Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Im writing this from our room Tuesday night, but the hotel only has wifi in the lobby so I'll post it Wednesday morning. We are in Suzhou City. My only impression so far is that it's much bigger than I had imagined. I was thinking a small garden city, maybe a few hundred thousand people, but our guide said there are over 3 million people here. Not the quaint town I was expecting. We are staying at a nice Chinese hotel, similar to our hotel in Nanjing. They didn't have any adjoining rooms, so we got a king room and a 2-twins room, but we're all bunked together in the king room of course, Perry and me in the bed, Sarah and Abby on a pallet on the floor, and Mollie on the couch.

We'll check out tomorrow morning and head to the orphanage at 10:30. I'm nervous about this for Mollie, but I'm hoping that the orphanage will be able to talk to her and calm her fears. I'm also nervous for Sarah and Abby, because I think it will be hard to see all those precious children who don't have a family to love them. While we're there, we'll be looking for little girl who will meet her forever family in a few weeks. I met her mom online and can't wait to see this sweet girl and take pictures.
Sometime tomorrow we'll visit Mollie's finding spot. We'll tour the city a little and then head back to Nanjing. I'm not looking forward to the drive back. The drivers here are crazy. I don't know why they have lane markers, because no one stays in a lane. They weave in and put, honking their horns and cutting each other off constantly. They use the shoulder as a lane which is a real problem when they encounter a stalled car. I'm very thankful that Perry requested a new van with seat belts.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

More Gotcha

We ended our walk at Haagan-Dasz and Mollie got what was probably her first ice cream. She didn't like it at first, but then she ate almost the whole bowl. I think she's going to enjoy our weekly trips to The Whole Scoop!

I gave her a bath yesterday. She cried when I took her clothes off, and didn't want to get into the tub at first, but then she saw all the toys and got happy. She had a blast playing in the water. She bathed herself, hair and all, but she also allowed me to bathe her which is a very good sign for our bonding. It will be interesting to see if she shows any signs of confusion about who her family is once we get home, but it definitely seems like she's got us figured out and loves us as much as we love her. She has Papa wrapped around her finger and they really crack each other up.
She also adores her sisters. Abby loves to make her laugh, and Sarah likes to help her get dressed and read to her.
She is very good but she's trying to figure out the rules. She does things she knows she shouldn't do, and when we tell her "no" she cocks her head and gives us a really big grin, like she's saying "I'm so cute, how can you tell me no?". She reminds me of Lanie! Once yesterday I told her "no" in a stern voice, and she put on her backpack and told me "bye-bye"! I think I'm going to have my hands full!
She'll also start laughing hysterically if you scold her. She has an awesome laugh and it brings us so much joy.
She tucks her thumb on her right hand under a finger most of the time. I know this is related to her palsy, but it's cool because Abby tucks her thumb under two fingers. We noticed it right away and felt it was a family bond.
She slept great last night but woke up about 5:30. She fell asleep in my bed with me, but then we moved her to a crib With the side rail down, pushed up against my bed. She woke up slowly, not like a Turner, and sat in my arms for a long time. Then she and Abby shared some Cheerios.

This morning we went back to the Civil Affairs office and we signed the official adoption paperwork. There was another family there adopting a 7-year-old boy. They're from Chattanooga and already had 5 kids. Amazing. This was a quick, easy step in the process, except that Mollie got very sad and buried her face in my chest when she saw the orphanage workers. I have a feeling the orphanage visit could be hard for her, but it will also be good to give her closure.

We leave in an hour for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Suzhou. We'll spend the night there, visit her orphanage tomorrow, and come back tomorrow afternoon. I'm not sure what our Internet access will be like in Suzhou.
And this is what's happening right now...

Amazing Blessings!!!

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Gotcha! (again)

When we arrived at the Civil Affairs office at 10:15, Mollie was already there. We were the only family - some days there are as many as 10. I can't imagine that moment in a crowded room. I walked in and sat down next to her and the two orphanage workers. Finally I asked someone to get my camera, so there might be a few pictures of this. Mollie was very sad and/or mad at first. She kept her head down and pushed me away. Nothing worked, not candy or water or stuffed animals or even sweet sisters. But then she said she needed to use the bathroom, and the workers told me to take her. She allowed me to walk with her and show her where it was, but she told me bye bye once we got to it. I stayed with her, and she pointed to the (squatty) potty. I realized that I needed to help her use it. This was an interesting dilemma; I had just used one of these for the first time only two days ago, and now I needed to help a four-year-old use it! Yikes! I picked her up and held her over it, and that was our bonding moment!
When we walked out of the bathroom, her attitude had changed. She was still sad, but no longer mad. She sat in my lap and Perry's lap, but she still wouldn't look at us.

We took turns signing the Guardianship Agreement, which said that we would take care of her for 24 hours. At one point the tears started flowing down her face, and we all cried for her. I can't imagine how scared she must have been. She even wailed once, but just for a second when the orphanage workers left.
We went upstairs to get our family picture taken, and then it was over and we were headed back to the hotel in the van. The whole thing took less than an hour. We signed a few more papers back in the room and then headed out to lunch. She has a great appetite, isn't picky, and loves Pepsi! She was quite the ham at lunch. She likes to toast and wants everyone to clink glasses and say cheers!
We went back to the room and tried to get her to take a nap, but she kept laughing and popping up until finally we gave up and decided to go for a walk. Our hotel isn't great, but it's location is perfect. We're right next to a huge shopping market area with lots of souvenir-type stores. The girls found gifts for their teacher, each bought a fan, and we got them all Chinese dresses (I forgot what those are called!). Mollie slept for a few minutes in my arms.

We thought that we attracted a lot of attention when it was just the 4 of us, but now we are even more conspicuous and get more overt stares and pointing. Sarah and Abby are both OVER it and want me to tell everyone to stop taking pictures and touching their hair!
More to come...

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She was letting us touch her, but she wasn't ready to smile about it!

Sweet sisters.

Stickers are highly entertaining.

Group hug!

I'm not sure what was in that bag, but I need to buy a bunch before we leave. She ate the whole bag.

I have some more good ones but they aren't in my photo stream yet. Maybe tomorrow.

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Lost post

Sorry y'all. I just lost the post that I'd worked on for over an hour. I'm exhausted and now it won't even let me post pics. I'll try again tomorrow. Goodnight.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

One hour

We leave in an hour to go get Mollie. This morning we all wrote her notes to tell her what we were thinking and feeling. I'm asking the orphanage staff, and our guides, to write notes also. I think someday these will be very special to her.
We are all surprisingly calm. Sarah said she's excited and nervous, and that's how I feel too. I know I should feel more scared, since our lives will never be the same after this day, but I feel at peace.

"Then God's peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7. God's Word Translation

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Tomorrow, Tomorrow!

Filled with emotions...
Asking for prayers...
We will leave the hotel at 10am, and we are scheduled to meet at 10:30. That's 8:30pm Sunday in Birmingham. Please pray:

January 30: Gotcha Day!!! (Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 27)
•Pray for Mollie to be at total peace during this scary time
•Pray for the remaining orphans in China and throughout the world, that they may come to know the love of Christ through the love of a family
•Pray for us to have wisdom to know what Mollie needs.
•Pray for Sarah and Abby to be a blessing to Mollie and to show her the love of a family
•Pray that we will be able to nurture Mollie and help Sarah and Abby through this emotional day
•Pray for our first day and night together as a family.

And one additional request: please pray for better relations with our guide tomorrow and the rest of the week. I'm not sure what the issue was today, but Perry and I both felt like we weren't on the same page with her, and it was adding to our anxiety. We will be with her until Friday and she is supposed to be a resource and a calming presence; please pray that we are more patient with her and that she blesses our journey this week.

Zephaniah 3:17
New Living Translation (NLT)

17 For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

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Saturday, January 28, 2012


I forgot to post that I used the squatty potty - I know you were all wondering about that! At the Beijing airport, there were about 20 stalls but only 2 were western toilets. I decided to give it a try, and I have to say that the Chinese people are pretty smart! I mean, really, don't we all squat in a public restroom anyway? This just eliminates the nasty sprinkle on the seat!
Ok, sorry if that was TMI for you. I'm sure my mom won't like this post. But I wanted to blog about it so I would remember it!

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Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Beijing anymore! After walking around Beijing today and seeing Tiananmen Square, we decided that Beijing had a very "New York" feel to it. We've only been in Nanjing a couple of hours, and it's dark, but so far we're comparing it to New Orleans. Narrow streets, lots of little neighborhood stores, pretty lights everywhere, and people walking around everywhere. Abby said, "this place feels very "Chinesey".
We're also definitely not at the Hilton anymore. Our hotel has a grand lobby, but the rooms are old and dated. We're not "roughing it," but it's not 5 star by any means! A friend in my coffee group had tried to prepare me for this, but I'd decided that it couldn't be that bad. I was wrong, but we'll be fine. The good news is that our hotel in Guangzhou is supposedly fabulous, so we'll get through this week and look forward to being spoiled again soon.
Tomorrow is low-key. We'll do a little shopping and get prepared for Mollie.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Next Stop...MOLLIE!!!

We're packing up and getting ready to head to the airport for our flight to Nanjing. We have really enjoyed our visit here in Beijing but we're all ready to move on to the real purpose of our trip. In two days we will have our daughter"! It's funny - without fail, when we tell a Chinese person that we're here to adopt, they say "why? You already have two daughters!" I tell them that we have enough love in our family to share with another child, and God led us to this child in China.
We've only been here a few days, and we still have so many more days ahead of us. We're tired, and traveling in a foreign country is hard despite the fancy hotels. I keep thinking of the verse "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.".

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).

Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City

We did a whole lot of walking today. Both sites were overwhelming, both because of their size and because of the massive crowds. Our guide said that there were over 50,000 people at Temple of Heaven today, and a normal (not Chinese New Year) winter day would have about 3,000. I didn't mind the crowds, except that the Chinese people don't have the same respect for personal space that Americans have. There was a special ceremony, and everyone was crowded into one area, and it was much worse than a Mardi Gras parade!

We ate lunch at a very good Chinese restaurant and finally got to practice our chopstick skills! Sarah even ate her noodles with chopsticks- impressive!

After lunch we went to the Forbidden City. That was very interesting for Perry and me, but at this point the girls were tired and cold. They were happy to get back to the hotel and swim and hang out. We even ordered room service!

Tomorrow night we fly to Nanjing. We're getting so close!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Great Wall of China

Although we were up very early today (6am), we didn't really get moving until almost 11. We ate breakfast, did some homework (including dissecting owl pellets- thanks Mrs. Black!), and hung out in the room for most of the morning, then walked down the street to a mall. Our first impression of China was that it's really not much different from the US. Sure the language is different, but the buildings are familiar, and many of the stores and restaurants are US chains. KFC is HUGE here (more than 100 in Beijing alone), and the mall was filled with stores like The GAP, Subway, and Dairy Queen. Walking around outside the mall was a little more interesting, but still not at all like we had imagined China to be.
Our impressions changed when we left the downtown area with our guide to go see the Great Wall. As we got out of the business district and into the more historical areas, we saw the crowds and the traffic that we had expected. We drove past many impoverished areas and I found myself thinking about the children in those neighborhoods. We don't know where Mollie was born, or what her parents' situation was like, but I always imagine that they were poor, and couldn't afford to give her the care that she needed. I'm in awe of our God who can connect a poor orphan with her forever family and change not only her life but the lives of countless others who will come to know her.
It took over an hour to reach the Badaling section of the Wall. It was very crowded today because of the Chinese New Year. We climbed for almost an hour. "Climbing" entails walking up very steep sections and climbing hundred of uneven stairs. It was much more strenuous than I imagined, and I was impressed by the very old and the very young who were climbing it with us.
When we left the Wall, we drove by the Olympic Center and saw the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. Then our guide took us to a "traditional Chinese tea house," which we soon discovered was more like a "traditional Chinese tourist trap." Still, despite the pressure to buy the overpriced tea, we enjoyed the experience.
Perry has taken the girls to the pool, and then we're going to bed early. We're all exhausted and tomorrow will be another busy day.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


We landed around 11pm and made it through Customs with no issues. The flight from Tokyo to Beijing was great because Perry was able to sweet-talk us into first class. I slept like a baby!
We only slept a few hours last night; the time change has us confused! But we're excited about seeing the Great Wall this afternoon.
Our Internet access is sketchy but luckily I have my own personal IT guy who figured it out for us. Hopefully we'll be able to update the whole trip.

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Almost There

We're in Tokyo, waiting for our flight to Beijing. The last flight was sooo long! The girls did great- watched a couple of movies, slept, and played games. I'm just ready to get to our hotel and get to bed.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012


Until last week, I had looked at adoption as something we were doing. It was a family thing, something we felt led to do, but not a public spectacle. Perry and I have been praying for our family, and focusing on Mollie and Sarah and Abby. But as the day has drawn closer, my perspective has been changed. I've been telling my story, and in the process I've discovered that our community, not just our family, is adopting this child. Our friends and family are praying for our trip, and lining up to help us in every way imaginable. It's amazing to feel God's love that He is so clearly showing us through others. We are so blessed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting Ready

We finally have Sarah's new room finished (except for some artwork on the walls), and Mollie's room is ready (again, except for artwork). I've been shopping for Mollie clothes, and warm clothes for the rest of us to wear in Beijing. I've bought gifts for nannies and guides, toys to put in Mollie's backpack, and surprises for the airplane ride. I have snacks and medicines packed. I'm getting organized for our housesitter, visiting the bank (multiple times) for crisp $100 bills to exchange in China, and planning doctor appointments for Mollie. And throughout it all, I'm praying, and asking friends for prayers.
Today I'm feeling calm, but yesterday I was a wreck. I think that much of my anxiety is due to the trip itself, rather than the addition of a new family member. Just taking the family to China for  16 days is stressful. When we go to DisneyWorld, I plan for months, and know our itinerary like the back of my hand. But this trip is out of my control. We will do what our guides tell us to do. It will be planes, trains, and automobiles, and it will be exhausting. I worry about Sarah and Abby, and how they will handle the demands of adoption travel. I worry about me, and how I'll handle not being in control.
And yes, I am also anxious about Mollie. Will she accept us? Will we be able to communicate? How are our lives going to change, and are we prepared for those changes?
I'm so thankful that I have my faith - God brought us to this point, and He is the one in control. I just need to surrender to him. He's got this.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If We Are the Body

Perry and I have always said that someday we would probably adopt. We didn’t know when, or how, or even why, but we both felt it was something we would do…eventually. So last September, when I suggested that we attend an adoption information session, he wasn’t surprised. We left that meeting with complete confidence that we were about to have another child, and we began to follow our red thread.  For over a year, we waded through the process, with document chasing, homestudy questions, required readings, and lots and lots of waiting. Mostly waiting. But now, finally, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have Travel Approval and will be traveling SOON!
I’m feeling excited and a little anxious. I’ve had this feeling before, at other momentous occasions. I felt it when I was driving to Austin for graduate school, and later to Los Angeles to start a new job. I felt it as I was getting ready to walk down the aisle to marry Perry, and again when I was lying in the hospital bed about to become a mother to twins. All of those moments felt like this: uncertain, overwhelming, life-changing. But all of those moments also proved to be the best things I ever did, and they are the events that I think define my life. I believe that we’re supposed to do things that scare us, and take us out of our comfort zone. That’s how we grow as people, and that’s how we grow in faith.
We have so many uncertainties with Mollie. How serious is her CP? What therapies will she need? Will she readily accept us as her family, and love us as we love her, or will she struggle to bond? How will Sarah and Abby adjust to having a new little sister? How will I handle having to give up my activities and free time in order to bond with her? Yes, I’m anxious. But I’m not scared, because I have complete faith that God will provide us with the support we need to get us through it all. Lately the song I’ve been singing in the shower is “If We Are the Body.” His arms ARE reaching: our community is gathering around us, lifting us up, and providing us with the support we need to do what we are called to do. It’s a God thing, for sure.
We have much to do. Travel arrangements, packing, painting and organizing 3 rooms. But all of that will get done. I just pray that she’s getting prepared, too. Because we’re coming. And we have a lot of loving to do.

Try our slideshow maker at Animoto.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Steps to TA

DTC 8/25/11
LID 9/13/11
LOA 10/28/11
I800 receipt 11/10/11
I800 approved 12/1/11
NVC Cable 12/8/11
Article 5 Pickup 12/23/11