Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring is here so winter must be right around the corner.

This is Iowa ya'll. We have to savor every moment of nice weather. Soon we will be stuck in the house again. ;)
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

I love it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The good, the bad, and the AWESOME!

I'm gonna be honest ya'll. I have been in a pit for the past week. I feel like Satan is eager to swallow me up! I am so sleep deprived and have had several of those really ugly crying moments. UGH! This is the biggest test my faith has ever seen I am certain. I wonder so many things and have fretted over all of the "what if's" as if I don't even remember what my purpose is.

The truth is that I have gotten off track. I needed to be reminded by the Lord that my purpose here on earth is to praise Him! Worrying about what parenting method or bonding method to use, wondering if I am going to be able to raise strong well adjusted kids, and thinking about all of the things that could go wrong are not going to bring the kingdom and allow me to praise my savior! I am behaving like I am a prisoner when I know that my heart has been set free! Woohoo! I love it when I hear the truth and it nourishes my soul.

So with that, I will give you some other updates in bullet form.

  • Levi is a joy to be around. He is so happy and seems to adapt easily. He always has a smile ready!
  • He is sleeping better but wakes up every morning at 4. He settles easier every time and sleeps until around 8. He is still in the pack n play in our room but I hope to remove him from the "love shack" this weekend. Sorry dude, daddy usually comes first.
  • He waves bye bye, plays peek a boo, blows kisses, and seems to be able to understand much of what we say even though he does not have any words yet.
  • Naomi has declared that I am not Levi's mom. (being dethroned is difficult)
  • Levi and Micah had wonderful bonding time last night and now he is starting to see that Daddy is more fun than Mommy.
  • When Levi is mad he sometimes clams up and stars off into space unwilling to make eye contact or move. He has been having some normal screaming fits which I hope increase because I think they are healthier than the other pouting style in which he withdrawals all together.
  • He has started to like baths.
  • He loves to play with anything related to the toy kitchen and pretends to cook and eat.
  • He loves to go outside to play and sliding is a big favorite. He is not sure about the swing.
  • The doctor discovered that he has an ear infection and built up fluid which could have been there his whole life. He also has an unexplained rash which I am hoping his not scabies.
  • He still has a hole in his mouth that we discovered which is allowing the food to escape from his nose and cause nose and chest congestion.
  • They took 11 vials of blood from him at the lab.
  • We love it when friends bring meals.
  • Our house is dirty.
  • Levi falls a lot. When we got home he would get hurt and not even cry or look around to see if anyone cared. He knows that I want to comfort him so now if he falls he looks forward to some hugs and kisses.
  • I don't know how people survive without Christian community.
  • Before we left for China we bought a lake house. You are all invited!
  • We all have a new appreciation for hugs and kisses.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Smiles, Scabies, Sleepless...

Isn't he a doll?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We are home!

We arrived home on Friday night to two very excited kids waiting to meet their brother, two hardworking and tired grandparents, and a clean house thanks to our sweet small group. Isaiah and Naomi have been wonderful to Levi by bringing him lots of toys to play with and constantly trying to kiss and hug him (which he does not appreciate). They keep saying how much they love him and they ask me while he is sleeping if they can just go look at him and when he will be awake so that they can play. Levi and sleeping don't get along much these days though. He cried all last night with short bits of sleeping in between. One time he cried for two hours. I think he is frightened when he wakes up and we don't really know how to soothe him. This mom is so tired. I can hardly function today and I am so thankful for Micah who let me take a long nap. I have a feeling that I wont be good for much over the next two weeks except for the basics!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and kind notes. We love you all dearly! It is great to be home.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oh Iowa, how we love you

Well we are officially bored over here and consequently have become a bit lazy.  Most of what is on the agenda consists of watching TV, eating, and shopping.  We are just waiting for Levi's visa which we will receive tomorrow on the way out of town!!  We become total gluttons in the meantime consuming more food every morning at the buffet here than we consume in an entire day at home.  We figure we already paid for it we might as well eat it.  

Levi and Micah have bonded much more in the last couple of days.  I can leave them alone with no trouble.  I thought Levi liked me quite a bit until the housekeeping lady came in this morning and Levi cried when she left wanting to go with her.  Oh well.  We are your new parents kid!  He slept for 13 hours last night after falling asleep on Micah's chest.  Oh, and the medical visit was traumatic for Levi but all turned out well.  His TB x-ray turned out fine.  There is another family here who is having to stay longer due to a positive TB result.  SO glad that is not us!  

We had our exit meeting today so we are all geared up to start packing and to think about what lies ahead.  We will take a train to Hong Kong tomorrow and leave for the US on Friday morning with stops in Newark and Chicago.  Pray that we have the energy to make the drive home on Friday night!  It's probably gonna be brutal.

I wonder what Levi is gonna think of his new home.  Getting there will be so comforting for Micah and I and a whole new transition for him.

We participated in an oath taking ceremony at the US Consulate office to get Levi's visa.  There were about 30 other families there and we had to raise out right hand and declare that all of the information that we have given is accurate as far as we know.  Levi raised his left hand during the oath.  

I can't believe we are almost done.  I might have some tears of joy when we hit Chicago.  Done at last! Levi is finally our son, and what a precious son he is.  I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet!

Beer and Papa John's for the celebratory dinner.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010


We went to church this morning and it was so cool.  We loved worshiping with the Chinese and other adoptive families who were there.  I have not been doing my daily study of the word and when I sat down this morning in church and the music started I realized that my soul was sort of parched! I was so glad to be taking time to worship our king and was reminded of a favorite scripture, Psalm 63: 1-5 which says:

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing my lips will praise you."

Oh how refreshing it was to worship today!  Micah did not get to enjoy worship with me as he was outside chasing Levi but I think they were having a good time of their own.  Levi has warmed up to dad in the last day or so and it is so fun to watch them bond.  Levi still prefers me to hold him but when I hand him off he does not protest and soon is ready to clown around with Micah.  I am so thankful for that.

After church and Levi's nap we went to the jade and pearl wholesale markets.  They were interesting for me and Micah followed Levi all over both places taking him on the escalators and elevators.  We were all worn out by the time we left there and next we were off to dinner with our entire travel group.  Seven families I think and we have such a great group.  We went to an Italian restaurant and is was soo good.  It was great to eat something other than Chinese food.  We all got a good chuckle at the pasta sauce coming out of Levi's nose while he just grinned and kept on shoveling food in!  He is such a happy boy!  We sat a chatted for a long time and then walked to Starbucks and back here to put little guy to bed.  I hope he sleeps better tonight than last night.  He was rolling around and waking up all night long.  

Tomorrow is the big medical check for Levi's visa.  His TB test reads positive so he will have to have a chest x-ray in addition to all of the vaccinations.  He will probably be good and worn out after that and we will be too.  Poor little guy.  I know that every family dislikes this part of the trip.

New Videos

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Hey folks – it's Micah this time.

First of all, some free commentary on China . . .
Many of you know my libertarian leanings, so I though I should share this.While I was composing this post, I went to to look up some of the references I included, but I wasn't able to view it. Know why?Because I'm in China. The Chinese government (apparently) censors certain web sites with biblical content.

A personal opinion and encouragement for my brothers and sisters in Christ: Don't forget this next time you consider the merits of ANY kind of censorship sponsored by your favorite "conservative Christian" legislator. If there's no place to draw the line on what to censor and what not to censor, then it's just a matter of who has power (whether that means position in a communist regime, or 60 votes in the senate) and an opinion about what's "appropriate" to be reading.If some day those in power don't like the bible (difficult to imagine, I know), I think you'll still want the freedom to read it, and worship its author.

It's possible that it will take Levi many months to bond with me. Of course, it's very early, but right now, he doesn't really trust me much -- so little that he doesn't want me to touch him. When I offer him something he really likes (cracker, cheerios), he will edge up to me just so he can reach it, and then retreat (like that scene in Dances With Wolves whenDunbar tries to feed the wolf by hand . . . . sorry if you never saw that film).

Because Levi has no interest in being physical with me, I've realized this week how much I bond with and express affection for Isaiah and Naomi by being physical with them (grabbing, squeezing, pinching, punching, tickling, wrestling, carrying, tossing in the air, kissing, hugging). I can see (now) how much I crave that with them, but I didn't realize until now because they love it, and I can always gratify that desire with them. Not with Levi (yet). I have a pretty strong desire to express my affection for him in the same way, but he's not interested. It's actually difficult for me to restrain, but I'm not too disappointed or surprised. I expected it. Actually, I expected worse. My prayers have been filled with requests for God to grant me the grace I need to handle a very difficult transition. It could be far worse – I know that for sure.

There are so many passages in the bible that draw parallels between earthly father-child relationships and the relationship we have with our heavenly father. Five years ago, when I became an 'earthly' father myself, those passages really gained depth for me. I quickly understood much more vividly how much God wants us to experience joy and how he wants us to have the desires of our heart, because that's the way I feel about my children. I want things for them. I want them to have fulfilling, joyful, rewarding lives. And I'm a terribly imperfect father with selfish evil and wickedness in my heart. How much more will our heavenly father give to us (Matthew 7:11)? How much more . . . I totally get that now (maybe not as much as I should, but far more than before).

But now, God is using Levi, an orphan from birth, who has been adopted into a new earthly family, given a earthly father (a "forever" father, as they call it in the adoption business), to give me even more depth to that biblical truth about my heavenly father. Some that I've been considering this week . . .

Levi's cleft lip surgery was apparently done pretty well, but it left some blemishes on his face that may be fixed later with some plastic surgery to address some cosmetic flaws around his nose. The nose itself is pretty crooked, one nostril is pretty flat and nearly closed, and an area right under his nose which is puckered from then they stitched the two cleft lip parts together. It is taking me some time to see past that when I look at him. For the first day or two, it just plain bothered me. But now that a week has passed, I'm having to remind myself about it. In 6 months, it will probably be rare that it will cross my mind at all.

The bible is so clear about the flaws and scars we have on our existence as a human race and as individual men and women.We were created in God's image, it says, but sin has marred us in a terrible, terrible way. If we take the view of God which is painted vividly throughout the pages of scripture, then we know that God is so perfect and mighty and majestic and lovely and . . . . so holy that the marring of our sin should make us hideous to God. How could such a holy and perfect God even look upon us without being repulsed or erupting with anger and wrath?

The ONLY way is through the scandal of the cross.ONLY because Jesus, who "knew no sin", has taken the wrath necessary for my sin, and imparted his righteousness to me is God able to look at us with any favor at all. But what's even more crazy is what the bible says about the way he DOES look at us. It says that, through my faith in Jesus, all of the blemishes have been washed away, and that He sees me as holy, and spotless (without blemish).When he looks at me, he doesn't even SEE any of the filth I KNOW is there. That's crazy. Nothing but a supernatural substitution could do that. I don't merit that kind of description.Someone else must have.

Fleeing Safety
Levi doesn't believe it yet, but I have his interests in mind much of the time.When I offer him something (food or milk), take him somewhere (to the clinic for a TB test), or offer to pick him up (so the physically underdeveloped klutz doesn't fall in the river), it's because I'm invested in his nutrition, health, and safety. But guess what he does when I do any of those things. He turns his head, leans away with a whimper, runs the other way, or sometimes even breaks out in tears because of fear he has about me and my plans for him. He doesn't have the trust in me it would require to RUN to me, or to submit himself to what I have in store for him.

This is one of those whose parallels to my relationship with God is pretty easy to make. Honestly, my tendency with my heavenly father is to be skeptical of his plans for me – his commandments, the instruction in the bible, and the ways his spirit leads me from time to time. I have this feeling (ebbing over time, but slowly) that I'M the one who knows what's best for me and those in my circle of influence.Anybody else feel like that?Maybe it's just me ;)

Back to Levi. How stupid is for him to think that his plans for himself are the most fruitful? He can't even wipe his own ass. How far does he think he's going to get without the benevolent stewardship of his earthly mother and father?

No different with me and God. Where do I really think I'm going to flee to?There's this great exchange recorded in the book of John in the bible. Jesus had just finished a particularly difficult teaching, and many of his followers had decided it was so difficult that wouldn't follow Jesus any longer. So Jesus asked his closest followers:

John 6:67
"You don't want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve

One of them realizes, apparently immediately, how ridiculous that would be, and responds,

John 6:68
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God"

In other words, "What the hell are we going to do if we don't follow and pursue and worship you? There is nothing else out there of any consequence."

Why would I run from the very person who created me and has demonstrated endless love and affection for me DESPITE the fact that I have this awful habit of running the other way?Where exactly would I go?There's no other option which is at all compelling.

A passage from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus:

Ephesians 1:3-10
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

That word in verse 5 . . . . adoption. That word will never be the same to me.Does everyone know what is required of a prospective adoptive parent (especially for an international adoption)? It's brutal. The process takes anywhere from 12 months to 10 years from start to finish.The first thing they do (after taking their first collection of your money) send people into your home to ask all kinds of revealing questions and poke through all of your stuff to determine whether they believe you to be a "fit parent" (I always wanted to return the favor – what could I drag out of THEIR closets which would make it clear they shouldn't have been parents?). Then, the stacks of paperwork are seemingly endless, and if you screw anything up, they don't feel too bad about telling you to do it over. And the waiting . . . . the waiting. We got our first picture of Levi in June, I believe. We knew his name, details about his medical condition, where he lived, and what he looked like.But we had to want another 9 months before we could call him "ours". That's brutal. And the costs . . . well suffice it to say that the costs, financially, are stunning.
You can't be passive if you want to adopt a child. You have to REALLY want to do it. I've heard people say, partly joking, and partly serious, that if parents were required to do all of this in order to have a biological child, Roe v. Wade would never have been dreamed about. No need. ONLY those who desperately want the child would go through this.

But on good days, I remember well what God had to do, how he had to pursue, how he had to wait, the patience he had to exhibit, whom he had to send, and what his son Jesus had to endure in order to make us "fit" to be adopted as his sons and daughters. God pursued us in a way that was unmistakable – far more so than I can say about our adopting Levi. He laid the groundwork to adopt me before the universe was spun into existence. Then, more than 4,000 years ago, he told a man named Abraham that he would be blessed by God, so that he could be a blessing to the world. From his line came Jesus, who personally carried out the plan to "give us the right to become sons and daughters of God".

So the question . . . . . Why did He do that? Would he endure all of that? He didn't need us.

The answer: So he could be come my father, and I his son.

If we even get a glimpse, or see a shade, of that reality, it's breathtaking.And if we actually start to comprehend it, it won't just take our breath away. It'll take our life away, because we'll want to submit and surrender it to the one to endured all of that just because he loved us enough to make us his children.


Hey guys!  I bet you blog lovers are wondering what happened to us.  On Friday we hung around the hotel and walked around West Lake again.  It was beautiful with temps in high sixties at least.  I just have to say that the Chinese are beautiful people and it is a lovely culture.  With that said, I still don't understand the issue of needing to put three layers of clothes on and then sweating AND gawking at others who choose not to do the same.  :)  It cracks me up.  So, it was super nice at the lake and everyone had on winter coats, gloves, scarves, and hats.  It was something else.  We got to see some kids with split pants on too which was nice.  After enjoying our comic relief, we headed back to the hotel for Micah to work, me to pack, and Levi to take a nap.  

We left the hotel at 4 for the airport go travel to Guangzhou.  That is where all of the American families have to do the visa process in order to return to the states with a cute kid.  I just have to say that I have so been looking forward to this part of the trip since we were the only family adopting from our province and I felt kind of isolated there even though our Holt staff there was great.  Also, Levi has really turned a corner and we have too in terms of getting to know each other better which makes things so much nicer for all of us.  ALSO, this is our fourth hotel change and I am super glad to be able to stay here for a whole week!  Woohoo!  No moving.  Also, (this might be the last one) all of the families from our travel group are reunited, Yay, along with many others from other agencies so you get to meet lots of guys know this is right up my alley.  

So, the airplane trip was interesting since Levi cried and all of the folks on the plane acted like they had never seen a crying baby.  Ok, I'm sure that they stared out of concern, as is the Chinese way (lots of staring) but it totally is like nails on a chalkboard to me because my mom taught me not to stare.  Anyhow, we made it to the hotel fine at around 9:30pm and when we got here two other families from our travel group were in the lobby with their new children and it was so cool to see them all now as a larger family.  Such cute little munchkins!

The night went well and we all slept late and then headed off to breakfast to gorge ourselves on the ginormous western style buffet and swap stories with the other families.  The hotel is super nice...well really too nice as we are a bit shocked by the price of everything here.  Oh well.  The island that the hotel is on has lots of little shops geared toward the adopting families and lots of the locals speak English.  The weather is wonderful.  I have not checked the weather but it feels like 70's and super humid.  The island is on the Pearl River so the view is nice.  I will try and post some photos of the hotel along with the cutest ones of Levi.  We have some great video too that my wonderful husband will be working on uploading.

Levi is not the kid that he was on day 1,2, 3, or 4.  Scratch what I said about him being less mobile than other kids his age.  He is constantly moving, running, climbing and so on.  He is pretty friendly unless you try to hold him (and your name is not mom) and he is a total goof-ball.  He loves to play games and be tickled and to laugh.  He is so fun.  Oh, and he is naughty in that two year old sort of way so I we have learned that we are going to have to show him who is boss and fast!!  Whoa Nellie is he ever determined!  We anticipate some dramatic stand-offs at home.  I think Isaiah in particular will be amused to watch his new brother try some of these stunts.

He is so cute that it really works to his advantage. We think that he is indeed saying "uh oh" but we can't decipher anything else although he is very vocal.  He waves when you tell him we are going bye bye.  It is clear, and surprising, that he understands many things that we are saying already.  Today, we told him to go put the garbage bin lid back (he has an affinity for garbage -- weird).  So . . . he proceeded to walk over and put the garbage bin lid back where he found it.

This morning we had to take him for his TB test and he did not appreciate that.  We will go back on Monday to have it read and to the rest of the vaccinations and medical check.  This afternoon is a paperwork check meeting and the rest of the time is free.  We are just trying to enjoy each other before we get home and Micah has to head back to work.

We can't wait to see Isaiah and Naomi again.  It seems like with all that has happened we have been gone for months.  And I am so happy to be able to go home to such wonderfully supportive friends and family.  I can't wait to introduce you all to our new son!

We hope this video link works for everyone -- it's tough for us to check from this end, with all of the internet restrictions, especially for Google applications like Blogger (the China vs. Google soap opera is front-page news here this week).  

You'll need a fast connection for this, or you can download it to your local drive to play it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Picture Update


Every day gets a little easier.  The  bonding process is slow but steady, I think.  Levi is such a cutie.  He usually is ready to give a big smile and even waves hello to people who pass by.  We don't think his palate is closed completely because whatever we feed him seems to make its way back out his nose at times. :)  He is a super big eater.  He cried for an hour straight today but laid his head on my chest which was a first.  He gets really wound up and playful at night.  He just crawled out of his crib twice and has no intrest in sleeping right now.  He is showing us more of who he is all of the time!
We had the wonderful blessing of being able to hang out with our friends the Steed's today.  It was so fun to see friends from home.  They live in Shanghi since John is working there for John Deere.  It was super fun.  We had a yummy Thai lunch and walked around West Lake.  John and Cristi are old pros at this adoption trip thing so it was comforting to have them here.
Well, I now have a screaming toddler so I will sign off for now!
Love to you all.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What day is this again?

Ok, so we had a much better day today despite all of the running around.  We headed out first to apply for Levi's passport.  Pretty simple.  Then, off to the orphanage.  We had decided that Micah would go in while I stayed in the van so we could avoid Levi seeing all of his familiar surroundings and wanting to return!  I'm not sure what good it did for me not to go in because people from the orphanage- kids and staff- surrounded the van to get a look at Levi and his new American mom.  He seemed to know them all and tried to share his Cheerios.  Micah took lots of pics inside.  Back in the van to go out to lunch with the orphanage director and the woman in charge of international adoptions there.  At the restaurant- it was so interesting- another lady joined us who happened to be Levi's teacher.  Great!  Just what we needed ( I was thinking).  Another opportunity to confuse the poor child.  But no worries.  She held him for a bit and he did not seem too concerned to come back to me and say goodbye to them all after a nice lunch.  :)
After that we were off to take pictures of his finding place.  This is the spot where he was found before coming to the orphanage.  I snapped pictures from as many directions as I could.  Back in the van...
The drive back to Hangzhou took 6.5 hours this time due to a traffic accident that left us sitting still on the highway for an hour.  Everyone got out of their cars and peed on the side of the road.  It's very convenient I'll say.  Levi laughed and crawled all over that van (no carseats here) while babbling loudly the whole time.  He seemed really happy...except for when Micah tried to touch him.  We will need to work on that.
Driving back through downtown to our hotel- home sweet home- we inquired about Pizza Hut delivery.  Stephanie said that Pizza Hut does not deliver but PAPPA JOHN'S DOES!!  Woohoo!  Happy momma!
Back at the hotel room Micah fed Levi and then he danced all over the room for us.  (Levi danced, not Micah)  When he is excited or likes something he makes that sound that is in those beer commercials where the guys go "AHHHHHHHH".  He has a huge smile when he does it and sticks out his tongue a little.  He is quite a clown and is very active and curious.  I think he will get along well with Cousin Miriarm. :)
Well, Micah and Levi are already snoring and I want to be as well.  I will try to upload some pictures now.
P.S.- At the hotel breakfast this morning there was a sign that said "Help save the environment, control your portion size".  Hmm.  Just had to share.
Love to you all!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Now that I think about it, I remember that  no one ever said that this would be easy.  Much about this is hard.  I know . . . .I should have realized this before hand.  I did, but I didn't know exactly how hard until we got invested fully here in China.  Yesterday was a hard day with the drive to Wenzhou- crazy driving and bumby roads and a bunch of people in a van who really don't know each other.  Levi was fine until the last 30 minutes or so when he laid on the floor of the van looking completely terrified and completly stiff.  Then we got to the hotel room and he just sobbed when I sat him down on the bed.  I sobbed too.  I feel like he wonders when he is going back to the orphanage -- still home as far as he's concerned, I'm sure.  At this point it would probably be more comforting to him than those weird white people who talk funny.  The poor little guy is stressed and so am I!  Micah is just a rock as usual and I am so thankful for that. 
We got a few smiles last night as he threw all of the stacking cups on the floor one by one and attempted to say "uh- oh" (we think) which sounded like "wa-woah" while laughinig at me picking them all up.  He slept well last night in his crib and then in our bed.  He is still asleep attempting to rock himself back when he wakes up a bit.  He rocks himself from side to side to get to sleep and to comfort himself.  Though we can't know, we assume it's a product of orphanage life.  It won't be the last one we notice.
On a lighter note, the experience of Wenzhou itself has been interesting.  It is the roughly the size of NYC of course and we are told that the people here have lots of money.  Our hotel has over 50 floors and is sort of swanky and sort of dirty all at the same time.  The men and women are dressed to the nines and it seems like a neverending party on the street.  At 1:15 am our doorbell kept ringing ( all of the hotel rooms have doorbells) and I finally got up and opened it in my underwear and found a girl standing there asking me questions in Chinese.  I just said "please stop".  This is the first time I have stayed at a hotel where the bedside stand has condoms on it for your convience.  Hmm.  Didn't need those.
Today it is off to apply for Levi's passport, visit the orphanage, see his 'finding' place, and have lunch with the orphanage director.  The Civil Affairs officer asked us not to visit the orphanage due to H1N1 but the orphanage director asked us if we would come and our guide said it would be fine.   Micah will go in the orphanage for short visit and I will stay in the van with Levi.  I just don't want to subject him to that.  I think it could make matters worse.
I absolutly love all of the encouraging emails while we are in this oh-so-foreign place.  They mean so much more than you can probably appreciate.  I am praying for encouragement and God is using you.
Tomorrow we get to hang out with John and Cristi so I am looking forward to that. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Adoption Day! -- Picture Update

It's been made clear that the picture link in the last post didn't work.  We've put them in a slide show video for download instead:

Adoption Day!

When we got to the Civil Affairs office Haofeng and the orphanage staff were waiting for us there.  He was being held by a caregiver that he seemed to like pretty well.  He seemed so much bigger than I though he would be.  He was dressed in three different layers of clothes plus a coat!  One thick shirt, two sweaters, one thick pants and then some snow pants (according to Micah).  He looked huge.  He was not sure about us at all and wanted to stay with his caregiver.  Stephanie instructed me to get out some toys and snacks and take it slow.  He protested a little but eventually came to me and even smiled and laughed.  While we filled out paperwork he fell asleep in my lap.  He only cried really hard when we had to take off his shoe to get his footprint for the paperwork.  He was a little uneasy when it was time to go but not nearly as bad as I expected.  The orphanage staff answered lots of questions for us and seemed to care for him very much despite the fact that it is a huge orphanage.  They had even made a scrapbook/photo album of him with handwritten captions to give to us.  They gave us more picures that we had not seen as well.  Such a surprise.
On the way home we had to stop and take a family photo for the paperwork and he hated that.  Back to the hotel.  We were like" now what do we do?".  He did not want to take his coat off.  So we got out some toys and played with him and he laughed non stop for a long time.  We ordered him rice for lunch and he ate every bite with smiles and ate a ton of cheerios.  He loves his sippy cup. 
We made a trip to the store for diapers, formula and some snacks.  That was something!  I will never complain about how crowded the store is ever again!  I could not wait to exit that joint especially with the old ladies in the baby isle giving me the critical eye because Haofeng had exposed skin on his ankles.  Anyway, back at the hotel we just lounged and I coaxed him into taking a bath by letting him throw the stacking cups into the tub but I was hard pressed to get his clothes off.  He did not like that very much.  After that he played in the tub for like 45 minutes and was perplexed by his prune skin when he finally got out.  We put on jammies (from Garret Keith :) and now he has been sitting and playing with the stacking cups for another 45 minutes.  He is quiet and tired, he just fell backwards on the bed and fell asleep so I had to wake him up.  He skipped nap becasue we are so interesting. 
He has only let Micah hold him once and he protested at that.  He keeps watch of Micah out of the corner of his eye.  He has laughed at Micah lots and is letting him feed him noodles and banana right now.  He seems very happy and goofy.  He keeps trying to get my attention and laughing, wanting me to laugh with him.  If he wants something he points at it.  He drools a lot.  He would rather be sitting and is not very mobile.  He seems much more like an 18 month old in that respect.  He is super cute and has long eyelashes. 
I sure hope he sleeps because this is one tired momma!  Tomorrow it is back to the Civil Affairs office for more paperwork and then the long drive to Wenzhou.  I'm hoping he will take a nap on the trip. 
You should be able to watch a video and a slideshow of a bunch of our adoption day pictures by clicking on the links below.
Thank you all so much for your emails of encouragement!  They are precious to me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Another post....

Today we met our guide and the driver at the hotel in Beijing and they took us to the airport for our two hour flight. We traveled to Hangzhou which is the capital city of Zhejiang province. We were met by Stephanie and our driver Xiou Mai at the airport and drive one hour to our hotel. After check in Stephanie went over the schedule and paperwork with us and gave us some helpful hints about tomorrow.

We have been traveling all day and are super wiped out. We decided to stay in the hotel for dinner because we were not interested in fighting the crowds for dinner. (Reference attached picture of the view from our window.) There are two resturants in the hotel so we chose the Chinese resturant with local cuisine. We were nervous after sitting down because Micah thought that it looked like there were some things on the menu that were very expensive...or were we reading it wrong? Also, not one person understood us and the waitstaff were arguing over who would wait on us. We tried to ask questions with no success so we just gave up and pointed at some things trying to make sure we were clear what we wanted. Some things on the menu such as the goose esopahagus, beef stomach, deeep fried pidgeon, snake, and octopus we wanted to be sure and stay away from. Chicken please! When the food came it was very fancy and yummy although full of bones. We were nervous about the bill arriving since they also brought us each a bowl of rice, some tea, and watermelon. It was a tense moment for me when the bill came and Micah paid. He laughed as we walked out and said "Ten dollars".

So tomorrow is the big day and neither of us know quite what to think. We are told that Levi is already on the train to come and meet us. It wil be an all night journey with many stops. The orphanage director and another staff person will come with him. We will leave the hotel at 8:40 to drive to the Civil Affairs office and our appointment is at 9. So that is 7 pm central and 8 pm eastern. We will have paperwork and be there for an hour or so depending on how many other families are there. Then we will grab some lunch I guess and head to the hotel for some rest and maybe later to the store if we need to buy anything for Levi that we did not bring. They said that they are calling him Haofeng at the orphanage so we will try to call him that I think. We will see. So, tomorrow will be very busy for us! We will try to get some sleep!

Here are some pictures of us at the Beijing airport ready to go, our room in Hangzhou with the pack-n-play all set up, and the view from our window...such a huge city!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

More Pictures!

Here are some more pics from yesterday. Thank you all so much for all of your emails and blog comments. They are so encouraging and it is wonderful to know that you are praying for us! We love you all. We are getting ready to travel and we are ready to go get this show on the road!

Oh, the pictures are of us at the orientation lunch yesterday, our guide Emily on the right and Holt staff Vivian on the left, the entrance to the four star squattie potties at Forbidden City, and Micah at the south gate of Forbidden City.

Today's Post

Today was fun and interesting. We had another wonderful breakfast at the hotel. I don't know why but I had thought that I would not like the food that much but everything is so yummy! We headed off to the orientation which was so wonderful. There were two Holt staff there to give us tons of information about what to expect over the next two weeks. So many questions answered about culture and the adoption process. The Holt staff said that the Chinese are so pleased when the children go home to America because they know that they will have a wonderful life with endless opportunity. This made me feel better! We got to see a picture of our guide that we will spend the next week with also. Her name is Stephanie. Our guide here in Beijing is Emily. :) All of the Holt staff and travel guides are absolutely wonderful. I am so impressed with all of the behind the scenes work it takes to put all of this together. There are 6 families in our travel group and it is such a fun group. The best part of the meeting was that we got some updated information of our children and all of the families were so happy. We each got a beautiful folder with new pictures, information about our child, and other fun stuff. I was told that we might get some new pictures and info but I was not banking on it. Sure enough! Four new pictures of the little guy. He looks so big as you can see. He weighs about 28 pounds and eats by himself and uses the bathroom with help. It also said that he is nervous around new people in new environments. He is such a cutie. It was a fun moment for us.

Then, off to group lunch at the hotel. I snapped a pic this time. We all leave tomorrow for our children's province so we might not see each other again but hopefully we will in Guangzhou. All families adopting have to go through there. Next we boarded the bus for a tour of the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, and a silk factory. It was so cold! We tried to enjoy it but we were all just freezing. It is beautiful. Oh, and my first experience with a squattie pottie! I took a picture for Isaiah and Eva because they are so interested but I wont post it here. Its gross. The bathrooms are rated like hotels so this happened to be a 4 star bathroom. They had two western toilets so I held out for one of those. It looks like it takes a lot of skill to squat. One of the Holt staff caught me taking pictures in the bathroom and burst into laughter. Her name is Vivian and she is so sweet. She said to me "you look too young to adopt! Thank you for coming to save our babies." God knew I needed some comforting in that area today!

Tomorrow is a big day for travel as we will leave at 9am for the airport and travel to Hangzhou. It will be a long day. Hopefully when we get settled in I can make another post but I might not have any good pictures other than us in the airport. I'm sure that tomorrow night it will be hard to sleep. The night before the big day!

Friday, March 5, 2010


I (Jamie) am still a bit nervous but seeing the other nervous families is comforting to me. I woke up this morning thinking that I am so blessed to be a part of something that only few get to experience but it is so weird also. Many Americans are just coming over here to get babies. There are so many families in our hotel here for adoption. I just wonder all the time what the Chinese think about that. Anyway, I think that my biggest fear is still that Levi won't like us and I think this means that I have been thinking mostly about myself. If he likes us then it will be easier for me. God told me in the shower that it is not about me. Hmm, alrighty then! Still nervous. I really hope that we can stay closely connected with other families who have adopted because I think that is so helpful for me although it is hard to reach out sometimes.

Orientation should be interesting. We need to walk to the store to get some water now. Yesterday we used the bottled water that was in the mini bar and Micah had done the math wrong so we learned that we drank an $8 bottle of water. Micah was not at all pleased with that. I chuckled at his unpleasant looking state and he did not like that either. He he. :)

Sorry, no new pictures yet. Check back when you wake up.

Hey Ya'll

Hey Ya'll,

Our first day in Beijing was surprisingly fun. I still can't believe we are actually here and I have to keep reminding myself of what we are doing! We don't really know what to expect, so we are just going with the flow (ok, trying) and we have been surprised. After 8 hours of deep sleep on a piece of plywood (I guess they like hard beds, kind of nice) we headed down to the breakfast buffet. It was great with lots of western and eastern choices. Spring rolls for breakfast. Mmm. And great coffee! I lugged a bunch of Starbucks over here just in case and have not had to pull it out...yet!

We met the other families in the lobby to go on a tour of the Great Wall, lunch, and visit Hutong Lane. It was so nice to meet the other families and know that they are in the same boat as us. You know, nervous and excited all at the same time. Such nice families from Georgia, D.C, and Oregon. So, we boarded a bus for the wall and rode for about 1.5 hours while the guide gave us history and cultural info. Very interesting. It was freezing at the wall, but beautiful. We headed up the steep side to see how far we could get. I must admit, I thought I was in pretty good shape but I don't think I remember my heart ever pumping that hard! The air was very clear today due to the wind so we could get good views all around. We visited the "trinket" shop there to see what we could find. I spotted some painted scrolls that I thought would look nice in the house. Micah was all over the negotiating. We got two of them for less than they wanted for one. I think Micah was happy with himself judging by how many times he winked at me and started to walk away from the persistent sales people that continued to offer us the "best price".

Next we headed out for lunch where we sat at huge tables with lazy susans and shared lots of yummy dishes with a family from Atlanta. It was a nice meal and fun to try several different things. I should have taken a picture. Included in the lunch was a chance to shop at a huge store attached to the restaurant. They take tour buses there and hope that they will eat and shop but the prices are high. I had my eye on a jade bracelet that turned out to be $300! Whoa. I didn't know one would set me back that much! I think I'll wait till we get to Guangzhou. Back on the bus for a tour of the hutong. It is a neighborhood in the old part of Beijing and we got to ride in a rickshaw through the neighborhood and even visit a family in their home and ask questions about their life there. It was really cool. Micah could not stop laughing when we got into the rickshaw (we did not know that this was a feature of the tour until we got off of the bus and into the rickshaw) about Kramer's rickshaw scheme on Seinfeld.

Back at the hotel we had to do some paperwork preparation and Micah went on a run. I am about to pass out from lack of sleep and I can't wait to eat and go to bed. Tomorrow is orientation, lunch, and another tour. I can't believe that we meet Levi soon! I don't know what to think about that other than "OK God, here we go!"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

We Are Here!

We made it safely and easily. We are tired but had a good trip. We arrived in Beijing at 3:00pm and a guide and driver met us to take us to the hotel. We got all checked in, exchanged money, and settled in. Micah forgot his running shorts, so we went out for a short shopping trip and he has gone for a run. Next we plan to find food and go to bed! The picture is of us at the airport in Beijing. Sorry it is blurry but I asked a lady in line behind us to take it and evidently she had some trouble. :) I thought I would add our itinerary so that you would know what we are up to for the next two weeks.

Friday March 5th - Explore Great Wall, Hutong Lane, and lunch with other Holt families.

Saturday - Holt International orientation, lunch, tour of Tienanmen Square and Forbidden City

Sunday - Fly to Hangzhou

Monday - MEET LEVI at the Civil Affairs Office

Tuesday - Pick up adoption certificate, drive to Wenzhou (5 hours) to apply for Levi's passport, stay overnight

Wednesday - apply for passport, hopefully visit orphanage and finding place, drive back to Hangzhou

Thursday - We hope to hangout with our friends, John and Cristy Steed all day....woohoo!

Friday - Fly to Guangzhou

Saturday - Paperwork check

Sunday - free

Monday - Visit Medical Clinic - lots of shots for buddy

Tuesday - Visa appointment

Wednesday - Oath-taking ceremony

Thursday - pick up Visa, train to Hong Kong

Friday - Headed Home!!

Saturday - Crash in my bed!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Well folks...

We're outta here! Thank you for all of your prayers and support. We love you all so much and are so happy that you have been partners with us in our journey to Levi. Check back soon to see the real fun begin!! Blessings!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Here I am