Sunday, June 17, 2018

Exploring Guangzhou

The days are all beginning to blur a bit, but basically we have been just spending time enjoying Guangzhou. We have been amazed at all the amazing spots within walking distance to our hotel that we were unaware of four years ago. There are two beautiful huge parks nearby, and an outside street market that I'm hoping to get back to with my camera. We have also checked out Shamian Island again for the food, statues, church service, and people watching. Tonight we had a dim sum with the families from our travel group, and we discovered more about the foods Ivy likes and doesn't like. Her favorites by far -- chicken feet, cow stomach, and bok choy! She ate the chicken feet to the bone!

We have also had a bonding breakthrough here in Guangzhou! Up to this point, Ivy has enjoyed being with BJ, but she wouldn’t let him hold her. Yesterday I had to be at a parent visa meeting and out of necessity left Ivy with BJ and Canaan at the pool. It turned out to be a great bonding time for them and Ivy had a blast with them in the pool. Today when we put Ivy’s suit on to swim again, she instantly jumped into BJ’s arms, ready to have more daddy time! Ivy is struggling to get in naps here with us, and it’s been the root of some major meltdowns the last couple of days. Poor girl is just so tired but won’t nap for us. We’re hoping that once we get home we can establish a better routine for her. She’s sleeping great with us at bedtime thankfully!

Tomorrow we are off to the Chimelong Safari Park! We leave for home in 5 days! We are ready!!!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Guangzhou / Medical Check

We are now in Guangzhou, China, wrapping up the US side of our adoption. This is one of our favorite parts of the adoption trip because we get to connect with all the other families who are adopting at the same time. These families are some of the most amazing people we have ever met (both on Lainey’s trip and now). The stories we are hearing of the lives of their children “before” - are just so heartbreaking. Of course there is joy mixed in because these little ones are orphans no more — but knowing that SO many children remain just tears your heart out. One of the families we met is blogging their story online and I highly recommend checking it out -

Today we had our medical check for their entry into the US - which is just just a difficult few hours ending in a TB blood draw for most of the kiddos. :(

All of the adoptive children have some sort of medical need, and so we spent time reviewing all of that with the US Consulate medical staff. We learned since arriving here that Ivy has a (hopefully minor) bean/nut allergy. Our Ivy’s main medical conditions are that she has both a heart defect and vascular malformations on her face and neck. The scariest part of her medical conditions is that her vascular malformations / hemangioma are also inside of her mouth and throat, which could pool with blood at any time and cause her to have difficulty breathing. Today at the medical check we were able to see with the doctor to the back of her mouth, and we were sad to see clearly hemangioma in the back of her mouth. We’re just so grateful that she’s with us now, and we can get her emergency medical care if needed. But we’re praying it’s not needed!

Please pray for our girl as she continues to bond with us, and for all the families / children we are meeting!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Qinzhou Visit

I'm not sure where to start in documenting this day!

We left this morning with our guide Vicky, traveling by speed train (128mph) to Ivy's hometown, a city called Qinzhou (pronounced Chin-zhou) south of Nanning. When we arrived, we first stopped by Ivy's orphanage to see where she was placed by her birth family, as well as the orphanage itself. We knew going in that we would likely not be able to enter the orphanage, and this was in fact the case. We were able to see through the gates the play area, as well as the outside of the floors on which Ivy lived (the 3rd floor as a baby, and most recently the 4th floor for the older children).

Before coming to Ch*na, we learned that the orphanage does not allow contact between the adoptive families and foster parents. We were disappointed to learn this, wanting so much to thank the couple that clearly had been taking such good care of our little girl for almost a year. We prayed that we might be able to find some way to contact them after the adoption.

Once we met our guide in Nanning, we learned that a few weeks ago when Ivy's foster sister was being adopted by an another American couple, the family was approached in the train station by the foster family's neighbor, recognizing their new little girl. Then then neighbor gave them the contact information of the foster family! We were so excited to learn this, knowing that we would also now be able to contact them!

Today, while standing outside of the orphanage gates, our guide told us that she was able to use this contact information to get in touch with the foster family, and that they were hoping to be able to meet us. We hadn't considered this would be a possibility, and were so very happy to be able to thank them face to face.

Before this meeting, we first traveled to the police station, to look up any record of Ivy's abandonment, and to meet one of the officers who came to the scene and cared for our sweet girl on that day. He had the kindest face, and we were so grateful to be able to thank him as well. He told our guide that so many babies are abandoned, it was hard to remember each one.  :( He didn't remember Ivy, but we learned that he was there that day through the police record.

Next, we drove over to the apartment complex of the foster family. We waited outside the gate for a bit, and soon I saw the face of the foster father. We were nervous about this part, not knowing how Ivy would react to seeing them again, but she did so well - allowing them to hold her (which typically I do not do, but this was a special circumstance), but still clearly seeing us as her mom and dad. While in his arms, she kept looking out to be sure I was still there. :) The foster mother soon arrived as well, and they led us to through the complex to their home. It was soon clear once we arrived that they had tried quickly to prepare for our visit. The brought out a table full of fruit and snacks. They brought out some of Ivy's shoes and insisted that we take them all with us so that she could have them for memories. :) They were so very sweet and hospitable!

We learned that Ivy was brought back to the orphanage in April, after almost a year in their care, because the foster mother started to have pain in her hands and arms and felt no longer able to care for young children. They told us that they had tried to come to the orphanage before her adoption to say goodbye to her before her adoption, but they were not allowed to enter because they were no longer fostering. They were so grateful to be able to see Ivy again and to say a proper goodbye.

The foster family kept asking our guide if we might be able to stay and visit for two more days. They were so incredibly sweet and loving. They told us that their adult biological son was busy arranging a meal for us at a local restaurant. They arranged for a friend of theirs to drive us there. When we arrived, we were escorted to the second floor, and through a door to a private dining room with an incredible spread of food for us to share. We were just overwhelmed with their generosity and kindness! We were able to spend another hour with them, learning more about their family and their time fostering. We learned that they had only fostered three children, and that once the foster children came into their home, they felt "much joy".

Their biological son was also very kind, and was able to speak with us a bit in English. He told us that when Ivy first came to them from the orphanage, that she was able to feed herself independently, but his mother spoiled her so much feeding her herself, that she "unlearned". lol It's so clear that they cared for her so incredibly well, like their own. We could never thank them enough for all they did for our sweet girl!!

Monday, June 11, 2018

We have our Ivy!!!

As I write these words, my incredibly brave baby girl lays next to me, sleeping. We met her at 2:30 this afternoon in the Nanning Civil Affairs office. When we first arrived, we were told to wait in the lobby waiting room until the room was ready for us. After a few minutes, BJ, Canaan, and I were brought into a small office, where we signed a few documents before spotting Ivy in the door way. She peered in, somewhat curiously, and when the time came for the orphanage workers to pass her into my arms, she was completely terrified. She pushed us both away and sobbed in a barely-taking-breaths sort of way.

We were brought into the photo room next door and brought out all of our goodies in an effort to console her - a sucker, a baby doll, and other toys that she shook her head to and tried with all her might to look through the doorway to find a familiar face. We had our family photo taken with her continuing to sob, and afterwards we were asked if we would like to purchase a copy of the photo etched in glass. We declined.

Her cries continued all the way back to our hotel room, where, after trying once more to console her, we decided to try the Mandarin cartoons we had brought. This slowly started to calm her, and over the course of the next hour we all began slowly turning down the volume of the show and presenting her once again with the toys and sucker. BJ and Canaan started in on the silliness, which coaxed her further out of her shell.  Even with the small progress, at that moment never would I have guessed how quickly she would begin to trust us - not one hour later she was play and laughing. It's just so clear we have a completely adorable, happy little girl!

She still has some bit of reservation - she wants only mama to hold her and hold her hand, and she has no interest in taking off her pink dress (she's sleeping in it now), but we were able to teach her how to pee on a western toilet, wash her hands afterwards, and later to brush her teeth. She did both so proudly it made my mama heart just melt! She is so smart and observant! I just love her so so much already, and I can't believe she's ours!!!!!!!!

Tomorrow, we will head back to the Civil Affairs office to finalize the adoption and make our promises to love her, care for her, and never to abuse or abandon her. This is the part where last time I sobbed! I'm already just so emotional about sayin those words and just the significance of the moment where she will officially become our child!

Such a brave brave girl.

This went on for so long, and we were gearing up for a long few days of a very scared and upset kiddo (very understandably so and not at all unexpected).

But not two hours later this girl began to come out of her shell and even giggle at baba (BJ) and gege (Canaan) who were doing all the could to her her laughing!

Seriously, isn't she just SO adorable? I can't even handle this sweet face right now!

More giggles as she played ball / peekabo (she kept hiding behind the bed and popping out) with gege and baba. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

China - Day 5 (Arrival in Nanning)

Sunday, 8pm in Nanning, China

A few hours ago, we landed in the stunning landscape of Nanning. We are with another American couple adopting through Holt (a 2 year old little boy). We met our agency guide Vickey, and as we started on our way to the hotel she passed us our itinerary for the week, as well as updated information about our children. There was just so much new information there it was a little hard to process. The biggest piece of unexpected news is that Ivy was (because of some kind of family situation) removed from her foster family 2 months ago and placed back in the orphanage. Everything that was comfortable and familiar to her was uprooted in early April. Thankfully, the orphanage nannies have been reading the book we sent every day to her, and because she enjoyed being with her foster family, we are told that she is looking forward to being adopted and in a family again. So so much change and heavy things for a 3 ½ year old to experience and process emotionally.

We also read in her file that she has an allergic reaction to “legumes”. We are really hoping that this isn’t a strange translation trying to tell us she has a nut allergy. We’re hoping to learn more when we meet her tomorrow and can ask our questions of the orphanage workers. We also learned that when she was with the foster family, she was co-sleeping with her foster mom, but now that she's back in the orphanage she's been been back in a crib room with about 20 other children.

We learned some fun things about our girl as well! We learned that she isn’t a picky eater, and that she loves fish and buffalo milk. We know that one of her favorite snacks is roasted peas, and our guide told us that she wouldn't have been eating any snacks or treats since coming back to the orphanage. We were sure to stock up when we got here so she can have her favorite treat when she meets us! Our hotel in Nanning is attached to a huge mall, which has a Walmart in the basement - it's going to make shopping here for Ivy (to get her shoes, a stroller, etc.) really convenient!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

China - Day 4 (New Day)

Today we were so very blessed to be able to visit New Day foster home. After breakfast this morning we met our driver who brought us to New Day (about an hour drive from our hotel). Being a weekend day, most of the office staff was off work - be we were able to meet Kevin, who gave us a tour and brought us to spend time with the younger children and babies, all of whom have pretty significant medical needs. We are purposely not showing images of the children's faces, but you can see more of these cuties on New Day's Instagram feed. :)

Canaan had the great idea before we left for China to bring his pump and balloons to make balloon animals for the children at New Day. We also brought with us all of the medical/supply donations that our wonderful church family donated, as well as a cash gift from a member of our church as well.

We had the best day playing with the children, who are just so adorable! It was so wonderful to see these children being cared for by these amazing nannies and such a loving atmosphere. The progress many of the children have made since coming to New Day is truly miraculous. We are praying for each one to find a loving family! If you would like to learn more about New Day, you can find them online at

Friday, June 8, 2018

China - Day 3 (Hutong & Summer Palace)

We have two days of touring scheduled for Beijing, and we have been making the most of it! Today we visited the Temple of Heaven, the pearl market, a Hutong (meandering communities within the city made of 800 year old homes where people still live today), had lunch with a sweet family in the Hutong, toured the Summer Palace, took a dragon boat ride, and make a quick photo stop of the olympic village. Our feet our sore and we're just amazed at all we were able to see today.

I had told Canaan before our trip to expect to be stopped for photos by some of the Chinese people, and this is exactly what is happening. Our boy is a little celebrity here and has been stopped by multiple people for a photo with him. Today at the Temple of Heaven we watched as a school load of children were touring the area - and one of the teachers asked if we might permit Canaan to be the centerpiece of a photo they were taking of their students. Our sweet little introvert looked a bit pained in some of the photos, lol!  Teachers took his hands so that he would hold the hands of a couple of the students, and the students took time afterwards to practice their english with us. It was pretty much completely adorable and completely overwhelming all at once.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Checking out the Temple of Heaven with our tour guide Jeremy.

It just kept going and going, even more so than the Forbidden City.

The Temple of Heaven is made out of wood! Amazing!

Our famous kid!

And then they asked Mom and Dad to jump in the picture.

More of the Temple of Heaven

A pedicab tour of a Hutong.

I could have spent all day wandering these streets taking photos! So much beauty!

The wedding photo of the sweet couple who shared a meal with us in their home today.

Whatever these were, they were incredible.

Gifts to us from the family. 

Hot tea on a steamy day... we are definitely in China! 

The courtyard area of the family's home in the Hutong.

Our sweet and hilarious host (who thought I was BJ's daughter, and have him two thumbs up when she learned I was his wife. Ha ha!!) - the one from the wedding photo.

This bird was learning to say "nihao". :)

Canaan at the Summer Palace.

So much beauty to take in at the Summer Palace!

This temple of the emperor at the Summer Palace was built upon an enormous man-made hill.

A tucked away side room at the Summer Palace. 

Sorry this is out of order - another image of the Temple of Heaven.

Canaan and I on the pedicab ride.

Dragon boat ride at the Summer Palace.

Just three days until we meet our Ivy girl!