We made it to China! The flight over went really well, but we were
spoiled with business class for the long leg. That is really the way to
travel for an international flight! We were able to sleep well on the
plane, which has made our transition to the local time much better. We
spent the 20th and 21st getting here, then were thrown into a whirlwind
of sightseeing! In the two days we have toured Beijing, we have seen the
following: a traditional houtong via a rickshaw tour, a silk factory,
Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the night food street market, a
jade factory, the Great Wall, the Olympic complex, and a Chinese
Acrobatic show. We have eaten in 3 local Chinese restaurants and then
tonight at a McDonalds! We are getting good at using chopsticks, too.
There are 9 families here in our group, and we have really enjoyed
getting to know them.
Tomorrow morning we will fly to
Zhengzhou, the capital of the province Hannah is in. Then on Monday
morning, we will get her! It is starting to sink in just how close it
all is. After waiting for her for 4 years, she will be ours in just 1
Once we get to the net city, we will have a day with
nothing scheduled, so I am determined to figure out how to get some
Thank you to all who are praying for us. My
shoulder still needs prayer. It is better than it was, but a lot of
every day motion causes me pain.
Hopefully next time I post, there will be pictures and maybe we will even have Hannah already!!
In just a few hours, we will be leaving on one of these to begin the actual journey to get to Hannah! Hopefully, ours won't be made out of Lego bricks, though. :)
Dropping the kids of for 18 days apart was very hard. There were tears and lots of hugs, but it was sad. However, I have to brag on God in a major way! We were so concerned about Andrew, but he did so well! He did tell me twice that he was ready to go home now, once while I was giving him his bath and once before we tucked them into bed, but he accepted it when I told him that we couldn't do that. The family they are staying with built a big blanket tent for them to sleep in, and they were so excited! I know they are going to do so well.
Even more bragging on God: Jerry got a solution to the computer network meltdown at work. I was so thankful that he could come home from work yesterday without that hanging over his head!
My shoulder is painful, but okay. I haven't been able to do some of the cleaning I like to do before I leave on a trip, but my wonderful mom said she would fill in for me on what my shoulder couldn't take - thanks Mom! That is such a relief.
We did realize last night that we have to have 2 passport sized photos of each of us for our consulate appointment, so we are heading out to do that this morning. Otherwise, we are completely packed, the boys are taken care of, we have people scheduled to be in and out of the house while we are gone, we are getting the last of the laundry done now, and in just a few hours we head off to the airport!
This post could also be titled, "Nothing's Gonna Hold Me Down." Yesterday was perhaps one of the worst days we've had in a long time.
Jerry got to work to discover that the server controlling the company's network is down. Completely toast. He spent all day working on solutions and got nowhere. Until it is fixed, our company has no internet, e-mail, or access to their production software.
I completely aggravated an injury to my shoulder and found out that I sprained the tendon connecting my clavicle and shoulder - also called a separated shoulder. I saw a chiropractor who specializes in sports injury (this was originally an injury from lifting weights) and he adjusted it and taped it and gave me a pain relief regimen to follow. This morning I started having an allergic reaction to the tape.
The kids are emotionally struggling as our departure approaches. Jerry and I are, too. There were many tears in this house yesterday, and Andrew is throwing a fit about every. single. thing.
But you know what? Setbacks, or no, I know for sure that we are supposed to be doing exactly what we are doing. I feel a peace that whether it is all sorted out before we leave tomorrow, it will all work out. This morning when I was taking my kids to VBS, we were listening to a CD that we got from Children of the World, a division of World Help that we have supported. The CD has kids - orphans - from Uganda, the Philippines, and Nepal singing amazing songs of worship. On the way home, the 4th song on the CD started and a huge smile spread across my face. It is one of my favorite songs from the CD and just what I needed to hear. If you ever have a bad day, you need this song. Watch it. Giggle at how precious these children are, and remember that they are orphans who have had days so bad that I don't even want to imagine. Even so, watch the joy they have and let it seep into your soul, too.
We have been focused on doing a few special things with our boys before leaving for China, and today we surprised them by going to the Legoland Discovery Center! They were ecstatic! All week they knew that as soon as Jerry got home from his business trip, we were leaving for a surprise, but we wouldn't give them any hints or details. It drove them INSANE. :) As we pulled into the parking lot at Grapevine Mills, Aaron spotted the sign first and about lost it he was so excited!
In front of the Lego version of Texas Stadium. This other boy and his father both saw me trying to take their picture, but didn't bother to get out of it...
Andrew had the most fun building towers with these giant blocks and going down that slide in the background about 74 times!
When Jerry's parents heard we were taking the boys here, they gave Jerry some money for the gift shop. We let Andrew pick something out (knowing he would choose something small) and let the other two split the remaining funds. They got a nice pile of loot - Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!!
The bag from the gift shop was bigger than Aaron!
For lunch, we hit the food court so we could all be happy with our food. I decided to get in the swing of things and go with Asian food - Mmmm. Okay, so it is Japanese, not Chinese - but it was so yummy.
I also found something I *love* in the gift shop. Last month, I resorted to buying the ugly white and black salt and pepper shakers that are in every greasy spoon restaurant in the South because my children have broken multiple salt or pepper shakers and I was tired of replacing nice, expensive shakers. When I saw these, I knew the solution had been found. Aren't they awesome??
I think our trip to China will be hard on the kids. Aaron and Ethan can at least understand that we will be coming back in 18 days and have some concept of what that means, but Andrew will need some help with that. To help them all, and especially Andrew, I had them make a paper chain. I wrote the date on one side of each strip and how many days until we are home on the other side, then I let the kids decorate them with stickers. Aaron stapled them all together, and now they can take a chain off every day and Andrew can see the chain get shorter and shorter until we are home with Hannah!
Andrew took his job very seriously!
Aaron was all business.
Ethan tried to see just how many stickers he could fit on each one!
They were all excited about this! I sure hope it is fun and helps them!
We are also writing notes to the boys, one for each day, that talk about what we will be doing and asking them about things we know they have planned. I've even wrapped up some presents for them to get on many of the days we are gone. Nothing major, but a few books from Half Priced Books, gum, balloons, candy, etc. I think these things will help them with our absence, and create special memories for them of this time!
I know this is the tiniest picture ever, but it is the most recent one we have. We pulled it off the newsletter from New Hope Beijing in April. Still no official update on Hannah, so I am beginning to believe that we won't get one before we travel. I am trying to be okay with that! :)
Yesterday I took part in a conference call with the other 4 families in our travel group and the director of CCAI (our adoption agency). It is neat that the director takes the time to personally speak with each family before they travel. He was just making sure we didn't have questions about travel or the schedule and giving us some encouragement about the trip. He and his wife immigrated to the US from China long ago and started this adoption agency in their basement 20 years ago! They never imagined they would grow to be the largest Chinese adoption agency in the world and be recognized as the #1 agency by China! Anyway, a couple of things he said stuck out to me. First, he thanked each of us who were adopting a child with a special need. He acknowledged that they were all created by our Almighty God and he was so excited that they were getting a chance in a family. How neat is that? Then, as he was wrapping up the call, he said that when a group leaves for China, he and his wife pray each night for every family on the trip by name. He said he prays for our protection and for God's blessing for us. He acknowledged that not every person who uses CCAI believes, but said, "You just don't know the spiritual impact this trip makes." I feel so blessed to have been led to use this agency. We had no idea when we first applied to them what path we would take or that the directors were believers like us, but we know we are with the right people!
I also received our final travel packet yesterday, which has a full schedule in it! Although we leave the US just after lunch on the 20th, because of the length of the flight and the time difference, we don't land until quite late on the 21st in Beijing. We will tour Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and take a Hutong Tour on the 22nd and tour the Great Wall on the 23rd. After those days, the goal is to be more adjusted to the time and culture, and the morning of the 24th we will fly to Zhengzhou. We will stay in Zhengzhou for a week. Zhengzhou is the capital city of the Henan province, and every family in our travel group is adopting from an orphanage in this province. We will stay in the capital, and our children will be brought to us on the 25th. We will use the rest of the week to apply for our child's passport, register her adoption with the Chinese government and wait for the passport to be ready. It is also during this week that we might have the opportunity to visit Hannah's orphanage. On the 30th, we will fly to Guangzhou, where the US Consulate is located. We will have some free time here for touring and shopping. It is here that our children all must have physical exams, tests, and vaccines. We must take official photographs and prepare our paperwork for the Consulate appointment. On July 5th, we will have our Consulate appointment and apply for Hannah's permanent US visa. Once we receive her visa on the 6th, we are free to leave! We actually fly home on the 7th. As soon as we land on US soil, Hannah will be a US citizen.
This trip will be full, busy, emotional, amazing, wonderful, stressful, and so many things I am sure I cannot even imagine yet. But, I'm ready it for it all. Most of all, I am so ready to bring my precious baby girl home, teach her that she is now part of our family for ever and ever, and that she is so very loved.
It has been a whirlwind of activity here since we got our travel dates. Here's a look at what I have been doing... I have been at Target every day, I think, buying things we still need for our trip! I have set out all of Hannah's things, ready to pack and I have started pulling aside things of ours to pack, too.
Jerry was able to book a return flight for us, but he was unable to use miles to do it. We found a flight on Orbitz.com, though, that was a better schedule than any others we could find. The price of this flight kept jumping all over the place, which was very stressful! When it jumped down at one point, we decided to just buy it to be done with the craziness.
We signed papers for Hannah's orphanage to start the process of applying for her Chinese passport, too. The fact that they requested this information from us means they know Hannah is being adopted, yet they still haven't sent us any updated information on her. Even though I know I will have her in my arms in just over a week, I still am nearly desperate to get pictures or hear new information about her. They still haven't sent her medical papers from her surgery in April. ::sigh:: Soon enough I will know, I guess.
I have also made an appointment for her first pediatrician visit, and scheduled for our social worker to come July 27 for our one month post adoption visit (required by China).
I have made a packet of information for all the people keeping the kids while we are gone, and I have put together gifts and letters for the kids to get while we are gone. I finished painting art to go in Hannah's room and will frame it all today. I would like to start making Hannah a blanket today, too, but it will depend on whether I finish a few other more necessary tasks!
At noon today, I have a conference call with my travel group (I think there will be 4 other families traveling with us) and our adoption agency to go over travel details. I am hoping to get a more clear idea of what we will be doing each day.
I'm sorry this post is full of short, choppy sentences and has no pictures, but this is basically how my brain is working right now! :) I will start taking pictures of Hannah's finished room soon!! But I must say, God is so very good. Even though I have not had a moment to stop since getting these dates, and there is still so much to do, I feel at peace and I am not freaking out like I was last Friday. I know this is from God, because the circumstances around me haven't changed, but the peace and attitude within me has. It is so hard to believe that 21 years after God told me I would have a daughter from China, over 4 years since we started the process to adopt, and almost 3 years waiting on China, we are just 6 days from flying to Beijing and 12 days from having Hannah in our arms forever.
I cannot believe that the time has actually come for me to announce that we officially have travel dates to go to China to adopt Hannah!!!!! I am so excited! We will be flying out to Beijing on June 20. We will spend the first few days in Beijing touring and adjusting to the time change and the culture, etc. On June 24, we will fly to Zhengzhou, China, which is the capital of the province Hannah is from. It is in this city that we will receive Hannah and also register her adoption with the local government. While in Zhengzhou, we will also be travelling to her home town, Kaifeng City, to apply for her Chinese passport. She will travel home on a Chinese passport under her Chinese name. After we receive her passport, we will travel to Guangzhou, where the US Consulate is located. We have an appointment scheduled at the Consulate for July 5 (which happens to be our 15th wedding anniversary) to get Hannah's visa and sign all the documents for her US citizenship. We will take an oath (I assume for her citizenship??) on that day as well. We will get her visa on July 6 and are able to fly home as early as July 7!
For the last few weeks, we have been placing various flights to Beijing on hold using our airline miles, so we have a flight to Beijing set to go. However, as of right now, there are absolutely no flights available back home on the dates we have been given using miles. We would really like to fly on miles and not have to pay for 3 one-way tickets home. Would you please be praying that something opens up using miles very soon?
As I get more information, I will post it here! It is hard to believe that this process is actually almost over. Whew! What a wild ride!