Friday, July 15, 2011


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.

Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Last Post from China

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.

I look forward to seeing you all real soon!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


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.

Friday, June 17, 2011

White Cloud Park

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.

Who Knew?

Who knew that we would come all the way to China to meet a couple from Chattanooga?

Who knew that you would have a seal living in a tank at your hotel?

Who knew that you had to put your hotel room key into a slot in order to turn on your room lights?

Who knew that the light switches were controlled by buttons on the night stand?

Who knew that you could eat chicken nuggets, steamed sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, or pizza for breakfast?

Who knew that you would travel to the other side of the world to eat McDonalds, KFS or Subway?

Who knew that driving laws where just taken as suggestions?

Who knew that if you got into a fender bender that it was okay just to keep on going?

Who knew that air conditioners were a rarity?

Who knew it was okay to ride in a vehicle with a baby in your arms and not in a car seat?

Who knew that you could go to the market and find dried deer hooves, dried seahorses, snake skin and live turtles?

Who knew that you would have to take a number at the bank and then wait 45 minutes for services?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Greetings from China!

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!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And For The Moment You Have All Waited For

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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Matt and Shawna want everyone to know, that they did get Emma around 3:30 in the afternoon. She is everything they could have ever dreamed for. It has been an extremely hard day for everyone, especially Emma. They are completely wiped out, hoping to get Emma cleaned up, dressed for bed, and down for the night. They know everyone is desperate for pictures, but they just can't tackle that tonight. They will post them as soon as they get a chance. Continue to lift Emma up in prayer, that she will eat and sleep well. Pray also that Matt, Shawna, and Eli get some much needed rest tonight too.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Hey guys this is Matt, Shawna's main man. We just wanted to touch base with you guys and 1. Tell you we covet your prayers while we are here in China, and 2. tell you what is going on right now. Today was another adventure filled busy day, and we are so tired ( starting to sound like a reoccurring theme but it is soooooo true). Shawna will go into more detail but today we went to the The Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square. Right now Shawna is up in the room packing because tomorrow morning we are leaving for the airport at 5:30am to fly to Guangzhou, which is in the Guandong Province. Very shortly after landing we will travel to what I believe is called The Office Of Civil Affairs and will finally after six years will be face to face with our little girl. I mean what can I say to convey what we are feeling right now. There is such a wide spectrum of emotions that we are experience. All I can do right now is ask for your prayers today. When God brings us to mind, pray for not only us but the rest of our travel group. Pray for safe travel, no problems with paperwork, for us as new parents to not freak out, and most importantly pray for our daughters, our precious little daughters. Thanks so much for all your love and support over the years, you'll never know how much it has meant to me and Shawna. Oh, we know what everyone will be waiting for and as soon as we can we will put some pictures up for people to see. Love you guys and thanks so much to everyone.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Great Adventure

Today has been an action packed day. We loaded the bus this morning at 8:00 and headed to the Cloisonne factory for a tour. Cloisonne is also called “Copper-body and Wireinlaid Enamel” which has a very long history in China, going back several hundred years. To create these masterpieces requires an elaborate and complicated process, which takes many hours to complete. We were able to purchase a nice vase in order to one day give to Emma.

After the Cloisonne tour we made our way to the Great Wall. You just can’t comprehend how magnificent this structure is until you see it in person. To stand there on the Wall and look out over God’s creation was just breathtaking, what handiwork. There seemed to be a lot of people there but I think Eli was the biggest star in the crowd of people. We were warned that Eli would attract a lot of attention due to his blonde hair and boy did he ever. He was a very good sport about it. I kind of think he liked the attention. Matt thought it was pretty funny that we had to beg in order to take his picture but for everyone else he was all smiles.

After the Great Wall tour, we made our way to a restaurant for a traditional Chinese lunch with our group. Our guide must have ordered for us and then it was brought out and served family style on a great big lazy Susan. There were some interesting items but nobody walked away hungry, not even Matt.

Yesterday, I had gone out with some of our group to the store in order to get us some bottled water and some Cokes but Matt stayed behind with Eli to rest. I figured Matt needed to have this experience and so this evening we made our way to the store and checked out all the interesting things they had to offer. Let me just say, I get very frustrated with Wal-Mart sometimes but I am so thankful for the stores we have in the states. You think Wal-Mart’s meat department isn’t so great, try shopping with the meat spread out in the open, not covered, with flies crawling all around it. Wow!

We are all pretty tired around here. I think we are going to order us some Pizza Hut and have it delivered, right to our door. Good night and we love you all!

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Tired Crew

Good Morning, good evening or good night. We are one tired crew today. After a gulling flight, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and down to breakfast, which was was not to hard considering breakfast for us is at 6:30 at night back home. Breakfast was wonderful and filling. During breakfast we were able to start making contact with others in our travel group. Funny because during breakfast we were scoping out any Americans that walked into the dinning room and wondered if they may be in our group. After breakfast and meeting everyone for the first time we had a group meeting with our Bethany guide. We covered the next few days here in Beijing and she answered any questions we had. After that, we went to the bank to exchang money. Walking to the bank was an experience in and of its self. A grouping of Americans walking down the street in China, I'm sure we were a sight. And when our guide said that traffic won't stop for you she meant it. They won't stop before they hit you and they sure won't stop after they hit you. After the bank, Matt and Eli went back to the room to take a nap. Poor Eli is just so tired. While they went to the room, I went with a couple around the corner to a store to get bottle water and sodas and to get some lunch for me and my boys. (That trip is a story for another day.) Well, I managed to make it back to the room where Matt and Eli were already crashed so I just joined them. Later that afternoon we all met in the lobby at 4pm to go to a acrobatic show which was so amazing. Eli is still lagging and I know he is overly exhausted so he fell asleep before the show even started. Finally we made it back to the hotel and it is off to bed for all of us. Sooooooo tired! Me and Matt both feel like we are still in a fog. Overwhelmed a little. Being here, meeting everyone and remembering none of their names, trying to figure out exchange rates, remember when to meet and where. Just feel out of sorts but I know it will get better with sleep. Tomorrow we will have a tour of the Great Wall of China, can't wait. Love everyone so much and please keeping praying we need it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We Are Here

We arrived in Beijing and were heading to our hotel at 12:15 am this morning. We got checked in and all took showers and brushed our teeth and finally hit the bed at 1:45 am. It felt so good to stretch out but not so good on the rock hard bed. I had read that the beds here in Beijing would be hard and they were not kidding. It reminded me of laying on the boxsprings without the mattress. I kind of felt like we were back in Bedrock, staying with the Flinstones.

We were up around 5:30 this morning, unable to sleep, so we just got up and got ready. We came down to eat our first breakfast. It wasn't bad, pretty traditional. We are meeting and talking with the other families in our group. Eli is already off exploring with the other kids (with supervision, don't panic). We will be having our orientation meeting this morning at 9:30. After our meeting we will head out to the store and stock up on bottled water and anything else we feel we need, which I can't imagine what since I've got it all covered.

We will be doing a lot of resting today and then we meet aroun 4:00 this afternoon to go to the acrobatic show.

We will post more later. We love you all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Update from Detroit

After some luggage shuffling at the local regional airport, the Hamptons arrived safely in Detroit around 10:00 am. They had lunch at Chilis and then took the opportunity to walk around the airport before the longest stretch of flight time, Detroit to Toykyo. They should have left for Toykyo at 3:40 pm. No major problems so far, just lots of anticipation for what lies ahead. After they land in Toykyo they will then be headed to Beijing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Last Night Home

Well, here we are, ready to embark on this leg of the journey. I'm completely calm and at peace knowing the the Lord is walking with us. We know that God will give us the grace to withstand whatever lies ahead.

We do hope you will all continue to join in on our journey by following along with our post. We would love for everyone to leave a comment so we can feel connected with you. We also ask that you continue to cover us in prayer. We will post as soon as we can and as often as we can.

Travel Itinerary

6/08 - Fly to Detroit, then from Detroit to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Beijing
6/09 - Arrive in Beijing at 11:10pm and will be staying at Chang'an Grand.
6/10 - Orientation meeting at 9:30am. Acrobatic show in the afternoon.
6/11 - Visit the Great Wall and Cloisonne Factory.
6/12 - Visit Tiananman Square, the Forbidden City and Huton Tour.
6/13 - Fly from Beijing to Guangzhou and will be staying at the White Swan Hotel.
6/13 - Receive Emma in the afternoon
6/14 - Adoption registration and notarization in the morning.
6/15 - Passport application in the afternoon.
6/16 - Free Day
6/17 - Visit White Cloud Park.
6/18 - Emma's medical exam in the morning. Document preparation in the afternoon.
6/19 - Visit Guangzhou Folk Art Museum.
6/20 - Go to the consulate for Emma's visa appointment and oath in the morning.
6/21 - Receive Emma's visa in the afternoon. Fly out of Guangzhou to Shanghai, spend the night at the airport hotel.
6/22 - Fly from Shanghai to Detroit, then from Detroit home. Our flight is scheduled to land at 5:52pm. We hope to see you all at the airport!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Packing Day!

I did it! I conquered the packing today but it was not an easy undertaking, not at all. To say I'm exhausted is a gigantic understatement. I started this morning at 7:30 and I wasn't finished until about 5:00 this evening. I only stopped long enough to eat a few quick bites. Now remember, I had everything gathered in our "packing room", so it's not like I was starting from scratch.

It did take me some time to take things out of packages and then think through what needed to be in our backpacks, what we wanted in each of our carry-on luggage. Then on to the checked luggage. I was trying to be smart about what should go in each piece but it seemed to at least all fit nicely. But... would the weight be within the limit? Now that's a whole different story. That's where my day started to go down hill fast. The first big piece of luggage I weighed was one in which was loaded down with everything for Emma. Guess what? The weight was under the limit by several pounds. Yeah!

I then moved on to the other two suitcases, one is Matt's and the other is mine, but when I went to weigh mine, I was over. No problem, I'd just move a few things around. Wrong, still over. This went on for about an hour and 45 minutes. Until I finally got it. At least I hope the airport scales agree.

Here's all the stuff we bought for Eli to do while on this long, long, long plane ride. Not to mention, the hours of Looney Tunes he can watch, thanks to Kyle. Plus, we have the Carnahan's Ipod loaded with Adventures In Odyssey, music and other stories.

Even Ethan got in on the packing. Here he is testing out the eye mask. Momma wants to make sure I have the best sleeping environment possible, eye mask, pillow, blanket and Tylenol PM.

And finally, for all those who really know us...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Week To Go

I can't believe after 6 years of waiting we are now down to 1 week. I'm not sure the reality has completely sunk in yet. I've been nesting like crazy these past couple of weeks getting everything cleaned and ready. I'm almost there, we have everything purchased, most everything gathered in our "packing room" and it's just waiting for me to tackle the biggest undertaking yet... packing. Another China mom put it best, it's like fitting an elephant into a purse. Come Saturday I'll let you know if I've been able to accomplish the impossible.

I feel pretty calm, which is completely against my nature but maybe because God is at work. Yesterday I received a devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries and it was written by Marybeth Whalen entitled "Purse, Bag or Sandals". The story begins in Matthew 10 when Jesus instructed His disciples to go minister to the lost sheep of Israel. When He sent them out, He sent them without anything, no purse, bag or sandals. They just obediently went.

I don't know about you but the idea of heading out to China without having prepared my packing list (all 6 typed pages of it), or leaving without visiting my local Target about 5 times, or leaving without cleaning every single square inch of my house, would ultimately lead me to having a complete melt down. I have often worried, "what if I forget something we really need?", or "what if it doesn't all fit into our suitcases?" Then as I continued to read the devotional, Marybeth stated "Being prepared feeds my illusion that I can somehow control my future". Wow, you talk about the Holy Spirit convicting someone. I need to let go, I'm not in control anyway.

Back to the story of the disciples. It doesn't just end in Matthew, but if you skip over to Luke 22:35 Jesus said to them, "When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" And they said, "No, nothing."

God has called us out to minister to one little girl on the other side of the world. If He has called us out, why would I think that we would lack anything. What it really boils down to is, we just need to be united with our daughter. Nothing else matter.

As I go off to bed tonight, I'm reminded of one of my favorite verses.

Psalm 46:10 ~ Cease striving and know that I am God.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where is Emma?

I thought I would include a map of China so that you all could see where we will be heading in order to be united with Emma.
We will first arrive in Beijing for about 3 days of sightseeing and to allow our bodies to adjust to the time change, then we fly to Guangzhou for the remaining part of our trip. Guangzhou is the capital city of the Guangdong province, which is Emma's province. The orphanage in Gaozhou will bring Emma to meet us in Guangzhou. We will leave Guangzhou and fly out of Shanghai back home.

(Click on the map in order to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Have Plane Tickets

As of this evening, we have purchased our plane tickets to and from China. Next, our agency has people working on our in country travel arrangements such as in country plane tickets, hotels, transportation, etc.

I can't wait to find out the day that we receive Emma. For those of you not from the adoption world, this day is called "Gotcha Day". This is a day that we have dreamed about for years now. To think that we are this close just blows my mind. I'm thinking it could be June 12 but that's not confirmed just yet. Hopefully we will know the rest of the details soon.

I want to go ahead and apologize to all of you who are close to me that will have to put up with this crazy woman for the next few weeks. My life right now is similar to a pregnant woman whose water has broke, out in public of course, and doesn't have a single thing ready for the hospital. Heads up... Beware!

Travel Approval!!!

We finally have our Travel Approval!!! I received a call from our social worker this morning telling me that Emma's visa appointment is set for June 20th and that we will arrive in Beijing on Thursday, June 9th.

The travel agency is currently working on all the details and we should hear from them this evening. I'll post more of the details once I have them.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Second Care Package

As most of you know, we sent Emma a care package through the U.S. postal service the week after we received her referral. When I dropped the package off at the post office the lady gave me a "tracking number", at least that's what she said. So after a couple of days I jumped on the computer, put in the number and all it said was that it was in the local post office. I continued to check the tracking number and there was no change. I told Matt that I didn't have a very good feeling about this.

Well, last week I began to read other blogs, within the same referral batch, that had received updated photos from Ann at Red Thread. Ann, is a lady in China who has a business putting together care packages and having them delivered to your child's orphanage. She has a good reputation and a good relationship with the orphanages and therefore, is able to get updated information on your child. So, what's a momma to do? Send another package, of course!

The items we selected are very similar to the items we initially sent; A Hello Kitty photo album (with our pictures inside), a disposable camera, musical toy, candy for the caretakers and a letter.

At least I know she received one package.

What a Blessing!

As the wait for our travel approval is taking it's toll on my heart, I was blessed today with updated information and photos. I am so grateful to Ann at Red Thread for this gift. So, I'm choosing to focus on this blessing today. What a blessing!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday!

Happy Birthday sweet baby girl. You were very much thought about today. Momma loves you so very much.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Year Ago

Not too long ago I was reading Tonggu Momma's blog at She is another momma that received her referral the same day that we did and our girls are even from the same orphanage. Anyway, because she had been so diligent to blog throughout her journey she was able to reflect back on what she was doing the day her daughter was born. I thought to myself, how cool is that, to know what you were doing on the day your daughter was born. I knew that for a period of time I stepped away from blogging for several reasons but mainly because the wait was just so dang hard. However, I left the Tonggu Momma's website and hopped on over to my own to see if for some reason I just possibly may have made an entry that day. April 27, 2010, the day Emma was born. No such entry. I was disappointed in myself, beating myself up for not being more faithful to journal.

A week or so later my friend Katie had texted me one morning and told me that she had been up in the night and had been praying for Emma and for her birth mom and then she said that she had something she wanted to talk with me about whenever I got around to calling her. So, I soon called her and she began asking about the pre-term labor that I had with Ethan. She couldn't remember when that started but knew it was about a month before Ethan was actually born. I had been in triage three times before Ethan arrived and so we where both trying to talk through the time line. Katie thought that it would be interesting to see how that lined up to the timing of Emma's birth.

While still on the phone, I jumped on the computer and pulled up my Google calendar and hit the arrow back button to the month of April, 2010. I soon had chill bumps as I realized that on Sunday, April 25, 2010 is when I started having some bleeding and called the on-call doctor. He suggested not to worry but to just take it easy. Come Monday, the 26th, I wanted to be checked out and so I called and talked to my OB/GYN and she suggested that I go on in to triage and she would meet me there. The next thing I knew she was talking about possibly having to take Ethan by c-section. I was 50% effaced and 2cm dilated. I ended up spending Monday night in triage for observation and when the doctor checked me the next morning there had been no change. She then cleared me to go home Tuesday, April 27, and stay on bed rest.

No wonder I had no journal entry the day Emma was born. Just as Emma's birth mother was in labor, I too was trying to go into labor for Ethan. When you consider the 13 hour time difference, I was having contractions at the same time Emma's birth mother was having contractions to bring her into this world.

After coming to the realization of what had happened on April 27, 2010, I had to try and wrap my mind around this. I was almost speechless. As a matter of fact, I haven't spoken to anyone about this except Matt and my mom before this moment. But today, I feel like it's time. You see, I don't believe in luck or chances but I believe in a powerful God who is sovereign. Everything is under His control. Somehow I feel like God united two momma's together, from the opposite sides of the world, who have a heart for the same little baby girl.

I can't help but think about that momma tonight. What she must have been thinking and feeling one year ago. I'm sad that we will never know. As a momma myself I can only assume how she must have felt to let go of her little girl, hoping for a better life for her. I sure wish I could let her know that the little girl she gave birth to is loved so deeply and will be taken good care of. I wish I could say "thank you!" My heart goes out to that birth mother, who no doubt will be thinking of Emma once again this year.

It is now 10:00 pm as I sit here on my bed blogging tonight. In China, it is 11:00 am, April, 27... Emma's first birthday. My heart is so broken that I'm missing my baby girl's first birthday. I prayed that we would be together but for what ever reason, this is the way God has laid out this journey for us. This is His perfect timing. I don't understand. Why does Emma have to be alone on her first birthday. Will anyone in the orphanage even realize she's turning one. Will anyone hold her today and tell her that she is special. Will someone tell her that her daddy and momma are coming to get her real soon and that there will be no more birthdays alone.

When I think about the pain and heartache that Emma has already suffered I just wish I could erase it all. But I can't, this is all a part of her life story. I'll close with a quote that brings me peace:
You cannot amputate your history from your destiny...My past is something Jesus takes hold of and makes into a destiny. That's called redemption. ~ Beth Moore

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


This adoption journey has run us through every emotion imaginable. The good, the bad and the ugly have all been a part of this process and sometimes all at once. Today was one of those days. I sat down today to begin filling out more forms that we need to take to the Consulate appointment, at the U.S. Embassy, which will occur at the end of our trip.

The very first form on the checklist I tackled was the I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption. This is a form we are filling out on behalf of our child and it was exciting to begin writing our baby girl's name for the first time... Emma Katriel Jiana Hampton. I'm going along following the excellent example that our agency included in our packet, no problems. Until I get to page 2, question 9 and this is what I read:

Intended child is an orphan because:
Mother -- Abandoned
Father -- Abandoned

Man, that word abandoned jumped off the page at me and just smacked me across the face. The next thing I knew tears where filling my eyes as I had to check that abandoned box.

What's weird is that this comes to no surprise to me. I knew that this is the way it works in China. A mother must abandoned her child somewhere, where that child will quickly be found, so that she will not suffer punishment herself. So why did that word hurt so bad today? Is it because I have a little face to put to that word and so it becomes more real? I don't know but I hurt so badly for my little one who has suffered great loss so early in her life.

As I struggled with these sad emotions today the Lord brought to mind a couple of verses from Scripture. He spoke these verses to me, just when I needed them most. The first is in Psalm 68:5 when He tells us that God is a father to the fatherless. Even though my baby has not had an earthly father, she has had the Father of all fathers watching over her and caring for her. A Father who created her in His image, and for His glory. She is so very special.

The second passage was one that had been one of Eli's memory verses, and that is Hebrews 13:5b-6a, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid". To know that the God of the universe has never abandoned Emma, now that brings comfort to this momma's heart who is hurting so bad for her daughter.

Thank you so much for your promises, promises that are true and we can stand on. Thank you for choosing me to be Emma's momma, long before the foundation of the world was laid. It is a privilege to have this call on my life.

Thank you God that you are with her all the time. Hold my baby tight until I can wrap my arms around her. And please, make that happen fast. Don't let her be an orphan for one more day than she has to. ~ Amen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

To China with Love

Well, I can check one more thing off my "to do" list. Today I was able to mail off Emma's care package. It wasn't much but I do pray that God's hand will be upon that package and that it will indeed reach our little girl. So much thought went into this package. I about drove myself crazy thinking of what we should send. Initially, we had picked out a really cute, soft blanket that had lady bugs all over it. I mean who doesn't like cuddling up with a nice soft blanket. We had then picked out this precious stuffed pink bunny. We also assembled a baby friendly photo album, which included pictures of the family, as a group and then individually. We included a disposable camera and then finally, some Almond Roca for her nanny's.

We knew very well that there would be a real possibility that what we send may never come back with her and so that had me re-thinking the blanket and the bunny. I thought of how hard it may be to keep those type items clean in an institutional setting. And I really, really want her to have this blanket and bunny. So, I decided that I would pack those items in my suitcase and hand deliver them to her on "Gotcha Day". I want to have something that she can cuddle as she grieves.

So, off to Babies R Us we went trying to find something maybe a little easier for the orphanage to deal with. Especially if it will be something they keep. We know that Emma likes toys that make noises and so we bought a couple of cute little toys to keep her, or her friends, entertained.

I was also able to have a letter translated in Chinese for the caretakers. I only hope they can understand how grateful we are to them for taking care of Emma during her time there at the orphanage. In the letter we also asked if they would please use the camera to take lots of photos, which would be a real treasure to Emma later on. I pray that we get back this camera back, completely used up.

I also had translated Momma, Daddy, big brother, Eli, little brother and Ethan. I then attached them to each photo in the album. My prayer is that her nannies will set down with her and began to teach her who we are. I'm also praying that when she meets us for the very first time, she will recognize our faces and not be nearly as scared. I've been praying for some time now that God would some how, as only He can do, work in her heart and prepare her little heart for us. I pray that somehow she will feel safe and loved, even if she is not ready to love us back. She is so loved, unconditionally and will be forever and always!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our Celebration

Wow, things have been just a little busy around here and so I'm having a hard time blogging fast enough to keep up with what's happening. I don't want to forget anything that happens during this process and so you'll have to forgive me but I'm going to back up and reflect on the celebration we had on our referral day.

When we made the call to tell our dear friends Kyle and Katie about the referral, it wasn't too long until we get a call asking us if we were up to partying. They are so invested in Emma's life that they were extremely excited about the fact that Emma was finally coming home.

This was just the beginning of our celebrations that weekend. We celebrated Saturday with my parents by having lunch at Red Lobster. We celebrated Saturday evening with dinner at the Crazy Buffet, which is a Chinese restaurant that Matt just had to go to. Sunday morning we continued our celebration by heading off to church early enough to have a doughnut and share the good news with everyone we saw. What a wonderful weekend of celebration.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Labor Progresses ...

Well, today was another big day. We have signed all necessary papers to officially accept Emma as our daughter. I don't think I could have signed the acceptance form quick enough. I examined each form over and over again to make sure there were no mistakes and then I headed off to the closest Fed Ex location. It looks like the home office of Bethany should receive the packet by the end of the week. Bethany will then wait until they receive all the packets from each family in our travel group and then they will mail all of them off to China. Once these documents are received by the China Center of Adoption Affairs(CCAA), we will travel 6 to 8 weeks later.

Many want to know what is next, well I will now start focusing on filling out the paperwork for our visas and I would love to have them completed by the weekend. We will then try to start working hard to gather up all the stuff we will need to pack for our two week stay in China. I am so thankful that we had already begun a checklist of things to do and a packing list. Now it is time to tackle the list with full gusto. We've got to "pack our bags for the hospital" if you will, so that we will be ready to jump on that plane when my water breaks.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Special Delivery

The long awaited package finally arrived Monday morning and earlier than expected. I was expecting UPS to deliver around 10:30, according to the tracking information, but all of a sudden that big brown truck pulled up in front of the house around 9:30. I ran to get my camera and the driver thought I was just a little crazy wanting to take his picture. I know all of you adoption mommas out there can relate to this craziness.

I was once again shaking as I opened that special package. I pulled out a stack of papers, some of which was paperwork to be filled out, a travel packet of information, and then what I really cared about... information about Emma. Now this information about Emma was all in Chinese. However, I had already made arrangements to meet with a Chinese lady at 11:00 to go over this information. Man, was it hard to wait. So in the pouring down rain, I drove over to the designated location and met with this precious lady. We set down together and I was hanging on every word she told me. I tried my best to write down every single tidbit of information about our baby girl. This was a true treasure. Priceless!

I spent most of yesterday processing this information, which is why I didn't post yesterday. My brain was on overload and I've had very little sleep since we've received our referral on Friday morning. I'm riding on cloud nine but yet my body is physically exhausted.

Anyway, as I've been able to absorb all this precious information about Emma, Matt and I have come to realize just how sacred this information is. Therefore, we will not be sharing the specifics that has been entrusted to us. We have always known that we wouldn't share certain information when this time came but I don't think we realized just how sacred this information is and so we will guard it dearly. This is Emma's life story and this may be the only information she may ever have about her first year of life and we want her to have the power to choose who she wants to share this information with. Who are we to expose this for her.

I will let you know the type of information that we were able to find out. We have medical information, a growth chart, motor development, social development, and personality traits. We know her routine schedule for her day, such as eating and sleeping schedules. The only thing is this information was dated just before she turned 8 months old. Much will change before we see her but we should be receiving updated measurements closer to the time of travel. She is small, especially compared to my boys, who are off the charts.

I pray time will pass quickly. I just want to hold my baby girl.