Friday, December 26, 2008

Home for Christmas!

We did arrive home in time for Chrismas, actually at 3AM on Christmas morning! It was a long trip and we are so very thankful that God provided as we flew space available on Southwest from LAX to Houston. The flights were supposed to be wide open for us to travel on but because of the recent bad weather and many flight cancellations the flights were full. We took the last three seats and George had to fly in the cockpit. It was a bit of a nail biter as the flights on Christmas were full as well. MANY prayers of thanksgiving were said by me on the plane as we flew the last leg of our flight. After arriving at the airport at 2am, our van had a dead battery. But, the parking lot van driver rescued us with cables and a jump start, so we were on our way very quickly. We were also blessed by the awesome volunteers at the USO at LAX when we were traveling and so thankful to have a safe and friendly place to relax and get a bite to eat as well. The kids did great on the trip and even slept a lot on the planes.
We had quite the welcoming when we arrived home even though it was 3AM. Everyone had fun meeting the newest family member and she did well but was certainly overwhelmed a bit. We are still trying to adjust to the time change, but had a wonderful Christmas Day celebrating our Savior's birth and enjoying our family, including Mary Ann's parents who were here to take care of the kids the past week. Lydia has had fun playing with new toys from Christmas and is laughing and smiling a lot. She is obviously still pretty insecure, so we plan to keep things quiet and stay home for a while. She has taken to her big sisters quickly but still plays hard to get with the men in her family. She is also terrified of the small dogs in the house and so we are hoping to ease her into a relationship with the dog soon.
Merry Christmas! We are certainly rejoicing! Thanks for your prayers and support!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Headed Home!

Today was our last full day in China and we went this afternoon to the US Consulate to pick up Lydia’s visa and have the swearing in ceremony. It is brief but moving as you look around the room and see all the special kids finally getting a family and ready to move on to their new homes in the US. The US representative working there shared that there were families there from twenty-one different states and representing all different kinds of vocations. The more-than forty children were diverse also, from babies to young teens, boys and girls, healthy and special needs kids.
This evening we had dinner with the family staying across the hall from us from Oklahoma. They are adopting a four-year old boy and have a four-year old bio boy. They have the same guide that we had two years ago, so we all had dinner tonight. It was great to see Bob again and tell him what we have been up to. We said goodbye to our other friends from our WACAP group and finished some last minute packing.
Tonight I showed Lydia some photos from home on our computer. She was trying to repeat the names of her brothers and sisters and did pretty well with most of them. She was laughing and really enjoying seeing all the silly photos of her new family. So, thanks for following our blog. We hope to be home on Christmas Eve, very late. Pray for a safe and smooth journey.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Shopping in Guangzhou

Our paperwork for our daughter’s visa was submitted today at the US Consulate. Tomorrow we will attend a ceremony where we take an oath and then they give us her passport with the visa that will allow her entrance into the US and give her automatic citizenship when she arrives on American soil.

This afternoon, Mary Ann went shopping with some others from our group at the toy market and George stayed back at the hotel for nap time. He and the kids did very well and he even gave Lydia a bottle after she woke up. Mary Ann enjoyed shopping and then came home with a suitcase full of fun presents. Then, we all went to the Shamian Island and ate dinner at Lucy’s, a fun restaurant that caters to the American adoption community. We had some great food and conversation with another American (and military, too) family at the table next to us. Then, we did some more shopping and Caleb had fun talking with the shopkeeper and playing with toys. It was really cold and windy out today, so we kept our outdoor shopping to the minimum. We can't wait to get her home and to see our family. Three more days 'til Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Video - Park Slide

Here's a video of Caleb and Lydia (and eventually mommy) sliding for the first time at a park on Shamian Island on Saturday.

Squeaky Shoes!

We bought Lydia squeaky shoes yesterday and so now when she is walking, we have a squeaker going with us everywhere. It is so funny and she seems to love walking now. Of course, we won’t let her wear those shoes to church.
We met our group this morning at the White Swan, the hotel where most of the adoptive families stay, and took a group photo of parents and kids on this infamous red couch. Of course, not all kids are interested in sitting on a couch and getting their photo taken so it was a bit of a challenge. Lydia did great and didn’t cry or run away like some did. Today we went on a tour to an art museum and to a temple in town. The kids did well with it and we enjoyed the tour guide since we had seen those places two years ago, but didn’t get all the info last time about the places. It is amazing to hear about all the ways they built things to try to help them have fewer evil spirits and better “luck.” If you have to walk over the threshold of the building, the ghosts or spirits will have to jump over the same threshold making it more difficult for them to get in. This afternoon while Lydia was taking her nap, I went shopping with the grandmother of one of the kids and our guide. She was looking for fabric to make some clothes for her grandchildren. We had fun and I even got some fabric, so I guess I will be sewing again, too. I also needed some more short sleeve shirts since it has been warm and I found nice polo shirts for under $4 each.
This evening George and I took the kids to one of our favorite restaurants near the hotel, The Guangzhou Restaurant that has been around for over 70 years. It seems like I never have two things that are the same when I have Chinese. I have had so many dishes this time that I have never had before, just like our first trip. And, I really have liked all of it. Caleb enjoyed the shrimp we had tonight. Lydia eats almost anything I give her, but she is not fond of pineapple. It is fun watching her eat noodles and slurping them in to her mouth gradually. She is also sleeping much better now and had not night terrors last night. She is talking and singing all the time now, so cute. I just wish I knew what she is saying.
In case any of you are wondering, Lydia has incredible fine motor skills. She has just three fingers on her right arm and one on her left. But, she loves to manipulate small items and is very precise. And, so far we have had zero potty accidents, even at night. She has been a little hesitant with George and he gets frustrated sometimes when she pushes his hand away or wipes off his kisses. I told him she is just playing hard to get. But, tonight when he left to go get his hair cut, she was looking all over the hotel room for Baba/Daddy. So cute! I can’t wait to tell him when he comes back.
We were glad to talk with the kids back home today and hear that my parents are now with the kids and they will now be eating well thanks to Grandma’s good cooking. We cannot wait to get finished here and get back to the family. Please pray that the flight we hope to travel on from LA to Houston on Christmas Eve actually has open seats for us. Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Move to Guangzhou

Sorry I didn’t get to blog yesterday. We packed our bags in the morning and then flew to Guangzhou in the afternoon. By the time we got checked into our hotel, it was dark and we were very hungry. It was great to get back to the hotel we stayed at when we adopted Caleb (2 years ago). We were here for over two weeks so we spent a lot of time here. Lydia did great with the flight and seemed to actually enjoy it for the most part. She is very quiet and easy going unless she is tired or hungry or in a scary situation (ie. doctor exam). She spends a lot of time in the sling and I have enjoyed that. But sometimes, we both are sweaty when we get her out of it. Last night on the bus to the hotel, she slept and was a sweaty mess when we got her out. Anyway, after checking into the Holiday Inn Shifu we set out for a walk to check out our old places to walk and shop. We ended up with Pizza Hut and enjoyed a nice dinner there. When we got back and got baths for the kids, I was ready to crash. In fact I think I fell asleep before they did. Our first few nights with Lydia, she slept through the night quite well. But the last couple nights she has had some “night terrors” or something. She was not up as many times last night so hopefully this will ease up and get better every night. Today we met the rest of our group on the island where the others are staying. We had the kid’s photos taken for their visas and had their medical exams done for the visas. Lydia was not too happy about that part and cried quite a bit. All of our paperwork is now ready for the US consulate appt. on Monday and we have the next few days to just enjoy the area here and do some power shopping. It is not too easy shopping with two toddlers, so I doubt I will get into too much trouble. (George is happy about that!) We saw our guide from Caleb’s adoption at the medical clinic and it was good to see him. We will try to get together some time for dinner with him.
Lydia is having so much fun playing with Caleb right now. She squeals with laughter and is just too adorable. I think it is safe to say she has all of us totally in love with her. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Smiles Today

Well, today we went to an Embroidery Factory and watched the women work on their projects. Some of the works will take 6-12 months to create. We purchased one for our home and hope to get it back in one piece. We also visited an ancient university here in Changsha that has been around for 1000 years. We are standing in front of the Longevity character in this photo. You can see we finally caught Lydia smiling in a photo today. She is smiling and laughing a lot more now, but she also has her serious face times, especially when we are out of the hotel room. She loves to play with Daddy, but also teases him with not letting him hold her hand or feed her at times. I told him she is playing "hard to get." But, she knows she all ready has him wrapped around her finger. Tonight she had a hard time falling to sleep and was seemingly just wanting to stay close to Mom and make sure she wasn't going anywhere. Caleb and Mom went swimming today in the hotel pool while George and Lydia napped.
We also had a wonderful dinner tonight in a restaurant near our hotel with some awesome food. We cooked our food in front of us in boiling broth, sort of like fondue and the food was very good, including bunches of exotic looking mushrooms, bundled with thin strips of beef, and rice noodles and pork sliced very thin. We had a number of other delicious dishes, too and Caleb enjoyed the fried rice, sweet and sour pork and the watermelon.
We continue to focus on getting to know Lydia and trying to help her understand that we are not going away but will be hers forever. It is late and time to turn in for the night. We appreciate your prayers and comments. We enjoy hearing by email or comments from all of you, and look forward to being home with our family in less than a week.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday at "Martyr" Park

On Wednesday, we had no official adoption things to do, so we headed to the park for a walk and a few rides for the boys. Of course, there were fish to feed, too. We then went to have a wonderful Chinese lunch with a number of dishes that I had never had and all were delicious. While we are out and about Lydia looks a little serious and just seems to be taking it all in, watching everything around her. She feels like she is relaxed especially when in the sling on Mom. But, when we are in our room, she runs around playing and talking and laughing quite a bit with Caleb and Daddy. Today I will have to get photos of her sliding on a slide in the play room on our floor because she really enjoyed that yesterday afternoon. She and Caleb are learning to interact and she doesn't let Caleb push her around or take her toys she is playing with. She let me trim her fingernails with no hesitance yesterday and she seems to be very relaxed now when I change her clothes or help her with the potty. She didn't eat as much yesterday but did take her bottles quite well. I think she had eaten so much the first day and might not have been terribly hungry yesterday.

While we were at the park vendors selling toys for children kept coming up to Caleb and putting the item in his hand, then wanting us to pay for them. I was really proud of Caleb when he was asked to give the item back he did so without a fuss. But, we knew he really wanted to come home with something. So, one of the more intriguing items that was being sold is this small clear bag attached to a key chain loop with a small fish swimming in a small amount of colored water. I warned him that the fish might not live very long, but we decided this souvenir was better than a noisemaker toy. So far the fish is still swimming even after being dropped a few times. So, on Thursday we are supposed to be going to a couple of tourist sites including an embroidery factory shop. So, I am looking forward to doing some shopping today. We wish we could come home tomorrow, but since we cannot, I figure I should just enjoy this vacation from house work and cooking as much as possible and just enjoy the time with my husband and Caleb and Lydia. Still praying for those at home and anxious to see you all very soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It is Official!

Today we went back to the Civil Affairs Office to make her adoption final in the eyes of China. In one photo you can see Lydia getting her foot print done on the paperwork. We answered a few questions and also had our thumbprints taken. Lydia had a few moments of fear today especially as we reentered the building where we received her yesterday. But, she seemed ok with meeting the worker from her orphanage that you see in one photo. She no longer wanted to go with her like yesterday. As we drove away on Monday with Lydia crying in fear I prayed that God would somehow help Lydia to know how much we loved her. At the same moment I wondered how God must feel when He loves us so very much and yet we don't trust Him or His love for us that is so very perfect and complete. Even though our love for Lydia is far from perfect, we love her very much all ready and were awed today when she started to begin to trust our love a little bit and began to smile and laugh so much more. She has a delightful voice and laugh and her smile will melt you away. She is eating great and sleeping well and so far has kept her panties dry! She was so excited when I put her pretty swim suit and coverup on to head to the pool this afternoon, but she did not think the pool was such a good idea, so we never made it past the first step. So, we obviously have some trust to gain still. But, Caleb enjoyed the water and she watched him closely as he jumped in and splashed around. In our conversations with the orphanage worker, it was made clear that she has been a favorite at the orphanage and that they are so happy that she has found a family. We promised to send updated photos and I showed them a photo of her big brother Yuri swimming in a swim meet and told them she would not be limited by her differences much at all in her life.
We spent some time playing in the hotel play room and she has great use of her fingers and hands making tall block towers and using duplo like toys to make very tall towers of linking blocks with no assistance. After finishing dinner tonight, she enjoyed tearing small pieces of her napkin apart and crumbling it up and blowing them off the table towards me with a huge grin on her face. We are just so awed by her life and the fact that we have been joined together in this wonderful mystery called adoption once again. We miss terribly our other kids back home and are so excited for our home coming on Christmas Eve! Thanks for your prayers for our family.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We have Lydia!

We met Lydia around 1030 this morning (Monday, Dec 15th in Changsha, Hunan) and she is beautiful! We had a longer time to get to know each other in the office before leaving, but it was still very traumatic for her when we left the orphanage worker and headed back to the hotel. The other family adopting with us have a little three-year old girl and they were both crying together in the van on the way back to the hotel. I feel sorry for the van driver. :-) We have spent the last few hours in our hotel room trying to get to know each other. She does love cheerios and took half of a bottle of milk from me. She seems to be very interested in what Caleb does and he is always trying hard to get her to laugh...with eventual success! We have seen her smile a few times and she has an awesome smile. She really likes the doll we brought her and has been holding on to it a lot. I am trying to get her to take a nap right now, but I am not sure it is working. We found out she was in foster care for about a year, but when they found out we were adopting her, they moved her back to the orphanage. So, she has had a number of changes in her short life. She was also involved in a preschool program at the orphanage sponsored by "Love without Boundaries". Caleb seems very happy with his new sister and George and I feel so incredibly blessed! Please pray for her and the challenges she now faces with her life changing in all ways. It seems that she had a very close relationship with at least one of the nannies. So she is going to have a lot to grieve.

More later,
Mary Ann (and George)

We're Here!

We arrived safe and sound in Changsha, China and will meet Lydia Monday morning (Sunday evening your time). Pray we can all recover a bit from a long trip before we meet her. We will try to post asap after we have her and include some photos.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bags Are Packed!

As I finish packing the final things in the suitcase and struggle with leaving my five teenagers behind, I also think about a little 2 year old girl in China who has no real idea how her life is about to be changed. Everything she has ever known and all that is familiar she will be leaving behind. We have chosen her and she has been in our hearts and minds for nine months now. A photo of her has been in my wallet and on the refrigerator for nine months. And, if we are lucky someone has shown her the little photo album that we sent to her in a package a few months ago. How long will it take her to understand that we love her and that she is going to be with us forever. Will she be terrified of us or will her new 4 year old brother help her to warm up to us faster? Will she struggle with her adoption when she is a teenager and struggling to just figure out her identity or will her adoption help her to understand her adoption as a child of God, something even more confusing and mysterious. I cannot explain how very much I love this child that I have only seen in photos. But, I can tell you that it is only because of the love God has given me. I am blessed and privileged to participate in this journey of adoption once again. I am sure there are challenging days ahead where I will be sleep deprived and exhausted by the needs of my family. But, I will go to bed thankful that God has given me the opportunity to love one more child and call her my daughter. I have been overwhelmed by the love and support that I have felt in the past few weeks as we prepared for travel. Thank you so much to all of you who are praying for us and helping out with the kids left behind.
We will leave our home tomorrow afternoon and arrive in China about 36 hours later, on Sunday afternoon. We will meet our new daughter on Monday morning, so our next post will probably not be until Monday. Christmas Blessings!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

We're coming, Lydia!

On December 3rd, we got a call from our agency that we have our TA (travel approval)! On December 4th, we found out that we miraculously got our CA (US consulate appointment) for the 22nd of December, so we will be leaving home on December 12th, receiving our new daughter on December 15th and returning to the US on December 24th. It has been amazing to see this fall into place just when we had given up all hope of getting her home before Christmas. God has provided in amazing ways and we are so excited to meet the newest member of our family. Please keep us in your prayers as we make this journey and remember also the family staying behind in Texas and Colorado.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We are adding one more Day to our family!

This past week our dossier for the adoption of ZhiYa was mailed to China. We hope to travel sometime in the fall to bring home our little girl. ZhiYa will be named Lydia Renee ZhiYa Day when we adopt her. She turned two years old recently on June 12, 2006. We are so excited to bring home our little girl and make her a part of our family. God is good!