Friday, July 23, 2010

The Two Year Olds are Back!

I faintly remember doing this before, having two two-year olds in the house at one time.

And here we are again.

Sean's reaction to Suhn has been pretty close to what I expected (maybe one of the only things that has come pretty close to what I expected).

He can go from loving on her, petting and cooing, to pushing, hitting and growling in 10 seconds flat.

And Suhn's reaction to Sean?

She thinks he is hilarious. Except when he is taking her toys, getting in her face or hurting her.

To get a gauge on the frequency of Sean's shenanigans allow me to share Suhn's first English two-word phrases. She says them often and thinks she is quite hilarious when she does.

"Sean no" followed by "Sean nice" (think "Sean be nice")

They are probably the two phrases she has heard the most since joining our family.

So I'm back to refereeing two fickle, "mine"-loving, two-year olds.

(Something I never thought I'd do again.)

Two can be a hard age to have a "twin," (especially when you have spent the first years of your life without one). And yet, I have a feeling, a hunch and a prayer that as my babies grow, they are going to be the best of friends.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Orphaned No More

Pictured are 16 kids who less than a month ago were orphans. Some living in an orphanage, some in foster homes. No mommies. No daddies. No families.

Today each one is being loved on by a mommy and daddy. They are part of a family. They are no longer orphans.

Amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.

Not only that, but it was amazing to see how each child "fit" with their forever family. You could see the fingerprints of God through the placement of each child. He knew. He made it happen. It's miraculous really.

So many of you were part of our miracle. You gave financially. You prayed.

You prayed. Never underestimate the power that was unleashed because you prayed.

I have been so humbled and encouraged by your support, your comments and your prayers.

And while I know you already know this... you can continue to participate in the miraculous. There are millions of orphans who need your support, your comments and your prayers.

How can you help? You can give financially to organizations like Lifesong for Orphans.

Lifesong offers adoption grants to families who want to adopt but can't afford it. They also work with orphans in Ukraine, Liberia, Zambia, India and Honduras bringing them hope and aid in the name of Jesus.

You can pray for the orphaned child. You can pray for the families who are adopting and have adopted. You can pray that more and more families would be called to adopt or foster or get involved in some way.

You can act. You can raise awareness, host an Orphan Sunday event, visit the orphaned, adopt.

We all have the opportunity to participate in the miraculous.

The question is, will we respond and join in?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Please Pray

Go here. Read how God works in suffering.

Then pray for a miracle for this family today.


If you are the kind of person who unpacks your bag immediately after you return home from a trip, the title of this blog post probably didn't even register.

The thought, "She can't still have unpacking to do after being home over a week?" probably never even peeked into your brain because that concept would be completely foreign to your worldview.

If that is you. You might want to stop reading.


For those of you still with me, prepare yourselves to gain absolutely no redeeming value from reading further. My friend Sarah sometimes writes blog posts entitled "purely pointless."

That is pretty much what this is.

All this hype to confess, I am not unpacked after being home over a week.

My suitcases are empty and put away. I accomplished that task by Wednesday.

In case your worried, the clothing suitcase was unpacked and washed the next day; we would have been underwearless otherwise. Just the kind of information you are wanting to hear on a Monday morning I'm sure.

Back to my point, or non-point if you'd prefer, I'm still living out of my toiletry bag.

I think it has to do with bathrooms.

I don't like cleaning them.

Kory tells me if I'd quit procrastinating I could have them cleaned in 10 minutes.

The same would hold true for unpacking my toiletries (which reside in the bathroom in case you were wondering about the connection).

And still they sit, because, well, I'm disciplined like that.

Maybe today will be the day I can officially say I am unpacked.

Maybe I'm blogging about this to give my self that extra boost of motivation.

Maybe the end result will not be purely pointless because I will actually follow through and unpack.

Maybe this will only be purely pointless for those of you still reading.

And if you are still reading,

I'm curious... What kind of an unpacker are you?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ups and Downs

It's been an up and down kind of week.

Walls, emotions, tempers, sleep. Up and down.

Frankly, I've been the worse offender. Terrible I know, but true.

I'm happy to report that as the week has gone by, we've (I've) been having more ups than downs. At the core, I believe it boils down to this: I suck at change.

We just don't get along (me and change, or change and I?).

Suhn, I'm happy to report has been doing really well. The kids love her and she loves them. She has been eating well, sleeping well (after the first two nights) and overall seems to be adjusting well.

Going to bed has been a little bit of a challenge. She panics at bedtime. She also grieves at bedtime. The tears come, sometimes for both of us.

My mom suggested a bedtime routine that has blessed us both. It seems to bring comfort to Suhn, although she will still cry through it some nights. It definitely brings comfort to me. Grounds me and keeps me focused.

Simply put, I rock her and I sing. Hymns mostly, they are what keep coming to mind.

Jesus loves me this I know...My Jesus I love thee..On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand...He leadeth me oh blessed thought...What a friend we have in Jesus...Jesus, Jesus how I trust him, How I've proved Him o'er and o'er; Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus, Oh for Grace to trust Him more.

I sing, I worship and I remember that my Savior's love surrounds us both. And when I place her in her bed we both seem calmer and ready for whatever is to come.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

We're Home!

1 - 40 minute flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, delayed 1 hour, arrived at airport hotel at 1:00 am.

Up at 6:30 am. 1 - 14.5 hour flight from Hong Kong to Detroit, MI, included 1/2 hour of hard crying from Suhn, smooth sailing after that - thanks for praying!!!

1 - 2 hour layover in Detroit followed by 1 - 40 minute flight to Chicago

Met in Chicago by Kasey, Daniel and Alea (thanks guys!!)

1 -2 hour car drive home - so hard to stay awake, so ready to be home.

Met at home by kids, grandparents, sisters and cousins.

So good to be home!!!!

1 Jet-lagged momma = bare minimum "we made it home" blog post.

Don't worry... more to come. :)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Big Day!

There is an adoptive family tradition at the White Swan Hotel called the Red Couch Photo.

Today was that day.

Travel group 1591 dressed their children in silk finery and took pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Too many for me to show in one post, but I will give you a sampling. Including one of all our freshly adopted children. 16 kids in one picture.... quite the undertaking!

Followed by a group picture. I've shared many times how awesome our group is, now you can see for yourself that I wasn't lying.
Remember those purse strings Kory cut yesterday. I retied them when a couple friends coerced me into going shopping with them. I really had no choice, but this time I really mean it when I say I'm DONE shopping. wink wink.

The biggest part of our BIG day was a trip to the US consulate where we, along with 36 other families took an oath stating that all of our paperwork was completed accurately to the best of our knowledge signaling the end of our immigration paperwork (on this side of the ocean at least). On Saturday when Suhn arrives in Detroit she will officially be a US citizen.

We ended the day at a French restaurant called the Orient Express. The menu was in Chinese, English and French. It was pretty good, but the company was even better.
Mya, I've got a new pen pal for you. Her name is Natalie and here is her first letter to you!

2 more sleeps until we board a plane to go home. I am SO ready, although the great people we've met actually make the going bittersweet which says a lot about them.

Regardless I'm ready to get home and get into a routine again. Ready to get away from the Guangzhoa heat and humidity and the "lovely" sewer smells of China. Ready to get back to simple breakfasts, brushing my teeth out of the faucet, and blue skies. Ready to sleep in my own bed in my own house with my family under one roof.

The End (because I'm tired and have already spent way too much time trying to figure out how to close out this post)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Shopping, Skyping and Cruising Oh My!

Shopping in Guangzhoa, and by shopping I mean visiting the touristy stores on the island where we are staying, is an interesting experience.
The shop owners are hard core about drumming up business and will follow you down the street handing out fliers, complementing your baby, or in our case commenting on how beautiful and large your baby is.

Once inside the various stores look pretty much the same, the biggest difference is the name on the door. You might be in Emma’s Store, or Michael’s Store, or Jordan’s Store, or Jenny’s Store, or… you get the idea. They put a lot of effort into shop-naming around here.

If by chance your name is taken… say you are Linda but there is already a Linda’s store down the street? No worries; just go with something like Linna’s store and you’ll be just fine.

The pricing system in most places consists of way over-pricing the merchandise in order to take advantage of the naive customer. Bartering is perfectly acceptable if you want to actually try for a good deal. Somehow I always leave feeling like I just got ripped off.

You’d think that would keep me from going back, but I am a glutton for punishment and have gotten “ripped-off” many, many times forcing Kory to officially cut my purse-strings and ban me from spending anymore of his hard earned yuan.

Today was another good day. We finally got Suhn to take a good nap. The last two days naps have been on the weak side. I’ll be so glad to get home where she has a room of her own to fall asleep in without the distraction of us to keep her awake.

We Skyped with our kiddos this morning. I love Skype. To be across the world and be able to talk for free and see each other at the same time completely amazes me. Can’t wait until I get to hug my 4 home-growns in person! Man, I miss those kids. 3 more sleeps!

We ended our day with a dinner cruise on the Pearl River. Notice how our faces glow in the lovely Guangzhou humidity.

I would have enjoyed it much more if dinner had not been included.

Kory was eating it up, literally. He filled his plate multiple times with delicacies like fish head, goose liver, pig stomach, duck and whole shrimp that watched him as he ate them. Frankly, it was disgusting. And yet, he enjoyed every minute… until he got off the boat.

He thinks it might have been something he ate.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tips for Bonding

You know, because after one week with out a lot of success, I am extremely experienced in this area and am choosing to share my wisdom with all of you.

Tip #1: Never lock your newly adopted daughter in a hotel room by herself.

Even if she appears to have never even realized you were gone and the entire episode was an accident that occurred while your husband was out running an errand and you were simply moving your luggage out into the hallway for the bell boy to pick up when the door shut behind you. Even if your husband appeared 30 seconds later to open the door for you, Never Ever do this.

Tip #2: Never, ever lose the one thing that brings your child comfort.

Let's say your newly adopted daughter came with a blue wash rag that she sleeps with every night and sniffs when she needs an extra measure of comfort. Never lose this valuable, precious piece of material.

You will only make things tougher on yourself.

And if you decide to throw caution to the wind and actually go against these stellar, wisdom-filled tips...

Come see me. I've been there too.

Very, very recently.

And I'm pleased to say, bonding is still possible, even if you violate my savvy tips.

We have had a good day in Guangzhoa. We went to the zoo. It was hot. You can tell how thrilled Suhn was to be there.

On the way home from the zoo, Suhn fell asleep on the bus. She slept while we carried her through the lobby and up the elevator. She slept while we entered our room and laid her in her bed.

Then she woke up and proceeded to babble and play in bed while her daddy and I slept.

And after that, we bonded. We laughed and played and she actually called me ma ma!

Then we went swimming and she spent more time with me during those two hours than with her daddy (I'd show you pictures, but they don't allow them at the White Swan pool!).

And then the wall came up again. But that's okay because we had ourselves an honest-to-goodness moment!

It was a good day.

I gotta say I am a little concerned about losing her rag. The first week she never let it go. Now that she is more comfortable with us she will forget about it for a time. But with nighttime approaching and a 14 hour plane ride on the horizon, I'm a little nervous. I am praying all the bonding we've been doing helps compensate for the loss of that little rag.

You can pray with us if you'd like! :)

Monday, July 05, 2010


One week ago today we caught the first glimpse of our daughter. It’s been a hard week. And long, it has been a looonnngg week. Looking back, I am amazed to see how far we have come in one week which has felt like a month… or longer. If I could have told myself a week ago this is where we’d be I might not have had my multiple breakdowns.


On our first trip to Ukraine (where we ran a week-long VBS at an orphanage) there was a group of older kids with hard faces who seemed impossible to reach. Yet, connections were made and the hardness would fade by the end of each day. The next morning, when we’d come back the hardness had returned to the faces. Walls had been built while we slept making the first task of the new day the breaking down of walls.

It feels that way with Suhn. Each day the wall we worked so hard to tear down the day before has returned. But each day the wall is slightly lower and comes down a little easier.

Wall demolition comes a little harder for me. The blockade Suhn puts between us is stronger than the one between her and her “ba ba.” It’s coming though. She actually cried when I disappeared from her line of sight today. When I came back she would barely look at me, but she did stop crying.

She was sad this morning. Missing her ma. But by the end of the day she seemed to be doing so much better.

She is one smart cookie. She can say Mya, Simon, Jonah and Sean very clearly. She can already point out nose and eyes in English. We are seeing more and more of her personality come through every day and are loving it.

We will be heading to bed soon, if our little Suhn-shine ever falls asleep. Waking most likely to another wall.

But that’s okay, we’re getting pretty good at tearing those suckers down!

Our 4th of July

So, we had a "4th of July" celebration with our travel group in a Thai restaurant in China this year. I know, I know, very patriotic.The servers at the restaurant were very accomodating. They offered us bowls of chips, wet wipes, kleenexes. Which we accepted (how nice) and were then charged for! Suhn gobbled up the broccoli and other steamed veggies we got for her. We can always tell when she is done with a meal because she starts to play with her food. This go around she would empty her leftover veggies into her water glass and then empty the water glass back into the bowl. Seriously, this kept her entertained for probably 20 mintues until it was time to leave. She was so methodical and serious. It was hillarious and a little gross.

I was missing home and our traditional celebration, family gathering, fireworks on the roof, not to mention my kids!!!... 5 sleeps until we go home! I can't wait!

Our 4th of July also included some touring in the heat/humidity of Guangzhou and shopping. We visited the Old Chen House a 100 year old buildling that is open air and is a kind of art museum. The building was really amazing. So was the art. In it, we discovered an airconditioned gift shoppe that was real nice (hey in 96 degree weather with 86 % humidity, you start to really appreciate the art of air conditioning). All in all, not a bad day.

Still, I'm ready to come home. :)

Saturday, July 03, 2010


Every day is getting a little brighter!

We made it to Guangzhoa. It was a rough 2-hour plane ride. Maybe you all should start praying now for the 14 hour one we have coming up in a week. God is hearing your prayers. Believe me I can tell.

So, as I said before, every day our Suhn is getting a little brighter. Less crying, more calm. Today we (mainly Kory) have been able to get some laughs. A very welcome sound.

Lunch at Lucy's was great. She likes fries and ate most of mine. I didn't argue. Kory also started to teach her how to play drums with her silverware - she's gonna have great table manners when we get home.

A quick tip - if you ever order a burger or club sandwhich in Zhengzhoa remember to specifiy "no egg please." Unless of course, you like that sort of thing. And goldfish crackers in China are actually fish flavored. Just in case you wanted to know...

She is still not sure what to make of me. She knows she needs a mommy, but she wants her old one. A couple of times she has come to me, crying the whole time just to make sure I know she's not crazy about this arrangement. I don't mind. I'll take whatever she gives me. She even fell asleep in my arms twice yesterday. Progress. She will let me hold her as long as she has Kory in her line of vision. It is really hard to see her grieving and not be able to comfort her. Or to see her and Kory laughing together, try to join in and have her shut it off and start to cry.

Even so, every day is getting a little brighter for me too.

Again, thanks for your prayers and comments. They are getting us through. I would love to respond to everyone, but my outlook is not sending properly. I can send through webmail, but don't have an address book, so if you don't hear from me, that is why.

Back to food (I'm trying to make this as random as possible) - we've been eating better than I thought. Sweet and Sour Chicken in China tastes a lot like Sweet and Sour Chicken in the US (in my humble opinion). We've also been enjoying dumplings, noodles and pizza. It's been cheap and good.

Have I mentioned before how awesome our travel group is? Some of them are probably reading this. But then, a little fluff never hurt anyone. :)

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Adoption is hard.

Kory and I have both had some pretty low lows, but in the midst of it all, we do see progress. It seems when I have my breakdowns, Kory is hanging tough and vice versa. Today has been a tough one for Kory.

Wed. morning was hard. She is so sad. Almost constantly crying out for ma. But, that afternoon and again this morning she would actually have some moments of calm. Progress.

We took her swimming. Some friends from our travel group had some cups and she spent a lot of time playing with those. Dumping water, stacking them. It was a good morning.

She took a good nap, but after her nap was very sad again. Lots of crying. Waking up is always hard. It is like the reminder of her circumstances comes rushing in making it hard for her to forget.

Your prayers and comments mean so much to us. Every one of you. We are so thankful. They offer hope.

And God has blessed us with an AMAZING travel group. We feel so supported.
Please pray for them too. Like I said before, adoption is hard.

Pray for Jim and Emily and Noah. And Scott and Melissa and Amelia.

I have had some progress one on one with Suhn as well. She is letting me hold her more and has let me feed her and hold her bottle for her. She is still very much a Daddy's girl at this point, but I'll take what I can get.

She really is a beautiful little girl and is very smart. You can see it in her eyes. She knows what is going on which is part of what makes this so hard.

Tomorrow we head to Guangzhou. Praise the Lord! We are so ready to get out of this town and this hotel (our cell as we like to call it).

So I don't completely depress you (We do have good moments, and we can feel your prayers like you can feel the wall of humidity when you walk outside our hotel!), here are a couple of random tidbits from China:

People ride the motorcycles, motorized bikes, vespas, etc on the sidewalk. And there are lots of them! It makes every walk an adventure!

We have visited a Chinese Wal-mart (which is an actual Wal-mart!). We have seen piles of meat including chicken feet and other unidentified objects. We have seen little boys pee in a garbage can in the store and pee on the floor. It is quite an experience and makes me very thankful that the American version of potty training is as thorough as it is.

The other day as we were walking to Wal-mart we say a group of Chinese people sitting outside a TV store. They were watching the display in the window. Quite Humourous.

That's all I got. We are hanging in there. Keep the prayers coming.