We have had such a great time enjoying family time together as a family of 5 and with our extended family. Ava Grace is learning many new words these days and is starting to talk more and more. She says (and understands now) Mama, Daddy, Coco, Jace, ball, whoa, up, down, baby, cookie, bye-bye, night-night, hey, cracker, chips, go, teeth, bath, and most of all MILK- that girl lives by her MILK! She loves taking baths, and playing with her baby dolls. Her hair has grown to about 2 inches now and is getting thick too. We are able to comb it some now and when she gets up in the morning it is a wreck! She can feed herself pretty well but is in the stage where she is being pretty picky- she loves some yogurt, noodles, rice, soup and just recently, cereal like Lucky Charms and Raisin Bran with milk and now starting to enjoy chocolate too! She has grown to love chocolate and cookies over the Christmas season. Most of the time she will just look at food and shake her head no, but recently she has been watching us eat something and will try a little sometimes. She likes to do it on her terms though- that will be her strength in life!
We celebrated her 2nd birthday with a ladybug party at our house. All of her cousins came over and her best buddy Landon too. Mommy baked a big ladybug chocolate cookie for her party and she wouldn't touch it at all. She just wanted chips- and it didn't matter what kind. She tends to eat good one day and then not much the next.
At her last checkup, she had gained 4.5lbs since we came home on Aug 31st. She is now on the growth curve for height and weight. She has filled out all around and is really walking and doing everything she wants. She stays on the go.
It has really been great to see how much she has changed since we got home, and really great to be able to share our story with many people- not so that we get the attention but so that others can see how great adoption really is for children that need a home. It is really our hope and passion that we can inspire others to look into adoption because it really gives these children so much more than you can imagine. It is a family sacrifice, but one that is well worth it! I recently asked the boys if they would do it again know how they have to give up toys or things and attention from Mommy and Daddy and they said they would- that means a lot to us! We have been really careful to try and have individual time with each one of them often- it is hard on us but means so much to them and prevents anamosity amongst them. We have been so blessed by this whole experience!!! And we are so very appreciative of all the support our immediated family has given us- it has been unbelievable!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
After an long, stressful, yet wonderful adoption journey, our new daughter was safe in our arms, tucked into her crib (that we had to put together and set up as soon as we got home, as we found she was WAY too small for the twin bed we had decked out so beautifully), surrounded by the dearest, most sincere family/community we have ever known. God delivered her from poverty and abandonment back into a family, no longer alone in this big world; now wanted and loved and welcomed with great fervor.
The End ………Not!!
We have been home a little over one month now, and our new life as a family of FIVE is glorious and blessed beyond measure, but the first 2 weeks home were …….hard ….to say the least. We were exhausted beyond measure ….hence no update on our joyous homecoming until now.
Let me catch you up ….
We left our hotel room in
Guangzhou on 8/31 at 6 am, and arrived home in 28 hours later, with Joey and I getting absolutely no sleep. It was excruciating, physically exhausting, but our kids did so well on the journey. The boys and Ava slept for a good part of the trip (except when the seatbelt sign came on and the strict stewardess told us to pick her up out of her comfy, cozy cradle she was sleeping in and hold her). When we stepped onto the ground in RDU and saw our parents, it was the happiest moment of my life!! I cried tears of joy and pride for our new daughter as I saw their faces see her for the 1st time, it was indescribable ….. We told our friends and extended family not to come to the airport, as we weren’t sure how Ava Grace would do, seeing so many faces, and not sure if we could take it after 28 hours of travel, but looking back if we could do it over, I’d have everyone there! We missed everyone so terribly …. North Carolina
For the first week, we were jetlagged terribly, and Ava Grace, who had been sleeping through the night in
, had a fever for 5 days and was up and fussy a lot. When visitors came, which we wanted because we missed everyone so, she was terrified. You could palpate her fear, her trembling, as she clung to Joey or me. She was the happiest little thing with just us, but as soon as someone came by, which was often, she would cling to us and often cry. This was difficult, but I understood her fear. We had just taken her from all she ever knew, a place of security, from a room of babies and nannies and strict routines, where she was left either in her crib all day, or in a walker, to a strange house with lots of places to roam around and get lost, with “western” people coming over and trying to pick her up, and most likely wondering who was going to take her away next. China
I had the dreaded “mommy guilt” for my 2 boys, which was totally not necessary, as their worlds’ were blessed beyond measure as they always wanted a lil sis. Not mention they have lacked for nothing in their lives!! But yet, it still came ….. I cried some, was sad a lot when they were at school, and thought often, “what have I done to them and their world as they knew it”?? Well I tell you what we did. We exposed them to something they could not comprehend before seeing it firsthand ….poverty, needs beyond comprehension, heartbreak, orphans, special needs children, other families following God’s call in the adoption community, a HUGE history lesson on China with all of our siteseeing, and most importantly, taught them God’s love for orphans and people in need, and how we must listen to Him and be obedient to what He asks us to do.
But if I may, let me tell you something: If you are intrigued by the “idea” of adoption, with the crescendo storyline and happy airport pictures and the sigh-inducing family portrait with the different skin colors and the feely-feel good parts of the narrative, please find another way to see God's kingdom come. You cannot just be into Adopting, you must be into parenting. This is what it’s all about, parenting a new child, one who you have not nurtured for the 1st few years, one who may be damaged, abused, neglected …..And you must parent them, and Love them, no matter what.
I recently read this from a fellow adoptive family on the subject of adoption….
“It is hard, hard, intentional, laborious work. Children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, given away, given up, and left alone are shaken so deeply, so intrinsically, they absolutely require parents who are willing to wholly invest in their healing; through the screaming, the fits, the anger, the shame, the entitlement, the bed-wetting, the spitting, the rejection, the bone-chilling fear. Parents who are willing to become the safe place, the Forever these children hope for but are too terrified to believe in just yet. But "yet" is a powerful word in the context of faith, if we are indeed to believe in the unseen and hope for what has not materialized.”
I thought this described the “work” of the first few weeks, or possibly months, following an adoption, so very well. Thankfully, our life is wonderful now. Ava Grace is no longer fearful of being taken away from us or of us leaving, and her “adjustment” period seems to be over. We love her so very much, every day the love grows more.
So let me tell you about her! She is so full of personality! She makes the funniest faces, mimics everything we do (which her brothers LOVE), laughs wonderfully, has learned that you dance when you hear music, that we have to brush her teeth J, has learned what bath water feels like (yes, she’d never been submerged in a bathtub of water- we video taped her 1st bath as it was soooo sweet to see her face), loved to walk her brothers into their school and wave at ALL the kids, loves playing in our church nursery with kids her own age, and really likes to “show off” for new people! It has been wonderful.
I know this post was long, and I will try to post new pics! But time has been hard to come by with a new little one who likes to get into alot of new things, haha!!
We have to take new pics, as her hair has grown and she has gained 2 lbs!!!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Is it time to come back home yet??? WE ARE READY FOR SURE! We are all kindof tired of being in a foreign place, not being able to speak to anyone and not knowing what we are eating and where we are going either. I guess we have to stick it out another couple of days and then we are homebound.
Today we just had a fun day. We went to an art museum where local artists are there doing paintings and writings and such. It was pretty neat to see it all. We were able to pick up a few souveniors along the way. The boys were pretty bored with it too but found them some neat things for buying. AvaGrace, well, she loves her stroller and squeaky shoes that we bought here for $5.
Next we went to an amusement park. There they had rides and cotton candy and lots of children. Here it is Sunday, so everyone was off for the weekend. I have not seen any difference here as far as Sunday being their religious day or anything. The park was mainly for smaller kids and Jace and Collin weren’t that into it. They did like the section that had some exercise pieces. Lots of places here have little stations to stretch your body and get you to move a little more. It is not that strenuous for you but more of massages and stretches for your body. It is neat.
Chen Clan Temple (now art museum)
Next we ate lunch and got a ham and cheese sandwich, chicken wings, and spaghetti. It was all pretty good- they said it was a Chinese and western- style restaurant. It filled an empty spot.
AvaGrace is taking to the boys much better now. She has been going to them and teasing them some and they are eating it up. We are really glad to see that now. She has learned to walk on her own since we got her. The first few days we walked her around by the hand, but now she walks where she wants in the room. The boys have been playing legos, playing on computer games, and catching some movies while we have been letting AvaGrace walk around the place.
Oh we are so happy to be on our last leg of our 3 city journey in China. We took our 1st airplane flight with Ava last night, and she did good. She slept in Joey's arms, so his arms fell asleep, though! Guangzhou is just beautiful! Very tropical weather, lots of green, and best of all, sunshine! We have had fog, rain, and hazy days until now. We traveled to Shamian Island this am for her medical exam, and saw lots of other adoptive familes there! And we have several families staying in The Garden Hotel with us, so we don't feel so isolated anymore. The island is a very pretty place, we shopped and ate lunch at I Love Lucy's, a popular diner that serves Americal style lunches. I had a grilled cheese and, Oh, how it tasted so good! We met a family from Raleigh here to adopt a 3 yr old daughter, what a small world :)
Yay! Food we recognize :)
Outside The Garden Hotel
Ava Grace likes to sit in her stroller now, thank goodness! She feels comfortable and will even fall asleep in it if she's tired. She cried the 1st several times we tried to put her in it. The boys will have more free time here in Guangzhou, and they are thankful for that. We have an outdoor pool we plan to take them all to, are going to a small amusement park tomorrow, and to a safari Monday after her consulate appointment where we take our oath.
Day 10- August 27, 2011
We have arrived in
and it is nicer place than the other two places but it is hot here. This place seems less crowded and people are not as pushy here- a little more civil all around. We are all really tired and today we had an easy relaxing day. We had to take AvaGrace for her medical exam and that was it. There is one place to get these exams done for adoption children. Little did we know that everyone else had beat us there. When we walked in the waiting room was overflowing with American families all with adopted Chinese children. It was pretty cool. That is the nice thing about where we are staying right now too. We see families just like us at breakfast and in the hallways here at the hotel and we are able to talk with them and share experiences. From those conversations we have the best story- or maybe we are just a little biased! HaHa! Either way, it is pretty different than where we have been before. Guangzhou
Our facilitator here is named Jack and he knows his stuff. He has everything lined up for us here already. At the medical clinic we were the last family to get there, but somehow Jack got us to be the next one to start the medical visit- that was awesome! She checked out ok and then we had to kill about 2.5 hours for the clinic to complete the paperwork so Jack could pick it up before we left. We walked along the streets and did some shopping and then went to the park so the boys could play on the playground. We ate lunch at a little restaurant there and Mandy got a grilled cheese and said it was great. We got cheeseburgers, looking for something like home here, but they tasted really strange. Jack picked up the paperwork and then picked us up and we went back to the room for some freetime. We played in the room all afternoon. The boys enjoyed a little time playing with their Chinese legos that we bought in
just before we left to come here. We took a nap and then went out for a stroll beside the hotel. We found a convenient store and bought some drinks and snacks for the room and then stopped by to get a bite at the McDonalds. It was just like home! It was great! We miss home some kindof bad and are really dreading the long flight home. On the flight to Shanghai , daddy had to hold AvaGrace as she slept the whole time and it was tough to do on that small plane. We are ready to get back for sure. Guangzhou
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Mommy & me
Today was a rainy day and filled with a couple of tours. We told the boys that and they were over it before we started. They have been very patient but “they just wanna have fun!” Truth is, we are kindof that way also. Oh well, they sucked it up and went with the flow like we did. Today we were off to tour a famous Buddist temple here in
We went to another silk factory (same as our department stores back home) before lunch. Here we ended buying mommy a little piece of
(pocketbook) and a set of placemats with matching chopsticks for our future Chinese dinners at home. China
Next we headed off to lunch. Lunch was great today. Everything was recognizable and good. Sweet and sour chicken, soup, rice, fried chicken, fried fish, grilled pork with bamboo shoots and zucchini, and of course watermelon for dessert- that is always the dessert but it is not as sweet as ours back home.
After lunch we went to the
museum. It was located on one side of the People’s square. There was some amazing bronze, pottery, calligraphy (what they call their writing here), paintings, and furniture in there. It showcases their long history and how talented these people are. Some pieces are more that 4000 years old and still preserved very well. It makes me think about our American history and really how short lived we have been. Shanghai
We thought we were done for the day after the tour- and Lord knows we were spent after looking at pottery and such for more than 2 hours- but we had a special treat along the way. We were headed to the place where our little AvaGrace was found when she was a month old. The place was at a huge hospital in
. We realized just how this mommy cared for her. We feel like she left her here at this particular hospital because this hospital specializes in dental work according to our guide- and the mommy knew she needed that type of care. Our guide asked everyone along the way to find the exact place she was found so we could go there with her. We found it and were able to take some pictures there with her now. That was very special for us and we got a little emotional seeing it and thinking about it. Shanghai
After that, we headed back home for a little free time, packing up, and PIZZ HUT PIZZA!!! Mandy was determined to have pizza tonight. She was one the phone for about 30 minutes and came back in to say it will be delivered in an hour with a Coke! Were we in paradise or what? To make it even sweeter, it was cheap too, only 90 RMB which translates to about $15 (large pizza, 1.25 liter of Coke, 2 slices of pie, and delivery by bicycle). We are headed out tomorrow to pickup our notarized paperwork that we paid for and filled out last Monday and then to the airport to fly to another place called
(said as “GuangJoe”). We will leave there next Wednesday to come back home. Guangzhou
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
). Lunch was great! We had fried chicken, spicy bamboo shoots with chicken, rice, cabbage, soup, and fried pork (seemed a lot like chicken fried steak though). The boys ate great and have been great at trying new stuff at each meal. We fed Ava Grace some rice with soups mixed together to make it a little easier going down. She is a good eater and will tell you when she’s had enough. So far she has taken almost 2x as much formula at each feeding and eater much more from the table than we were told she was eating. I think she has gained a pound already. Right after lunch we took a tour down the boardwalk. We asked the guide if it was going to be a long tour and he said no justa short ways. So we didn’t take a stroller or carrier. Of course, Ava Grace fell asleepas soon as we got going and the short tour lasted more than an hour! Daddy’s arms and back were give out but by the end of that and couldn’t wait til we got into the van again. From there we took a stroll through the French Quarter here and it was composed of many small stores and galleries down narrow, run-down alleys. It was nothing fancy but was a very neat atmosphere. That was another 30 minute tour, but this time we had her in the stroller. There were some beautiful pictures there. The thing that really sticks out in our minds is how artistically talented these people are. They can create some fabulous works of art here. By this time we were give out and ready to just relax in the room and let the boys play with their little sis. We asked our facilitator how they usually treat sick people here and he took it as we thought Ava Grace was sick. He made a call and said that he arranged for us to stop by the hospital to get her checked out since the van drivers wife was a nurse there and it wouldn’t cost us anything. We insisted several times that she was ok and it wasn’t necessary but he wasn’t hearing that. So we played along made it another opportunity to see a hospital up close. The nurses and doctors there were fabulous and had a big heart. We finally made it back to the room after another long day and the boys finally got to play with little sissy. They did great and didn’t overwhelm her. She is getting much more used to them now and now reaches out to touch them and interact with them more. They are lapping it up. Shanghai
Day 5 - August 23, 2011
Today started out as a test of our patience and sort of like the honeymoon was over for little Ava Grace. She woke up and did not want any of us. It’s like the vacation was over for her. After about 30 minutes she realized we weren’t leaving and then she was all ‘lovey’ again. She was so much more relaxed than the first day we got her. She has been a real trooper. Our first activity today was to go to Adoption office and then to the Notary office. At the adoption office, we had to go through the interview process and explain why we were adopting. It was a little intimidating but was quick. There was a lot of waiting and the kids did great occupying themselves. We then had to go and take a picture of mom, dad, and Ava Grace. We found out that this picture was used on the official adoption certificate. We met up with our friends fromAfter the notary office, we went to lunch at the Bunder (I think that’s right but it’s a boardwalk that showcases the river and beautiful buildings all around central
again. It is funny because neither one of us know where we are going or what the next steps are. We just see each other along the way. It’s very funny. We left the adoption office and went to the notary office. Here the notary is much more important than in US. Here they are the official recorders and the only ones that do that. So we met up with our friends again at the notary office. Here we took the oath, which was basically an agreement that we would not abandon or abuse our little girl. She basically read the requirement to all of us together and we had to shake our head or indicate yes. We were presented Ava Grace’s passport that had only her Chinese name on it. It was a cute picture there that was taken weeks ago and she is showing off her 2 front teeth. She did great being patient the whole time and the boys are continuously playing with her and trying to entertain her. Today she was reaching for them and playing games with them. That was a welcomed site because the first day she wanted nothing to do with them. She is mimicking them with funny faces and sounds. She picks up quickly and is very smart. Wisconsin
Day #6 Aug 24, 2011
|Jace braved the challenge of this fine dining|
Next we went for lunch. Everyday before today we have had the very best food you can find here. Today we went to a very formal place and got the meal we had been worried about getting. There were many items there that we couldn’t figure out what they were. Mandy liked some soup that we had. It seemed to have some eggs stuffed with some kind of meat and some clear chewy things that she said was dumplings. When our facilitator came back to get us after lunch she asked what was in some of the dishes- BIG MISTAKE! The dumplings that she liked were tendons and the meat was some kind of mixture of meat. I could see her getting sick by minute-haha! There was a chicken foot on one of the plates, no other chicken parts that I could recognize. They brought us fish and yes that was easy to recognize because it was the entire fish- eyes and all just on a plate. That was actually pretty decent if you could get past him staring at you while you ate him. Needless to say, we didn’t eat very much for lunch. We ate our rice which is always a safe bet here.
We toured a pearl factory and while Mandy shopped the boys and Ava Grace stole the show. They have many young girls working in the factories (same as our department stores) to sale items to people. They love children here and kept telling us that we have a great family. Of course we agree. Everywhere we go they say Jace looks like Harry Potter and they just pull Collin with them to show off his blue eyes to all of their friends. At the pearl factory we bought Ava Grace a pearl bracelet and necklace to give her when she gets older. The ladies there couldn’t get over how much she was attached to her parents after only a couple of days. They kept saying we were very lucky and we realize it is not luck but God’s grace that helped us in this union.
Since we didn’t have much lunch today we decided to go out to eat for dinner. We decided to walk out on the streets around the hotel and came across a KFC. We were happy to finally get another taste of home, but after we got our food, we found out it was not the same. The chicken was not the same chicken we have at home. I don’t know how it was different, but it was very. None of us could eat our sandwich, so we got a sundae and headed home for the night.
When we got back we tried to keep Ava Grace up a while to see if anyone would Skype us. She started playing hard and was talking up a storm. She is really coming out of her shell now. Tonight we were able to put her in the boys laps and she was just touching their hair and faces and loving on them. We even got her to kiss them on the cheek for bedtime. She is warming up to them pretty good now. She doesn’t see them as a threat but more as friends and playmates now.