Last day on Shamain Island

Last day on Shamain Island. Believe it or not, I'm sort of sad to come home. I won't miss downtown urban Guangzhou, but I will miss the tropical-Colonial feeling of this island. I will miss the crazy food. I will even miss the breezy, humid heat. It's strange, I sort of feel like we adopted more than a little boy. I feel like we adopted a country into the family.

One of the challenges I think we will have coming home is knowing how to talk about what we have seen/learned. I feel pretty comfortable hiding behind a computer screen and shooting out reflections on a blog. People can just ignore the whole thing if they want. But when questions start rising in conversation, how do you talk to people about an experience like this? I don't know.

In the past, I've been frustrated watching folks get involved in compassion ministries, then turning those into a venue for self-promotion. I don't know how to really explain that, but it just seems like the person who is being "helped" (the poor, the sick, the orphan) is often used as a stepping stone to help the "helper" get atta-boys.

How do you share the amazing story of what God has done without drawing attention to yourself? How do you give God the glory He deserves in orchestrating something so massive? How do you inspire other people to get involved in an important cause, while maintaining the dignity of a child with a story of his own? How do we honor the remarkable way Moses has flourished despite hard beginnings, while acknowledging the needs still remaining in him and others? How do we respect the man who will grow from our son, with gifts, talents, and purpose? How do we emphasize the importance of adoption while acknowledging that God calls every person to a different ministry? How do we talk about the needs overseas when the needs at home are also vast?

As the time approaches when we will need to tell this story, we are praying for wisdom on all of this. And if you've done this before and have advice, we'd love to hear it.

We get on a plane tomorrow at about 8:00 AM our time. The flight to Beijing takes about 3 hours. Then we have a 5 hour layover in Beijing. The flight from Beijing to Newark takes about 13 hours. Then, we have another 5 hour layover. Finally, we fly from Newark to Charlotte (2 hours) where we will finally stay the night. TWENTY-EIGHT HOURS!!! Uggghhh. This would be a grueling trip even if I didn't hate flying, and even if we weren't trying to occupy a three-year-old. I think we will be thoroughly exhausted when it's over. Please pray for safe flights, that I wouldn't be scared, for the kids to have fun, for minimal turbulence, and for everyone to sleep a lot on the big flight.

Allergies are bad here, but we found out yesterday that Benadryl makes Moses sleepy instead of hyper. (Prayer answered.) So, if he wakes up with allergies tomorrow, the flight might go a little better. :)

We love you all. We'll see you soon!


Best Eggplant Ever

Tonight we went back to the Cantonese place our Singaporean friend introduced us to a few nights ago. I just had to have the eggplant again. It's the best I've ever tasted in my whole life.

Almost no one spoke English there, so finding out the recipe was tough. They finally led me to the kitchen and let me watch the process. Oh, the wonders of an authentic Cantonese kitchen!

First off, the eggplants were green and thinner than those in the US. They coated the outside in oil, pricked the skin, and grilled them whole over a low fire until the flesh was soft. Then, they cut it in half on the grill and basted the inside flesh with some sort of oil and what looked like soy sauce. There might have been a tiny bit of fish sauce in there, but I'm not sure. Then, they added a TON of minced garlic. Probably 4-5 tablespoons full. And a sprinkling of chopped green onions. At the end, they sprinkled something they called pepper on top, but it was brown instead of black. They were so good, I ate a whole one by myself.

JD and Clara tried a little of what we think was snake. It was chopped up in the fried rice, so you never know quite what you're going to get there. I'll attach some photos of stuff we didn't order there tonight. We passed on the fish heads, pigeon intestines, and papaya stuffed with frog gel. (How do you gel a frog?)

I'm cracking up at Clara's food choices here. Now that she's eaten chicken feet (which she LOVED) and fried eel, a little snake nugget was apparently no big deal. Who would have thought?

Also attaching a few more photos of Shamian Island. It's so beautiful here. 'Sorry they are foggy. The humidity is so intense, my lens fogs INSTANTLY. Before I can wipe it and snap, it fogs again.



Yesterday we went to Guangzhou to take an oath at the U.S. Consulate. The Consulate used to be on Shamain Island, but because of the construction, that location has temporarily moved. So, our group had to take a charter bus into downtown Guangzhou.

The ride took about 40 minutes before rush hour traffic hit. My guess is that unless you have adopted, you've never even heard of Guangzhou. However, it's massive. New York City proper holds a little over 8 million people. Guangzhou's population is about 15 million people. Almost double.

Zooming out to compare larger metropolitan area, New York has 19.1 million people packed into 6,720 square miles. Guangzhou has 15 million packed into 2870 square miles. I'm not a mathy girl, but I need these numbers to explain some of what I saw yesterday.

Maybe some of you have watched animal-rights type documentaries villainizing corporate meat production in the US. If so, you've seen chickens crammed into little cages with little room to move around. They never see the sun. They never feel the grass under their feet. They live their entire lives stuffed into wire boxes, waiting to die.

I'm an animal lover, so this is sad for me to see. But what is much sadder is watching humans live in cramped, difficult conditions. Mile after mile after mile as we rode, I looked into skyscrapers full of TINY rooms where people live. Their only window was open seeking refuge from the heat. Limp laundry was hanging to dry in that few inches of window space. There is a density and vastness of poverty that I couldn't have imagined without seeing it.

I cannot find words to make the concept of "millions" come into color here. It was big like the ocean. Or like the sky at night. Or like the Grand Canyon. That sort of vast. Only vast with people in need.

I have never been exposed to suffering so vast that I could do NOTHING to change it. When I see needs in America, I usually feel like I could at least make a dent in the problem. But if I gave every ounce of my talent, resources, and time for the rest of my life helping these people, I would still be too small.

I have so much more understanding of the impossible job the Chinese government has trying to manage this now. Americans get angry because we hear stories of a one-child policy. We think in terms of our lush and spacious world. But if every family I saw yesterday had three children or four, the city would implode within a week. There is simply no more room for more people. I'm not a sociologist, but I can understand better now why human rights are an issue here. How do you advocate for the individual in the midst of a massive population crisis? Even if leaders had supreme intellect and perfect character, their job would be very hard.

Downtown Guangzhou is beautiful. There are parks, nice stores, and fountains. Just as in many US cities, there is deep poverty swarming around lush materialism.

I'm sure there are political commentators somewhere who would understand the why's behind all this, explain it away quickly with some sort of simple political or historical blame, and move on to another topic. I found myself seeking that yesterday, because blame provides an opiate for the pain I feel watching others suffer. Blame is how we are taught to transform individuals into "collateral damage" so that we can continue to function unaffected. Blame is the skeleton for our Western caste system. But I'm not able to be prescriptive yet.

Last night at dinner, I was talking with a friend about something that happened at the Forbidden City. We saw two beggars there, one missing a foot and one missing a hand. These people were literally crawling through filth, and they were so pitiful I just stood there and cried. Our guides strictly warned us about not giving handouts, so our group was obedient. One mother I spoke with even turned her children's faces away so they would not see his pain. This action haunted her for days, because most of our group is adopting special needs children. But for the grace of God, those beggars could literally have been our kids.

The line between "they" and "we" is continually challenged by this trip. That is a painful thing, but a refining one. I hope I don't forget it.

The transition with Moses is going very well. We are having so much fun with him!

However, for those of you who aren't very familiar with adoption and who will meet him soon, I want you to be prepared for some things that may seem odd at first. He is not yet able to handle training that JD and Clara could handle at his age. He is so cute and charming, it can seem like he is ready to just jump into the family groove. But there are still some scars in his little heart that need slow training. This means that discipline looks a little different for him than it would in another situation.

For three years, he has been spoiled in some ways and neglected in others. Considering what he has just experienced, he is in INCREDIBLE shape emotionally. However, he still throws fits and acts up sometimes. And though he is very smart (considering his lack of training), he is just beginning to learn what obedience and character mean. He has had to survive in group care, so what would be sneakiness or rebellion in a child raised in a stable home is basic survival for him. He has had to charm adults to get enough food and attention. And he has some infant-like behavior that emerges at random times.

The way our social worker described it (and what we are experiencing) is that some parts of an institutionalized child's emotions have grown properly with age, and others have been stunted at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc. So, sometimes it can feel like newly adopted kids are "using" adults to get what they need instead of acting in sincerity. But they are actually just acting much like an infant would, in a big child's body. They have to learn authentic love and respect like a new language, and spend time growing through the baby stages of parent-child trust that they have missed. We have to simutaneously teach him infant trust and toddler obedience.

All this means... when you meet him, he may act whiny and spoiled sometimes. He may not respect "no" the first time he hears it. He will show off and try to get attention.

We are disciplining him, but we cannot just pop him on the butt and tell him to straighten up, because he doesn't yet share our framework for what is good or why good is desirable. This sort of training is a slow process that requires a lot of patience. And we have to pick our battles and let some things slide for now.

About every two or three days, we will have a yelling fit that lasts for up to half an hour. We quietly refuse to give him the harmful thing he wants (the object of his disobedience) while letting him know he is secure in love. But he is a very strong-willed little boy (thank the Lord!), and listening to this isn't much fun if you happen to be near when this happens. As Bobby says, it's just hard to be adopted.

I don't mean to paint a negative picture here. Moses is an absolute JOY and we spend 99% of our time laughing, playing, and exploring. His sense of humor is incredible, he is snuggly, and he LOVES to learn. We are seriously having the easiest toddler adoption transition I have ever heard or read about. Daily, it is obvious that this child was meant for our family from forever. I think you will see that when you meet him. We just fit together. And the Lord is providing tons of joy for Bobby and I during this training process. We haven't had a single moment of regret. Every struggle feels peaceful. Every battle feels worth it.

But it is a transition, so I think it would be wise to share our game plan with friends and family ahead of time, so you have the inside scoop on what's happening. I think it would be hard to understand the internal dynamics without a little heads up.

Better run. Kids are awake, and I need to make PBJ sandwiches.


Red Couch Day

We just have a little while before we go take our oath at the Consulate, but here are a few photos of today so far. We took red couch photos at The White Swan with our group early this morning. There were caged love birds, passing boats, and huge koi to watch --so Moses was NOT very excited about sitting still in dress up clothes to get his picture taken. He's such a boy! You can probably tell from the photos that he was just tolerating that whole process. He wasn't screaming like a lot of the kids, though. So, we'll chalk it up as a success. :)

It feels wonderful to be done with the bulk of our paperwork. After today, we are officially finished. We pick up his visa tomorrow (which was granted yesterday), and then we are just hanging out here until the plane leaves Sunday morning.

(Another reminder: I'm not checking my other email account in China. So, if you need me, please write to Bobby's work email. Thanks! :) Bec)


new words

New words Moses is reciting over and over in his bed right now to avoid falling asleep:

Snuggle. ("Guh-gle").
Night night.
Grandma. (He has decided to call Clara this because it drives her nuts.)

Today he also learned how to say "ice cream". He ate it with two spoons, because he loved it so much.

Meanwhile, we are watching a Chinese voiceover of Will Smith acting in Independence Day. JD is cracking up.

We're making up the translation. My contribution was reciting the few lines I remember of the St. Crispian's monologue from Henry V during the motivational "let's kick some alien booty" speech at the end.

Chinese TV is amazing. A ton of shows are historical and highly emotive. They are full of valor, idealism, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. They are sort of like soap operas, only they aren't trashy. Every single scene is passionate in some way or another. The characters all seem to feel SO DEEPLY. There is usually soulful cello music playing in the background, and the scenery is just gorgeous. Unabashed idealism.

Goofy gameshows also seem to be really popular. We all love them. Most of them involve people jumping across a moving foam obstacle course that is suspended over dirty water.

Commercials are similar to ours, but there are a LOT more advertisements for health food, vitamins, and vitamin milk drinks for adults and children.

Our visa application was approved today. Tomorrow we get his photo taken on the red couch and go to the Consulate to take the oath. I think everything is official finally after that. Woohoo!

Moses is really doing well. Going to sleep seems to be the hardest thing for him, but he hasn't thrown a fit in two days. He just talks to himself and calls to us.

Of course, I will go in and rock him for a while. So will Yo Yo, Daddy, and "Grandma." But he isn't used to being rocked to sleep, so he points to his bed after a while. It's like he's in tension between wanting us and wanting his bed. He's not used to falling asleep in someone's arms, but he doesn't want to go to sleep alone any more. Also, if there's a party happening somewhere, he wants to be a part of it.

I found Moses a pair of squeaky sandals for a few bucks yesterday. JD and Bobby HATE them. They make me laugh until I can't breathe, watching him walk around, "squeak, squeak, squeak." Moses likes them, too. I guess we'll have to wait on those until we get home to enjoy those fully.

If there's anything particular you want us to bring you back from China, send me an email today. Shopping is limited in Shamain, mostly tourist knicknacks. But I can give it a try.


gotcha trip packing list

I've been keeping a mental list of stuff that I either wish we had taken or am glad we did. This isn't a comprehensive list, of course. They are just the things I didn't read on a lot of other blogs while preparing for the trip. So, if you are getting ready to travel for a "gotcha" trip, feel free to consider them.

A small jar of peanut butter. I thought about this, but I didn't pack it because I was afraid of adding weight. That was a mistake. Trustworthy food in China is not nearly as cheap as we were expecting, so being able to make PB sandwiches in the room is a massive money saver. Also, about day six, you start to feel like you are going to choke if you smell one more plate of breakfast noodles. Breakfast is a major meal here, so you will smell cabbage and ham fried in dark sesame oil at 6:30 every morning. Also, the hotels charge a fortune for extra breakfasts. PB gives you a protein kick and allows you to hide out in the room with a loaf of bread and your coffee maker, if you need to do that. (Another tip? We asked the hotel to sell us a half loaf of raisin bread, and they did.)

If you have an iphone or itouch, definitely download a good English/Chinese translator. This has SAVED us multiple times. Also, there is a free measurement conversion application that changes international currency, weights, lengths, times, etc.

A list of email addresses and phone numbers for people you might need to contact in the US. Written on actual paper.

Bug spray. Especially for Guangzhou.

Vick's vapor rub. The pollution makes breathing difficult. This really helps. (Also, Ricola. Also, Tylenol cold/sinus meds.)

Instant coffee/ dry creamer . The coffee in China is more like espresso. It's bitter and strong even for people who like strong coffee in the US.

Teabags for hot tea. (I know, you should be able to find tea in China. But teabags are lightweight, and familiar brands are expensive here.)

Water-flavoring packets. Sometimes the bottled water here has a really strange taste to it. But you need to drink to keep hydrated in this heat. These can help.

Packets of hot cocoa with dried milk in them. Chocolate is hard to find here. So is good milk. This would be a nice supplement.

Energy bars/cereal bars. Especially during the first part of the trip, the schedule is rigorous. Do not expect to get time for meals just because you are hungry. Tucking these into a backpack can save you. Make room for at least three boxes of them.

Cheap socks to throw away (I read this on many, many blogs before leaving; but I was too much of a tightwad to go for it. I thought I could just wash out socks in the sink and hang them to dry. Or, I thought I could buy them here. Neither has been true. They will not dry before mildewing. It's too humid. And the socks in stores here are very thin and sold by the pair. That makes them more expensive than US socks. If you pay to launder socks here, some hotels charge $2 a pair. So, buying a $6 pack of socks in the US and throwing them away is much cheaper than sending out laundry here. )

An extra flat iron OR a super good converter. These apparently fry really easily here, even on the typical converter.

A travel iron. None of our hotels have had them.

Febreeze and a tiny scented candle in a tin case. Some of rooms have smelled fine. But if you get a funky-smelling room in China, you will REALLY wish you had these. It's not just that stale cigarette smoke smell you get in US hotel rooms. It's not just human body odor. I was prepared for those. This is like old fish + bowling shoes + really strong industrial chemicals + burned hair. It's very hard to relax at the end of a super long day if your room smells like that.

Chewable Pepto. Lots of it. I accidentally packed two boxes, and thought it was overkill when I realized that. It wasn't.

Light reading books in English. There are places to read, but no bookstores. The books I brought are too weighty for relaxation at the end of a crazy day. I should have just brought some biographies or story fiction.

Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, etc. We have spent hours doing these for some reason.

I wish I had brought our Camelbaks. :( I tried to save space by leaving them at home. That was a mistake, especially for staying at the Victory where drinking water is provided.

Thin, cheap slippers to wear in the hotel rooms. The floors feels icky with all of the humidity. And they leave your socks gross.

A lavender sachet. This sounds crazy, but I stuck one in my backpack at the last minute on a whim. I have used it on crowded buses, airplanes, etc. It really helps when you are in a cramped, stinky situation that would otherwise feel clostrophobic.

Extra AA batteries. Of course.

The $12 folding umbrella stroller we bought in Zhengzhou has been fine for our trip. We debated for a long time about this, but I'm glad we did that instead of the heavier, bulkier ones. It's much easier getting in and out of the charter buses and taxis. Even though I want a sturdier one when we get home, this has been way better for cramped transportation needs here. And it has been OK on the bumpy construction in Guangzhou. (Moses is 30 pounds, BTW.)

Big, vinyl-coated bibs that wipe off with a diaper wipe. Baby spoons. Sippy cups. (All hard to find here.)

A backpack/leash for Moses. I found this one with a write-on/wipe-off board at Ross for $4.
I don't know what we would have done without it. When he needs to run a little in airports or in busy parks, this is a lifesaver. It has a big pouch for storing things, and it's cool enough, he doesn't mind wearing it. The furry animal ones are cute, but would be would be WAY too hot for Guangzhou weather in the summer.

A lightweight, mesh laundry bag. I wish I had brought one to transport dirty laundry to the shop and to hold dirty clothes in the room.

A portable DVD player would have been nice. You can buy Chinese kids' movies here cheaply, but the TV's won't play them.

Ask your guide to write this in Chinese for you on a little card, and carry it with you everywhere after you receive your child. You are likely to want it if people on the street treat you with anger or suspicion. Many of the Chinese people have heard about child trafficking, and some are genuinely worried when they see Americans with Asian children. We have found this explanation to be very helpful for those who are truly concerned. : "This child had serious medical issues at birth, and was left as an orphan. We are adopting him/her as our new son/daughter. We love him/her very much and will provide excellent medical care for our child, and a good education. We are very grateful for the opportunity to give our son/daughter a loving and happy new life."

That's all I can think of for now. I'll update this list later if something else comes to mind...


a couple of thoughts

I'm wanting to write a couple of thoughts down quickly before I forget them, but they will be disjointed.

Something I don't think I have recorded so far is the fact that Shamain Island is under a great deal of construction in preparation for the Asian games. This means that a lot of physical laborers are present on the street constantly, moving wheelbarrows, using jack hammers, and climbing stories of bamboo scaffolding. I find myself looking UP a lot, just in case something is falling. They wear thin plastic shoes (think Crocs, only form fitted and much thinner) to do this heavy labor. During mealtime, you will see these people squatting down on their heels, eating bowls of plain white rice. And after work, you can see them using the stones of the street to scrub their clothing out for a wash. These people are small and thin, and there are elderly women working as well as young men. They are dignified, and seem like they would be insulted if I handed them money. But it causes a pain in my chest to see an elderly woman carting a wagon full of concrete or sand, doing nothing to help. At night, some of these workers sleep on mats on the street. I don't know if they are avoiding the indoor heat, or if this is their only place to rest.

We have also seen wealthy, gorgeous models doing photoshoots every day we have been here. There are brides and grooms running around the streets, the girls holding their massive dresses up out of the construction grime. Asian models also showcase new street fashions while a flurry of photographers, makeup artists, and directors buzz around, waving fans to try to keep the sweat off of the models' faces.

During the day, between families playing badmitton (which is major here) Chinese soldiers in full dress work through military routines on the street. They practice marching, drills, and other exercises. It's not really frightening, but you are definitely aware of it. And it feels unusual to me, since this has never been a part of my world before.

Our time with our friend from Singapore was precious. It was so good to sit down and connect with a familiar, loving face during the loneliness of being far from home. He has a CRAZY sense of humor, and it was refreshing to just laugh and play a little amid the challenges of this adventure. We had dinner together twice, then the boys went on an adventure to a massive electronics store yesterday.

A few nights ago, Clara ate EEL that had been swimming in a five-gallon bucket just moments before! Those of you who know her will understand why this is a big deal. This is the child who won't eat cheese pizza if it doesn't taste just right. But she was sitting in a Cantonese/Thai restaurant, listening to live fish being smacked on concrete before being cooked, eating strips of fried eel. 'Atta girl!

The adjustment with Moses is going well. He really is a bundle of life. I keep wanting to call him "Dodger" from Dickens' _The Artful Dodger._ He is SO full of vibrance and mischief.

Two nights ago, we ate at a restaurant on the river. The tour boats here are covered in flashing, colorful lights. I don't think Moses had ever seen a boat before, let alone something so fabulous as that. He kept shouting (in Mandarin) "Look! Here comes another one!" over and over again. He also learned how to say, "WOW!"

Keeping a three-year-old busy in a hotel suite isn't the easiest job in the world. And since the cars feel free to use the sidewalks here, sometimes walking can be tough. I'm hoping we will get a chance to go to the park later today to just let him run.

Bobby was telling me this morning about a book he is reading called _Surfing the Edge of Chaos._ Apparently it talks about how it is good for an organism to be placed into an environment where new muscles have to be used, so that it will grow in new ways. That's what is happening to our family. We can feel it in so many ways.

Please pray we will have widsdom about when to discipline and when to just bond. Even though our transition has been way easier than most because he is such a happy, affectionate child, there are still situations where we need to know how to parent him well. And Moses has been through SO many changes at once. Hotels are an artificial environment, so it's hard to be consistent with a routine. Four more nights here, and we will be heading home. There is a constant sense that we are parenting within a parenthesis.

Better go. Moses just woke up. He loves to run in and POUNCE on Yo-Yo and Si-Say's beds while they are sleeping. They groan and moan about it, but you can tell they love it, too. Miss you all. 'Looking forward to seeing your faces again soon.


America's influence

This afternoon was a little weird. I'm not sure what happened, but when we got off the bus at the Pearl Market, I suddenly felt HORRIBLE. It was hot, muggy, loud, and intensely crowded. It's hard to explain how hot, how muggy, how loud, and how crowded it is in American terms. Even in our large cities, I haven't experienced anything like that in the US. The magnitude of heat and bodies was surreal, like a tsunami of urban, oven chaos. It feels like it's pushing you down into the earth. It will literally take your breath away.

Maybe this country girl just wasn't prepared for it. Maybe I'm fighting a sinus something, too, because I was super dizzy. But, we had to get right back in a taxi and come home, which was sort of a bummer. (And let me tell you, I'll put up with a lot to avoid a taxi in China.) Maybe another day would be better for that adventure.

Bobby took Moses to get his shots and find out the results of his TB test. I really hope everything is OK. It seems really goofy to me that they would let a kid hang out with you for a WEEK, slobbering all over you, sleeping on you, snuggling with you, THEN force a TB test that could prevent his entry into the US. But that's the way the system works right now.

I found a little jar of Skippy peanut butter this morning. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but I almost shouted, I was so excited. I have no idea how much we paid for it, but I didn't care. I was soooo happy to find it!

I've been thinking some more about what happened with church yesterday. I have no idea what is happening in inner China, but from the very limited exposure I've had to this country, I'm wondering if the greatest threat to faith here is really regulatory. What seems a stronger barrier to me is Western materialism.

If you think Hollywood is having a dark affect on American culture, you should see what it's doing to China. The people here don't seem to understand that what they see on the screen is not how people really live in the US. So, they are desperately trying to replicate the material, sensual extremes the movies show them. At first I thought it was just a love of fashion. But the longer I'm here, the more I'm seeing another side to it.

During a discussion with a linguistics student a few days ago, I was asking her why the girls in China dressed up so much everywhere they went. (You literally see more high heels than flats walking down broken streets, driving mopeds, riding bikes, washing clothes on the street.) She was surprised that I was asking, because she thought that was what the girls in the US did. She thought that from watching the movies. I giggled and enlightened her a little about feminine life in East Tennessee.

Literally, though, so many people here are trying very hard to replicate the glamor of the movies. They don't have any checks or balances to show them it's just a fantasy. I'm concerned that the biggest influence America seems to have here is our worst.

I wonder if there is any way we could repair what we are destroying? It seems like the Chinese government would be glad to have influential resources that would promote strong family values, responsible community, and a good work ethic instead of movies promoting loose living and selfishness. I think we need to start praying for the creativity and resources to offer better, healing gifts to this part of the world, instead of harmful ones. I'm just so sorry that the cancer of our own culture has spread here. It makes me ashamed and very sad.

Better run. Moses is home again. TB test came back negtive. Shots are done. So thankful for both.

(Photo is of Moses watching the koi in the White Swan hotel. They are gorgeous.)


a surprise

Yesterday morning I was taking some laundry to the wash when I saw three older Chinese people playing a version of hackey sack on the street. It was amazing to see grey-haired folks doing tricks that very few American teenagers could manage.

As I was watching, a pretty Chinese girl and her daughter walked by. She told me I could join the game, and I just laughed. Then I saw she was carrying a huge Bible under her arm. I asked her if she was a Christian, and she said, "Yes, I'm going to church right now. Why don't you come?" Talk about the last thing I was expecting to find in China on a Sunday morning! I asked her if she was frightened to talk about her faith so openly. She just laughed and said it was not a problem.

I walked with her to a beautiful church building near the US Consulate. It looked like it was built a few hundred years ago, constructed in a Western style. It was absolutely PACKED with Chinese people, and within a few moments there was standing room only. There was a mix of poor and wealthy people, and I only saw a few Western faces in the crowd. It was surreal to hear their voices singing praise songs in English and in Chinese.

The message was very good. The pastor taught from the book of Esther, and he had insights that I have missed my whole life. When he talked about the three-day fast of Esther, he said this was the sort of fast that could kill you. Thinking about how thin many people are here, I guess three days without food would be much more serious than it would be to an American with lots of padding. Maybe his idea is closer to the original context? He challenged the congregants to really think about what it meant to trust God for hope when the stakes were this high.

There was a huge emphasis on loving others. It was beautiful to see how practically they took the exhortation to walk into difficult relationships and work situations guided by sacrificial concern for others. There was also a time for testimony where members could get up and talk about how God had been working in their lives.

I got to speak with my new friend a little about the difficulties of following Christ in China. Most of her problems seemed to come from friends and family members who couldn't understand why she would make this choice. I don't know what is happening in other places in China, but there seems to be at least some freedom of worship here in Guangzou. Maybe there is more here because of all the American tourists that visit? But everything I saw happening today was very public, open, and relaxed. There was nothing hidden or discrete about it at all. There were huge signs on the street advertising services, etc.

Our friend from Singapore showed up today. It was SO good to see him. He has a crazy sense of humor, and our kids had a ball talking with him. It was also nice that Moses liked him, because he has been very hesitant to talk to Chinese people here for some reason. He usually turns his head away when people speak to him in Chinese. (I've wondered if he was afraid they would take him back to the orphanage?) When our Singaporean friend spoke to him, Moses would respond sometimes. And the translation was a super benefit for us.

Well, I better run. We are doing a tour of the Pearl Market today, and Moses needs also two immunizations. That's fewer than any of the other kids, so we are thankful that his records are thorough and clear. Some of these little ones here will receive 6-8 shots at once.


who needs sleep?

Aargh. Moses won't sleep.

He's so cute, standing in his crib in his Buzz Lightyear pajamas. He wants us to come in and snuggle with him. Again. For the fourth time. He isn't crying. But I know he is standing there, tilting his head at an angle, shifting from foot to foot, wanting us to come back in the room. I don't know what to do.

Bobby and I played with him on the bed for a long, long time tonight. It's like he's trying to soak up all the love he missed as an infant. He grabs our noses and turns our faces left and right so he can kiss us on each cheek. He does this over and over again. Then he will grab our hands and pull them into his chest and tuck them under his arm like a little kid holding a teddy bear. It's a very possessive thing, like he is saying, "You are MINE!"

Every once in a while, he will do some repetitive self-rocking, or hitting his head on the mattress. His actions are much milder than a lot of the other kids, but he still does it a little bit. I think it has to do with sensory input. This is very normal for an institutionalized child who has had to comfort himself at night. He didn't have a mom or dad to pat his back or rock him, so he had to get that motion and pressure fulfilled in his own way.

When we hold him on the bed, he will do this a little, then reach for us. It's very interesting. It's like he's trying to replace his old patterns with new ones. He is incredibly sweet about it. You can almost feel the gaps in his heart filling up as he pulls us into his world.

But I need him to sleep now. It's almost eleven o'clock, and I don't want him to get sick from fatigue.

Tonight was fun. JD and Moses played swords with empty Coke bottles. Whack. Whack. Whack. (Boy language for, "I love you, man." We taught Moses how to give an exploding fist five. And, we shared a couple of yummy discoveries from a local bakery. Also, I opened a bag of Jelly Belly's I brought from home, which I'm eating in the dark right now. NOT a good idea. Who in the world thought it was a good idea to make coffee or popcorn flavored jelly beans? Now that's just gross.

An hour or two ago, Clara tucked Moses in bed and sang to him for a long time while rubbing his back. It was so sweet to hear that. Bobby and I tucked him in a time or two after that. No wonder he doesn't want to sleep, huh? Apparently one problem with adopting a child seven years younger than the baby of the family is that EVERYONE wants to spoil him. What a mess.

Well, I'm going to try to get some sleep. I hope Moses will soon, too...


coming into color, coming into 3D

Ahh sleep! We feel SO much better this morning!

Yesterday was rough. Scratch flying into the remnants of a tropical storm from the list things I ever want to do again. However, it was breathtakingly beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

From the plane window, we got to watch lightning slicing down from above our plane, piercing through layer after layer of indigo, woolen clouds. We saw the sun set through a little hole in a sky that surrounded by a tunnel of blackness. JD used the word "otherworldly" to describe it, and he said it was too beautiful to be frightened after the first bolt of light. Clara loved it and wants to be a stewardess. Moses was thrilled people brought him food, then he slept. I shut my eyes, prayed like crazy, and buried my face in Moses' blanket.

From looking at the weather channel, our flight should have been a LOT rougher than it was. There's an Army commander in our adoption group who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been trained for combat flights that drop and spin like crazy to avoid enemy fire, and he took Dramamine yesterday, because he was afraid we were going to have an awful flight through the storm. It wasn't smooth. But it wasn't awful. I kept praying God would open up a little hole in the storm for us to fly through, and I think He did.

It's interesting, because the night before we flew, I finally sat in the bathroom and cried. Those of you who know me know that dentists, storms, and planes are my biggest fears. Walking my children into two of the three at once just put me over the edge. I was totally terrified, second guessing myself, trying to figure out if I had been foolish to walk into such craziness. It was one of those moments where I hit, "What am I DOING with children on the other side of the world, flying into a tropical storm?"

If you don't fear flying, this might not make sense. But I was literally at the point where I was telling God that I physically could NOT get onto that plane if He didn't help me. And I meant it. This was something I just wasn't able to do. But as we researched possible alternatives, we realized there was no other way around it.

There was a really long delay when we finally boarded. Sitting in a cramped plane, watching the wind and rain blow, dreading flying isn't the best balm for fear. Finally, I pulled out one of my favorite little books (thanks, Celeste), _The Gospel Primer_. Over and again, verses about spiritual adoption and the cost of our redemption were referenced. It was suddenly like someone had printed the Bible in 3D.

God sent His son into danger. He intentionally sent Him into the worst storm imaginable. He sent Him into layer after layer of darkness and chaos so that we could be adopted as His sons and daughters. That was the cost of my adoption and yours. There was no other way around it.

Sitting on that plane, trembling, looking at my family, fearing for them, that sacrifice suddenly came into color. I can't understand what it felt like for God to send His Son to earth, or how His great heart grieved. What He did was such a harder thing than what I did yesterday... He knew Jesus would be hurt. He knew He would die.

We were orphans, but God went through horrible things for us, because He loved us too much to let us live a Fatherless life. This is the currency of God's love for us.

The Victory Hotel in Guangzhou is amazing. We found out about it through a friend who has adopted before. You can get a suite here for the price of a room at the White Swan, and there is filtered water in each room. There is also free internet. These are huge benefits when you are living in China.

Also, we got the only non-smoking Japanese suite in the hotel. (A friend told us about that, too.) That is crazy, because this is usually the first room to go. The guides couldn't believe it was open, but they asked anyway. We have the first soft bed we've had the whole time, and it is incredible. Two rooms, two bathrooms, and space for Moses to play.

Moses is a hoot. He is the most masculine Chinese kid I've seen EVER. Everywhere we go, people say, "He's all boy, isn't he?" He has a scar on his elbow with stitches marks, and I have a feeling that won't be his last. He adores JD and Bobby, and is soaking up having some men in his life. (JD is teaching him how to do pushups right now.) He is just rugged. It's hilarious. I know we joked about the world's first Chinese football player, but I think he could seriously do it. I can already tell it's going to break his heart when YoYo goes to college. They have a really special connection.

I LOVE this city. I think it was a British colony at one time, and it's gorgeous. I've always wanted to live in a former British colony, so this is my chance. I love the way the art and culture blend to make everything exotic but familiar. I'll try to take some photos to upload later. There are hearty wicker chairs on front porticos, and massive colonial buildings. Landscaping everywhere. Outside and inside blend in the architecture. It's tropical hot and breezy. If we have to spend a week waiting somewhere, I'm so thankful it's here. I feel totally spoiled. Also, we get to meet our friend from Singapore tomorrow, and we are PUMPED about that.

Better run. Moses needs attention. Thanks so much for your prayers.


in Guangzhou

We are finally in Guangzhou in our hotel. One in the morning here and too tired to update tonight. Will write more in the morning. Love, Bec


huge prayer request

I wasn't going to blog about this, because I didn't want my family to worry. But then I realized Mom is probably checking the Weather Channel, regardless.

So, here's the situation. There was a tropical storm that landed in South East China yesterday. If you look at the weather map, there's really no way to get from Zhengzhou to Guangzhou without going through some residual storms.

We checked into taking a train instead, and we are still looking at that. But traveling 15 hours on a train through potentially flooded land and wind storms has its own dangers, especially considering the fact that we would not have a translator, and we would be travelling with an Asian child. This could cause suspicion, with no way to explain the truth of what we are doing.
We thought about waiting a few days to fly. But it is looking like children over the age of two must have a TB test tomorrow so that the results can appear before the consulate appointment. We are also checking on alternatives for that.

From what we have heard, the main force of the storm has lessened some since last night. And our Chinese guides are keeping an eye on the situation, trying to make the best decision considering all factors.

This is sort of a "Going on a Bear Hunt" situation. We can't go over it. We can't go under it. We have to go through it.

Your prayers for wisdom and protection would really be appreciated. Surely the Lord who has brought us this far has a perfect plan for the rest of our trip. But flying is really tough for me on a good day. (Translation: I would rather eat live cockroaches.) So I'm going to need strength and courage that is beyond my own resources. I need to be a strong, calm mommy because this will be Moses' first flight and he is very energetic today.

Meanwhile, JD is watching Chinese MTV. (It's more romantic music than wild rock here.) A Chinese Robin (yes, from Batman and Robin) is trying to woo a girl with a white chihuahua. I feel like David after the dentist. Is this real life? :) Oh boy.

We love you all. Thanks for your prayers. God is so good. Colosians 1:17 has taken on a gritty, meaty, tactile meaning for me over the past week. I'm grateful that He is so close.

Much love,


our first watercolors

Well, we made it until bedtime. So far today, Moses has figured out how to (1) RESET the combination on the digital safe in our room, (2) what happens when you throw an entire glass of water into the air, and (3) why you shouldn't fill a flip straw sippie cup with Sprite, shake it up, and hand it to Daddy in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

You should have seen the looks we got when we pointed to Moses, and tried to tell Chinese maintenance that he had reworked the theft-proof safe. Sigh. I still don't know how he did it. We just heard a bunch of beeps, and the combination was suddenly different. I know he had watched us open it once, but surely he didn't memorize it that fast?!

He's definitely not ADD, because he sat with Bobby for about an hour, intensely, seriously focused on making Play-Doh sculptures. Then, he was deeply absorbed in watercolor painting for about 40 minutes. He has an incredible attention span for a child this age.

However, he has almost boundless energy for exploring the world. When we put him in the bathtub, it's like he's trying to play fast so he can learn everything about how water works all at once. He will scoop huge cupfuls of water over his face and squeal with joy. Thankfully, I brought some bath toys with little axles that turn when you pour water through them. He LOVES watching those little gadgets turning, and aggressively (this is the only word I can think of to describe how robustly he is trying to learn) works the water to see how it will affect each one. Dunks the rubber duck. Lifts each foot in the air and pours water between each of his toes. Boom. Boom. Boom. Learn this. Learn that. Try this. Try that. Momma said not to drink the tub water. What happens if I do it anyway? What happens if I almost do it anyway? What happens if I try to fake her out, then almost do it anyway?

We had a pretty significant fit today when we told him, "No" about something. We just patiently and gently held him in our laps. After a pretty stubborn crying session, he finally said, "Sorry, Daddy." And all was well with the world again.

I'm DELIGHTED that he has this much fight in him. His spirit hasn't been broken, and he expects adults to respond to his emotions. He definitely needs retraining in self-control, but there's a fire in his spirit that has tremendous potential once it is directed toward good.

I asked someone if they could recognize his heritage from his face. She said he was mostly Han Chinese, but that he had the facial porportions that Chinese people consider very handsome. So, it's likely that he was considered "cute" in the orphanage. That may be why he has learned to move mountains with a cute little smile and a twinkle in his eye.

We spent some time training him to "Come here" with Skittles today. He loved the game, but we have some more work to go yet.

He hated the hotel playroom. His body tensed up and he kept saying, "Come on!" We found out that there were foam pads on the floor like what were in his orphanage. Maybe that was it.

Better run. Someone is throwing his last fit of the day... I love my little tiger. :)


today's update

Today has been pretty laid back. We skipped a museum tour to sleep late since tummies were still iffy. We actually saw a bluish sky out the window today WITH white clouds. It is hard to explain how much different that makes things feel.

As I walk down the street, I'm starting to see more differences in people's faces than I did at first. Some of the faces look more Mongolian, some look more Polynesian, etc. It seems like many of the people who are in service positions (garbage collectors, street cleaners) have a very angular, bony look to their faces. They also seem smaller and darker. Some of the people are very tall, over six feet. There are skinny people and heavy ones. White faces and brown ones. Some of the women are breathtakingly beautiful, and some of the men are ruggedly handsome. I have heard there are over 50 different races within China, and I would love to study the history behind what I am starting to see.

I'm going to see if our guides will tell us which ethnic group Moses looks like to them. Most of China is Han Chinese, but I can't tell if that is his heritage. People in restaurants will make a big fuss over him being especially cute, and of course we think he is precious. But I also feel sort of like they are seeing something cultural that I can't understand.

This morning, I was reading Psalm 131 before everyone woke up. Becuase this process has been so overwhelming (OK, let's be honest... terrifying), I have read this passage over and over again for many months.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul witin me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.

It was interesting reading it once more post-Moses. We take it for granted that a child trusts his/her parents. We assume that a baby will be comforted when the parent is near. But watching these adoptive families interact with their new children has shown me a different side to things.

Some of them have rejected their new fathers. (Perhaps they have never seen a man before.) Some of the babies have rejected their new mothers. (Possibly, they have never seen a Western face before.) Our family's situation is not necessarily normal, because Moses just bonded with all of us so fast. Many of the other families are having to take slow, cautious steps toward building trust with their little ones.

Still, as the days pass, Moses' trust grows too. When nap time came today, Moses didn't want to lie in his bed, and I was exhausted. So, I pulled him into bed with me, and he snuggled down like a little bear cub. (He LOVES to snuggle, which is not always the case with institutionalized kids.) As we were lying there, he took his little hand and started exploring my face like a 4-5 month old baby. Moms will know what I'm talking about. Remember how newborns reach up and pinch and poke around on your face, as if they are trying to memorize it? That's what he was doing. Then he reached out for my hair and felt of the curls and tickled his nose with them. It was super cute, watching him catch up on that step he missed as an infant. I could tell something important was happening for him.

(BTW, He did the same thing with Bobby today. He crawled up in his lap and felt his whiskery cheeks, pulled on his nose, and seemed to be studying how everything worked.)

When Moses finally fell asleep, he took a deep breath and just melted into my shoulder. Like a weaned child with his mother. Knowing us better. Trusting us more.

It made me wonder how much easier trusting God would be if we took time to memorize what He's like. Being adopted makes everything new, and so trust does not come easy at first. It was good to learn from Moses how vital a step learning someone is.

Today is our last day in Zhengzhou. Tomorrow we fly to Guangzhou to wait for our consulate appointment. We're super excited to hang out with a good friend from Singapore during that visit. And it will be nice to just have some rest after all of the paperwork.

PLEASE pray for an easy, safe flight. Airplanes are still not fun experiences for me.

Including photos of Moses napping and exploring a pack of Oreos we found. Some things must just be universal.


Two quick prayer requests.

1. It looks like JD and Clara might have caught the tummy bug that's going around the travel group. Please pray it would be short lived, and that we wouldn't catch it. Thankfully, I have some serious meds US docs gave us before we left ready if we need them. I also have electrolyte replacements. And so far, it isn't severe. But obviously this is not our favorite place to be sick.

2. Also please pray for Moses as he transitions. Day 3 is often tough, because the child finally starts to trust his/her family enough start expressing the confusing emotions they are having.
Moses has been testing boundaries today, and he isn't sure how to respond when he doesn't get his way. But I have to say "no" to some things for his safety.

He is ashamed when he makes a mistake, and then he doesn't know what to do. So he just runs to hide in the smallest space he can find and rocks. I have been going to pick him up to hold him when he does this, to show him that I love him even when he does something wrong. But still, "no" still means "no." He doesn't seem to have a framework for this.

Tonight, he cried for a long time while I held him and quietly persisted with a "no" about something. I rubbed his back and was very calm/tender, but I wouldn't let him have his way. It was interesting to watch what happened in his body. He fussed and tried to pull away to run and hide. I held him gently and just rubbed his back as he rocked. I could tell he wanted to be with me, but was afraid to be rejected at the same time.

Finally, he took a big breath and folded in half and relaxed. I'm not sure he understood what a backrub was, but it was like he had needed that his whole life. He just melted. Then he fell totally, deeply asleep with his face on his socks.

I'm not sure, but I think seeing the orphanage might have been tough for him. There were so many emotions for a little boy to process.

Anyway, prayers for these two things (particularly) would be very welcome. First, for our health. Secondly, we want to give Moses the gift of knowing healthy boundaries are in place. But we want him to feel totally secure in our love at the same time. That can be tricky training for a little hotel room. We need wisdom.

Thanks for praying. Email me your prayer requests, too, and we will pray for you (email at bobby (at) gracekingsport (dot) org. (Also, if anyone has an update on the Keeton's, will you please email that? Thanks.)


signing papers

Because I'm intentionally trying to be positive about this whole trip, this will be short.

We just finished three hours of driving through intense traffic, smog so thick I was having trouble breathing, and moving flood waters with a three-year-old child who has only known us for two days to get to Jiaozuo. Once there, we climbed five flights of steps to sign nine papers, and then we drove back home. It was difficult. But it's over now.

We also saw the orphanage. But I'll write about all that another time.

Thanking the Lord that trip is finally over. I've never been so glad to see a hotel room in my entire life.


"Just in case you've never seen a Chinese kid wearing a Mexican hat playing Pass the Pigs."

WE HAVE OUR HANDS FULL!! Hahaha! I have prayed for almost a year that Moses' spirit wouldn't be broken by group care, that he would have a sense of humor and spunk to get him through difficulty, and that he would have a strong will that makes the best of the worst. I am seeing now that every single prayer was answered. Oh my goodness.

As Moses gets more comfortable in his new family, his precocious, determined spirit is becoming more evident. We're going to have to get out _The Strong-Willed Child_ again! Haha!

I don't know if you can tell from these photos, but he is constantly trying to figure out how everything works, and he thinks "No" is just a funny thing adults say to spoil a good time. We are lying low on the discipline during the bonding time, since establishing trust is the single most important thing to do for the first few weeks. But when we get home, we're going to have some work to do. And we did have a small battle of the wills this morning.

Particularly, we need to spend some patient, happy time intentionally training him to come to us when we ask. And we need to teach him "don't touch that." It's sometimes hard to keep him safe here because he doesn't understand those concepts, so those are the top two things on our list.

Gotta run and sign some more papers. Hopefully the last set before Guangzhou...

Also attaching photos of Clara's new friend (Joy) and JD coloring pictures. :)

(the joy of experiencing a sucker!!!)



Last night we turned on the TV and found _Singing in the Rain._ Since JD acted in that performance last semester, we love the movie, and it was nice to watch something we could actually understand. (Attaching a photo of Moses watching the "Moses supposes his toeses are roses" scene, with Chinese subtitles.)

We've noticed a marked change in the Chinese people since we started walking around with a Chinese baby. Some just laugh at the oddity of it, and some smile. But there are others who are very negative, trying to confront us about what we are doing. I can't blame them too much. If I saw a bunch of foreigners walking around my home town with an American baby, it would weird me out, too.

Also, since we obviously have two other children, why we would need another child seems odd here. Most Chinese families only have one child. So we just look weird to the folks here in many ways.

I found the Chinese word for "orphan" on my itouch translator, and when I show that to people, they seem to understand better. Some seems to have trouble believing that a male child so vibrant, cute, and healthy would be an orphan. And I get the feeling that most Chinese people don't think about orphans much at all. One educated, middle aged man seemed genuinely worried about Moses, so I showed him the scar on his tummy. When he realized something had seriously been wrong with him, he seemed to believe that our intentions were good.
I'm going to see if I can get our Chinese guide to write out a little explanation for us to show people who are genuinely concerned. Once we get to Guangzhou, it shouldn't be an issue since most of the families on the island there are adopting.

I came expecting slums-of-India dirty, so China still seems relatively clean to me. I'm not seeing fly-covered dried ducks hanging from street vendor booths. I'm not seeing human waste on the streets. There is very little litter. The smog definitely makes everything feel nasty, and little kids have open pants and pee on the street. But other than that, if you consider how many people are here, it's not so bad.

Of course, Zhengzhou is very metropolitan. I'm definitely not stylish enough to be a part of the in crowd here. Girls have edgy haircuts and ultra modern clothing, and I think they've been studying runway shows in Paris. There are lots of boutiques with beautiful jewelry, clothes, tea, cell phones, purses, shoes, etc. There are lights and fancy signs everywhere, and the interior design of the little shops could rival any American city I've seen. The feeling of the streets is very similar to downtown Nashville or Chicago.

It's humbling walking through downtown. We have only seen two cities in China, but they make me realize I had a mistaken perception of this country. Certainly there are nasty factories and poor rural villages, but deep Appalachia is pretty rough, too. Most of the China I have seen has been innovative, fashionable, and relatively wealthy. The people are not frightened or broken-down looking, in fact, they give off the air of ease and confidence. The policemen smile and are friendly. The people seem to have a lot of life in them, and they are very proud of their country.

Because this is all so different than I was expecting, I might be perceiving it too strongly. There are surely undercurrents and factors I cannot pick up because I'm just skimming the surface. But I came expecting a drab, dull, oppressed culture, and that is not what I'm seeing at all.

There is also a lot more freedom here than I had imagined. I can watch CNN (which doesn't suprise me) and check Fox News online (which does surprise me). People are watching lots of American shows on TV, and they are familiar with many of our sitcoms. I grieve to see there are also lots of girls who seem to be trying to replicate Hollywood demeanor and lifestyle.

Better run. Moses is asking me to read him a book.... priorities!!!


MADE for our family

I really hope I'm not updating too much, but I just little pockets of time during the day, and I don't want to forget any of this.

We just did our certification and registration. That means Moses is officially ours! Woohoo! Jiaozuo families do have one extra step tomorrow, but from what I understand, we are 99% there. I'm celebrating every step of the way.

It's increasingly evident this child was MADE for our family. You'll understand when you meet him. He's going to be SUCH a handful! He sees humor everywhere, and he's a little bit stubborn.

He and JD just "get" eachother, and neither will let the other one get away with anything. It's hilarious watching them tease and try to pick on eachother. He growls and giggles when he says, "Yo-YO!"

He crawled into Clara's bed this morning and held her hand while they both slept. It was precious.

Attaching a photo of his latest discovery, music. He is fascinated with JD's ipod, and has been soaking in Bela Fleck, Bach, and Jim Croce. His favorite so far sems to be the Eagles. I was really hoping someone in this family would be a Praise Baby fan besides me, so we'll give that a shot later.

Better run and get some lunch.



We got to read our first bedtime story together last night. (Thanks for the Buzz Lightyear jammies, Doug and Amy!) We read _Going on a Bear Hunt_, which wasn't planned but now makes me smile because so many times during this long process Bobby and I have looked at eachother and said, "We can't go over it, we can't go under it, we can't go around it, we have to go through it!"

Last night was really great. We went to Chinese Wal Mart to find a cheap umbrella stroller. Moses loved the adventure. He sang little songs to himself and absorbed everything new he saw. Seeing so much food at once was really cool for him, but he only asked for a little packet of crackers.

We went to the noodle restaurant across the street for dinner, and it was incredible. It was fairly cheap, but they hand toss the noodle dough into long strips before cooking it. It's almost like homemade chicken and dumplings, only with noodles. Yum! (Thanks for the recommendation, Corrigans!)

We tried to be careful to limit Moses' strong-tasting foods, but we did give him a nibble here and there, and he has loved everything he has tried. I poured a TINY bit of Sprite into his cup, and I wish you could have seen the look on his face when he swallowed it. It made him explode in laughter that it tingled his mouth.

You may have seen the McDonald's lunch pictures yesterday. Once he realized what french fries and katchup were, he took one in each hand and went to town. It was adorable.

He seems SOOOOO happy to have a family. When I snuggled with him last night before bed, he just melted into my arms. We are so fortunate in this, because a lot of newly adopted children resist physical touch. They just haven't ever experienced it. But Moses can't seem to get enough snuggles. As I was holding him and stroking his hair and rubbing his back, he just kept pinching the skin on my arm with his hand, not letting go. He went to sleep without a wimper and slept like a log. He's still sleeping, in fact.

Whenever we walk somewhere, he grabs my hand and Clara's and marches... as if to say, "Here we go! There are MY people." It feels like we have been together for months.

By the way, another English phrase he can say is, "Go outside." He sings it. He kept repeating it over and over again yesterday, as if he was astonished that we kept going out for little walks. This little boy is going to LOVE the outdoor beauty of East Tennessee.

Last thing, because I need to get ready for the day. Moses is a total FLIRT! I was shocked to see how much of a rascally charmer he is. He gets this little twinkle in his eye, and tilts his head, and smiles. And he knows how to work his eyebrows and mouth to charm the socks off of you. And it's not in a superficial way. It's just playful and sincere.

I'm just in love! We all are.

Sorry this is disjointed. I don't have much time to revise and rewrite. I just want to record some of this quickly so I won't forget it.

Thanks for praying. Please don't stop. Two days of paperwork and another flight are approaching.



I just don't have words enough. "Gotcha" was infinitely sweeter than I had even hoped it could be.

I thought we would have to wait a long time, so I was just sitting at a table talking to another mom when someone ran in screaming, "Your husband has your son! Your husband has your son!" Bobby saw the car pull up, and apparently Moses was the first child out so Bobby ran out to get him. He was screaming when I saw him first. (This is usually a good thing, because it means the child was attached to his caregiver and is able to bond with others.)

I grabbed the snack and sippie cups, and it only took a few seconds for him to calm down once he saw those. He was really excited about having food and juice, and from that moment on, we have been totally fine.

I've never seen a child so starved to learn. He is fascinated by everything. Every detail is wonderful to him. He seems to be memorizing whatever he sees, and he wants to know how everything works. You can laugh if you want, but I seriously think this child is going to be a mechanical engineer.

He sat for a long time at the table and looked at books. He loved the toy car, the MagnaDoodle, and the PlayDoh. The only thing he seems to hate is DOGS. He is terrified of them. (We will definitely need to figure this out later.)

He has a really long attention span, and he laughs way deep down to the bottom of his belly. It's hilarious.

He adores Clara and wants her to hold his hand constantly. "Clara" was the first English word he spoke, in fact. He laughs at JD's antics and calls him "Yo Yo" -- because he can't say "JD."

He thinks water is hilarious, and he wanted to take a bath as soon as he saw how the tub worked. He jumped right in and poured a big cup of water over his head and just cackled. He really seems to approach life with robustness and humor.

Woops. Gotta run and sign some papers right now. More later...

We are absolutely in love. It's so much better than we imagined. It really couldn't be a more perfect fit.

Please don't stop praying. Loads more paperwork, and I won't be totally at peace until it's all official in a few days. I'm absolutely smitten.


About This Blog

Welcome to our family’s adoption journey. As you read, you will see us stumble and take wrong paths. You will see our hopes surge and fall. You will see the gaps in our humanity, and how our God realigns us to His purposes over and again. We think the messiness of this process is important. Sometimes walking with God isn’t a neat, linear package that can be summarized in bullet points. More often, life ebbs and flows around our plans, while God works His sovereign wonders from it all. We are learning so much through this journey. And we are super excited about our new son. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you along for the ride.

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