Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - a beautiful year

I certainly have not been a good blogger since we got home with Mia Jade.  I use to follow blogs and was often so disappointed when the posts stops after they got home but I can relate now.  First, life is much busier.  For me, not only do I now have two children, I am also still in grad school which I do online at night, when I would have been posting.  Also I do think about being careful about posting my children's lives online.  I am pretty active on Facebook now a well where I have better control over who sees what I post.  All that being said, I seem to have been on a roll posting on New Year's Eve, so here it is!

2013 has really been a busy but great year.  My life has settled into having two children.  I have heard it takes about six month for everyone to settle in and I can see that.  Right when I thought Zane would never get use to his sister, right around six months, he seems to start getting that she is here to stay and starting to independently relate to her.  He's world was really rocked when she arrived.  For five years he was an only child then a toddler rocked his world.  People ask me how they get along and my best answer is that they act like sibling, hating each other one minute and loving each other the next!

Mia Jade has really changed in a year.  She has had so many first starting with her first full year home.  She really has no delays except for speech.  She understands everything you say but it's still hard to understand her much of the time.  It's hard not to compare when Zane was having conversations at her age.  She is so smart and gets very frustrated when I don't know what she is saying.  She is putting up to four words together which is awesome.  She can throw a bit of a two year old temper-tantrum as well at times (still nothing like Zane at two!) but overall she is very loving, my sunshine!

Zane I think is growing before my eyes!  He is so smart, cute and a bit crazy but he is so much fun.  He started kindergarten this year which is hard to believe.  We tried to get him to ride his bike for over a year, then one day said he wanted to ride and got on and rode off - an example of his personality.  I think he will be able to do anything he sets his mind to unless he lets himself beat him.

Personally, my faith took some huge steps this year.  For one I was baptized.  I was baptized as a child and have been a Christian for a long time but I realized that I had not made the adult decision to surrender my life to Christ, so I did that.  It was more impressive on my life than I expected.  I have had so much more peace and feel so much closer to Christ since my baptism.  I also helped to launch an adoption program at my church; a mentor and education program to help those interested in adoption.  I'm very excited to see what 2014 has in store for our ministry.  I have also become a regular volunteer of Love Without Boundaries, an amazing group helping orphans and impoverished children in China.

Professionally, this year also brought a change in Mike's job after 13 years.  It has brought me a few more classes closer to graduation with my master's (three more classes to go).  

One of my favorite things about this year has been the growth of my friendship with a lady in China, living just across the river from Mia's orphanage.  We are pen-pals of sort and have oddly become very good friends.  She was even able to obtain very valuable information about Mia's past for us.  I hope our friendship will continue to grow for years to come.

Overall I feel this year was the start of a lot of new exciting things that will continue to grow in the years to come.  2013 was great, but I think 2014 is going to be even better!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Gotcha Day!

Today is Mia Jade's first Gotcha Day anniversary!  So many major changes and milestone have occurred since one year ago.  My baby girl's life changed in every way, turned upside down - the people she knew and loved, the language she understood, where she lived, the foods she ate, the places she was use to, smells, sights and sounds, her routine, everything.  She did it like a trooper and usually with a smile on her face.  She is flourishing....and her hair is growing!  A bit about her:
  • Just within the last month she has started putting two words together which is very exciting.  And she knows it's good and a new skill because she is so happy when she accomplishes saying two meaningful words together.  
  • She is such a girl.  She loves shoes, purses, her earrings and pretending to talk on her toy cell phone.  She dotes on her dolls, pushes them around in doll strollers, and loves to see babies...and dogs.
  • Few things upset her, like if I don't understand what she is trying to say.  That frustrates her and I feel so badly.  
  • She is a bit of a daredevil but doesn't like the swing.  
  • She is a great imitator, especially of her brother.  She will do anything that he does.  
I can't put in words the joy she brings to me everyday.  She is such sunshine.  She is so happy, sometimes she laughs just to laugh.  And there is no way I can imagine my life without her.  
I love her so much, I am so thankful that she is happy and that I can give her a life with a family that will love her forever.  "It was worth the wait" is so cliche but it is so true.  She was worth every tear, every painful day that we waited.  I tell Zane that he is my dream come true and I tell Mia Jade she is the answer to my prayers.  I am so blessed.  Happy Gotcha Day my sunshine!  I love you baby girl!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A year ago today...

A year ago today my mom and I were on a plane to China!  It's so hard to believe.  What an amazing journey we were setting out on.  Of course the focus was to get Mia Jade but the first couple days it was me, Mom and China!  I loved seeing Beijing, standing on the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City and taking it all in.  So today I don't reflect on Mia's gotcha just yet, but on the leap of faith at the end of a long journey with my best friend, my mom.  Not a day goes by that I do not think about China - the people, the food, the history, everything.  I loved being in China and I pray I will be able to go back again some day.  I hope it's with mom again.  It will definitely be with Mia Jade.  I want her to love China like I love China.  Thank you Mom for always supporting me and being the best travel partner I could have asked for!  It was an amazing two weeks and a life changing event in many ways!

Friday, March 15, 2013

6 Months Home

It is really amazing how fast time goes now compared to how slowly it went before our referral.  Mia Jade has been in my arms for 6 months now and I truly can not imagine, remember life without her.  Partially I think because I always knew she was going to be in my life.  I didn't know her face, where she would come from or when, but God has prepared my heart for her for 30 years.  And now she is here and she is such a joy!  She is so happy, laughs the biggest belly laugh, is daring and adventurous, and is overall just fun and easy.

She little notes on her development.  She loves to look at books now but her favorite are photo books of the family.  I love when she sees a picture of me, she looks at me and says "mama" and gives me a kiss.  She loves to give kisses!  And she also loves pictures of her daddy.  She is saying a lot of words now but mostly single words, hasn't really put two words together yet and her words need work on pronunciation.  She can keep herself busy and entertained playing by herself (something her brother never did!).  She likes to pretend to change her baby doll's diapers.  For a girl who did not know toys, she loves toys and can throw a fit for them in the store....we are approaching the terrible two's after all.  Her favorite things are her shoes, purses and jacket...definitely a girl.  She will pack as much as she can into a purse and then get on her rocking horse to go.  She got her first haircut...didn't think that would ever happen after her spiky hair when we got her.  And she LOVES the water.  She loves her bath, the pool and will head right into the ocean.  This summer is going to be fun!

Everyone told me that 6 months is when everything seems to just settle in and I believe that; I'm not saying is all perfect.  Zane still has struggles in his new life sharing mom and dad (and grandmom) and more than once has said he didn't want a little sister but each day is better.  He loves her one minute and doesn't the next...just like siblings I guess.  Mia Jade has made our part of being parents of two very easy.  She is just such an easy going girl.  And she is just happy.

As I was working the other day, I remembered how much of my time would be taken up by looking for referral news, calculating how much longer it would take, pining over how long the wait was.  I feel so refreshed and relaxed now.  The wait was very hard.  There is NO DOUBT it was worth is but it really was hard.  I am so glad that part is behind us and we are the family I always prayed for.  I LOVE my babies!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

4 Months since Gotcha!

I can hardly believe it has already been 4 months since that day in a hot sticky second floor office in Guiyang, Guizhou Fu Han Yu was place in my arms.  She was so scared, confused and almost devoid of emotion for the first 10 minutes and then tears.  She scratched at my face and ripped off my earring as I took her from the people she knew.  That first night was scary for her and us.  What were we doing on the other side of the world getting a toddler who doesn't know a word of what we are saying or us what she was saying.  But some stacking cups and an order of french fries seemed to make it all better.

Now I can't imagine life without her.  She is such a joy, has an amazing giggle and smile and the cutest wrinkles on her nose when she laughs really hard.  She is so comfortable in really any surroundings.  She goes on in to Sunday school and child care at the gym without reservation because she is confidant mommy will be back soon.  She will entertain herself so much that I often feel badly when she is off playing alone and I am doing something or playing with Zane but she is super content.  Although she is very happy when it is her turn to have my full attention.

She is speaking a new word almost everyday and seems to understand most anything said to her.  She loves her shoes and is eager to get her jacket when it's time to go.  She must have a bow on her head before leaving her room but it hardly ever lasts by time we get to where we are going.  She knows what she wants and let's you know when it is not going the way she wants it.  She loves her big brother and imitates him often.  And she is crazy about dogs.

She is starting to sit in my lap and listen to a book and look at the pages.  From her reaction/behavior a few months ago when I would try to read her a book, I am pretty sure she had never had a book shown to her or read to her.  And she really likes puzzles.

I am so impressed by how well she has done and adapted so quickly.  She is super sweet and fun and the answer to my prayers!!  She was well worth the wait!

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012! WOW!

2012 will come to an end in just a couple hours and it's difficult to comprehend the year that it has been.  It started with the assumption that finally we would get our referral for Mia Jade and indeed we did on June 25th.  But it almost seems like two different years - the one leading up to our referral and then the one after referral.

As I look back, the first half of the year was extremely stressful but at every step, our prayers were answered.  We were worried about our finances to finalize the adoption but were blessed by unexpected money that eased our fears.  Next I had major surgery, which is always concerning but it went along the best case scenario.  And the most stressful time, as we renewed our home study, the reality of the life changes ahead and possible challenges really freaked us out for a few days.  We questioned if we were doing the right thing, if we were ready to 'rock the boat' by adding another family member.  Zane was use to being an only child, he had come to a point where he was pretty ease and here we were ready to 'start over' with baby/toddler.  Fortunately God calmed our fears fairly quickly and we were back on track.  As scary as it was for a couple days, I am glad we addressed these fears head on and communicated through them.  It gave me the confidence that we were indeed finalizing this decision together.

I decided to take the summer off of school so I could focus more on my time with Zane.  I knew that it was going to be difficult for him to share me and honestly for me to share my time with another.  He is my dream come true, my baby miracle. He changed my life from black and white to technicolor.  Would I love this child as much as him?  Would I focus too much on her?  My mom always told me a mother's love does not divide but grows with a second child and besides I am that second child and what a relationship I have with my mom!

So as referrals were approaching the excitement and anxiety increased.  What was our referral going to hold?  I reviewed our petition for 2006.  We wanted a girl (a friend of mine got a boy referral and was very surprised but there had been a mix up with their original paperwork), so I was pretty confident it would be a girl but the number of boys have increased.  I would love another boy but this type of adoption plays weird games with your head when you are asked to request a gender and then six years go by and you expect that is what your referral will be.  We asked for 0-12 months of age - generally the youngest is 5-6 months old but referral have been getting older as of recently.   I was hoping to get our baby home by her first birthday.  And twins...that was on our original request but as unlikely as it was, we submitted an addendum that we did not want twins...we would have our two now, I don't think we could handle three!

We were getting close in April/May and it turned out the cut-off day was the day before our LID so I was confident we were next, which was very comforting.  Our agency got our matches on Friday but we had to wait until Monday for 'the call'.  I was surprisingly calm all weekend.  I was ready - we were ready!  Then 'the call' came on June 25th.  A girl, 14 months old (I must admit initially a little disappointing), from a province I had not heard of after all the years of following referrals, in an orphanage not foster care, and that face - not what I expected, not the typical Han looking baby but adorable!  As I learned of her province, she could possibly a minority of China, not the majority Han.  And that name!  Fu Han Yu - "cherished jade"!  All those years ago and angel whispered in my ear, in a state of half awake/half asleep that I would name her Mia Jade.  Her fate, my faith, were nailed down at that moment.

The referral to travel time was crazy, face paced, exciting, stressful, fun, anxious, reality at full speed!  It was so comforting to finally have a face to look at and thank God for.   Putting together the crib that had been put away for so long, painting the room and made a nursery!  I pulled out years of purchased clothes, sadly put aside the 6m & 9m clothes and focused on the 12m & 18m clothes. There was a little bit of 'mourning' period over her age but in the end, her age, as everything turned out perfectly!  The mourning did not last long but it was an adjustment in my mind.  Now I am so thankful that she is her age, she is easier to care for than a baby as toddlers are independent in nature, allowing more time to focus back onto Zane.

And travel & Gotcha!  No words can sum up that trip.  It was the most amazing two weeks of my life and with my best friend (mom!).  I think about the trip almost everyday since I have been home.  Standing on the Great Wall, wondering through the Forbidden City, being handed my daughter, walking the streets of China, seeing her orphanage, her crib, meeting amazing families on the same trip and Chinese who were as fascinated in see me as me seeing their home.  I loved that trip!!  It was about as perfect as it could have been.  (I always thought I would like to take her back as she gets older but now I know it is a place I want to return, hopefully sooner other than later.)  And ultimately bringing her to her father and brother, to a home that will give her the family that she was missing, and an opportunity to know Jesus Christ.  This year also brought the opening of our new church, the Church of Eleven 22 and another answered prayer, Mike has been going to church with us.  To have all four of us walking in the doors of church as a family is as wonderful of a thing as I can ask for!  Mike took Zane to church while I was in China to keep his norm and it was another wonderful benefit of the time away from home.

And the last few months, getting to know my daughter, has been better than I could have ever expected.  She has adjusted so well.  She is happy and joyful, funny and loves to do whatever her brother does!  But there are still challenges.  Loving an internationally adopted child is interesting.  I loved her before I knew her, before I ever saw her face.  I loved her when they handed her to me but I have been falling in love with her over the past three months.  We are still getting to know each other.  Still working on communication.  Still adjusting to a family of four.  Still working on balancing time for her and time for Zane.  Since she has been home we have had Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and five family birthdays.  It has been crazy to say the least but it has been very good.  That being said, I am ready for a low-key time period and finding a 'new normal' in 2013.  I have LOVED 2012, it was a year that I waited a long time for, I'm a little sad to see it go, but I am also really looking forward to 2013.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


There are no words for how wonderful it was to have Mia Jade at home for Christmas after so many Christmases waiting.  Of course she had no idea what was going on but Zane made up for that!  Another interesting milestone on Christmas day was that it marks 6 months since referral day - June 25th.  How fast time has flown these past six months!  It's funny how slow 6 months moved while waiting.  So much has happened in this time.  Referral to travel was filled with paperwork and excitement then the best trip of my life, and now starting a new life.  The best part of Christmas is knowing that I will give Mia Jade the best gift that I can give and that is sharing my faith for Jesus with her.  Something she would not have had where she was.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, so thankful

Thanksgiving Day, when we take time to reflect on what we are thankful for, and as a Christian, I reflect my thanks to my Lord.  This year I can look at the face of my daughter and I am so thankful for Mia Jade finally being home, for her health, her adjustment, and her joyful personality.  Of course I am so thankful for the wonderfulness of Zane!  And I have a wonderful husband who is a happy daddy.  I honestly have never been happier in my entire life.  I am so thankful to God and how He has blessed my family.

Today had an extra blessing, a surprise email from a new friend in China.  I asked if she would buy local items and take them to the orphanage as a donation from me and of course Mia.  While they were there, they were able to get some photos from one of the nanny's cell phone!  They are a bit blurry but a wonderful glimpse at her before she came home.

This one has a date stamp of Sept 9th, her Gotcha Day, just hours before we were united!
And now, into Christmas season.  I am so excited for Mia Jade's first Christmas!  Yes, she was born before last Christmas but this is her first Christmas.  And it will be magical!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wow, time flies once you are home!

I can not believe that we have been home for just over 5 weeks now!  It is amazing how slow time went between each referral batch (about a month each batch) for the first half of the year and now how quickly time has gone since we've been home.  Mia Jade has done an amazing job adjusting to her new life.  She is such an easy and happy child.  She has meld into our family so easily.  One funny thing about her is that she loves to give kisses!  She even kisses the dog.  In fact, the dog may have gotten the most kisses out of any of us!  It's so funny how most of these kids are scared of dogs and she can't get enough of our big black lab.

She is saying only a few english words such as "mama", "bye-bye" and "bow" but she understands much more.  Communication has not been much of an issue as people seem to think.  As a mom you tend to know what your child wants/needs.

She is walking so much better than just a few weeks ago.  I think she had just started walking a couple weeks before we got her and toddled like a 12 month old but now she is much more stable and really gets around well.

She is very independent.  I think some of that is her age as toddlers like to do things on their own, part is her upbringing having done things on her own and part of it is her personality.  But is it joyful to see her trying things and getting joy out of succeeding.  And she is very good at copying what you do.

She is very ticklish and has a great laugh!

She will eat anything.  I haven't found anything yet that she won't eat including vegetables; she loves corn on the cob!  They told us at the orphanage that she likes to snack and they aren't kidding.  But I think they gave out snacks like toys, something for them to do.

She's just learning what to do with toys.  I don't think they had many/any toys at the orphanage.  She would rather pick up a pen than a toy.  I think they may have just handed her anything that they had in their hands to entertain her.

She definitely still favors me but is doing better away from me each day.  She is staring to go to her daddy more readily as well.  And daddy has been awesome in his patience.  She loves Zane and I know Zane loves her but he's still adjusting a bit to sharing mommy and daddy.  News flash: 5 year old boys don't like it when their 18 month old sister comes and takes his Legos or army men, in case you needed to know.

I am so proud of her.  It is really overwhelming when you think of the changes that she has faced.  Her entire world is different - the people, place, timezone, food, routine, language - and she is as happy as I could ever have expected.

We are so blessed.  Having her finally in our family has given me the greatest peace in my life that I have ever known!  I thank God that He provided me with the faith to fulfill the calling that He placed in my heart so many years ago!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Home at Last!!

We are finally home and it was quite a trip!  It started off well with Mia Jade sleeping during half of the van trip (3 1/2 hour drive), was up playing during the layover in Hong Kong then slept most of the first flight (which left just after midnight).  She was up again during layover in Seoul so I figured we were in great shape for her to sleep on the long flight.  Wrong!  She actually did settle down and fell asleep in the bassinet early in the flight but within a few minutes the captain announced some turbulence and turned on the seatbelt sign.  Unfortunately that also meant that the babies in the bassinet had to be moved to the lap.  That was it, she woke up.  A little later on she dozed off in my lap, I went to put her in the bassinet, again, awake.  This time she was awake for the next 10 hours of the flight.  She was happy mostly but did not want to sit still.  She wanted to be up in my lap, down on the floor, walking around, anything but sleep.  Of course she fell asleep finally with an hour to go.  I was totally exhausted by this point.  It was a long flight but we made it through.  And by the way, Korean Air is awesome and the bassinet seats are the best!

One really funny side note to our travels is that we meet a couple of men getting on the same flight in Atlanta to Seoul when we were going to China.  We spent time talking to them and on the flight and hit it off.  They were from Key West and were going to Thailand on their travels.  We told them all about Mia Jade and the purpose of our trip.  They were super excited for us.  Well, fast forward a couple weeks and as we were waiting in Seoul for the return flight, they showed up on their way home as well on the same flight!  They were so excited to meet Mia Jade.  Their company made the 5 hour layover much more entertaining.  They told us all about their trip and showed us some very cool photos!

When we finally landed in Atlanta, Mia Jade went through immigration and legally became an American citizen!  How cool is that!  Being back in the US was such a comforting feeling even if it was the Atlanta airport.  It was so strange to think we were there just over two and a half weeks ago and now my life would never be the same.  I had Mia Jade now, which was the obvious part but having been in China was a life changer as well.  I really loved China and I know I will fall more in love with it as I have time to reflect on it later.  I also knew home was so close and being in Atlanta again was a great feeling, even if it was the airport!  The last leg of our travels was Atlanta to Jacksonville and I was happy that it was a quick little flight.  Of course she slept for that flight!  During the layover, I got her cleaned up and changed and ready to meet her family!

When we arrived to Jacksonville, it was such a relief.  We were slightly delayed at the gate because the stroller was suppose to be there but they had stuck it down below with the luggage.  So I had to carry Mia and my carry-on's making our reunion a few minutes delayed but when I rounded the corner and saw Mike and Zane and the rest of my family, no words can express my joy.  Finally together.  Finally a family of four.  Finally.  I strange feeling of closure to a long journey, China and 'the wait', and the beginning of a new wonderful chapter in our lives.

Zane patiently waiting
Mike & Zane

Meet Mia Jade

Our family!!!!

So happy to have my boy back in my arms!

First time sharing....will it be the last?!

My awesome sister-in-law.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 14 - Last day in China!

Today is our last day in China and I am full of emotions.  I'm so excited to be going home and be with Mike and Zane and start a normal life as a family of four.  And I'm a bit sad to leave this amazing country that produced my daughter.  This trip has seems long and fast at the same time.  It seems so long ago that we were trying to get on the plane in Jacksonville and hit a massive pothole to start our trip and we have had couple other little things go wrong but overall this trip has gone so smoothly.  Mia Jade is adjusting so well but I am eager to get her into a normal routine.  She's going to be shocked to find that there is not an breakfast buffet with any type a food you could imagine back home!

This morning we packed up then went for a walk to the Lake Park again around the corner from our hotel.  We didn't have time to really explore the other day but today we took a few hours to walk around and it was so beautiful.  And of course we did not have our camera; not even my iPhone!  There were people playing some kind of checkers, playing pingpong, singing karaoke, in little boats, all kinds of activities. I have learned that China has so many beautiful parks because their homes are so small with many people plus there is often no A/C so they come outside.  There is also funny exercise equipment that we would not consider exercise.  And really no one running/jogging which I thought was interesting.  The walk was very beautiful and a nice way to finish our visit.   Next up 34 straight hours of travel.

3 1/2 hour van ride to Hong Kong
5 hour wait for our plane
3 1/2 hour plane ride to Seoul
5 hour layover
13 1/2 hour plane ride to Atlanta
2 hour layover
1 1/2 hour plan ride to Jacksonville and HOME!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 13 - Consulate Appointment!

Today was our consulate appointment and it went so much quicker and smoother than I expected.  Our guide told me yesterday that he was concerned about the translation of our paperwork done by the notary in our province.  He said that the translation was not very good and it may need to be re-done.  Okay, can you say stressful?  Our guide in our province was fit to be tied with the officials there.  He was frustrated by their "laziness" (his words), lack of doing anything timely and their sloppiness of our paperwork.  He already had to go back and have some paperwork redone the day we were leaving.  I found out today that our guide told our agency that he does not want to be assigned back to our province.  So back to today....  We all met in the lobby of the hotel, loaded up in the van and arrived at the consulate.  We all settled into the consulate room and took an oath as a group.  Then the first name called "Wilson, please come to the window".  My initial concern was that our paperwork was so messed up that it was going to take awhile so they called me first but nope!  He said our paperwork all looked good and proceeded with the process.  One very interesting thing was that he told me her Chinese name had an interesting meaning.  We have received two different interpretations of Fu Han Yu.  Fu is the orphanage denotation and means fortunate and Yu is jade...both of those have been consistent but Han is the part that has been inconsistent.  At referral we were told Han Yu meant "engraved jade".  Her paperwork the next day had it as "cherished jade".  But the consulate man said it meant "jade in the mouth" or to hold jade in the mouth.  He said that was a very fortunate name and to hold jade in the mouth is very rare and special in Chinese tradition.  It has to do with making jade pure and shiny.  (I know that we learned to care for our jade bracelets to soak them in water at least once a month.)  When we were done with the visa application process and met up with our guide, I told him about the conversation.  He immediately agreed with the interpretation.  He told me there is a legend/story of jade in the mouth although I have been unable to find it.  So, interesting that her name has been presented as three different meanings.  I'm going with "cherished jade".  So her visa application is submitted and the afternoon was off to the Guangzhou zoo.  

We had a beautiful afternoon at the zoo but I must admit it was a little depressing. The animal enclosures were so cramped and unnatural for the most part.  It reminded me of what American zoos looked like when I was a child.  But it was very neat to see the pandas.  They were worth the trip to the zoo.  

The evening was filled by starting to pack up.  I can't believe it's time to go!  I have loved China but ready to get home and start our family of four!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 12 - Our Travel Group

Here is our wonderful travel group!  Four of the five families started together in Beijing and the fifth joined us here in Guangzhou.  One family we have been together with since we left Atlanta because our girls were in the same orphanage.  It has been so wonderful to meet each of these wonderful people and I expect we will stay connected for a long time!  Another wonderful thing about all of these families is that we are all strong faithed Christians.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day 11 - Shamian Island & Pearl River dinner cruise

Today was another beautiful day.  The weather could not be nicer.  It's cooled down a little from what it has been and it's not very humid.  I have heard so many post about it being so sticky and hot here.  We really lucked out in our weather.  We and another family headed over to Shamian Island today to check out the shopping.  This is where families use to stay when adopting but the big hotel, The White Swan, is closed for renovation and it has really hurt the shops financially.  

There are still a few shops open.  I was a little disappointed in the fact that all the shops basically have the same exact things.  We wondered in and out of shop to see the same old stuff and the shop owners following us shoving stuff in our faces.  But we did come across a store that I had heard of, Judy's Laundry.  Judy is an open Christian and loves talking about her faith.   She saw my cross around my neck and got so excited.  She told us about the man who introduced her to Christianity, about being baptized 6 years ago and that she prays for her family who are not Christian.  She also told me that her daughter lives pretty far away in another provide but Judy has a shop here so she only gets to see her a couple times a year.  That made me sad for her.   I ended purchases the items that I was interested in from her.  She was very funny.

This evening we went on a dinner cruise along the Pear River.  It was nice to be out on the water and see the city lights.  The lights on the buildings and bridges are so hard to explain and do them justice and pictures just didn't cut it.  There is a new tower, the fourth largest freestanding structure at 1800 feet along the river that is all lit up with changing color lights constantly.  It is so beautiful...what a site!  All in all, the day was nice but frustrating that no official things happened today (or tomorrow for that matter) to get us home.  Our consulate appointment is not until Wednesday so it's a little frustrating but I  know they built in a couple days in case we had issues with the China passports for the girls.  I love this country but ready to start thinking about the trip home!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Day 10 - Lake Park and the pool

(Okay, I will add photos later...the camera battery is dead but I don't want to forget what happened when)

Today was the first day I felt that we didn't have to rush to be somewhere in the morning.  There was an optional tour that we opted out of and instead took our time to eat breakfast and then stroll around the hotel area.  We found a few shops and headed toward the park that we had heard about.  I had no idea how huge it was!  It is absolutely beautiful and goes on forever.  We strolled around and really enjoyed being in some semblance of nature.  China has a lot of parks because the homes are so small.  People come out to the parks to play games - everywhere from badminton to chess, to sing and dance and exercise.   But I have not seen anything like this in the other parts of China.  We didn't come prepared to stay too long and ended heading back to the hotel before we could really explore too far.  I hope to get back there before we leave.

Then we took Mia Jade to the pool for the first time.  It was not long lasting; she liked it okay at first but got very clingy then scared so we didn't stay too long but it was a nice introduction.

We finished the evening with a group dinner with everyone from our travel group.  It was a nice evening together but the food was not too good.  The food has been a little more challenging than I had expected.  But it as nice to all be together and share how our experiences are going.  Overall it was a pretty low key and relaxing day.  I am getting a bit homesick though.  I miss my boys.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day 9 - Clinic appointment

Today all the families in our travel group loaded up and headed to the international clinic.  First off, I had heard horror stories about how hot and cramped it was and how long the process was.  We were in and out in no time.  The new clinic is larger, has good AC and 5 clinic rooms instead of one.  Second, as a medical professional, these were the wimpiest physical exams I have ever seen!  I think she could have been missing an arm and they wouldn't have noticed!  But another step crossed off the list!

By the way, I went back and added "Day 7" as a late entry but dated it so it would fall in order ... check it out too!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 8 - Goodbye Guizhou

Today was a pack up and travel day.  Mia Jade had her first airplane ride and did well.  We are now in Guangzhou and so happy to be at our last stop before heading home.  The China Hotel is a million times nicer than our place in Guizhou and so happy to be somewhere were we can settle in for a few days.

P.S. - Day 7's post is yet to come.  I haven't had time to download the pictures but I will be filling in the blanks!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 7 - Monkey Park and Temple Visit

Today started out raining so we had a quiet morning in the hotel and then in the afternoon went to a really beautiful park in Guizhou.  We walked the path up a mountainside to a Buddhist Temple.  Along the way there were wild monkeys all around.  I am not talking about swinging in the trees, but coming right up to people trying to take their food!  It was crazy!  There were hundreds of them!  And signs in China are sometimes so funny how they translate....this one cracked us up!

Can you see the baby tucked under mama?

At the top of the hill was the temple, about 300 years old.  It was so beautiful.  The details of the buildings, the peacefulness and the history all together made a wonderful visit.  If you ever go to Guiyang, I suggest it as a place to go!

These photos can not come close to doing this place justice. 
These Budda statures were huge!

 We get stares all the time in China because we are Americans and now with the girls, we get even more.  Occasionally someone asks about them, if the girls are ours.  Sometimes we get a thumbs up to show support for our adoption.  But there was a young man, maybe late 20's who come up to us in the lobby and started talking to us.  He could speak some English but he was not confident so he resorted to Google translator and here is what he typed then showed us his computer.  It's broken english but you get the idea.  I wanted to cry that he wanted so badly to show our support that he went to the effort to pull out his computer, put up the translator and type this out.  We have received so many well wishes from Chinese people and that has truly been touching.
"You give a child newborn.  China now there are many helpless situation, social and  resource-poor.  Thank you.  The children are the future of the world.  I wish you good luck!"
 As you can see Mia Jade is doing pretty well.  Her true personality is staring to shine.  She is very independent, stubborn, determined and a bit dramatic... all like her older brother!  I'm really falling in love with this girl!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 6 - Visit to Huishui

Today was an incredible day.  We went through a range of emotions as we traveled an hour and a half to the town of Huishui where Mia Jade has lived in the orphanage since July 2011.  The weather was raining and overcast during the drive.  When we arrived to the town the driver was trying to decide where it was located and Kim (the other family adopting) and I looked over and saw the bridge that is in the background of the girls' photos and we told him where to go.  Then around the corner and we could see it on the hill.  The last 200-300 yards was very bad, bumpy and muddy road but we pulled up to a relatively new look building with staff waiting to great us.  They were to happy to see the girls and the girls were eager to leave us and go to their nannies.  That was a little tough but not unexpected.  It was obvious the girls were very loved and cared for.

They showed us the girls' room and play room.  Then one of the nannies pulled out her cell phone and showed me about a dozen pictures of Mia Jade when she was much younger.  I quickly called the guide and he tried to get the photos onto the computer so they could transfer them to me but they were unable to.  I had to resort to taking photos of her camera; at least it is something that I didn't have before.

We learned during their adoption day that our girls were the last two adoptable children in the orphanage.  There was a total of 30-32 but all were in situations where families could not afford them to be home but did't want to give them up either.  But when we went to  visit, there were two new girls that had just arrived the day before.  Maybe one day next year someone will get a referral and we will have photos of them for them.  

When it was time we took a group photo and then took the girls.  They cried for their nannies and didn't want us, which was tough but again I was educated enough to know it was normal.  And thankfully the tears stopped by time we were at the end of the driveway.  Overall, I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to go and visit and was thrilled to see very few children, very clean environment and caring staff.

After the visit we went to the town and wandered the shops.  The people were very nice and it was a neat visit.  But then we went to the "old town" and it was wonderfully neat.  The streets wandered up and down some hill and we stepped into one of the courtyards to see the homes.  The owner said his house was 600 years old!  Columbus wasn't even born!  It was very neat to get out the the countryside and see the rice fields.  What a great day!