Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thank You.

Today it is Friday and right now it is 7am. This means that in just 24 hours we will be at the airport in Guangzhou soon to board the first of three flights home. I would like to say at this point that all is well and for the most part it is. However, after being gone for so long emotions and stress levels are slightly elevated. Doing our best to maintain our joy and enjoy even this last leg of the journey might need more focus and intentionality than I originally thought. We can do this!!

My mom's anniversary proved to be very bitter-sweet as I knew it would and if there wasn't so much brokenness I might not be feeling on edge right now but I am. I know I have got to let go what I cannot change, I know this in my head but sometimes its so hard to get my heart to align to this truth. And so as I said in my last post I will choose God and His will, not my own.

Anyway, that is not what this post is about. This will be my last post in China and therefore I thought it appropriate to dish out some shout outs because there are so many people who deserve recognition for all they did during our trip. Beyond Brian's thanks they are in no particular order.

First off, to my hubby: thank you for being the main paper chaser in this whole adoption. Thank you for your patience and level headedness when I was being a complete basket case at so many different intervals during this adoption. Thank you for always remaining calm, cool and collected even when it looked as though everything was falling apart. Thank you for leading us emotionally and spiritually. Thank you for allowing God to move in you and for being obedient to God's will. Thank you for loving Jenna Grace the same way you love our boys. Thank you for loving and supporting me and for helping me remain calm on all the flights. ;0)

To our Reimage Church congregation and staff: thank you for all of your support throughout the past 2+ years we have been walking this road to our daughter. Thank you for all the times you have listened to us whine, moan or complain. And thank you for rejoicing with us as we passed from one milestone to the next. Thank you for covering us with prayer before and while we have been traveling. Your constant encouragement means the world to us and we are forever thankful to call Reimage home.

To our Agency, Holt: thank you for being amazing in every way. From your promptness in email/phone call responses to your patience in answering the same question 50 times and never sounding irritated. Thank you for always taking your time with us and for all the amazing preparations pre-travel. Your staff in the states and in China is second to none. We always felt taken care of and always knew exactly what was going on at all times. All the final paperwork in country was a breeze b/c of the professionalism of all of your staff. Here's hoping we get to work with you again!

To Laurie: thanks in advance for cleaning my house and picking up groceries. You have no idea how BIG these two things are to me. Both will give me, personally, so much less angst coming home. Knowing I will not have to clean my house is HUGE!!! I am so thankful for you and for your friendship that is so real and transparent. I am also so excited for the next phase in your adoption. Oh, and I will forever tell the story of us painting my laundry room...Love ya girl!

To the Daigle's: thank you for picking up the slack with our boys. Thank you for feeding them, loving them, and just in general watching out for them when Aubrey could not. Because of your help I was able to relax much more. Thank you for helping me have peace they were in good hands and well taken care of.
Thank you for all the times you listened while we cried as something else went wrong and for the times you celebrated when things went right. We appreciate your friendship more than you will ever know and look forward to moving into amazing new things with you guys! Paint brush is in hand and purging is my specialty! :0)

To the Teague's: thank you for feeding our boys, checking up on them, mothering them (whether they wanted it or not) and basically being me while we have been gone. Oh, and for driving out to pick up shoes from the boonies. HA HA.
Thank you for laughing and crying with us, for letting us be real and for putting up with all the drama this adoption has brought. Your friendship is the epitome of biblical and we are so thankful God allowed our paths to cross. You guys are next as you embark on the next phase of your journey to judgeship. Don't forget we will make excellent cheerleaders. Or at least I will, Brian actually understands what is going on. ;0)

To my precious friend Sandy: thank you for loving our boys like they were your own grandchildren. Thank you for spoiling them rotten and letting them be silly kids. I so appreciate the way you treat me and my family as if we are your family. Having no family close by sure helps close the gap. I am so excited to watch as Jenna Grace falls in love with you as we have. I love you!!

To our sweet friend AUBREY!!!! Girl, where do I even begin. The start was rocky but I am so proud of you and how well it ended. You became a shining star. Thank you for being willing and for finding that sacrificial bone in your body. I knew it was there. ;0) Thank you for loving my boys and taking care of them so well. Thank you for getting them where they needed to go and safely. Thank you for keeping the house in one piece and for preparing them for camp. Thank you for making sure that even at camp all was well. Thank you for spoiling them with all the things they like to eat and drink (even though it meant they probably haven't slept well ha ha). I knew God had not led us wrong. We both just had to find our feet. I hope you will take this experience and realize you really CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES YOU STRENGTH. I love you girl and am so thankful you are part of our family and such an integral part of bringing Jenna Grace home.
P.S. Thank you in advance for the clean sheets on my bed. HA HA!!

To all of you near and far, family and friends: Thank you for all of the support whether it be prayer, verbal encouragement, gifts or finances. We hope you know we couldn't have done this without you. We have always maintained this about adoption: we don't need help raising her, just help us get her home. Well, you have certainly done that and we couldn't say thank you enough!!!

To all the writers of the 19 letters and cards: WOW!!! Thank you for making us laugh and cry (well me anyway). Thank you for putting on paper all the encouragement and support we have already been feeling. It was so amazing to open those cards everyday and feel all your love and prayers from 7,000 miles away.

I am so hopeful I haven't forgotten anything or anyone. I have done my best to convey just how thankful we really are, although I am not sure I could ever say it well enough.

As we begin our journey home we still covet your prayers and so look forward to seeing you all soon. We have decided that once home we will cocoon for a minimum of 2 weeks to give us time to recover from jet lag and also to assist JG in acclimating to her new surroundings. She has done very well and come very far in just 10 short days. However, she is deathly afraid of strangers and that is exactly what her brothers will be to her. So, in order to help the transition go more smoothly we ask for your patience as we lay low for a little while to help her adjust. Please pray for that specifically as I certainly don't do well "stuck" at home. Thank you once again.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

10 Years

10 years ago on this very day at 10:46am USA time I sat with the rest of our family and watched as my precious mother breathed her very last. As she went on to be with her Heavenly Father I ached inside and wondered how I would go on and live my life without her.

Today, I can think of no where else I would rather be than in this country with my own daughter hoping I am creating a legacy as rich as hers.
My heart feels desperately sad that Jenna Grace will never know her Grammy and the wonderful woman she was.
But on the flip side, I can honestly say I am so happy my mom isn’t here to bear witness to how our world and our family in particular has evolved over the past 10 years. Her heart would be so broken.

And so as I take a moment to silently grieve for her I am hopeful that Brian and I have made her proud. I know that it is partly because of her example of selflessness that I was able to see past my life and the things I wanted to reach out for something else and eventually open my hand and heart to God for His will and not my own.

You see the truth is, this adoption was actually born out of selfishness. It was born out of pain and selfish ambition. I wanted a daughter. I had just lost my mom and that relationship meant the world to me. And so, in an effort to re-create it, the idea of adoption was born.
God, however, knew it would become so much more, and thankfully, because I chose to seek Him, it did.

I’ve written about my mom more times than I can count over the last 10 years. I’ve shed more than my fair share of tears and cried out to God in anger, frustration and brokenness. He really is near to the broken hearted and He really is a Father to Fatherless. So as this milestone passes and as I allow God to begin a new thing in me, my life and the life of my daughter I will forever have my hand and my heart open to Him. I will truly and with all sincerity say not my will but YOUR WILL be done. I know it won’t be easy but as this trip to China has proved IT WILL ALWAYS BE WORTH IT!!!!


Monday, June 24, 2013

All the RANDOMNESS I can muster.

Today makes 15 days in China. It took me more than 10 to get over jetlag, B a little less than that. Any bets on how long it will take when we get home? I hear its way worse coming back.

Baby girl said mama about 4 times now. Not really to me necessarily but I'll take it.

In every restroom we have been in there is only ever one "normal" toilet. The rest are squatty potty's, you have to have your own toilet paper and I've stopped being surprised that women don't shut the door while squatting.

Young people here are very touchy-feely it seems. Boys and girls alike are always walking around holding hands (same sex), arms around each other in very intimate ways while standing or sitting. Its a little bit uncomfortable.

Also, with regards to young people there seems to be no trends at all fashions-wise. It really looks as if anything goes.

While in the malls its always crazy to me that there will be at least 1 but usually 2 people standing at the entrance of the stores beckoning people in. And it doesn't matter if you look like us, they will talk to you as if you understand them.

The people here have no concept of personal space and depending on where you are no concept of personal hygiene either. However, they have all been very friendly to us and always dote on Jenna Grace.

When the escalators aren't in use they stop moving.

There are signs in our hotel room reminding us not to drink the water.

Malls are as prevalent here as gas stations are in the states.

I can tell travel is imminent, I've started dreaming about it. Last nights dream was of an airplane with no roof that sat 70, the pilot was about 170 and there were no seats.

I wish I would have kept track on my pedometer how many miles I've walked since being in China. I'm sure the number would have been pretty impressive.

The newest foods we've introduced our girl to are baked mashed potatoes, frys, chicken nuggets & hamburger from McD's, quesadillas, and watermelon. All winners.

All the workout machines are totally in English.

Most of the signage in Guangzhou is in Chinese, English and Arabic everywhere we go.

If I lived here I would never get used to seeing my dinner swimming in a tank near by then on my plate 15 minutes later or the insane live things they sell at the grocery store or the way they display their meat! Check out pics below.

Now that we are here I still say yes, adoption is one of the hardest things we have ever done in our lives but it is more than worth it and I would do it again if God says to. 

We have 4 and a half days to go. Approx. 29 hours of travel coming to us. We will leave on a Saturday and get home on a Saturday. We covet your prayers. Thanks. 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

One week with our girl and one week until home!

It has been just a little over a week since we were united with our sweet baby girl.

There is just one thing that let me know how comfortable she is getting...TANTRUM!!!! It wasn't a big one but it definitely was one and guess what I did? I bet you think I'm going to say give in but nope. I figure if you're comfy enough to throw it then you're comfy enough to realize you're not gonna get your way. She calmed down pretty quick but then refused to eat. OK, whatever. B took one look and said Jenna Grace, you don't know who you're dealing with. You do not want the wrath of mama. HAHA.
Another thing that is letting me know how attached she is to me is the crying whenever I leave her sight. I am not gonna lie, I like this. Not b/c she is being tormented on the inside but b/c I think she really knows who I am to her and I am part of her security.

We have just 5, count 'em, 5 more days until we will be on a plane and coming home. I have lost probably 5 pounds since I've been here b/c there is no way I am able to eat enough. This next 5 days is literally about waiting. Waiting for the paperwork to be finished and waiting to go to the exit interview and final Visa appt where we take our oath. I got JG a cute little red, white and blue tee for the occasion. I hope it fits.

Yesterday we went to the famous Shamian Island. I say famous b/c for years this is where all adoptive families would stay while here in this city. However, in the last few years they closed down the big hotel for remodling. When we got there yesterday I could see why it was so convenient. Laundry, a million shops, eating, parks and its so beautiful. We spent over 4 hours there and I hope to go back before we come home. We were able to drop our laundry off and they will deliver it today. We had so much yet it only cost us $25 to get it all done and delivered.
We hadn't been there too long when we bumped into John, Danielle and their little girl Lily. I mentioned them in another post. They are part of our Holt group and we did the Beijing thing with them. We all get along great. Brian and John are such dorks together and Danielle and I just laugh and walk away pretending not to be with them. Yesterday was no exception, especially after they both bought Mau watches and John insisted on telling me the time every 15 mins. It was funny. After we had walked around, eaten lunch and bought everything and anything we could get our hands on (including cuban cigars...sssshhh) we did our best to hail a cab. NO SUCH LUCK! We tried for a good 30 minutes. Finally, we realized it was 3pm and our info sheet said that between 3-4 is a shift change so most cabs will not stop. Great! Now what? We had only one choice left...THE SUBWAY!!! I have never been on a subway in my life b/c they are 1, underground and 2, they are underground. But it was this or walk for over an hour back to the hotel. Thank goodness Jenna Grace had fallen asleep b/c there were so many people she would have had a complete meltdown. Of course the downside to her sleeping were the hundreds of stairs up and down B had to carry her in the stroller just to get to the subway. Don't the Chinese use these things? By the time we made it there we were all hot, sticky and DONE! I have to say, despite all of the negatives we found the upside and had a laugh all the way back to the hotel. I was not about to lose my joy over THAT!
That night we had dinner with our friends we met in Nanchang, Sergio, Ginger and their little girl Naomi. We just love them. They live near the DC area and besides being believers, Brian and Sergio share Polish heritage and a birthday.

We were in Starbucks and she started hamming it up. 

Isn't her shirt the cutest?
Some statues on Shamian Island. 

Just some of the beautiful foliage on the island. 
A wine shop. B said the cheapest bottle was $300. 

Don't ask. ;0)
I told you. DORKS!!!!
Walking to the subway, she was fast asleep 5 seconds later. 

Subway craziness. 
You would think after all this time in China I would be used to the masses by now. Nope. It still astounds me. You can tell I've never lived in a big city. By the time we got on and off the subway twice we had become just as pushy as them. You have no choice, they will not move unless you move them. Even with a stroller. They just don't care it seems. So its move or be moved. We moved. 

Please continue to pray as we wait out this final week and prepare to travel on Saturday. We are so beyond ready to come home there aren't words. We do want to say how thankful we have been for the cards we've gotten to open everyday. They have been so amazing and encouraging. Have a great day/week. 


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Just a quick one.

Just wanted to post this little video of our girl giggling.

Its 520am here and I've been awake since 420. Seems I have fully recovered from jet lag (meaning I can go to sleep without help and stay asleep) but about 430am or so is as good as it gets. I think I'm gonna head to the gym and work off breakfast before I eat it. HAHA.
Bfast is the best meal of the day, they have everything and anything you can imagine and its not just breakfast food either. We as Americans are the only ones who have an idea what "breakfast" should look like. You can find pork, chicken, rice, noodles, dumplings, peas, corn and many other what-we-would-consider dinner items on the morning buffet. Quite odd if you ask me.

Last night baby girl did not get rocked to sleep, mommy laid with her until she was out. She started babbling to herself which was adorable. Brian caught a sec of it and posted it on FB. I just loved it.
She is responding to her new name and she is understanding us. Its so incredible to me and I can only give God all the credit and all the glory for this.
Also, bath time tears lasted only for about 10 seconds last night. After that, she played happily and no tears when I got her out.

Just to brag on Brian for a min. When he went to our meeting/paperwork check yesterday while we napped he was the only one not missing one piece of paperwork. He's such a stud. ;0)
He is such a precious girl daddy. And I love seeing them together. I love the smiles she gives him and how she wraps her arms around his neck. I can tell she feels very secure in his arms and if its close to sleepy time, she will nuzzle her head into his neck and be out in a new york second. I am so excited to see their relationship blossom.

We are having an amazing time meeting all the different people from all different walks of life but we are ready to come home. Back to our life with all the amazing people in it. All of you back home reading this, we love and miss you. We are so thankful to be surrounded by such an amazing group of supporters. We are beyond blessed by all of you near and far who constantly support and encourage us. We are looking forward to several road trips to OK and FL so Jenna Grace can make her debut. God is good.


Not as good as I should be...

I really thought I would have this blogging thing down to an art while in China but that just isn't happening. 

Last night we arrived in Guangzhou. It was a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. In comparison to the last two cities we were in, it was clean, beautiful and the air seemed smog free. Baby girl did amazing on her first flight. I had a bottle at the ready but less than 5 mins after take off she was fast asleep and stayed that way until touch down. It was about 97 degrees outside when we met our guide and while waiting for the van to pick us up I thought I was going to melt. However, another nice difference was the van ride. Air conditioning. It isn't that the taxi's in Nanchang didn't have air, its that they clearly felt there was no or little to no need for it. Never mind the westerner's in the back drowning in puddles of sweat. That is another big difference between China and the USA in general. The weather conditions in Beijing, Nanchang and Guangzhou are crazy similar to NC NC I take a sweater with me b/c the a/c makes being inside COLD. Here, not so much. Its not a priority. In fact, in the airport in Nanchang while we SAT and waited, I almost had a melt down it was so HOT! I'm complaining aren't I? Sorry. Just being honest. 

OK, so we got all checked in and walked into our room and I thought YES, if I have to be in China 7 more days...this is the place to be. It is so spacious and its a great view. I mean, our room has one and a half baths for crying out loud. I can handle that! There is a mini mall on the first floor and a STARBUCKS! You know my hubby is a happy man. There are also 2 kiddie play areas, not that baby girl will let me put her down long enough. HA!
Although, last night once in the room she came out of her shell and it was THE most precious thing ever. She was being silly. She was laughing at us and with us. She would get up and down from the couch. She was playful and funny. We loved it. She even smiled when we face timed with Brian's brother and his fam. And this morning when she woke up I went over to see a smile on her face and no tears when we changed her diaper. God is good and I know He is mending her little heart and helping her feel secure. And I know all of YOU praying is why! Thank you!! I wish I could say I have pictures of it all but with her being so shy, that is just not going to happen. 

Onto this morning. It was so nice to be re-united with our group this morning, some at breakfast and some in the lobby before the medical check. As we headed to our medical check I think baby girl knew something was up. She was very whiny and clingy. I was not looking forward to it and once we got there I knew my senses were right. It was organized chaos. There had to be at least 50 other families there all doing the same thing. We felt like cattle being herded around. The first thing was to get her photo taken for the visa. Yeah right! With Brian holding her she still screamed bloody murder and finally the photographer had to get Brian's permission to use the pic of her screaming. Really?! You have to ask. UGH! Next were the medicals. There were three checks. One was ENT, second was height, weight, and third was general physical. She wailed and wailed and wailed and by the time we were done I was crying, exhausted and dizzy. Thank goodness she was under 2. We had friends there who had to leave their kids in a room with a nurse to get a blood draw for the TB test. There is no way I could have done that. I wasn't the only mom crying today, thats for sure. We were the first of our group to finish our med check and we headed downstairs to wait. I felt so bad by this time. Dizzy, as if the floor under me was jello. It was awful. Maybe it was the sensory overload. By the time we were on the bus going back to the hotel all I could think was how far back would this push things. Thankfully, no sooner did we get back and head to the restaurant for lunch and there was our little girl's smile and playful mood again. Oh God, how I love you!

As I type this she is napping (I already took mine) and Brian is at a Holt meeting downstairs for more paperwork checks. I am starting to think this paper work thing will never be over. 
Tonight and tomorrow we get to do whatever we want and I am hoping for some pool time, but we will see. 
Its funny, I figured I woud take a thousand pictures and I haven't. I think its b/c this whole thing is not like being on vacation at all. My mindset is different. My focus is Jenna Grace. I really couldn't care less that I am in China. I don't even see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity either b/c I figure we will probably do this again so I'll take more pics then. 

Just a side note, we've had people ask why we have to be here so long. Well, while we were in province we had to wait while they processed her passport which was applied for on Monday and picked up just 30 minutes before we left for the airport on Friday. And, just a guess but I'm sure they pay to expedite that b/c passports in the states take at least 6 weeks. This week, they process her visa and medical check. The medical check will be written up by Monday and the visa will be done by Thursday, I think. Its no different than the states. When we applied for our visa's to come here, they took 5 days. Yes, its red tape, yes its control and guess what? At this point, I don't care. I would do it all over again in a heart beat. 

Its not the best pic but here she is in all of her cuteness walking on her own.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"You're still here?"

Three days ago at about this time we were uniting with our daughter. And up until this morning I would imagine a bubble above her head with this exact sentiment every time she woke up in the morning or from her nap. She would look at us, close her eyes for a couple more minutes and repeat. Scowling was common practice and oh my gosh, if looks could kill, well you know the rest. I can't blame her for any of it. I can't even imagine all that is going on inside her little head. Until last Sunday she had rarely left her group home since she was abandoned there and now here she is, all these new sights, sounds and smells. Surrounded by tons of strange faces not to mention the two white people she is stuck with. She has no clue what we are saying and has no idea if this is a permanent situation. I can't even imagine for one second all she is going through. She has no idea how wanted she is. How she has been prayed for and loved for over 6 years. She doesn't realize there are tons of people back home who haven't even met her yet who already love her so much. She has no idea that she is home, that she will never be left again. Anyway, I rambled on about all of that to say we've already turned a corner. 
This morning baby girl woke up, looked at daddy and just laid there calmly. She played with her baby doll while I made her bottle. Then when I picked her up, no tears or anything. It was so nice. From there, things just got better and better. So far, she hasn't let us put her down and she won't even leave the security of the bed. She will just sit there and play with her stackable cups, pill bottles and spoon for hours. Today she started moving around the bed more and more and on a walk in the lobby she walked  and she loved it. But the best of the best came earlier today when not only did she smile but laughed and laughed out loud. And she didn't just smile once but over and over and over. My heart just melted and I am more in love now than I was before. 

So, besides all of that here is what we have learned about our girl. 
She loves fruit, eggs, ham, toast, goldfish, and any other carb for that matter. She likes milanos. But then again, who doesn't?
She is still not crazy about bath time or teeth brushing but we will work on that more at home with fun bubbles and fun bath toys. 
She loves being in the carrier which is great for bonding. Of course she loves to held in general which I am totally OK with. 
Diaper changes are no longer traumatizing for her which is nice. 
It seems things are better with her ears, she is no longer pulling on them. Hopefully flying tomorrow will not be a problem. I'm a little nervous. 
Besides the smiling/giggling today she also started quietly babbling to herself. 
She loves her daddy. 
She is very hot natured and when she sleeps on Brian, will push her head into his neck and her head will literally drip with sweat while she sleeps. 
She sucks on the top of her pj shirt when she is sleeping. It is so cute. 
For security right now she has to have a bottle of pills and spoon in one hand and her little yellow stackable cup in her other hand at ALL times. Even when she is eating. 
And speaking of eating, she will not feed herself or hold her own bottle. I know she can, b/c the last two updates said so but she won't. I don't care though. Helps with bonding. 
She is sooooooo shy. She can be laughing it up with us one minute and then Lisa (our agency rep) walks in and thats the end of that. She will barely even look up. Its crazy to me b/c we are both so outgoing. I know this can change but she's been like this since birth so its unlikely. 
During a crying spell she is easily consoled by either Brian or me. 
And finally, she is just completely the most precious thing and I am so thankful God chose me to be her momma. 
I know I say this a lot but I am more thankful than I can express for all the prayer and support. We have felt all of it since we have been here. We have had so much joy during this time and despite how hard this has been we wouldn't change a thing. 

Today we visited the Pagoda. It was originally built in the early 800's  but was re-built for the final time in 1989. Today it about 95 degrees with 90% humidity. This building has limited air conditioning. It was pretty brutal. 
Brian took these next shots from the very top floor. 

And finally, one of our girl. Brian captured this.  Pretty amazing!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

All for LOVE...

All for Love the Father gave, Abba Father have your way...
These are just a couple of lines from a song I love by Hillsong.

All for the love, the Father gave and He expects us to do the same. Being here in another part of the world surrounded by nothing familiar and nothing comfortable is not what I would ever choose to do. Because at the root of who I am without God is pure selfishness. I hate the fact that last night was the first time in 8 days I actually slept more than 4 hours (and I did that with the help of meds). I hate that there is little I like to eat here. I hate being stared at constantly. I hate that I understand nothing and no one. I hate that I still have to be here another week and a half. I hate being so far away from my kids and my bed and everything comfortable. But I love God. And God, in HIS love for us and because he hated our sin and He hated the separation from us made THE biggest sacrifice of all. He gave HIS son's life so we could be adopted into His family so we wouldn't have to be separated from Him for all eternity.

When I look at the precious little girl God has given us, its worth it all. All the sleepless nights, all the feelings of hunger and discomfort. All the heartache of missing my other kids. Its worth it to sacrifice all of that to bring her into not only our family but also into the family of God.

Jenna Grace is grieving and broken right now, I am sure she is bewildered and feeling so insecure and unsettled. She is surrounded by nothing familiar and nothing comfortable. She doesn't understand what is going on or understand what we are even saying. Yet she allows us to hold her, rock her and tell her we love her.

Maybe you are like Jenna Grace right now or maybe you are like me. I would just encourage you to rest in the arms of Jesus, let Him hold you and tell you it will be OK. It might not be the answer you are looking for but if you believe that He works all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose then really believe that, trust that and rest. Trust that He will right the wrong and trust that even if you don't want to make 'that' sacrifice, with God's help, you can and you should.

He did it for you, and you were so worth it to Him and I promise it will be worth it to you also.


Monday, June 17, 2013


After over 6 years of waiting, praying, hoping, trusting, praying, paper chasing, praying, believing... well you get the picture we finally made it to GOTCHA DAY!
Father's Day, June 16th 2013 we headed to Nanchang to meet our girl. Our time to meet was 4pm. We were delayed leaving Beijing by about 35 minutes. When our rep, Lisa from Holt met us from the plane I asked if it looked like she would arrive on time. She informed us JG had already arrived b/c they took the express train. That made it surreal. That we were just 30 minutes away from uniting with our daughter. A moment we had looked forward to and dreaded for months. Once we arrived at the hotel we had just enough time to check in, get to our room, grab a toy and sucker and it was time. 

We headed to the lobby and we were both giddy. I was shaking slightly b/c I really had no idea how it was going to play out. Plus, I wasn't sure if I would be able to hold my emotions together. I'd been struggling and on the verge of tears all day. Brian, on the other hand was cool as a cucumber. 
But, I digress. As we walked through the lobby I was smiling so big and couldn't wait. I handed the camera to Lisa and hit record for her. We rounded the corner and there she was, sitting on the couch. It took my breath away to finally see her in person for the first time. There were two young women with her. They were the ones who had brought her from her foster home/orphanage. One of the women pulled her off the couch to stand and I made my way very gingerly toward her. I handed her the baby doll and sucker. She took both and backed away from me. We all giggled at that. One of the women continued to push her towards me. She, of course was not having it. I pulled the wrapper off the sucker and she liked that. She started chewing on it and was drooling everywhere. That is just a side not b/c those who know me know my ocd was going nuts. HAHA. 
JG was smaller than I thought she was going to be. We had received so many pics where she looked like a little chubby bunny, so I was somewhat surprised at how little she actually was. 
As I was looking her over, Lisa explained she had a double ear infection. :0( How sad is that? Her whole life is being turned upside down and she has an infection? UGH! 
The crazy thing though was they told us she was on medication for it but they didn't bring it. That I don't get. She literally came with the clothes on her back and nothing else, not even a bottle. NOTHING. I had been warned she would come empty handed, clothes wise but not even a bottle or the meds she needed for her ears? That just didn't make sense to me at all. Again, I digress. Sorry that keeps happening. 
So, we all sat there for several more minutes. They would push her towards me, she would cry. Brian would try, she would cry. Drool was happening all over and the baby doll I gave her was a sticky mess. I knew at some point we would just have to pick her up and get the screaming over with. So, I took a deep breath and picked her up. Surprisingly, she barely cried. I hugged her close and began to cry myself. I just kept telling her how much I loved her and how I would never ever leave her and that mama and baba (daddy in Chinese) were here. She clung to me. And I mean clung. She had her sticky hands gripping the back of my neck and wouldn't let go. It was awesome!!!!!
The three of us made it back to the room and just 5 mins inside she was asleep. 

The rest of the afternoon was pretty smooth. She would go between me and Brian and did not want to be put down. She played with the stacking cups I got her and a bottle of probiotics. She liked the noise the pills made on the inside (don't worry its a child proof cap). We had no intention of messing with her clothes or anything else for that matter. But no sooner did Brian leave to go and get formula then she went through her diaper. Guess that settled that. I got her cleaned up and in some pj's. 
When B got back we ordered dinner and I made her a bottle. She wasn't that interested in either and by 8pm was asleep on Brian and she slept through the night!! Me, on the other hand not so much. I kept checking she was breathing so only got about 4 hours of sleep. I am pretty much running on fumes today. 

We gotcha and aren't ever gonna let you go!

First pic of the three of us. Can't wait to do one with the whole family. 
She will have him wrapped around her finger in no time. 

Precious, just precious!
This morning, Monday we headed to the Civil Affairs Office to finalize her adoption. By 10am she was officially ours.

Here we are with the two girls who brought her to us yesterday. I just got a lump in my throat looking at this pic again. They were such sweet girls. 

This is the pic they took of us that goes on the adoption decree that you see below. 
Its official. She is ours forever!!
Waiting at the office.  See the bottle in her hand? 
Too cute. 
She will not hold her own bottle. I can't wait to ween her from it anyway. 
Asleep on her daddy. He was all she wanted this morning. 
Playing with her stacking cups. See the bottle again? She will not put it down. 
After the civil affairs office, notary and passport office we went back to the hotel. Once there she managed to 1/2 way smile for me twice. 
Soon after, the doc arrived to look at her ears. We have some meds for her now and are praying she gets better before we have to fly on the 21st. Please, please, please pray with us. I know God's got this. 
Once again thank you for being on this journey with us. We have felt all of the prayers and feel so supported, encouraged and loved. We cannot wait for all of you at home to meet her!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and The Silk Factory.

Today was our last day in Beijing. It was so hot with very little moving air. As we set out to the square it was unbelievable to me just how many people there were. It doesn't matter where we go or what time it is, there are always masses of people. Anytime you walk past shops of any kind people are in your space trying to sell you something. They don't care that you don't understand Chinese, they will talk to you anyway. Most of the time it will take at least 4 no's before they will finally walk away. It also doesn't matter that our tour guide is speaking, they will still just start talking to you. 

Our first stop today was the T Square. Below is Lydia (our tour guide) giving us the history. She is such a wonderful guide. I have zero retention so I recorded several of her talks. Her English is excellent. 

China's National Museum. We did not visit here. 

Our second stop was The Forbidden City. The masses were much worse here.  Air quality in general is so poor, add to that the congestion of people and 3/4 of them smoke and you feel like you can't breathe. 

The buildings were really beautiful. 

This is Danielle and John. They are from New Jersey and have 2 bio kids. 2 boys. This is their first adoption. Their little girl, who they are naming Lilly is 7 and they will meet her Monday. John and Brian got along famously. 

This is Jill, her daughter, Kiana and Jill's mom, Sharon. They are from Wisconsin. This is Jill's 3 adoption. She also has 3 bio kids, all boys. Kiana was adopted from China in 2002 and 2 years ago her and her hubby adopted a little 8 year old girl from Ethiopia. 

This is Carl, Beth and Jack. They just joined our group today. They are from Baltimore. This is their second adoption. They adopted Jack 2 years ago when he was 2. 

This is the original bed of the once Emperor of China. 

These next few pics are in the Imperial Gardens in the Forbidden City. 

Brian and me with our tour guide, Lydia. 

I found these placards today and just had to get them. 

I bought JG 2 articles of clothing from the silk factory. Brian has all the pics from there. It was really amazing. They showed us how the silk worms evolve and then create the silk. These 2 pieces of clothing are 100% silk. They are much more beautiful in person. I am hoping the bottom one will fit her for her dedication at church. 

I just think these little cars are so hilarious. You will see them all over the city. 
There was something so sad I just have to mention b/c it really moved me. We were walking back to the bus and this long stretch of sidewalk was peppered with people trying to sell us everything from flags to hats and so on. But then there were all these people about 20 feet apart sitting alone pan handling. But these pan handlers weren't like anything I had ever seen. Several had missing arms, or seriously deformed legs or arms. One man looked like he might have been a dwarf and had such a horrible deformity in his back his shirt couldn't cover the lump. But the one who struck me the most was a man who had been burned all over his face, chest and torso. He was also missing his left arm and he clearly had not been taken care of very well. I found myself weeping, yet he was singing, not just asking for money. He could sing. I thought here is a situation that with my eyes seems so helpless and hopeless but he is still doing what he can. And his can was full of money. Whatever he was doing was working.
After just these few days here and all I have seen, all the poverty, all the hopelessness and all the darkness in people's eyes I am so thankful to know Jesus. It also inspired me to be mindful to keep my hand and heart open to what God has for us after this adoption is final. It can't suddenly be about me b/c we bring JG home. I have to admit, after being here only 2 days I decided I didn't want to do this again. But, its not about me. Its about God. Its about His glory and not my own. So, I will seek Him for the next step and trust Him. Who knows, it may not 

So, its 9:19pm and our flight is at 11:20am tomorrow morning. We fly to Nanchang and at about 4:30pm we will meet our girl. I have butterflies even as I write this. It is so close. Please pray for us. Please pray I have no anxiety b/c I can't take anything for this flight. I don't want to be out of it before meeting her. Most of all, pray for JG. Tomorrow her whole world is going to fall apart and we won't be able to explain anything to her. Pray our emotions remain in tact and that facial expressions and affection will be enough to comfort her as she grieves her loss, which is HUGE! 
Thank you for walking with us. We are beyond thankful for you.