Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gotcha Day - story

Wow what a couple of days! I am again typing on my IPhone email, so excuse any typos and if I don't go into great detail...

Yesterday was Gotcha Day for us and Eden and the rest of the families here with us- I woke up with butterflies in my tummy because you never quite know to expect- logistically (will she already be at the place we are meeting her or we will arrive and wait on her?) or emotionally (how will she react, how will we react?) and you realize your life is about to change forever....it's a whole lot to take in, and of course we know that since we have done this three other times...but still, all the nerves and racing thoughts are there every-time!!

We met Eden in a very large and nice government building on the 20 something floor. She was already there, along with her nannies/orphanage workers. She initially walked right over to us (as you can see from the video on Facebook) and seemed like she was going to be calm- but as time went on the tears started flowing big time. She didn't hit or kick or spit like Emmie did, but she didn't want to be with us and was just grieving so hard- crying and crying. You could tell she was trying to be brave as her nanny would point to us and tell her that we were her mama and baba, but it was just too much for her. Even through the tears she let us embrace her, which we felt was a huge step in the right direction. I just held her and patted her back gently trying to console her. The paperwork that had to be completed took a while, and I just remember thinking "could we please leave?"And of course the orphanage workers mean well, but they stayed the entire time which certainly didn't make things any better.

She had calmed down somewhat when we got in the van and she sat in my lap- the traffic was horrible and it took us almost an hour to make it back to the hotel- Eden fell asleep which was both good and bad- good because I knew she was emotionally exhausted. Bad because I knew she would be so disoriented when she woke up in a hotel room. Well, all "you know what" broke loose when she woke up- loud and violent screaming and banging the floor, etc. She ran to the window, the door, wherever she could to escape. It was very reminiscent to how Emmie reacted. We decided to not leave our hotel room with Emmie so this time around we thought we might try something different and venture out, as the one thing she wanted was to leave that room, and the other couples were going to dinner with their babies, so we thought we would try to also....that lasted until we sat down in the restaurant and they asked us to leave or at least go somewhere else because of Eden's crying :) So we left and ordered room service.

Eden refused to eat or drink and I was getting a little concerned as I knew a hungry and weak child would only add to the difficulty of the grief she was experiencing. We decided to turn on the tv and see if a familiar cartoon would help soothe her, as nothing else seemed to be helping. She refused to play, eat, drink, or anything else. Believe it or not, that did help to calm her, and after Zack and I finished eating, he went on a quick Wal-Mart run with the other dads, thinking maybe some familiar formula she had been used to drinking might do the trick. I got her ready for bed ( which I was very nervous about and totally unsure how it would go) and went through the same routine we go through at home- brush teeth, story time, prayers....amazingly she let me hold her in my lap and read to her- she held her two favorite animals the entire time :) Then I just laid her down with her animals and blanket we brought, laid down beside her, and off to sleep she went....for the entire night!

You have no idea how thankful we are for that because we were exhausted in every way. I have to say, there is nothing quite like being in another country where hardly anything is familiar and meeting your child who is also unfamiliar in basically every way. I think you experience about every emotion possible all in one day, and I can only imagine what her little heart and mind and must have been feeling. It is a helpless feeling to watch your child grieve and to not be able to comfort them. It is just draining.

We have no doubt that what gets us through are the prayers of God's people and the Holy Spirit living in us and giving us strength and grace. You will never know how much your prayers have meant and how seeing those comments on Facebook encourage us. Please keep them coming!

I would love to talk about our day today, as we have seen some awesome progress with Eden, thanks be to God, but I am just spent and ready for bed :) So I will try and work on that in the morning. Goodnight and keep praying!!

Sent from my iPhone

Gotcha Day

Sunday, May 22, 2016


video video

Hoping this will work- I am having trouble accessing my blog from China-

Anyway, this is the start of our 4th full day in China- we arrived around 9pm Thursday night in Hong Kong, found a shuttle to our hotel and had no trouble going to sleep after around 30 hours of traveling :)

We awoke to a very windy and rainy Hong Kong morning, but were excited to explore the city nonetheless. After grabbing a quick bite of breakfast at McDonalds, we took a high speed train into the center of the city. Our goal (one of them) was to visit Victoria Peak, a beautiful lookout spot which provides beautiful views of the city.

When we arrived to the central terminal, the directions were fairly clear as to how to get there- we hopped on a double decker bus and that was it!

The bus ride in itself was quite an adventure. We sat on the top in the front row, and had an awesome panoramic view of the city. It was about a 30 minute twist turvy ride up the mountain- one that was exciting and a little scary as there was nothing separating us and our bus falling down the mountain except the skill of the driver- no wall, no fence- nothing! Once at the top we walked around a Shopping mall and went out on the observation deck. The view, though cloudy and foggy, was still amazing! We rode a tram down the mountain which was wasn't nearly as scary....

We "landed" near a beautiful botanical garden and were able to explore it for about 15 minutes before the heavy rains came- we found shelter under a gazebo and waited out the rain, then we went to find a place to eat lunch. It was tough to pick a spot because there were so many choices, but we found a little pub with an interesting menu and it was pretty good (we knew we would have plenty of opportunities for Chinese food the remainder of our trip, so we opted for more Western food this time).

After lunch we explored the waterfront portion of the city, and took a ferry ride to a small island. It was very quaint and had a small beach. From there we took our bus back to our hotel, got cleaned up (we were a mess from all the rain) and had dinner at the mall attached to our hotel.

Hong Kong is a magnificent city, clean, beautiful and very international. There is so much to do there and it is all very accessible- we would love to come back sometime for a visit as one day doesn't begin to give you enough time to explore! We were very impressed with the time we did have, however :)

We flew to Eden's city, Guiyang, Saturday morning. It was a two hour flight from Hong Kong. This was our 4th flight of the trip- so we are halfway through our flights- we have 4 more to go before making it home (but honestly, I am done with flying already) :)

The topography here is very mountainous. The temperature is pleasant, around 70, and so far it has been very cloudy with rain off and on. The city is the Capitol of the Guizhou province, and there are about 5 million people in this city. Despite the large number of people, it is not an extremely international city- before our other travel group members arrived, we were the only Americans/non-Asian people we saw and no one speaks English :) Zack and I explored a little on our own Saturday and it was quite interesting- parts of the city seem very poor, and parts seem thriving. They are in the process of building a subway here, so lots of construction. We are dinner at a beautiful restaurant but no one spoke English so ordering was a challenge :) we pointed at pictures but really didn't know what we were pointing at! We ended up with some very, very spicy food and bony chicken! We made the best of it....but weren't able to clean our plates :)

Yesterday the rest of our group arrived which was wonderful! They are super sweet couples and we are very thankful to be sharing this experience with them.

Yesterday we had lunch and dinner with them (our guide also came to lunch so that helped with ordering) the went to Walmart (will have to post more about that later- what an experience) and had a good time getting to know one another. It instantly made things better having them here.

Today is the big day! This afternoon at around 2:30 (so while everyone in the USA is sleeping) we will meet Eden. I have decided that no matter how many times you do this, the nerves, excitement, fear, and the sheer unknown are still the same. We have no idea what her reaction will be to us, though we feel like we have been prepared for the worst thanks to Emmie's reaction to us three years ago- and I mean that in a good way :) If it goes smoother than that, it will be a pleasant surprise :)

I am so excited just to meet her- to see her sweet face in person, to watch her expressions, to see what makes her smile, laugh, etc, and to probably learn what makes her cry as well :) We have our room all ready with her toys, stuffed animals, and her backpack is packed with goodies that will hopefully assist in making our first meeting as smooth as possible (i.e. candy, treats, toys :) The other children being adopted by the families with us are right around 2, so they are all close in age and I feel this will be a fun and helpful thing for all the girls (yes, they are all girls)!

We know countless people have been praying for us since the moment we left Charleston, and we can't thank you enough for all of those prayers. They bring us great comfort in a foreign land, and especially on such a life changing day as today will be! No matter what happens these next few days we pray God will receive the glory and that our story will point to Him.

I would love to type more but as I am doing this on my IPhone, this is all I can take!

Our specific prayer requests are of course for Eden, and for her little heart to understand that we love her and are here to be her mom and dad forever, that she won't be afraid of us and that she will be able to feel safe with us, rest with us, and enjoy her time with us. Please also pray for the other two precious families and their babies. Please also pray for good health while we are away- we had an early scare with Zack and some respiratory issues on Saturday but thankfully we used the medicine my mother in law sent and God seems to have healed him! I have been fine other than some dizziness that I attribute to being older and not being able to handle all this traveling and time changes and new smells and tastes :)

A huge thanks to my inlaws and parents for taking such wonderful care of our kiddos. Though we miss them terribly we have the assurance of knowing they are in such good hands :)

That's all for now- the next time we update we will have Eden!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, April 11, 2016

Room at the Table For One More?

Whoa.....it's been over one year since the last blog post....that is evidence of the whirlwind that the last year has been! Here are a few photos from our last year in Charleston:

The highlights included a wonderful visit from friends back home, visits to the beach, Disney World, all three kids entering school FULL TIME, becoming Awana Commanders at our church, a new job for me, and filling a seat at our table, which is the most exciting news (in my opinion :)

We are currently wrapping up the last 9 weeks of school. The kids are doing great, and seem to have really settled in pretty well this year. They are growing faster than I would like, and I am truly reminded that each day as their mother is one that I shouldn't take for granted. This year has been a sort of "trial by fire" for me, as I began working as a 9th grade guidance counselor last August. I never, ever, ever, could have imagined learning all that I have learned in such a short amount of time. I am extremely grateful for the experience, for the friends I have made, the students I have met, and hopefully the difference I have made in a few lives of students. Zack's job is going well, and he also have been given some wonderful opportunities to expand his skills and knowledge. We have much to be thankful for. 

Now, back to filling the empty spot at the table. Just before moving to Charleston (going on two years now!) we bought a table and chairs from close friends. I had always loved this table. We spent many hours having dinner and playing cards on this table back in Kentucky. I was so thrilled when Julie told me they were going to sell it....I knew I wanted to buy it! Just for fun, here is a picture of the table...

When we moved the table into our new home, it fit perfectly, and even matched the color of our cabinets. At every meal, 5 of the 6 big, strong chairs are always filled with our family....it's kind of nice because there is room to spread out the kiddos if one is determined they can't sit by another....you know how that goes. But, as useful as it may be, there is always one empty chair.

 A little over a year ago, I started pondering what it would be like if that last empty chair was filled. Emmie had also been asking Zack and I about having a sister every now and then.  She recognized that the boys had each other, and though they do a great job of including her, they are getting older and like to do things on their own, without any girls around. Emmie desired a companion other than me, someone to share her dolls with, to play dress up with, all that fun girl stuff.  We agreed with her- the boys have each other, and they have someone to share their cultural heritage, and all that entails. We knew it would be a wonderful thing for Emmie to have a sister to share her cultural heritage with as well.

On the other hand.... we certainly already had a full life and a full family. Our kids keep us plenty busy, laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes crazy, but always feeling blessed. We don't have many free nights or much free time. There is plenty of laundry, dirty dishes, and messy rooms to go around.  Why in the world would we think that last chair needed to be filled? 

After much praying and lots of late night conversation, here is the answer we came up with: We have room at our table, we have room in our hearts, we have room in our home, and most importantly, we serve a mighty God. Do we have it all together?  No. Does it scare the pants off me to think about taking four kids to the grocery...yes!  Are we a sometimes crazy and dysfunctional family?...yes! But what defines our family isn't the craziness, the mistakes, the fear of the unknown, or the imperfections.  It is the grace and mercy that we rely on every day from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is only through his strength that we are able to even fathom being a family of 6! But with Christ as the head of our family, we know that there is room at our table. 

So, it is with much thankfulness and joy that we introduce to you our new daughter, 

Eden Elizabeth Caldwell 

We received a call to review her file in early March, and we were officially approved by China to adopt her a few weeks later. She will be 3 years old in September. She lives in Guiyang City, which is in the province of Guizhou. Our agency has told us we could travel in late May or early June to bring her home! Our entire family is excited to meet sweet Eden. She seems to have such a quiet and calm spirit. We are praying for God to prepare our hearts, as well as hers, for the big changes we all have in store! 

Please pray with us that Eden will know the love that we have for her already! Pray for her little heart as she will soon be leaving the only life she has ever known. Emmie had a strong grief response when we met her, so we feel prepared and know that God will meet our every need if Eden has the same response. We feel so thankful for the opportunity to be the family God has chosen for her. 

The next few weeks will be very exciting and a little anxious for our family as we anticipate our travel and Eden's arrival. We wait with great anticipation for all God has in store for #4!