Saturday, May 7, 2011

We're Still Here!

Hi Friends and Family!

I thought I'd post an update since it's been so long. I've been posting pics and mini updates on Facebook, but it's time for a longer update.

Liam is doing very well! He has completely adjusted to his school and teachers. So much so, he's even being mischievous and getting into a little trouble. Depending on behavior at school, he comes home with a green, yellow, or red mark each day. This week, he finally figured out that green is the place to be! Yellow=no bike or park and a sad Mama face. Green=stickers, outside time, and a happy Mama. On Friday at dismissal time, he ran up to his teacher with the green marker and signed "green"!

At home he is doing even better. He loves to play outside and ride his bike. He hates putting away his laundry. He loves to help set the table, take a bath/shower, and give hugs goodbye on the way to school. He loves to be a backseat driver! He can tell me every turn to take on the way from school to picking up his brothers and sister. If I go a different route, he lets me know about it in no uncertain terms! He is responding well to time outs at home, too. He used to strip naked, spit, hit and kick. Now he just cries a little with an occasional hit to the wall. He also responds to the warning of time out and changes behavior.

He still LOVES routine, but he isn't as dependent on it as he was when he first arrived. Now I can sign to him the errands that we are going to do before picking up brothers and sister, and he doesn't worry about why we're not going that direction. I can also leave him with a sitter after school when I have meetings without any tears.

Liam loves church! He even participates in Bible classes. The family there has been wonderful! Everyone looks out for him and the kids and teens love him! Many people are learning a few signs so they can communicate with him. I may even try to start a Sign Language class on Wednesday nights.

He is really picking up the sign language quickly. I see his signing development happening at three levels: 1. Signs he understands, but doesn't use spontaneously, 2. Signs he can understand and imitate, and 3. Signs he uses spontaneously. He is finally starting to answer questions without just repeating the question, esp. "where". He answered a "which" question the other day. Once he gets that concept down, a whole new world of choices will be opened up to him. I never realized how hard it must be for him to not be able to communicate "which" food or "which" activity he wants to do. I am happy to say we're getting there! He can identify 4 or 5 letters independently. He signs his alphabet every night before bed (using his poster on the wall). He is just beginning to identify the colors (especially green and yellow!) He hasn't really started counting yet. He can sign the days of the week Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday on his own. He can write his name and Mom without much help. He has really good fine motor control. He can also identify several animals.

We are set up to do video chat on our gmail account at home. Liam loves to video chat, so look us up at

Love to all!

Erin Stokes

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Last day in China

We are all packed and ready for our early train to Hong Kong. We will miss China, but we are eager to get back to our life back home. What an adjustment it will be to have 4 kids...with one being deaf! I don't think we will post from HK. We will send a message from airports along the way home on Friday. We calculated that we will be in the air for 19 hours! There will be a short break on Newark before the last leg to Houston. Keep us in your prayers, please. Specifically for Liam's patience on the flight! Thank you all for following our trip and sending all the comments!

Noodle boy

My two cowboys

After dinner cuddles.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet sweet boy

We are just adoring sweet little Liam! He now wants to give hugs and kisses (mostly to me) ALL of the time. He really seems to get that we are for real and that we are not going away. The picture I sent to Laura to post on facebook is pretty cool. The sun was coming in the bedroom window in such a way that I was able to catch his reflection looking at pictures of the family on the iPad. A funny thing about Liam is that he loves to high five or sign to men who are wearing uniforms like the bell boys or drivers. The regular bell boys are getting used to him and giving him big smiles and high fives.
Today we went to the US consulate to finalize all of our paper work. Then we went to a park to watch the senior citizens do their morning exercises and recreation. The kiddos got to play as well. Jay, Liam, and I went back to the island to shop for friends and family. Tonight we are staying in. Jay and little man are out getting us a pizza as I type this. Tonight we will also start packing a little bit. Tomorrow we get Liam's visa and then have a nice Cantonese meal with the other families and our guide. Thursday we take an early train to Hong Kong. We decided to spend the afternoon at Disneyland in HK. Of course Friday we fly home! We cannot wait!

Liam kissing mommy.

Reflection of Liam looking at pictures of his brothers and sister on the iPad.

Monday, March 14, 2011

We had a great day! We got to take a dinner cruise down the pearl river. Liam loved being on the boat and seeing all the lights of the city. He's getting along great with the other two girls and the two older kids that came along. He'll love his brothers and sister, I am sure! We have an early day at the US consulate tomorrow, so good night to all. Love, Erin

Liam with new friends on the famous red couch at the White Swan.

Mom and Liam at White Swan Hotel.

Peanut Butter Boy

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day ? in gz

I don't even know what day we are on. We are having a very nice time here in gz, but we are sooo ready to be home! Liam is being social with the little girls in our group. We've even given them name signs. He seems to understand turn-taking and sharing. Today he got a haircut which he was not happy about at all! We went sightseeing at the location of the 2010 Asia games. It was like an Olympic village. After that we went to a park. We came across an area that had about ten groups of four senior adults playing hackysack! Our group, including Liam joined in. It was great fun! A little bit further we came across an open area where people were swing dancing! We joined in with that as well! We have a fun group of families. Tomorrow is part two of the medical check ups, shopping, and a river cruise. A few people have asked about the Japan situation. We are not in any danger at all. They say shockwaves were felt all the way in shanghai on friday, but we were already in the air when it hit. We are watching the news reports on our version of CNN, and our prayers are with the Japanese people. We miss you all!

King of the playroom castle.

Bedtime hanging out with baba and watching his movie on the iPad.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 1 in gz

We love this place! We have many of the comforts of home right here by our hotel. Of course the three best comforts (Jaci, Colin, and Aidan) are greatly missed! Liam showed us his first tears today at the medical clinic. He was so scared it just broke our hearts. The best part was that he let us comfort him. After the clinic, we got to walk around Shamian Island where we stayed last time we were here. We ate lunch at Lucy's which is an American food restaurant near the White Swan hotel. We looked everywhere for the artist who painted Jaci's portrait, but he is gone. We found a different place and got the ball rolling on an oil painting of Liam. We get it on Tuesday. We got to meet the other families in our travel group today with their new little girls. They are all very nice. Tomorrow is another sightseeing day and more paperwork.

Liam is a ball. He is signing a little bit more. He can now sign potty instead of grabbing himself. He is great about going to sleep at night. He can sign amen after our prayer at night. : ) He signs eat and drink and please and thank you. He also signs full when he's had enough to eat. He will mimic signs I say to him, but there are only a few that he does truly spontaneously. We love him and know that his friends and family back home will too.

Erin, Jay, and Liam

This was so funny to us! It is the first time Liam spontaneously signed "full"!

Bath time with baba

Monkey boy

Chopstick master

Friday, March 11, 2011

We are in Guangzhou!

After a long day, we made it to our hotel in gz. Liam wasn't sure what to think, so his "little bit naughty" came out. He pushed buttons all day (literally and figuratively)! He is sitting in my lap now eating my m and ms instead of his dried fruit. Can you blame him, really? Our hotel is gorgeous! It is in the heart of a shopping/restaurant area, so we shouldn't have to get a cab for much of anything. We will meet two other families from our agency tomorrow. We look forward to that.
More about Liam: when he is happy he has the cutest little giggle. He is getting a little bit better about looking at you when you have something to tell him. When he is in trouble, he shuts his eyes so he cannot hear or see you. He is showing a little more affection towards us. He will give a pseudo kiss on the cheek when we ask for one (no smack). He still wants to be carried everywhere, but he will walk or run around when he is in a familiar environment.
I will update more tomorrow. Free wifi in the hotel!
Love Erin

Hotel in Guangzhou.

Signing Airplane in the Airport

Liam nervous about the plane ride.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day ???

Erin sent these this afternoon (Friday morning in China). My best guess is they are from Thursday when they took a tour of the city of Shanghai.

Liam signing car and gum, watching cars out the window, his favorite hobby!

Days 3 and 4 with Liam

Sorry we didn't get to post anything yesterday. You might say we were the accidental tourists! Our plan was to take a cab to a shopping area close to our little coffee house and then walk to the coffee house and back to the hotel. Our cab driver took us to a totally different part of shanghai for new York style times square shopping. It was really awesome, but there was no place to log in and post.
Liam is doing great! He is signing more and more. Yesterday we went to the zoo and he and jay learned a lot of new animal signs. He is so active that we have to take turns getting any kind of rest. (Allison, get ready!) He loves being carried everywhere! he is a little heavier than Jaci in a smaller body. At the risk of spoiling him, we are giving inane carrying him whenever he wants us to. It is a good sign that he is comfortable enough with us. He is showing more comfort in his surroundings. He even went right to sleep last night without a fuss.
Today we visited the famous yu gardens and the bund. The bund is an area where you can see the famous skyline of shanghai over the river. I got some great pics that I will have to share once we get home. Colin: I made a new flat Stanley and took him to those places today.
Liam is getting pretty restless, so I will have to cut it short for tonight. We may not get to post tomorrow because we are flying to Guangzhou for the second part of our trip. I will seek out a new little coffee house as soon as I get there. Thanks for all the comments! Love you all! Jay Erin and Liam

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 3

Signing camera in the hotel lobby.

At the Shanghai Zoo.

Signing I love you.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 2 with Liam

We are officially Liam's family today! He is a creature of habit and routine. He love to drink as much liquid as possible and subsequently we visit many Chinese restrooms. He likes to eat anything and everything, and yet he is so tiny! He wears size 120cm clothing. In America, that is somewhere between 3T and 4T. One of our proudest moments is when he found all the Dallas Cowboys logos on every picture and article of clothing including a hand me down cowboys hoodie from the boys that fits him perfectly! We brought three pairs of swimming goggles and he has assigned us each a specific pair. When he puts his on, we both have to wear ours! During his waking hours, he needs and gets 100% of our attention (happily)! He is constantly making connections between pictures and objects in his environment. It is very clear that someone prepared him for this. He is not using asl, but he definitely had a system of pointing and homemade signs to get his needs met. He is signing the following since meeting us: mama, daddy, please, sorry, I love you, eat, drink, full, finish, banana, bath, no, and a couple others. He tests his limits a lot, but responds pretty well to correction. He got sad once today while looking at the picture book the orphanage put together for him. He pointed to the picture of his friends then went to the window looking for them. He pointed to the picture of the orphanage and then out the window several times. No tears yet, but sad little eyes. Jay is his favorite, but he loves me too. We are all very happy and VERY ready to come home.
Love you all!

Specific messages:
My sweet babies at home: we love you and miss you. We can't wait to come good!
To laura: thanks so much for keeping us connected! HOpe you are feeling well!
To Colin: did I leave flat Stanley at home? If so, I will try to get an address where MomC can mail it to me in Guangzhou.
To anyone out there: please mail me some sonic ice!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Early Bird Liam

Erin sent me (Laura - the message relay operator) around 3:00pm today. All it said was "Yes, it is stinking 5 in the morning!" I guess Liam is a morning person!!

Day 1 with Liam

Liam is amazing! He hasn't slowed down yet. We are hoping to all crash when we get back to the hotel tonight. I am expecting the new to wear off and the sadness to hit soon. He has been on a communication high you might call it. He LOVES Jay! He is playing with all his new toys, but only for a few seconds before moving on to the next. He has been introduced to French fries and ketchup (as was Jaci on day one), and he is a big fan! He loves to clean up after himself. The orphanage was phenomenal! We got to interview one of the caretakers for a long time. She gave us her email address and is expecting updates. The kids are VERY well cared for! I will text Laura a few more pics to post here when she gets a chance. The comments and prayers are so helpful. Thank you! I love you Aidan, Colin, and Jaci! Your little brother is checking out your pictures very carefully. You guys are going to love him!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

He's Here!

Update: little man is a bundle of energy! He is smart! He is already mimicking signs and understands no. He is allowing us to hold him for now. Full of smiles! Points to everything! Note to self: Liam proof the house!

Coffee Houses Rule!

Found free wifi! Just a 15 minute walk from hotel so now life is grand! Tomorrow morning we go to the orphanage to meet and pick up Liam. We should have plenty of time to visit and interview his caretakers since we are the only family. We know it'll be a hard and confusing day for him. We are bracing for the storm, but we know it will all be okay. Thanks for all the comments and well wishes! Pray hard over the next 24 hours or so.

(Posted via Laura's message relay)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

News from China

We are here! We will get to go to the orphanage to pick up Liam on Monday am. We will be getting settled and caught up on sleep between now and then.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Packing Day!

I'm officially off work now! We leave tomorrow afternoon to fly to Chicago. Friday it's Chicago to Shanghai! We'll arrive there Saturday afternoon (their time) and get Liam on Monday morning.
The hotels look incredible! I especially love the "pillow menu" at the first one in Shanghai. We will stay there six nights and then go to another awesome hotel in Guangzhou for six more nights.
Today is all about packing. I'm hoping to go with just one checked and one carry-on. Good thing I have space saver bags!
Wish us luck and keep prayers lifted on our behalf!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Travel Plans!

We've booked our flights to China! We will fly from Houston to Chicago to China on March 4. We'll arrive home on the 18th. We are waiting for information on our in-China travel, then we'll get to write the big check!

I am trying to get all of my ducks in a row at school for my sub. I'm still not sure exactly how it will work without using family medical leave. I haven't been with the district for a year, so I won't be able to use that FMLA. Luckily I transferred 20 + days from Longview ISD when I moved. I will not be able to use them all in a row, so I will be docked for at least a few days. At least one of the weeks we'll be gone will be Spring Break!

One of my projects for the next two weeks will be to learn how to cook a few good authentic Chinese meals. Any recipes would be appreciated! I'm sure Liam will get used to our food, but I want to avoid a major culture shock if possible!

I am also working on getting a doctor that specializes in international adoptions. I think we've found one, but we're trying to make sure the insurance we have will cover everything.

There's so much to do to get ready for Little Man! Keep us in your prayers!

Erin Stokes

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A few steps closer!

Hello and Happy New Year!

I am happy to say that over the holidays we moved a few steps closer to Liam! We are now waiting for travel approval which should come in about one month. We will travel to get him one month from that. That puts us in China close to Spring Break in early March.
We have decided for sure to go without the other three kids. We are blessed to have two wonderful grandmothers in their life that will be caring for them!

Keep us and Liam in your prayers as we get ready for this huge transition! Liam will especially need prayers. Please pray that he is being told (sign language, pictures, etc) about his upcoming adoption.