Thursday, February 28, 2013

Silver Haze

Two and a half years ago when we were in Zhengzhou, the heat kept us inside.

This year, heat is not an issue, but the smog, or "silver haze" as we like to call it most definitely is.

It is like a never-ending fog filled with toxic air. Our guide told us it was a sunny day out... when I looked really hard I could see the sun smothered in polluted air.


The air quality certainly makes one look at the EPA in a whole new thankful way.

Periodically we have braved the silver haze for some "fresh" air.

Last night we headed down to the Pizza Hut with some of our new friends (thankfully we have some really great families to pass the time with here in ZZ). Although the tilapia, salmon and other seafood type toppings were tempting, we settled for American favorites like pepperoni and sausage. If you know Kory, you might be shocked by that. I think the pollution is messing with him.

On the way home, we came across some Chinese line-dancing. Music blaring on a street corner with several lines of the good citizens of ZZ dancing away in sync (except for a few men who couldn't quite get in step). A few feet away another song was blaring with different dance moves. A dance-off of sorts.

Of course Kory joined in.

Today our outing was to a park. They had a few carnival type rides going. They weren't too high off the ground so we thought we'd risk it and let the boys ride. They'd go for a while, stop and just as we were getting ready to grab the boys, the cars would take off again. 

The ride got many giggles, "mamas" and "babas" from our little man. 

Other than that, we have been laying low, hanging out with our fellow prisoners, I mean adoptive families, and dreaming of the cleaner air of Guangzhou. 

A little swimming, a little gaming, a little wrestling, a little reading. 

A lot of bonding, cuddling, giggling, and getting to know our funny little boy. 

Hopefully Zak's passport makes its way to us tomorrow and then on Saturday we are out of here!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Adoption Day

February 26, 2013: Adoption Day

Zak is officially a Kaeb. According to the laws of China, he is ours.

We had to go back to the same room we first received Zak in to complete the adoption. I was a little nervous how he would take it. Would he look for his nanny?

He was quiet on the bus and when we went in the room he stuck with me. But it didn't take long for him to start playing with the other kids. When we got back on the bus to go to the notary office, again, he only wanted me. I wonder if being on the bus made him nervous, sad, remembering what happened yesterday? I wish I knew what was going on in his little head. Does he understand that we are his FOREVER family?

After a quick lunch we had a two hour car ride to Pingdingshan (where both Zak and Suhn were born). We had to apply for his passport. He fell asleep in my lap on the way there.

We also visited the local orphanage. I believe both my China babies spent a little bit of time in this building. We walked in to a room with cribs that I thought were filled with blankets. When I looked closer I saw there were children under the blankets.

It was quiet. I walked from crib to crib looking at these sweet children who will probably never be adopted or know much of life outside this place. It is hard to think about, hard to take in.

Most of the kids we saw in the orphanage had more severe special needs. They told us that around 30 children lived there and over 100 children were currently living in foster care.

The difference between the orphanage and Angel House was vast. Again, so thankful for the care my babies received.

We did not stay long at the orphanage. They took our picture and asked for a picture of Suhn. We will send one when we get home.

As for Zak, he has been a joy. He has had moments when he seems sad. During those times he only wants me. But when he is ready to play, look out.

We have our busy days in Zhengzhou behind us now. The next three days are fairly open as we wait for Zak's passport to arrive. 

Thank you for all of the comments and prayers. They mean SO MUCH. 

Also, I wanted to mention one more thing. This adoption has been different than our first one. Easier, yes, but not better. Please, if you talk about how things are going with Zak and Suhn is around, be careful not to compare the two. 

Love to you all! More updates to come. 

Monday, February 25, 2013


Where do I even start.

We went to the room where families are joined together. It was a crazy chaotic scene.

Last time around it was just our travel group that filled the room (but with 15 families, we filled it). This time, our travel group is small (three families) but the room was filled with families from other agencies.  We were the first to arrive and not long after, in came our sweet brave boy.

He clung to his nanny.

When she finally handed him off to me, she left immediately with tears in her eyes.

He was such a brave boy.

We showed him his backpack and played a little.

We even managed to get a few smiles and a laugh, miraculous.

But his eyes kept wandering to the door she had brought him in. He kept walking over to it, wanting to look for her. We kept bringing him back.

And then, when she failed to appear after about an hour, he couldn't hold the tears back any longer.

We were more than ready to leave the room, get on the bus and head back to our hotel.

We tried a little lunch, but he refused; then fell asleep for his afternoon nap.

And when he woke up, bit by bit, our brave little man opened up.

This afternoon has been a gift. We have laughed and played ball. We have explored our room and then the hotel. He goes to both of us easily. He really seems to feel safe with us (praise God for answered prayer). He has been eating and drinking and telling us when he needs to go to the bathroom. 

He has been playing with his brothers and starting to mimic everything they do. 

We had a finger "gun" fight at dinner, complete with "pew, pew" noises. He sometimes hums while he walks beside us holding on to our fingers. 

Tears came again at bath time and bed time, but then it passed. He lets us comfort him.

He is sleeping next to me as I type and I am so thankful for the way all of you have covered us in prayer. God is good and today has gone so much better than I dared to hope. 

I'm off to bed myself, feeling drained emotionally, but wanted to share our day, thank you for the prayers (please keep them coming) and praise God with all of you for the sweet boy who is joining our family. One less orphan in the world tonight. 

We can't wait for you to meet him.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How it is Supposed to Be


I know, I know, I told you the next post would be of us and Zak.

It's not.

We leave in one hour though so we are close, oh so very close.

I just saw some new pictures of our little buddy.

Probably the last that will be taken of him at Angel House. It appears they had a party for our little man. A "going away, you will be missed" party. There are pictures of him eating cake and of him in front of all his sweet little friends.

And then there are the pictures of him saying good-bye. Hugging his friends, getting ready to leave all he knows and my heart breaks for our little man.

We are SO excited to welcome Zak into our family. But it is SO hard to see one of your children struggling. I am praying he will let me comfort him as he grieves those he leaves behind.

I have been thinking over our time at Angel House. Sitting in a room with sweet, precious children climbing into my lap and asking for my attention. Children who are well taken care of and loved, and yet, they are children who NEED a family. The women at Angel House love on them, but they don't want them to stay. The goal is for each child to have a family of their own.

That is how it is supposed to be. 

Children are supposed to be in families.

I had the honor of sharing with Eva that one more of the Angel House children has a family waiting. She was thrilled. They love their kids, but they know that children are supposed to be in families.

In a little less than one hour we leave to welcome our son Zak into our family. 

And in spite of the pain that this transition may bring in the now, and even though my heart breaks for our sweet boy, I rejoice because I KNOW that we are what he needs. He needs a family.

That is how it is supposed to be.

That's Why They Call it Great

We are officially Chinese Heroes aka we climbed the great wall today and apparently that is all it takes. 

A surreal experience on a beautiful day. We are wearing coats and hats in the pictures but by the time we were done climbing, the hats were off and the coats unzipped. 

Kory and Simon made it to the very top. Jonah and I were not as aggressive in our climbing. 

Simon and Jonah both thought the wall was "great." 

And Great it is. 

They named it well.

The rest of our day in Beijing was packed. We made a stop at the Olympic Village, home of the 2008 summer games. 

The kite vendors were out in mass. Offering us 2 kites for 10 RMB, then 3, then 4 and finally he made his final offer: 5 kites for 10. We passed, then said no again and continued to walk. It took at least 5 no's with zero eye contact before they would start to get the hint. One guy lowered his kite as I was walking towards him so I could not go around but had to go straight for him. 

Sneaky kite vendor. In spite of his creativity, he still got a no. 

We ended the day at a Chinese Acrobatic Show. As 10 girls climbed on one bike circling a small stage, we couldn't help but question the sanity of the idea, but they managed to pull it off. We were glad not to be sitting in the front row in case they didn't. 

By the time we got back to the hotel, we were wiped and enjoyed probably our best night of sleep so far. Today was spent traveling to Zhengzhoa and prepping for the Zak-man. 

Gotcha comes around 10ish tomorrow (8pm CST). 

That means the next post features Zak!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A House Tour

Today we were given a gift.

We had the opportunity to visit Angel House. We talked with the women who loved on our kiddos. We thanked them and prayed with them. We saw the yard where our little boy plays and the bed where he sleeps. We talked with the PT who worked with Suhn and Zak. She was so sweet. It was truly a pleasure to meet her under much less stressful circumstances than last time (she was the woman who handed Suhn to me!).

Kory had the chance to talk a little shop and share a few PT strategies as well as do a mini-session with one of the kiddos. 

We also shared videos of Suhn with them. Many of them remember her and asked about her. It was so fun to tell them how she is doing. Again, the fact that they remember her and asked about her speaks volumes to the care they put into the children they serve. When we talked to them about Zak, a few had tears in their eyes as they thought of saying good-bye to him. 

We also had the privilege of meeting Eva Deng. Eva is the director and founder of Angel House. It was so fun talking to her. She is one special lady.

There are currently 43 sweet kiddos at Angel House. It is a privately run home, funded completely by donations. I am so thankful for the women of Angel House and the way they care for children. They have had a huge impact on our family and hold a very special place in our heart.

Our time passed so quickly. Thinking back, there are so many questions I wish I would have asked, but those will have to wait. Did I mention, how thankful I was for the experience (wanted to make sure you caught that).

Once we left, it was time for a late lunch. 

One of the reason we brought our boys is so they could experience a new culture, so with that in mind we hit the streets looking for the perfect restaurant to help us meet that goal.

A block away, the golden arches beckoned. Culture 101: lunch at a Chinese McDonald's. 

No more plans for the rest of the day. Chilling in our room until dinner when we hope to eat a little more authentically. 

It's been a good day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Dose of Courage and Thanksgiving

We made it to Beijing!

It is Friday morning in China and we are getting ready to start our adventures.

But before we do...

I had a little bit of a meltdown Monday night, the result of fear. The next morning I was reading Deuteronomy 1:29-31:

"But I said to you, 'Don't be afraid! The Lord your God is going before you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you, again and again here in the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. now he has brought you to this place."

And when I look back, I see how He is most definitely the one who has brought us to this place. I see how he has cared for us again and again, many times through many of you. I think of how He provided financially for this adoption, through many of you. I see how He led us to Zak. I see how He has swung wide the doors and gently asked us to walk through.

And I am humbled and so extremely grateful.

So as we get ready to head into our first day in China, I just want to say Thank You! For the prayers, for the support, for the love. Looking back gives the dose of courage needed to move forward.

So here we go, stepping through the final doors that God has opened to meet and welcome the little boy He has led us to, grateful for His care every step of the way.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Who Else is Going to China?

These guys are!

And if you ask them if they are excited to go, you might hear what they aren't excited about:  "All that walking and crying" (they've seen Suhn's gotcha day videos).

If you follow up with, "Well what ARE you excited about?" You might hear things like: "those doodle books mom got us" or the microwavable macaroni and cheese we are bringing or the hotel breakfast buffets we have told them about. 

They might tell you they are excited to meet Zak (they do actually know why we are going to China), which might be prefaced with being the FIRST to meet Zak. 

Regardless, they are excited and we are excited to bring them. We are excited to give them a glimpse of another culture. We are excited to introduce them to their new brother and hoping they will help make their new brother more at ease. Lots of excitement going on with just a few more days until our adventures in China begin. 

The countdown continues...

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Final Countdown has Begun.

We leave for China in 9 days!

My brain is going a thousand different directions.

"Don't forget to e-mail so and so; did I add that to my packing list?; gotta remember to tell the Grandmas' that; China, China, China. Check that off the list, add that to it; can't forget that; what was that one thing I was supposed to write down so I wouldn't forget?; I am so going to forget something important; China, China, China."

I have been waking up in the middle of the night, a good night's sleep is getting harder and harder to come by and to top it all off, the fears are starting to creep in.

Our transition with Suhn was not an easy one. I feel myself bracing for hard days ahead. I can't wait to meet our little boy, and at the same time the fears come whispering doubts.

or shouting them, depending on the day.

It makes my head hurt.

And then I remember: God has called us. He goes before us. He will walk with us every step of the way.

And I am comforted.

And ready to get on that plane to bring my baby home.

The final countdown has begun.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Hearts at Home

A lot of exciting things have been happening at Hearts at Home. In case you don't know, I work for Hearts as their director of publishing. It is a FUN job, right up my alley.

This week, Jill's newest book (and the theme of our conferences this year) just released. The title is No More Perfect Moms. Don't you feel a little bit of relief just reading that?

We have been doing a lot of new things to promote this book over the last few months which has been keeping me busy (and is what I was alluding to in my previous post). Including a bit of fun-ness I want to share with you today! If you buy the book this week (and this week only), you will also receive over $100 worth of freebies including other e-books, mp3s and a chance to win a free registration (for you and a friend) at an upcoming conference! Interested? Head here to learn more and buy!

We have also created a 31-day e-challenge (you can sign up here if interested) AND created a short video series that compliments the book.

I have to share one of the videos, because, well there are a couple of cuties in it that you might recognize...

So that is what I have been helping with over the past few months. It has been a lot of work, and a lot of fun too.

And along the Hearts at Home lines, if you have ever been to conference before, this year has some new stuff coming your way so look out! Thursday night, Hearts will be hosting a pre-conference Expo. Anyone can come (whether you have registered for conference or not). It is a chance to shop, eat brownies, see a mini-workshop and win prizes. I believe the time is 6-8 at the Bone Student Center on ISU campus.

The conference is scheduled to go on March 15 and 16 and registrations are moving fast. We are hoping to sell out so if you haven't registered, now is the time! It is a great event, a highlight of the year!

And that's all I've got for now. If you have any questions, ask in the comments and I will respond!

Happy Monday everyone!!