I know so many of you are wanting to know how things are going and more importantly, wanting to see more pictures of our precious new one. So to sum up these last few weeks at home, I'd have to say that we've been surviving. Simply put, I've fed all three kids, changed diapers several time a day and played in the floor the rest of the day. That's my day now but I'm starting to feel a little routine being established in my day. I go all day and crash around 8:30 when all kids are finally in bed.
Emma is doing well. She has definitely let down her guard and is more comfortable with us. She babbles and has a silly side. I just love to see her smile so big that her big brown eyes just simply disappear. We have put her in a Bumbo seat in order to help build her core strength, which will allow her to sit up on her own. It has done her well as today I had her sitting up all by herself for the first time. She is playing more and more with toys and loves watching her brothers. She will have her work cut out for her if she wants to keep up with Ethan.
Our states early intervention will be sending out a physical and occupational therapist on the 19th to do an assessment on Emma. A plan will then be put together that will allow us to work with her to get her caught up developmentally. For now, we've just been loving her just where she is. We have nothing but time and we will celebrate each little milestone as they occur.
It’s hard to believe but the time has come to pack up our luggage and get ready to head home. I so want to be home as I miss the good old USA. I miss my own bed. I miss ice cold tea and Coke. I miss ice in my milk. I miss home cooked meals. I miss my family and friends. But most of all, I miss my little guy with curls. I just can’t wait to wrap my arms around him in the airport and kiss those dimpled cheeks. I can’t wait to hear “Momma” come out of his little mouth or even to hear him call for Eeeiii. We’re close, but not close enough.
Let me back up and fill you in on our day yesterday. The big event yesterday was Emma’s visa appointment at the US Consulate. As we pulled up I was shocked to see this huge crowd of people waiting to get inside. Thankfully, our guide told us that we didn’t have to go in that line. One guy compared this process to going to the DMV and it was true. Anyway, we headed right in and went upstairs where we waited for just a relatively short time, and then a lady came out and made us all stand, raise our right hand, and repeat the oath all together. After the oath, we were called up to the window, one family at a time, they did a quick face check of everyone in the family and then had Matt sign something and they sent me off to another room to pay. That was it. No big deal.
After we arrived back at the hotel Emma was spent and so we took a nap while Matt and Eli went for some lunch with some other folks. Matt and I knocked out the rest of our shopping while Eli went swimming with his buddy. We ordered Pappa John’s with another family, who’s originally from Chattanooga, and ate supper in our room together.
Emma had a rough night last night as she woke up crying and very upset. I picked her up and rocked her to sleep, laid her down, and then she started all over again. So, I repeated the process but still had no luck in laying her back in the crib. My stomach started hurting me and so I had to get Matt up to walk around with Emma. Finally, he was able to get her down and she slept the rest of the night. Eli has just a little bit of a cough and so he also kept us up coughing. I sure hope we get some sleep on the plane.
Today we have the traditional “red couch” photo with all the girls and then we will head back over to Lucy’s for one last lunch. After lunch we will finalize our packing and we will check out at 2:00. Our guide will take us back to the Embassy where she will run in and pick up all the visa’s and then she will take us to the airport. Our flight to Shanghai is around 6:30 this evening and it’s a really short flight, maybe 2 hours. We will spend the night in the hotel at the airport and then head to Detroit tomorrow morning at 10:00. When Emma’s feet hit the US soil in Detroit, she will then be a US citizen. That will be such a wonderful feeling. We should arrive from Detroit at 5:52 pm on Wednesday. Anyway, please keep us in your prayers. Pray that Emma will do well on the plane and that she will let me sit down long enough to get a little sleep.
Praise the Lord; we are starting to see some progress with Emma. Yesterday, she held on to two toys for the longest time. One toy was a little rattle that one of the local shop owners gave her and the other was the purple stacking cup. She wasn’t going to let go of her toys and so she took them to supper with her. We have begun to notice that she looks up at us when we are caring her and then we have been getting several smiles and a few laughs. She is also letting me sit down more with her. Tonight I made it through half my supper sitting down. Yippee Jesus! For you folks who haven’t walked this adoption journey you have to know how significant the baby steps are; things that I wouldn’t have thought twice about with Eli and Ethan are now monumental with Emma.
Today we went to the Folk Art Museum. Thankfully, we didn’t stay long at the museum but it did have beautiful architecture. We then headed back to the hotel and Matt and Eli went to get lunch while Emma and I took two other couples in our group around and showed them some of the better shops to visit. Our travel group is made up of 12 families but five of us have been in Guangzhou ever since we left Beijing, since our daughters are from this province. It was nice re-uniting with these other families and to meet their new daughters. Anyway, we’ve had to kind of show them around.
Our big adventure today was visiting the pearl market. I’m talking a building of 5 floors of pearls and beads. We had already determined that we were going to be purchasing various gifts from China for the milestones in Emma’s life. One big milestone of course is her wedding and so we knew we wanted to buy her a pearl necklace for that day. Nothing but the best for Daddy’s girl either. Matt had already done his homework and knew what to look for and then with the help of our guide, Matt secured not only a pearl necklace but the matching bracelet and earrings. He did really good I might add.
We also wanted to buy some piece of jade for another milestone in Emma’s life and we found out that what is sold on the island is all jadeite, not jade. After the pearl market our guide pointed us in the direction of the mall to find jade. Most families headed back to the hotel but we went to look at jade and quickly realized that the language barrier was going to pose a real problem. We knew that we would probably end up getting ripped off so we decided to head back to the hotel. There are several gift shops in the hotel which are expensive but it is good quality stuff. Matt found a jade necklace with the certificate and within reason, so we now have jade. I really started to think we weren’t going to be able to get any jade and so I’m so happy now. Pearls and jade were the two big gifts we knew we really wanted to buy for Emma while here.
This evening our guide took us to a Chinese restaurant for supper and it was pretty good, especially the fried noodles and the pancakes. Now when I say pancakes I’m not talking about pancakes with maple syrup poured over them, I’m talking about what looked like a pastry but had the texture of maybe a yeast doughnut (not sweet) with green onions sprinkled on top. Now that was yummy, I wouldn’t mind having a few of those right now to nibble on. After dinner, we ended up gathering down by the pool, overlooking the river and had our own church service. It was such a sweet time and so wonderful to be among fellow believers.
Tomorrow is our big day. Tomorrow morning at 8:30 we meet our guide and we’ll head over to the US consulate for Emma’s visa appointment. This will be our last official business here in China. It’s hard to believe we are down to our last couple of days here. It’s been long, it’s been hard but it’s been good and as we sang tonight “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. God truly has been faithful to us.
In closing, I just want to stop and say Happy Father’s Day to the love of my life. My heart just melts when I see him holding Emma and how he talks so gently to her. Let me just tell ya, Emma loves her Daddy. She knows she is safe in his arms. When I look at the two of them together, I so see the love our Father has for us as His children. I’m so glad I’ve been adopted… into the family of God.
Today was a pretty good day. We met this morning and went to the White Cloud Park, which is just breathtaking. We did get rained on a bit but that didn’t stop us. It was hot and humid as all get out. We all had big beads of sweat rolling down our faces. After the park we headed to a five story mall that sold nothing but jewelry, mostly pearls. We stayed there only a short time but then decided that we would hold off making our big pearl purchases until we meet up with our next guide who will take us to an even better place.
After that exertion we came back to the hotel and Emma and I took a nap, Eli watched some Looney Tunes and Matt headed out for lunch. After lunch, Matt and Eli went off for a little swim. We did a lot more shopping this afternoon and had supper at Subway.
Emma has had some little break throughs, she has begun to babble some and Matt has gotten her to giggle. She continues to sleep well but we are still working on the eating. After switching Emma to only the Enfagrow formula, we noticed that she was only eating about 3 ounces, so we decided that we would try to feed her more often. We are now up to about 4 to 5 ounces and I hope to be up to 8 by the time we head home. However, she doesn’t want anything to do with table food or baby food. She has never had anything but a bottle before and she isn’t interested in it. For now, I’m content with just working on getting good formula in her system and we will worry about food once we get home.
I did try putting her in the bathtub with me last night and that didn’t go well at all. I hope she soon takes to the water. I may try the shower the next time and see how that goes.
Tomorrow will be another hard day. In the morning we will be getting her photo taken for her visa and then we will be going to do the medical exam. I have been warned that this is not pleasant. Thankfully, another couple in our group has brought their Grammy along and everyone just loves Grammy. Well, Grammy has volunteered to keep some of the older kids so that we can spare them that experience. Please keep Emma in your prayers during that ordeal. Pray that they won’t be very busy and that they get the babies in and out as quick as possible. I guess this will be trial run for when we get back and take Emma to our pediatrician, which will be the very next day we get home. No fun but we want her to get checked out head to toe and see what we need to do to get Emma all the help she is going to need.
We are all ready to come home. It is very hard living out of a small hotel room for such a long time. However, it is so helpful to have all the other families here with us that we have really developed a strong bond with. We will miss them when the time comes.
I want to take some time to get you caught back up with what is going on here in Guangzhou. I mentioned in my last post that we were going to try and give Emma her first bath. We started off slow by putting her feet in the water that we had put in the sink, which she was okay with. I began to lightly put water on her legs, which went okay for just a bit. She started then to get really upset. We really needed to at least get her little bum in the water because she had just had a really wet, leaky diaper. We quickly sat her in the sink and of course she was screaming. We rinsed her off and got the heck out of there. I believe that was enough of that for a while. We’ve just been wiping her down and putting on baby lotion and that’s that. I believe next, I will put her in the tub with me and see how that goes but I’m going to give it another day or so. Emma has been traumatized enough that we don’t want to do anything that is too upsetting for her. We have nothing but time. We’re just loving her right where she is.
Emma’s second night with us was not as smooth as the first night. She did wake up about 6 times and would cry out once and then she was quite again. Her crib is right next to my bed and so I sat up and waited a second to see if she was truly awake. I wanted to make sure that if she woke up scared that she would know that I would be there immediately, but I didn’t want to pick her up if she wasn’t really awake. No need of starting any bad habits if I didn’t need to. Everything was good; we just didn’t sleep as sound.
Yesterday we woke up and Skyped with family and then had a little breakfast. After that Emma was ready for a nap. We’ll we both were actually. After nap we headed over to Lucy’s for lunch. Lucy’s is notorious within the adoption community. Matt and Eli had the cheeseburger and fries and I had a grilled cheese with fries. It tasted so good to me. Emma doesn’t like it when I sit down though, so I ate my lunch walking around with Emma strapped to me.
After lunch, we walked around to a couple of stores where I picked up some dresses for Emma. After two stores Matt’s wallet was empty and so we headed back to the hotel. Next, we loaded up the bus and headed to the police station to apply for Emma’s passport. She slept on the way over and was doing great until they made me take her out of the Sleepy Wrap to take her picture. She wasn’t liking that but they had a little rattle and was able to get her attention long enough to snap a photo.
Yesterday evening some of us took a taxi to what our guide called a “good shopping place”, with 5 floors of toys. Well, it was actually a building with 5 floors of shops that I would compare to the flea market. There were many toy stores but there were all kinds of other stuff too. Now when I say “store”, I really mean like a booth. They were so small that all 4 of us adults couldn’t fit in the same store at one time. It wasn’t a complete bust though because we did come across one good find. We then had dinner on the first floor at a KFC. We ordered chicken nuggets and fries all around. It was pretty good I might add. I would say the taxi ride was the most interesting, exciting, scariest part of this whole adventure. I just can’t describe the driving around here. There are no traffic laws and so it’s just get where you gotta go, however you can. We even got into a fender bender but they don’t even blink twice about that. What fun.
Last night was a good night for Emma, she slept through the night again and we are beginning to see her relax her body as we hold her. She will even lay her head on us when we’re holder her. We will have quite a bit of work ahead of us but right now, it’s all about the bonding. I will keep her in the wrap and walk with her as much as I have to. Please continue to keep her in your prayers. Pray that she will be able to become more comfortable with me sitting and holding her, otherwise it will be a LONG, LONG, LONG plane ride home.
We so appreciate your comments, they mean the world to us right now. We are so ready to come home!
I’m finally back. It has been a little difficult staying connected with all of you. Partly due to having Emma and making sure we are putting her needs first, partly because we have to go down to the first floor to get internet connection and then of course we are often too exhausted from the day’s activities. I’m hoping to start getting ourselves into a routine soon and blogging much more.
Now on to Emma, what you’ve been really waiting for. Let me start with yesterday, which is known as “Gotcha Day”, the day you receive your baby. We flew from Beijing to Guangzhou and headed to the hotel where we had 45 minutes to get freshened up before heading off to receive the babies. No real time to nest by getting the room ready, which had me fretting a bit. Only time to get the luggage into the room, try and figure what to put in the diaper bag and then a quick brush of the hair and application of deodorant and we were off.
I often compare this adoption process to a pregnancy and yesterday as we were upstairs at the Adoption Registry Center, waiting for the babies to come up, we were all pacing the floor. We were all excited and nervous and it dawned on me that this must have been what it was like back in the days when fathers had to wait out in the waiting room, not allowed to go into the delivery room. However, other than that yesterday was nothing like your typical delivery. I have to say this is a day that I’m not ready to talk about; I’m still processing it all. To be honest, I’m not sure that it will be shared with many.
We were there at the Adoption Registry Center for what seemed like an eternity but we all got loaded back on the bus and came back to the hotel. We were all starved and so we ordered room service and it was the best hamburger that I’d ever had but probably just because I was so hungry, having had no lunch. Emma did not want me to sit down and so I ate my hamburger standing up and that’s okay. We didn’t want to startle her too much so I just held her for a few hours. She was grieving and so she would periodically break out and cry. We did manage to get her to eat about 4oz of a 8oz bottle. She took to it right away, which I was glad to see but she didn’t finish the full bottle. After she ate, we took off her clothes, wiped her down with a warm rag, changed her diaper and put her pajama’s on. They say her bedtime is 9:00 and by this time, it was 9:00. I was praying that she was ready to sleep because I was about to collapse. We put her in her crib, turned out the lights and we climbed into our bed. I waited to see if she would get scared and start crying. I began to pray that she would sleep through the night and not wake up and then I was out. I woke up this morning around 5:45 and I felt so good, very rested. Emma had made it through her first night with us like a champ. We never heard a peep out of her until about 6:45 this morning. I know that many of you were praying too and let me just say THANK YOU!
This morning, we were able to get her to drink about 5 ½ oz., so maybe we’re making progress. I was hoping we could get her to eat a little something at breakfast, so I offered her some congee, which is rice porridge popular here in China. Emma wanted nothing to do with it. Initially our report stated that she was eating some things like congee and soup but when I spoke to the caretakers they informed me that she was only taking the bottle. She has never even seen the spoon before, no wonder she didn’t want anything to do with the congee. We will continue to try and offer her more table food and I pray that she will begin to eat. I pray that she will begin to take more of her formula too. We are told this is all normal and that this is still part of the grieving process.
Today we headed back to the same office to make the adoption official. We had to fill out more forms and take an oath. We were asked why we wanted to adopt and are we happy with “this baby” and do we want to make her our daughter. What strange questions to us in light of God’s calling and knowing His sovereignty. Of course we want her, of course we are happy with her, of course we will never abandon her and of course we will provide a good home and education and make sure she will achieve her full potential. This was another long process, in a hot building with no air conditioning and no food for several hours. But… we made it!
Emma fell asleep on the bus ride back to the hotel and we were able to get her out of the Sleepy Wrap and into her crib with no problems. As a matter of fact, she is still asleep as I sit here on the bed typing in the dark. Matt and Eli headed out to get a late lunch and I actually was able to get a little nap in too. The rest of our day is free to relax and bond, which I am so thankful for. Emma is doing pretty well for it only being her second day with us. She has spent most of the day in the Sleepy Wrap and she likes that really well. She does however want me to be standing and moving. Matt had her playing on the bed this morning, while I was getting ready, and she was picking up her stacking cups and dropping them rather quickly. Daddy was able to get the first smile out of her though this morning. I’m praying that we continue to see progress. It’s so hard to determine at this point where she is developmentally because she is going through this traumatic experience. She doesn’t have a lot of core strength but she can sit up. We will try to give her a bath tonight. Remember, she has never had a bath and has never been exposed to touching water. We thought we would start with a bath in the sink. I will probably just let her put her feet in some water and see how she does and go from there. I better wrap this up because Emma should be waking up soon and she is going to be starved I’m sure. Please continue to pray for Emma during this grieving process and pray that she will continue to bond with us more and more each day.
We love hearing from you and greatly appreciate it, so keep it coming.
07/28/2003 Matt listened to Stephen Curtis Chapman on Family Life Today
07/29/2003 Shawna tuned in to day 2 of Family Life Today
10/11/2003 Attended the “If You Were Mine” adoption workshop in Brentwood, TN
10/11/2003 God conceived in our hearts our daughter from China
02/2004 Found out we were pregnant with Eli ~ adoption on but on hold
07/2005 Sent in Pre-Application to Bethany Christian Services ~ was told by Bethany we should wait another year
07/22/2005 Mailed Bethany a letter stating why we believed God had said “Now is the time”, along with our financial statements
08/22/2005 Mailed official Adoption Application, auto-biographies, other Bethany forms, and the first check of many
10/11/2005 Criminal History Report request mailed off to the state of Indiana
11/07/2005 Passports issued
11/14/2005 Submitted our I-600 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services
12/27/2005 Home study complete
03/15/2006 Fingerprint appointment in Indianapolis
04/03/2006 Dossier completed and submitted to Bethany
05/04/2006 Dossier mailed from Bethany, Grand Rapids, to China
05/11/2006 Dossier received by China ~ LID
07/2007 Second set of fingerprints done in Indianapolis
07/25/2008 Felt the Lord calling us to enter the COP program
07/25/2008 Sent off for Eli’s passport
07/26/2008 Began to doubt God’s calling to adopt ~ sought out council and was encouraged to look back and identify times we were certain we heard God and saw God work and then to cling to those movements
07/28/2008 Third social worker comes to update our home study to reflect our new house
07/30/2008 Third set of fingerprints done in Louisville
11/14/2008 I-600A Refile
02/09/2009 I-600A Refile
08/27/2009 Fourth set of fingerprints done in Louisville
06/14/2010 I-600A Refile
09/10/2010 5th set of fingerprints done in Louisville
11/06/2010 Home Study Update
5/25/2010 Ethan Blaine was born
08/06/2010 Went "on hold" due to the birth of our 2nd child
01/21/2010 Letter to request to be taken off hold was mailed to China