0

THANK YOU

 IMG_4240

10 months.  It has been over 10 months since we walked into a small room in Hefei and met the two girls we’d been dreaming off for a year and a half.  Unbelievable.  It’s hard to imagine life without them.  It has been an amazing adventure since the day we looked at Louisa May’s picture and knew we saw our daughter.  We have had so many wonderful “firsts” with them.  Had wonderful family outings and vacations.  They have been camping, fishing, swimming, to the beach, to the lake, to an official school for the first time in their lives, and on the list goes.  Adopting special needs children certainly has not slowed us down.  The first few months home however were extremely difficult.  It was so hard to adjust that I wasn’t sure if we had done the right thing.  I was simply surviving.  I praise the Lord every day for the women He sent into my life to help me make it through that time.  Women who have been there, done that.  Most of whom I have never met in person but I owe them so much.  There were several ladies who I would send out emergency SOS emails to who always responded immediately.  They encouraged me that the season of difficulty would not last forever.  That the girls would learn what it meant to be in a family instead of in an orphanage.  Who shared with me their hard stories and even just through that lightened my load.  It was hard for two reasons.  One reason was that I took my eyes off of Jesus.  I wasn’t spending time with Him, praising Him or searching His Word to help me or sustain me.  I was burying myself in TV and in any other mindless activity to try to ease my burden.  But you know, that really never works. You come up empty every time when you seek answers away from the One who can give them.  The Lord eventually opened my eyes to the rut I had gotten myself into and started pulling me out.  He used a fun, silly movie of all things to start breaking my self imposed chains.  But I’ll need to write a separate blog about that!!  The other reason is a very understandable one – I was all of a sudden the mother of two VERY sassy preteen daughters, who wanted everything their own way, who obviously thought that life here would be like a constant Disney land and who have a whole decade of hurt built up inside of them.  Within a couple of weeks of being home, everything I said to them they would just automatically tell me “No”.  “Good morning girls” … “No”.  “How are you”…”No”. Etc. etc.  I thought I would go bananas.  I was constantly sitting down with them to ask them why they were upset, were they remembering their past, did they miss Ch*na, how could I help them…  I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere.  Rob gave me excellent advice as well as did another adoptive mom – just to let go of the idea of using all these moments to “bond” with them.  I was being hypervigilant about the mother and child bond we were creating.  Rob felt I needed to not focus or worry so much about their emotional state.  To just parent them and then to let the other unfold more naturally.  It was very good advice and it worked.  Rob had noticed that they loved getting money.  So, they started getting an allowance and they would have a certain amount taken away whenever they were, well, obnoxious.  If they told me no or rolled their eyes, etc.  (Louisa May is quite possibly the world’s best eye roller!)  They responded immediately.  The change was very noticeable and our whole family began to recover.  We began to recover remarkably quickly.  They did not understand the person in charge of them being so consumed with how they were feeling.  They’ve never really been asked those kinds of questions by an adult I don’t think.  I didn’t earn their respect with that kind of leadership and respect is so important when trying to parent a child from an institutional background.  Most people I talked to told me to give it at least a year, I would say after about 4 months we noticed a big change.  I am INCREDIBLY thankful for that!!! We have had so many wonderful, heartfelt conversations now.  Louisa especially has really poured her heart out at times and has shared a lot with me.  But I had to earn the right to hear it first.  She had to trust that I wasn’t going to fall apart emotionally with her.  Figuring this out and trying to come up with strategies was absolutely exhausting.  I will be very blunt and say that I’m not sure if we would have made it out of that time so quickly if it hadn’t been for all of… YOU!  ALL OF YOU who supported us, prayed for us, encouraged us and financially backed us in bringing home our daughters!!!  Whenever I would think, “I’m done, I can’t do this.  I don’t even want to do this anymore”, I would immediately remember all of you who stood behind us and it would steady me.  I felt and will always feel accountable to you.  And that is a miracle in our lives!!!  You thought praying for us to get to Ch*na and giving financially was how you supported us, you did so much more and didn’t even know it.  As I would think about each one of you I would feel what the Bible describes as “a great cloud of witnesses”.  I knew I had to do this.  I had to stay the course.  I had to love them well and do what He had called us to because I was accountable to all of you dear ones.  And for that I thank you with all my heart!!!  We have constantly praised God for you and thanked Him for hemming us in with this debt of gratitude we owe.  We often hear about peer pressure in the negative sense, but peer pressure can be a very good thing too.  Remembering that we do not live life on an island.  That our decisions and actions affect so many around us is such a wonderful thing when we are struggling with a difficult situation.  When I look at my girls I will always think of you.  I will think about the amazing couple who gave to us so graciously with their anonymous matching donation.  I was at my lowest ebb in the whole process when I received the call from them.  Only moments after I had finished begging the Lord for the huge chunk of money that I had no idea how we would come up with, they called with that exact amount.  They felt led to bless us with the EXACT amount we needed.  I cried that day.  I’ve cried every time I’ve talked of it since.  It was miraculous and was a beautiful gift to our family.  I remember every time I checked my email and saw that someone had given to us, whether it was $5.00 or $100.00, it was so amazing and so special.  I remember all the people who came together for the fundraisers we did.  The wonderful friends the Lord brought when we had our massive garage sale.  We had so much given that we were able to do 3 separate sales!  The friends and models who helped me put together what I consider to be the most fun fundraiser ever, our Vintage Fashion Show.  So many helped us put that on and came to watch.  That’s one of my favorite memories now!  The friends who came out as we served a very special woman at her home, just to be a blessing to her as well.  I am so grateful for all those times of joining together with those we love for the purpose of our daughters and serving our King. So many gave to us and helped us.  It was and is a blessing.  So, this 10 month post is really to say THANK YOU!!!  You will always be a part of our girls’ lives and a very important part of our family.  We are grateful, we are humbled!!!

I thank my God every time I remember you.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,

being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:3-6

~K

{If you gave to us and/or prayed for us I would love to send you a personal “thank you” note. Please message me your address either here in the comment section or on my Facebook message. No one else will see the address.}

Highlights from the First 10 Months

IMG_2303 - Version 2

My favorite picture from the day we got the girls! With Mami!

IMG_3647

IMG_3651

Their first Christmas tree!

IMG_2889

Louisa May goes to her first birthday party.

IMG_2868

The boys did a USO show.

IMG_3396

The girls got their ears pierced.  Quite possibly the most exciting thing to happen in their lives next to being adopted!

IMG_3423

IMG_3476

Louisa May turns 12.

IMG_3477

IMG_3480

IMG_3563

Celebrating with the friends who were with us in Ch*na.

IMG_3508

The girls go to the beach for the first time! Oh my goodness. LOVED it!

IMG_3510

IMG_3548

IMG_3533

IMG_3534

Clara Anne started out this summer trembling and crying in the water and had to wear baby floaties. She ended the summer by swimming like a fish!

IMG_3700

Mobile, Alabama

IMG_4123

The girls go to camp!! Absolutely a blessing and a gift from the Lord.  They had an amazing time!

IMG_4125

IMG_4124

IMG_4142

Betty Jane!

IMG_4500

Calloway Gardens butterfly house.

IMG_4336

IMG_3444

Clara “Kitty” as we have nicknamed her.  She meows…literally…all the time…even at school.  She’s quite the comedian!

IMG_4083

Fourth of July with some of our newest citizens!! They love being Americans!

IMG_4082

 

Louisa May got to lead the Fourth of July parade around our town square with the boys and their Scout troop.  That was an AMAZING moment for us!!

IMG_4084

With fellow new citizen James!

IMG_4074

With their much adored Mima!  She takes them to school every morning, BEST grandmother ever!!

 

 

 

3

Fridays With Father

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a married man in possession of a goodly number of children (not to mention lamentable fortune) must be in want of additional Chinese daughters. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be, this truth is so well fixed in the mind of his bride, that he is considered as the rightful property of said daughters before his befuddled brain can evoke so much as a peep of agreement or protest.

Guest blogger, Rob, here. Kate has been after me for a long time to write a blog post, so here goes (I told her she may regret encouraging me)…

A lot has happened since our return home with the girls in December, so I’ll focus on the high points (i.e., a smorgasbord of random memories that rush upon my nonlinear thought process).  Louisa is making fine progress in her English reading skills and was practicing for me one evening recently.  It was a little humorous to have Andrew, our second-born who has struggled the most with reading, correcting her pronunciation. She is very bright, proud of each new accomplishment, and eager to demonstrate her skills to an interested father.  Louisa and Claire are in fifth grade at Burruss Elementary School.  Louisa was a little uncertain about school at first, but has since warmed up to her prospects of one day ruling the world through the knowledge gained at Burruss. Claire, alternatively, has been quite happy about the arrangement at Burruss from the get-go.  They both like PE class the best, which I find amusing for some reason.  Let’s just say I’d like to be a fly on the wall to see how it all goes down. We hear that Claire is an endless source of humor for her teachers and classmates.  Their very sweet teacher has remarked that teaching them has been one of the highlights of her career.

I often wonder, with each new thing the girls experience, what they would have been doing within the gated confines of the orphanage in Hefei had we not adopted them.  Getting pressure sores bandaged at the orphanage clinic versus getting an MRI at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with daddy.  Watching the television in the common area at the orphanage versus watching their brothers race pinewood derby cars.  Weekend garment washing with friends in Hefei versus spreading pinestraw with daddy and siblings in Marietta.  I’m not making a value judgment (i.e., everything is better here); I’m just fascinated by the dramatic difference in their daily experience. Perhaps it’s the context of family that makes all of these new activities more meaningful.

Kate and I took all the kids along with my brother, Shane, and his family to Six Flags on a recent Saturday.  Rollercoasters have a unique way of erasing the physical differences among all types of people (well…at least for those who are allowed to actually ride).  Big, small, strong, weak…get on, and you’re at the mercy of the engineers who designed the thing.  When Louisa was riding the Batman rollercoaster along with brother Joshua and cousin Evan, I couldn’t help but think that her paralyzed little legs were no disadvantage on the twisting, spinning, looping giant.

I am discovering, as the father of a daughter with a physical handicap (Louisa has spina bifida), that I am very thankful when she is able to fully participate in activities. There have been a few episodes when it was suggested to me that she might not be able fully participate in something. I confess that in these types of situations, I start to feel my inner John Locke (from Lost) coming out: “Don’t tell me what she can and can’t do!”  But mostly, everyone has been accommodating. For example, we don’t have an elevator in our church building, so the children’s minister started walking all the kids outside the building on the sidewalk to the lower level instead of simply going down the stairs inside. She noticed that Louisa had to go around outside while the other kids went down the steps when transitioning from the worship service to the youth program.  Thank you, Donna, and everyone else who has gone out of the way to make Louisa feel like a “normal” eleven year old girl.

Louisa shared with me a page out of her diary (translated by my Chinese coworker):

“August 5th, 2013, Monday, Sunny

My Dream

My dream is to be a nurse when I grow up.  Since I was very weak when I was born, I was very easy to get a cold or a fever. So I want to be a nurse when I grow up, to be there and help others when they get sick.

I know it requires very hard work to be a nurse. I know they have to stay up all night to take care of patients until the next morning. But I’m not afraid, and that’s what I want.

I hope my dream can become true, I know I have to get a medical degree in order to be a nurse, and I will work very hard to make it happen.”

I’m so glad that she lives in a country where achieving her dream is a possibility for her.

While I’m not sure about Claire’s dream, it may have something to do with sparkling jewelry and/or noodles.  We knew going into the adoption that Claire has hydrocephalus and we now suspect that she has mosaic down syndrome.  Even if she doesn’t (we’re currently waiting on results from a chromosome analysis), it’s a helpful lens through which to view her mental disability. Moreover, she has very poor eyesight and depth perception.  When I took her prescription to the Costco vision center, they said that they had never seen a prescription so powerful and that their lab couldn’t cut lenses that thick! According to the girls, Claire didn’t even get glasses until the spring of last year.  I suspect it was because the orphanage found out that this “unadoptable” girl actually had a family, so they decided it was time for her to see.

As a result, she holds everything about one inch from her face and is utterly mesmerized by sparkling jewelry.  At church one Sunday, while everyone else was singing, Kate and I noticed that Claire was staring at the bracelets we gave her. Looking…looking…twisting the wrist drawn closely to her face and looking some more.  It’s quite hilarious to us, but pure delight to her.

As for noodles, even from our time in China it was evident that the girls had a love for Chinese cuisine, and that we would have to accommodate their tastes. However, Louisa was slightly more adventurous and wanted to try pizza, burgers, Mexican food, sandwiches, etc. Claire wanted noodles. After we arrived home, the girls had an opportunity to share important thoughts with Kate via an interpreter, and the thing they wanted to communicate the most was that Claire didn’t like pizza.

Fast forward three months and now Claire begs for, you got it, pizza.  She still wants noodles with everything—cereal and noodles, fruit and noodles, ice cream and noodles.  Apparently, noodles are the perfect way to top off any meal.  But, it’s much easier now that we don’t have to make a Chinese option and an “American” option for every meal.

Needless to say, everything was more difficult at first. The girls may have thought that they were getting wish-granting genies, not parents; we may have thought that we were getting two grateful, well-adjusted angels, not emotionally and socially underdeveloped, hormonal preteens. It probably didn’t help matters to arrive home at Christmas. After opening presents on Christmas morning, the girls were wondering why they “got so little.” If we could speak Chinese, we would have asked, “In comparison to the haul you raked in every year at the annual orphanage Christmas party?” I’m sure that the experience was confusing and overwhelming to them; nevertheless, complaints are a difficult thing for a parent to hear on Christmas morning.  I think that everyone’s expectations have since normalized tremendously. The girls seem much happier and we are much saner.

In drawing to a close, allow me to brag on my excellent wife, who is still standing after bringing four wild and wonderful biological children into the world (as Janet King says, at least they’re not wild and hideously ugly!) and emotionally birthing two more right into our midst. In many ways, the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy, infant care, and reorganizing a family’s world to accommodate a newborn biological child are mirrored in the adoption process.  While I think it’s safe to say that we’re still smoothing out the kinks, we can also say that we are glad that the Lord has brought us to this place with four more squinty, smiling eyes looking at us in wonder and bewilderment.  But, how about the vision, perseverance, and sacrifice of a mother who sensed the Lord calling her and her family to abandonment of (relative) normalcy to bring two orphan girls into a loving family?

In the words of Martin Luther, “Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend–it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey’s end. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire–that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple.”

-Rob

Happy on a swing with a friend!

20140502-191752.jpg

1

Hello Again

Hey there friends and family!! It’s been a long time since we updated here but we’re going to give it a go again! This has been a wonderful and miraculous and extremely difficult transition for our family. If you have seen me out and about town I have probably shared with you some of our difficulties. I’m not an overly private person, so it hasn’t been trying to hide information that has kept me from blogging here. I’ve simply been crazy exhausted. But things are starting to feel much, much more manageable and we really want to keep updating and documenting our journey for all the people who’ve loved and supported us through this. Kind of like having a newborn, you hit the 3 or 4 month mark and start to feel like you actually are alive again! I also realized that I documented and blogged so much in China because I had no access to movies or TV!!! Sooo, we’ve recognized we are media-oholics in this family and we’ve begun the journey of taking media out of our house as much as possible – that’s another blog for another day. Father Rob has written a great blog on his perspective of the past few months and I’m going to publish that one tomorrow. But I wanted to give a quick update about the girls’ names. Seeing friends out in town, I’ve been confusing people constantly because we are calling Lili Claire the name Clara Anne now. I just wanted to clear that up so that when we blog in the future everybody knows what kids we are actually talking about!! When we picked the girls names, Louisa’s was really easy. Her name was Louisa on the waiting child list we saw and I thought it fit her perfectly. It means “renowned warrior” and it is an awesome name for her. She is a really strong and determined person! Of course Louisa has to go with May, that was a no-brainer. Plus she was born in May. Perfect! She adores her name. She has loved it and has claimed it from the first. She won’t even acknowledge her Chinese name anymore. That is something we will want to address in the future because her Chinese name is truly beautiful and has a wonderful meaning as well – “wise brightness”. For now we’re letting her embrace her new American self. Hanli’s name was a little more difficult for us to come up with. She had no American name already. For a long time we didn’t know what her chinese name meant. We went through a bunch of options. Finally we really felt good about the name Clara Anne. Clara means “clear” and Anne means “grace”. I just think that is the most beautiful name for her. God truly has shown such grace in her little life. It is also the name of the little girl in the Nutcracker. Most of the videos we had of her, she was dancing. Very sweet. But at the last minute I got cold feet actually calling her Clara and changed her name to be Hanli Claire Anne or “Li Li Claire”. However when we got to China she was confused by us calling her Hanli Claire. She didn’t understand why we kept her chinese name but not Louisa’s. She didn’t seem as excited about it. We also don’t pronounce her Chinese name correctly either and that still bothers her. When we got home I really started wanting to call her Clara Anne again. So I did the best thing I think we could have done, we just asked her what she wanted to be called. She chose Clara Anne. And she loves it!! She seemed thrilled to have a Victorian sounding double name like Louisa May. In fact, whenever I call her Hanli now she gets frustrated and shakes her finger at me and says no mommy – “my(ah) name(ah) is Clara Anne(ah). So we have Louisa May and Clara Anne. Both have little nicknames in our family. To Rob they are Louisa and Claire, as he has always despised double names…! To Elizabeth they are May and Anne. But to all the rest of the world and myself they are Louisa May and Clara Anne.
They are sweet and lovely and funny and endearing and difficult and stubborn and sassy and ill tempered and easily offended, etc. and sometimes all these things on the same day. Some days I look at them and see my daughters and some days I look at them and see strangers. That has been very hard. But I have had excellent counsel from several adoptive moms who have helped me walk the very bizarre road of older child bonding. And we have absolutely felt the prayers lifted up for us!!! I feel we have almost been carried through these months. We are learning to take things one day at a time and to try to show love no matter what that day brings. That’s not easy but through Christ, we really can do hard things!

~K

Louisa May taking a selfie!

20140430-185030.jpg

20140430-184633.jpg
Clara Anne at Six Flags!

1

Home and finally AWAKE!

China coming home-3-1

There and Back Again!

Hello again world!!!! We arrived home a week ago, Thursday the 12th to the most amazing welcoming committee and house decorated by the dearest friends and then promptly fell asleep for a week!  I have never in my life experienced jet lag this badly.  All of us, except Rob, have just been like zombies around here.  Even the little ones seemed to breath a sigh of relief and need to sleep to recover too.  I think for me, the sleep needed was from the jet lag but also the extreme emotional journey we’ve just been through.  I still feel complete amazement that just three weeks ago we were standing on the Great Wall of Ch*na and today we’re home with two more children and getting back into real life.  The trip is really too fast and yet being away from David and Lilibet that long just about did me in!  When we got to the airport on Thursday we had no idea we would have such a sweet and excited group waiting there for us!!!  Our agency Lifeline was there with a banner surrounded by family and wonderful friends. Rob’s brother and our sister in law drove all the way from Birmingham with their boys to be there for us and that meant the world to us!  My dear friend Laura was there with Lucy, the girls Ch*na sister and the look on Lucy’s face when she saw the girls was unforgettable.  My friend Ashley was there who I have gotten to know and love on this adoption journey, her adoption was not able to be completed through very frustrating and difficult circumstances but she was gracious and encouraging enough to come and be there for me as I hoped to be there for her.  That is real friendship.  Mom and Amy are my heroes and have just gone above and beyond the call of duty for us over this past month!!!  The highlight of coming into that welcoming home was all of the kids running break neck speed towards each other from both sides and crashing into each other in a monster bear hug/ wrestling match.  It was awesome.  And to see Lucy and Hanli run full speed towards each other was enough to make me burst into tears.  To think of that video we got over 9 months ago of the two of them dancing together in Hefei City, Ch*na and then to see them together once more in that airport in Atlanta, Georgia. In fact, that is when the tears really did start to come.  Tears I really never shed while we were in Ch*na, except when we were at the orphanage and then my heart broke… and you have to cry when your heart breaks.  Other than that I stuffed my emotions.  It was just too hard to let them out and look at them.  I had too much to get through everyday and really when you focus on others and what they need, it truly does help in not giving way to your own feelings.  But I finally let my emotions out on coming home.  The dam really burst forth though when we got to our house.  We went to eat with the cousins which was wonderful and then headed home.  As we started heading home this feeling of, well a little bit of fear of “what in the world do we do with them now” crept in but mostly just this feeling of loneliness.  Almost feeling like “okay now we’re here and it will be us alone in this endeavor”… I should have had better faith though.  As soon as we turned the curve to the house we saw HUGE beautiful banners on the side of the house and a fantastic balloon display on the mailbox and as we went inside…oh my word.  Dear precious friends were there to greet us!!  Our house had been decorated top to bottom, inside and out with the most beautiful greenery and Christmas decorations by some of our closest friends!  Our pantry was stocked, we had meals in the freezer and two other dear friends collaborated to bring us even more meals and extremely delicious treats the next day too.  When I saw my friends standing there and then started to take in all they had done, I just melted.  I cried and cried so much that I think Louisa thought I was a little bit nuts.  When they told me about all the people who had been coming in and out the day before to help make this home glow and who had worked so hard on all of the beautiful little decorations that now hung all over, including my absolute favorite~ a string of cut-out dancing ladies on the end of each girl’s bed complete with little fascinators on their heads.  There are no words to describe how encouraged, upheld and honored we felt and continue to feel to be surrounded by this group of people!!!  When you step out onto the water to follow Christ, it can feel very isolating.  But we were never meant to walk this journey alone.  He never meant us to follow His call alone.  I think we have seen a life changing picture of how we should live life with one another, stepping into God’s calling with each other, upholding each other and helping carry each other’s burdens. And maybe too a small glimpse of what the reception will look like for believers in Jesus Christ, who one day will be welcomed home for good. Happy tears, laughter, celebrations and utmost JOY!  Thank you to all of you who carried us over the past few weeks, with your words and prayers and messages while we were gone.  Each day I woke up in another part of the world and felt more connected to my people than I may ever have before.  You kept us going, you helped us face each new challenging day with faith instead of fear.  The Lord has used you, you are a blessing and we are SO overwhelmingly grateful!

20131222-042208.jpg On the plane getting all of her jewels organized!

20131222-042246.jpg

1463599_10202196717135965_881178376_n The pile of excited kids on the floor in the ATL airport

1463087_10202196716655953_1174271590_n

1465155_10202196167122215_521919295_n Mima won the girls over with all of these huge balloons!!

1460011_10202196715655928_934328086_n

20131222-042426.jpg

1477443_10202196714215892_1868709049_n

1460106_10153621088275217_382523179_n One of my favorite pictures, they were so excited to see each other!

1484214_10153621088445217_1741130560_n

549596_10153621087770217_1524891544_n Raised by the same foster mom on the other side of the world.  I’m still amazed!

1461735_10153621085830217_741186262_n Lucy brought two books, the Bible and the Nutcracker to share with the girls.  That’s my kind of greeting!

20131222-042452.jpg I’ve never done anything more difficult in my life than to leave my baby for so long. SO glad to be home!

20131222-042534.jpg

20131222-042656.jpg

20131222-042729.jpg

20131222-043001.jpg Crazy story, our friends Amanda and Beau on the right met this family, on the left, at Starbucks one day in Guangzhou. Turns out Kristi was Beau’s babysitter in Florida once upon a time.  Too funny and a God thing and we loved getting to know them and their sweet girls!

1459835_10202196168402247_1074545675_n

1465260_10153621083850217_641640142_n Adoptive moms share so many ups and downs together!

1467479_10202196162762106_1911267625_n Uncle Shane and the boys.  Our boys about passed out they were so excited to see them!

1476233_10153621083395217_2087435194_n This is one of the fire marshalls that was on duty.  He was so interested in our story, wanted to know all about it and then wanted a picture to be able to share the story of Lucy and Louisa with his friends!

1441220_10202196708735755_491574888_n

1486847_10153621082120217_1226136140_n

1476341_10153621081685217_173062706_n

575444_10153621083690217_1552326267_n This is one of the best things about the agency we adopted with.  The community of support that gets built around you. So happy to be welcomed home by this goup.  And in the back right is the only picture I have of my sister in law Mitzi for some reason.  But she deserves a spotlight all of her own!!!  Her support has been unwavering and she has done SO much to be a help, encourager and faithful friend to us in this endeavor.  Love you Mitzi!

China coming home-1 We had double banners to welcome us home!!!

China coming home-1-1

China coming home-4-1

photo 2 (3) Absolutely beautiful.

20131223-072616.jpg Our tree with Lanier Ivester lights, the best tree lighting we’ve ever had!!!

photo 2 (4) Sweet cards and notes from friends to us and the girls.

20131223-072554.jpg The dancing ladies with fascinators!!  Ohhhhh, love them so much!

20131223-072601.jpg

photo 1 (3) My dear, wonderful friend Elizabeth who brought us food and this cake that was devoured in two days… Her food is fabulous and you can get some too, here’s her FB site

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeths-Edibles-Personal-Chef-Services/165481036849722 

 

China coming home-7-1

Faithful and true. Thank you sweet friends!!

~K

2

See you in Mei Guo!!!

20131212-091200.jpg

 

We are about to board the plane in Seoul to finish the long journey home!!!!  We’ll be in Atlanta Thursday morning!!!!  As Anne Shirley said ” I feel broken down and green and provincial and only ten years old. For pity’s sake, please take me someplace where I can hear myself think!”  We love traveling and we have loved China but we are SO ready to get home!!!!!!  Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us and supported us in this amazing adventure!  We have felt so uplifted, so encouraged and really words can not express our gratitude.  I do believe so much that the Lord created us to live in community with each other, to uphold each other and help each other with the callings He gives each one of us.  We have experienced that in such a deep and life changing way because of the dear family and friends who have stood in the gap for us in this time!!!!!  Thank you, thank you and we love you.  We thank God for you and pray His richest blessings on your lives!  See you in America!

~K

 

 

2

More Pictures and A Whirlwind in Guangzhou

We have had so many appointments, activities and fun that it has been a whirlwind.  We leave this evening to start the long road back home!!!!!  I mean, really, how did that happen?  I feel like I blinked and we were boarding a plane to come to Ch*na and now we’re about to get right back on it and come home with two very special new treasures!!  And that’s just how I feel about them.  I had no idea looking ahead two weeks ago what in the world was going to happen.  How would they react and what would we do.  It has been amazing.  They’re just our kids, plain and simple.  With ordinary kid awesomeness and kid obnoxiousness.  We’ve seen their good moods and bad moods, etc.  It’s just family.  And it is a miracle!  The past few days we have spent time going to the last apts. we’ve had to get all of the last of the paperwork in a row.  We went to their medical apts. and to the US Consulate.  We have been to several shopping outings to buy some special things from our time here.  The thing I have absolutely enjoyed the most has been going to Shamian Island.  It’s a little section of Guangzhou that was the British and French concession during imperial Ch*na.  It was stepping into a dreamland for me.  I am such a ridiculous Anglophile.  Anything that even gives me a hint of the Victorians and I start to float away in a cloud of loveliness!!!!!!!  It actually reminds me so much of Savannah, GA.  With the palm trees and almost more colonial architecture.  It has beautiful garden areas and one can only imagine how spectacular it would have looked when it was in it’s heyday.  They have really done a fantastic job maintaining it and most of the buildings are in excellent condition and are in use.  There a lots of little shops and a few cafes and it is just SO pleasant!!!  There is a hotel on the island and I have been simply a grump ever since I saw it that we aren’t staying there!!!  It would have been a little haven from the busyness of the city.  We spent two afternoons there and took lots of pictures and just breathed in the atmosphere.  My only regret on this trip is that we haven’t gotten to do more of that in general.  I would have loved to get out of the cities into the countryside.  To really get to see the beauty of our girls’ land.  Anhui province where they are from has some stunning mountain areas and lakes.  When we come back we will do that.  We are a part of Ch*na now.  We carry it with us and always will.  When we were first here and walking around the Summer Palace I really tried to put that into the boys’ hearts.  A part of our family is Ch*nese now, our grandchildren will have Ch*nese blood, their nieces or nephews will be bound to this place and we are bound now to, because of what the Lord has done in our hearts and in our family.  I am so incredibly happy about that.  I want my children to really understand the meaning of the song “He’s Got the Whole World In HIS Hands”.  To understand it and to really live it.  To not shy away from people out of fear or desire for their own comforts.  We have embraced these children as our own and they ARE our own now.  Our family will never be the same.  And that is a GOOD thing!!!!!  Once again we thank Him that we didn’t say no to this, that we walked this road and that we are better because of it!

20131211-112341.jpg Our fantastic travel group!  We had so much fun with them and gleaned a bunch of great info. from the experienced adoptive families we have in this group!  We have a lot to learn from these wonderful people!

20131211-112433.jpg Fun times with Baba or Bobbeeeee, as they call him!!

20131211-112506.jpg

20131211-112529.jpg

20131211-112559.jpg

20131211-112631.jpg I don’t know what I would be doing without my dear chum and fellow market bargain shopper Amanda!!!! Can’t imagine them not being here with us, it has been the best part!!

20131211-112650.jpg

20131211-113944.jpg Shamian Island!!

20131211-113930.jpg

20131211-112726.jpg So…we lost Rob for a time on the island.  This was the pair I was stuck with and neither of them handled it well. They eventually joined hands for comfort. We’ve learned a lot about which child needs to paired with the other on this trip… This picture is priceless!

20131211-112744.jpg

20131211-112801.jpg

20131211-112818.jpg The prettiest Starbucks I’ve ever seen and they had a great bathroom. Win win!!!!

20131211-112918.jpg

20131211-112941.jpg

20131211-113002.jpg In the Catholic church

20131211-113015.jpg

20131211-113038.jpg The school kids came out to play and got a big kick out of Joshua and Andrew.

20131211-113110.jpg The Queen’s post in Ch*na…of course!

20131211-113124.jpg

20131211-113215.jpg

20131211-113240.jpg

20131211-113304.jpg

20131211-113332.jpg They have so many brides taking pictures everyday.  Some of them had on the most fascinating of Fascinators!!!

20131211-113350.jpg

20131211-113408.jpg

20131211-113422.jpg

20131211-113431.jpg

20131211-113443.jpg The US Consulate and what could possibly be more American than the Denver Broncos!!!

20131211-113451.jpg

~K

1

And then I walked in poop

Adventures in Eaker adoption land continue.  We are finally in the city of Guangzhou.  It is in the south of Ch*na and the last stop on our whirlwind adoption ride.  Time has passed so fast that I am trying to catch my breath.  We went to the orphanage on Thursday in Hefei but that’s a post for another day.  I need a little longer to process all of the emotions involved.  For now some of the crazier moments we’ve had in Hefei and Guangzhou.  On Wednesday we went to the provincial museum and really had a fantastic time.  It is a beautiful new museum with a lot of amazing old world items from Anhui province.  I loved the 1700s beautiful carved windows and delicate scrolls, Rob loved the antique tools, the boys loved all of the dragon carvings that are on everything and the girls loved the beautiful jewel collection on loan from the Forbidden City.  It was a lot of fun.  Of course, the most fun is our adventures in being the parents of a child in a wheelchair and learning how get her around the streets of provincial Ch*na.  We had quite the time trying to get across the street to Wal-Mart with the wheelchair when we got back from the museum.  This street is under major construction, as is everything in Hefei.  You just have to jump on out there with every type of vehicle and bicycle known to man.  There was a very narrow road way that we had to walk to get to Wal-Mart that also included walking around a very large puddle of running, raw sewage.  Yes, RAW sewage. The six of us set off on this adventure to get presents for the girls friends at the orphanage.  We made our way across pretty well, only took us 20 minutes to get across that one road.  But on the way back we had about 10 bags of stuff, a massive amount of stuff we had bought for the their friends and we had to carry all of that plus push the wheel chair, plus all of the Crazy amount of traffic whirling around us.  Lili Claire likes to hold on tight to one of our arms when we go somewhere new and gets disoriented by all of that chaos so I had her with me at the back of our line, trying to carry about six bags and not get hit by a car.  At one point I panicked and got scared we were going to get hit so I just started walking super fast and accidentally made us stomp our way right through the RAW sewage puddle!!!!!!  Raw sewage splashed ALL over us and I mean ALL over us.  On Lili Claire’s beautiful new coat, her new shoes, her tights, her hands, YUCK, YUCK, YUCK!!! This child is just as OCD as her new Mama and does not like to be dirty, let alone covered in POOP!  We made our way back up to the hotel room and don’t ask me how but I managed to clean and sanitize every thing without throwing up.  It pushed every germophobic button I have and she was thoroughly traumatized!!!! We did not venture over to that side of the street with them for the rest of the trip!! Blech!

20131207-173318.jpg20131207-173423.jpg20131207-173417.jpg

Our trip to Guangzhou was another adventure.  These two girls have lived their entire lives in their province and have never been anywhere close to an airplane.  Everything was new.  The packing up and getting all of our bags to the van, the standing in ticket lines, the going through security, etc. etc.  The airline put Louisa’s wheelchair on the plane first thing so we used an airport wheelchair.  They insisted they needed to wheel her around another way that we could not come.  So off she went by herself, which I really didn’t like and we made our way the normal route. It took them a super long time to get her there and I was starting to get really worried. Thankfully she showed up again right before we were supposed to get on…note to self – always stay with your child!!!  We were hoping that perhaps since she was in a wheelchair they would put at least some of us up at the front of the section. Nope, Rob had to carry her all the way to almost the back of the plane.  Nice.  Once we got off the elevator down to baggage was broken so Rob picked her up again and jumped on the escalator with her to go down.  That one made my heart stop.  Thankfully she has a strong daddy.  She loves it when he carries her!!!!!  Lili Claire loved the plane ride so much.  She giggled and clapped and just starred in awe.  In some ways she is definitely like a toddler, very socially behind and shows the signs of a child raised her entire life in an institution.  But I love her enthusiasm and her excitement.  Maybe we should all be more like that.  After all, Jesus said we are to have faith like a child.

By the time we got done with all this week of adventures plus the plane ride to Guangzhou we were almost sick with exhaustion.  We completely passed out.  I have experienced terrible jet leg before on trips and am just so, so thankful it hasn’t been bad at all on this one.  Each night we have felt very refreshed and renewed.  The Lord is so faithful when it is says in His Word that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion!

20131207-171907.jpg Fun in the hotel room in Hefei!

20131207-172018.jpg She made Daddy a princess!  She laughed so hard.  She loves him so much!

20131207-172044.jpg Lili Claire loves to take pictures of her bears.  So glad they are still young enough to have “little” girl things.  It makes it so much easier to parent them.

20131207-172111.jpg They put their princess crowns on their stuffed lovies.  Sweet girls!

20131207-172139.jpg One last picture in front of the tree.  Andrew is the photo bomb master by now.  He thinks its so funny!

20131207-172240.jpg At the airport ready for their very first plane flight.  Louisa was up at dawn packing her bag!  See ya Hefei, she is outta here!!

20131207-172302.jpg

20131207-172324.jpg Our fantastic guide.  I just love this woman.  She has such a special heart for these kids and has worked hard for them.  She has a very sweet bond with Louisa and was the first to advocate for her several years ago.  She was so excited and just thrilled that we adopted Louisa.

20131207-172357.jpg They love each other!

20131207-172410.jpg She is beyond excited to be on her way to Mei guo ~ America!

20131207-172425.jpg My amazing, sweet boy.  He has risen to every crazy thing we have asked of him.  VERY proud!!!!

20131207-173405.jpg Matching glasses and headbands!  It’s mommy love!

20131207-172517.jpg The Garden Hotel in Guangzhou.  LOVE it!  This tree is awesome.

20131207-172601.jpg

20131207-172618.jpg The fountain in the gardens.  We can see this from our window.

~ k