Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Everyone has watermelon for Christmas breakfast, right?!

Inside our hotel

The Christian Church we attended on Shamian Island

Merry Christmas from China!

Christmas Eve

We had the medical check on Shamian Island today.  Jada was a trooper.  She is a brave little girl.  She went through it all without a tear.  She smiled and giggled even.  She didn't even cry when they injected her for the TB test. 

For supper we had Papa John's pizza with a bunch of new friends in their hotel room!  I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures of that!  We have been blessed by the support and encouragement of the others around us.  Not to mention we love getting to know the other kids!

Dec 23rd On to Guangzhou

We left Hangzhou and flew into Guangzhou.  The trip went smoothly...amazingly well now that I think of it.  Thank you God!

Dec 22nd Water Town and Dragon Well Tea

We draw quite a bit of attention with our little pink girl.  Little old Chinese ladies have fussed over whether she's dressed warm enough, pulling on her pants and looking to see if she has more layers.  Why oh why didn't I bring her snow bibs?!

This is a very old town outside of Hangzhou, which they regard as the Venice of China.  This was a great tour and we even got a boat ride.

Dragon Well Green Tea Farm
We were welcomed into a farmer's home and given some green tea to try.  It was very interesting and the tea was okay...but I was more impressed by the jasmine tea served by Mr. Wang in Beijing.

Another adoptive mom with us who drinks a lot of green tea loved it.  So if you like green tea, it's the first picking of Dragon Well Tea that you want!

By this time I was just praying we could get Jada home to the hotel without her getting carsick again!

Dec 21st

Mischief.  Orneriness.  They ooooze from these pores.  She's just as silly with us as if she'd always known us.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 20th Ningbo and Enmei Orphanage

Skyline of Hangzhou
We were told these are farmers' houses!  Slightly different from home!
Today we made the adoption final!  Our hotel was in Hangzhou (the capital), where we finalized the adoption (first stop), and we had to travel to Ningbo to apply for Jada's passport.  On the way we picked up the orphanage assistant director who took us to lunch at a farmer's home/restaurant, then we got to visit the orphanage!  We took so many pictures, and I have many to share!  ;o)  We got to take pictures of her classmates and they allowed us to see her room, her classroom, watch a music class and take pictures on the playground!  It was very rushed because we had to get to downtown Ningbo to apply for the passport after that.  It all went very smoothly, but Jada got sick several times in the van from motion sickness.  It didn't help that she has a rotten cold with a very runny nose.  We got home very late.  It was a successful, good, and hard day.  We are still thanking God for His care and provision.

Jada Day!!! December 19th

First sight

Catch me if you can.
It took her about a half hour to warm up to us.  We basically followed her around the room until she was ready to talk to us.  There were no tears, she just wasn't sure about us.  She seems to accept and trust us already.  Playing the chase me game makes her deliriously happy.

First try with the sippy cup.  It quickly became her beloved.

Loving on Jada while she sucks down her yogurt.  The girl can put away the food.  She had gotten car sick on the way over so they quickly had given her snacks.  She left with us without even seeming concerned.  We even took a potty break before leaving the civil affairs office and she went without any fuss.  She is a tough, brave little girl.  We are amazed and thankful for how wonderfully she is adjusting!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Forbidden City, Silk Factory, and Snack street with new friends

The Forbidden City pics will have to be added later because we have those on the video camera.

Laith at breakfast...a happy man.

Pulling silk at the silk factory
Snack Street
We just took pictures and giggled a lot.  We did NOT partake.
Apparently people really eat these things.  It smells like it looks.  The sheep "parts" shocked me.
cow stomach...really
Sarah said it was a lot like chewing on a rubber band. 


The Morning Star Family Home director and her family were very gracious to us and took us to dinner, a Chinese flea market kind of place, and guided us through snack street!

Friday, December 16, 2011

More photos

Our hotel lobby in Beijing

Riley with our new friends Andrew & Sarah

The Hot Pot
(now known to us as the infamous hot pot restaurant that serves scary food)

Laith eating meat on a stick
(later to be identified as lamb, actually very good)
It was here at The Hot Pot that Riley first tasted jelly fish.  They also served us cow stomach.  We did not try that...we thought it looked like tongue because it seemed to be covered with taste buds! 


We're here! Today was the Great Wall!

Riley loved the wall!  He "just" wanted to go to the top!  We made it to tower number nine before calling it a day.  My legs were jello on the way down, but ole Riles was going strong.  It was very cold...literally freezing, but we stayed warm from the steep climb.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Big Sister

Jada will have some big shoes to fill at our house! Spunk and sheer orneriness ooze from her big sister Hope. She's gonna love having a little sister. By this time next month I'm sure she will have convinced our sweet Jada into thinking she is also a puppy just like Hope is most of the time.

I love this girl. She is one energetic wire. I'm going to miss her...and her birthday. But praise God! The day after her birthday, we will be bringing her new sister home in time for her birthday party!


Hold on Jada baby, we're coming.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just days from now...

we'll be heading for Beijing!  There is soooo much to do before we go!  Some of it is necessity, some is just my own OCD issues surfacing.  I can't wait to go, I just wish everything was ready! 

It's taken so long, that now that we're getting ready to go it feels very surreal.  We're going to get to meet our Jada!  We've been getting emotional as we talk and pray and prepare our older children.  How do you really prepare for this?!  We have read, and read, and read about adoption and everything minutely related to adoption (okay, well I have, maybe not Laith!).  We've talked to the kids and tried to paint a realistic word picture of how she will just be a "sister" not a perfect little doll to dote on.  Will this little lady be calm and demure, or fiery and opinionated?  Or maybe somewhere in between?  It'll take a while to even know for sure.  So we have more questions than anything right now.  I hope to blog from China, so maybe we'll have some real news about this girl for you in about a week!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

God's Provision

The rest of our finances for this adoption have been generously provided by our Heavenly Father, through the sacrificial giving of His people!  We have received grants and an interest free adoption loan that have made our travel to China possible!  I knew God was going to move and provide, and saw this working itself out months ago.  But when it came down to the wire, our expenses jumped about $4000 with traveling over Christmas and we wondered how this was going to happen.  Our personal finances were getting pretty squeaky too if you catch my drift and we started talking about using credit cards.  (Don't tell Dave Ramsey!)

So we prayed, and I asked friends to pray.  After praying, I told Laith I had kicked around the idea of asking if our adoption loan could be increased.  I just kept thinking of the verse where Jesus says you have not because you ask not.  Laith asked if I would have a problem doing it.  Well, yes I would, it's a ministry, not a bank, but the worst they can do is say no, right?  So I laboriously wrote the email asking for MORE help.  It definitely hurt the pride, but it was a good hurt.  I quickly got a reply and I was so scared to read it!  I was ready to be called an ingrate for not being satisfied for what they'd already done for us.  Instead they just asked how much we needed and then they approved it all!  I just cried.  I know this may all seem so silly.  It is a loan that we have to pay back, but it's interest free and we don't have to start paying until March.   THAT is God providing.  Plus we should qualify for the adoption tax credit so we're hoping to use that to pay back our loan.

So here is what I'm thinking.  God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Sometimes He'll just give you a cow.  Sometimes He sells them and gives you the money.  In this case, He gave the money to other people and called them to give it to adoption ministries so they could disperse the money.  As we pay it back, the ministry can help other families adopt too.  I think God likes to work this way so we know He did it, and others get the blessing of being in on it.  So that is what I think.  Here is what I know:  God provided for this adoption of Jada.  He is taking care of all of us.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Choosing to be thankful

It's Thanksgiving, and I woke up with the worst attitude.  No gratitude.  The reality of leaving my children over the next upcoming holiday had hit me again, and I apparently am not any more reconciled to it than I was 2 weeks ago.  I'll say it again.  God has a plan.  But without seeing what good things He must have in store, I've been getting angry (or sad or anxious) because God could have brought our Jada home sooner.  So I started making a mental list of things I am thankful for, in spite of how I'm feeling.  For my own benefit, I wanted to record my reasons for why I should be thankful.

1. I have Jesus, my Savior, and without Him my life has no purpose.
2. I have Laith, my sweet husband, who is willing to find out the hard way if I can be a good mom to 5 children.  You will not meet a man with a bigger heart or harder working hands.  You won't, go ahead and try.  I'm tempted to gush about him because he has been truly wonderful to listen to my fears and complaints, but I'll move on.
3. We have extended family who have bent over backwards to help us in life in general, but also with this adoption.  Our Jada will join a family that joyfully anticipates her arrival just like they did her brothers and sister.  They are making this time of being away as painless as possible.  Oh Jesus, what a mess I would be if they weren't supporting us!
4. I have amazing kids who understand why we will be gone and are being mature and optimistic about it all.  They want their little sister home more than their own way.  They're awesome!  And cute.  And funny.  You can see why I'd want to spend Christmas with them...but I digress.
5. We get to bring Jada home THIS YEAR.  Finally.  She's the bonus here.  We will have her in our arms for Christmas. 
6. There have been so many financial blessings that I don't have the energy to list them all right now.  They're big though.  Bigger than we imagined, more than we deserved...isn't that God's M.O.?  And we should qualify for the adoption tax credit this year.  Shew.  Praise you Father.
7. We have our tickets and travel all booked.  We are going to China!  I still can't believe this.

There's more. I didn't even mention how many wonderful friends we have.  That can be another day's list, but truth be told I think it just didn't occur to me because I just consider them family.  Sorry friends, I guess I just adopted you too. 

So why so downcast, oh my soul?  Put your hope in God, and bless the Lord oh my soul!

Monday, November 14, 2011

New picture!

 Isn't she so super cute?!
A friend got an update on her cute little blonde Chinese girl, and our Jada just happened to be in the picture!  Thank you Mandy for sending me this new picture!  (I cropped out her cutie because I didn't want to post without permission.)  I'm thrilled to see a recent picture of our girl, and honestly a little disgusted that they buzzed her hair again!  Poor pumpkin!  It's a good thing I keep buying all of those head bands & bows, hee hee! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's not about me.

It's about her.
It's about God's plan for this girl.
The sooner I can grasp this, the sooner I will have peace.  This has been the theme all along!

Isn't she cute?  It's possible that she knows it!

Travel Dates Confirmed

Well, once again God has another agenda laid out for us than we had planned for.  We will be leaving for China on December 14th, and returning on the 29th.  Leaving three behind over Christmas and missing our Hopi's birthday was not our ideal plan, but obviously it is God's plan for us.  I've been continually reminded recently of God's sovereignty and my short-sightedness.  Whatever He has in store for Jada and the rest of us must need a couple more weeks to work itself out.  My chest literally ached most of the day, giving way to my realization that I care more about this timing issue than I even care to admit.  I've been waiting for my heart to catch up to my mind, you know?  I'm trying to choose to trust and waiting for the feelings to follow.  I hate it that I'm not just excited to be going.  5 weeks just feels so far away!  It's silly I know.  But we have set dates now, so we can plan, prepare the kids, and get things ready for our sweet Jada girl!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Travel Approval, also known as: TA, also known as: The day the heavens opened!


Praise You Father!  We have our travel approval!!!

December 16th

My agency, Holt International, is working hard to get us to China earlier, but it is likely that we will not get to China any earlier than December 16th.  This is bittersweet news.  We have a date to fall back on and our agency is planning this before we have travel approval, which is wonderful.  The down side is if we were going to any other province, we could be heading out on Dec. 2nd and returning in plenty of time to be home for Christmas.  So unless the actual director of the agency can pull some strings for us, we will be gone over Christmas and miss my little girl's 7th birthday. 

So I'm praying for favor with the public affairs office in our province.  (They are hard to schedule with.)  And so I'm asking for a Christmas miracle.  I want to be home for Christmas, with my Jada in my arms.

This shames me as I have scoffed that someone would make it their goal to have their kids home by a certain date because of the absolute (ridiculous) uncertainty about adoption.  Yet here I am eating some humble pie, and begging God to let us bring her home by Christmas.  You see this was never my plan.  I thought that the adoption would be completed last summer, but as we moved through this process it slowed to a screeching halt for a couple of months.  So no more scoffing for me. 

And I'm praying for a Christmas miracle.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I can't think of anything else!

I am consumed.  I can think of nothing but adoption, and when this adoption will finally take place.  I dreamed last night that while my mother stayed with my other children while we were in China, she repainted the girls' room a bright yellow color...OVER the lovely flowered blocks handpainted around the room.  I was horrified and then woke up.  If you know my mother, you know this is not a real fear of mine because there is no danger of my mom repainting my house.  It does show, however, that I am starting to get nervous about leaving my babies.  They will be fine without me.  Maybe that's it.  They will be too fine without me.  I've never been away from them for longer than 3 days!  It's hard to give up control and trust someone else to do my job, even though it's the perfectly capable grandparents who managed to raise us somehow! 

Holt sent a generic email today saying they're planning for a group of us to enter Beijing Dec 16th.  That is no dang good in my mind because we won't be home before Christmas.  God, I'm crying out!  Please, please let us get there and back before Christmas!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Officially waiting for travel approval!

We got confirmation that our Article 5 went through on Friday, so we are now waiting on travel approval!  YAY! 

Now the trick is calmly waiting to see when we'll be leaving with 2 major holidays and 2 of my children's birthdays coming up.  Good grief.  So glad to finally be here, but this is the worst time of the year for us to travel!  I never dreamed we'd be in a race before Christmas.  I just finished all of the birthday and Christmas shopping for my kids though.  That's a huge relief.  I sure wish we could be home by my Adler's birthday on December 3rd.  From talking to Holt, I guess that would be nothing short of a miracle though.  A mama can dream though, right, and definitely pray....  God, could we please leave and come back before Ad's birthday?  In Jesus' Name, Amen

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Visas, Article 5, and waiting for TA!

We got our visas back last week on Friday!  It's a lot of money just to get a sticker in your passport!  This means we are completely done with paperwork on our end.  I'm sure there will be something that comes along that will need to be filled out, but nothing that I know of!  Our Article 5 should be done today but we won't hear anything until Friday because Holt doesn't hear anything until Friday.  So if I can assume that the Article 5 is done (play along here, I know what assuming does) then we should be waiting for travel approval now!  This is our last step!!!  The consulate appointments are made quickly so it seems, so this is the last real wait for paperwork then it will be the rush for packing & travel, buttoning up things here so we can be gone for two weeks!  The travel approval will be expedited.  PLEASE PRAY that China will honor the request for an expedited TA!  Many have gotten theirs quickly, so I'm hopeful.  You could also pray that I won't be consumed with this so much that I forget I have other children!  ;o)  Those other children of mine really are doing so well with all of this...oh may that continue!

And this is just for a dose of cuteness:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More pictures of sweet Jada

With her class...

They must be learning about leaves.  Isn't that a great smile?  Oh my prayer is that she is being prepared for the changes she will be experiencing soon.  How do you ready a 3 year old for leaving everything she's ever known though?  Please Father, prepare this girl.  May she somehow be able to trust us and know that we will love and protect her always.  In the Name of Jesus we ask!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Look at this girl!

She looks like she's keeping a funny secret! We got 4 new pictures with an update on our girlie! She is growing and changing so much before we ever get to squeeze her! She looks very happy in each picture which does my heart good. Oh I want to go get her, and we are so close...yet so far!

I'm loving the little wrinkled nose!
I'll post the other 2 pictures later.  I'm saving my favorite for last ;o).
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NVC Cabled!

We have our NVC cable!  Now we're waiting on the Article 5. We could possibly even still fly out in November!  That's all I know for now!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

We Have a Case Number!

This is a very small step, but it is still movement, so I will rejoice!  The National Visa Center (NVC) has our adoption petition and we have been given a case number.  The next step is they will send us a .pdf file copy of the approval letter and then it will get "cabled" to China.  So we're a day or two away from one more hurdle.  Then we'll only have three more steps:  Article 5, Travel Approval, & Consulate Appointment!  So close, yet so far away!

I have requested an update on our girlie.  It'll probably take another 2 weeks before we get that though.
In the mean time, I have to be content with some more photo editing ;o)!

Monday, October 3, 2011


This is my sweet nephew, that smiles often yet the cameras usually can't catch him doing it. This Joshua is such a fun guy! To add to it, he's proof that adoption processes really end up with a new little person added to a family. There really is a bright light at the end of the adoption process tunnel! And here is a little light that was even on our homeschool field trip with us last week. WITH us. And one day, our little Jada will be WITH us too, hopefully on another trip to the Louisburg Cider Mill for some fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts...yum! You'll love them sweet pea!
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