Loving Lily

Our journey to China to bring a little girl home to her family.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

cough, couch, wheeze, cough

That's what our hotel room sounds like right now. Both kids have a
nasty cold. We thought Seth was done with it, but today, the day
after his last dose of the antibiotics, his cough returned full force.
The fever hasn't come back, and I'm praying it doesn't. Lily has had a
fever for two days, manageable with Tylenol and Benedryl. We took her
to the White Swan medical clinic, and they took her off the unknown
powder the orphange put her on for her head, and they are giving her
shots of antibiotic twice a day for two days, in addition to a massive
amount of medicine to address the symptoms. There's an elixir for her
cough, one for her phlegm, and another that is an anti-virus. I have
to mix tham all together in one of the hotel room wine goblets
(because Lily likes to drink out of it and is more likely to finish
it) in addition to a packet of sugary, strawberry-flavored powder
whose sole purpose is to make the cocktail palatable. I'm really
appreciating Robitussin multi-symptom formula! Too bad I don't have any...

Please pray for the babies' health. Lily has one more shot left this
evening, and hopefully her body will kick whatever it is she has. Seth
is getting another tooth...it's crowning today, so that may be the
reason he is having trouble getting better. Today, on the way to
Lily's medical exam for her visa application, he coughed so much he
puked all over me, the sidewalk, his....gasp...special blanket. Yeah,
it was a highlight. So Rob took him back to the hotel, and I took Lily
to her appointment alone. It was best for us to be there without Seth,
as I'm sure he would have been licking every surface two feet and
lower, and who knows what cooties were lurking, looking for a live host.

Yesterday as we were loading up the bus to drive the 20 minutes from
the China Hotel to the White Swan for the last leg of our stay, a
Chinese woman stood outside my window, two feet away from the bus,
weeping. She was looking at me, at Lily, at Rob, sobbing. Our guide
Jasmine asked her why she was crying, and she didn't say anything, but
motioned to Lily. And then we drove away. Why was she crying? What was
it about Lily that broke her heart? Did she abandon a child of her own
in the past, maybe a cleft-affected child? Did Lily remind her of
something painful like that in her past? Being so close to her
orphanage, less than two hours away, I have found myself this week
looking for a lone woman in the shadows. Somewhere out there is the
woman that gave birth to my daughter. Somewhere is a mother's heart
with a wound in it, and it is because of her loss that I have Lily.
Who was that crying woman? I would give much to have some link to
Lily's past, for Lily's sake. I'll never know the answer to those
questions, but I do know that I'll never forget her face or her tears.

Other than the sickness, Lily is doing very well. As the newness of
this whole experience is starting to wear off, I'm really noticing a
lot of orphanage behavior. The biggest one became evident tonight. In
the White Swan hotel there is a large playroom, FILLED with all kinds
of toys. We visited it for the first time this evening. You should
have seen Seth. He was so excited, high pitched giggling and dancing,
running from one toy to the next. He's still at such a young age where
he doesn't really play with other children, just plays alongside them.
Very normal. However, he plays with the toys. He pounds them together,
tries to figure out what they're supposed to do, pushes the buttons
and knobs for cause and effect type actions, etc. He also climbs on as
much as he can. Lily has absolutely no idea what to do with toys.
None. I really didn't notice it with the toys we brought for her and
Seth. I just noticed that Seth dumped them out of her bag, and she put
them back in. She doesn't like the doll I sent her months ago, which
the orphanage returned to me. She picks up a toy, and she throws it.
That's it. That's the only toy interaction she knows. Tonight I tried
to play with her with the toys, but she just stared at me blankly. She
didn't really notice any of the other children in the room, but her
eyes rarely left Seth. The toys I handed her, she chucked across the
room, and then turned to me with a giggle. She followed Seth a lot,
and imitated his play. She did everything that he did, even made some
of the same sounds that he made. She's started saying mama, mama, mama
mama when she wants something, which is what Seth says.

I'm so thankful that God led us to adopt her. I've had several people
here, Americans and Chinese, ask me why we were adopting a baby when
we already had a baby? It's not a rational answer that I can give, so
I just say that God led us to this baby and we knew that she was ours,
which of course is true. However, I can so see God's hand working in
our family beyond that general answer. Who better to teach a toddler
how to play than another toddler? Lily has never gotten the chance to
relish babyhood, but she watches Seth, and she lets me cuddle her and
baby her, just like I do Seth. She also watches Seth try to do things
on his own, like eat with a spoon or drink out of a big cup, and she
wants to try it all by herself, too. I have spent many frantic minutes
these past days wondering if I've gotten myself in over my head with
two toddlers, but tonight I feel so thankful that God led us to adopt
another toddler and to adopt her out of birth order. Lily and Seth are
a perfect match.

Tonight we ate at a typical Cantonese restaurant. Our guide usually
does a great job of ordering for us, and we enjoyed wonderful dishes
tonight: chicken with lemon sauce (better than Turkish delight),
sauteed pork with fresh tarragon and cilantro, eggplant with some
wonderful spicy sauce, a saucy beef dish, fresh broccoli in a sesame
butter sauce, sweet and sour pork with fresh pineapple (an American
staple at the Chinese table). However, none of those dishes really
represented the unique Cantonese flair. Customers are greeted at the
entrance to the restaurant with what looks like a cross between a fish
store and a bait shop. Do you see all those nice fishies swimming in
their tanks? Which one would you like the chef to fry up for you? Not
in the mood for fish tonight? No worries, you can choose a big scoop
of squirmy sand worms. See how fast they wiggle? Good meat. Don't stop
there. Grab a slotted spoon and dish yourself up a heap of water
beetles. They'll cook them up just right, hot and crunchy. Have your
pick: snake, mud eel, octopus...all alive now, but not for long, for
they'll soon end up on someone's platter--maybe yours.

Not mine. Uh, some things God did not create for our consumption. I'm
having to choke back the gag reflex as I write this. I actually saw a
man come into the restaurant and pick out the sand worms. These suckers
are half an inch round and about a foot long. What are they thinking?
Truly, I would die of starvation first.

Tomorrow our guide goes in to the US consulate for our big appointment
where they will approve Lily to come into the United States as a US
citizen. It is the last important adoption meeting of the trip. Rob
and I have to stay in our room from 10 to noon, in case Jasmine needs
more information, but we don't actually go to the consulate
appointment, she does. Tomorrow evening we will take a little cruise
on the Pearl River. Rob's expecting it to be a boring, but I'm hoping
for a lovely experience and some neat pictures. Our hotel room looks
out across the Pearl River (which surrounds Shamian Island where the
White Swan rests), and that is lovely too. (As long as you don't look
too closely at the water and imagine what kids of germs and other
creepy crawlies might be residing in the murkey ripples...)

Then on Thursday, we ourselves go to the US consulate to take an oath,
promising never to abuse or abandon Lily (We don't have to make any
such oath about Seth, however! HaHa!) and then we'll be given Lily's
visa. Then that is it! We leave the next morning (if it can actually
be called morning) at 5:30 for the airport. It will be a long day of
travel, but we're more than happy to endure it, as long as it leads us
back HOME.

I'll upload some of today's pictures tomorrow...nothing too exciting.

I did much shopping today. The Chinese way is to barter and bargain.
It is expected. I browsed the shops a little bit yesterday, checking
out prices and shop owners. I've learned that if I take Seth in the
store with me, I get a much better discount. (Have I mentioned how
much the Chinese love him? People stop me on the street, in the shops,
in the restaurants. They touch him, they do back flips to make him
smile. Tonight a waitress planted a kiss on his cheek, and I had to
scrub lipstick off his smiley face. One of the orphanage workers told
me that Seth should be a movie star. Rob had a flock of Chinese
showgirls practically following him down the street to see Seth. Can't
you just see it? I accused him of using Seth as a chick-magnet. He
didn't deny it. Grin.) Anyway, I found a store with a large selection
(and they all sell basically the same stuff) and told the worker that
if she gave me a great price I would do nearly all my shopping from
her store. She agreed, and I bargained and shopped and got some really
great gifts and great deals. Since I had already priced many of the
things I was looking for, I knew that she was giving them to me at her
lowest price. Some items I overheard her tell other customers a price
that was twice as much as she was charging me.

Well, I'm sure I've just about put most of you to sleep with my
droning on and on.

Three more sleeps, and we'll be on our way home. Four more sleeps and
our boys will be in our arms. I miss them so much.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Last Night at the China Hotel

Tomorrow morning we will check out of the China Hotel and check into the White Swan hotel on Shamian Island. Today we visited the international Church on Shamian (only about 20 minutes from here). It was a lovely service, but much different from the International Church in Beijing. It was an old "country looking" church, which large arched windows and built with white cinder blocks. It was also a fraction of the size of the building the BJ International Church rents, so much more intimate and quaint. The preacher spoke a line at a time in Chinese, and an interpreter translated in broken English. It was so interesting listening to the interpreter attempting to pronounce Biblical names (and he had some toughies) that would have stumped even a native English speaker. I chuckled out loud actually. Poor fellow.

Afterwards we ate at a Thai restaurant that was one of my favorites so far. It was delish!!! Even the babies ate til they were stuffed.

Lily has been attaching so well to Rob and , me. She still prefers Rob, but only sometimes. She is loving and happy towards me as well, and yesterday, she called me mama! It brought tears to my eyes. She is quite reserved with other adults, even the ones in our group whom she sees several times a day. She is stingy with her smiles, and has only shown friendliness to Rob and me. I think that is a really good sign! Once we are securely attached to one another (I'm not sure yet how to gage that) we'll work on friendliness and politeness toward other adults. But of course she is only 2. She has many, many people in her life who love her, for which I'm so thankful, and I want her to be able to relish that as well.

I feel somewhat bad about those of you who are looking for drama...because the past two days, thankfully, have been less exciting than what we've previously experiences. :o) The most stressful part of our day are mealtimes, and when we leave the table, it looks as if we've had a food fight. I leave each meal covered with sticky rice. They call it sticky rice for a reason...I have to pick it off of everything. The other toddler in our group is such a neat eater. Lily and Seth are BOTH wild things. Sometimes I think in my head, "I wonder why no one has asked me if they're twins yet?" They are so much alike!

Well, our internet package ends this evening, so I won't be able to post again until we are at the White Swan. Because of the time difference, I probably won't be able to call the boys until Monday morning, Viv. Give them each a kiss from us and tell them we love them. (BTW, Rob and I laughed out loud, and I still chuckle, until tears were pouring out of my eyes at their God versus Satan discussion. Thank-you for sharing that story with us!)

Only five more days until we fly home,

Ready to Go Home

Life with two toddlers is...never dull. These two crack me up. There
is quite a bit of competition going on between them. If I'm holding
Lily, Seth wants to climb on me too. If Rob is holding Seth, Lily runs
over and pounds on him to get him to pick her up. This is all so new
for them both. Seth is used to sharing me with Caleb and Gabriel, but
they are not babies, and he is fighting to maintain his role as the
family baby. God knew what he was doing when he put it in our hearts
to adopt a child older than Seth. However, Lily is still very much a
baby herself, and I'm content babying her, hoping to build attachment
and trying to make up for 2 lost years. At meal times, I feel very
much like a mama bird putting food into her squawking, open-mouthed
babies...minus the regurgitation part. I have to be very careful to
feed them one turn at a time, equally, though it's tempting to feed
the one that is making the most noise. I just don't want to encourage
that behavior, and I want both children to know that mommies feed
their babies good food, and that they do not have to make the most
ruckus to get what they need.

Yesterday we visited the Chen Family Temple, which really isn't a
temple at all but the huge estate of the oh-so wealthy Chen family
which has been turned into a museum of sorts. It houses tons of
exquisite folk art from this area, including sculptures, paintings,
drawings, ivory carving, and, our favorite, needlework tapestry that
blew our minds. In one of the shops was the most beautiful oil
painting of a small Tibetian boy, his face was sweet and haunting at
the same time. I can stop thinking about it, and depending on how much
spending money I have left...I may have to take a Taxi back to there
to buy it. :o) This was my favorite spot so far. I believe that that
art here really represent Lily's part of China, and that is very
special to me. And it will be to her. I took TONS of pictures.

Today, we went to XiangJiang Safari Park. It is cold and rainy, so
instead of riding the little train around the zoo, we stayed in the
bus/van and drove the trail with the windows open. The animals were
all out in the open, and many of them walked right up next to the van.
Lily absolutely loved it. She screamed with delight the entire visit.
And at almost all the animals she squealed, pointed and said "MooMoo!"
I asked Jasmine our guide if there was any animal whose Chinese word
sounded like "MooMoo" and she said, "No, just the sound a cow makes."
So Lily saw a LOT of cows today, all sorts of shapes and colors! Seth
loved the zoo too, and I spent the trip trying to keep him from
climbing out the window of the van. Sadly enough, we didn't get to see
any of the cool stuff, like the Giant Panda's, because it was so cold
and rainy, and all three kids (Seth, Lily, and Dory Ellen) have the
sniffles and a bit of a cough. The part of the park that has the Giant
Panda required a lot of walking, and it just wasn't worth it to risk
the babies getting sicker. So we left.

Afterwards we went out to pizza hut for lunch. I was happy for some
Western food, surprisingly enough. It was very busy there. We were
seated at one of the last available tables, next to the entrance
windows. Not long afterwards we noticed that a long line, probably 30
people deep, had formed at the entrance, everyone wanting a couple
slices of pizza for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. No way would anyone
wait in a such a line for pizza in America. No one seemed grumpy or
impatient; they just waited. Oh, and stared. Seth kept making silly
faces at his spectators, sticking his tongue out, throwing his head
back, wrinkling up his nose, so that he bacame quite the attraction
from the other side of the window. I felt like we were on display!
Seth really does attract a crowd EVERYWHERE we go. I'm learning that
if I really don't want to stop and have a stranger ogling my baby, I
just have to cruise fast and not make eye contact. I hate doing that,
but it takes me twice as long to get anything done, because there are
always 2 or 3 people talking to or trying to touch Seth. I'm sure it
will be similar for Lily when we return to the States, especially in
our area which is not that ethnically diverse.

Well, the babies are stirring, so I need to go. Enjoy the pictures for
today, and I'll post again soon!

Love to you all,

Trip To the Orphanage: A Medical Adventure

I had been looking forward to today all week. It was so important to
me to be able to visit the orphanage and get the chance to possibly
meet Lily's foster parents. We left early for the hour and a half van
ride. Dongguan is beautiful. Meticulously kept flower gardens adorn
both sides of the streets. Our guide said that in the past Dongguan
was a very poor city, but many foreign companies have established
factories there and people from all over the province come to Dongguan
to find good jobs, so the economy has just flourished.

We were greeted at the orphanage by the same two workers, a
well-dressed man and woman, who dropped Lily off at the civil affairs
office. They took us inside an immaculate foyer to a waiting room,
where the foster parents would be meeting us. I have to say that I
immediately noticed with some concern the glass coffee tables that sat
in front of the couches and chairs. Our hands were full of gifts, a
package I had to deliver, baby stuff, and of course two highly active
toddlers who had just spent an hour and a half in the van. It was then
that we were to pay the $3000 orphanage donation, along with her
abandonment ad fee, so we set everything down, and I began to prepare
those monies.

It happened in split second. Neither Rob nor I had noticed that Lily
had climbed up on the couch behind me; we were literally handing over
the $3000 cash to the worker at that exact time. I turned just in time
to see Lily tumble backwards off the couch and hit the back of her
head on the edge of the glass coffee table. It still plays in slow
motion in my head. She began to sob. Rob scooped her up and she clung
to him. The back of her head was bleeding. In a flurry of activity,
people began shouting instructions and our guide was given a cloth to
put to the back of Lily's head. It was bleeding pretty badly. Moments
later, in walks Lily's foster mother and father. What a great first
impression we must have made! She called, "Chang Chang!" and clapped
her hands to get Lily to come to her. Lily looked at her, considered
going to her, but then changed her mind and held on to Rob. I thought
that was interesting. She had been away from them for 3 days--the
orphanage directors had picked Lily up from her foster parent's home
the day she came to us--but she didn't show any emotion or flash of
recognition or familiarity on her face. By this time she had stopped

Then a doctor from the medical ward came in and took her from Rob. I
wasn't about to let them take her without me, so I followed them up a
flight of stairs to the medical unit. I walked past several room of
babies and small children lying in cribs. In one room, a little one
was crying softly, but no one was there to answer her. (She cried for
the entire hour we were upstairs, and then when we left, she had
fallen asleep, alone, sucking her fingers. Very sad.) Lily was taken
to an examining room. Three little people were already in there. One
bed held two very tiny infants, both with IVs in their heads. Their
arms were stapped down to their bodies, to keep their hands from
pulling out the IV's, I'm sure. They looked so pale and listless, and
they were awake, slowing looking around them. On the floor in a walker
sat a beautiful little one who looked to be about 1 year old. She was
also pale and lethargic, and she also had an IV and arm straps. She
had a severe cleft lip and palate. I later knelt next to her and took
her picture (that really made her smile!) and stroked her fuzzy head
and prayed for her. I reached down and held her hand that was sticking
out of the restraints and she clung to my hand. I can still feel the
warmth of her little hand.

Lily laid on the bed calmly as they applied pressure to her head. I
prayed that she would just need a bandage and some ice. A nurse came
in and gave her a shot "to keep the infection away." Then the guide
told me that she was going to have to have a couple more shots and
stitches in the back of her head.

So for the next hour I stood outside the door (I was not allowed in,
but I could watch from the window) while 3 nurses and her foster
mother held her down so the doctor could shave the back of her head
and stich her wound. She screamed until she was hoarse. I cried my
eyes out for her. My guide stood with me the whole time comforting me
with a gentle hand on my shoulder, saying, "It does not matter. " (I
think what she means is "It's going to be okay." but there's a bit
lost in translation!) I asked her if they gave her something to numb
the spot, but she did not know, and I could not go in there. It seemed
to me that she screamed even harder each time they sewed a stitch.

It was the longest hour ever. When she was done they opened the door,
and I rushed in and scooped her up. She was spent. The only way they
could get the bandage to stick to the back of her head was to wrap
gauze all the way around her head like a headband. She looks like
karate kid! She let me comfort her, and laid her head on my shoulder,
even with her foster mother in the room.

When we went back downstairs, we found that her foster father had
left. I was, and still am, so disappointed. I didn't get any pictures
of him or get to talk to him. He had to go to care for the other
foster children in the home. The foster mother did come back and I was
able to ask a few questions. She chuckled as she told me that Lily is
VERY active (yeah, no kidding!) and that after she left, her house is
now very quiet, even with five other foster children! She said her
foster father spent his day chasing Lily around the house. (Now that's
my job! :o)) The names of the other foster children are: Du Chuan,
Guan Qun, Guan Su, Yuan Lu and Guan Wei. If any of you know anyone who
is adopting them, I'd love to be able to stay in contact. I also
learned that her foster grandmother was very special to her, that she
actually slept with her at night.

Denise, I gave the workers your package for Eliza, but because of what
happened to Lily, I did not get an opportunity to ask to see her or
get an update. I'm really sorry. I had so been looking forward to
taking her picture for you.

After the incident, the two very kind workers (who have been there the
entire 8 years since Dongguan CWI was established) took us to a NICE
restaurant for lunch. Seth was unbearable, because it was his naptime,
so I was consumed with caring for him, trying to get him to eat
something, trying to keep him from upsetting the entire table with his
angry powerhouse kicks. I thought for sure that the workers must think
that Rob and I are the worst parents ever. I told them that those of
us who have children from Dongguan (as per my Dongguan yahoo group)
are so happy with the care our children have received and that we feel
lucky and happy that our children have come from there. Our guide told
me that she has visited many orphanges, but Dongguan is the best one
she's ever been to. Mary Jo, I told them that Du Qun lives very close
me and that her family says hi. They were thrilled that Lily and Lia
live near each other, and they remember her fondly.

So now, on top of our sightseeing and paperwork schedule, we have to
take Lily into a local medical clinic every day starting in two days
to have her wound dressed. (I don't see why we can't do it
ourselves...I'm quite capable. I'll have talk to the guide. I know
that I can refuse their treatment--she's my daughter--but I want to do
what is best.) Also, they have given me a powder that I'm to give to
her 3 times a day for five days, "to prevent infection." I'm leary
about it, but mostly becuase no one knows how to tell me exactly what
it is. I asked several times and in several different ways whether or
not they had given Lily a pain killer, like Tylenol, so I would know
if I could give her some, but no one knew how to answer me. But she
didn't show any signs of pain or discomfort, so I didn't anyway. The
day before we leave to fly home, she'll go in to have her stitches

This evening, she has been as active as ever. She hasn't shown any
signs of discomfort, and she has actually started to warm up to me.
Believe me when I say this is not at all what I envisioned our
orphange trip would look like. I thought her foster parents would be
sad and emotional, and I thought Lily would cling to them and cry. I
may be wrong, but I really got the distinct impression that her foster
mother was genuinely happy Lily was coming with us. She held her one
last time and cheerfully said goodbye.

Then on the way home we spotted her bicycling away, with a contented
look on her face. Perhaps she is just not the emotional type. Perhaps,
with 5 other special needs children, her hands are too full and busy
to get that attached to any one of them. Or perhaps she is exicted
about having a little peace in her home without this firecracker of a
toddler there. I don't know.

And Lily has not grieved. It worries me. Was she attached at all to
her foster family? She really did NOT react to them being there at
all. (Of course a LOT was happening to her at the time.) She is
showing signs of attaching to us, especially Rob, but I just feel like
she should be sad. The first day she was really quiet, and I'm
learning that she is NOT a quiet child, so perhaps that was her way of
showing her sadness. Maybe once we get home, she will feel more free
to show her emotions.

So that was our day today. I hoping that tomorrow won't be nearly as
exciting. Rob mentioned to our guide that he has had his head stapled,
glued and stitched so many times that he has scars all over the place.
Lily just fits right into our family perfectly. Isn't it amazing how
often it is like that? Someone must have been ordering our footsteps...

Blessings and love from Guangzhou,

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Daddy's Girl

Seth is still sick. Ugh. So much of this trip has been spent worrying
about him and dealing with him at mealtimes (nightmare), and walking
the floors with him. He's just miserable. We put him on an antibiotic
today (Zithromax) which I hate doing--medicating is always a last
resort with me--but his body is just not kicking whatever it is he
has. He's had a fever every day for this entire trip. Also, he's been
exhibiting some signs of jealousy towards Lily, and whichever parent
is holding her, that's the only parent he wants holding him. This is a
really big transition for him too, which is why I thought it was
important for him to be here on this trip. We give him lots of
attention and play time, but we also let him know that Lily is here to
stay and he has to share our laps with her.

Lily is starting to show some grieving. She has decided that Rob is
her favorite person, and she continues to engage him and laugh with
him and seek him out. She fusses when I try to hold her when we're in
the same room, and if I'm alone with her, she appears to be looking
for him, or at the very least solemn and tense. It's okay. Attachment
is a slow, lifetime process. Also, I learned today that her primary
care provider was her foster father, so of course she is going to
prefer Rob to me. In addition, he has dark hair and eyes and looks
more similar (minus the facial hair) to the people she is used to
trusting. I know that she'll come around. It's just a little hard
right now. I am being diligent about touching her and feeding her and
talking to her and trying to engage her. She can only avoid me for so
long. (Then when she's a teenager, she can avoid me for other reasons,
but I think that's a different message board topic!)

Here are some more tidbits about her personality: She sucks her two
middle fingers and uses her other hand to carress her eyes to fall
asleep. So I lay next to her and softly stroke her eybrows and
forehead, which she loves, and she drifts off to sleep shortly
afterward. She also rolls all over the place while she's sleeping
(hence the night of frantic searching written about in a previous
post.) She is quite loving to Seth, but also very bossy. Tonight she
was feeding him pieces of meat off her high chair tray, and she had
two fistfuls of crackers, and she gave one of them to Seth. But then
she took some toys away from him later, but that was so she could put
them away. LOL! She loves to have her hands washed lotioned. She also
loves being read to.

I haven't talked much about her cleft, but it isn't really the main
concern at this point. It is pretty severe, but still not as bad as I
was imagining. I can see that she will likely need a nose job to
restore the shape of her nose, because when they fixed her lip, they
pulled her nose down pretty flat. She is able to eat anything that a
normal 2yo can eat. She just eats a bit slower than everyone else, so
we take our time at the table. (Which is also why Seth is having a
hard time making it thru a meal.) Food does come out of her nose from
time to time. And when she sneezes, you just never know what surprises
you're going to find. But she patiently lets us wipe her nose each
time and then she goes about her day.

Tomorrow we're going to visit the orphanage and meet her foster
family. Please pray for us and for Lily. We are expecting her to have
many tears and feel very sad when we leave. This is really in her best
interest, though. This will not only give her closure, but also in
seeing her old family with her new family, she will feel like we are
validating the love she feels for them and it will be as if they have
given her permission to love us. Without a visit, she may feel for
quite a while that if she loves us, then she is betraying her China
family. This visit will help her to process this whole change in a
more healthy way. (We're hoping.)

Love and blessings,

The beautiful Yun Tai Garden. Rob stayed back at the hotel with Seth so that maybe Seth can start feeling better and also to give Lily and me a chance to do some mommy-daughter bonding.

She's not sure what to think about leaving Daddy and Seth behind.

The sign behind us shows the Chinese character for blessing.

Lily enjoys a sucker (maybe her first?) as we gaze across the beautiful lake and fountain in the center of the garden.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Happiest Valentine's Day

Last night, Lily slept almost all night long. There was one very
frantic moment that I have to tell you about. She slept in my arms,
and I was so tired that after I had changed her and she was a little
restless, I fell asleep with her in my arms in my clothes. At about
midnight Seth began to cry and I woke up to comfort him. I sat up.
Lily was gone. I leapt out of bed and dug through the covers loooking
for her purple-jammie clad body, but she wasn't there. I called out to
Rob and turned on the light. I dug through his blanket and she wasn't
there either. I looked in the closet, in the bathroom, under the bed.
No Lily. I ran to the door and I had forgotten to lock the chain so
that the door can't be opened from the inside. She wasn't in the hall.
I was beside myself. Where could she be? She's very dexterious, and
I'm sure she can work nearly every door handle. She's watched us push
the elevator buttons, and she loves to imitate us, so she could have
easily opened the doors. Without thinking of anything else, I rode
down the elevator to the foyer praying that someone had found her. But
when I got down there everyone looked calm and normal. I rushed to the
desk and explained that my 2 year old little girl was missing from my
room, that she must have walked out. There was quite a bit of
confusion as they were processing my English, and I had to repeat
myself 4 times. They called security, and I didn't know what to do, so
I rushed back up to the 11th floor, trying to keep from crying. I
opened the door and Rob met me there. "I found her," he said.

She had in the night slid off the bed and rolled under the bed and
somehow managed to tuck herself behind my backpack, which was beside
the bed. She was sound asleep. This girl sleeps like a rock. So then I
had to go back to tell the security (who had made it up to our floor
at just that time) and another couple who had overheard me at the
front desk and were helping to look for her, that we had found her. I
was so embarrassed. She had not even been in our care for 24 hours and
we managed to lose her! Yikes.

See her in the corner, behind my backpack? In a little purple ball?

Today went so well. She LOVES her daddy. She is quite playful and
active. We returned to the Civil Affairs Office today to make
everything official. It was there that her personality really began to
shine through and she just blossomed. She began laughing and playing
with Rob, teasing him, even tickling him. She loves to get him to
react. She unzips her zipper, and calls to him, laughing, for him to
zip her back up. She asks for a toy and then throws it, laughing,
wanting him to pick it up. I took her to the playroom in the civil
affairs office, and we played ball for a while (which she loved.)
Then--insert sound of angels singing--she ran to me with her arms
open, a big smile on her face and gave me a hug!!!! It is so obvious
that this little girl has been loved and very well cared for.

Tonight, however, she became a little solemn with me, and then she
didn't want to have anything to do with me, only Rob. She fussed a
little when I tried to go to her; she wanted Rob. That's okay. She's
going through so much and she's being so brave. She's trying to figure
out our relationship with her. I'm not taking it personally at all.
Like most moms, I've shown her lots of nurturing and cuddling and
loving, and like most dads, Rob has shown lots of playfulness. I know
that playfulness is safer than more intimate gestures of love, so she
is responding much faster to that. Of course, Rob cuddles and loves on
her and I play with her, but she already knows that daddy is the
playful one.

Communication has been amazingly easy. She is used to, I think, not
being understood because of her cleft, and so she speaks fluently with
tones of voice and gestures. I can tell already by her tone of voice
when she is tattling on Seth!

Seth is still sick. He is not eating well at all, and his fever pops
in and out. Also, his cough has gotten worse. I'm a little worried. We
decided that if his fever comes back tomorrow we're going to start him
on some Zithromax that I brought from home. Please pray for him.

Feeling so blessed,

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gotcha, Lily!

On our way to meet Lily. Even Seth is excited!!!

In she walks with an orphanage worker. She is beautiful! And she looks so serious. But no crying.

Daddy holds her first.

Finally Mommy's turn.

Our arms may be full, but our hearts are full to bursting.

Back at the hotel room with two toddlers. New brother and sister bonds are starting to form already.

Today was a day unlike any other. Everything moved in slow motion, and I spent the whole morning fighting back tears. I was so nervous. Not caring about whether or not she cried (I expected her to howl), and not that she wouldn't like us or that I would do something wrong. Just nervous. Ten months of praying, worrying, working, fund raising, studying her country, staring at her pictures...it was all about to culminate into one life-changing event.

When we arrived at the civil affairs office, we were ushered into what resembled a large waiting room. In one half of the room a group of about five families were holding their new babies, most of them appeared to be under one year old. They were talking to the orphanage nannies. That scene itself was enough to send me fighting tears. The other family and we were asked to sit down. We waited for about five minutes, and every time someone shadowed the door, my heart flipped. Then our guide showed up again and said that Lily was here, but they were still waiting for the other couple's baby to arrive. I couldn't believe it. We were in the same building with our daughter!!! I peeked into the hallway, but I couldn't see anything. I didn't hear anything either, and that meant that at least she wasn't crying. So I sat back down. No sooner had I plopped nervously into my seat when a nicely dressed woman stepped into the room holding the hand of the most precious little girl: our little girl. I could tell that she was lovingly dressed for her big day. She was wearing a blue jumper that read "Special Delivery" with a picture of a baby on it, over a pink shirt and pink tights. She was wearing brand new shoes.

My heart melted. I thought with the way my emotions were running crazy that I would burst into tears at the sight of her, but I didn't. I couldn't stop staring. I was holding the video camera, and I tried to turn it on, but I think my nervous hands kept turning it on and off, I really have no idea what pictures I took. The nanny led her over to us. There was a coffee table in front of the couch we were sitting on. I reached into my back pack and picked up a snack container (cheerios and fish crackers) and knelt on one side of the table while she was on the other side. I poured some snack into my hand. She immediately reached her hand out and filled her fist with the snack. However, she just left her hand resting in my palm. The nanny tried to encourage her to eat it, but she left her hand in mine and stared at me and then at the snack. I kissed her chubby hand a few times and then Rob picked up a fish cracker and offered it to her lips. She let him feed her. Then she couldn't get enough. Seth did great this whole time. He mostly sat in his stroller, but when he saw Lily eating "his" snack, he became quite vocal, so Rob and I took turns feeding Lily and Seth and holding Lily and Seth. It was a great divide and conquer effort. At one point Seth's shoe fell off, and Lily slid off my lap and picked it up and handed it to Rob who was holding Seth. So cute.

Lily did not shed one tear. She didn't even look nervous. She let us hold her and kiss her and read her books and put necklaces on her and feed her. Even now, five hours later, the only time she cried was when I tried to take off her shoes to change her clothes. Maybe she feels if I take off her shoes, then she has to stay, and she wasn't ready for that. Right now, she is asleep in my bed. She fell asleep sitting next to me, and didn't stir when I laid her down. I will have to change her because I'm pretty sure she pooped, but I decided to post here first and see if she will fall into a deep sleep so that she doesn't wake up.

The funniest thing about her: she is the tidiest little thing. When we got back to our room, we gave her an Elmo backpack full of small toys, and of course Seth dumped it everywhere. She made a shocked little noise and picked everything back up and put it away. Then she picked up everything else she could find on the floor and handed it to us. Each time she would say something that sounded like: "Ai na." This evening our guide stopped by for a little bit for some paperwork, and I asked her what she might be saying, and she said it sounded like "Hold this." So she's been bringing me everything you could think of, and saying, "Here, hold this." Cracks me up. It could also be that she is saying "Ai ya!" which means, "Oh no!" Either way, won't our boys be so glad that we're giving them a bossy little sister! Ha! Actually they both love to be bossed around by little girls! Seth, not so much. They played pretty well together this afternoon, and she tolerated his rough antics so well. I held them both a lot, and neither one minded.

Lily is cuddly and lovable and today could NOT have gone any better. We even got to see her smile! She loves a little kitten we bought for her, and it makes her smile. She set it up next to Rob and laughed the sweetest, squeaky laugh. Sigh. My cup runneth over. I know that we're going to have many moments of crying and grieving, but it didn't happen today. Maybe when she wakes up tomorrow morning without her shoes on she will start to grieve...

We do get to visit the orphanage this week, on Thursday, and it looks like we may be able to meet the foster family! That has been my prayer ever since I found out she was in foster care. That will be a hard day for her, but it will be better for her in the long run.


Warm Guangzhou

Think Kissimee, FL. That is our first impression of Guangzhou. It is
VERY tourist driven. Tonight is the Festival of the Lanterns, so even
though it is 11 p.m. people are still out walking and laughing and
having fun. Spring festival (which lasts 15 days) ends tonight, and
everyone who has travelled for the holiday starts heading back home
and back to school and work. We are in the China Hotel, and it is
HUGE. It's very nice, much roomier than the hotel in Beijing. It also
has a garden/courtyard and playground on the 4th floor. We'll be
putting that to use I'm sure.

We were supposed to get Lily tomorrow at 11 a.m., but the plans have
changed and we won't see her until 3 p.m. That is still only 15 hours
away. We are so excited! Even amidst the exhaustion of sleep
deprivation (Seth is not happy about trying new beds and new
rooms...he wants his own bed. He's been sleeping in 2 hours intervals,
and I just can't seem to get enough hours of sleep in a row. I'm
praying for rest for the three of us tonight.

Oh yes, we finished Beijing with a tour of Tien'An Men Square, the
Forbidden City, and a pearl place. We also attended the Beijing
International Christian Fellowship. It is a church only for foreigners;
locals are not allowed to attend and we had to show our passports at
the door. There were probably 1000 in attendance, and MANY ethnic
groups were represented. Worship was great, kind of like how it might
be in heaven one day. Most of the songs and the sermon were in English.

Well, I have many zzzz's I need to catch tonight. The next time you
hear from me, we will have grown by one precious daughter!!!!


P.S. Thanks so much for all the encouraging notes yesterday. I loved
hearing from everyone. I cherish so much all of your support, and I
plan on printing out everyone's notes to put in Lily's Lifebook for
her to cherish one day as well.

Walking across Tian'An Men Square. Seth is quite content with his view from the backpack.

The main (only?) entrance into the Forbidden City, adjacent to Tian'An Men Square. Notice the Chinese soldiers on duty.

A gate into the Forbidden City

Seth and his constant runny nose.

Friday, February 10, 2006

In Beijing...should be sleeping

We made it to Beijing! The flight was LONG, but not bad. When we
checked into the Chicago flight, we asked if we could have bulkhead
seating or if there was an extra seat that we could use to accommodate
Seth, and they put the three of us in a row of five seats to
ourselves! It was wondreful. Seth required MUCH entertainment, and he
only slept about 4 hours on the plane. It never got dark outside as we
crossed the International Date line and found ourselves propelled into
the next morning without having had night. That really messes with
your body, let me tell you! Seth is actually the reason why I'm up
now. It's 11 p.m. here, and I'm exhausted and would happily go back to
sleep if he weren't so lout and happy to be awake. We knew jet jet lag
would be a challenge with him!

We haven't seen much of Beijing yet, just the ride from the airport to
the hotel, which is really nice. It's the Temple of Heaven Holiday
Inn, and it's only 2 years old. Down pillows and comforters,
everything's clean, lovely staff.

Our friend Brad met us at the airport along with AHH staff person
Jasmine. Brad has been living in BJ for 10 years, and is fluent in
Mandarin. Last night our group was on its own for the evening, and
Brad took us to a local restaurant for really good food and a nice walk
by a fruit market (I can still smell the strawberries!) and other
vendors. We turned a lot of heads, especially Seth. He is a celebrity
here, and everyone tries to get his attention and coax a smile out of
him. He's almost always happy to accommodate!

Tomorrow we will visit the Great Wall, a jade place, and the Summer
Palace. Brad's apartment is only 15 minutes from the Summer palace, so
we will break off from the group and spend some time in his home and
maybe meet some of his friends. Then we'll take a taxi back to the hotel.

China is a wonderful, mysterious country, and my heart is very soft
toward her people. They are lovely.

only 2 more days until we meet Lily!!! (It's now after midnight...)

P.S. I kept seeing "Lily" signs on the way here, one of them literally
a street sign on the way to the airport that read "Lily Rd", and one
of the characters in our in-flight movie was name Lily. Crazy, huh? jf

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Odyssey

We really don't go looking for adventure. Like Prince Odysseus just wanted to go home to his wife, we just want to get our daughter and bring her home. No, we haven't met any Cyclopses or had to fight off any attacks of the angry god of the sea, Poseidon, but we've certainly had obstacles at every bend in the road. (I really do need to re-read Homer's "The Odyssey," maybe I'll take it with me for the plane ride!)

Anywho, since we've received our travel approval, we seem to be fighting one battle after another. From having to rearrange our childcare plan for Caleb and Gabriel--which is going to work out great--to getting enough money into our account to purchase airline tickets, to finding out that our insurance will not let us switch to a PPO and still cover Lily's medical needs...and on and on.

Today's adventure is actually a continuation of last Friday's. When we got our consulate appointment and knew exactly which days we were going to be leaving and returning, I spent the ENTIRE day on the phone and computer, getting quotes, comparing prices and the like. By the evening, we had found a quote that beat the rest by like $100 (which is a lot to us) and I gave them the go ahead and my debit card number to reserve the seats. She came back on the phone and said that she could not get the original quote, and it was going to cost an addition $100. That made me a little upset, so I said forget it, and I called the next guy and booked with him. If I was going to have to pay the extra $100, I wanted to pay it to the guy who didn't change his quote on me.

The next morning, I received receipts for our e-tickets from the first company I spoke to. And wouldn't you know it they ran our debit card through. Ugh. That took all of that day to work out, but since they had gotten to our bank account first, I had to call back the second guy and ask him to cancel our order. Which he said he did. There's a lot more, like them not having a ticket for Lily after all, blah, blah, blah, but you really don't want to hear the gorey detail.

This morning, my bank calls, and our account is overdrawn by something like $1300. Yes, the second guy ran our debit card through after all. And of course, I can't get him on the phone today. I've left several (very polite, yet firm) messages on his voice mail. Our bank can have us refute the charges, but they cannot put any money back into our account for 10 business days. We'll be on our way to China by then.

I asked Rob today, "Why does everything for us have to be a battle? I mean, you book tickets, you pay for them. Shouldn't that be the end of the story? Why can't we just have a normal day?"

He responded with, "Because adopting a little girl from another country is not normal." I stopped and thought about what he was implying, and he was completely correct.

I firmly believe that adoption touches the very heart of God. James says this in chapter 1 verse 27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Now please don't misunderstand our movtives for adoption. We have long, long wanted to build our family in this way, and we are truly the ones who are blessed to bring this precious child into our home. We are not out to "rescue" her, but that doesn't change the fact that we are indeed providing her with something she needed but didn't have: a family, a future, true hope.

How can the enemy not respond with one obstacle after another? He's figured out that he can't get us to budge from this path, but he sure can do what he can to try to discourage us in our journey, to keep us looking at our obstaces instead of looking to God, and to provide just enough irritation in our life to make us snappy and bickerish with each other and our children.

In no way do I want to make Lily the "poster child" for adoption in our home and community, but I have the deepest desire in my heart to devote the rest of my life to promoting adoption awareness and orphan relief. I don't know yet how or what that is going to ultimately look like in my life. Writing, yes. Financially supporting those types of ministries, yes. As the mother of small children, I know that the number of minutes in my day are quickly consumed, but I still get to spend them. And my children will not always be small. I'm not undermining, either, the magnitude of the job I have in nurturing and raising my small children. It's the grandest job in the world. But it is one that will eventually result in a layoff, if I do my job right. :o) Even before then, I truly desire my life to be marked by action on behalf of the oppressed.

It starts today.

I apologize for these leakings from my heart, but they had to come out before the pressure valve blew!

In him who sets the lonely in families,