6.30.2008

We're home

Just a quick note to let everyone know that we are at home (arrived back around midnight Thursday after a long, exhausting trip home, so happy to see so many family members and friends at the airport) and doing well.  The jet lag was brutal for a few days and we are just starting to settle into a routine...sort of... The girls are doing well and adjusting slowly.  They get cuter by the second.  I want to go back and do a recap of our whole trip soon, since I had such trouble posting from China.  I plan on using this site in lieu of a scrapbook, so I want to capture the details and have it to look back on in the future.  I will do that soon, but right now, we are trying to get the sleeping and eating patterns straight and make the girls feel as comfortable and secure as possible.  I can't even imagine what these past two weeks have been like for them...today is two weeks since we got them and so much has changed in all our lives.  Tomorrow is their 1st Birthday, but we are keeping things very low key and may plan a little celebration later on.  We will venture out a bit this coming weekend, but until then, we'll be at home, slowly introducing them to family and friends.  So far, they are not happy to meet our dog Henry, in fact, they burst into tears at the mere sight of him, but we hope that will change over time.  We are so glad to be home again!  Thank you all for all the wonderful, supportive and sweet emails and comments.  We appreciate you all!

6.22.2008

Pictures Coming Soon

Hello all...this is Marcia again. I found out that I can post pictures from Susan's Yahoo group onto here. I don't have time right now (headed to the pool with Ava), but I will post some this evening. The girls are so cute!


Here are the girls and their happy parents!


GOTCHA DAY









First diaper change


The above photos were all on day one, "gotcha day". The rest of them I'm going to try and put in the order Susan posted them in Yahoo.




Eleanor



LilyKate






Can you get any cuter than this???


Daddy is making them laugh


Mom and LilyKate


Happy Parents take a self portrait





Happy Family



6.19.2008

A few photo's

I hope this works!  I am emailing a few photo's, but once again, I cannot see or access blogger.  Enjoy!
 

Pictures!


I am Marcia, Jonathan and Susan's neighbor. They emailed me a few pictures and a video to post. The pictures are of them at a pavilion in Wangteng. The video is of the girls playing on the bed before they go out for the day. The girls are absolutely adorable. We can't wait for them to come home!


I can't seem to add the video...I will get Derek to look at it tonight.





We're doing great!

So sorry that we haven't posted here. I have been unable to see or post to the blog since we've been in Nanchang (I have tried all the back doors). I just thought I'd check again and was able to access, but not sure how long it will last. I will attempt to post a picture or two as well, for those of you who have been following the blog. Family and friends, I hope you all have now joined the Yahoo group we set up. We are posting pics and messages there as often as we can. We are very busy, but have never been happier! LilyKate and Eleanor could not be sweeter, funnier, or more adorable, but they are very active and keep us on our toes. We just got back from a swim and they are napping. LilyKate goes right down, but Eleanor takes some work. They are unbelievable and doing great. I think they are attaching very well and don't seem to prefer one of us over the other. It's hard to believe we have only known them for 3 days, they are so much a part of us.

We leave tomorrow for Guangzhou and are really looking forward to a change of scenery. Nanchang is a huge, busy and fascinating city, but we are looking forward to relaxing there, not worrying about luggage weight limits and getting a chance to really shop and walk around. The girls like to move around and look at things, and the traffic is a little treacherous here. I think I will have better luck posting from Guangzhou, so check back in a couple of days and I'll try to post again. What an amazing, miraculous, whirlwind week we have had!

6.15.2008

Nanchang

We arrived in our hotel room in the province a few moments ago and I just wanted to quickly post while I had the chance. We were unable to access the blog for the past couple of days, but we did post on our yahoo group, along with some pictures, so hope you checked over there. I will try to post some pictures in a little while, from our very busy and exciting day in Beijing, seeing the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, among other things. The hotel is very nice and we walked in to see two cribs and stroller waiting for us! On the bus to the hotel, Zhou talked to us about tomorrow and how the morning will go...we will meet downstairs at 9:30 for breakfast and then walk across the street (to say it's a busy street is an understatement) to the adoption center to meet the babies, who will arrive around 10:30. The babies are coming from 7 different orphanages (all in Jiangxi), so may arrive at different times. It is unreal that this is happening - that we will be parents in about 12 hours from now! The excitement and the butterflies are building and there really are no words to capture what we are feeling. It's about to happen!

6.13.2008

Beijing

We are here in our hotel room in Beijing, where we arrived just a few moments ago - very tired but happy to be here! The flight was long and uneventful. We slept a little, watched a couple of movies, and chatted with a few of our travel mates. We finally got to meet all the families in our group - eight were on the flight from Chicago and the other two flew directly from New York and San Francisco. We all met up in the Beijing Airport, were greeted by our guide Zhou, and boarded a bus to the hotel. It is raining and very overcast, so we didn't get to see much on the way here, but we will head to the Great Wall and Olympic Stadium tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. It's surreal to finally be here...we are completely exhausted and will take a quick shower then it's bed! We did take a few pictures, which we'll post tomorrow. Goodnight from Beijing!

6.11.2008

On our way

Just a few quick words before we call it a night...

Our two suitcases and carry-on's are packed and zipped and loaded in the car.  I'm going to take a quick shower before bed, which I am hoping will relax me, although I'm not sure how much sleep I will get tonight.  Every night for the past 2 1/2 years, I have thought about the moment when they hand us our daughter...and then once we got our referral, daughters.  In the last few moments before I fall asleep, I play out that scene in my head - how it will happen, and how we will all react. I have lived it every way I can think of and yet I am sure it will be nothing like I imagined. It is unbelievable that we are finally just hours away from beginning our trip and a mere few days from living the moment we have longed for all this time. I thank God that we have been blessed to be able to do this, to become parents to these two gorgeous babies and to live our dream, and I know when the moment comes, it will be greater and more astonishing than anything we could ever conceive.

Two by Two

Just a few of the things we had to get in preparation for the girls. We had several baby showers and were blessed with lots of gift cards, so we were able to get the car seats we wanted (love that "cowmooflage" fabric), and the highchairs. The second highchair arrived about an hour ago, so we are all set when we come home. My sweet and generous parents got us the cribs, and the double stroller is from Lisa, Beverly and Minnie Lee. All we need now are our two baby girls to put it all to good use...we meet them 5 short days from today!








6.06.2008

Packed and Ready

So, the packing is now DONE and I can breathe a little easier! Since I have been making lists, buying stuff and getting organized for weeks, it wasn't too big of a chore and the bags both weigh a couple of pounds under the limit. which is great. Thank goodness we are not traveling in the wintertime, as I am not sure how I would have fit much more in those two bags!

We still have our two carry-ons to pack, which are a backpack for Jonathan containing the laptop, cameras and other electronics, along with any items he needs for the flight, as well as a backpack-style diaper bag for me, which will contain the prescription drugs, documents and my must-have items for the flight. We received our passports and visa's back today, and I feel such a sense of accomplishment after this week.

Yesterday we attended yet another baby shower, given by Jonathan's co-workers. We had a wonderful time and were touched by their kindness and generosity - thank you all so much! We now have purchased the car seats and the second highchair, and we are incredibly thankful to all of you. We have all the essentials, the girl's room is ready and we can now relax a little and enjoy our last few days as just a couple, before we become a family of four!

6.04.2008

An amazing gift

This morning we were surprised and moved to tears by an email from a complete stranger. She is a member of the Yahoo Group of families who have adopted from the Shanggao SWI. This woman is currently in China, visiting the orphanage that our girls are from, with her husband and five year-old. They adopted their daughter in 2003 and were returning for the first time. They received a very warm welcome and upon arrival, got a chance to meet our girls, who have been brought there prior to the adoption. It is common practice to return children in foster care to the orphanage right before they are to be adopted, but we had no idea it would have happened already. We are, however, thrilled that they sound happy and healthy and they have come through this one, of many changes they will face, so well. We feel so fortunate to have this update and this only makes us even more excited and eager to meet them! Here is most of her letter to me, with just few small parts and their personal info left out:

Susan,

WOW! WOW! WOW! They are healthy, strong, alert, smart and beautiful!!!! That's what you really want to know, right?

We were received like royalty at Shanggao. As we walked into the lobby with Director Wu we were also greeted by your sweet girls in their little "walker" seats. (Our daughter) immediately began to play with them. We have several photos! I will see if my husband can send them from the computer here...if not we will try in a couple of days, and if all else fails we will do so in the States.

At any rate, your girls have already left the foster home and gotten over the worst shock that they would have entailed ... they appear very content and happy now... we saw the tender care they are getting. A woman was happily looking after them. They were very sturdy and healthy, sitting up well in their little seats, and had a strong grip. They were very interested in the camera and appeared very interested when we showed them their own photos on the digital camera screen and tried to grab the camera! They have a very strong gaze and look into your eyes...they should have no problems attaching and are not timid!

One of the twins had a couple of little scratches on the side of her face...nothing to worry about...she had probably done it with her own fingernail. They look more developed than in the photos you posted (well, of course...but I can tell by the photos you posted, the babies we saw are definitely YOUR babies!) and have nice full heads of wispy fine hair...brown rather than black or dark brown.

We were all very charmed by your precious children...upon seeing them I know I must get online and find out where their parents are...I now just wish I had known about you earlier and I would have asked more specific questions or gotten more specific information. Anyway, you can rest easily that they are in the best possible care until you get there, and by our own experiences at Shanggao I know that all the staff really care about the children.


We send our warmest thanks to this family and if possible, will post any pictures they send.  Sweet baby girls, we will be there soon!

6.03.2008

Our Official Itinerary

Okay, here is the itinerary for our trip, which we received yesterday from our wonderful China Coordinator, Uncle Zhou (pronounced Joe). We have heard so many great things about him and can't wait to meet him in person, along with all the families in our travel group.  Just 10 days to go before we leave! We have our plane tickets and are waiting on our Visa's, which should arrive on Friday. I plan on packing at the end of this week and then having a few days to tie up some loose ends, run the last errands, and get the house cleaned and ready before we leave. China and parenthood, here we come!

June 12 - Leave for Beijing via Chicago

June 13 - Arrive in Beijing. We will stay at the
Holiday Inn Downtown Beijing

June 14 - Visit the Great Wall. Lunch and shopping by the Wall. On the way back, we will stop at the Olympic Stadium

June 15 - Visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, a silk factory, and enjoy late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Depart for Nanchang at 5:10 pm - arrive at 7:30 pm. We will stay at the
Galactic Peace International Hotel (don't you love that name?)

June 16 - We will walk to the adoption center, which is just across the street from our hotel, to meet our daughters at
10:00 am!! Then we'll sign some documents, get a chance to ask some questions about our girls and head back to the hotel for lunch or rest. We will return there in the afternoon to do some additional adoption paperwork.

June 17 - We will go by bus to the notary office and police station to apply for the babies Chinese passports

June 18 - A day of rest and bonding, or sightseeing and shopping

June 19 - We will do some sight-seeing by bus

June 20 - Fly to Guangzhou at 5:45 pm, arriving at 7:20 pm. We will stay at the
Guangdong Victory Hotel

June 21 - Babies Visa photos and Medical Exams in the morning

June 22 - Shopping at the Jade and Pearl market

June 23 - We'll visit the Fish & Bird Market, experiencing the Guangzhou subway

June 24 - Appointment at the US Consulate for a short ceremony and to pick-up the babies Visa's

June 25 - Heading home departing from Hong Kong! We leave the hotel at 6:00 am and arrive home (via Chicago) at 8:01 pm

6.02.2008

Showers of Love

The ladies of Mount Zion hosted an amazing shower for me yesterday. They overwhelmed me with their kindness, love and generosity, and I was moved to tears more than once during the afternoon. We have the most incredible church family you could imagine and they are all just about as excited as Jonathan and I are to meet our daughters. We ate delicious food, spent time together, and oohed and aahed over more gifts than anyone deserves. Below are a few shots that I took at the shower, as well as some of the piles of gifts in the girls' room later that day, as I went through it all again, read every sweet card and tried to find a place for all the wonderful things we received.

We love you all so much and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your love and support mean more to us than we could ever say and we know that you will love and care for our daughters as you do all the children of Mt. Zion - like your own.  We are blessed!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!



The lovely centerpiece with live goldfish made by Lisa B


Close-up of the fish


Some of the many gifts waiting to be opened


Gorgeous cupcakes made by my sweet friend Marcia


Adorable girls who helped me open all those gifts - Savannah, Lexi and Brooke


Gifts, gifts and more gifts - wow!


Sorting through and savoring each one