Wednesday, June 26, 2013

 Today is our final day in Guangzhou. Tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:30am we will leave our hotel for the airport. We will fly to Beijing, and then in the afternoon we will depart from Beijing and fly to Detroit, then finally home to Lexington!
Yesterday we had an interesting time. We went to a 7 story building called One Link Plaza. The best way to describe it would be to say it is like a Vendor's Mall, only seven stories and about three times the size on each floor! It was overwhelming! We were able to find some nice souvenirs and some gifts. Emmie was a trooper, especially considering we took the subway to get there. It took a few minutes for us to figure it out, but once we did it was a great way to travel. Very cheap, clean and fast. Last night we ate dinner in our hotel with two other couples in our travel group. One of the couples left today for America. The other couple leaves Friday.
Today was probably one of the best days we have had in Guangzhou. Our family was completely on our own today. We slept in, then ate a great breakfast in our hotel- the last one! Emmie had her usual- watermelon, french toast, ham and corn.....she likes to eat! 
After breakfast, we decided to venture to the Guangzhou City Zoo. Our guide told us the zoo was very cheap- only about $2-3 per person. She was right! We again took the subway to the zoo and arrived about 11am. It was a hot one today- the Weather Channel said it felt like 104 degrees! I would totally agree! Thankfully the zoo was mostly shaded by trees, but I still lost a lot of sweat! We saw lots of animals and the zoo was very beautiful- pictures are attached. Emmie's favorite animals were the bears and swans. She did very well at the zoo- only a couple of grumpy moments when she didn't want to walk the way we were walking and we had to pick her up- she didn't like that! We stayed at the zoo until after lunch and then rode the subway back- it was a little crazier this time- more people. We ate across from our hotel at The Coffee Club and Emmie had one of her favorites- french fries and ketchup!
We took a break for most of the afternoon, then went on one last great adventure.  We had heard from fellow travel members that there was a Mexican restaurant not too far away from our hotel. We were determined to find it, as Mexican food is our favorite! Zack got out the subway map, and he was sure we could get there via the subway. We wondered if we were crazy- we would be trying to find the restaurant right at rush hour. But we thought, why not, and set out on our great adventure. The second we entered the subway we knew that it was definitely rush hour- it was packed! Hundreds of people everywhere! I felt stressed instantly as Emmie is very independent and usually insists on walking on her own. She didn't have a choice this time- crying or screaming, she was going to be held! We did let her down when we had to use an escalator (which she loves) and she did great. I looked at Zack and basically asked him if he ever thought this would be possible a week ago.....when we couldn't even leave our hotel room??!!!! And now we are standing in a subway car packed in like sardines with hundreds of Chinese people and Emmie is happy as she can be, holding my hand!! It is truly a supernatural work of God. He has moved in Emmie's heart and healing has begun! He has removed the fear and sadness from her heart and has made way for love to begin to grow inside her for her mama and baba!! We are so humbled and blown away by God's grace and faithfulness to our family, and by the prayers of so many of our friends and family.  Yes, we have a long way to go, but we never thought we would be this far along by the time we left China.
So, to finish our Mexican adventure. We did make it to the right stop, but once we got there, we weren't really sure where to go. We knew a general vicinity by looking at the map, but no details. We had gotten off in a very nice part of town, by another huge hotel where we knew other American adoptive families were staying. This area of Guangzhou was very quaint- tree covered streets, lots of little shops, Starbucks, very modern. We walked about a block and stopped and asked if anyone knew of the restaurant, but had no luck. We walked another block- no luck. We were starting to get a little discouraged- we had walked a lot today, we were tired and sweaty and smelly :) Emmie was hanging in there, and was thankfully riding in a stroller. We gave it one last chance and asked a police officer- he didn't know either, but went inside a salon and asked the workers. They didn't know either, but there was a Mexican man inside who knew the restaurant and overheard us!! He pointed us in the right direction, and we found the restaurant, named Tekila :) We had fajitas, chips and salsa. It felt like home! The taste was different but good. They don't serve rice and beans with the fajitas, oh, and they don't refill your chips and salsa :) Emmie didn't care too much for the salsa, but she loved the fajitas and especially the guacamole. She will fit right in with our family! It was a great celebration dinner. Pictures are attached.
It was getting dark by the time we finished eating, and we were hoping the subway wouldn't be too packed.
Thankfully, it wasn't, and we had a nice ride back to our motel.  After a bubble bath and story time, Emmie is now asleep and we are finishing packing. 5:30 will come early!
I can't believe I am saying this, but it is hard to believe it is already time to leave China. Our first week here was so difficult, it seemed like it would never be time to leave. We missed the boys and our parents terribly and just wanted to come home. However, our time in Guangzhou has been much more fun and a great time of bonding with Emmie.  Our hotel has been amazing. The site seeing has been super. The food is pretty good, too. But we are ready to go home. We are so excited for Emmie to get to meet the rest of her new family, see her home and her room, and realize that she is HOME FOREVER. I am reminded of some of the lyrics to "When Love Takes You In" by Steven Curtis Chapman. For Emmie, "in a moment what has been is lost in what will be". Her "what will be" isn't far away now. Perhaps more than with any other adoption our family has experienced, we have truly seen in a tangible way the redemptive work of God through the miracle of adoption. It's not that our boys lives were changed any less, or that our lives were changed any less with their adoptions- they are miracles and our lives would not be complete without them, no doubt about it.  But with Emmie we have seen the most sad, angry ( I mean kicking, hitting, screaming, pinching angry) and broken little girl become a happy, strong, fun loving,
and smiling bundle of joy. It is just a beautiful reminder not only of the redemptive power of physical adoption, but even more so of the mind boggling gift of spiritual adoption, and the amazing way that God takes all of our brokenness and redeems us from a life of death, into his eternal family. Praise be to God.
This post also woudln't be complete without us saying a huge THANK YOU from the very bottom of our hearts to my parents, and to Zack's parents. We could not have made this trip without them. They have done a wonderful job taking care of our precious boys- and it isn't an easy job! How blessed we are to have not had to worry about their wellbeing, even for a moment. And to have such amazing support throughout our trip through talking with them on the phone via Viber, or the computer via Skype. We couldn't ask for more wonderful parents. We love you guys!
Well, that wraps it up. This will be all from China. We would do it all again- the long plane rides, eating food that you really aren't sure what it is composed of, visiting Chinese hospitals and getting IV's, being asked to have your picture taken (yes, apparently tall, pale, white women with blonde permed hair is very special in China :) being confined to a motel room for three days with a precious child that rejects everything you try to offer her, heat indexes of over 100 degrees and all the rest. We would do it all again in a heartbeat. No questions asked. It has been an amazing adventure and we are so blessed to have had it. Even more blessed to be bringing home this good and perfect gift from above!!
See you in the USA!!!! Keep those traveling prayers coming!!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

 The last couple days in Guangzhou have consisted of more sightseeing and shopping and have been nice, but WE ARE READY TO COME HOME!!! Yesterday we visited the new city square of Guangzhou. It is truly remarkable with impressive buildings and gorgeous landscapes. This city rivals New York City in size and archetecture, and I dare say that is more beautiful and unique.  Unfortunately it was so hot and humid (around 95 degrees and full humidity) that is was tough to enjoy. Emmie had a small meltdown, but honestly, I couldn't blame her....I was almost ready to meltdown too! She was fine after about ten minutes on the bus. Our next stop was an art and history museum. Again, it was lovely and very interesting, but the heat was just too much. Thankfully there were some shady spots where we could sit and relax. Our guide told us that June isn't even the hottest month- July and August are much worse! Thank God we won't be here then, and may God have mercy on any families that will be traveling then! We enjoyed a nice meal at a western style restaurant nearby our hotel. We ate dinner with another family in our travel group and met another family from North Carolina. Emmie did wonderful again in the restaurant. She is so well behaved! We enjoyed interacting with Emmie yesterday through just playing around in the room, tickling each other on our bed, and playing superman- she really loves that! She is getting more and more comfortable with us, and allowing us to show her affection and care. She will give us kisses and allow us to hug her- most of the time. She is still fiercely independent and at times appears to want nothing to do with us, but even then, we can usually get a smile.
Today we went shopping at Shaman Island for the first half of the day. This island is constructed to appear as a European town and the shops and other structures share this type of architecture. It really is a beautiful place. We found some nice souvenirs here and the weather was much nicer- cloudy/rainy and only around 90 degrees- it felt like heaven! Emmie enjoyed the shopping and she got some new squeaky shoes which she loves to run and skip in. We had a great morning on the island. We ate lunch in our room then visited a nearby park. It was beautiful and felt like we were walking around in Florida with all the palm trees and the nice breeze! For the first time since we have met her, Emmie reached up for me to carry her! Of course I picked her up as quickly as I could!! I carried her for as long as I could, then offered her to Zack, but she isn't quite ready for that yet. She really has made tremendous progress these last few days. We also played a fun game where we swung Emmie down the steps on the way to the park. Now everytime she sees steps, she expects us to do this :) It was great to see her smile as she held our hands.
This evening we went on a dinner cruise on the pearl river. The food was so-so, but once it got dark, the views were spectacular! The city of Guangzhou lights up like Las Vegas at nighttime and is quite a sight to behold. We went on the top floor of the boat, and the views were phenomenal! Emmie loved watching our boat and other boats move through the water. They also began playing fun music and had a short show for the kids. After the show, our very sweet guide began speaking to Emmie and playing with her. I knew what was coming. I could see it in her eyes. She began withdrawing from us and interacting only with the guide. This guide was a different guide that the one we had in Nanning, so she did not know the experience we had there with Emmie and her attachment to our previous guide. Sure enough, after the guide had finished talking and playing with her, Emmie didn't want very much to do with us at all. It is heartbreaking for us, but we do understand. She began to cry and would not allow me to pick her up. Thankfully she did let me hold her hand and we made it back to our van okay. She calmed down shortly after, and everything was normal again. We explained to our guide the situation so from now on she will be aware. It just makes us even more sure that the best thing for Emmie will be for us to go home! I can only imagine what she must be thinking- every morning we wake up, go eat breakfast with lots of other Chinese people and white people with Chinese kids at a huge buffet in our hotel, then we get on a big bus with other white people and Chinese kids and go to random places. Then we eat lunch. Then we play, etc. I keep trying to show her pictures of home and reassure her we are going there, but I am sure it is difficult to understand. Please just keep praying for her!!
Attached are some pictures of sights we have seen the last couple of days, and of course, sweet Emmie. You will notice that some of the same buildings are in the pictures during the day and night...pretty cool!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yesterday in Nanning we visited the clinic where all adopted children must undergo a "medical exam" as part of the adoption process. The clinic was very nice and new, and the staff were all very kind. The exam for Emmie consisted of four parts- a general exam where they look at the information contained in her medical referral and then examine her based on this info, an ear, nose and throat examination, a height, weight, and head circumference measurement, and finally blood work (this was the worst as they do not allow parents to go back for this). Emmie did amazingly great through it all, especially considering the fact that the clinic was very full of children and parents. She willingly went into each exam room and fully participated with each doctor and nurse. Of course she came out crying after the blood work, but she did allow us to console her and wanted to show us her "boo boo".  The doctor that reviewed her medical referral said that Emmie's current state is much better than described in her medical referral. Of course we already knew this, but it was good to hear from a doctor. For whatever reason, Emmie's medical referral stated that there was issues with her arms and hips, none of which exist. There are pictures of Emmie in the lobby of the clinic with her new friends that are part of our travel group.
We later went to a very nice grocery store to stock up on some basic supplies like water, snacks, and diapers. The grocery store was in a large mall with expensive brand name clothing, purses, make up, and electronics. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring our hotel, which is huge! There are about six or seven restaurants in the hotel, a Starbucks, a spa, a hair/nail salon, multiple clothing and jewelry stores, an outdoor pool on the fourth floor that overlooks the city, an indoor and outdoor childrens play area, and many more amenities. We are on the 15th floor if that tells you anything. The rooms are beautiful. I have attached some pictures so you can get an idea. It is probably the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in.
Yesterday evening we shared a group meal in our hotel at a Japanese restaurant. It was very good and Emmie was very patient as we waited for our food. We were the last family to be served and she kept handing me her bowl and spoon asking for food :) Once our food did arrive she tried almost everything I put in her bowl. She is a very good eater. I included pictures of this adventure as well :)
Overall, Emmie is doing great. We know we still have a ways to go, as she still does not want us to hold her very often, or to sit in our lap. She does allow us to hold her hand from time to time, and she is running to us instead of strangers. Overall, she is a very independent little girl. She is very obedient to Zack and I, and very well behaved in public places like restaurants. She has lots of energy and skips and runs through the hotel joyfully. We have noticed that because of her limb difference she trips and falls more often that most children her age, but she doesn't let that slow her down or stop her from doing anything she wants to do!
More from Guangzhou tomorrow!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

 We have made it to Guangzhou! We arrived at our hotel (which is amazing...more on it during the next post) about ten last night. This is the last place we will visit in China. Here is where we will have Emmie's medical appointment and Consulate appointment.
Emmie continued to improve each day we were in Nanning, with a minor setback Thursday morning- Zack and I both had to take some time in the bathroom and cry with each other. It was a very hard morning, as it seemed as though she had reverted back to how she felt and reacted when she first met us. However, we were able to speak with her former orphanage director, and she gave us some great advice and insight. We decided to push on and be caring, but also show Emmie that we must continue to live our lives. So we went for a walk in the park anyway, and it went okay. That afternoon, she began to allow us to interact with her again, and we ended up having a great day. We of course were worried about how Friday would go, as we would be going to the airport, which meant immersing ourselves in Chinese people. Up to this point, this is what had sent Emmie into meltdowns- we think it is because with each interaction with a Chinese person she is reminded of her old life, and we totally understand this. All we could do is pray, pray, pray!
Friday morning started out MUCH better. We went to breakfast in the hotel restaurant (only the second time during our entire stay in Nanning) and she did fine. We went to the park again, and she also did fine. We were hopeful! When it came time to go to the airport, she did great! She seemed even excited! When she saw our guide (which had previously made her cry and run to our guide), it was like she was saying, "no big deal"! She was happy all the way to the airport, did fine in the airport, and made it through a long wait to board amidst a lot of confusion and crowdedness. She let us know she was very excited to get on the plane with mama and baba. Once we were finally boarding the plane, she was so excited she could barely contain herself!! She loved the entire plane ride, sqealing and smiling during takeoff and landing. Our hotel was about a 30 minute bus ride from the airport, and Emmie was taking in all the sites of this huge and beautiful city.
Once in our room we took a quick bath in the amazing bathtub, then Emmie was ready for bed. She fell asleep quickly and slept very well in her new environment.
When we look back at today, all we can say is that God has heard and answered the prayers of his people. We know that so many of you have been praying, and we can not truly express our gratitude for your prayers. Emmie was in such a very touch place earlier this week, and though we still know there will be many things for us all to work through in the coming days, she has made tremendous strides. Praise be to God for his glorious goodness and love for us all!
Attached are a few pictures of our hotel in Nanning and a funny sign by the buffet (there are lots of funny signs here :), Emmie eating pizza, one of her favorites, and Emmie at the airport in Nanning.
Home with our sons, Caleb Samuel (12/08), and Noah Nigus (11/10), from Ethiopia
Adoption is a GOoD thing :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Sorry for the belated update on Gotcha Day. It has been quite an indescribable day and a half. I will try to sum it all up here. Bear with me! I also apologize for not many pictures- unfortunately there have not been many happy faces, but thankfully there have been some. 
We awoke yesterday morning around 3:30 to prepare to leave Beijing and fly to Nanning. We left the hotel at 4:30 with our travel group and headed to the airport. Our flight left at 7:20 and we enjoyed chatting and spending time with other members of our travel group before departing to Nanning. The flight was a little over 3 hours, and we arrived in Nanning around 10:30. Nanning is a totally different landscape as it is in the southwestern part of China. It looks very tropical and the instant we stepped off the plane we could tell a huge change in the temperature. Much hotter and near 100% humidity. Instant sweat!
We waited for our guide in the airport, which is probably a little bigger than the Lexington airport. Once our guide arrived we drove to our hotel, which was about a twenty or twenty five minute drive into the city. Nanning is a large city, with over 4 million people. There is lots of construction and road work going on in Nanning as the city is growing rapidly.  After arriving in our hotel we ate lunch and visited the local grocery to get some bottled water and snacks. We were told to meet our guide at 3pm to go to the civil affairs office to meet Emmie!
At 3pm we departed for the office which is about a 15 minute drive from our hotel. When we arrived, Emmie was not there yet, but we got to watch other families meet their children for the first time, which was very wonderful. The building we were meeting Emmie in was very new, but there was not any air conditioning and it was extremely hot and stuffy. We began to sweat almost instantly. I honestly think it was over 80 degrees inside. Finally after about 15 minutes, a van with Emmie and another little girl pulled in. We saw her walk in the door. She was very happy and bubbly. When she saw us she smiled shyly, but did not want to come to us. We were prepared for this reaction, and even for her to cry a bit. She walked around happily with her nanny, who later we learned she had spent a week with most recently in her home- (this will explain a lot later J )
We had to go upstairs in the building to a large room with a small play area to continue meeting Emmied and for the photographer to take a family photo that must be attached to some adoption paperwork.  Emmie immediately began playing with the other children and with the toys. She had lots of energy and was climbing up the slide, sliding down, and repeating. She interacted fairly well with us……until………it was time for her nanny to go. At that point she began to cry and grab for her nannie. We tried to hold her and console her, but it was no use, and she made it very clear that she did not want us to even try! She pushed us away, and pinched me very hard on my neck area. She spit the animal cracker she was chewing onto my shirt and hair.  If we tried to not console her, she continued to cry and scream and lay in the floor. It was very difficult to watch her be so traumatized, and we felt very helpless to do anything.  She tried over and over again to leave the room and find her nannie, but of course we had to stop her, and she resented us for this, again, not wanting anything to do with us. She rejected any toy or snack we tried to give her, and any comfort we tried to give her.
We eventually had to leave the room with her and get back into our van to go to the motel. This was a relief, though she continued to scream and cry and not want to be touched by us. The other sweet couple with us in our province adopted a 13 month old girl, so their experience was much more calm and serene. They were offering to help us however they could, and were very supportive. Once in the room, the crying and screaming continued and she got herself as close to the hotel room door as she could, again, wanting nothing to do with us at all. She eventually cried herself to sleep, right in front of the door!!
She slept for about  45 minutes. During this time Zack and I rested as well, as we had been up since 3:30 that morning, and our emotions were a wreck. It was very difficult seeing Emmie this way, and we knew her heart was aching. At the same time, our hearts were aching for her, but also we were concerned and worried about her reaction. A million thoughts go through your head the day you meet your child, especially when they react in such an extreme way. We just prayed with each other and asked God for his strength and grace.
 When Emmie woke up, she immediately started to cry again. Again, we felt helpless to do anything, as she rejected any help we tried to give, or any comfort. We left her some space and just tried to let her know we were available if she wanted us. A few minutes letter the guide knocked at our door because we needed to take the family photo (we weren't able to at the initial meeting because of Emmie's reaction) and once she came in Emmie called down. She began to play with us, smile, and laugh. We ordered room service and she ate well and allowed us to feed her. She began interacting with us more and more.  Things were going great! The guide even slipped out and Emmie still was doing well. Until she noticed she was gone! Then it all broke lose again J It took a good hour for her to even come near to us. Once she did, she did allow us to play with her, to give her a bath, to help her brush her teeth, and to eventually read her a book and go to bed. She went to bed well and slept all night long. We consider this to be an answer to prayer and a miracle, as we were desperate for rest and some slight improvement in the way Emmie responded to us.
Today Emmie woke up, crying, and remained this way for the majority of the day today- maybe only ten  minutes or so that she has not cried from 7:30 until lunch. We went to the notary office to do some paperwork, and then again to the Civil Affairs office. We then came back to the room, and Emmie continued to cry. We waited for lunch (room service), and Emmie did finally calm down, and ate with us. She then had a really good few hours of just playing with us and allowing us to interact with her. We attempted to simply walk around the hotel, but that didn't go so well. The minute she saw the door she indicated she wanted to leave and began to cry the minute we didn't allow that. We are now in our room with her. She is sitting by the door again, crying, but not quite as bad as she has been. Maybe this is some improvement! We are trying to show our care and love for her anyway we can, but so far she has rejected much of it.  It is beginning to wear on our emotions, but we know we must remain strong. Please pray for wisdom and strength that only God can give.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Today started out much better as we didn't sleep in and got to eat a wonderful breakfast in the hotel! Waffles, eggs, potatoes and even cereal (cocoa puffs!!). It was wonderful.


We went to an amazing church service this morning. It was held at a theatre and sponsored by the International Beijing Christian Fellowship. The service was full- standing room only. It was very international with people from all over the world. It reminded me of our time worshipping in Ethiopia. What a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. The message was wonderful and encouraged us to do whatever we do as we are doing it unto the Lord- a very encouraging and challenging message.


After church we went to a jade store- they had beautiful jewelry and statues carved from jade. We found a tiger carving we was only 44,000 US dollars!! Wow! We didn't buy anything but everything was very beautiful.


Next we ate lunch at a traditional Chinese restaurant. It was our favorite by far. Finally some egg rolls- or something like it :) Then we shopped at a store attached to the restaurant. It reminded me of a flea market and a store back home called Dogpatch.


Then we were off to the Great Wall of China. This is what I had been most looking forward to during our site seeing, but unfortunately the weather today was extremely overcast with a little rain, so the visibility at the Great Wall wasn't the best. But, it was still as impressive as I imagined it being. Unbelievable! The steps are literally straight up and down at many points. The view is beautiful, even with the clouds. Zack hiked up quite a bit more than me, but I still went fairly far. Coming down is just as challenging as going up, and both of our legs were shaking afterwards :)


Then we went to a very quaint tea shop for tea tasting. We had a traditional tea ceremony, where a beautiful Chinese lady showed us different types of teas, how to prepare them, and then poured us a sample of all of them. It was wonderful! The tea is much better than what we drink in the US- it doesn't even need any milk, sugar, or honey. However, it is also quite expensive- $20 for a small box.


It was time dinner after the tea tasting. We were all hoping for something other than Chinese food, but it was not meant to be.  Chinese once more! But this time they brought out a surprise- french fries!!! I was so excited- they really hit the spot.


Tomorrow we leave Beijing- at 4:30 am!! Wow that is early! We fly to Nanning and should meet Emmie sometime around noon or shortly thereafter. We are super excited (and I am somewhat nervous). We have been told to expect that she will cry somewhat at first, but I have packed animal crackers, fruit snacks, suckers, and a few small toys to hopefully make the transition easier :) Please be praying!! Tomorrow our lives will forever be changed by this sweet girl!!


Some pictures from our second day in Beijing......




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