Monday, November 24, 2014

Day Four: Gotcha Day for Sara Liu Xinqin Jensen

Today is a blur. Very emotional, exhausting and filled with lots of gratitude, and lots of feeling overwhelmed! We have XinQin and she is amazing. She has chosen to be called Sara! She has been very good at answering to Sara or Sara Xinqin. She is all over the place and wide-eyed. She was very shy for about 10 minutes, and then she took over. We sat for 20 minutes going through the photo book we sent her, with our guide translating. She showed us her cross-stitch and coloring, and let us hug her. She didn't hug back at first, but she had no trouble taking our arms to get our attention. She seems to be about the same size as Maren, but as we anticipated, acts more like she is about 10 years old in maturity. I think this is good. She will have a chance to be a kid with us. She holds our hands as we walk. It's very sweet and a relief. She was holding an umbrella (it's been pouring) and a Barbie doll (we brought 2 of our collection with us) and as she noticed Brandon and I walking on either side of her, she promptly handed me the umbrella and took my free hand, then handed Brandon the Barbie and took his free hand. So we walked like that. The best part was Brandon holding the Barbie. ;)

She is very aware of us and what we might like. She shares without asking. She was concerned when I didn't eat dinner (my stomach was too uneasy--not from food, but from the emotion I heaped on myself ) and insisted I share some of her fries (she requested KFC for dinner). I'm not sure she'd eaten there before, but she definitely wanted to try. She is eating very well and seems to know what she wants, although at dinner tonight the chicken she ordered was too spicy so she gave it to Ba ba (Brandon is Dad). I am Ma or Ma ma. Easy-peasy. She ate all her vegetables and rice. She eats fast and practically from the edge of the plate. I'm so glad she has an appetite. She patted her belly to let us know she was full.

She strikes up conversations with people and even bargains prices down, ha! But our conversations are funny. We don't understand and we try and try and then BLAMMO we figure it out and she just beams. None of our translator apps work reliably, so tomorrow we will get a pocket translator, no wifi necessary. We've had to do some funny pantomimes. She laughs a full laugh. She seems patient with that. I honestly don't think she has any idea what it meant when our guide told her she will learn English so we can talk.

Her and Brandon have hit it off. This is a blessing. His interest in learning how to speak Chinese is cause for a lot of laughter between them. He teases. She teases right back. After this full day she seems very comfortable with both of us. I fell asleep at 3 for a little but, and she laid down and fell asleep, too. We both slept for an hour. Then she was ready to go again! We walked out and about. She walks fast, but adjusts to our speed when we hold hands, which we do because we're afraid of losing her. Brandon lets her use our room card to key the elevator (required to punch in our floor) and get into the room. She's super quick to memorize. Earlier, he had opened his iPad for translating, then a game. A while later, she asked to use the iPad. She took it and opened it with Brandon's password. Without us telling her what it was. We will have to be careful with this one!

The orphanage gave her a disposable camera to use, and she LOVES taking pictures. We let her use up the pictures in that, and then this afternoon we gave her her own little Vivitar point-and-shoot digital. She was wide-eyed and so happy. She jumped up and down and said "Thank you, Mama!" in English and hugged me! She was astonished. She has been shooting lots of pictures, even making Brandon and I kiss for pictures as she giggles. That was probably the best investment we made as far as things for her to do. She likes to fold paper, too. She was telling us and when it was clear we didn't understand, she started singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and I gasped and sang it with her! She turned to her backpack and pulled out a little container full of tiny paper-folded stars! We will have to get her some folding papers.

We played a few games of UNO. She caught on fast and won 3 games out of four. We didn't play with the "UNO" rule. Keeping it simple. We also practiced counting in English while we played, and saying the colors. She knows a little English. Hello. Thank you. Sorry. Okay. Some numbers. One, two, three, four. She plays math games on the iPad so she knows basic math. We didn't evaluate her yet or anything, we just observed her answering the problems correctly.

But she is busy, and we're sure that this is her personality and maybe some ADD, mixed with the excitement of being here and being with us. She rode her first escalator today. She was a little nervous but did it. I gave her "high-five" which Brandon taught her earlier. Her eyes were wide as we walked through the shopping district. She picked out a little kit to make rubber-band bracelets. We need to keep her hands and mind busy. We will figure it out.

It's 7:30 here and it feels like 9:30. We're exhausted, but encouraged. She is sweet, sassy, curious, trusting, and speaks her mind. I am thinking how we are going to spend the next few days with her in a hotel room. Hopefully the rain will clear and we can schedule some activities with our guide. We don't want her (or us) growing dependent on electronics for entertainment. We also need to set a few main boundaries (don't run away from us when we're walking, put the game away, time for bed, etc) which is difficult without a translator, so we're excited to get the pocket translator for that, too.

I'm afraid of how it will be once we leave any guides and are on our own, and on a plane, and get off in a place where nobody speaks Chinese. I imagine her becoming her shy self again for a time. We will take it as it comes.

I'll post pictures tomorrow. Time to work with Google translate for a bit! Keep us in your prayers! We are happy and grateful, and overwhelmed. She is lovable. She may be exasperating. We are laughing a lot, and scratching our heads a lot. This is a big thing to do. Big.


Randy said...

So happy for you guys. So beautiful.

Emily Gray Clawson said...

Oh my goodness! I am so happy for you! What an adventure and a joy and a challenge all rolled into one. God bless you!

RobisonWells said...

This is fantastic! Congratulations all around. I know the wait has been long, but it sounds like it's been worth it.

You're awesome, and Sara is going to love you guys.

Mercer Family said...

REALLY big!!! You guys are amazing parents and will bless her life tremendously!

JaredNGarrett said...

Holy cow, Krista. This is glorious. Wonderful and fabulous and what a challenge. I admire you guys so much and maybe you and I can chat some time about the logistics etc of this process.

Congratulations to you and your now bigger family!

Kimberly VanderHorst said...

I cannot think of a more heart-happy way to start my day than reading this beautiful post. So thrilled for you and your family! <3

Jordan McCollum said...

Hooray! Congratulations on coming to the culmination of one journey and best of luck starting this new one!

Melanie Jacobson said...

This all just makes me so happy. Hooray for Sara Jensen!

Deborah Montgomery said...

Thank you for sharing...that is so awesome! This week in Utah I've been subbing at an elementary school that has a Chinese inversion class helping the kids learn chinese from 1st grade on and I was amazed at how much the third graders understood and could speak already. Hopefully you can find a program like that so she can keep speaking Chinese and learn in English as well!
So happy for you guys :)