Friday, April 3, 2015


While we were in China, I posted daily to a private page we had created on Facebook to keep our closest family and friends in the loop about our travels.  We tried to keep things as private as possible to protect our family during that time of travel and being away from our biological children at home.  Looking back at it, there are many things I posted that I'd like Hannah to have one day.  I'm going to highlight some of my favorite posts here so she can have them all in one place.  For those of you who followed us on Facebook, this post will be repeated information for you.  Ir is also going to be a rather long post.  Don't say I didn't warn you.....

January 2, 2015
It hit me. It is January. January people! There is a very real possibility we will travel THIS month and if we don't, it will be very early February. We might be meeting Hannah THIS month! Whoa. That feels good to say......
A little status update: The CCCWA has been shut down since December 28 and will re-open on January 5. The shutdown was to make some computer system updates. Please pray this system is running smoothly with no glitches. I have heard that the last system update didn't go smoothly and caused several delays. We are hoping they learned from the last time how to avoid some of those glitches. Our Article 5 "should" have been picked up yesterday, January 1, but since that was a holiday and they don't pick up on Fridays, it will likely be picked up on Monday the 5th. I will get an e-mail notifying me once it is picked up (usually a day or so after it actually gets picked up). That packet of paperwork will be sent to Beijing, where it will go to the CCCWA to get our Travel Approval. Once we get that, things will go wild and we'll get out Consulate Appointment and start booking travel. There is a very real possibility we could hear about TA by the 2nd week of January. Join us in praying that TA will come quickly and that all will continue to go smoothly for us from here. We are very eager to get Hannah home and want so badly to get there before the Chinese New Year in February.

January 5, 2015
The mama's heart in me is a little heartbroken today. And I have shed a couple of tears. It truly isn't over anything earth shattering and it isn't the end of the world, but we hit another little delay.
Our Article 5 was dropped off on December 18th. This process is typically a two week process. Ours would have been due to be picked up on January 1. That was a holiday, so we assumed we'd be picked up on the 5th, which is today. From here we'd be off to Beijing and waiting on TA. Well, we got word today that our Article 5 won't be picked up until Thursday, the 8th. Our two week Article 5 wait just became three weeks. Our papers likely won't make it to Beijing until next week for the TA wait to begin. Most of you will say, "Oh, it is just three extra days, it won't be too bad!" The trouble is that we will likely get TA, but now that the CCCWA is back open, many TA's will be issued. As TA's are issued, Consulate Appointments will be claimed and days will be filled. There is a very real possibility, with each passing day, that we will get our TA and not be able to secure a CA until AFTER the Chinese New Year in early March. It is not impossible for us to travel prior to CNY, but with each passing day, that chance gets smaller and smaller. Mother's, know my heart....the thought of potentially getting Hannah in late January or very early February vs. having to wait until is way too much for me to handle. Please join us in praying that we might get Hannah prior to the Chinese New Year. Please, please pray. Families that got their LOA the same day we did are all getting on a plane to get their little ones in three days. THREE days. And here we sit. Delay after delay. I know God's plan is big--way bigger than mine and way better than anything I could dream up, but oh, how my heart longs to hold this sweet little girl of ours. So, so badly.
In other news, we got another update on Hannah's finger today and new photos. It still looks very painful and awful, but it does appear to be healing. We heard from the doctor at the International Adoption Clinic about it and she was not overly concerned...she said she may never have a full tip on her finger or may experience loss of sensation, but it should all be very minor.
So, that is a long post today. Please just pray. Pray we can get her prior to Chinese New Year.

January 8, 2015
We are officially in the "watch and wait" phase of things. Our Article 5 was confirmed to be picked up today at the consulate in Guangzhou and we are officially waiting on our Travel Approval (TA). Things could go any direction at this point--rapid TA and rapid travel prior to the Chinese New Year (still think we have a shot at this, so I will continue to pray!) or, slow TA, delayed travel till March. Once we get Travel Approval (which, prior to the computer shutdown, we saw TA's come as quickly as 4-7 days.....not the typical 2-3 weeks!), we will secure our Consulate Appointment and pray for an open day with those as soon as possible. TA could literally come at any point, so I will literally be married to my phone as we wait for "the call!" Continue to pray that we get a very, very, very fast TA and that a desired consulate appointment is available to us. It is getting so real!
On a side note, I have China dreams all the time now. Last night was really bizarre. I dreamed it was Gotcha Day and when we got there they gave us a boy about Jacob's age. It seemed to take me a little while to realize this was not right and then approach the officials that this was not our child. Then they told us that Hannah had accidentally been matched to more than one family and we could take this boy instead, as Hannah needed to go to another family. I was crushed! So bizarre, yet so vivid! How can you love someone so much that you have yet to meet? Truly all by God's design.

January 13, 2015
I am constantly reminded of God's tender care for adoptive parents while they wait. Last night, someone gave me something that was very cherished and dear to them. They bought it on a trip to China and really didn't want to part with it. But I've been on her mind, our adoption has been on her heart, and she felt God asking her to let this item go, in order to bring joy to my heart. She gave me a beautiful silver charm for a necklace. It is the Chinese character for the word "love." She told me, "I just really felt God telling me to give this to you and that is hard for me because I love it so much. It means "love" and I want you to have it because there is someone in China that you love so very much. I hope you will think about how much you love her while you wait." I cried. And hugged her. And told her I would return it once we got Hannah home. Her answer? "You do what God leads you to do with it. If you want to save it and give it to Hannah one day, that would be okay." I am wearing that necklace today and will wear it until Hannah comes home. So thankful for sweet friends who are sensitive to God's prompting on their heart--and the balm their actions can be on my soul.
Be sensitive to God's prompting. You never know how a small act can have deep impact on someone who needs it.

January 15, 2015
Jumping for joy (and freaking out a little bit), we got TA! WE GOT TA!!! Now, we hurry up and wait.....on our confirmed Consulate Appointment. We have requested first available. We should have this date confirmed tomorrow or the next day. Pray we are able to get a CA in February. Hannah, baby girl, we are coming!!!

January 16, 2015
Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow! We got our assigned Consulate Date this morning. Our appointment is set for 2/3! SO.....what does that mean? It means we booked tickets and I can officially start this:
China--7--We depart ONE WEEK from TODAY on 1/23!!
Hannah-10--We meet our daughter TEN DAYS from today on 1/26!!

Prayer requests to follow!

January 22, 2015
24 hours remaining. Wow. What a journey this has been. It is so surreal that the time has come.
Pray for us today as we pack--for wisdom about what to take and where to pack it. For peace that we have what we will need for the journey.
Pray for our kiddos. We send them off with one set of grandparents tonight. It is going to be so hard to say goodbye! Lots of quality hugs and snuggles today!
We will do our very best to update while in China, but we keep hearing internet is spotty at best in the province.
Continue to pray for health and travel mercies!

January 24, 2015
It was a very long day of travel, but we are finally here and checked into our hotel room! Exhausted.

January 24, 2015
It is 6:15 AM here, Sunday morning. Tomorrow we meet Hannah at 3pm our time (so about 2am eastern Monday morning). We covet your prayers:
For a natural and smooth bonding process
For calm hearts and spirits
For Hannah to have strength to be brave as she meets us
For us to be able to get as many questions answered about her
For us to know how to guide her through this time of grief.

January 25, 2015
It is 4:30 AM in China on Monday morning! We meet our guide at 11AM to go get supplies for Hannah at Walmart and then at 3PM we go to Civil Affairs. Happy Hannah Day!

Housekeeping just dropped the crib off and we leave in 45 minutes. Our guide shared more about Hannah with us. She had her goodbye with the foster family just this morning. This is going to be such a hard day for her!!

January 27, 2015
She loves the fountain in the lobby of the hotel....and snacks. Did I mention that she likes snacks? Girl can eat!!!

A funny: in China you suddenly feel like an incompetent parent. Our guide is constantly telling us what to feed her (or not feed her) and we seem to break some sort of social code in parenting almost daily! For those waiting to travel, baby bundling is NOT taken lightly here. Bring a heavy coat (even if you come where we are and it is 75 degrees out). Our guide asks me each time we go out if I have her thick coat or a blanket, even though I am in a t shirt and sweating. Serious business keeping these babies toasty!!

Learned some interesting things... Hannah's Chinese name means "morning treasure."
Tomorrow we will go to see the orphanage where she spent the first six months of her life. This will be a hard journey (7 hours round trip) and emotionally taxing for all. Please pray that it goes smoothly. We will also visit her finding place.
Today we saw a brief glimpse of the anger and grieving that is yet to come. She is fighting so hard, but the pain and loss is real and overwhelming. Pray for us to have patience, wisdom to respond, and compassion as she goes through this.
Bonding is going well. She is well attached to me, but is cautious with men. Chris is doing a great job taking it slow and doing all she will tolerate or allow.
Food is an exciting thing to explore. She could eat non stop. She loves fruit and yogurt. She even gave American peanut butter a try! Not a fan of my cheeseburger today nor of the French fries, but she loved the nuggets!
She has a tremendous amount of energy and is very active, however, she will get restless with me holding her and gets very angry when I put her down or leave the room.
None of these things come as a surprise to us. We feel well prepared by our agency and well supported by the in country staff. Please continue to pray. She is beginning to realize she is stuck with us and emotions are beginning to flow. Pray we can work through all of it together. We can feel your prayers and thank you for them.

January 28, 2015
So much to say about this day.... We took the seven hour round trip to Hannah's birth city. We saw the public park where she was found and then also saw the orphanage where she spent the first six months of life and then visited twice a month. So many things, but not the words just yet. She was sad so much if the morning and slept a big portion if the trip. I literally could feel her heart rate increase as we entered the gates. Then we took family photos where her referral photos and videos were taken and we watched the joy return as we waved goodbye and blew kisses to the nanny and director. Orphan no more. Farewell Yulin City Social Welfare Institute. Thank you for giving us our girl.

Milestone tonight ! Hannah grabbed Chris' hand and coaxed him down to play on the floor with her. And play they did!! Still doesn't want him to hold her and all interaction must be on her terms, but I see glimmers of change in her heart and channels of trust being built. I am certain that when we get home with the other kids it will cement it in her mind even more. Baba is indeed, by far, a way more fun parent than me! I am enjoying watching their relationship slowly unfold and the changes in dynamic each day.

January 29, 2015
In the day we finalized Hannah's adoption, the orphanage gave us some gifts. A silver bangle that is child sized with the name of the orphanage engraved on the outside in Chinese and then Hannah's Chinese name engraved on the inside. What a treasure! We were also given a cd of photos. We looked at them last night and found so many treasures !!! A newborn photo and tons of her with her foster mother! Then we found probably about 4 or 5 of her with her foster mother looking at the photo book we sent to prepare her. Hannah came back to us with the toy and photo book we sent. We were not able to meet the foster mother because we feared the emotional trauma would be too much for Hannah at the time so we are so very thankful to have these!!
Soon we will all wake up and pack for the journey to Guangzhou. Pray we get there safely and with all our luggage.

Got to tour a gorgeous park in Nanning today. It was so pretty there and felt so much like home to us since our family loves to hike.
Our time in province is drawing to a close and we are very eager to move on to Guangzhou where we will be surrounded by many other adoptive families and less of a freak show. We depart the hotel at 8:30 tomorrow morning and arrive GZ around lunch. I have no idea how I will get everything packed again!!! Wow.
We are half through our trip. We miss the kids at home terribly. We are eager for the last week to start and the countdown to home to begin!
Continue to pray for Hannah as she works through things. We have a lot to process and a lot to tackle. She clearly rarely heard the word no.......
January 30, 2015
We made it to the Garden hotel in Guangzhou. Hannah did well on the flight here....slept most of it, but really fought the confinement while awake. This is concerning with a 15 hour flight looming ahead of us. Please begin praying now for that flight home.
This hotel us much nicer and Guangzhou much easier to handle than our time in Nanning. We are glad to be here.
Please pray for us to have wisdom as we parent Hannah. She has so much anger and it is difficult to know how to respond. Please pray for strength for me. She still will not allow Chris to hold her or care for her and that makes it hard. Physically, mentally, and emotionally I am totally maxed out.
We should meet the other families from our agency tomorrow morning. We look forward to being with others who understand this journey we are on.

January 31, 2015
Today was a difficult day. Emotionally I felt better, but Hannah did not. We saw more tears from her today than we have seen since we got her. Rage and anger continues, but there is also deep sadness setting in. She gets very upset each time we return to the hotel room. I think she is beginning to realize we are here to stay. Today she cried out for mama and it wasn't for me. She has so much to process.
This morning we had our medical appointments for her visa. I felt like I was in 1950. Nurses with caps and doctors with mirrors strapped to their heads. Hannah did not enjoy any part of this all.
Chris and I spent a long time talking this afternoon and also connected with another family here dealing with an angry child. It was so good!!
Better yet we borrowed a stroller from the hotel and Hannah tolerated it well. She doesn't love it, but she doesn't hate it and the break from carrying her while we were out tonight was a little slice of heaven for me. My neck and shoulders are so sore from holding her or wearing the ergo.

February 1, 2015
So far today has been a tremendous day. Hannah has a long, long way to go, but we see her moving forward. Today we played hard and through me hugging and kidding Chris, Hannah gave her Baba his first hug and kiss!!!!!! Massive milestone! He is so eager to snuggle his girl.
We had two outings with our group and she was fantastic at both! Got antsy and grumpy toward the end, but it was past lunch and she needed a nap. We are overall very proud of how she handled today. Tomorrow we go to the zoo and ought to be of more interest to the kids.
We are connecting with the other families in our group from our agency and it is a breath of fresh air (as fresh as it gets in China.... Ha!!). They all totally understand exactly where we are and the is so much safety and encouragement in that. We went out to eat last night with a group and it almost felt..... Normal. It was refreshing.
Continue to pray. Hannah made large strides today, but there is still so much to accomplish and her mind is clearly so full.

Today we went to the jade and pearl market. Soooooo many things to see! We bought each daughter her wedding pearls here because the prices are so incredible. My only regret was not getting a strand of my own. We went to en embroidery shop and got several gifts to take home and things to give to Hannah over the years. Then we went to the Chen Family home. Here a man did calligraphy for us.... The scroll says "Lin Chen Zhen Hannah Ruth" and then lists her gotcha date and province as well as the location where the calligraphy was done. The artist marked it with his chops and also marked it with a special family blessing chop. So neat!

February 2, 2015
We went to the Guangzhou zoo today. We saw pandas, though they were inside... Too warm for them today! Hannah loved it till she fell asleep. All these wild emotions have turned her into a two nap per day baby.

One step forward and two steps back. The morning was so great, but after nap... Not so much . Rage was in full force--perhaps way too much pleasantness the rest of the day and she simply couldn't cope. She truly believes we are abducting her and a lot of it is rage and anger and some likely fear. We saw some of her best moments today and some of the worst. The glimmers of hope are what we cling to.

February 3, 2015
US Consulate appointment day! We had to go to the consulate very early this morning and already when we got there there were so many people lined up! We got a special pass to the head of the line for adoptive families. We took an oath, submitted paperwork, and answered questions about her medical need. Lord willing, tomorrow, we will receive her Chinese passport with her US visa inside. She will become a citizen once we process immigration in Detroit.

Two more sleeps and Lord willing we will be on our way back to US soil. I miss the kids terribly and want ice cream sooooooo badly!
Tomorrow we should receive Hannah's visa... Her ticket to enter the US. We will spend the morning shopping on Shaman island. I am looking forward to this as it is a scenic place and a popular stop for adoptive families.
Hannah continues to adjust. Lots of work to do, but already I see bonds being formed and trust creeping in. She still hits and throws tantrums, but we are working through that. She is moody, but we are figuring that out too.
Please cover us in prayer as we fly home. We depart the hotel at 6:20 am on 2/5 (that is 5:20 pm on 2/4 US time) and arrive home at 11:10pm on 2/5.
We are still open for friends to welcome us home. We are on delta flight bound from Detroit and land in Lexington at 11:10pm.
We cannot wait to see all of you!!

February 4, 2015
Golden ticket!! We got her visa to go home! Let's get out of here!

It is time to finally wrap up our time in China. We are eager to get home and wrap our other three up in a giant hug. Please cover us in prayer as we travel home....for space on the long flight, for Hannah to sleep a large part of it, and for overwhelming peace and strength from the Holy Spirit. We depart the hotel to begin the journey on 2/4 at 5:20 eastern time. We wrap it up 30 hours later when we touch down in Lexington on 2/5. If you think of us at all in that time, please pray for us.
Pray also as we return home and start the process of teaching Hannah what family means. Truly our journey has only just now begun and your support, encouragement, listening ears, help, love, and kindness toward us will be needed more than ever. Grant us grace as we adjust...we plan to keep Hannah's world as small as possible for a while as she acclimates and forms bonds and trust. You may not see us out, but we still need you to love us and check in on us!
So, farewell China. Thank you for our daughter.
Here we come USA!

Please continue to pray as she processes. She realizes she is stuck and all we can do us try to help her get through.

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