Monday, June 20, 2011
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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!
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.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
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!
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
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
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
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.
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
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
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.