Tourists in Guangzhou

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I didn’t realize it before we left, but upon our return, we will have spent time in the three largest cities in China. We have already hit Beijing, and we are currently in Guangzhou. We will exit through Shanghai, which is very significant to us as that’s where the Shanghai Healing Home is, where J was cared for.

Today, we were tourists in Guangzhou. There is something amazing about being in a city with thousands of years of history behind it. That is something that you just cannot even get close to experiencing in the United States.

We visited Temple of the Six Banyan Trees this morning. This traditional pagoda was smack in the center, and it was definitely amazing to see. It was built almost one thousand years ago, and it leaned slightly to the left. I have never been to a Buddhist temple, and I have to say, I was struck by the sacrifices, the bowing, the incense, the Buddha’s… There is no god like our GOD.IMG_4678 We also visited the Chen Family Temple that is now the Guangdong Folk Art Museum. Another structure with amazing history, and amazing architectural detail. It currently showcases prominent crafts and trades of Chinese culture. IMG_4687I don’t think this little buddy was that impressed. Our morning was actually quite challenging… You should see him listen to our guides when they give him instructions in a language he understands. I think we learned today that some of the behavioral challenges just might have way more to do with our language barrier than we initially imagined. Grace, grace, grace…
IMG_4690Carvings…IMG_4692 IMG_4693 IMG_4707 IMG_4708 IMG_4713 IMG_4714I know we both appreciate the opportunity to see some of the amazing things in the cities we are visiting. More importantly, we value this time we have with our new son to bond, and truly focus on him. But, as each day passes, we become more anxious to return home. We miss our other three kids terribly! They are thankfully in great hands, ad we know they are having a blast, but, we are anxious to love on them again ourselves. IMG_3867 IMG_3868 IMG_3861Our little firecrackers.

This is undoubtedly the hardest stretch of our trip. We love the notes and messages you have been sending. It means so much to us to know that you are thinking of us, walking with us on this journey, and praying for us. We miss you dearly.

A Fresh Start

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Well, we left Zhengzhou this morning. We finished packing, strapped on our respective traveling personas (stressed/tight for one, relaxed/passive aggressive for the other…you figure out who’s who), and flew to Southern China…with our 18 month old child. Yikes. You can start praying now for our flight across the world. Please start with the other people on our plane. They will need some grace. And, maybe ear plugs. We will need vodka. Thanks in advance.

The reason we have zero pictures to document our experience should be self explanatory.

When we walked down the stairway of our plane, we stepped foot in a fresh city. It was literally fresh in that it had recently poured. There is actually a giant storm in Southern China – perhaps you’ve heard. But, more significantly, it was figuratively fresh.

Zhengzhou, the city we left behind, was beautiful for reasons beyond its physical stature. It will always be the city we met our son, and that event is etched deep in our souls. That kind of beauty is self-sufficient. But, the physical representation of that city, in many ways, more accurately depicts the collision of our hearts with truths that are sometimes difficult to embrace. The air was heavy with pollution. The busy, nay, CHAOTIC streets were scattered with pedestrians, cars, scooters, buses, and taxis that followed neither rhyme nor reason. And, they were overbearing and LOUD! It was as though we visually encountered and physically experienced the reality of our broken world, a world full of tragedies and hardship that our son has experienced first hand. In many ways, this city perfectly reflects the brokenness of this life. In hindsight, it is no wonder that we are relieved to move on.

Guangzhou is new. The river is strong, the mountains are crisp, the air is fresh. It is structured, intentional, lawful, and it represents a new beginning. We have not been here long, but the flight in coupled with our first few hours in this city have been pure glimpses of God’s grace.

We have a large, beautiful room that has already held games of peek-a-boo, laughter, a tearful bath that ended with giggles and then peaceful slumber. We had dinner and drinks with our friends and babes. There is a STARBUCKS downstairs!!! Hallelujah! We look toward tomorrow with a fresh perspective. We are all starting over. All glory to God.

God’s story is redemptive. He is our healer, our restorer, our redeemer. His story is my son’s story. His story is our story. His story is your story.

Goodnight!

He Reads

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Exciting news!!! We got this puppy tonight! Just in time, since we fly out tomorrow morning. We came to this province with two purposes: 1) Pick up the child that we have been waiting to hold for months and months, and make him a part of our family. 2) Get his passport so that we can actually take him home. We applied for his passport earlier this week in his birth town, and it was delivered to our hotel room this evening by our fantastic guides. We are acing this mission so far. IMG_3772I should clarify, we did very little to make this happen other than record our information and signatures approximately 1,000 times. Our guides have been delivering paperwork, calling for updates, driving around town, and solving problems for us to get these passports in our sweet kids hands so that we can move on. They are amazing. We are so grateful.

We actually spent the day here at our hotel. Each day that we have with our little guy, we learn a bit more about him. And, he gets a bit more comfortable with us. Sometimes progress is evident, and sometimes we have to wait to look back later.

We have the chance to see the different ways that grief, a difficult past, and present changes affect the kids around us. Many retreat inward. Our little man is a fighter. His defense is assertive and sometimes harsh. Have you ever seen your own struggles in your children? He has always been ours. It is so obvious.

Today, we read a book. Over and over and over. This may sound simple, but it was monumental over here.

IMG_4648_2We brought this book with us, and it was one of the first things that he threw across the room. Over and over again. He did not have any interest in sitting still and enjoying a book together. Until today, when he melted a little. IMG_4663 Throughout the day he would bring the book to one of us, or point it out from across the room indicating that he wanted to read. He has favorite pages, and he loves the sounds. Sometimes he can imitate the bear, and he laughs at the bee. He is learning to be at peace, to rest, to sit calmly in our embrace and to enjoy reading.

We will always look back on this day as the day he learned to read. Because, for us, it means so much more. He is softening, letting down his guard just a bit.

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At dinner tonight, we watched the walls go up again as we were surrounded by others, including a sweet girl from his baby room at the Healing Home. It was a good reminder that there is still lots of road ahead of us. There is no other road we would choose.

We also saw him retreat just a little (which is not like him) when we started packing up the room. And, while our hearts are so sad to watch him be sad (and probably worried), they are also glad to share emotion with him. He is a precious, complete person, and we are so privileged to be his parents.

Sweet babe falls asleep in our bed first. He drinks a bottle, we sing and pray, he sticks out his feet for the calming oils, and then we lay together. Tonight, when Danny and I got up to do a little more work around the room, we put pillows on either side of him to replace the bodies that he craves.
IMG_4669 - Version 2Tomorrow, we leave for Guangzhou. That little passport needs a visa slapped inside. And, we’re gonna make that happen. Have you heard  that Southern China is bracing for a Super Typhoon? Well, that’s where we’re headed. We should be far enough inland that we will not be in danger, but there is definitely a chance that weather will be bad. Our flights could also be affected. We appreciate your prayers for China and for our travel tomorrow.

And….breathe….

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So, we went to the zoo this morning. It sounded like a good idea yesterday when we realized that we had already been cooped up in the hotel for one day. This morning, however, we started sweating because we sat to close to the window at breakfast, and honestly, that should have been our first clue to immediately run the other way when the bus came to pick us all up. Throw a baby on the front of your body and actually step out into that heavy heat, and you experience a whole new kind of loveliness. Also, please note that we are a walking advertisement for baby carriers. The Ergos in this group are innumerable.

IMG_4598 We both actually tolerated this for much longer than I anticipated, but it about did us in. When that cup of water got poured down my shirt, it was time for a change.IMG_4599 IMG_4612 And, a little flip-a-roo around to the back, and he was out. It also felt cooler, but I’m positive I was hallucinating by this point. Also, I realized that I’m not really a zoo person. They smell, and animals pretty much look the same no matter where you see them. So, once you’ve seen them, you’ve seen them. I was pretty stoked to see the pandas though, but when we asked about them, we were told they had to be moved. Because, it was TOO HOT. Go figure. IMG_4616A nap this morning meant no nap this afternoon, so we tried bath time again. The first time it did not go so well as evidenced by the fact that there are NO first bath pictures. There almost weren’t any pictures this time around either, because it was such a smashing success that I’m positive we left even the ceiling wet. I could barely get my camera up for a shot before it was splashed. Good thing the water here is poison. I practically had to hold my breath to ensure I wasn’t letting splashes fly into my mouth or nose. He, apparently, is immune.
IMG_4620 Post-bath combover. Enough said.IMG_4621 IMG_4623 Todays new discovery was the snack cup. And, since his only words are “more, mama,” he asked for it to be refilled a thousand times. He ate approximately one billion Gerber puffs today. Your second walking advertisement.IMG_4632 He looks like he is trying to share. Do not be fooled. IMG_4633 My favorite part of this routine was his happy dance that he would do while he waited for Daddy to refill his cup. He would lift each leg off the ground and jiggle around until his cup was full, and then he was off to munch again. IMG_4636_2 Today was a mellow day, but it was also trying. This little guy is pedal to the metal every second he is awake. I swear, when I’m not looking straight at him, I can usually see things flying in my peripheral vision. He is moving, jumping, throwing things, bouncing, climbing, pulling, pounding, hitting, exploring. He is 100% in, all the time, no matter what he is doing. Also, he’s getting to know us, and we’re getting to know him. Sometimes, it is tiring…

My heart was centered by the one things we actually “accomplished” today. We had to go through and proofread a number of documents that contain information about our kids to ensure all of their information (spellings, dates, etc) was accurate. Specifically, these papers record the necessary information that the government uses to determine that our sweet kids are able to be adopted. When and where they were found… the ad that was placed in the newspaper in an attempt to locate their parents or relatives, picture attached… where they were placed to be cared for, and how they got there… the final determination that they were orphaned…

These kids come from tough places. It will always be a part of their story, but it is not who they are.

Our spirited, spunky, sometimes trying little boy, is so precious, and he waited way too long for a family to come for him… We have some catching up to do.

After a trying afternoon and a short walk, we walked into a restaurant that we frequent and turned the corner to find tables full of friends. Living these few weeks with these families is such a gift. You always need people in your life that just “get it,” no explanations needed. Right now, these are some of our people. God’s grace.

I noticed when I uploaded this picture that I looked relieved. And, thinking back, I know that I was.

IMG_4645Tonight when our baby boy fell asleep, Danny and I rested for some time with our hands firmly planted on his body, and we relished the peace of his slumber, remembering again that his story is our story. God’s grip on our lives is ever firm, regardless of how much we squirm and resist. We are so grateful.

Free Day

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Second post in one day. I had some catching up to do…

Today was a free day! For the first time since we arrived in China we did not have a single thing on our agenda. I wish I could say that we slept in, but that would be a lie! I think our first wake up call was at 4:30. Thankfully, some snuggles bought us some snooze time.
IMG_4503 Breakfast at the hotel continues to be a highlight, and in other food related news, we are learning just how much this kid loves to eat! We are wondering about his formula though. It smells super sweet, and he gets really fired up right after he eats.

IMG_4511 We spent the first half of the day at the hotel, playing in our room, running up and down the halls, taking a nap…There were lots of smiles, squeals, and laughs. We loved having the time to play. IMG_4516 I sat in that big white chair this afternoon, feeding him bites of snacks. He would run over for a bite and then run all the way to the other side of the room before running back for more. I kid you not, he said, “More, mama!” upon his return, no less than 20 times. Those were his first English words! This kid is smart – and he also really likes to eat! Daddy even got it on video. IMG_4519When we read through the information they gave us on Jeremiah, one of his nannies mentioned that his walking was like running. This could not be more true.
IMG_4536 He spent quite a bit of time gathering up all of the toys that he wanted in this little suitcase nest, and then tossed them out and grabbed them back in, over and over again. He even played his first game of catch with Daddy from this perch. And, this kid can throw. I mean we’ve mentioned it before. He throws everything. HARD. We’re working on focussing on balls. He might be a pitcher! Watch out – you know, for the things he throws…IMG_4566 We visited the park down the street this afternoon. We walked from the hotel, and I have to mention again how prevalent mopeds are in this town. Walking pedestrians are definitely the minority on the wide sidewalks. I don’t have a picture of it, because I am to scared to stop and get distracted by my attempt to capture the swarms of weaving scooters as we walk against traffic. But, seriously, it is crazy. It’s a giant, beeping swarm of speedy scooters, many of whom spend WAY too much time looking at the American couple with the Chinese baby. Trust me, I’m worried for their safety not our reputation! It’s a miracle they don’t crash.IMG_4573 Making kissing faces with Daddy…IMG_4589 IMG_4591We ate dinner out as a family tonight. We are getting more brave as we learn what to expect from this little guy. And, sure enough, by the end of dinner, he was definitely ready to be done.

Tomorrow, we continue to wait for paperwork to process, so we are heading to the zoo! We need to start working on animal sounds. The only one he has down, sometimes, is a bear. Hopefully, we see one tomorrow.

The Beginning of Forever

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I’ve been blogging at the end of each day, which has served me well. Pop a sleeping pill, then sort and edit pics while I write. If you read anything a little loopy, now you know why… Last night a sweet babe needed some extra love, and well, I missed a night! I welcome myself to parenthood again.
IMG_4406 But, yesterday was a huge day, and it is worth noting! We started our day back at the registration building. This is the same building and the same room that we picked our children up in exactly 24 hours earlier when we signed for 24 hour guardianship of them. I’m pretty sure that fact that we had returned to a familiar location was not lost on the precious kids. They endure so much. IMG_4432This time we were here to finalize our adoption. They made it pretty clear that there was no turning back! Praise Jesus. We are a forever family.

This ended up being a mommy-son morning. We had lots of time in the carrier, and it was neat to see some softening in J’s demeanor as the morning went on. He has had strong relationships and he is naturally happy and generally social, but he is not inclined to be gentle. Everything is done with full, sometimes violent force. After lots of time together, we are starting to catch glimpses at a gentler side.

I have to mention that there is typically a fee that is associated with this part of the adoption process. We had our money neatly counted in envelopes to be given to the officials one by one. My conversion skills are not stellar, but it was hundreds of US dollars. I only point this out because, we were told that the government is considering raising the cost for this finalization. But, since they haven’t decided on an exact cost yet, our finalization was FREE. Money returned! So crazy! We celebrated with fried noodles later that night. I’m pretty sure fried noodles should be involved in every celebration.
IMG_4421We then drove to another building to fill out paperwork, trekked up six flights of stairs, and sat for a bit making sure everything was in order. We are a big group, and we’re thirteen official kids bigger today than we were yesterday. It’s all kinds of good crazy. IMG_4436We got just a few moments back at the hotel to order room service for lunch, and then we were in for a long journey to Pingdingshan, the city of J’s orphanage to apply for his passport. This was a 2.5 hour bus trip, each way. Long is an understatement. IMG_4433Passport pictures were first, which in and of themselves took divine intervention to complete. J was a mess after the bus ride. Lots of tears and emotion. He didn’t quite understand the directives, “look straight ahead, wait, I need to see both ears, no crying, no smiling, no hair in your face, please.” Somehow we got the picture.
IMG_4467 Then we wandered next door to complete the application process. Our guide had called ahead and one of the officials had pulled a number for us earlier in the day. Otherwise we would have had approximately 80 people in front of us. The gifts for the official were well deserved. IMG_4463Part of the reason J was so distraught was that he was losing a toenail. We had taken his shoe off to allow it to “be free,” but there was a woman in the passport office that was very concerned about this. I showed her his sweet little toe and made a sad face to demonstrate it was hurting him. She understood, and immediately she whipped out a giant key ring full of keys, and a tiny nail clipper. Sanitation aside, we clipped that little bugger, and all was well in the world.

Our time in this city was short, and in reality, it was just the tiniest glimpse into a world that could have been his…

IMG_4460The drive home from Pingdingshan looked a lot like this – lots of crops and fields. It looks a lot like the central valley his daddy is from. Go figure.IMG_4490 The bus ride home yielded a new activity. I think the tissue paper made it in and out of this gift bag about 300 times. It was a good distraction. We made it back to our hotel around 7:30 in the evening. It was a very long day. We all need the free day coming up!IMG_4481 We are getting to know this little guy. Of all the kiddos that have joined families this week, he is the spiciest and the most spunky. He laughs the most, and is loud. I’m pretty sure he was chosen before the beginning of time to be a part of our family. He will fit right in. IMG_4477

Forever and Ever

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There are moments that change you – days that change the course of your life forever. Today was one of those days.

Danny and I woke up with great anticipation, early, of course, and spent the morning finalizing our gifts for the officials, readying our room, and enjoying fried noodles for breakfast (tell me this will never end).

When it was finally time to head down to the lobby to catch our bus to the registration building, we found it bustling with families anxious to meet their sons and daughters. I’ve mentioned before the group of families that we are traveling with, but I was struck again this morning as we boarded the bus together, by the fact that I literally get to witness their families being formed. Over and over and over. Today, we got to watch first hand as 13 children were united with their families, and one of them is ours. Thirteen more kids have families that are their own. That is world changing. I will never forget those moments.

IMG_4127 - Version 3We started by trying to woo him with a toy…that was promptly thrown at another kid…whoops! But, food was the winner. He came much more willingly into our arms as we began equipping his tiny fingers with “Chinese Cheerios” (which aren’t Cheerios at all, but instead crunchy balls of puffed rice, probably, that taste like sugar). No wonder he came to us! IMG_4184 - Version 2 IMG_4162 - Version 2IMG_4154 - Version 2We did not expect to meet his Ayi from Shanghai Healing Home, but she had stayed! We got to hug her and thank her. We will forever be so grateful to her. She has loved him and taught him so much. She also travelled 17 hours on a train with him to bring him to our arms. I have no doubt she was exhausted.

When she went to leave, she reached out her arms to give him one last hug. He turned into me and snuggled deep. This happened three or four times. She chuckled, and honestly, I think it had more to do with the sugar puffs. My heart was happy and sad at the same time. IMG_4196 - Version 2 Poor little buddy was exhausted from his trip, and he eventually passed out after chugging a big bottle. We did get to catch his first smile for us though while he was eating. Lots of big, toothy grins were to be had.IMG_4212 - Version 2 IMG_4201 - Version 2Today, we signed for 24 hours of guardianship. And, tomorrow, our adoption will be finalized. Complete. Finished.
IMG_4208 - Version 2Mom and Dad could not be more excited!IMG_4352 - Version 2

 

I think J finally realized on the bus ride home that something was very different. He started looking out the window for his ayi, would look back at us, and then back out the window. He tried to tell us. But, he didn’t cry. Not then… He tired my arms out as I tried to hold him still on the bus, which of course led me to wonder what 14 hours on a plane will be like…

There was a VERY long nap this afternoon to make up for what I’m sure was a very squirmy, sleepless train ride. And, we ended up having to wake him up to take him for more paperwork. He got to participate this time with his own chubby, little, red handprint.

photo - Version 2It was a day of MANY firsts. First kisses, first tears, first smiles, first laughs, first snuggles, first bath, first feedings, first meal with mommy and daddy at a restaurant, first night with his forever family…and the list goes on and on.

God is so good. We sure do love this little guy.

We Packed a Bag

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Today was a big day! We left the beautiful city of Beijing with an affirmed wonder and appreciation for the huge, amazing city that it is. We said goodbye to our spunky guide Jean, and hopped a flight to Zhengzhou, Henan, the province our son was originally from. In order to process his adoption in China, we have to start here. IMG_3748

Leaving one guide meant that there were two others waiting for us – they were just a thorough putdown at security, a jar of peanut butter donation to China TSA, a half hour traffic jam on the runway (because everywhere you travel in China includes a traffic jam), a 1.5 hour flight, 2 squatty potties, and a hop-skip away. We find them by looking for their flag and, because they are the only people that smile back at us.
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Hello, pollution. We’ve been waiting for you.
IMG_3754We checked into our hotel, and walked for miles finding food, the 2 story Walmart, the bank, and food again. Things to note: 1) Even short walks feel long, because it is one million degrees. 2) Sidewalks are for electric scooters first and pedestrians sometimes. 3) We are in China, China now. When I imagined what China would be like, I found myself surprised by Beijing. It was not what I expected. This is. We are in Central China, smackin’ skeeters. 4) Our hotel room is amazing with lots of room to play, and it has amazing light which makes the photography nerd in me pray that my brand new child loves long photoshoots. A girl can dream.

Danny and I ate our last dinner together as a couple in China. It just so happened to be some of the best food we have eaten since we have been here. And, when we got back to our room, we spent quite a bit of time calculating what we were going to take with us in the morning to meet our son. Toys, sucker, extra clothes, diapers… We have a baby again…soon.

The most exciting part of our day may have actually happened first thing this morning. It is a DIRECT answer to a VERY specific prayer that we started praying months and months ago. We have boldly been asking that our son would not have to return to his orphanage as most children do before he meets us here. We wanted him to have as much time in his foster home, the Shanghai Healing Home where he was raised, as he could. Most kids raised in a foster care setting have to travel back to their home orphanages before they are brought to their forever families.

A mom shared this email with me, regarding our two children, right before breakfast…

IMG_3744 - Version 2DIRECTLY TO OUR ARMS. This is a miracle. It is not normal, and it did not happen by chance. Praise GOD!

Tomorrow, we will hold this sweet boy for the first time. Words cannot begin to describe the emotion and anticipation we feel as we go to sleep tonight. Please pray for a smooth transition. One of the most beautiful days in our lives will be one of the most difficult days for our son. He is leaving everything he has ever known. And, his sweet Ayi, who is traveling as I type, on a train for 17 hours to bring him to us, will be leaving a piece of her heart as well. With beautiful gain comes tremendous loss. IMG_3740There are nine families who will become parents tomorrow. Thirteen babies will be meeting their families for the first time. And, we are a part of it. We are so privileged and blessed to adopt. What an amazing gift. Please keep these families in your prayers.

Adventures in Beijing

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We had another fantastic day in Beijing today. We are literally crawling into bed exhausted. And, by crawling into bed, I mean there may or may not already be someone snoring next to me. It was a big day!

Last night we took a walk down the street from our hotel. There is a beautiful church just down the way. Tonight, when we passed it again, there was a choir out front, singing. We stood to listen for awhile. There were SO many people out and about. Families, children, couples, friends. Tons and tons of people. 20 million people live in this city!IMG_4011 We took a walk around “snack street,” as our guide called it. We were under strict instructions not to eat anything. You can see why.

IMG_4013It is hot here. In the 90’s for sure at this time. All of the meat, seafood, and snacks sat in the heat, cooled only by spritzed water that then rolled down each tentacle to drip onto the ground. Yum!
IMG_4014 IMG_4025 IMG_4027 IMG_4023 We ended our evening last night with a trip to a restaurant right down the street from our hotel. We ordered food from pictures on the menu, and dined with another family from our group.

We’ve been waking up very early each morning, and this morning was no exception. Danny and I were both stirring around 3:30am. I am not a morning person in my real life. Coffee is not as easy to come by here as I would like! Let’s just say the cups are small, and the refills are sparse. It’s a rough combo.

We got a taste of traffic in Beijing as we travelled to a section of The GREAT WALL OF CHINA! Can you tell how excited I am to write that? We just kept saying over and over again how surreal it was that God has given us this opportunity to be here in this amazing country. And, today we hiked a section of The Great Wall. That. Is. Crazy.

IMG_4041 Sections of the steps were incredibly steep. Like, scary steep. And, it was one million degrees outside. Seriously, so hot. However, we heard so much about the pollution in Beijing before our trip here, yet we were surprised to have crisp, blue skies each day that we have been here. We could see the city of Beijing miles and miles away from the Wall where we stood. I can’t imagine it any other way. IMG_4045 IMG_4046 IMG_4057 IMG_4067On our way back to the hotel, we drove past many of the complexes from the 2008 Olympic Games. They are even more grand in person.
IMG_4100We are getting up early in the morning (ummmm, don’t really expect that to be a problem) to travel to Zhengzhou, the capitol of Henan, where our son is from. It will be the last day that Danny and I spend together, alone. The next day we will be meeting our son!

The highlight of our day was to learn that he is still at his home in Shanghai! We, and others, have been praying that he will not have to go back to his orphanage at all before he comes to meet us. It is customary that he would have to return there before he would come to us, making for 2 very shocking transitions back to back. If you think about it, please pray with us that he will leave straight from Shanghai to come to meet us in Zhengzhou.

We got this sweet picture of him that was taken in Shanghai yesterday. Oh… he is almost ours…IMG_2898

 

We’re in China, Y’all!

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So, we made it! I don’t even know how to calculate how long we have been here, how long it took us to get here, or what time it is back home. It was a whirlwind getting to this point. Yet, here we sit, in a very comfortable hotel room, after an exciting day on the streets of Beijing. China. This is surreal.

We left our three littles, Wednesday morning, and we arrived in Beijing late Thursday night. Yellow ribbons, Facebook? I’m watching for you…

IMG_3877We made friends on the flight (not so much with the woman behind me who shook my seat profusely each time I attempted to recline) with a family that is also with our agency and just so happened to be on our flight to Beijing. They are adopting two little ones, and their daughter has lived in Shanghai Healing Home with our son. Talk about a small world! We actually have plans to visit the home together at the end of our trip.
IMG_3736We got to FaceTime with our kiddos when we got to our room at midnight – thank you, technology. Silly time change worked in our favor!

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 12.18.10 AMAnd, then, we woke up fairly chipper around 5am. Time change, not so cool.

We had no shame carb-loading at breakfast this morning after we were warned that we would be walking for about three hours. I watched a woman in front of me concoct a noodle bowl at the buffet and did my best to copy her. Best. Breakfast. Ever. But, also, very few people speak English. Duh? But, really.

Then, we joined the other 120,000 people at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

IMG_3885IMG_3894 IMG_3890 IMG_3975 IMG_3949 IMG_3939 IMG_3936 IMG_3931 IMG_3924 IMG_3909 IMG_3898But, I think the highlight of our day, so far, was getting to tour Old Beijing via rickshaw.

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We had the privilege of eating lunch at a local family’s home.

IMG_3994 IMG_3997 The food kept coming. And coming. And coming. It was so delicious. I love all the veggies we see at every meal.IMG_4000

IMG_4001Cooked for us in this kitchen.

IMG_4007By this gracious couple.

IMG_4008What an honor and treat. I am so grateful that our agency arranged this for us. It is so meaningful.

We are off to visit the snack street. Apparently, we are supposed to bring our camera. And, not eat anything. Haha!

Danny and I are both overcome with how amazing it is to be in this country, adopting our son. Today was an adventure that is part of an even bigger adventure, and we can hardly believe that this is our story. This day of sights and culture leads to the greatest gift of our trip. We are counting the days…3.