Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chris shares more thoughts

This is Chris again, today marks the fourth day since we were united with Ellie!  The first evening back at the hotel, we took our baby girl for her first restaurant meal.  She tasted a few of the noodles we put on her plate, then promptly spit them into my hand.  The next morning we went to the breakfast buffet.  We gave Ellie some tangerines, sweet cake, and Cheerios.  Ellie quickly let us know she was having none of that either.  Being the "good parents" we quickly labeled her a picky eater.  While Skyping with Wyatt, we informed him his baby sister was picky, just like him.  Well, this morning, our "picky eater" ate two bowls of tangerines and a bowl of Cheerios!  So much for our parenting wisdom!  Apparently, being carried away by two strangers, who look nothing like anyone else you have ever seen, effects your appetite!  Who knew?

Just like Ellie's appetite, her personality continues to grow with each passing day!  She has a smile and a laugh which lights up a room, I can't even describe how it makes me feel!  I do know if I could put the feeling in a bottle and sell it, I'd be a very rich man!  Ellie thinks its hilarious to sneeze, belch, or cough in my face!  For some unknown reason, I think it's pretty darn funny myself!  It seems like every time Ellie wakes up in the morning, or, from a nap, and sees we're still here with her, she lights up even more!

The hotel staff, especially the waitresses, continue to fawn over Ellie!  There's not a lot of adoption families here and I guess Ellie is reaping the benefits.  It doesn't hurt she's the cutest thing this side of Beijing!  Tonight we're venturing out to a restaurant famous for it's dumplings.  We're going to go with the other family who is here and will be traveling to  Guangzhou with us.

Today, a hotel manager told Julie and I we were "charitable."  Of all the emotions I have been feeling, charitable is certainly not one of them.  Blessed, elated, indescribable joy, yes!!  Charitable, I hardly think so!  This gift from God is something I cannot figure out in my mind.   This morning, while we were both watching Ellie sleep,  I asked Julie; "what did we do to deserve her?"  Neither of us could think of anything.  Like all gifts from God, we're not worthy of his generosity.  Its what we do with these gifts for which God will hold us accountable.  Love your children, hold them, teach them, be those "good parents."              

Video

video

A few photos from Julie





Just a few notes as I am tired.
Found out her American name probably for paperwork purposes and doubtfully she was ever called this was...Gabrielle. Chris was worried about her not being regular. When the first "load" came, I let him have the honor of changing her!


The nannies gave us a scrapbook of her life. I now have photos of her first bath, where she still has her cord attached, first birthday complete with big birthday cake and first Christmas photo in front of a Christmas tree.


 After first bath, didn't care for it too much!
 Bottle after bath
 Waiting in the hotel lounge for our room to be cleaned.
 Angry bird shoes she came with!
 Stacking cups entertain for hours!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Chris writes

Hi this is Chris, Julie said she blogged  a little, but didn't get as far as "gotcha day."  After arriving in Xi' An (She Ann) we were met by our guide "Ann," who ensured we got to our hotel and before leaving us for the night, stated she would pick us up the following day at 1:30 p.m.   Just before 1:15 p.m., the following day, Julie and I prayed in our room for strength, knowledge and peace, then departed our room to meet Ann and another family who was also adopting a little girl.  After a brief meeting, Ann and the driver, "Mr. Leo" took us to the bank of China where we were to convert our U.S. dollars into Chinese currency.  Ann told us to bring at least $7,000 U.S. currency.  Once at the bank, we waited in line for a teller, every few minutes a loud three toned alarm, followed by what sounded like the announcement of pending doom would sound.  We asked Ann what in the world was going on?  Ann stated the bank was just announcing the next customer.  The family who went with us was called to the teller first, the bank was hesitant about exchanging such a large amount of currency (the average worker in Xi' An earns about $7,000 U.S. dollars per year) until they learned we were adopting.  The exchange rate is approximately six Chinese dollars for every one of our dollars.  After making the exchange, I had so much money, I couldn't fit it all in my pants pocket!  We talked Ann and Mr. Leo into taking us back to the hotel so we could lock the money in our room safe.  After this, we were off to the Civil Affairs office to finally meet Ellie!

After we arrived at the Civil Affairs Office, we walked into this building which appeared to not have any heat!  Although, there were enough smokers in the lobby area to provide a nice haze throughout the first floor.  We walked to the elevator and waited for a car.  My mind was racing!  My heart was about to jump out of my mouth!  I literally felt like I was going to throw up!  I was thinking; great, here I am about to meet my youngest daughter and I'm going to throw up all over some Chinese government official!  After we boarded the elevator, the little girl who accompanied the other family, counted how many people were in the elevator; "six", said the little girl.  Her mother quickly added; there will be eight when we come back down!  I was thinking; not if I'm passed out there won't!  I thought we would ride up to the Civil Affairs Office and be placed in some waiting room while waiting to meet Ellie.  However, as the doors of the elevator opened, there were three Chinese children and a number of other people standing right there.  During this whole process, Julie and I would tell people God just keeps opening doors for us!  I'll be darned if this door didn't open and lead us right to Ellie!  I walked out of the elevator and turned to the right, quickly scanning to find Ellie, or, a soft spot on the floor to land, whichever came first.  Julie called out to me; there she is, do you see her?  I said yes, but, to tell the truth, I had tunnel vision and couldn't see much of anything!

After gaining my composure, I walked toward Julie, who was standing next to an orphanage worker who I recognized from pictures we had received.  In her arms was the most beautiful baby in all of China!  It was Ellie!  There was no time for tears, no time for anything, for sure no time to throw up!  I walked over to Ellie and held out my arms.  She quickly turned away from me!  I had been warned about this; she may not take to you right away!  I had two things in my favor, I had not thrown up all over myself and Julie had packed some suckers!  I quickly handed Ellie a sucker, she hesitantly accepted the bribe.  I then held out my arms again, this time she came right to me!  My heart was soaring!  I felt just like I had when my two older children, Summer and Wyatt, were born!  I gave Ellie a kiss on her cheek and forehead, she then leaned in and I kissed her on the lips! If I was struck down at that moment, I could have said I had lived a complete life!  As we stood there, we learned traffic had prevented the Civil Affairs Office from being opened, our exchange would occur right there in a cold hallway!  Before leaving, the orphanage worker informed Julie Ellie was sick with some sort of respiratory infection.  The worker gave Julie enough medication for an army!  We then reentered the elevator, and if that little girl wasn't right, there were eight of us going down in the elevator!

Unfortunately, one of the first things we had to do when getting back to the hotel with Ellie was give her the medication.  Yeah, this won't make you mad or anything, two people you just met trying to shove pills into your mouth!  Fortunately, we have perfected giving Ellie her medication, she still cries, but its over very quickly!  Ellie has what I call rock star status in this hotel!  Every time we go to breakfast, we have several waitresses who stand by our table waiting for anything Ellie may need!  Ellie's personality is really coming out and she is laughing much more often!  She like to sneeze in my face, which she thinks is the funniest thing ever!  She has called Julie "Ma Ma" which I know makes Julie's heart skip a beat!

 I know I've been rambling on, but I just want to wrap this up by giving God all the praise and glory for this adventure!  I feel very blessed, God spoke to me and I was able to hear!  Julie's willingness to follow when I suggested God was wanting us to adopt is a testimony to her faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  Thank you Lord, as I stand hear, nothing more then filthy rags, you blessed me and my family more than we could ever deserve!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Almost there!

A person who lives in faith must proceed on incomplete evidence,trusting in advance what will only make sense in revers.-Philip Yancy
             from Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman pg. 94


We made it to China! Oh my gosh, I'M IN CHINA! The flight was long, but all flights were smooth.  Food was great on all flights except for Air China. Chris took a bite of a mystery meat sandwich and gagged! It was such a sight to see, I could not stop laughing. I have the giggles now over this as I write!
Our hotel is fabulous! We are staying at the Hilton in Xi'an. I have never stayed at a five star hotel (especially for a 3 star price) and it is NICE! We had a huge breakfast buffet this morning and breakfast is also included in our hotel price.DOUBLE WOW.
We've had some good laughs along the way. One thing we have noticed is Chinese men working up which sounds to be a really big lugey, and it seems totally acceptable socially! There's a lot of spitting. It sounds like Mimseigh when she gets all snorty! One unnerving thing in our hotel closet is two gas masks in case of emergency! Wow.
We just got back from the Bank of China exchanging 7K in 100 dollar bills into six times as many bills so we insisted we go back to the hotel to put it in our safe box since we won't be giving the money to the civil affairs office until tomorrow. No way did Chris want to walk around with that many bills. We are here in Xi'an with another family using Madison and they too exchanged their money. I was a hot mess of nerves, and at first the bank was questioning why we needed so much money! I know Shaanxi doesn't have a lot of adoptions, but still. It worked out fine with the other couple completing their transaction first.
We leave in about fifteen minutes to go meet Ellie! Our guide asked us if this was our first visit to China. We said yes. She asked if it was everything we imagined. I told her I couldn't even imagine what it would be like so I didn't try. I still can't believe I am in China. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Valentine's Day surprise

On Tuesday I awoke to discover the most awesome Valentine's Day gift! Four more photos of Ellie in email! I had asked our agency for an update and they had expressed doubt they could get me one so close to travel. But hey, it never hurts to ask, right? I didn't expect anything but there were the most beautiful photos. Her foster mother looks so young, beautiful and caring. I also noticed how rural everything looked. She also has had on the same pants in several photos. Hang on Ellie, your new wardrobe is on it's way!
Chris keeps staring at her photos over and over. We cannot wait to get to her! This time next week we will be oh so close!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Packing


I really don't have anything eloquent to write. Usually I have well thought out words to express my feelings. Packing sucks. I have never liked packing. It stresses me out. Packing to move, packing to travel. I just have not ever been able to embrace the "if we forgot it, we'll buy it" ideology. So here is my mini-pharmacy. Thankfully many who have adopted from China before me have felt the need to share what worked for them and what didn't. I feel less worried about packing enough clothes, but more worried about being sick and not having what I need. All the things pictured have been suggested I take, either by my doctor, my agency or experienced adoptive parents. This is only the pharmacological side of things. There is still the clothing and all items needed for Ellie, plus the paperwork. Oh the paperwork! Slowly but surely things are coming together. I'm still a hot mess, but little by little I'll get us all packed. I have no choice, right?



Friday, February 10, 2012

We got Travel Approval!

Two days ago we got our travel approval! Hooray! I've been trying to process a million emotions plus a few extra unwanted emotions thrown in.
It was kind of neat how it unfolded. My dad had called our home phone earlier in the morning. After hanging up with him, I went about my day doing laundry and cleaning up the kitchen. I came downstairs to discover Chris had left some VERY EXPENSIVE lunch meat out when he made his lunch and left for work for the day. It was still cold and I put it back in the fridge, but sent him an all caps text message just for fun.When he called twenty minutes later on my cell phone, I figured he was calling to be contrite about leaving the meat out. His voice was very serious. My heart skipped a beat something was wrong, then he said "We got our travel approval, you need to call Margaret right away!" Since my cell battery was almost dead I decided to use our home phone. I pressed the talk button...beep beep beep....cannont connect....ran upstairs, grabbed the upstairs cordless....same thing. I then noticed the answering machine was blinking and there was the message from Margaret! The phone hadn't rung, I never heard the machine go off, but there was that awesome message! I then thought how cool it was it worked out that way. I had gotten the LOA call, he had gotten the TA call. We both got to experience it first hand. God is good.
Our time frame is working out and now we just need to firm up some travel arrangements and we'll be on our way at the end of this month, and we will hold our daughter for the first time on February 26, 2012.