Sunday, November 15, 2009

So Long for Now

This will be my last post to this blog.

It was always my intention to set this blog up for people to follow our journey. But beyond that, I wanted a resource for people who were looking into adoption or going through the process themselves. It helped me greatly during our adoption process to be able to look at other blogs to see how the process would take shape. I hope that this blog will help encourage and give direction to others the way that the blogs I follow have helped me. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. I had lots and I want to be able to answer any questions/concerns that I can.

If we ever travel this road again, I will use this blog for that adoption as well. In the meantime, please fell free to join us at to continue to follow our amazing story that God is creating for us. We are so excited about what He has done for us, and what He has in store for us in the future! See you at Tummy Tickles and Goofy Giggles!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We're Home!!

Sorry this is a couple days late in coming, but I got sick after we got home and this is the first day things feel somewhat "normal".

After 4 plane rides and 25 hours of travelling we arrived home to a group of wonderful people that wanted to welcome Ashlyn home. It was a great moment because I finally got to see my kids after 17 days of travelling. Ashlyn reacted so well to them. She recognized them from their pictures in the photo album that she had of us. It was the best reaction, far better than we ever could have hoped for.

So now that we have been home just shy of a week, I can say that things are going well. We have some things to work out, but,in time, everything will be just fine. Last night she slept through the night for the first time since we returned home. The 12 hour time difference has really messed up her sleeping habits. In China she would sleep from 8:00 at night until 8:00 in the morning and take a 2-3 hour nap. Here she was waking up at night because it was nap time to her. I think we have finally gotten past that problem.

She is not too fond of the dogs. At first she was terrified of them and screamed everytime she saw them. Yesterday she tolerated them in the house walking around as long as they did not get too close. We are making progress every day.

She will not walk around the house without having a death grip on someone's leg or hand. We are hoping that she gets more comfortable in the house and feels like she can walk around on her own. She has a lot of fears that we are helping her through. She exhibited this even in China. This poor child has been through so much. I pray that God will give her a peace about her new family and home.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Last Day in China!!!!!

We woke up a bit late this morning and after talking with the kids we went down to breakfast. I have spent this morning packing to come home!! We have a little more shopping that we want to get done today, but that is all that is going on with us today.

I did give Ashlyn some Benadryl because of our colds/allergies and it did not do much as far as making her tired....I guess it isn't going to help me much on the plane, but it does make her stuffy nose better.

Other than that, we will be getting up early tomorrow morning to catch the plane to Hong Kong, then San Francisco, then Charlotte, then H..O..M..E!!!!!!!!

So, good-bye from CHINA!! We'll see you when we get home!

Here is our flight info in case you are wanting to be at the airport.....US Airways flight 1471 to arrive in Tampa at 9:43 pm on Saturday, Nov. 7th.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oath Taking Ceremony

Not much to post today. We woke up late and went for a walk after breakfast. Then we went to our Oath Taking Ceremony at the Consulate. It was about a thirty minute drive there. Once we were there we waited with about 20 other families to do some paperwork and then take our oath as a group. It was really a neat moment. We then headed back and went to dinner with the two other families left with us (the other two families went home today). We went to the German restaurant on the island and to our surprise it was really good. I would have to say that it was one of the best German restaurants that I have ever been to. Dad, you would have LOVED it!!

Anyways, no pictures today...we didn't take any. You can't take cameras into the Consulate.

One more day and we go HOME!!!! I hope tomorrow isn't too long. There is a sightseeing to a Garden, but I don't think we are going to go. We are just about done at this point. Seventeen days is a very long time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Open Market

This morning we went for a walk into an open market in Guangzhou. We had to go off the island to get to it. It is very typical of the open markets all over China where people go to purchase food, herbs for medicine, pets, etc. It was extremely interesting and was alot like what we imagined it would be. The smells here are very distinct and the market is no different. If anything it is amplified in the market due to all of the open bins of food, spices and herbs. It was definately a very interesting walk and we are so glad that we were able to see this side of China.

The weather warmed up a bit today so we were able to get outside more. We all are feeling better today. Ashlyn can say "Uh oh" now when something drops. She is really coming along. She also waves "hi" and "bye" to everyone we pass now that speaks to her (which is almost everyone). They all think she is so cute...we agree!

Tomorrow we will go to the Consulate appointment for our oath taking ceremony. Then on Friday we will get her visa to come home. Only two more days left here...we are ready to get home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy 30 Something Birthday

Ok... Last night I ate way too much at a Cantonese restaurant. I paid my dues today, so I'm done with Chinese food for the rest of the trip. All three of us were feeling under the weather today, so we spent the day in the room. Gretchen ordered a birthday cake this afternoon. It was a good looking cake, but it was covered with fruit, even in the icing. Not exactly our idea of a traditional cake, but it was nice none the less.

It's great to be one day closer to coming home. China is a wonderful place, but we are ready. Guangzhou is a bit more westernized than other parts of China. We don't get the curious stares we did in Nanning, and the food is much better. One thing that is hard to adjust to is how dirty everything is. The air is typically so polluted there are very few days you can see the sky. The water is a dark brown color, with debris constantly floating by. Yet we are told everything is much cleaner than it was just a few years ago.

Sorry we don't have much to speak of today... Pretty slow day. Tomorrow, we head to the open market. It should be interesting, since they sell everything that should or should not be eaten.

On a side note: My nephew, Chris, goes into surgery in a couple of hours to deal with a bone infection. Please keep him in your prayers.

Take care.- Don

Monday, November 2, 2009

Visit to the Temples

This morning we headed out to a Buddhist Temple and the Chen Family Temple. The Buddhist Temple was pretty, but it was just not for us. We did, however, enjoy the Chen Family Temple, which was a home owned by the wealthiest family in the city and later became a meeting place. It has never been used for any religious purposes.

The wood carvings were beautiful. It is all opened to a big courtyard full of plants and Bonsai trees. It is a very relaxing place to be. We really enjoyed strolling around the home.
Ashlyn is doing better today. She has not had a fever since this morning and she was in a much better mood today. She even allowed Daddy to hold her a bit more today.

Tonight we had dinner at a Cantonese restaurant and to our surprise the food was very good! We ate dinner with the other 4 families in our group. They are a neat group of people and I really hope that we can stay in touch with them once we get home. One of the families in our group actually lives a couple of miles from us!! What a small world!!

Tomorrow is Donny's birthday, so don't forget to wish him a happy birthday!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jade Market and Pearl Market

Ashlyn woke up this morning with a fever of 100 degrees from the shots. I gave her some more Motrin and it went away, but while we were out shopping it came back. She is cranky, probably because of body aches. The good news is that her TB test is flat as can be. What an answer to prayer, since she received the BCG when she was an infant. This usually produces a false positive TB test and then they have to do a chest x-ray to check for TB. She is having absolutely no reaction to it!! We are extremely happy about this.

Yesterday we went shopping around the island and bought lots of neat things. Donny even found a 7 eleven that serves icees! We were able to find everything that the kids asked for. They will be very happy when we get home.

Today we went to the Jade Market and were able to get quite a few things there including a gorgeous tea set for me.

Then we were off to the pearl market. They hand string the pearls for you and hand make the earings. It was a really neat experience. Thank goodness Ashlyn is such a good shopper because we were out for hours!!

The rest of the day we will probably just hang out here since she is not feeling well. We are going to dinner with our group tonight to a really nice Italian restaurant on the island. Tomorrow we will be sightseeing all day. We are having fun, but we are counting the days until we get home to our babies.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallowenn and Shots

......LOTS and LOTS of shots!!!

This morning we went to the Medical Examination Office to get Ashlyn's medical checkup done. She passed everything and weighs 19 pounds! Woo Hoo..we put a pound on her so far! Then it was time for her TB test and her vaccinations. She needs to be caught up on her vaccinations in order to receive her Visa to enter the US. She received a total of SIX shots this morning!!
S..I..X!!!!!! And they s..l..o..w..l..y gave them to her one at a time. It was pure torture for her and her poor Mommy and Daddy who had to watch. Our poor guide was holding on to me so tightly too. I could tell she felt bad for her as well. Ashlyn was in my lap and I was holding her as tight as I could and Kelly was holding me as tight as she could. Like I said, it was pure torture.

After that we went to lunch at Lucy's. It was delicious. Donny had a hamburger and I had a club sandwich, both with french fries. It was nice to feel a little closer to home.

Most people speak English here, since all the Americans come through Guangzhou to go home. It is where the American Consulate is located. It is very pretty here to. We are on an island next to the Pearl River. All of the old buildings and gardens have a very European feel to them, since the Europeans built the buildings here long ago.

Shopping is much better here too. Very specific to tourists. Yes, Lianna, we found you a silk dress today. I know that is the first thing you will ask (smile)!!

So now I am off to do paper work while Ashlyn sleeps. She did well on the plane ride here. A bit fussy, but it was dinner time / bed time by the time we made it here.

We are having a great time, but miss our kids alot!! At least we are half way home.


Oh, I did get to meet my bloggy friend, Diane, and her sweet Tia at the medical exam. Poor little Tia had to get 7 shots today. So unfair!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Off to Guangzhou

Today has been a quiet day. We ate breakfast, took a walk around The People's Park, and now Ashlyn and Gretchen are taking a nap before we leave. I'll never get over how everyone stares when we walk by. As we walk down the street, there is not hardly a person that doesn't suffer from whiplash as we walk by. I would say its like being a celebrity, but its probably closer to being someone who is eight feet tall and not famous. Curiosity aside, the people are very friendly and hospitable.

Nanning has been a very memorable place. It is a city filled with young people. The streets are alive all hours of the day and night. The pace is fast, everyone is going somewhere, so you don't see much loitering outside of the park. However, the park seems to embody the culture in many ways. The sounds of music fill the park as choirs sing, instruments play, and people dance. It is really amazing to see the arts on public display in so many ways. These are people who are often too poor to eat more than once a day, and they embrace life in amazing ways.

The influence of the U.S. is clear hear as well. All of the clothing here has English words or references to America. The news is constantly speaking of relations between the U.S. and China. There is significant pride in their country, and respect by the U.S. is symbolic of their prosperity. The NBA is extremely popular, with all of the TNT games being rebroadcast on CCTV in Chinese. Even the stores and restaurants play American music.

I'm hoping Guangzhou has better food. Its not been that bad, but I have had all of the fried rice I can handle at this point. Outside of Pizza Hut, there really hasn't been any other positive food experiences. Those of you familiar with my typical meat and potatoes diet should not be surprised. When I get home, I intend to grab a tall glass of iced tea with ICE (since we can't have any here)!!!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Visit to Qing Xiu Mountain

Alot of you have asked about the temperature here. The temperature has been in the high 80's while we have been here, although it is warming up today. The humidity has been high the past two days so we are sweating as we walk around. It is a lot like back home.

Thre is not a lot of AC in some of the stores and businesses, but the hotel has AC and it is fine. The climate is very much like south the Miami area.

Ashlyn continues to do well. She has become a bit more attached to Mommy than to Daddy, but she still does well with him. It is when she thinks he is going to take her from me that she gets fearful. I don't think that she had much interaction with men. All of her caretakers have been women.

Today we went to Qing Xiu mountain, or Green Mountain. It is called Green Mountain because there are more trees and vegetation there than anywhere else in Nanning. The air is alot fresher up there too. At the top of the mountain is a 9 story pagoda. When you climb to the top you can see all of Nanning (that is, if it is not too smoggy). We were fortunate today. It was the least smoggy day since we arrived. We actually could see the sun...not the sky, the sun. I don't think they ever see the sky. It is much more smoggier here than in Beijing. They moved the factories out of Beijing's city limits a couple of years before the Olympics so the smog is much better now. Our guide there told us that about two years after they did that, she saw the sky for the first time in her life!! Can you imagine!! They don't get to see clouds or stars!

Tomorrow we are on our own. Then we take a 6:45 flight to Guangzhou tomorrow evening. Please be praying for Ashlyn as we fly an hour to our next destination. I think that she will do fine. She loves to ride in the van.

By the way, she loves fried rice!! She ate it for dinner last night and lunch today. Mommy can make that! Thank you, Jesus!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Day in Nanning

Ashlyn continues to do well. We are still calling her by her Chinese nickname ~ You You (prononced Yo Yo) and throwing in Ashlyn on occasion. She responds to both so we will just keep doing this for a while. Yes, now we have a No No (Noah's nickname) and a Yo Yo. Too cute!

She again slept through the night and is doing very well with this transition. I got her to eat two jars of baby food for dinner last night, so that was very good. She tried some of my noodles (one tiny piece at a time) and was doing good then the texture of one of the noodles hit the back of her throat and she started gagging. So no more noodles after that.

After her nap yesterday we took her to the People's Park right around the corner. It is an amazing place to go. We wish we had one of these near us. People are all over the park doing fan dances, Tai Chi, Latin Ball Room dancing and there are also singing and instrumental groups. It is a very neat glimpse at the arts in this area. It doesn't matter what time of the day, these things are always going on. It is a huge park on a big lake that has walking paths. This is where the people of the city come to relax. Lots of people with lots of babies. There is a children's amusement park in the park. There are big rides, like bumper cars, ferris wheel, games, etc. We have been there the past two days. I am sure we will continue to visit until we leave.

Today we were suppose to go to Ashlyn's birth town, but we decided that a 6 hour, plus riding around the town, car trip would be a bit too much for her. So instead we went to the Minority park and bought some gifts for the kids. It was beautiful and we got some really beautiful pictures.

After that our guide took us to the mall where Donny has been stocking up on DVDs. You can get them here for 3 US dollars a piece. He bought movies that are not even out yet in the States, like GI Joe and the Surrogate. You are probably thinking...But they are in Mandarin. Every DVD here asks if you want to watch it in English or Mandarin. He says he's not done shopping for DVDs yet. He's getting as many as he can.

And lastly we ate at Pizza Hut again today for lunch. The cheese pizza tastes the same as the cheese pizza back home. All the other pizzas had wierd things on them, like corn and other things you would not get back home. It's funny that pizza is the least thing they have on the menu, most of the menu is Chinese type foods.

After she wakes up from her nap I am sure we will be heading back to the People's Park for another stroll. Donny is determined to get pictures of all of the people staring, especially now that we have her with us.

Talk to you again soon!!
~ Gretchen

PS...Aunt Donna, the 12 month clothes that we brought for her fit her as long as they are dresses or elastic waist. If they are not elastic waist then they need to be 6 - 9 month size. Even with the elastic waist we are still pulling up our britches a little. She is so TINY!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Amazed by Our Baby Girl

We are absolutely amazed at how our baby girl is reacting. There has been absolutely no fear in her at all. She is taking a nap right now so I wanted to write to you all about our experience so far with her.

First she has not shed one single tear the entire time she has been with us. When we met her in the room she came right to me because apparently her favorite book was the photo album that I sent to her back in April. She knew who we were!! God is so good!! What an answer to prayer. She has been completely comfortable with us the entire time and NEVER wanted to go back to anyone else. In fact, she pulls away from them. She goes to both Donny and I without hesitation. It is just amazing. It is like she has just been waiting on us to come and get her. She knows that she belongs with us. When we went down to make the adoption official this morning and she was with the people from her orphanage again, she wouldn't let Donny put her down.

Within 20 minutes of meeting her she was smiling at me. This was before we had gone back up to our room. Once in our room I had her laughing. What a cute laugh. She is EXTREMELY ticklish!!

We did find out that her cleft palatte has not been repaired. This means that she does not eat much..probably why she is so tiny. We will have to have her surgery probably in February. She can not use a bottle, so I have to feed her with the scoop from the powdered formula. She drinks well from this. I did bring a sippy cup with a silicone tip that she can bite to get fluid out. She finally figured it out today, so hopefully she will get use to it enough for me to put the formula in it. She has only eaten fish congee (like a watery rice porridge) and some bananna her whole life. She also nibbles on cookies that are thin. She could eat more if she wanted to, like scrambled eggs and such. So last night after she had eaten some Gerber graduates snacks I thought I would feed her some eggs. I found out quickly that she does not like texture. She spit the bit of egg on the floor and BEAT it with the water bottle. I emphasized beat because she demolished that egg. I don't think there was anything left when she was done with it. We were laughing so hard. She just looked at us and gave us her signature toothy grin..too cute!

After we got back to the room she spent the rest of the evening just playing around. Looking at her books and photo album and playing with her baby dolls. We skyped with the kids and that was really fun! Then she took a bath which she also LOVES. I took her out and put her in her new jammies. What a princess! She LOVES clothes!! She stroked her clothes and kept looking at them in the mirror and smiling. Daddy is in T R O U B L E!!!

From there she laid on me and went straight to sleep. She slept from 8:30 until 7:00 when we woke her up this morning. After we got back from lunch today I laid down with her until she fell asleep and then I put her back in her crib. Donny and I looked at each other and he said, "This is too easy."

I know it will get hard, but we are so happy that she is so content and comfortable with us right now. She is such a love!

Lastly, the orphanage gave us two gifts today. One was a photo album. The other was the clothes she was found in. One of the articles was a hand crocheted sweater that a memeber of her birth family must have knit for her. What a treasure God has blessed us with!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ashlyn is Finally Ours!!

We met Ashlyn for the first time at 3:30 this afternoon. There were 4 other families also meeting their children at the same time. As you might imagine, their weren't many happy children. Ashlyn was the exception. She recognized us from the photo album we sent her and was immediately comfortable. She was smiling within minutes in her mother's arms. The Lord truly blessed us with a wonderful introduction.

Also - Gretchen wanted me to point out that she is wearing a 6-9 month outfit we sent her a while back. It is falling off of her. We just weighed her and she weighs 18 pounds!! And I thought our other kids were small...