Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday

Taking her first bottle. Yeah!!! At the orpanage, they were laid down on the bed and were on their own. Probably why she likes being held. It hadn't happened much!
Alan with his ginormous cup of coffee. Can he be any happier? At the Starbucks, we met two Christian me.(One had his Bible sitting on the chair next to him, so I just figured). They are there doing camps for kids. God is working in China.
And finally, Hannah drinking a little bit from a cup.
I know someone prayed....I actually slept until 5 am. Hannah got up, we cuddled and she slept some more, took her bottle and slept some more. Today was a day I had been looking forward to. We went shopping, to the mall, the Jade and Pearl market. First off, the mall was huge. It is in this shopping square that has a walking street. The walking street has a bunch of little stores and no cars are allowed on it. We went straight to the mall part where the pearls were. The place was huge!!! Four or five floors. We walked in and it had tons of clothes and shoes shops. Tracy told us if you wanted quality, buy in the mall. If you wanted to smile at the price, buy at the shops but beware because if you buy shoes(as an example)it won't be long before they are smiling too(meaning falling apart).


We only had 1 1/2 hours so we had to book it. We walked the great length of the mall, passing jewelry stores that had all sorts of stones. There was a whole shop just with Amethysts, but we ran out of time. We headed for the Jade market because it was the farthest away. Shelly(one of our guides) took us there and said if we found anything, to let her know and she would come help us bargain. Well we did...boy did we ever!! And it was so cool to have her come over and start haggle over prices. I think she got us a good deal...I guess it doesn't matter. I am pretty sure we would have paid what was asked, so the discount was nice. While we were there, the typhoon that had hit Taiwan blew rain into Guangazhou. It rained hard!! But it also brought cooler temperatures(compartively) and the rain was beautiful. It was nice to have a change in weather. The one bad thing was that we had to run across the street and down the block to go back to the mall with the pearls. Oh well. We didn't melt. We went straight to the pearls and I got a lovely set of earings,a necklace and a bracelet. We spent more than everyone else, but Shelly said we got great quality that will last a lifetime, and the others got what they paid for. So I am happy and these may end up as wedding gifts for each bride we have in our family.


We ran out of time before I could do any more shopping(I am pretty sure Alan was glad) but we could always go back(like next week_). While we were buying the pearls, Hannah had a small poopy so I took her to the bathroom to change her. Well, there was no place to change her. The floor was wet(don't want to know with what-these are squatty potties) so I had her stand on the sink and I changed her standing up. Boy did the women in the restroom think that was interesting. No wonder the Chinese like the split pants for their children. Then all you have to do is hold them over the potty and they go. Wet floors-not everyone has good aim!!!


The bus took us for another small tour of the area and then we headed back to the hotel. All of the kids were just zonked!!! We took Hannah back for a bottle and a nap. She slept for about 2 hours. We decided to go eat at Lucy's again(it is close and has variety. We are getting a little tired of Chinese food) and we ordered Hannah some congee. She couldn't even sit up to eat. She would just slump back against me. She won't take a lot of liquids, although she was better about her formula. She didn't eat much. It is just crazy. We met a shopkeeper who is a Christian so we went down to his store and he wrote Hannah's name in Chinese, calligraphy and wrote the meaning. We bought her a Chinese doll and then headed back to the hotel. We are starting to get nervous because all she wants to do is lay on me. We go to the playrooom and she shows know interest. So we stop by the Holt office and the tears come. I am trying to explain what is wrong and I just can't get it out there. She doesn't have a fever, but she seems in pain. Shelly was in there so she called Tracy and had her come in.(Tracy has children and has experience with these situations.) So Tracy asks us all sorts of questions and then calls the director of the orphanage. So now we find out that she takes her formula with the congee in the bottle. Maybe she is hungry. She is having wet diapers, so I don't think that she is dehydrated. Then Tracy talks to the nannny and gets some info on her interactions. She said she walks and plays, loves her ball, all this stuff and we have seen nothing!!! Is it grieving? Is it constipation? Is she hurting? Why does she cry like she is? We showed Tracy and Shelly-if I put her on the ground, she cries. I put her down and she cried. Hard. Shelly tried to talk to her*(she speaks Cantonese) and tried to play with her, but Hannah would have none of that. Finally I couldn't stnad it any longer so I picked her up and she settled down. So she is bonding to me-or clinging to me for dear life, I think.


We went back to the room and I decided to take her temperature-for try. Two reasons. One to rule out fever and the other in hopes of stimulating a poopy. She hated it!! I think it may have hurt and there was an obstacle in the way. She had no fever and she pooped out a little. I just got an email back from the international ped in Omaha and this afternoon I am going to try half a suppository. Maybe if we get her cleaned out, we will see a happier baby that may want to eat more.


After she pooped the little bit, she just screamed and screamed. So I loaded her up in the Ergo(our carrier) and left Alan in the room. She finally settled down. We walked by the pool and then went to the playroom. Some of our group was in there so I talked for a little bit and got some reassurance. Then we went outside, down to the park by Lucy's and then around the square. When we got back I gave her a bottle and then handed her to Alan. She screamed and I took a shower. He finally got her settled down and sleeping in her bed. So I came out of the bathroom. Alan was exhausted and fell asleep and I read for a while. I slept until about 4:20 and then decided to blog. We didn't have alot of pictures today, but there might be a few I haven't posted, so I will put those in.


Tomorrow(or today for me) we are going to the 6 Banyan Temple. I am excited to see it-pictures are beautiful.


So prayers for today-

Poop and liquids. And an extra measure of grace for Alan and I. It is heartbreaking to have this beautiful child who is doing nothing and see everyone else's children interacting and playing. We just want her to be happy.


Peace to all.

Heather

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Comments from Dad...

Its early, early on Thursday, but since I fell asleep around 9pm, I'm awake right now - this just seems to be the pattern that I've developed.

Heather has mentioned several of our experiences so far - here's my take...

Bonding with Hannah - I had always expected that Hannah would develop a closer bond with Heather, and she surely has, to the point that its becoming exhausting to Heather. Not that Hannah won't let me hold her - its just very clear that for now she feels a strong maternal presence with her Mama.

Guangzhou - this is a pretty amazing city. Whatever the city guides list for the population you probably have to double as there is such an undocumented number of people who have relocated to the city from the rural areas. Driving through the streets to our various appointments is interesting. The traffic is insane - the pecking order for space on the streets would have pedestrians last - theirs is really a survival game, no signaled crosswalks that I could see (not that they would help much). The stops signs and other electric signaling seems to serve as only suggestions to those in vehicles. The best NYC cabby would have his work cut out for him to get around this city. But, you know what - it seems to work for them.

Shamian Island - this is the section of Guangzhou where the White Swan Hotel is located and is quite the little bit of paradise in this sea of humanity. We went out this morning and watched the locals gather in a nearby park to do their Tai Chi. Elsewhere, others were playing Mah Jongg and a lot of the youths seem to like to play a sort of hackysack game using something that resembles a badminton shuttlecock - and they are good at it! Shamian Island was the location of the French and British colonial outposts and much of the architecture reflects that period - the colonial-style buildings are very beautiful even though many have been retrofitted to serve commercial interests - many, many local stores going after the tourist trade, especially the adopting parents staying at the White Swan.

Eating - Well, obviously Asian - Cantonese, which I have always liked but am already burned out on. There is one local restaurant (Lucy's) that serves several Western dishes so we've been able to get a cheeseburger - but its pretty bland if you ask me. There is a pretty decent Thai restaurant within walking distance. The breakfast buffet here at the White Swan has a lot of variety - pimento loaf was a meat selection this morning, ugh! I'm pretty much down to french toast or a bowl of cereal.

Commerce - this is a Communist country?? You could never tell - signs of capitalism abound. We had side trip to the local grocery/department store today (Carrefour). The market takes up a few floors of a downtown highrise. Its interesting - to take care of all your shopping needs you would start on one of the highfloors where the clothes and other non-perishables are at and then work your way downstairs, covering several floors, and then finally end up where the food and other perishables are located and then check out and take the people mover ramps back up to the ground floor. Imagine a Super Target with each department stacked on top of one another - given the demand for space it actually works. Of course, the place is just insane with foot traffic - WalMart on steroids. If we weren't pressed for time and having already had a long day I would have liked to just browse around and people watch.

Other - We are enjoying ourselves even amid the stress. This adoption process could easily be reduced to a week or less in country, not the two weeks that its going to take. The cynic in me thinks its just a way to pry a few more Yuan ($) from the adopting parents (Shocking!). Took a few outside pictures this morning but because of the ever-present haze they didn't turn out well. If anyone has suggestions on camera settings to reduce that glare please let me know - thanks.

Wednesday

Today I woke up again about 2:30, and then dozed until about 3. Then I read for a while and then Alan was awake. I am so ready to sleep through the night!!! Hannah woke up at 6 and we brought her into bed with us and cuddled for a while. And she was hungry enough that she took about half a bottle!! Yeah!! She hasn't been taking in a lot of liquids(she has been eating congee-rice and broth, which helps), but I have wanted her to take more to drink. It is so hot!! We got up and had breakfast and we decided to take a walk to the park. It is by the river, has tons of statues, and walkways. This is where the Chinese people come in the mornings to practice their Tai Chi. I bet there were hundreds of people throughout the parks doing some sort of excersise. Some were doing traditional, some with fans or swords or castenettes. There was evening a group doing line dancing. And the vast majority of these are women in their 50's and older. It was an incredible sight to watch them and something I want to go watch again. After that we walked around for a while and we shopped. They have the cutest shoes for little girls(and cheap), so we bought Hannah some shoes for the fall. We spent way too much money and headed back to the hotel. Mattel also gives each adopting family a barbie doll holding a Chines baby, made especially for the White Swan hotel. It's a pretty cool keepsake. We had lunch at Lucy's again and then it was naptime. Alan was putting Hannah down, so I decided to blog. She only slept about 40 minutes, so I had to stop before I was finished. That is why these are so close to gether.


This afternoon we went to the Police station(which seemed more like USCIS) and had the childrens passport pictures taken. Hannah has been kind of fussy all day. We got back on the bus(and you know how I love buses) and drove for what seemed like forever!! We were headed for the grocery store/department store-very similar to Walmart. What an unbelievable experience. There are over 11 million people in the Guangzhou area and I think they all picked today to go shopping. You had to ride down an escalator(which was like a ramp and it was magnetized for the shopping carts) to get to the grocery area. Our guides led us to the diapers and baby food and helped us find what we needed. There were also many workers who were available to help as well. That is one thing about the Chinese people, their customer service is first rate. Anyway, remember how I talked about the driving? The same goes for stores. You will get run over if you are not careful. And if you are in the way, they will step in front of you. At home, we wait our turns in line. Here, there are no lines. People just walk up and don't think anything of moving to the head of the line. If you wait your turn, you will never move to the head.

We hurried through the store because the crowds were getting to me, Hannah was getting fussy(it was almost 6), and it felt very overwhelming. So we left the store(250 yuan poorer) and we went to the Starbucks and sat down. It was funny because as our group gathered, so many people stopped and stared. This little grandmother came over and told one dad that he needed to let his 14 month old daughter feed herself her cheerios and then took the girls hand and had her grab a cheerio and put it in her mouth. Then she came over and started talking about Hannah's ear. Now, understand, this is all in Chinese and our guides are not around. It was pretty funny. We were warned that this would probably happen. These grandmas feel like we are part of their family and we need to know the correct way to raise these children. If you can understand the culture, you can really find this endearing. These people are really happy that these children are getting a family. Family is so important to them.

On the bus, poor Hannah was done. The good thing is she was hungry enough to take a bottle. She has been very cuddly, but my back is pretty tired. We had dinner at Lucys(a place you can get Chinese food, spaghetti, mexican food and a cheeseburger-they play American music and they have license plates from all of the different states-and it is cheap) and we brought Hannah home to bed-which is where I am now headed.

Before I go, I would like to offer some prayer requests:
There is a 4 year old child in our group who is grieving terribley. She has cried for 3 straight days. Today was better-she had an hour at breakfast and at lunch when she didn't cry, but that was about it. Her mom is here with her sister and it is breaking their hearts. Today the little girl told our guide she wanted to go back to the orphanage. The mom and the child need prayers.
Hannah seems to just be kind of listless. All she wants to do is lay on me. We are watching her fluid intake and she is having wet diapers. I don't know if this is her way of grieving, but it is hard to see everyone else's kids smiling and laughing and playing and ours just sits in my lap with her head on my chest. We need an extra measure of grace.

And I need some sleep. Even with sleeping pills, I am awake between 2-3 and then I don't fall back asleep. I miss my boys so much and I am so ready to be home, it is unbelievable.

And for Alan-Hannah fusses with him. She just wants me and I know it hurts him. He is over the moon crazy for her, so we are both ready for a little bit of daddy's girl.

It is almost 8:30 so I must go wash my face and get in bed. My other 2 are already asleep and I need to be there too.

Tuesday

So here we are back at the CCAA for our finalization on Chinese portion of our adoption.
Hannah slept great last night, although she isn't crazy about being in the hotel room. We had breakfast then we headed for the CCAA. Hannah still hasn't taken a bottle and she wasn't really drinking anything. That will make any mom panic a little. We spent the morning getting our family picture made (for some form) and then we had 2 interviews. In the first one they ask you to say her name and the name of her city(the Chinese one). They also ask if you still want to go through with the adoption and then they ask if we promise not to torture or abandon her. The next meeting is with the Notary and she asks the same questions. It is sad that they have to ask if you will promise to not torture. Not will you promise to love her and nurture her, and educate her, but will you promise not to torture her. It really makes my heart sad. The process seemed to take forever and then we were finally on our way back to the hotel.Mom and daughter in front of the waterfall. Note the toy which she has not let go of except in her sleep.
Finally some cuddle time.
And what a sleeping angel.

In the afternoon we tried to have a nap but Hannah decided she needed to be held and would not be put down. That means she laid on mom's chest and napped, while mom tried to stay comfortable. Did we mention that the bed is hard as a rock? Add 22 pounds on top of mom and it does not equal a restful nap. Hannah doesn't like to be in the room or on the elevator. I think she is really starting to grieve. She only wants for me to hold her-which isn't easy on dad. He has gotten to hold her to rock her to sleep, so that is good.



We had dinner at a Thai restaraunt with Mark and Julie(our Omaha compadres), and their daughter Grace. It is neat being with them because we are actually dealing with some similar issues.



I don't think I have given any information about the city yet. First off, all the buildings look like they should be condemned. Everyone hangs their laundry out of their apartment windows-underwear and all. We haven't seen the sun because of all of the smog. I don't know how the country isn't full of asmathics!! We passed by a hospital and there were people lined up like a ride for Disney World at peak season. Come to find out, there are no Dr.s offices, only the hospital and they don't take reservations. So if you are sick, you try to get there the earliest and you still might have to stand out in the horrible heat all day. We talked to our guide Tracy about the 1 child policy and it was interesting to hear her view. She said the Chinese people would love to have big families(which got them in trouble in the first place) and there are some exceptions to the one child policy.

Okay traffic. It is absolute insanity. You know how we have lanes and we try to stay in them and we signal and look before we change lanes? And how we yield to pedestrians? And cyclists? Doesn't happen in China. People on bicyles just come flying out of know where right in front of our bus. I can't even watch because there are so many close calls. And there are people everywhere. It's funny, because as a group we get a lot of people stopping and staring.

We are having a good time, but it will be nice to be home.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gotcha Day
























































Well, today was the day. We weren't going to leave for the China Civil Affairs office until 2:30 so we had a lot of time to kill. So we shopped. The people are so nice here. Every where we went, we were asked about our daughter and the store owners would give us a gift for her. We got a fan and a rattle, a very noisy rattle. They are so excited to hear that these children are getting a good home, especially the ones with special needs. The people just can't afford the health care.

We had lunch with another couple at this little deli down from the hotel. I got a sandwich-ham and cheese on white bread. That is all my stomach could handle. We go back to the hotel. We have a bag packed for Hannah(or Shen Shen as they call her). I had forgotten how much one small child needs!! We still have time to kill!! I was dying!! So I read a little, then I made Alan walk around the hotel a little and then it was finally time.

We met downstairs at 2:30 and got on the bus. We drove about 15 minutes and then we were there. Butterflies were flying. I was so nervous. We walk in the doors and have to go up to the 8th floor. There are 14 families and 1 elevator so we had to take turns. I was kind of in the front. We get in there and there were already other families from another agency who had gotten their children. It was incredible. We had to sign more forms and then when we waited.

They kept the children in the back room behind a curtain. Someone opened the curtain a little and there she was. I had a peek! And there she was, sitting quietly on her Ayi's lap, about to have her world turned upside down. So everyone is standing around, and then our guide starts calling families names. We were about 4th or 5 th and the brought her out and she was in my arms. The Gotcha moment is so incredible. We were there in the midst of 14 families and they hand you your child and it is going on all around you. I wish each and everyone of you could have been there. There were plenty of tears of joy.
We try and get out of the way so that the others can receive their children. And the Director of the orphanage comes over. We shake his hand and take a picture. We have to wait for an interpretor-there are only 4 of them and our group is large. So we are patient-and Hannah doesn't say a word. I pass her to Alan and she gets a bit teary, but then she starts to settle down. She is still unsure of him when he first holds her, but if he walks away, she looks to see where he is going. Finally we get our chance to talk with the director. He is actually the one who named her. And the ayi(nannny) who is there helped take care of her. How do you thank someone for loving your child for 21 months? The director said when they do evaluations she is always at the top. She is quiet and doesn't like loud noises!! Oh no!! What is she doing in our family??????
After our talk, we find a quiet spot on the floor. Out of 14 families, only one baby cried. And she was a foster care baby, so it wasn't a surprise. By dinner time, she was very settled in with her mom. SO, on the floor, we opened our bag of tricks and brought out Cheerios-as did eveyone else in the group. I handed her two and she held one in each hand. Then I started feeding then to her and she liked them. She never ate the ones in her hands, but gladly ate the ones that I gave her. When I held her, there were a couple of times that she put her head on my shoulder and I got some good cuddle time. I stacked cups, tried to give her some water from a bottle, gave her a rattle ring to play with. She dropped one cheerio to hold the ring and then she didn't let go of it until sometime in the night when she was asleep. The whole time on the floor she never made a peep!

Then it was time to leave. We got back on the bus and her face just fell. Tears came to her eyes. She knew something was up and I couldn't explain it to her. So I just held her tight. Still, no peep. We got back to the hotel about 5:30 and I was hungry. But the buffet didn't start until 6, so we looked at the Koi in the lobby. Then we went in for dinner. She sat on my lap and ate some watermelon, some congee, and some rice. I don't know how much she actually ate because it looked like she never swallowed. And when we got back to the room, she had a mouth full of watermelon! After dinner, Alan had to go sign more paperwork, so we went back to the room. There she was not happy. If I walked across the room without her, she cried. She isn't very loud, but it was very heartbreaking. When I put her on the floor, she walked towards the door-got to the edge of the carpet and stood there and rocked back and forth. So I opened my arms to her and she came to me. I held her and rocked her and she went to sleep. The poor thing was exhausted!! We put her in the crib and she slept, holding her rattle, not a peep except for an occasional sigh.
So we have our daughter. An incredible day that will never leave me. The day our lives were changed forever-woven together by a red thread.
Love to all.
Oh and by the way, I haven't figured out the posting pictures thing yet, and that is why they aren't by the descriptions. Maybe I can figure it out later.



















Sunday, July 27, 2008

The flight and day 1

So, our first flight was great. Of course, it was a 45 minute flight, so who can complain? When we got to the MPLS airport, we met our first 2 travel couples. One, Chris and Michelle, are from Indiana and are adopting a 14 month old girl, and Julie and Mark from Omaha, adopting a 2 year old girl. We sat within 3 rows on the plane to Tokyo. Okay, the big flight. First off, all they did was feed us. We got on and got started and we had a drink and a snack.(Pretzels and water). Then we had dinner at 4:45-chicken, rice, salad, roll, and cookies. Then after a while, a movie and some naps(not for us), we had another snack-ham and cheese sandwich and oreos. Then after another movie and a small nap, we had breakfast. You could have an egg, sausage, cheese biscuit or fried rice. I went with the biscuit. And surprisingly, the food was pretty good. As for sleeping, neither Alan or I really slept more than cat naps on this flight. I tried to watch the movies, but I had to sit really tall to see over the seat in front of me, and I had a tall man with a head that moved where ever I tried to look, so the movies didn't happen for me. But I read 2 books. The worst part of the flight for me was that my knees just really hurt.

So then we got to Tokyo and we met more families. One family, Alan and Kristen, are adopting a little 4 year old girl who is deaf. The amazing thing is that this is a child we had looked at in the very beginning, felt we couldn't handle complete deafness and then prayed that she would find a family. They are also the family who is leading a prayer time tonight for our journeys.

We got into the hotel about 12:30 ish and once we got into our room we were ready to lay down. We got to sleep about 2, woke about 4 and then went back to sleep. The hotel has a breakfast buffet. So we went down for breakfast and it was amazing the number of American families with Chinese children. Pretty neat. So the buffet had American breakfast food-eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast, but then it had Chinese food. Noodles, fish, baked beans, dumplings and a variety of food I could not name. I did try a fried triangle of something, but it was too spicy. But I tried something new!!!'\

Then we had our Orientation meeting. Our facilitator, Iris, gave us some history of Chinese adoption and walked us through what we will be doing. But the highlight of the morning was getting a book with updated pictures and info. on Hannah. As each family received their book and their pictures, there were many happy tears. I cried when others looked at their own child and then we got Hannah's and it was so wonderful. And she is holding a basketball-g00d thing we put in that court!! She is also on her little rocking horse, so I am glad we found her one at home. Mom-could you please wash it off and bring it inside before we get home?

So our big day is tomorrow. We leave for the China Affairs office at 2:30 and we will get her sometime after 3. There are 14 families in our group, so it will take some time.

This afternoon we had lunch as a group at a real Chinese restaraunt. They serve it family style. There was shrimp, chicken, beef, rice, yummy green beans, a corn and nut dish, rolls. It was really good. Then we went on a tour of the island and the surrounding area and had a tour of a Chinese family temple-not like a church, but for the family. It was very very very very hot and humid.

Oh yes, the potties. The hotel has regular potties, but out in the city they have squatty potties. Kind of a porcelain hole in the ground(like a urinal but in the floor.) I haven't figured out how to use it without making a mess, so I just waited until we got back to the hotel.

We talked to the boys this morning and they are having a good time with Grandma and Grandpa. We keep seeing things we think they would like. We will love shopping!!!!!

We are anxiously waiting for tomorrow. We are going in a few minutes to pray for our trip. We appreciate so much your prayers!!

Will post mor tomorrow!
Heather

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Greetings from Guangzhou

We're here! It is very HOT! Left Omaha at 12:20 pm on Friday and arrived at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou at 12:45 am late on Saturday night. We just had breakfast downstairs - it was an amazing site at the restaurant. Lots of American parents with their Chinese babies and toddlers - folks who have been here for a few days, many who are anxious to return to the States no doubt.

We have an orientation meeting later this morning and then there are some planned sightseeing tours. Tomorrow, then, will be the big day, when Hannah is brought to us. I think just seeing all those other parents and their kids downstairs has ramped up our excitement.

More good news... There is a Starbucks nearby so I can get my fix every morning.

Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers. More later. Alan

Friday, July 25, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane

Well, we will leave for the airport in about 15 minutes. I didn't sleep well last night and my stomach is in knots. I am not a great flier and I will be stuck in a plane for 12 hours. I have 3 books...hopefully they will get me there. We are so excited and we can't wait to be there.

But as I look at my boys faces this morning, I realize how much I am going to miss them. Alan is outside right now playing one more game of catch!! I definitely will be glad to get home with my family complete!!

So I will let you know more when we arrive and how things go.

Love to all!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friends

We leave in one day. This time tomorrow we will be trying to figure out if our luggage will fit in the van with all of the rest of us. Tomorrow we will be on a plane for China, just the 2 of us. But today, this whole week really, it has been amazing. Our friends are so very dear to us. All of you have just touched our hearts in so many ways. For instance, a friend who says I will bring over meals for your freezer, even though her husband just had surgery. A friend who tears up at the thought of me holding my daughter for the first time. A friend who says she will come over and stay with our boys so that my parents can have a break. A friend who wants to take my boys to the pool, again to give my parents a break. A friend who prays for our trip and looks forward to welcoming this child into our wonderful choir family. A choir family eager to embrace this little girl and to love her. We are adopting this little girl. I knew that we would love her and that our family would love her. But I was totally unprepared for the unbridled joy that so many people have in anticipation of her coming home. Every child should be so lucky to have so many people who are ready to love her. So friends, I thank God in every remembrance of you. I love you all and so appreciate the prayers, hugs, and words of encouragement.

I went to choir last night. It was nice to focus on something other than leaving tomorrow and always great to sing praises to God. But before choir, I had a moment of total serenity. I was talking to my friend Amy, and her daughter Olivia(17 months) came up to me and wanted to be picked up. I picked her up and she laid her head on my shoulder and she held me and I held her. And it was beautiful. We stayed that way for quite a while and then she got down and was off running again. But that moment, breathtaking. The beauty of a child.

So I have packed, and I have unpacked, and I have repacked, and then I bought a new suitcase and packed again. I have been doing this for a week. Alan...he is packing tonight. I think our boys are starting to get a little nervous. We have never been apart for this long. But Mom and Dad have tons of stuff planned. Hopefully they can keep them so busy they won't miss us too much. But we will certainly miss them.

SO we fly out tomorrow at 12:19 to Minneapolis. Then about 3 we leave for Tokyo, then Toyko to Guangzhou, arriving Saturday night at 11pm. We covet your prayers and we are so thankful for each and every one of you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our Travel Group

On Friday we received a list of the people that we will be traveling with. There are people from all over the country, but there are 2 of us from Omaha. Yeah!! So we have talked by phone and email and we have many similarities. They have 2 children ages 8 and 6. Their daughter is 18 months and will be named Grace. It was so fun to talk to our new friends and to know there will be someone close by who is going through what we are going through.

One of the group members sent an email to everyone, so we have all been introducing ourselves. Many of us will be on the same flight from Tokyo to Guangzhou and we will be getting in at 11pm on the 26th and then it takes another 2 hours or so to get to the hotel!! We will all be pretty tired, but at least we will all be in the same boat!

There is one couple who has already talked about getting together and having a prayer meeting before we get our children. How great is God that He is providing us with praying people!!!

I spent a few hours this afternoon sorting through stuff to take. I have all of our medicines in plastic gallon bags, some toys for Hannah, clothes that need to be washed, bottles, diapers and wipes ready, my toiletries ready to go. I just hope I can get everything I need into the bags! I want to pack as efficiently as possible so that I have plenty of space for souveneirs!! I guess I can alway buy another suitcase!!:) Poor Alan...and I think that could really be literal!!

12 more days and we will be off. Mom and Dad are coming in Saturday, I think. It will be nice to spend time with them and have Mom help me think legistically through my suitcases. And I need to get them ready for life with Jacob and Sam. Plus my parents are just fun to be around.

I hope your day is filled with many shimmers of glory!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We have our schedule

We received our schedule today. We have orientation on July 27th and we get to meet and take charge of Hannah on July 28. We would like to go to her orphanage, but aren't sure if that will happen. So please say a prayer that it could happen. The time is racing by and it won't be long and we will officially be a family of 5!

Alan took the boys to his ballgame and let me have some time to myself! Such a wonderful husband! I went to Target(only my second trip today) and bought the medicines that we need to take with us, plus soaps, shampoos, wet wipes and such. One more set of things to check off my list.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On our way

Hey friends!



I have sent out an email, so I thought I would write a bit about our journey to Hannah. It all began because Alan was adopted. We knew from the beginning that if we had the opportunity to give a child a family, like his parents did for him, that we would like to do it. We have 2 wonderful sons, Jacob and Sam, but they were hard pregnancies and hard deliveries. So biologically we were done. In 2006, we lost Alan's mom to cancer. The week we were mourning her passing, Hannah was born. Because of Beverly, for oh so many reasons, we were going to be able to adopt. That thought hadn't crossed our minds yet, but it had been on God's mind. Hannah was born on my nephews birthday(my family tends to share birthdays-God's first connection) and on her 7th day of life, she was left by a theatre to be found.(A theatre...God's second connection for us)



In February of 2007, our church was holding it's annual global mission fair. Our new pastor had dubbed this year the "Year of the Child". Our church was partnering with 6 different programs, 3 locally and 3 internationally. One was an orphanage in China. And on the Sunday of the week of programs, we heard a teenage girl talk about being abandoned in China and her life in an orphanage, her foster mom and the fact her foster mom wasn't allowed to adopt her, and the fate of children in China.....our hearts melted. The church was offering a seminar on international adoption that week. So on the way home, I asked Alan if he would like to attend and check things out. Well unbeknownst to me, Alan had been thinking about adoption since he had lost his mom, so his answer shocked me. He said yes he wanted to go, that there was no reason we couldn't adopt, we had the love, the room, the finances, and he wanted a little girl. I wanted to go to a class, he was bringing home a daughter!!! We went to the class, talked to some people and signed up with an agency.



We started the process, which involves filling out ALOT of paperwork. We...oh I mean I, started the paperwork, got us signed up for the fingerprints and background checks and did all the running around trying to get everything China needed. Our paperwork was notarized,apostillized, and aprroved the US government and the Chinese consulate. In August of 2007 our dossier was sent in to China and on September 4 our paperwork was logged in and we were officially waiting for a child.



God had a plan. See, during the time that I was paperchasing, I began to have doubts and fears and I second guessed this decision. And God kept showing me how this was His plan. I had asked some friends to pray for us as we began this process. One Sunday, after a tough week for me, a friend came up to me and said she had been praying for me and God had told her to tell me that I would get my little girl. That same week, I was reading a book another agency had sent me about a mother searching for her daughter in China and during a prayer time, much like mine had been, questioning whether this was going to happen. What was written next in the book was actually as if God was talking to me(which I guess He was). He said, "You will have your daughter and her name will be Hannah." We had already chosen the name Hannah...what wonderful confirmation!!!



After our dossier was logged in, I began looking at sites that talked about international adoption. I was on our agencies forums(Holt International) and one person was talking about China Adopt Talk as a good website for information. I got on there and found out some scary news. I was thinking that we would probably have less than a 2 year wait for a healthy child. What I came to find out was that the China program had slowed down, the people at the front of the list had aready been waiting for 2 years with no end in sight and that we would more than likely have about a 4-5 year wait for a healthy baby girl.



I called our social worker(whom I love) who very honestly said that yes that was probably what the wait time was going to be. We had talked about children who had special needs and she said if we were open to that program, we could try and go that route and it probably wouldn't take as long. Not only are healthy girls abandoned in China, but also children with any kind of health issue. Now these can range from very serious(cerebral palsy, severe mental/physical disabilites) to very minor disabilities(missing limb, birthmark, heart problem, deafness, etc). Alan and I talked and decided because of where we live(excellent health care) that we would be open to some of the special needs on the list. We had already handled so much with our boys births, that we felt we could take some unknowns. We filled out our list in October and continued with our wait.



I am a worrier by nature. God has blessed me with a husband who takes things in stride. He never wavered. He knew God wanted us to have a child and he held onto that. Meanwhile, I worried. God had to get me to a place where I could trust Him with this decision, so from October He began to show me His faithfulness. He gave me verses in church, used messages from the pulpit, friends all around me, learning to put this adoption in His hands. We were nervous. I would look at pictures on the Holt website of kids available to be adopted and wonder if one of them was mine. How would we know...Alan really wanted this question answered. People would say when it is your child, you just know. Made no sense, but whatever. We looked at some files, but ultimately felt like they were not ours.



And then in March, our social worker called me and said she had a file for us to look at. She began to tell me about this little 17 month old girl and I got this nervous flutter in my stomach. You know the one...like when you saw your spouse for the first time, or hold your child for the first time, or you find out you have one a great award or you get to meet the President or when you first accepted Christ in your life. I was overcome. She told me that another family had had her file, but had decided that she wasn't their child. And Celeste(our SW) wanted us to have 1st chance to see her. After we had accepted her file, she told us that she knew Hannah was supposed to be ours. I will forever be grateful to the family who looked over her files, got all of the updated and necessary information and then let her go. I couldn't wait for the pictures!! I sent the info to be looked over by the International Ped. so that he could tell us how her health was and if we should have any concerns. He said her needs were easily handled here and that he saw no reason not to take her. We knew that she was ours but it was good to hear that she was healthy. She is deaf in one ear, but we can deal with that.



And on that, God smiled on us again. I have always loved the beauty of sign language and in my 20's used quite a bit in my drama. And the friend who God used to tell me we would get our daughter? She has 2 children with hearing aids. She has seen the doctors, she knows the specialists, she has walked the path before me. She will be working at the school for the deaf this fall.

After we recieved the referral of our little Hannah Grace, I began to grieve about missing so much of her young life. And God reminded me that He had blessed me in a way that I hadn't thought about. I had a friend who gave birth in Feb. 2007(the month we started our paperchasing) to a baby girl. I got to hold this baby girl, I got to give her bottles, I got to rock her when she cried, see her smile, make her laugh. I wasn't with her all of the time, but God gave us a special bond. She is my special blessing from God. Thanks Amy for sharing your child with me.



And now we are counting the days. I have never been out of North America. I am traveling to a country where I don't know the language, with people who don't look like me, talk like me, smell like me, etc. I will be away from my loved ones and all things familiar. I will be there 2 weeks and I will be anxious to come home. I say this to keep in mind that this is exactly how Hannah will feel when we bring her home and I want to remember how hard it is so that I can comfort her when she feels the same way.



God is good. He is faithful. He is surprising. He is amazing. He has wound our paths together in ways I could never imagine. He has given me people on the internet who had been at her orphanage in April and who gladly took pictures of her for me. He has given an organization-Love without Boundaries, who cares so much for the children of China. They have a nutrition program, and Hannah's home is one of the lucky ones who receives formula and rice cereal. Through this group, I was able to get an updated height and weight on Hannah, so that I could have an idea how big she is when we travel. I wasn't going to be able to get this information and they sent out an update which just happened to carry her picture and her updated information. God's blessing.



So as you say your prayers tonight, praise Him for me. Praise Him for Hannah. Praise Him for prayers raised and answered and for the faithful servants He used to encourage me. For God is great and greatly to be praised.