Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meeting Ava Grace

Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2011 05:20:41 -0700 (PDT)

Gotcha Day!!
What a day today! We went to get our sweet little girl today. It was an awesome experience. We felt so blessed just by her acceptance of us from the first minute. We had been waiting for this moment for a year and here it was all at once it seemed. The setting was not special at all- we were sitting in a conference room and as soon as we signed the last piece of paperwork, they said something to each other in Mandarin and then a lady walks in with our little AvaGrace. She came right to us almost immediately. It was an answer to many prayers!!! Her caregiver got emotional when she saw it and said it was a sign from God and that the last 2 weeks she had started preparing for us and she saw that. It seemed almost perfect the way she received us at once. We were so relieved. We asked the caregivers some questions, they gave us a great photo album of her and her days growing up to now. We were shocked by how much they really cared for her and had taken care of her. Our facilitator did a great job translating for us and he even video taped the whole meeting her. After we met her, we came back to the hotel for about 45 minutes and then were scheduled for a tour of Chinatown in Shanghai. It was at the same time she was supposed to nap, so we trekked out with her and she caught a little nap on our shoulder. We saw some more fabulous temples and ate at the best place we have been so far- Chinese food that is. The absolute best meal we had was yesterday when we ate at Pizza Hut- that was much needed to keep us going here. The good Chinese place today only served dumplings and it was so crowded, we just stood over people eating until they left their table and we jumped at their seats. That is the way it is everywhere here- driving, walking down the street, buying something, anything. After Chinatown we stopped by the Walmart to get some formula, snacks, and some Coke! That stuff holds us together here. Hot tea and warm water just donĂ¢€™t cut it. Then we came back to the hotel for the night and tried to relax for the evening and get to know our newest family member a little more. We have found that she loves formula, has to have something in each hand all the time, and has some personality! It has been an incredible day. Tomorrow we have to sign more paperwork and sit in on interviews.

An immediate attraction to each other
Me and my brothers

Day 2
We had another full day of sightseeing.  Today we went to the Great Wall, then to a Jade factory, next to a copper factory and to get some lunch, to a pearl factory, then to get a quick glimpse of the Olympic Venue for 2008 in Beijing, then to tour Summer Palace and end up with an Acrobatic show. 

Today was a long day.  We left the hotel at 8:30am and didn’t return until 7pm.  We went non-stop and gained a wealth of knowledge of the culture here. 

The Great Wall was definitely one of the wonders of the world.  It was incredibly massive.  We only went out on one small part of it but it was unbelievable.  It was amazing that anyone could build something so huge!  The steps were very uneven and definitely not up to code.  One step would be 4” high and the next 12”.  The climb was straight up it seemed.  Of course there were so many people climbing there that you couldn’t move without being touched and rubbed against and bumped into the whole time.  Collin and I climbed up a long way to the top of the section we were at.  Mommy and Jace decided to go back a little early because of the crowded steps and the fact that when you get halfway up it seemed like you were hanging off a 10-story building- get that dizziness from that height.  They thing that really strikes us as surprising is the uncleanliness of everything we have seen and how trash is just thrown on the ground most places and poor people are rummaging through the trash cans all the time. 

The Jade Factory was very cool.  These people have an amazing artistic ability.  They could carve most anything in that Jade.  We learned the different grades and colors of Jade and how to tell if they are valuable or not.  Of course the boys both had to get a piece and so they each got a necklace with their zodiac sign on it.  Jace’s is a snake and Collin’s is a goat. 

Next we were able to see how they make the elaborate copper vases.  It is still amazing what they do with their artistic abilities.  We had a good lunch that was served family style.  Chris, our facilitator here, got us some chicken and bamboo shoots, some sweet and sour chicken, then we had rice, cabbage, some spicy soup but who knows what was in that, and they gave us some American comfort food of french fries- although not like the ones at home.  After lunch we stopped by to buy an ornament. 

We had some extra time to kill so we stopped by a pearl factory and learned how they make the freshwater pearls and the different grades and types of them.  Mandy really wanted to get some so that one day we could pass them along to our little AvaGrace when she gets older.  So we bought a nice necklace of black pearls.  While Mandy was shopping, Collin and I were getting talked about in Mandarin by the other girls and manager there.  They all liked to hear us speak English and theirs was not that great.  They couldn’t understand where we were from- had never heard of North Carolina.

The Olympic venue tour was a drive by.  Chris asked if we wanted to stop by there to take some pictures and we said sure.  They pulled off on the side of the road and told us to go take some pictures- not exactly what we were expecting but it was ok since we were wiped out already. 

They sped down the road a ways further and dropped us off at the Acrobat show.  It was pretty good and lasted about an hour.  We got a couple of Cokes and a bag of microwave popcorn for RMB 30.  That was about $5.  Chris told us our flights were at 10am the next morning and they would pick us up at 7:30. 

We are so shocked by how dirty everything is here- trash everywhere and places where people got sick right there where everyone is walking.  The housing is little shacks everywhere- we were not expecting that.  To me they have a major issue with the population and it is evident everywhere here.  Chris confirmed the one child policy that was started back in the 80s and said that the rich people just pay the fine like $200k and have as many as they want here.  He also said that some families would have 2 children if both parents are in the one child policy ruling.

Driving is total chaos here.  We were laughing that we would never be able to get around here if we had rented a car and tried to drive ourselves.  There are really no lanes, no turn signals, and no rules.  Our van driver uses on foot on gas and one hand on the horn.  It seems that if you stick your nose out in front of someone, you have the right-of-way.  I am amazed we haven’t had a wreck or killed anyone walking or on a bike yet.  In fact one time today, we were behind a line of cars and the driver just started driving on the other side of the road. It is wild.  The people here walk that way too.  No personal space issues for them, just us.  It has been nice to see their culture and their ways from a first hand experience though.


  1. So happy to hear this! Congratulations!!

  2. Awesome! Can't wait to see pictures! I absolutely love when God has orchestrated things. I love seeing prayers being answered. God is so good!!! How exciting to see opportunities for you to share God with others through your new baby girl! Praying for you guys1