Two Days

I feel like I have so much to catch up on! Yesterday was long since we had travel involved. We were tired by the time we arrived here in Guangzhou and I didn't get a blog post written. :)

We spent yesterday morning packing. We were concerned about the weight of our bags but our guide assured us that they would not weigh our carry ons and she was right! She even talked them into letting us check one of our carry ons without paying overage fees - score! The airport was far from my favorite. Oh well. Simply a stop on our journey. We feel so blessed that another family was with us during our whole time in Jiangsu Province - we flew together which was especially nice for the kiddos! They really like each other. Oh and Emmarie did GREAT on the flight. However, we are glad that we have seat for her for the way home! We had originally thought we would keep her as a lap child but the cost difference was not very much at all and we are relieved that we will have the extra space.

We got into our hotel here and it's lovely - far above what we need but very welcome. Our agency makes all of our in country travel arrangments for us. We have been super impressed with our guide. It was hard saying goodbye to Jin in Nanjing! We were welcomed by Elvin (there are 8 families with our agency this week) and he is very nice.

Today we had Emmarie's medical appointment. It went fine. It was a little chaotic and the exam was not particularly thorough which is fine. :) She did really well overall and was little miss social. She LOVED being around all of the other kids! She is under 2 (barely) so that meant she did not have to have a tb test which was great. We came back to the hotel and headed out to lunch with another family. We had a great time with them and their sweet daughter! It's fun seeing so many families here - many of whom are in my DTC groups on fb. It's also such a blessing to see all of the beautiful children being welcomed into families - simply amazing.

This afternoon and evening have been low key (besides filling out some paperwork). It's been fun just spending time with Emmi. She is very funny. She has also completely surprised us with how smart she is - she is already learning some sign and copying english words. She has enjoyed coloring and is being sweet with her dolls (singing them a song, kissing them, and then laying them down - or throwing them - depends :)). She really enjoys changing her clothes and you could tell she was trying to figure out the short sleeve shirt - she just kept looking at her arms. :) The children are bundled nearly always here - she has been completely intrigued by her tummy, feet, and arms. All in all, she is doing so, so well! We love her so much! I cannot believe God chose me to be the mama that gets to teach her how to live life - what a gift. I feel so content and so happy tonight as a mom of 4! I leave you with a couple of pictures of her eating noodles - hilarious!


Last Full Day in Nanjing

Hard to believe our time here in Nanjing is coming to a close. I had every intention of blogging about our day but I'm tired and we need to pack! We visited a gorgeous garden/estate from the Ming Dynasty and Confucious Temple today. The history is so interesting and it's amazing to see these places that have been around for hundreds of years. Emmarie did not enjoy the sightseeing very much but was mostly content if she has a snack in her hand... Today we started to really see her personality! She is a handful! :) she will definitely hold her own with her brothers. :) Here are some pictures from the day (sightseeing and playing in the room). (Finally able to update with pictures!)

Well...I've been trying for the past couple of hours to get photos to upload and they won't sync. :(



Emmi is napping beside me. We have had a delightful and quiet morning - just the two of us. I think we needed it. We played in the mirror, she explored my face, we played with toys, read books, made music, and ate noodles. We worked on understanding each other and I think we both are doing better with that. She decided she wasn't sure see wanted to nap...a strong willed but adorably cute girl. :) Good sense overcame her desire to forego her customary schedule. :)

Left to my own thoughts in a quiet hotel room, I started thinking about meeting each of my children. Nothing can prepare you for that moment (i'm sure it's similar with childbirth). Will they like you? Will they scream or cry or run away? Will you like them? Will you think they are cute? What will your reaction be? It's a little scary for all. We have had a different experience every time.

Calvin - came to us with a shy smile, sat on both of our laps, engaged and played with us. Was not especially cute with green dots on his shaved head but was completely adorable and cute in his own way. He loved both of us and was always excited to see us.

Patrick - disliked us immediately. :) Cried, screamed and wanted nothing to do with us or our things. He was won over in a matter of time but our initial meeting was tearful for all. He was ncredibly handsome despite the orphanage hair cut. And once he decided he liked us (a few days later) he was happy!

Titus - we knew his birthmom might change her mind and there were indicators that we might not be able to adopt him. I was afraid to see him because I knew I would fall in love. We entered the NICU to merg him - tiny, bruised, helpless, and immediately he was ours. 

Emmarie - scared, giant tears, bundled within an inch of her life. She let me hold her with only a little struggle. Settled, fell asleep, and woke up playful. Cute, heavier than we expected - then again, the layers... :) Many sad and scared tears but sought comfort from me. 

Each meeting was so different and each treasured in my heart. Such defining moments for our family but not determining moments. It doesn't matter if it goes how you imagine or how you hope - they are yours. The relationship grows from that point forward. 

Can't wait for our first picture as a family of 6!


The Visit

So much of today can't be put into words. There are many things that I will forever carry in my heart. Our visit to her orphanage was heart wrenching. I was not fully prepared and it had nothing to do with the care she received. On the contrary, when we arrived, the nannies and some of the children were at the window and calling her name. We went to the caregiver office and gave our donation (diapers and snacks - what our guide told us they would like). Emmarie was presented with a jade rabbit pendant as a gift from her home of the past 1 1/2 years (she was born in the year of the rabbit). We were presented with a beautiful brocade wall hanging made here Nanjing - such meaningful and thoughtful gifts.

They told us in the office that her friend would not eat and had cried all night because he missed her. I can't even type that without tears. They began to tell us about him and what his needs were/are (post hernia surgery, small hole on heart, and thick tongue). They told us he is just two days different in her birthday and that they had been at the orphanage the same amount of time. Their cribs are right next to each other and they loved each other very much. He was very kind to her and evidently she was kind of the boss. He is heartbroken. Well, I couldn't stop the tears. It was clear that they want us to consider adopting him. They wrote his name down for  us and said his paperwork has been submitted.

We headed up to her group and the nannies were so happy to see her. She beamed and reached for her main caregiver. And she gave her friend several kisses - they were so happy to see each other. He was clearly distraught and they told them to say goodbye to each other. He would barely look at us. My heart is so sad right now - I did not expect to witness such a painful toddler parting. Emmi had a hard time. I think she was torn - she did not want to stay (that was clear) but she loved her people. They told us she is very smart and is developing well - we have noticed that one of her eyes isn't always tracking the same (perhaps slightly lazy) but they have evidently not noticed. :) we will have it checked at home. They said she is "sticky" and always wants held. This has definitely proven true - she is a complete cuddlebug. We did not expect that but it's awesome. She was a favorite child and she knew it!

We left with tears. It was hard. She fell asleep in the car - I think she had a hard time processing it all.

We went to her finding place next - The outpatient building of the large Cbildren's Hospital. It  was a busy place and the guide said that no one would notice if you left a baby but that she would be found and safe after the fact. The reality of anyone being in a position that they lovingly wrote a note, wrapped her in a blanket, left a gift, and had to make that decision is more than I can bear. My daughter, abandoned at 4 months, in a hospital, one of many children abandoned in China is overwhelming.

I'm exhausted tonight. The emotion of the finalization this morning, the visit to her former home, and the reality of the circumstances that led to her becoming ours have made for perhaps one of the longest days in my memory. She is asleep again beside me. Bath time was a definite no - she was terrified - we will try again tomorrow. She declined her bottle, welcomed the cuddles, stroked my arm and face, and is asleep cuddled up to her dad.  She laughed tonight and it was sweet. She is perfect to us - a diva (most definitely), a sticky cuddlebug, a little sister, a first daughter, a precious blessing.


An Orphan No More

Today, she became officially and forever ours. We signed and sealed with our red thumb print. She put her thumb print on a document as well. We are overjoyed - she is no longer an orphan, she belongs to us. We can't change the world by adopting a child but for her and for us, our world has changed. We rejoice that there is one less orphan.

This afternoon, we will visit her orphanage and finding place. A big day for all of us. She was clearly uncomfortable being back at the CA office today (and was a little sick and then fell asleep as you can see in the picture) and wanted nothing to do with the deputy director of her orphanage. She noticeably relaxed back in our room and has warmed up to Andrew a lot. We gave her noodles and some kind of applesauce for lunch - don't tell, the applesauce is supposed to only be for a snack. :) she is napping now before we leave at 2. We will see how this afternoon goes - we will meet her nanny who loved her very much and cried (we were told) when she left. 


What a day! I hardly know where to begin. I have a precious and beautiful daughter napping beside me - snoring a bit from the tears shed prior to falling asleep. She is incredibly brave. 

I slept well last night - the first night i haven't awoken a few times - also the first night I took Tylenol PM. :) Melatonin just wasn't cutting it for me. So thankful for a good night of rest before the biggest day of our trip.

We left our hotel right around 9 a.m. and drove to the Civil Affairs office where we would receive Emmarie. We arrived around 9:20 and within 5 minutes, she arrived. We saw the van pull in and I knew. We quickly took pictures of the arrival. The other family with us, graciously took pictures for us since their son had not arrived yet. We had been advised by our guide to immediately go and pick her up which I did. She was already crying quietly - big, gulpy tears that made me cry for her. She was bundled in several layers of clothing but I held her and tried to comfort her. After 15 minutes or so, she feel asleep - I'm sure it was much easier for her to cope with life (and perhaps hoped to wake up with things back to her normal). Unfortunately, we had to wake her for an official picture. However, she was surprisingly happy and playful. She had a snack and even tried to feed a snack to another little girl being adopted by a Dutch family (our three families were the only ones there this morning). 

When it was time to leave, she became very nervous and tearful again and was very frightened of the car. Who can blame her? Her life had just suddenly and drastically changed after a car ride (perhaps the first in her memory). She settled right down and played with a few toys while we headed to Walmart. I wish I had a picture of her eyes as she took in the store - the widened in amazement. :) She grinned and flirted with a sales clerk, wanted to walk on her on, and let us know that she was hungry. Adorable. She only wanted me to carry her and with all of the layers, she was heavy! 

We came back to our hotel and she started crying again. It was lunchtime and nap time and I know she felt overwhelmed. She allowed me to hold her and our guide, Jin, helped us figure out what to feed her. She was not thrilled but eventually ate a steamed egg, some rice cereal made with formula, and a few puffs. 

She seems very tactile (sensory seeking, I think) and has been stroking my shirt, hair, sweater, anything she can get her hands on. It's very gentle and very sweet. We also quickly discovered that she is a thumb sucker - a first for us! She calmed herself and rested on me for probably an hour - making great eye contact, adjusting herself to be comfortable, and overall incredibly relaxed. She started to get pretty upset again - big crocodile tears and a cry that is so sad. I realized she was still really tired and needed to sleep. We settled back in and she cried herself to sleep in my arms. Once she is asleep - she is ASLEEP. 

The report from her orphanage was all good. I think she was a bit spoiled (as spoiled as one can be in an orphanage). She had a nanny who cared very much for her. We were told that Emmi does NOT like strangers and that did not even like some of the nannies. So, her reactions today were/are perfectly in line with her personality. We were given a couple of incredible gifts - the first, a cross on a string that was given to her by her birthparents when they abandoned her along with the note that 
was left with her and secondly, a memory book compiled over the last 18 months chronicling her life. It included pictures and journal entries. Both amazing treasures and brought us to tears. 

So, here we are. Amazed. Tired. Blessed. In love. We cannot believe we have a daughter! We first saw her picture on June 29 and tomorrow, she will officially and forever become legally ours. We cannot believe God has blessed a 4th time through adoption - every single time, we are simply in awe. We would not want it any other way - four miracles, four blessings, four beautiful children. Our diverse family is absolutely the perfect family for us. As we welcome another culture and another 
country in to our lives, we do so with great joy.

Without further ado, here she is! EMMARIE DORIS XIAOCHAN - almost exactly one year from when my grandma passed, we have welcomed a daughter who shares her name. 


A Few Pictures!

Eating Candy Apple wrapped in rice paper! Our guide told us this is a traditional treat and that we should only buy it from that vendor (other vendors were not clean). :) it was DELICIOUS!

This right by our hotel in the old part of Nanjing. The building with the dragons on it in the back of the picture is Confucious Temple. 

We had delicious dumplings - pork w/celery & chicken w/mushroom. Our guide ordered them for us at a local restaurant. Not sure we would be successful ordering them on our own... So good!

On part of the Nanjing City wall. Nanjing has a rich history and we are really enjoying hearing some of it! 

Looking down from the top of the wall - down the stairs. It's not very clear today (it actually has rained some and is supposed to continue raining tomorrow). We have many more pictures of the beautiful wall!

We have had a great day and enjoyed meeting and hanging out with another family from our agency! Tomorrow morning we meet Emmarie - I am a bundle of nerves (i think we both are!) but so excited to see her! They will meet their son in the morning as well! Big day. Hoping to sleep well tonight!



Hello all! We made it to Nanjing City late last night - it was a two hour flight from HK. We definitely stood out on the plane - 95% off the passengers were Ch*nese nationals returning home. We had no problem with immigration and were met by our guide, Jin. She is very nice. She went over our schedule with us for the week, told us about some of the history of Nanjing, told us another family had been quite interested in our daughter, made a few changes, checked us into our hotel, and wished us good night.

We unpacked as best we could. The room is not huge but does have a small sitting area by the window and a king size bed. It will certainly suffice, though I'm sure it will feel smaller with a toddler. The walls seem very thin and we can hear lots of noise from other rooms - above and beside. The lobby is gorgeous. Our breakfast is included - looking forward to enjoying that  after a hot shower. :) another family with our agency is also staying here and we will hopefully meet them this morning!

We are staying in the older part of the city - inside the 600 year old city wall. Nanjing was a large city and a big academic hub. Even now, I think she said there are over 30 universities in this city of 8 million. We are anxious to check out our surroundings today. We are staying very near Confucius Temple - this will be very interesting to our boys as they have studied Confucius this year. 

I woke again between 5 & 6 but have managed not to nap at all since we arrive on Thursday. I can handle the early rising. It gets dark early and stays dark until late in the morning, it seems. We are 13 hours ahead of home.  Andrew is still sleeping - the melatonin seems to be working a bit better for him... :) I think I may try some Tylenol pm tonight.

Today we will have a 2-3 hour city tour. We are very excited about that and looking forward to walking around. It was quite busy when we arrived - evidently the end of the year brings many visitors. The hotel was completely full last night. The lights of the city are quite beautiful. 

We will work on posting pics today! I think I have figured out a way - hopefully! We must figure it out before tomorrow! :) we meet Emmarie at 9:30 tomorrow morning (8:30 Sunday night at home). 


Hong Kong Day 1

First, jet lag hasn't been too bad! We left for Hong Kong Island around 9:30 am and didn't get back until 8:20 in the evening...that's one way to avoid napping at odd hours. :) it was a full day but we fairly easily navigated the public transportation and got some good advice on places to visit from someone who lives here.

It was cloudy ALL day (though the weather was very pleasant - probably between 65 and 75) and so we did not do the Peak which is the one thing we had planned to do. However, we were advised by many that it isn't really worth it unless it is a clear day. Bummer!

We did enjoy Hong Kong Park with it's many attractions but most notably an amazing aviary and a tea museum. We had lunch outdoors in the park at a Japanese/Thai place. It seems like quite the fusion of cuisine here. Our food was delicious! I had pad thai and a honey lime citron tea and Andrew had one of their specials that included a very interesting gelatin dessert - all very good. We also went to the Hong Kong zoological and botanical gardens which was very beautiful and they had many varieties of primates which our boys would have found fascinating. We found a bakery to buy some yummy cakes filled with lotus paste and one even had an egg yolk in the middle -yum! We went to St. John's Cathedral which was gorgeous - it's an episcopalian church. We did go to the bank of China building - they have a viewing deck on the 43rd floor...but again , it was very hazy and confirmed our decision to not do the peak. :( we ended our day at a local temple but could only view it from the outside- we missed it closing by 20 minutes. The night market was right beside it, so we watched vendors transform the street into a a shopping market which makes the famous night market. We browsed but did not buy anything. We stopped and had dinner there - truly a local experience. We stuck with the vegetarian fried noodles and when they walked up with it from somewhere down the street, I was glad we hads stuck with vegetarian. :) they were delicious though! For that and two cokes, it was 52HK dollars (about 7 us). 

We hope to post pictures at some point but haven't figured out the best way yet. May just have to be on Facebook. We fly to nanjing city tonight! We are feeling very relaxed and rejuvenated today. Definitely glad we took a little time to acclimate to the 13 hour time difference and just enjoy being together.



We were too tired last night to post this - it's 9 a.m. Here in Hong Kong and we are ready to enjoy this day! We have no set agenda which is nice - there are a few places we are definitely going though! Talked to the boys - they are doing great!


Hello all!

We made it to Hong Kong!!! What a LONG flight...but we were super impressed with Cathay Pacific Airline. Not only did they have the best airline food we have ever had (and 3 great choices per meal) but they had amazing in flight entertainment. We each had our on tv with well over 200 selections. Very nice and helped the 15 hours to pass. All of the flight attendants were incredibly kind and attentive. 

In Chicago, we met another couple on their way to Ch*na for a son about Emmi's age. We have an awesome fb support network and she spotted us because we had the same ribbon on our bags (exclusive to our Spring/Summer group). 

All in all, a good and uneventful day of travel. The actual number of travel hours to get here was less than Kaz - about 21 hours since we arrived at the airport in Indy.

Tomorrow (it's time for bed here), we will enjoy seeing a bit of Hong Kong. We can't wait! We didn't sleep much on the plane (maybe 3 hours), so we are ready to sleep and feeling optimistic about dealing with jet lag. Naive? Perhaps...:)

We are overwhelmed with the kind messages and notes and texts as we headed out today thank you!!!


The Eve

In 12 hours, we will be checking in for our flight to China...I am a bundle of nerves. We have hurried and scurried and packed and repacked and I'm definitely not leaving my house as clean as I would like, which is  stressful for me. I'm so excited but have been fighting back tears ALL DAY - leaving the boys here is impossibly hard.

We said goodbye to our dog tonight (just for two weeks :)) - my brother and sil are keeping her. She was so excited to ride in the car. Tomorrow morning, we will leave the boys in great hands (with my parents) and head to the airport.

Once we get on our flight, I know I will breath a sigh of relief. I'm tired and anxious, yet peaceful knowing that God has directed every single step of the way. We are welcoming Emmi into the chaos and fun and challenges of our family. She has three brothers who have been beside themselves excited to get her home and we have a pink bedroom (a first!) waiting for her. She will likely think we are crazy and loud (my word, it's always loud around here!) but I know she will also feel the love that we share.

Our biggest prayer is for health and safety for us and for Emmi as we travel and for the boys and all those caring for them here. We are also praying very much for her transition - I feel for her. She will be leaving everything and everyone she has known - she has been in the orphanage since she was 3 months old. It will take time and work to build trust and for bonding and attachment to occur.

We so appreciate all of the love and support! We hope to have internet access and to blog here during our trip. When we return, we will be excited to introduce you to Emmarie!

We will also have a few requests. These are absolutely not personal but from our experience, from the advice of professionals, and from all that we have read and learned, we feel it's best to just state them up front. :) These won't last forever but it will take time for us to grow as a family and for her to fully feel a part of it and trust us. The main things are, please don't try and hold her and please allow us to be the only ones to feed her and change her and meet those basic needs. She needs to understand that we will provide for her and that we are not going to leave her! We know that we love her and we know that she is fully part of our family but so much will have changed for her in a very short amount of time. It will take time for her to know those things. We have cleared our schedule and plan to spend a lot of time at home over the coming months. It will give us much needed time to know each other and to figure out what our new normal is. :)

WOW! Tomorrow! Cannot believe it's here! I need to get back to work - I stopped here as I was printing documents to take with us. Thank you again for your prayers and love - they mean so much to us!



What a whirlwind! We woke up to confirmation of our first choice Consulate Appointments which meant that we could make all of our travel arrangements! HOORAY!

We are officially ticketed to leave on Wednesday and arrive back on the 30th. We debated different options and decided to fly through Hong Kong - we will spend 36 hours or so there before we head to her province. We are very much looking forward to seeing a little of Hong Kong. We were given a Christmas gift specifically for a mini trip - we are so thankful! We celebrated 10 years last March with no fanfare, barely dinner, and have been going non-stop and working towards our adoption, so this will be a welcome time despite jet lag! :)

It's hard to believe that in just a little over a week, the pictures we have lovingly gazed at and the little girl who stole our hearts will be a reality! We recognize that she probably has no idea what is coming and that this may be a very difficult transition for all but we are excited and know that she is meant to be ours.

I will post in the coming days about some of the things that will be important for when we return. There is such an adjustment and learning to trust period.

Personally, I am in disbelief that we are welcoming a girl into the family! I'm trying to keep the packing to the minimum and keep having to remind myself that she will be here permanently and will have plenty of time to wear all of her cute clothes.

We are praying for health and safety for us, Emmarie, and for our sweet sons who are staying here to hold down the fort. We are also praying that we will not have weather delays with traveling in January and that we will have uneventful flights (we might also be praying for an upgrade from economy :)...not likely to happen but we are praying nonetheless). My very tall husband is kind of dreading the 15+ hour flight (yes, that's one leg, one plane) - a record for both of us! Anyway....

WE ARE GOING TO CHINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Leaving on a Jet Plane...Soon- UPDATE

What to say?! We have been waiting on our Travel Approval and it was issued and is en route to our agency. We are praying it arrives tomorrow but it may be Friday. Once it arrives there, we will be able to get our consulate appointment and book our flights and travel specifics! SO exciting! We may still be leaving next week - there are a lot of pros. If we don't leave next week, we will be leaving the 23/24th. Either way, it's SOON!!!!!

We are excited, overwhelmed, and in disbelief. When we began this journey in April 2012, we had NO IDEA we would know who our daughter was much less travel so quickly! We are amazed!

Anyway, we appreciate the prayers as we make final preparations, pay the final amounts, and get ready to leave our sweet sons for a couple of weeks! We are thankful for family and friends who are working to keep the boys schedule relatively normal and give them the familiarity of home. We have one kiddo who is especially struggling with us leaving and that makes it hard - he reeeaaalllyyy wants to go which just isn't an option.

We have been fighting some sickness at our house for the last couple of weeks and would definitely appreciate prayers for health for all - here and as we travel.

We are coming precious girl!

Against all odds, it arrived TODAY!!! We are shocked and thrilled and so thankful to God! We are waiting for our consulate appointment and may hear about that in the next several hours and then we can book flights. Unbelievable! We very well could be meeting our daughter a week from Monday!