Monday, September 29, 2008

Lessons from Emme

     Emme is starting to trust us more.   Until a couple of days ago, she had this instinct that told her, "These people aren't just laying me down.  They are laying me down for TO MAKE ME GO TO SLEEP!  Waaahhhhh!!!!!!"  The wailing would begin.
     She has been with us for 3 weeks today.  The last 2 days we have laid her down for a nap or for the night, she has peacefully laid beside us and drifted off to sleep.  So sweet!  I think she is starting to realize we aren't going anywhere.
    Last night, our faithfulness was called into question.  Paul, his mom, myself,  Emme and Sarah Grace (one of the cousins) went 15 minutes into town to pick some things up at Walmart.  Paul drove and I rode in the passengers seat.  Emme, Sarah Grace and Grandma rode in the back.  Emme was content for about 8 minutes of the trip.  After the 8 minutes of contentment, we had seven minutes of heavy crying.  She was inconsolable.  When Paul or I would try to verbally calm her, it would only lead to louder outbursts OR holding of the breath and then a very loud outburst.
     As soon as we arrived and she was out of the seat, she stopped crying.  However, there were several minutes of sobbing and gasping for breath that followed that intense cry.
     After the sobbing subsided,  I noticed for the next 20 minutes or so, she wouldn't look at either one of us.  None of the usual methods for getting eye contact worked.  We yelled her name.  We barked... yes, I said barked.  She thinks that's funny.  We tickled her, etc...   She refused to look at us.  She was looking all over but she would not look at us.

     I have learned so many lessons about God's love for me through my children.  After trying for so long to get her to look at me,  I thought, "This is how I am with God.  When I can see him and I can see him working and things are moving along smoothly, I am pretty content.  But, when I can't see him or things seem to be spiraling out of  my control, I have a hard time trusting him.

    I really think Emme felt betrayed by us.  We weren't meeting her needs.  She cried and she wanted us to come running.  When she could only hear us, she was hurt.  Now, I don't think we have to run to meet the needs of our children every time they cry.  But, she's different.  She was abandoned, put into an orphanage, then moved from one foster home to another.  I believe that even at such a young age, she knows how to put her guard up.  Right now, she needs to know we are going to meet her needs, immediately.  That's how she will learn to trust us.

     I was thinking about myself and how if God seems absent, sometimes I feel betrayed.  This happened in my adoption and it happened when I was engaged once and I called it off three weeks before it was to take place.  I thought God had left me high and dry.  However, both instances have taught me that God can be trusted.  He didn't feel like he was there.  I wasn't sure he was going to meet my needs.  But, he was actually working ahead of me and causing all things to work for good.  As a matter of fact, the plans he was working, they were better and more perfectly suited than my plans.

     When we lost little Mylei, I remembered thinking, "If  these people love this little girl that much, she must be awfully special and she must be a joy to be around. "  That made me want her all the more.  I wanted to fight for her.  I feel really selfish about that now.
   God  gave me a little gift last week in regards to Mylei.   A lady I met on line awhile back was adopting a child from the same orphanage with the same special need as Mylei.   She was about a week ahead of me in China.  When I returned home, she welcomed me back with an email.  In the email, she also delivered  some news.  She heard Mylei was being adopted by her foster parents!! I was so happy to hear that!  I had prayed that if she couldn't be ours, that those foster parents who loved her dearly would be allowed to adopt her.

     When that adoption was completely disrupted, I was very sad.  But deep down, because of calling off the engagement 14 years earlier, I knew God was working.  As a matter of fact, after we chose Mylei, I was a little sad about 2 things.  1) I was sad that I had chose her.  What I mean by that is... I always imagined receiving my referral and being surprised.  Like child birth, I wouldn't see what she looked like until she given to me.  After picking Mylei off the special needs lists, I always wondered if I had gone ahead of God.  I mean, I had prayed about it and felt peace.  I really did.  But, I still couldn't shake the feeling that I had picked her.  2) I was also sad because I knew we probably would not be able to do this again.  The rules about who can adopt in China had changed and because of some of Paul's health related issue, I knew we would not be allowed.  Because of this, I was sad that we wouldn't be given a baby.  Mylei will be 2 in October.

     Even in my sadness about Mylei, I felt an excitement about what God was going to do.  When I saw little Miss Emme for the first time, I cried.  I knew she was supposed to be mine.  She had on a hat and I ALWAYS put hats on my other 2 girls.  A little detail like that is so God!!

     Emme could not be more perfect for our family.  She's a year old, but she is so teeny and so so far behind, I feel like I got my baby.  She is spunky and funny.  My other 3 are very outgoing and I always worried how this new child would keep up.  I think she will give them a run for their money.  She is also the BEST behaved baby I have ever had.  She is so good and so content.  She is so easy.  She has transitioned into our family so easily it feels as if she's always been with us.

     Emme will learn to trust us.  I wonder though, will I ever learn to really trust God and his goodness??


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Complete Randomness

     Today, when we were at the beach, riding waves, building sand castles and making memories, I whipped out my camera to capture the moments.  When I turned the camera on, I saw a flashing exclamation point which resulted in that sick feeling... the sick feeling you get when you forget something (that seems to be happening to me a lot lately!).  I knew that I forgot the memory card and the little doohickey that downloads the pictures.  Grrr!!  I remembered them.  I remember grabbing them.  They just didn't make it into the suitcases.

     We couldn't go buy a new doohickey.  Want to know why??  Because we forgot it when we went to China and had to buy a new one ($60)  We had to go buy a new card just so I could take pictures.  

     We went to Walmart.  Paul went to find the card and when he came back to put it in the cart, he said, "$33.00!  That hurts."  
     I told him not to look when we went to pay for it!

     So, I walked around the beach taking pictures with my phone.  I was a nervous wreck.  I was so afraid I was going to drop it! 

     The pictures are not the greatest quality.  You're going to have to wait until I get home to get the good pictures.  
     However, when I downloaded the pictures from today, I found some pictures that I had forgotten I had taken... thus the randomness!
There's my girls!!:-)

     The Forbidden City in Beijing.  It was forbidden a long time ago and I think they should reinstate the rule.  It was so boring.  If you can see the outside, you've seen about enough of it.  We walked and walked and walked.  It was like a city!!  Oh, maybe that's why they name it The Forbidden CITY!   Sometimes, I am a bit slow.
     This is my little man at the Fire Department's Annual Ice Cream Social.  My kids love to go because they make this huge foam field for the kids to play in.  We never even get the ice cream.  Sometime, it doesn't take much.
     But, check out this dude's body.  You'd think we made him work out every day!

     This is my REALLY, REALLY good friend, Jennifer.  Well, maybe not after she sees this picture.  In which case, this wasn't really worth it.   She doesn't deserve this!  But, it was on my phone's camera.  And, I didn't take it.  Therefore, it qualifies as randomness.  Right??

    Who in the heck are these people?  And, why in the heck did I take the picture??  

     I think it was because the building was cool.  It was in Beijing.  It was this big round ball sitting in a circle of water.  It's the performing arts center, but it doesn't even look like there's a way in.  After a little investigating.  We found the entrance.  There are 2 of them.  They are underground.  Pretty cool, huh??
     This is how high we climbed on The Great Wall.  Somewhere down there was the parking lot.  In the parking lot sat Grace and our driver.  We told her she didn't have to climb with us because she was wearing pumps.  She wore these everyday.  She even wore them through that forsaken city we walked through the day before.  When she started climbing the wall with us, Paul told her to take a load off.

     Ok, he didn't say it that way, but he wanted to.  We both did.  This was our second day with her and we were scared of her.

     Her English was good, but it still took us a bit of time to piece the sentences together into something cohesive that made sense.  Plus, she would always start on these long diatribes.  We were so tired and sometimes it was interesting and we wanted to listen.  But, sometimes she would ramble.  Her explanations always went something like this:

    "Forbidden City has 4 collars (translation- colors).  Why 4 collars?

     Let me stop her and say she asked these type questions ALL THE TIME!  We were scared of her because sometimes we were supposed to answer and sometimes we weren't.  Sometimes we weren't paying that close of attention so we didn't even know how to answer.  And, sometimes, we wanted to say, "How the heck are we supposed to know?  That's why you got paid to show us around!"  AND, SOMETIMES she acted like she was mad at us when we didn't know.  So, back to the tour...

    " Red, green, blue and gold?  Why gold?"

     I wish we could have a video of us looking at each other.  We'd make the  ssssss noise and draw our mouths back and shrug our shoulders.  Do you know the look I mean?

     Sometimes, we would guess at the answers to her questions.  Like the time we were on our way to The Great Wall.

     We were finally out of the crowded congested part of the city.  We were in the tree covered mountains and while there was still lots of smog, it was beautiful.  We wanted to see China.  Not the city and the buildings, but the landscape.  Both of us were craning our necks looking all around to get a first glimpse of The Wall, when she started...

     "I will tell you about Great Wall.  Great Wall sometimes referred to as world's biggest cemetery.  Cemetery.  Why cemetery?  ( I am not kidding about the repeating either and all 3 guides did it!)

     We decided we'd answer this one.

     " Because so many people died building it??"



     "Now, I tell you fable about Great Wall."

      She tells us about some woman who married a man and she was very much in love with him.  He went to work on the wall.  After much time passed, she was sent word that he had died.  She was very upset and set out to find his body.  
     She found the body and and buried it in a tomb.
     Time past and she found a new love.  He wanted to marry her but she would not leave the location of her dead husbands body.
     So, the new guy abides by her wishes. (very, very paraphased)

     "You understand??"

    We look at each other and Paul decides to answer.  Now, keep in mind, we are in a car.  She is in the front passenger seat and we are in the back seat.  So, she is turned completely around talking to us.  

     With a look of great disgust, she says, "I did not say house, I said tomb."  With the disgusted look still on her face, she closes her eyes and turns around.  She was pissed!

     Another view of The Wall.  I think I was trying to capture a train coming around the mountain.  It was picturesque.

     Emme at the Walmart in Nanning, China.
     Emme on one of the first days home with the kids.  You can tell she is thinking, "What in the world have I gotten myself into??
     Emme at the beach house.  She is rolling all over the place now!
She's diggin the sand and surf!
Emme's little mama, Gracie.
     The men in the family.  Jackson is handling losing his position of baby of the family like a real man.  He loves her.  Yesterday, after looking at her, he turned to me and said, "She has beautiful eyes."  Awwww!

I wonder what they talk about?
     Paul's only sibling, Julie, has 6 kids.  On this trip, Emme is the center of attention.   They just met her.

Jackman flying a kite.
   Jackson is in the hole he dug.
Paul was holding Emme in this picture when he suddenly felt something very warm running down him.:-)  Haha!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

May the force be with you!

       If you could hear me say that, you'd think I sound just like Darth Vadar.  I am stuffy and my throat is on fire and it hurts at the same time, if that makes any sense.  I just want to hook up to a Slush Puppy machine and let that ice run down my throat.  Either that or I want to eat a box of Shredded Wheat, no milk, because it scratches my throat on the way down and feels so good.  But,then I'd look like an Oompa Loompa and I'd have a whole set of problems.     I started writing this post of Wednesday.  The good news is... it's Saturday, I am at the beach, and I feel so much better!  But I do have some bad news.

     We left yesterday at around noon and got to the Raleigh area around midnight.  It should have only taken us 8 hours but you know how that goes.  

     I went to bed around 1am.  I was up 2 times during the night to feed the little girl with the stomach the size of a pea.  I was up for good by 7:30am because the same little girl has a bladder the size of a pea.  She is soaking wet every single morning!  (At least we know those pipes are working!)

     We ate breakfast in the hotel.  Then we packed up and got ready to leave.

     I decided I didn't care what I looked like.  I was tired and I still wasn't feeling great this morning.  I didn't take a shower and I didn't take too much time with my hair.  I mean, I am going to the beach 11 hours from my home, right??  I am never going to see these people again. 

      I should also mention that I have this growth on my face.  One of those huge red zits that feels like there is certainly a medium sized pebble lodged in there.  It's the kind of zit that bugs you to death and then it doesn't even give you the pleasure of popping it.  (I know... so gross!)  Well, I can't leave it alone.  I have practically bruised the skin all around it.  

     I'll come back to that in a moment.

     So, we get to a Costco 45 minutes from the beach.  We stop there for food because there will be 16 of us at the beach, in one house, gotta buy the bulk food for that many people.  Paul takes 3 of the kids around to sample food and I take Emme to help Paul's mom shop.  She was asleep when we went in but there was a loose tile in Costco and my cart hit it just right and about catapulted her to the other side of the store.  She woke up, scared half to death I might add.  So, I took the poor little thing out of the cart.   She is soaking wet.  Seriously, I have never known a kid to pee as much as she does and soil every outfit!
     I just kept shopping with Paul's mom.  Paul's dad catches up with us.  He tells me that my extroverted husband has found some people he went to college with and he wants me to bring Emme so we can meet them.  I should have known.  He knows someone EVERYWHERE we go!
     You have got to be kidding!!
     That witch from Bugs Bunny... that's what I looked like.  The only difference is that I am pretty sure she had a mole on that chin with hair growing out of it.  The only difference between me and her is that I don't have a mole, I have a glowing zit!

     I have to go over and meet, not just one friend, but two.  And, not just his friends but their wives and their 10 children.  He hasn't seen these people since the day they graduated from college and today is the day he runs into them.

     I was so embarrassed! 

    On top of that, they wanted to hold Emme.  I had to tell them I was walking around, making the poor little girl who just 3 weeks ago was an orphan, wear a soaking wet diaper and wet clothes.

     I bet they left saying, "Boy, Paul married a real winner!"



Tuesday, September 23, 2008


     All 3 girls share this room.  I spent 5 days painting this room.  I brushed glaze over the walls with a broom handle for a washed out beach look.  The letters say BEACH GIRLS.  The saving grace of our beach trip (see end of post) is that I need pictures from the girls at the  beach to put all over their room.  That and on the way home I get to meet a friend in person that I met on the internet.  I am a little nervous about this meeting....  the other day, I had a dream that her face looked like a waffle.  Jet lag???
     The picture is out of focus but I wanted you to see how little she looks.  She looks like a little doll.
     My good friend, Amber, who can't quit buying clothes for Emme, brought her these clothes (and more) yesterday.  Her shirt says Little Peanut.  Paul made up a 'little peanut song' which he sings so often I may just gouge my eyes out if I hear it again.  BUT, I love the shirt!
 Headband... courtesy of Kristen and Addison.
   Do you like their grass hut curtain?  It's really a shower curtain but know one would ever know... except I tell everyone!
    That's Emme's friend Nina.  She lives next door.  She's 9 months old and a bit heavier.
     LOVE THE BACK of the shirt too!!  

      We made it home!  Yippee!  Praise the Lord for the United States of America!

     And, I am back among the living for my first post from home!

     The flights home were very uneventful.  Emme is such a great little girl.  Her personality is so pleasant and she is content and happy 95% of the time.  She slept about 6 hours on the way home.  And even with such little sleep, she was still so good.
     We were greeted at the airport by 2 very excited sisters and one happy little brother along with both sets of grandparents and a really good friend.  It was the perfect way to arrive home... to our city.
      Our home home, now... that's another story.  Since the tree landed on our house on Sunday 9/14, we along with one million others (literally) were without power.  My bed was calling my name but I couldn't bare to go home with no electricity, no food, etc...  Instead, we went to the inlaws.  We were very thankful that they were willing to put up with us and feed us.  Of course, I am sure that having a new baby made that easier.
     Finally, on Saturday evening 9/20, about 8 pm, we were able to go to our home.  There's no place like home.  There's no place like home.  I felt like Dorthy.  I had been saying that for about 16 days.  My wish was coming true!
     Emme has not been so fond of her new home.  I shouldn't say she is not fond of her home, she's not fond of her crib.  There is no way is Hades she is going to fall asleep in that crib on her own. She has made that very clear.  You'd think it's filled with fire ants.  Man, she arches her back and holds her breath until she is purple.  If she wasn't so soon out of orphanhood, I'd think it was funny.  Instead, it's rather sad.
     So, we take her in our bed and lay with her.  She still cries and tries to fight it, but it's a short, lazy fight.  The sandman beats her to death.
    Then we carry her to her bed where she sleeps for about 3 hours.  After 3 hours, she becomes the Tazmanian Devil seeking to devour a bottle, QUICKLY.  Then, when we try to lay her back in her bed, those darn fire ants are back.  So, back to our bed where she sleeps like a hound dog smack dab in the middle of her us.  
     This is not entirely true.  It was true of last night.  The other nights there was lots and lots of crying....   As a matter of fact, Sunday night I went to bed at 9:15 pm, Emme woke to eat at 11:30 and by midnight, she was ready to play.  4 HOURS LATER , I finally went to bed, again.  She screamed for 2 hours.  During those 2 hours of screaming, if I were honest, I'd have to say that I spent a lot of time questioning my decision to adopt.  I was SOOO tired.  My little man is 5 now and the youngest.  It just started getting easy.  Did I really mean to start over???
     The answer, yes!  When I see those huge brown eyes and that big toothless smile, yes, it's worth losing sleep and middle of the night feedings and whatever else it takes.
      Until I wake up and I look at the carnage that is my house.  Suitcases, dirty clothes, loads and loads of laundry.
     Speaking of laundry... I have a huge laundry room.  Whenever we get home from a trip, we put the suitcases in there and then I go through and separate the dirty from the clean. Then we run around put things away.  This morning, that's what I had done.  I had just finished making piles for each child, a pile of gifts for Emme to give her as she gets older, gifts for a few friends, etc... Piles, nice neat piles.
     Jackson comes in and shows me two library books he got at school.  He then said, "Mommy, will you read them to me?"  OF COURSE!  He's lost his birth order place so we are making sure he gets lots of extra attention.  
      As all the children look on and listen, Gracie screams, "Mom!! LOOK!!"  Remember that FORSAKEN sink (see earlier post) that my washer dumps water into.  YEP!  It's pouring over the rim of the sink ALL OVER MY LAUNDRY ROOM FLOOR.  Those clean piles... they're now dirty.  I don't want to talk about it anymore.
      I look like Hattie the Witch.  I wouldn't dare take a picture of myself these last few days home.  I am frazzled because if all of the above is not enough for you, let me tell you about my Monday.  Monday, my 5th full day back!
     Since we were without power, we had NO food.  Before I left, I froze some meals.  I also went to the store and bought lots of things that would make easy meals if I just added a vegetable and some fruit.  Salmon, Talapia, Chicken breasts, etc... Bags of frozen fruit for smoothies, etc..  Thankfully, it was all cleaned out but the freezers remained bare.
      So, after having very little sleep Sunday night, I got up, the girls went to piano and while they were at piano, I went to the grocery with Jackson and Emme.  We came home and carried in the groceries.  It was then that that sick feeling washed over me.  You know, that sick feeling when you remember that you were supposed to have done something.  
     Emme had a doctors appointment at 1:30 at the International Adoption Clinic at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  I was supposed to have faxed papers over before the appointment and I forgot.  I was also supposed to have shoveled 6 stool samples out of Emme's diapers into little cylinders to take along with me.  MMmmmm boy!  I only had 2 so I was making sure they weren't going to send me back home for only having 2 so I was on the phone with them.  That's when I see Jackson's bus.  He missed his bus.
     That meant I had to take him to school.  Well, Emme was starving and as soon as I returned from dropping him off at school, we needed to leave.  So, I left her with the girls so they could give her her bottle.  They are 7 and 10.  Before you call Children's Services on me, my neighbors and really good friends were both home.
     All was good when I came home.  I changed Emme's diaper and threw her in the car.  (She's already being thrown around, poor kid!)
     I was cruising down I75 to the West Chester campus of the hospital when I see the dreaded orange barrels and the hospital in the distance but quickly approaching.  As I get closer, I can not for the life of me decide if it is legal for me to actually use the exit.  It looks completely closed off  and of course there is not another soul brave enough to take the exit so I can follow their lead.  I decide it's closed.  As I am rubber necking past it, I realize it is, in fact, open.   Darn it all to heck!!  Well, that's ok.  I was early so I decided I'd just turn around at the next exit and go back.  
     I get to the exit, take it and head back.  That's when it occurs to me that I am not sure if I will know the exit when I get to it because I don't know the name of the blasted road it's on.  So, I am coming up on a possible exit...."Is it this one?  Oh no!!  Should I take it???  NO!!  It looks to far away from the hospital, BUT maybe, maybe... No, it must be the next one."  I drive right past the exit and that's when I notice that the exit loops around and WOULD HAVE dropped me right at the hospital.  DARN IT ALL TO HECK... AGAIN!!  I have jet lag made worse by lack of sleep when I could be sleeping and I am driving back and forth in front of a hospital like I have nothing better to do.
      That's when I realize, there are advantages to living in China.  There are so many cars, bikes, scooters and people, one could not possibly drive fast enough to pass their exit!
     Honest to goodness, the SECOND turn around exit was 10 miles away.  Good thing gas is cheap!:-)
     Emme's appointment lasted from 1:30-5:30 pm.  I talked to a physical therapist, a nurse practitioner,  social worker, a doctor, the janitor...  Ok, I really didn't talk to the janitor, I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
      Their conclusion:  Emme is severely malnourished along with failure to thrive.  She weighed 12 pounds 4 ounces (yeah for 4 ounces!!)  She is functioning in most areas at the 9 month mark except gross motor skills is around 6 months.  She needs some physical therapy.  We are to mostly feed her formula.  They said this is where she will get the biggest bang for her buck!  She is not having attachment issues as it was evident to the SW that she is bonding to me.  Yeah me!!  She was giving me lots of eye to eye, hugs and smiles.  After hating me for 2 weeks, yeah me again!!:-)  She then was strapped down for a TB test.  She loved that as evidenced by her purple face and crocodile tears.  So, after that, just for fun, we went downstairs where they jabbed her tiny toothpick arm with a needle and filled 8, yes 8 tubes of blood.  Needless to say, she was worn out and slept all the way to the 6 pm soccer game that we were 10 minutes late for.  After meeting a friend for ice cream on the way home from soccer, we arrived home at 9:15 pm.  I fell into bed at 10:15 where I am quit sure I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
     Have I told you I am heading to the beach for a vacation on Friday?  Why?  Well, because it's not eventful enough around here!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Last post from Guangzhou... next stop USA!

      Last night our friends Vince, Mary and Malia stopped by the White Swan (our hotel) to see us.  We ended up shopping with them for a bit and then we all ate dinner at an Italian restaurant on the "island".  I meant to take a picture of it, but I never did.  Oops!  Anyway, it has the same feel as the rest of the island, European.  The difference here is they act like Europeans.  They are Chinese people, but I am pretty sure someone flew over from Italy or somewhere in Europe and taught them how to act.
     I talk like I am a world traveler since I have made it half -way around the world to China.  So, I have never been to Europe, but I read a lot and that counts for something.  
     Anyway, the servers at the restaurant act like dinner is supposed to take all evening to enjoy. Now, never mind that the island caters to adopting parents.  A lot of these adoptions are for very small children who DO NOT like to sit very long in a restaurant.  And, not only do they take their good ol' sweet time, they sit around and watch the people eating.  I am not kidding, there were at least 8 people working and they all just stood and stared.  And, the Italian restaurant has many pizza options on their menu, but they have ONE oven to cook them in.  SO, Paul and I are completely finished eating and Vince and Mary don't even have their pizza. 
      Needless to say, by the time dessert came (check out the photo below), it was difficult to enjoy because even the adults were tired of being there.
     Beautiful fruit plate though, huh? 

Emme is thinking... "WHO CARES!!"  You can see it in her eyes.
     We are on the 18th floor of the White Swan hotel.  This is what we saw outside of our window.  If I had to do that job, I WOULD DIE!  I was getting sick to my stomach watching them!  He's just hanging there!  It look very unsafe!

     Emme in the bathtub.  She was getting clean and beautiful for her swearing in at the U.S. Consulate today.

      The appointment at the Consulate is the most anti-climatic thing!  All this time to raise our hand and say that everything we've said for the last several years is true.  At any rate, she is ours and when that plane hits Detroit on Thursday late afternoon, she is a United States citizen.
     This is the beautiful palm tree lined street on the way back to the hotel.  The White Swan is the tall building at the end on the right.
     If you could see inside the windows, you would see aquariums filled with various foods that you could pick out for dinner.  I'd like to this it's fresh catch, but I wouldn't put my money on it.  And, I certainly didn't eat it to find out.  I did get really adventurous tonight at Lucy's and order Sweet and Sour Chicken!  The other two times I ate there I had a BLT.  I like to live on the wild side.
     This is Emme back at the hotel after our appointment.  She is thrilled to be a citizen of our great country.  Adorable outfit thanks to my friend Amber.  She is wearing this outfit home too!

     I think the White Swan is a beautiful hotel.  That picture was taken in front of the waterfall- inside the hotel.
     Tonight, we we returned home from our consulate appointment, we thought we'd just ewat dinner at the restaurant we eat breakfast at in the morning.  After all, the food is fabulous.  It overlooks the water and just has an all around great atmosphere.
     We asked if we could look to see what was in the buffet before we ate but before we had a chance to look around, we decided to ask the cost.  Breakfast was included in our package, so we are clueless about the pricing at the restaurant.  
     It is a darn good thing we asked.  The price 348 RMB.  That is $51.40 per person.  We left and went to Lucy's for the 3rd time this week.  Lucy's is ok, but it's not worth 3 visits in 5 days.
     Emme was nice to mom today!  She just didn't want her hat on.
     Paul and Emme do this EVERY SINGLE time they get in the elevator.

     So, this is it.  Tomorrow we are being picked up at 5:45 am.  U.S. time that is 5:45 on Wednesday evening.  We arrive home 25 hours later.  A quick little jaunt.

     The bags are packed and we are ready to go home.  As I look at little Emme peacefully sleeping in her crib, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness for the people who helped with the process of giving her such a home.  We are far from perfect but we love each other and we love the Lord.  I think that's a great start.
     When I look at her skinny, frail arms and legs, I know she may not have been able to make it much longer.  It is because of so many of you!  Thank you so much to all who have prayed for us during this very challenging process.  I am surprised some people still want to be my friend because of the emotional rollercoaster I let myself ride.  And, there are many, many people who gave us money to make this possible.  When we started the process, we knew we didn't have the money, but we also knew God told us to do it.  Thanks for letting him use you!  Thanks for letting him use you to change a life.
     The next little section was written by Steven Curtis Chapman.  He summed up so many things I wanted to say.  If God has laid it on your heart to adopt, don't wait any longer to start the process.  If you don't feel the call to adopt, find someone to help out financially who does want to adopt.  You will be blessed for your obedience!
    Can't wait for Emme to meet all of you!

In America alone, there are half a million children in foster care, and approximately 120,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. In many countries, children are too often orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, disabilities and disease; every 15 seconds, a child loses a parent because of AIDS. These are staggering facts that can seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I believe that God has a loving plan for each child, and that plan is you and me.

Caring for these children is not the job of governments or institutions; instead, it is the job of families, people and communities. As Christians, our compassion is simply a response to the love that God has already shown us. Mother Teresa would constantly remind those who worked with her that the Bible clearly teaches that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. So in a very real sense, caring for orphans is a chance to meet the person of Jesus in "the guise of human suffering." This is an invitation from the heart of God to know him and to experience his love.

Nine years ago, my wife and my eldest daughter, Emily, traveled to Haiti on a mission trip. Having been exposed to extreme poverty for the first time, Emily returned home with a determined passion to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children.

Only 12 years old, Emily went on an all-out campaign to persuade us to adopt. She bought a book on international adoption with her Christmas money and would read it to us regularly. She began fervently praying and writing letters to Mary Beth and me, encouraging us to consider giving a waiting child a home. Emily knew God was leading us in the direction of adoption; however, Mary Beth and I were not yet convinced.

My wife and I had always supported the idea of adoption, and as Christians, we understood the importance of loving and caring for others. But what I had not yet grasped was that adoption is a physical picture of what Jesus has done for me. I did nothing to deserve God's love; in fact, I was living as an orphan, without hope. Yet God chose to pursue a relationship with me, and through the death of his son Jesus, I was adopted into God's family. Watch Chapman and his family discuss their tragic loss »

My wife and I began moving toward adoption with fear and trembling and asking all the questions people ask. I remember Mary Beth crying herself to sleep at night saying, "What are we doing? I can't do this." However, God kept reassuring us that this was the direction he was leading us. It was a huge journey of faith for us.

In May of 2000, we found ourselves in a hotel room in China's Hunan province, welcoming the newest member of our family, Shaohannah Hope. From that moment, we began our journey into the world of adoption, orphan care and Shaohannah's Hope. Send a video question for Chapman

We went on to adopt Stevey Joy and Maria. Recently, our youngest daughter, Maria, passed from life on this earth and is now safely in the arms of Jesus. We have been completely overwhelmed by the love and support of so many during this time of deep, deep sadness. Through all that we've experienced, one thing we still know is true: God's heart is for the orphan. 

If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So.... um...there's a tree on my house.

     So... um... there's a tree on my house.  Apparently, in Ohio, there are hurricanes.... without water.  Within a very large radius of our house, I guess there is mass destruction from Ike! Schools are closed, stores are closed, etc..  It's great when your in CHINA and someone writes on your blog and tells you a tree fell on your house!:-)
     The good news... no one was hurt.  We'll deal with the carnage when we get home.  That's something to look forward to after a 25 hour trip home!  WELCOME HOME!
     I forgot to mention that when we were driving onto the island on Saturday, I saw a glorious sight.  STARBUCKS!!  After the worst coffee ever to be had in Nanning, I was afraid the Starbucks was a mirage, but it's real and it is one of the most beautiful Starbucks I have ever seen.  It looks like it should be sitting in Charleston, SC.  It has a massive porch with comfortable seating... if comfortable is 90 degrees and 100% humidity.  Anyway, the coffee is important thing.  Guess how many cups I have had??  None.
     The hotel coffee is great and I only drink about one cup anyway.  But, Starbucks is there.  It's like a security blanket.
     Well, here's precious Emme!  For some reason we always have taken our kids shirts off, left them on their head like that and then taken pictures.  She's looking a little cross-eyed, but she's not.
     Funny, funny story.  
     Once, a friend came to visit Paul.  Paul hadn't seen this friend for a long time.  For some reason, we all met at Paul's parents house.  His friend, Jon, was dating a girl who had a child. They were there too.
     This little girl was very obviously cross-eyed.
     We are sitting in the family room for a long time talking, the little girl playing.  All of a sudden Paul's dad says to the girlfriend, "Has anyone ever told you she might be cross-eyed??"
    Our eyes about popped out of our head when he said this.
     It's a running joke.  I am dying laughing as I type this.  Paul too!
     Monday morning began with Emme getting her picture taken for her visa.  Then it was a little jog down the road to the doctor.  
     Check out that sign.  Keep quiet!!  Haha!  Picture many children taken away from everything they've ever know.  Give them to people who talk different and look different.  Then take them all to another stranger so he/she can poke at them.  JUST MAKE SURE YOU'RE QUIET!!
       See our doctor.  Socks and sandals.  And, does he have anything under that white coat??  We think he moonlights as a flasher.

     Everybody, "QUIET!!!!!!!!!"
     Our guide was smart.  We were one of the first people there.  That was the line minutes after we arrived.
     Emme passed, I guess.  I am not even really sure what they were checking for.  They hit a key on a toy piano.  I guess that was the hearing test??  The "flasher", he sat at the desk for a long time.  He wrote for awhile, said who knows what to our guide, Helen, then, opened her diaper for a peek!  Done!  He told us she was small.  Really!??
     The final step was weighing and measuring.  She weighs 12 pounds and is 25.5 inches long.
     After the medical exam, we went to a Buddhist temple.  I was not very excited about this.  I was even less excited once there.  I decided if I ever came back to China, I would never go back.
     It was interesting, I guess.  I was just uncomfortable.  While Helen was buying the tickets, yes, buying the tickets to get into a church, I was very quietly, out loud worshipping and praising Jesus.  I was so nervous.
     When we first walked in, there were 3 different statues.  I don't know who or what  they all were, one was a happy buddha.  The rest, I don't know.  Anyway, the people had a whole bunch of incense in their hands and they would hold three up to there heads and bow.  3 are for their (the people's) 3 lives, the past, the present and the future.
     Next, there was the tall copper pagoda/urn.  The people tried to throw money in the holes to make a wish.
     The next building was the temple that held 3 different Buddhas.  They were all holding their hands different ways and the different ways represented the past, the present and the future. Outside the entrance to the 3 Buddhas,  people would put 3 of their incense sticks in those silver cages.  On the long granite table, the people would offer 3 pieces of fruit to Buddha.  Buddha does not eat it though, the monks that live at the temple eat what is offered.
     If you look to the left of the Buddha, you can see a man kneeling down bowing.
     It's one thing to read about it or hear about it.  It's something else to see it.  I was so sad.
     When went in that actual area and our guide told us we could pray.  We said, "Well, we will pray to God the Father of Jesus, but not to Buddha."  She said that was fine.  Then she told us to kneel down.
     We said, "We will not bow to any other God other than our God."  She said, "That's fine, just kneel and pray."  We said, "We'll pray to our Father, but we will not kneel."  So, that's what we did.  
     After that, I was ready to bolt!  I hated being there.  It was peaceful (quiet) and beautiful (the landscape, the buildings) and old (1,400 years old), but it was no place I wanted to be.  And, to be honest, if I had to do over again, I wouldn't have gone.

    Next, we went to a museum... now that's more my speed.  Outside the entrance to the museum, which was a museum but also a palace, was a park.  You all know how I love parks:-)!
These people were playing hacky sac with a badmittion birdie... very well I might add!
     The women here were dancing but they were dancing with those paddles in their hands.  Again, pretty, but not something we'd find in one of our parks.  
    They would whip the paddles around their heads and around their backs.  As I was watching, all of a sudden I saw balls go flying in the air.  (If you look closely, you can see the balls.)  In other words, when the balls aren't flying, they are staying on the paddles,
       What in the world?  That would be exercise for me!  You know why??  Cuz every 5 seconds I'd be running and chasing that ball!  Maybe I'll try it when I get home?!

  I have no idea!
      That's our guide, Helen.  As she was explaining things about the Buddhists temple before our arrival, we were asking her if she was a Buddhists.  She said she was not, but she did incorporate some of the Buddhists type things.  She prays to her ancestors.  She went on to say that 30% of China is Buddhists, 30 % Taoism and 40% other-Christian, Catholic, etc...
     This guy was painting pictures of mountains and waterfalls, the Great Wall, pandas and other Chinesey things- all with the side of his hand, his fingers and his fingernails.  They are magnificent!  We bought two for our house.
     We were trying so hard to keep Emme awake on the way home!  Didn't work!
     After the medical exam, the temple and the museum,  Emme slept, but Paul and I thought we buy ourselves a little relaxation.
     We had a 90 minute foot massage.  In China, a foot massage also means that the neck, back, arms, hands, and legs AS WELL AS the feet.  90 MINUTES!!  Guess how much it costs??  68 RMB.... translation $10.04!  I felt guilty when I left because this poor girl worked hard for 90 minutes and it cost me $10.
     This morning after that amazing breakfast, we went shopping and sightseeing on the island.  We stopped when we saw these school children because we thought we were going to see something amazing.  I mean old men and old women have all kinds of hidden talents.  These young kids were surely going to do something to knock our socks off.
     They marched.
     As we were watching this exciting production, we noticed that the children at our end were younger and as the lines progressed, the children were older.  We also noticed that the ratio was 80% boys.
      Oh, and there's Emme loving on her dad.  So cute and peaceful!

    Ah... there's me and Emme, so happy together!!  If you could look closely at the picture, you could see some scratches filled with dried blood around my one eye.  You would also see one of those marks on the other eye and one on my nose.
     If you'd hung around until after this picture, you could have seen the scratches on both side of my neck, and on my chin.
     She loves me so much!

      EVERY STORE on this island offers laundry service!  They are in cahoots with the airlines.  In China domestic travel, one bag, 44 pounds max. So, people have to have their laundry done if they are coming to the tropical climates of China were you sweat of you bat an eyelash.
      Thanks to all the competition, guess how much it cost to have our laundry washed and pressed and folded... even the underwear??   107 RMB!  That's $15 American dollars.  
     I am moving to Guangzhou!
     The book that Emme is so intently looking at in Marley and Me.  If you haven't read it, you should!  It's so funny!!  (Thanks Donna!)
     We wanted to capture her intent look as she flips through the book.  I can't even begin to tell you how long she will sit and do this AND how mad she will get when we take it away.
     2 more sleeps in Guangzhou!  Good night!