Friday, December 16, 2011

For Jillian...a love letter...

To my sweet Ying Ying Jillian (as you now call yourself),

You have been with our family for just over one month (one month and two days to be exact...because you are a girl who likes things just so...). I can scarcely believe where we've all been and what we've done over those four short weeks...and yet, here we are, safe at home, Christmas tree twinkling in the corner...and life continuing in it's normalcy all around us. It throws me for a loop every now and then as I contemplate you...and the miracle you are.

When you took your sister's hand and walked out of the Civil Affairs brave and so trusting of us, I knew you were special. I knew the prayers of many many friends and family...and indeed our own daily prayers for many months had been answered. I did not doubt that the hard times would come...the sadness...the confusion...the anger...the grief...but I saw in you, in those first few moments, the determination and the strength that is sure to see you through the inevitable hardships that come our way in life from time to time.

In the months we were waiting for China to tell us it was okay to come and get you, Mommy talked a lot with many other Mommies. In one e-mail...a very special Mommy told me that you would "wow" me every day. I believed her. And she was right.

Ying Ying are a miracle. A gift. I am so overwhelmed to call you daughter. I am so thankful for the days we've shared...and can't wait to see what the next 30 days...and years will bring.

You do, indeed, "wow" me. Every. Single. Day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


We have just passed the two week mark with Jillian...and we are amazed at just how far she has come. She had her first doctor's appointment yesterday...and received four immunizations. Today she is battling a fever...but is still just as sweet and smiley as she can be.

One of the things I worried most about was communicating with Jillian in the first few weeks. I can honestly say that this has been a non-issue. She makes her needs known by pointing (and saying the Chinese words as well). We just keep trying until we get it right. She shakes her head no until we do...and has been so patient with us! Additionally, she really seems to understand what we are saying to her! She follows directions like, "Put it in the trash can", "Give it to Lia", and "Do you want to take a bath?" (which she LOVES now, by the way!).

And in the past three days or so, we have seen a small explosion of English words creeping in to her vocabulary. I wanted to take a minute to get those words down so I can remember one day how it all happened...

Lia (although she really calls Lia "Mia" so insistently, I jokingly asked Lia if we should change her name! :-))
thank you (SO cute!)
love you
bye bye

...and my favorite:

hello ("he-no" said with great gusto! :-)). She says this when she "answers" her play cell darling.

She has gotten much better about putting on different clothes each day...and yesterday picked a new pair of shoes from her closet to wear...the first pair since we got her. They happened to be two sizes too big...but they were sneakers like Lia had on...and she was so happy with them, that I just put them on and off we went. Still the cutest three year old ever...even with clown feet. :-)

We are still shaking our heads over how easily Jillian has fit into our family and lives. She is a joyful, determined, sweet, giving child. We are so so thankful and humbled by the blessing of having her home forever.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Settling in...and loving life.

Jillian continues to make big strides each day she is with us. It's hard to believe that it has only been two weeks since she walked into the Civil Affairs Office shaking her little head "no". We have all fallen hard for the little girl with the huge personality. She is a bit of a flirt...and a comedian...and one of the best snugglers I have ever come in contact with.

Lia will return to school tomorrow...and is looking forward to celebrating her (sayitisn'tso) 7th(!) birthday this week. It is one happy event after another around here these days...and we are hanging on tight, trying to take each and every one in for all it's worth. Life is good...and we are so thankful.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Home SWEET Home...

See you on the other side of jet lag!

With love and thanks for all the support!

Kate, Jim, Lia and Jillian :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

That's a wrap...almost!

We are packing up and getting ready to take the train to Hong Kong this afternoon. We will fly out tomorrow morning...Tokyo bound...and then, blissfully...Newark. Not gonna lie...I am extremely nervous about those two flights...and would appreciate good thoughts and prayers if you are so inclined. :-)

In a few hours we will take Yu Ying from the only life she has known. We cannot believe how far she has come in such a short time...but this is a hard thing. We love her to the moon and back and will do our level best to provide her with the best life we can. We will help her find her path...and love her unconditionally. I hope that is enough. Jim and Lia have gone out for some last minute shopping...and I took a minute to stand with Jillian at the window overlooking her birth I did with Lia six years ago...and I was overcome with it all...gratitude, worry, hope and doubt fueled by the weariness we are all feeling at this point. While I am anxious to get home...I don't want to rush these last hours we have in this beautiful country. I am trying to breathe it in...every last drop...because I know I will not walk this way again for some time. When we left with Lia...I already knew we would be back someday...but this is different. I am leaving here complete, so blessed with my girls...and ready to get on with the task of raising them. To get on with our happily ever after.

I will continue to post here from time to time...updates on Jillian's new life. I want to thank everyone who took the time to come send us encouraging notes and comments, who helped us financially...and who prayed for our journey to Jillian. You all have made a difference to us...and to that sweet girl we now call daughter. As a family...we will go about the business of paying it forward...with gratitude to those who helped bring us to this place. Xie Xie.

(this photo is for you, Irene. Lia brought her pink bear to China...but guess who claimed her?? We may be on the hunt for Pink Bear #3 for Jillian! :-))

No breakfast...but breakthroughs

As we near the end of this journey to Jillian, Jim and I both agree that it has been almost breezy (that's right...I said breezy...)compared to our first trip to China. We're not sure why...maybe because we knew more what to expect, maybe Lia made it easier for Jillian, maybe because we have a little more parenting experience under our belts...who knows??

But heartache comes even in the breeziest of adoption situations...and we have had a few rough days as Jillian tries to figure it all out. Yesterday morning she was so very happy about leaving the room for the elevators. But when we took a turn to the breakfast buffet...the dark storm clouds rolled in. We think she wanted to go back to the little playground they have here...and there was just no communicating that we would go AFTER we ate. Finally...I decided to bring her back to the room while Jim took Lia to eat. That poor sweet baby girl just cried and cried...probably close to an hour of LOUD wailing. No attempts to console her I just let her cry it out. She broke my heart into a thousand pieces along the way...but I truly felt it was more grieving than not getting her way. And I needed to let her do that...and stand by her side for when it was over.

(and let me just assure you all that Jillian was NOT reaching for me as it apprears in this photo...any attempts to get closer to her only resulted in more crying. Poor thing.)

When she finally began to calm down, I convinced her onto my lap and we blew bubbles until Jim and Lia returned. She ate some breakfast they brought for her...and all was well.

Until it was time to go out again...and she needed to wear a sweatshirt. We planned to walk for awhile...and it was just too chilly for her favorite Tar*get shirt. She was not inclined to put ANY of the options we gave her on...and what ensued is what I like to call a "Chinese stand-off". Jillian clearly understood that we could not leave until she picked one of the three sweaters I laid out...but standing by the door glaring at me seemed a better choice. Jim, Lia and I sat calmly on the bed waiting for her to make a choice. For about twenty minutes. Finally, the tears came...and we endured crying for the second time. This time, she cried herself right to sleep.

...and she woke up two hours later...a changed girl. We got ready to go out again...and when I held up her little sweatshirt...over she came, put it on...and off we went. Like magic. Jim and I kept looking at each other sideways...waiting for the other shoe to drop...but it never did. Jillian was affectionate, followed our directions, held our hands when asked...and really could not have been more charming and, more importantly, happy.

Feeling secure enough to let Daddy help her try on one of the new pair of shoes we have for her. She didn't keep them on long...but a move in the right direction!

I feel like that was a huge breakthrough. When we got home, she couldn't get her clothes off fast enough to jump in the tub with Lia. She wore clean pajamas that we laid out for her. And she didn't want her socks OR shoes on to sleep.

Sweet little piggies...she loves to rub her feet on the sheets as she falls asleep at night:

This morning, we had our appointment at the American Consulate to take an Oath of Citizenship on Jillian's behalf. We had to be ready early...and I was worried about getting Jillian in clean clothes. Once again, she changed out of her pajamas without a backward glance and put on the outfit I had laid out. Shocked is an understatement...

We are so so thankful for how far Jillian has come in one short week...and how trusting she is becoming. We are so proud of Lia for working so hard to be the best big sister. It is a lot to take on so quickly when you are almost 7...but our big girl has once again made us so grateful to call her daughter.

I had a chance encounter at the Consulate with a middle aged Chinese man. He sat down beside me and was asking about Jillian. He said she looked "happy" and that her face was "happy"...and that we were so lucky to be adopting her. I held up Lia's hand on my other side...and agreed with him that I was, indeed lucky...TWO times over. Our road to parenthood was a long one....but here, on this side of it, I would not change one thing about it. We are ready for the next complete...dreams exceeded. Let the good times roll...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lazy Sunday in Southern China

Not much to write today. We slept in until almost 6 am...which is actually great news. I have lost that "running into walls" stupor I have slugged around for over a week. We enjoyed the buffet breakfast here at our hotel. Jillian is a fairly good eater...but prefers starches and meat over any kind of fruit. Jim carried her around the whole buffet one morning and lifted each lid so she could see what it was. She either gave a small nod "no" or pointed her finger at what she did want. Not surprisingly, we got the most support in the Chinese food section...with steamed bread rolls and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves being her favorites. Now I am also addicted to the sticky rice (which has the funniest label on it...something like "glutinous rice steamed in lotus leaves" wonder I originally passed it up. They could use some advertising expertise on that one!).

Yeah...I led with a report from breakfast. This COULD be the most boring post ever. Sorry.

After breakfast, we visited the Pearl Market. We bought Jillian a string of pearls for her wedding day at the same store as we did for Lia. Then, our guide, Kelly, took us to another small store so Lia could pick out some Pandora like charms and have a bracelet made. She loved that...and we loved being off the beaten path a little bit. Kelly got us started and then left to help other families. Lia does not seem to notice or be bothered by the fact that no one can understand her English. She just chatted away to the sales girl about Jillian...and was satisfied with the polite smiles she got in return. :-)

After the Pearl Market, we returned to see the Chen Family Temple. We toured there with Lia as well in 2006. It is a beautiful Temple with such ornate carvings. We were able to tour freely and the girls really enjoyed running around on the grounds.

We returned to the hotel at we walked across the street for McDonald's. Our hotel has a small outdoor park and we took the food there and had a picnic. It was glorious to 1) not be eating in the hotel room...and 2) not to have to worry about maintaining restaurant manners. :-)

(Why yes...that IS the same shirt she has been wearing for four days. The one I snared for 1.00 at Tar*get the week before we left because I was worried about not having cool enough clothes. The one that is too big. The one that she sleeps in as I type this right now. But we are slowly making some progress...tomorrow's post... :-)).

While Jillian napped, Lia and I worked on her homework (DONE! THANYOUVERYMUCH...and Mrs. M...if you are reading this let me just apologize ahead of time for any re-teaching you may have to do on that whole "using addition to understand subtraction" unit. I apparently cannot use addition to understand subtraction...let alone teach it to someone else. We have now determined that homeschooling will NOT be in our futures...).

We plan to take the girls out for a bite close by tonight...and look forward to a quiet day tomorrow as well.

Tuesday, we will travel to the US Consulate to take an oath of Citizenship for Jillian. Wednesday, we receive the necessary papers to leave China with Jillian. We will take the train to Hong Kong, stay overnight...and then fly out Thursday morning for home sweet home. Thanksgiving indeed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Red Couch gone wrong...very very wrong...

First of all...I want to thank you all for taking the time to comment here and/or on Facebook or e-mail. Your words of encouragement mean the world to us here. I wish I had time to respond and thank each of your personally. We are grateful.

All families from the United States must end their adoption trip in Guangzhou. The American Embassy here finalizes the visas for the children to be able to enter the US. The standard trip here is one week in Province with your child to complete the Chinese side of things...and they roughly one week here. (It just happens that Jillian is in Guangdong Province, where Guangzhou is we stay put for our entire trip.

Many of the facilities related to the adoption are located on Shamian Island and most of the families stay right on the island. There is a huge hotel there called "The White Swan" that caters to adoptive families. We ended our trip for Lia there in 2006. On the second floor, there are red velvet couches...and it is tradition to take a "red couch photo" with your travel group...with all the children adopted from each province. We have a fabulous photo from our Shaanxi travel group...11 babies...2 tipped over, 7 crying, 1 crawling out of the photo. Priceless.

But alas...much to our disappointment, the White Swan closed for renovations in August.

We couldn't stay there.

I was cheered immensely when I found out I could still go in the first two floors. The red couches are on the second floor. The White Swan totally hooked us up. :-)

Today, after getting Jillian's TB test read (she doesn't have it...eliminating TB as one of the causes of her hacking cough. Ha!)...we mosied on over to the old White Swan with visions of photographic genius dancing in our (okay MY) minds.

There were a few complications.

1) Jillian is still VERY attached to her clothes. We bribed her mightily in order to get a clean shirt on today...but we won only with the addition of the pants she wore from the orphanage (I had them laundered). I guess that's a draw...but it doesn't matter because an apple juice spill at lunch that drenched us both demanded a change into the only dry shirt I had...which Jillian put on with no problem. Jim thinks maybe we should dump some apple juice on her pajamas in the morning in order to facilitate a quick pajama change (not happening now!) to make it to the breakfast buffet in a more timely fashion....apparently we can be a little snarky when we're hungry. :-)

2) Jillian didn't really CARE about tradition and the red couch. Apparently NOT important to her.

3) Lia didn't really care about tradition and the red couch either.

So...I think you are getting the picture here. Epic fail. Except, like most times, I adore the outtakes almost better than perfectly posed photos...and I imagine these will find their way onto my walls at some point. They really kind of capture our day...and our time here.

Our day started calmly enough at 5 am with some coloring...

But by early afternoon...the girlies were done.

The look I got when I asked her to get on the couch:

Big sister was not much help:

She cracks herself up. And if Mommy gets aggrevated...even funnier...

The only cooperative family member. I shudder to think what HE captured on his camera...

...and, so, without further ado...I bring you Red Couch Photos Gone Wrong...

There ends this day in China. They are numbered now...hard to believe. We completed and turned in the paperwork for our Consulate appointment on Tuesday...and I am not ashamed to say that I felt a huge weight lifted off of me in doing that. I have been paper chasing for both of our adoptions since 2005...and I am ready to hang up my pen!!! :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Beginnings and endings...

...I'm convinced this trip to China is made of them.Ups and downs...highs and lows. I feel like the whole trip is a marathon...and we are sort of at the point where we would like to hit that runner's high thankyouverymuch. I continue to fight the desire to wake at 4 am...and am ready to crash by 7 pm. I see the weariness in my travel group's faces...and I know I mirror that. This morning, my heart ached when an experienced mom OF TWINS no less, traveling without her husband and children, dealing with a very sick little girl...stopped to ask me if I thought everything was alright with her daughter. She had tears in her eyes as she told me that her baby girl spent a good deal of time banging her head on the crib mattress at bedtime...and was also slapping her from time to time. While no expert...I was able to relate my experiences with Lia...and I could honestly tell her that it WILL get better. There is just no way around the heartache that invariably comes with this journey...the worry, the what-ifs, the anger at the injustice of it all...and finally the hope and conviction that we ARE doing the right thing...and that it really will be alright.

We spent an easy morning shopping at a nearby mall. Jillian has been very attached to her shoes. Our attempts to lure her with shiny new ones have been met with no interest. We bought her a new pair of Chinese shoes today at the mall. The salesgirl talked to her in Chinese and she allowed us to measure her feet...but so far the new shoes are still in the box.

This afternoon we visited Jillian's orphanage. The trip out of the city took about 25 minutes. The weather was rainy and gloomy for the first time since our arrival...and I found myself glad to have everyone with me.

When we arrived, we were met by the director. She told us the children in Jillian's classroom were just cleaning up from a birthday party. We waited a few minutes before we were able to go upstairs and see the room where Jillian has been attending pre-school. Most of the children at the orphanage actually live with foster families in apartments near the facility. They come for the day at the orphanage...having class in the morning, lunch, nap and then an afternoon class. We got to meet the nannies who were in teh birthday photos we received the week before we traveled. They were so glad to see Jillian...and she seemed glad to see them as well. She stayed securely in Jim's arms...but smiled a lot.

Next we saw the sleeping quarters where Jillian slept...before she was in foster care...and for the weeks leading up to our travel as they returned her to the orphanage in preparation for us (not our choice). The room was extremely neat and clean...but it was still very emotional to see SO MANY little beds. This was the only time Jillian became visibly upset too...shaking her head no when Jim started to walk in the room. He just stayed in the hall with her and she was okay with that.

Finally...we got to see the children from Jillian's class. They had just finished school for the day and were all seated in a room, watching tv and having a snack. This was teh most emotional portion of our visit. While all of the children seemed happy and well cared was difficult to imagine that some of them might never know the love of a forever family. One little boy with a bilateral (repaired) cleft lip ran right up to us and said, "hi". took every fiber of self restraint not to pick him up and run out of there.

We finished our rather short visit by giving the director the donations we carried for the orphanage. She seemed very thankful and she was visibly emotional when she told us that Jillian "was very cute and I love her very much". Jim asked if she had an e-mail address and she gave it to us. She asked us to send photos and let her know how Jillian is doing. I am so happy to have this connection to Jillian's early years.

Again...I know this post is all over the place and jumbled. I just want to get my thoughts down now so I don't forget them. It was an extremely emotional day for us...but it also seemed that Jillian undertood that she is one of us now. We saw a marked difference in her personality after the visit. Our attempts to teach her english words has backfired and she is now insisting we say xie xie da-shu (???) when she hands us something. One other thing we learned yesterday is that Jillian's foster mother is Jillian speaks a mixture of Mandarin and Contonese. Our guide for the visit yesterday told us that...which is probably why our other guide has not understood some of the words she is saying.

It was a difficult day...but I am so glad we were able to have the opportunity to visit Guangzhou City SWI. We will not doubt reflect on this visit a lot in the coming years.

The names of the children who stay in this room. Jillian's is the first name.

These are the children who were in school with Jillian. The older girl is back from Foster Care because her family is coming this week to meet her for their adoption.

The director with our family.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Big Strides... bath time. It rolled around again today, like it always does. :-) Lia gave it her level best to make that water and those stacking cups look like the BEST fun ever. Jillian and Jim viewed it all from behind the window that looks into the bathroom from the bedroom. (and here...I feel the need to digress. While WE have found some use to the window...would most people? There is a shade that can go up and down...but really...what WOULD be the proper situation to put that blind UP????)

Jillian watched and laughed all from the safety of the bedroom. I got Lia out and we started to dry her off. I planned to try Jillian's bath after our McDonald's dinner (yum!). The next thing I knew Jillian got up and came into the bathroom. She went on the potty...AND THEN STRIPPED OFF THE REST OF HER CLOTHES. I wasted no time in filling the tub again...and in she went. She had a ball. She did everything Lia had done...and loved every minute of it. And we even got her reasonably clean. :-)


What a difference a day makes. We continue to be amazed with Jillian and Lia...and are so proud to call them each daughter.

In official business...Jillian passed her medical exam for her exit visa with flying colors. She charmed all of the clinic personnel...and didn't even cry when they administered her TB test. We will return to Shamian Island on Saturday to have that read.

Tomorrow we will visit Guangzhou City SWI. After talking to our guide and feeling good about Jillian's adjustment, we have decided to take both girls with us and go as a family.

We are half way through our trip to Jillian. In some ways that doesn't seem possible...and in other ways I feel like we have been here for months. We are excited to take in some local sightseeing in the next few days...with visits planned for several parks and a temple.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and good thoughts. We definitely feel them.

This one's for you, Laura! Jillian loves the soft nightgown. It's way too hot...but she won't take it off. :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Settling In

WE have made some big strides in the last 24 hours. We had Jillian watch Lia in the tub last night. Lia was MOST excellent in hamming it up and having a blast with the bath toys (ha!). Jillian stood by the tub with me laughing so hard and babbling on in Chinese. So stinking cute!

So...I thought it was time to bite the bullet. She did not like having her clothes removed...and the bath was more of a stand in the water, it takes three people to help...and you get partially clean kind of thing...but as soon as we wrapped her in a towel and she was safe in Jim's arms, she was fine. I massaged her with some lotion a little bit, which she also seemed to like. She was fine when I dressed her in some clean pajamas...and LOVED having her hair brushed. Success!

This morning, she started to get upset when I took of her pajama bottoms...but relaxed when I pulled on a different pair of leggings. I think she thought I was going to put her in the tub again. :-)

The girls spent part of the morning playing in the room. Lia made them hats (always crafting...even in China!)...and then fixed Jillian hair in sweet little pigtails. Jillian was thrilled when she saw herself in the mirror...and watching them together made me just as thrilled. Lia continues to make us so proud in assuming her big sister role. She is extremely protective of Jillian...even getting frustrated with me when she thinks I am not doing something correctly...imagine that! :-)

Our group then took a walking trip to a nearby mall where we scored some underwear in 12-18 month size that should fit Jillian a little better. :-)

Everyone is napping now and in a few hours, we will head to Shamian Island to do passport stuff for Jillian...and shop!

That's it from China today...we are starting to look ahead to coming home. We are enjoying our time here, getting to know Jillian...but we can't wait to get her home!

She is ours

Today we returned to the Civil Affairs Office for our official adoption Day. WE had no problem assuring the official that we were happy with Jillian and that we would provide her the best life we could. Jillian was so mellow during the appointment. We continue to shake our heads at her easy-going manner!

She has become a bit of a Daddy's girl during the course of the day. I made her mad when I tried to put a pull up on her before our appointments. She won that battle and we packed extra clothes in case of an accident. She slept through the night dry...and stayed dry today as well. The whole potty thing was one of my biggest concerns and I anticipated some accidents until we all figured it out...but she has made herself clear about not wanting a pull up...and continues to let us know when she needs to go. We took her to her appointments in the same clothes she came in. She got upset even looking at the clothes I have for her...shaking her head no and brushing me of with her hand.

This afternoon she watched Lia take a bath and became so animated and giggly that I thought I would give it a try with her. She cried mightily when I took her clothes off (upsetting Lia SO much!)...but we got her to stand in the tub and cleaned her in some manner. She seemed to accept her new pajamas happily and was soon back to her happy self. Tomorrow we will have some time to shop on Shamian Island in the morning and then apply for Jillian's passport in the afternoon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tonight there is one less...

We received Jillian this afternoon. Of our group of four families, she was the first to be brought out. The two nannies who accompanied her talked to her a bit and pointed at us a lot. Jillian's just shook her head no...and her little eyes welled up (but not a tear was shed!). Once we moved to a couch area to sit down, I had Lia sit beside her. We just spoke quietly to her and rubbed her back and arm a little bit from time to time. I could not have been more proud of Lia. She definitely made Jillian feel more comfortable. Slowly we introduced some toys...and before I knew it, Jillian was high five-ing and laughing out loud at our silly antics with goldfish crackers. She is quite adept with her short arm and in no time, was navigating a snack trap cup to get some goldfish eat, to feed to Lia...and eventually to me.

Her favorite toy was the play cell phone we brought...and she loved pushing the buttons and looking for Jim...who would then open HIS phone and "answer". The nannies said over and over how smart Jillian is...and used the word "easy-going" at least three times. So far we can agree!

When it was time to leave, Lia took Jillian's hand and walked her to the elevator. I had to pick her up to get her in the elevator...and she fussed for a moment...but got over it soon...and rode home on the bus on my lap.

Back here, at the hotel, we just let her play. She has a bit of a runny nose...and when I brought a tissue, she very sweetly blew her nose! Then...every time her nose would run, she started pointing to the tissue box for me to get busy. I stole a little kiss each time I did her nose. :-)

Jim and Lia elicited belly laughs by pretending to fall on the bed. We have it on tape...will post soon.

She was wearing a diaper when we met her, but her nanny said they put it on her only because the ride/day was long. When I took off her diaper, she was still dry...and she proceeded to use the potty. She let me know she had to go later as well.

She is smaller than I anticipated. We may be doing some fast shopping for a few outfits and shoes. What I brought for Lia in 2006 was a bit too small. It seems I am not a great extrapolator of size estimates. :-)

She speaks more Cantonese dialect than Mandarin. We throught this might be the case...but so far language does not seem to be throwing her and she has already repeated "all done".

Jillian brushed her teeth after watching Lia do it...but not sure she was overly fond of the flavor. She already seems to understand, at least in part, our English instructions.

I know this post is jumbled...just wanted to get down my thoughts and get some quick, unedited (how that pains me!) photos up. Right now, both girls are sleeping on Lia's bed. Jillian let me snuggle her a bit...but then pointed plainly to Lia laying on her bed. I laid down on her other side...and in no time, we were all sleeping. I got up eventually...but I am letting sleeping dogs lie with the girls. We will try a bath with Jillian tomorrow. I remember how traumatized Lia seemed by her first bath, the first night we had her...and while I really wanted to get Jillian in the tub...her security trumps that. For tonight at least. Other than the training pants I put on her, she sleeps in the clothes she came in. :-)

All in all...not a bad first day. :-) We are blessed beyond reason.

And now...onto the good stuff...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I couldn't think of a title for this post. So much I want to say...and I can't find the words. We are here in Guangzhou, sleeping tonight under the same moon and stars as our Yu Ying. Tomorrow she will become Jillian Snow...and so perfectly fill that empty place, we, her family, have been carrying around for four long years.

I could write about how prayers were answered for a safe (if not very long and brutal) flight. How we successfully maneuvered our way from Newark to Hong Kong to Guangzhou...and lost one day in the process due to time differences (but bonus for us because we travel BACK on Thanksgiving, thus giving us TWO Thanksgivings. But probably no turkey on Air Napon. We'll see..)I could write how Lia is a true travel rock star who is successfully charming everyone from taxi drivers to bellboys. How tonight that girl, so tired from jet lag she has barely eaten all day (please pray), asked for her crayons to make her mom and dad a card congratulating us. With a small attachment for her baby sister. How, as I type in this far-away from home hotel room, with my husband and my daughter sleeping away, I can barely keep the tears from overwhelmed with it ALL, I am.

But, instead, tonight, the detail I would like to remember from the last 40 hours is the conversation I had with our guide, Kelly, as we made our way to our hotel room this afternoon. She told me she had seen Jillian last week when she visited the orphanage with another family. She observed Jillian taking part in a class of some sort where she was singing. And dancing. With great enthusiasm. Be.Still.My.Heart. I asked if Jillian had been told that we were coming...and Kelly said that she had been. Kelly herself, asked Jillian if her Mama and Daddy were coming for her...and she said Jillian didn't answer. She just smiled.

Sweet Yu Ying...tonight you sleep alone for the last time. Tomorrow, you will know the great big love of a Mama, a Daddy...and a big sister. You will never be alone again. And that sweet girl?? THAT makes your Mama smile.

We will meet Jillian at 2:30 pm tomorrow (1:30 am EST). Please pray for all of us...but mostly that sweet baby girl sleeping somewhere out very very close...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Travel Itinerary/Prayer Requests

My friend, Lisa, who traveled to China just about a month ago to bring home her sweet Millie Mei, posted an itinerary with specific prayer requests for each day of their trip. As I cheered her on from the other side of the world, these requests gave focus to me in my daily prayers for them and I was happy to support them in this specific way.

I have decided to do the same...and if you are so inclined we would be happy for your prayers and/or good thoughts during each day of the journey ahead!

November 11th/12th: Traveling. Leave Newark the afternoon of the 11th, to arrive in Hong Kong the evening of the 12th. Please pray for a safe and easy flight for all of us. I am not sure Lia has fully grasped the idea of 16 hours in flight...and for those of us who do....well...we need the prayers.

November 13th: We will take the noon train into mainland China. Please pray for safe travels and that we are able to figure out HOW to get to the train station as we will not meet our guide until we get to Guangzhou.

November 14th: Jillian Day. Please pray that somehow Jillian senses our love and is not too scared. Jim and I would appreciate prayers for a calm sense of direction as we guide our two daughters through a difficult transition. We hope that we are able to provide them BOTH with the support they need.

November 15th: We will go back to the Civil Affairs Bureau to do the adoption registration. This is our official adoption day in the eyes of the Chinese Government. Please pray that the return to the Office is not traumatic for Jillian...and that all paperwork is completed smoothly.

Novmeber 16th: A day for shopping! We ask for prayers for Jillian's continued bonding with us.

November 17th: Visa photo for Jillian/medical exam/TB test. We ask for prayers for Jillian's comfort...and that all of her tests get the all clear.

November 18th: I will be visiting the orphanage this morning. I ask for prayers for comfort and peace as I anticipate this to be very emotional. Also, I have been asked by several families to try to photograph their children and this weighs heavily on me. I would appreciate prayers that I am able to do that for them. Finally, I ask for prayers that I am able to adequately express our thank you to the staff who cared for our Jillian so lovingly for three years. I also ask for prayers for Jim as he takes care of both girls for the first time by himself while I am at the orphanage. :-)

In the afternoon we will be taking a sightseeing tour of Yuntai Park.

November 19th: Get results of TB test. Tour Yuexiu Park. Please pray for a clear TB test and continued bonding for our family.

November 20th: Sightseeing tour of Chen Family Temple. Please pray for our continued health and bonding.

November 21st: We will receive Jillian's passport. Please pray for our continued health and bonding.

November 22nd:We will travel to the American Consulate for Jillian's Oath Taking Ceremony. I remember this being very emotional for me with Lia. It is the last official act we need to complete before bringing Jillian to the US. We ask for prayers that everything goes smoothly.

November 23rd: We will receive Jillian's visa and then hop the train back to Guangzhou. We ask for prayers that we stay organized and healthy in getting us all packed up and ready for travel. We will spend the night in Hong Kong.

November 24th: Fly home! We will have a layover in Tokyo, Japan. We ask for prayers for safe travels and that all flights leave on time. This will be Jillian's first time in a plane and we ask that you pray for her comfort. We ask that you pray for Jim and I as this trip home is something we have been thinking (and worrying) about a lot in the past few months. We did not have an easy trip home with Lia...and while we got through it...we have no desire to repeat it. We pray that we all stay healthy, are able to sleep a little...and...dare I say...even try to enjoy the flight. :-)

We will arrive home on Thanksgiving afternoon....definitely a day of thanks for our family! Miss Jillian will officially become a US citizen the minute her feet hit the ground. In Newark.(I just know that should be followed by a "ba-dum-dum" on the drums...but this is a serious I will leave the ironic humor for another time). We ask that you pray for our quick trip through the immigration line with our paperwork and two tired girls. :-)

Our family has been showered with support from the moment we announced we were adding Jillian. I have stated it here before...but we are truly overwhelmed by the outpouring. We sincerely thank each and every one of you who has supported us in any way during this long journey. We have been blessed by you all in ways that I could never articulate. We are honored to have you all in our corner. Thank you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jillian turns 3 (really!)

Jillian turned 3 on October 24th. From the time we sent in our Letter of Intent (the first notice that let China know we would like to adopt Zhang Yu Ying) WAAAAAAAAAY back at the end of April, it was my goal to be in China in time for the big day. We missed it by mere weeks...and I'm not going to was hard!

But...3 is a big deal...and we couldn't let it go without fanfare. We sent a cake through the sweet Ann at Redthreads. We had used Ann back in the spring to send a care package to Jillian...and despite some serious dogging (all polite, I have no doubt)...we were unable (sob sob!) to get ONE PICTURE!!! Heartbreak city, peeps. Luckily, my agency came through with a few updates through the summer...each with a few photos. They kept us going...and made us fall a little more in love with each glance.

So...the cake. You KNOW I wanted photos. Jim and Lia wanted photos. But Ann, nicely, told us the chance of photos was zero. She asked us if we still wanted to send Jillian a cake. Of course we did. Expecting no photos, I was happy knowing that her day was special and that one day we could TELL her about the cake.

So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up today to 50...(that's right 5-0) photos from her party on the 24th. It has been the most unproductive day as we just keep going back to every photo, every expression, every piece of background art, the other children, the lovely fruit on the table, the way the nannies seem to care for the children...those oh-so cute hair clippies...that delicious smile as she looks at her cake. I am feeling over the top gratitude. For it all. For this child. For those who care for her. For her birth country. For the opportunity we have to call her ours. In 11 days. My heart is full...and my blessings overflowing. So...without further ado...onto the good stuff. The photos that made this mom's heart skip a beat. Happy happy birthday to my "big" little girl. :-)

(and a quick note about the "peace sign" they seem to be giving...I don't know why, but this is common in many photos I see from China. They do have three candles on her cake and do indeed know she is 3! (my mom thought they were having Jillian hold up two fingers...but no worries! She IS 3! :-)).