of our family & friends have followed us along in the past and left some beautiful comments along the way. I am so looking forward to reading each & every one of the comments that will be left. You just don't know how much your words mean to us and will mean to our son ~ in the future...

So post away {that's comments I mean}!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Travel Schedule!

Listed Below is the details of the Travel Schedule we received from CCAI!

6/23 Leave US for Beijing

6/24 Arrive In Beijing

6/25 (my sister's birthday) Tour Beijing: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong Tour and Acrobatics Show...As for Keith, Francesca, and I this will be a free day for us (we decided not to do the tours this day)

6/26 Still Touring Beijing: Great Wall and Mings Tomb ~ which we are doing!

6/27 Depart Beijing for Zhengzhou

6/28 BENJAMIN'S FOREVER FAMILY DAY!!!! Sometime in the afternoon, we will FINALLY be united with our Benjamin!!!!

6/29 (Keith's birthday) Adoption Registration in the morning & Lotus Shopping Center in the afternoon

6/30 Free Day!

7/01 Free Day!

7/02 Receive Chinese passports and leave Zhengzhou for Guangzhou

7/03 Have Benjamin's health physical completed, TB test done, and visa photo taken

7/04 Free Day!

7/05 Free Day!

7/06 Have TB test checked out at clinic and than Free Day!

7/07 Consulate Appointment ~ completed by our CCAI representative

7/08 Our Consulate Appointment ~ Taking the Oath!

7/09 Free Day!

7/10 Leave Guangzhou for Beijing where we will catch a flight home bond!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Flights Booked!

After what seems like forever (seriously I was working both online and the phone line this past Friday to find decent priced flights)...we finally found amazing flights to and from Beijing!!!!

Flight out on the June 23rd and Return home on July 10th!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

{two little letters we have been so waiting for} TA!!!!!!

As of today, we have finally received our TA which is our travel approval!!! We are currently waiting on CA (Consulate Appointment) confirmation before booking any tickets...

We were told that we could be traveling as soon as June 16th or June 23rd ~ only time will tell! As soon as I have our dates, I will be posting them here!

Again THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us along the way to be united with our son! Words will never be able to express how truly blessed we are to have family & friends out there like you!