Count of Chicks for Children

God's Plan For Us

This is our journey - God's incredible plan for our lives. When we followed the moving of the Holy Spirit, He opened the windows of Heaven and poured out upon us blessings we never dreamed of! Indescribable joy!

" For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, February 28, 2014

Triple Blessings!!!


A Triple Blessing

 

We are expecting two more grandbabies!! In the span of 8 months we will welcome not one, not two, but THREE grandchildren into our family. Melody was born in January, Zak and Mandy are due in May (A boy!! Will he be spoiled or what?!!!), and Zeb and Dana are expecting their first in September (We find out gender in April). My heart can barely contain all the joy!!!! That will bring us to 4 grandchildren (Zeza is 4 years old), and we couldn’t be happier!! The girls are thrilled to be Aunties, and they have all done well with Melody.

                                                               Zeb and Dana's announcement



Zak and Mandy's little one - Zayden
Mandy, Zeza and Zak
 
 
 
This is how much Melody loves her Poppers (Virgil)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Our new grandbaby

I am blessed!! There is no other way to describe it. I had the privilege of being present at the birth of my second granddaughter. It seems to me, I was giving birth to Emily only yesterday, and then  I turned around and she was all grown up and having a baby of her own. Of course, my little Melody Noelle is absolutely beautiful and this Nana couldn't be prouder :-)


Monday, January 27, 2014

To the person who commented about taking a child away from a loving foster family


I’d like to answer the person who commented about taking a child away from a loving foster family. Below is the comment that was left on our blog:

“I am so wanting to adopt but why would they pull a child from a loving foster family, who had the privilege of going to a boarding school and was obviously surrounded by so much love? Somehow this seems counterproductive and cruel. I guess the medical treatment makes US adoption a better option, but at what cost? Not wanting to be negative but my heart breaks for these kids.”

 

I’ve struggled with what I should say in reply. Since I cannot pretend to know the hearts of other children waiting, I will talk about what I do know – our family and how Xiaoyun, our daughter (adopted days before she turned 14) feels. Xiaoyun and I discussed this and I have her permission to share.

Xiaoyun did have foster parents who loved her. She was with them for more than 9 years. They were the only parents she can remember. They have two biological children who are older. She went to a boarding school because there were no good schools nearby, and the orphanage paid for her boarding. She came home on the weekends. It is common in her area to be sent to boarding school- she lived in a city of millions of people. If you were a good student, the orphanage would send you. Boarding school might sound a little more glamorous than it was- at least for Xiaoyun. While she did have friends there, almost all were orphans like she was. There was a distinction between the kids with families and those that were orphans. The teachers treated them differently, and Xiaoyun was subjected to ridicule by many of the kids who weren’t orphans. Having an obvious medical issue, as well as being an orphan made her a target for cruel kids.

Taking her from foster parents who loved her does seem cruel, but just because they loved her, didn’t mean that all the extended family did. She is close to her foster parent’s son, but there were others who weren’t kind to a girl with a different last name. When Xiaoyun is older, even when both Virgil and I have passed away, she will still have a large group of family and friends who will always be here to love her and encourage her. Last week she held her new niece in her arms. Soon she’ll hold a newborn nephew as well. She knows that there will always be family to call on in times of trouble, to share laughs with, to hold her when she cries, to rejoice with her triumphs and lift her up when she fails. She will have a baba to walk her down the aisle, a mama to hold her when that boy she’s crazy about breaks her heart (and big brothers to make sure he doesn’t do it again!), and sisters- so many sisters!!!- to share her secrets with, dance around with, and just enjoy being in each other’s company.. She has been taught crochet by her great-grandmother, shares special memories with her grandmother who traveled to China with me when we adopted,  been taken shopping and out to eat with uncles and aunts, joked with cousins around the ‘kids table’ at family dinners, and the list goes on and on. She would not have had any of this if she’d stayed in China.

Yes, medical care was an issue for Xiaoyun in China. Her spine was so twisted that her lungs are permanently damaged. She will probably be on asthma medication the rest of her life. However, since she was able to have the surgeries, her heart is not going to suddenly stop because of the stress put on it due to compression. She can get whatever care she needs here. Also, it would have been difficult for her to have found a good job in China. If she could have gotten past the stigma of being an orphan, her physical limitations would still have caused her to have few options. Here in the States, there are so many opportunities – from where she can go to college to what type of job she will have (BTW- she wants to be a translator and work with families adopting).

There are so many other things I could add, but the biggest is the fact that she was able to hear that Jesus loves her, to read the Bible for herself, and accept Christ as her Savior. She can freely worship as she chooses-important for a person from a country where religion is severely restricted.

Older children have a choice about whether or not they want to be adopted. They must sign the paperwork just like we do.  We are thankful Xiaoyun wanted a permanent family- a Forever Family. We love this precious jewel and it’s evident that she loves us. That’s what a family is all about.

 

*I do not want to imply that Xiaoyun’s adoption was without struggles. There were tears shed, and frustrating moments for both Xiaoyun and us. It is a difficult thing to leave all you are familiar with and begin again. To learn to trust people who were strangers, and could not understand not only your language, but also your way of life. Xiaoyun has handled it with grace and maturity far beyond her years.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Vegetable soup and Lalaloopsy=LOVE

At first glance, neither soup or a doll would have anything to do with love. But our girls teach us much about love everyday, and these are just two of many, many examples.
Most of my family lives in Alabama, and the girls love going to visit. (I am blessed that my maternal grandparents and parents are still living.) My grandmother fixes me vegetable soup almost every time we go, and I really enjoy it. Xiaoyun, however, is NOT a veggie soup lover, so I was a little surprised when we were dipping up the bowls, that she said she wanted one. (We had other food there because I knew she didn't like it). She proceeded to eat not one, but THREE bowls of the soup. I assumed that she had tried it to be polite, and ended up liking it a lot. Not until we were heading back to Kentucky, did I find out the truth. I mentioned the soup to her (preparing to tease her about the fact her taste buds were changing), and she told me she still didn't like the soup. When I asked her why she'd eaten so much of something she didn't like, she said, "Mamaw made the soup for us, and after I ate the first bowl, I could tell it made her happy, so I kept eating." How many teenagers are going to eat something they don't like because they love their grandmother so much they don't want to make them feel bad? Maybe one bowl, but three? Not many I'm guessing.
The other example is Virgil's 'Pearl' (his nickname for Enya, after the scripture that talks about the pearl of great price). Enya had surgery today (another lip revision), and one of the nurses asked her what was her favorite Christmas present. She said it was Lalaloopsy. Emily had gotten her the Lalaloopsy doll for Christmas and two days later we went to Alabama (where our son, daughter-in-law, and our granddaughter Zeza also live) Zeza is 4 yrs old and really loved playing with her 'China babies' as she calls the girls. When we were loading up the car to head back to home, Enya handed her doll to Zeza. Zak and Mandy tried to give it back to her, but she insisted that she wanted Zeza to have it. Again, how many kids would give up their favorite Christmas present just days after getting it?
Loving and generous girls. What a blessing they all are!!!!!!

BTW- Enya's surgery went well. The hard part will be keeping her still for a couple weeks, until those stitches come out ;-)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

There is something about a Baba and his girls

  As you can tell from these photos, all the girls are crazy about their Baba!!!! These photos were made at a friends wedding, except for the last two. We volunteered to ring the bell one Saturday. The girls loved it and they were quite the hit with those who passed by. Eva really got into the swing of it. By the time we were halfway through, she was taking the money out of people's hands and putting it into the kettle (even when the people weren't necessarily wanting to donate that much - LOL!!!) The last photo was of all the girls except Em (who had to work), one Sunday before Christmas.

 

 Christmas was so much fun. There is something about that first Christmas home that is magical. We opened stockings Christmas Eve, and as Virgil said, we could have stopped there and they would have been happy. Christmas morning our oldest son, Zeb, and wife Dana, came over to share the excitement. We had our Christmas get together with Virgil's family the next day, and then went to visit some of our Alabama family (to include our wonderful grandbaby, Zeza!!). What a great week! Somehow we managed to stay awake New Year's Eve (except the two youngest), and started
                                                                                    the year with hugs and kisses all around.

                                                                                         A great way to end and begin a year!!!!






Family pics

 A few photos of some of my family at Christmas.

Almost all the girls in the family
 


Me (Nana) and my beautiful granddaughter, Zeza
My daughters-in-law, Dana and Mandy, and my mom, Wanda

A Mama and her boys (Zeb and Zak)
Zeb, Zak, and Virgil

Monday, December 23, 2013

Catching up with pictures

 
 
 
Since I'm so far behind in updates, I'll catch up with a few photos. In October we celebrated Eliza's first birthday since coming home (6 yrs old) and Elli's birthday (she's finally double digits!). As usual, being surrounded by family and friends was the highlight of the birthdays.
Eva lost her first tooth (unfortunately not voluntarily, but necessary) and it wasn't long afterwards that Eliza announced her first tooth was gone. We searched the area where she was sitting, looking for the tooth, only to realize she had swallowed it!!!
We went to visit my family in Alabama - Eliza and Eva's first time- and the girls enjoyed getting to know my side of the family. Eva made a special connection with my grandmother, and we came to the conclusion that there was something about my grandmother that reminded her of someone in China. Would love to know more about that, but both the girls are in the in-between stage of their language. They still understand what Xiaoyun says to them in Chinese, but they rarely say anything in Chinese beyond a word here or there. However, the English is not yet strong enough to convey many things in-depth.
Thanksgiving was at Zeb and Dana's (our oldest son and daughter-in-law), and it was truly a day to be thankful. We have been so blessed! To see the girls being loved on by family, when such a short time ago none of them had a family, is beyond anything I can explain in words.
And now I come to Christmas. Always a magical time of the year for me (I'm still a little girl at heart!), and it gets more magical with each passing year. I will never forget how Elli acted when we drove through our local park, decorated with lights, for the first time after she came home. Virgil still says that if anyone had been in our car, they would have started adoption paperwork the next day. It was such an exciting thing to witness her excitement and wonder of all those lights and decorations. This year was no different. Eliza and Eva oohed and aahed throughout the entire drive through the park (the other girls did too!) In the midst of all that joy, I found myself crying- partly from thankfulness that we have been allowed to share this life with our wonderful children, but it was tinged with sadness for all those kids who are still alone. Those who will never sit at the Thanksgiving table surrounded by people who love them. Those who will never sing at the top of their lungs in the kids Christmas play at the church (Enya). Those who will never wake up Christmas morning (or any morning) and listen to their baba read the Christmas story out of Luke 2. Those who will never be held by great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, or a baba and mama. It makes me thankful for those who have come home, but I grieve for those who still wait.
 
 
In the middle is our grandbaby Zeza, who was in for a visit


 

Eva and Eliza
Eva and Eliza on Eliza's birthday
                                                   

 Elli and Eliza's birthday party
                                                    
                                        Enya with her great-grandmother - Mamaw Blalock
The girls with Papaw Chuck (my dad) and great uncle Gary
                                        
     
Elli and Mamaw Wanda
Zeb, Dana, and Xiaoyun

Thursday, September 5, 2013

To the family asking about Xiao and a little more information about her

THANK YOU for asking!!! I am praying God makes clear the path you should go. I am rejoicing about even the possibility that soon she could have a family!!!!! Below is another video of her. If anyone does decide to welcome her into their family, I would love to know. I have a household of little girls praying for her, and would be so grateful to be able to tell them their prayers have been answered. Blessings, Cindy

http://youtu.be/wfrelo7lNT0http://youtu.be/wfrelo7lNT0

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Please help her find her family!!!!

Our agency has a little girl on their special focus group who has stolen my heart! I have no idea how many people this blog will reach, but I wanted to post about her on the off chance that somebody might fall in love with a beautiful child who waits for a home. When our agency posted about her in their Jing Yi files, I watched a video of her being examined by a doctor who went over with our agency to help get the files of several little ones ready for adoption. The video showed her playfully reaching for her nanny's hair and she had the cutest smile. I fell in love right then. I would love to help her find her forever family. I realize that there will be hurdles ahead for her- she has knee valgus, and uses a walker or crawls. I have no idea if she can have surgery to correct the problems with her leg. But, I can't help but think there has to be someone out there who isn't scared by the thought that she may be wheelchair bound- someone who falls in love with a precious girl, and is willing to get her any help she needs. If you are considering adopting - or know anyone who is- please look at her file and videos, and pass the info on- you never know who will see her picture and file and change a child's life forever!!

BTW- her name is Xiao. Our agency is waiving their adoption fees. I'm praying she'll soon feel the love of a family!


Xiao



Xiao is a beautiful 7 year old girl with knee valgus and incontinence. She appears to have had some type of spinal surgery prior to coming to the orphanage at 10 months of age. She was also diagnosed with hydrocephaly when first admitted; however doctors believed that there was no need to do surgery because the fluid would resolve over time. Since then her head circumference has been getting smaller and smaller. She had shown delays in language and mental development, but she has been improving every day.

She can take care of herself, crawls and can walk some by leaning on the railing. She is described as lively and cheerful and likes to sing while her best friend dances. Her caretakers say she is smart, polite and likes to give them a warm hug when they come to work. You can see recent videos of her at:
http://youtu.be/zWk4IF9P1vk
http://youtu.be/cO4u5ydwuU0

Xiao is designated as Special Focus and is part of our Jing Yi program.  All FTIA agency fees will be waived for Xiao’s adoptive family.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer's End

School has begun! Wedged in with doctor's visits and medical tests, we have started our school year this week. This has been a bit trickier, since there are more lessons to juggle and more girls to care for. Our biggest challenge has been medical details. In the last two weeks, we've had two MRI 's, EEG, growth hormone stimulation test, exploratory eye procedure, tubes in ears, tonsils removed, ear infection, fingernail infection, physical therapy, endocrinology appointment,  ENT appointment. The great news is that the results back so far are all good! Don't need to go back to endocrinology , Enya's feeling much better almost two weeks after tubes for ears, and tonsils removed, antibiotics are working, and the big news is that Eva's pressure is good in her eyes and her optic nerve looks good-thank you Lord! As unbelievable as it seems, the girls have all maintained an incredible attitude , and haven't complained through it all. It never ceases to amaze me. Most of the appointments are an hour's drive from home. Not one bit of whining. We could have looked the world over, and not found kids so easy going about whatever comes their way. As I write, I am waiting for Eliza to come out of sedation. She just finished having her MRI. Lili came with us, and has just kept herself occupied in the room for the last 3 hours. Amazing Girl's!!!

A little girl waiting-True

I have a friend who is advocating for a little girl with scoliosis. I can tell you that scoliosis is a vey manageable 'special need'. Xiaoyun 's scoliosis is considered a severe case, yet it doesn't slow her down. She's your typical teenage girl. Yes, she will always be petite, will deal with lung restriction, and need to find a car (one day!) that accommodates her tiny stature, but for us, it's been no big deal. The surgeries were rough, but she kept a great attitude. Please take a minute and read about 10 year old True! Below is a link to Annie's site and information on True. I'd be glad to speak with anyone who wants to know about our experience with scoliosis.

http://wonderfulwaitingkids.com/2013/true/

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer

The girls with my mom

                                                      
                                           LiLi and Eva getting a birds-eye view at the zoo.
The girls at the zoo.

This is how the crew looks after spending an entire day at the amusement/water park. It was hot, but the girls had a blast. Our oldest son and daughter-in-law went with us. The girls loved the rides, and I know it will be a day they won't forget! I wish I'd gotten a picture at the beginning of the day so we could compare ;-) .


Our summer is almost gone, and I'm not sure where it went! Soon we will be back to the kitchen table with our school books, but for now we're enjoying a little less structured days. Our vacation this year is consisting of trips to the zoo, swimming, a trip to Holiday World (thanks to a very kind person who gave us tickets!), visiting with family and friends, and just a lot of play time for all the girls. They continue to amaze me with how well they have adapted to their new life!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Praise for Eva!

Eva should be able to keep the eyesight she has!! The doctor has ordered a test that will be done at the children's hospital, which will measure the pressure, and if all is well with that, then she will just be monitored for now. When he started telling me that, I started crying, and asked him to wait a few minutes for me to regain my composure so I could hear all he was saying. I was so grateful to know she would continue to be able to see. Though there's probably nothing that can be done to ever make her see better, just having some vision is a praise!! We began the adoption prepared for her to be blind when she came home, and it is such a gift to hear the doctor say "I plan on her being able to see until she's 95, but after that I can't give any guarantees" (he had a good sense of humor). He did say when she gets little older, she may want to learn Braille, and perhaps get a cane so she can better maneuver stairs, etc. But all that can wait. She is far sighted in one eye and near sighted in the other. She looks out of the corner of her eye because it helps control the movement of the eyes caused by the nystagmus. The glasses do help her see better, though at this point not sure exactly how much. A big 'Thank you!!!' to all who have been praying for Eva! Blessings, Cindy

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It is hard to believe we have been home more than two weeks now. If you peeked in our window you'd never know Eliza and Eva have not been with us all their lives (except that they speak little English!) They play well together, freely give hugs and kisses to all family members, enjoy playing with their older sisters, have adjusted to the day to day routine, and have already started helping to clear the table after meals (for which they are praised liberally!!!!). This is not to say it's been without some bumps along the way. Eva especially doesn't like to go to bed (and can throw a good fit to prove it - LOL!). There's been sibling jealousy, fights over toys, spilled drinks, messes in the bathroom (yesterday they thought it'd be fun to sling soaking wet washcloths all over the place)- pretty much what every other family with 5 kids at home goes through. They eat more than a teenage boy, but it is a pleasure to see them enjoy their meal. (Still need to figure out how to stay on a budget and feed this crew ;-)  ) . The older girls have really stepped up and help quite a bit.
Both girls have went for their first doctor appointment and eye exam (Eliza's vision was great, and I think the doctor was as amazed as we are, that Eva sees anything (she has never seen anyone who's eyes are like Eva's) ). So our 'doctor dance' has begun. Here is what I know is ahead:
Eliza- neurologist; neurosurgeon (perhaps shunt?); international adoption doctor; physical therapist and occupational therapist (we have noticed some muscle weakness in both arms and legs - not sure yet why); dentist.
Eva- neurologist (she has what may be a type of seizure - her body has just 'paused' a few times.); pediatric ophthalmologist; international adoption doctor; dentist.
Both girls will be getting an MRI and an EEG in a few weeks. I am dreading it. It requires them to not go to bed until midnight and have to be awake at 4am. They can not go back to sleep - it is an hour drive to the hospital where the tests are performed, so it will be difficult to keep them awake. In addition, since they will be sedated for the MRI, they can have no food or water after midnight. Of course they have appointments on different days, so we'll need to keep one girl from waking up the other one at 4:00.
Tomorrow is Eva's appointment with the ophthalmologist. I am anxious to hear what he has to say. It is still amazing to watch her get around so well, and I hope and pray they'll be able to help her see even better (or at least keep what eyesight she has).
We went to my brother and sister-in-law's home for Father's day (which is where our new family photo was taken). The girls had a blast, and I can't begin to tell you the feeling I had as we all gathered in a circle to pray before mealtime. It really represents what our girls have waited years for - a circle filled with the love of family and friends. Each family member and friend they meet have waited for them, prayed for them, and loved them- long before they ever knew them other than through a few photos. What a blessing!! Thank you God!!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Update from Home

The last few days have been a blur, but a blessing. We left Guangzhou the afternoon of the 4th, in the midst of a thunderstorm. The driver who took us to Hong Kong obviously thought he was driving the high speed train instead of a van. It certainly felt like he was going 200 miles an hour. Because there was so much luggage, Virgil sat in the front seat (odd for me to have driver on the right-hand side), and I'm pretty sure there is a hole where a brake would have been! By the time we were dropped off at the hotel, Virgil was furious. The driver (besides driving at a high rate of speed) zipped in and out of traffic, and it appeared he didn't care if we were hit - or hit a tractor trailer or another car.
The scenery was interesting up until we were getting into Hong Kong, and then it was incredible! We never went downtown - straight to airport hotel, but what we did see was quite a sight. The bridges were works of art themselves. By the time we got to the room and settled in with some McDonald's, it was about bedtime. The view from our room was of planes taking off, against a backdrop of mountains.
Bright and early the next morning, we were checking in for our flight home. Close to 15 hours later, we landed in Newark, and the girls officially became citizens of the USA!! The girls did really well on the flight, though they didn't really sleep very much. As a matter of fact, the only person that slept much at all was Xiaoyun. She slept over 10 hours of the flight (yes, I was jealous). We had a little more than 3 hours to clear customs and immigration, before our next flight. I thought we'd have all kinds of time, but it took quite a while to even get through the first phase of having our passports checked. We were so excited to get on that flight from Newark to Nashville. About 30 minutes or so into the flight,  the pilot comes on the speaker and says there is a problem with the aircraft, and we were going to need to turn around and go back to Newark. One of the systems that controls cabin pressure was malfunctioning. I was crushed when they said they might not be able to get us another flight until the next day. By then we were all worn out, and ready to get home. The girls were still being troopers, though it was obvious how tired they were.  Through it all, we did not have one meltdown, which was amazing. Once off the plane, they told us they would be able to get us on another flight (though 3 hours later, we were just so glad not to have to stay overnight).
We were greeted at the airport by our sister-in-law, nieces and nephew. It was great to see their smiling faces! Two more hours of driving and we were home!!!!!!! Emily, Elli, LiLi, and our dear friends were here waiting, and were they a beautiful sight!!!!!!! By now it was almost 2 am - nearly 48 hours after leaving Guangzhou, and over a day since we left the Hong Kong airport. Through it all NiNi and Ximi did fantastic, and were smiling and hugging everybody. I can't tell you how good it was to hold our other girls again! Bedtime came around 4:30 or 5 am. We're still dealing with jetlag
All the girls are doing well together. Elli and LiLi have been little mamas and are having a good time playing with their little sisters, as well as helping them wash hands, put on pj's, etc.
Will try to post tomorrow - my mind is still in a fog, but I know there is more to share. Blessings. Cindy

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Home!!!

Quick note to say we're home and all is going well. Didn't get home until about 2 AM, yesterday, and I've been seriously dragging, and I'm pretty sure I've done at least a million loads of laundry ( ok, maybe only 499999 loads!). The important thing is that the girls are doing GREAT! Hopefully after a good nights sleep tonight, I'll get some picture posted tomorrow.
I haven't even had an opportunity to check comments yet, but plan on doing that tomorrow also. I haven't even looked through the blog yet- we had a friend post for us while gone. Sent him an email and he did the blog for us (thanks Eddie!).
Continued thanks for the prayers!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ready for the Journey Home!

Today marked our last step in bringing our daughters home. We had our consulate appointment, and stood up with several other families to recite an oath. Our girls will become US citizens upon landing in Newark on Thursday. As with the other families we’ve met - in Harbin, Nanchang, here in Guangzhou, at the medical clinic- those we met at the consulate are an encouragement and inspiration to me. I have met families adopting babies, and teenagers, and all ages in between. Families whose children are missing limbs, a beautiful down syndrome little toddler, cleft lip/palate girls and boys, and other medical needs I can’t begin to understand. I’ve met parents in their thirties, and those, like us, who are grandparents. I’ve met first time parents and those who have 9 children. The true ‘special need’ I see in all, and the one I see families providing, is the need for love. It has been a mighty thing to behold

We went to Shamian Island again today. A big storm yesterday cooled things down slightly, and it’s a pretty place to visit. We’ll celebrate our last night in Guangzhou by going to dinner with John, our guide and friend. While we will miss his smiling face, we are so very ready to get home!!!! I miss my kids, my family, my friends. (Xiaoyun misses Sammi, her puppy;-) )  I begin the daunting task of packing this afternoon, evening, and tomorrow morning. John picks up the girls' passports/visas at 1:30 and we’ll be on our way to Hong Kong hopefully by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon. So glad we changed our plans and decided to take a van to Hong Kong verses the train. We talked to another couple who took the train coming into China, and they are also taking a van as they leave, because of all the luggage, and boisterous kids.

Since I’m not sure I’ll have another chance to post before we leave, I want to say thank you to all who have made this trip easier for us. From our niece who let us take over her apartment the night before our flight to China, and who picks us up at the airport (and her dear friend who took us to dinner to celebrate Xiaoyun’s 16th birthday) - to Josh and Leyah and their girls for entertaining us in Beijing- to Shirley, Helen, John, and all those here in China who’ve gone out of their way to make it easier for us- to Betty and all the staff of FTIA (our adoption agency) for walking us through this process each time- Thank you!!
I want to say a special thank you to our family and friends who have supported us emotionally and  financially- who have taken care of Elli and LiLi as they would their own (I can never thank them enough for peace of mind, knowing the girls were loved and well cared for)- who’ve mowed our lawn- taken care of Xiaoyun’s puppy- sent us scripture verses and a prayer for each day- who’ve faithfully followed our trip with prayer and encouragement. They have supported us from the very beginning of our adoption process, and once NiNi and Ximi are home, I know they will love them and welcome them unconditionally. 

What a special gift from God each one of you is to us!!!!!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Another Major Hurdle Cleared!

Praise the Lord!! TB tests were fine! Thanks for all the prayers! It was a relief to have that behind us and know we're all getting on that plane together Thursday. Only two more days!!!! Today we went to the pearl factory to buy the girls their necklace that they will be given when they graduate high school. Seems like a long time away, but I know from experience that time passes by so swiftly. Before I know it Virgil will be putting their necklaces on them. We also went to the Chen Clan Academy, which we've visited the other times we came, and bought the same thing we have the other two times- scrolls that have significance for the girl's provinces. We had a hard time finding something from Ximi's, so the artist-in-residence painted her a picture of a porcelain vase (what her province is famous for). I look forward to hanging them alongside their sisters' soon.

As usual, John, our guide, was with us the entire time, making things so pleasant for us. He, like Shirley (our guide in Beijing and Harbin), is very good with the girls. Both have a great sense of humor, and their personalities match ours so well. They have made such a difference in our time here in China, truly blessing us. Xiaoyun has talked quite a bit about how much she's learned about being a guide/translator, and we feel this experience has been invaluable to her if she goes into the adoption field. She told me today she'd like to travel with the families who are adopting - going with them to their child's province and then to Guangzhou, where the adoption is finalized. We know first hand what a blessing that is to have someone to explain things to your new child(ren)!!

We have an early day tomorrow. We meet John at 7:30 to go to the US Consulate for our swearing in ceremony. That means a 6 am wake up call. Which means I had better say goodnight ;-)

Blessings, Cindy

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Last Stop Here

We are in Guangzhou, safely settled in our (very nice) room. Our plane was delayed taking off from Nanchang, so by the time we got to our room it was probably around 9pm. It made for a long day, but the girls both did great on the flight. We met some young adults from Montana and Idaho who were in Nanchang teaching English at the college for 2 1/2 weeks, and were on their way back home.

Medical exams were first thing this morning. They don't do the TB test like they used to. Instead they draw blood now. They take the girls in a separate room (we're not allowed to go in with them) to get the blood, and they evidently had problems getting Ximi's vein. She took much longer than NiNi, and when she came out her little face broke my heart. It's the first time we've really seen her cry. They will call us by noon on Monday if there is a problem.

After that, it was a trip to Carrfours (sp?) - a French 'Walmart', to pick up supplies for our final few days here in China. Getting everything in some semblance of order in the room is always a challenge for me. I must say I'm glad this was my last time unpacking before we're home.

We visited a park that's a few minutes from the room this afternoon, and though it was a beautiful park, it was crowded (it's Children's Day here in China, so families take their children out to celebrate) and IT WAS HOT!! It's not supposed to be any cooler the next few days, so we need to get used to wearing wet clothes (100% humidity and in the 90's).

The girls continue to amaze us with how well they are doing. Continued thanks for all the prayers!

Blessings, Cindy


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Last Day in Nanchang

Today was our final complete day in Nanchang. We fly to Guangzhou tomorrow. It has been hot and sunny all week... until we were scheduled to go to the park :-) . We woke up to overcast, cool, and rainy. We met the guide in the lobby, and she probably thought I'd lost my mind. I was in shorts and a tank top (because it has been so hot and humid), and I had the girls in shorts. Fortunately I had some leggings for them in the bag, so we changed once in the van. I actually had people stop me and ask if I was cold.

The park was beautiful. Another example of an oasis in the middle of the city. It is called the People's Park, and had everything from an exercise area, to a spot where musicians were playing, to a river full of Koi. It also had a small amusement park. We took the girls on a ride that we thought just went in a circle, and NiNi was all smiles. then it started going up and spinning faster, and NiNi wasn't smiling anymore! Ximi, however, didn't start laughing until we were going faster and faster. She's a little daredevil! NiNi refused to go on the second ride, and we were afraid if I got in the ride I wouldn't be able to get out -lol- so Xiaoyun graciously agreed to sit in the passenger seat while Ximi drove.

This afternoon we visited a variation of a Walmart, and barely made it through the store because so many people were stopping Xiaoyun and questioning her about our family. Lots of people would just stop and stare at us for long periods of time. At first I thought it was because they saw two Americans and three Chinese girls - one who was speaking Chinese and English- but I told Xiaoyun on the way back to the room, they were probably staring at her because she was wearing tennis shoes with a dress - LOL!
Started the dreaded chore of packing today, and Ximi started getting a little more 'active' than she has been. Virgil finally made the connection between the suitcases and her behavior. It hadn't dawned on me, but that may have a reaction to the thought of leaving (or wondering if we were leaving her).

This will be the last post before we have medical exams. We'll be traveling tomorrow so I don't plan on having the computer out. Please pray for medical exams on Saturday morning  (Friday night your time). Also, that there are no problems with the TB tests. ONE MORE WEEK UNTIL WE ARE HOME!!!!!!!!

Blessings, Cindy

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thankful for Some Rest

video
Quiet day for us here. Didn't leave the room except to go eat breakfast. It was nice to relax for a day with nowhere to be. Girls played great. Ximi is picking up several words, and likes to try to sing with us. It almost seems she's heard some of the songs before. Perhaps someone volunteered at her orphanage who spoke English? They both want us to sing the same songs over and over again. We might have them singing Jesus Loves Me before we get home :-) . Continued thanks for all the prayers!!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

So Cute!

As our older daughter, Emily, would say, 'NiNi and Ximi are so stinkin cute!!!!!!' Visited the largest pavilion in southern China today. It's like an oasis in the midst of the city. The only drawback was the fact that we had to climb a lot of stairs (six floors worth) Both girls are a little unsure on the stairs, but Ximi really struggles. Going up the stairs is easier than coming down - she has a hard time seeing where one step stops, and the other starts. On the top floor of the pavilion there was a little play, with singing and music. The girls both seem to enjoy music. This afternoon we navigated treacherous streets to visit the Walmart. It was a 30-40 minute walk, and the motorbikes were more dangerous than the cars. The girls had a good time riding in their strollers, and had a smile on their face the entire time. Yet another great day!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Some Pics









Special Needs

He walked in front of us today as we went to the Civil Affairs Office. It was painful to watch him. His leg and arm were deformed and each step he took hurt me to see. I can’t imagine the pain he deals with each day. It made me grateful to know that our girls will get the care they need for whatever medical problems they may face. It was also a confirmation of sorts- special needs adoption is the route we were intended to go. Many needs are serious- Eva Ximi will deal with her eye issues the rest of her life. But it won’t prevent her from living a full life, and perhaps the doctors will be able to correct a little of her vison. NiNi’s hydrocephalus seems to us a non-issue. The girls are so sweet, and so loving. I can’t imagine the joy we would have missed if we had let scary medical terminology cause us to say no to these beautiful little girls! I have no doubt there will be some hard days ahead, but I also know God gives us the strength to get through those.  I pray we can encourage many to consider walking the path of special needs with us! Blessings, Cindy

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Eva Ximi Willoughby!

Miss Eva Ximi is now a Willoughby! We had the morning to get unpacked and settled, before XiMi arrived. She was brought to our room at 3:05 by the assistant director in charge of (I believe) overseeing the smaller ones at the orphanage. She was not in a foster home, but in a foster setting in the orphanage, sponsored by Holt International. The assistant director didn't feel that Ximi's eyes were getting worse, and felt she sees better than she used to. Her nystagmus is very pronounced, but she gets around well. She hasn't cried yet, but I'm sure that will happen before long. She came right into my arms and gave me a hug, and Virgil, too. She's been very quiet, but we're told that once she warms up, she's very talkative. She's quick to smile and very inquisitive. She checked out every inch of the room. NiNi didn't know what to think about sharing attention (or toys, or food!), and took a while to warm up to Ximi, but Ximi was friendly to her right away. After Xiaoyun talked to NiNi, and Virgil and I bragged on Ximi's sharing, NiNi started doing the same. As I type NiNi is sitting in her crib feeding Ximi some little cookies through the slats. They've both been carrying around their backpacks, and when one has to go potty, so does the other. I tried to bribe Xiaoyun with 50 yuan a day (about $8) to just do potty duty, and she refused ;-0 .
It is obvious people are praying. We appreciate it so much!!!! Tomorrow will be a busy day of paperwork, but will bring us one day closer to getting home and introducing these sweeties to their family! Blessings, Cindy

Traveling Fun

Since I can't remember what I sent yesterday (or even if I updated yesterday). I'll just say that NiNi did well with the flight. She started getting a little antsy about a half hour before we were supposed to land. I say supposed to, because with only 20 minutes before we were to get into Nanchang, our flight had to be rerouted to another city due to storms. We sat on the tarmac in the other city for an hour before heading on to Nanchang. NiNi has the same affinity for airplane toilets as LiLi did (must be a Heilongjiang thing -LOL) . I told Virgil that should net me Mother of the Year award if anything was going to ;-0  . It should have been a 3 1/2 hour flight but ended up being 5 1/2 hours. Can't wait for the flight home- I'll probably spend over half my time in the bathroom between the two of them.
Our hotel is nice, complete with a crib for NiNi. You'd have thought it was a palace, NiNi was so excited about it. She climbed in there with her toys, and when bedtime came, not a peep was heard. Thanks for those prayers for the flight!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Last Day in Harbin

Our last full day here in Harbin has been yet another special day. We began by saying goodbyes to our new friends (and family in a way, since their son and NiNi are ‘siblings’). They were a blessing to get to know and, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we shared an even closer bond. We were also privileged to get to meet two other families adopting from Harbin. It was so nice to have others who shared our joys and concerns. There is such a sense of community with fellow adoptive families. NiNi’s passport was delivered by Director Susan, and the guide Lynn (she was also the guide when we adopted LiLi). They have been so considerate and kind, and have really treated us like we're special. More than once they asked us to come back and visit with all our kids. Evidently there are not many families that have adopted two children from Heilongjiang. They really enjoyed talking with Xiaoyun, and she enjoyed visiting with them. We took a walk and went into several stores, and not once did NiNi try to touch anything, or even ask for anything. We bought her a little stuffed animal, and her smile would have melted your heart. You would have thought we’d spent a fortune on that animal! Which leads me to a formal introduction;
NiNi is a very special 5 year old. She can be very quiet and shy when we’re around other people, but when we’re alone in the room, she is laughing and screaming, and talking all the time. She loves for Baba to play with her. She is quick to pick up on what we’re saying, and is saying several English words already. She has a blast playing ‘cry!’ with Virgil. She’ll tell him to cry and he’ll act like he is, then he says it to her and she throws herself on the bed and acts as though she’s crying. I think we have a drama queen on our hands. She loves having her hair fixed, and never complains – even when there are tangles I need to get out. She likes pretty clothes (what little girl doesn’t?), and admires herself in the mirror once I get her dressed and her hair fixed. Though her hair is very long, it is pretty fine – hers and LiLi’s are a lot alike. She drinks more than any child I’ve ever seen (which can be a problem when we’re dealing with squatty potties!!). She’ll eat anything put in front of her. She’s neat and will even wipe up drops of water on the sink after washing her hands. She is so affectionate. She’s quick to hug, and wants to be held or hold your hand. She likes riding in her stroller.

What a Day!

What an incredible day we’ve had! Words cannot describe fully the emotions of today and the treasured memories we gained. We, along with another couple who adopted a three year old boy, went to visit the orphanage. Before we arrived we were told we were allowed to take pictures of the building, but not of any of the children. The area leading up to the orphanage looks run down, and you’re surprised when you round the corner and see these large buildings and well-kept lawn.
 

Once inside, we met NiNi’s foster mom. NiNi has been with her since she was about two years old – as the foster mom said “when she was still unsteady on her feet”. It was clear that they loved each other. Her foster mom got teary eyed talking about her. Once the foster mom had finished hugging on NiNi, she turned and started hugging the little boy who had also been adopted. He had been in the same foster home as NiNi!!!! It was exciting to know that part of her past, could still be part of her future.


Several of the staff greeted us and took us on a tour of several of the rooms. The rooms were bright and cheerful, and the facilities very clean. We didn’t see any children, and were told they were all upstairs having a Children’s Day celebration (it’s annual holiday here in China).When we got to the area near the celebration, the orphanage director came out and met us, as well as two more children who were fostered in the same family as NiNi. Just when we thought we were getting ready to leave, the orphanage director invited us to come join the party. We walked in to a group singing, and children sitting in the seats clapping. In the front row were some officials and they stood up and gave us their seats. After the singers were finished, they started playing some fun music and many of the children went up on the stage and started dancing. They came and got NiNi and her foster brother and took them up on the stage also. I was so tickled to see NiNI start dancing and jumping up and down!! We were enjoying it so much, then the staff came and got me and the other mom, and had us go up with the kids (this is where mine and Virgil’s version of events differ – I thought I was really ‘cutting the rug’, but Virgil informed me afterwards, that I dance as poorly as he does- LOL!!!). Xiaoyun informed us afterwards that the television station, and the newspaper were there, so we may be local celebrities before it is over. They pulled Virgil and the other dad up there and we were dancing and laughing and playing with all the little ones. IT WAS AWESOME!!! 

The kids were just precious, and I want to bring them all home with me. Since I know that isn’t possible, I pray I can encourage as many people as possible to start paperwork (SOON!!!!) to bring one of these sweethearts home (or maybe even two J) . After the dancing was over, we handed out candy to the kids, hugged as many as we could, and then it was time to say goodbye. Part of our hearts will always be here in Heilongjiang. NiNi did well with seeing her foster mom again, and did cry with her a little bit – which we were happy to see, because she hadn’t really cried yet. (Then I got to cry with the foster mom some myself.)

I’m so thankful we will be able to share these memories with NiNi when she gets older. What a blessing of a day!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

More about our Sightseeing Yesterday

What a day! The sun was shining, the temperature just right, and NiNi enjoyed every minute of it (and so did we)!
 We began the day by going to the Tiger Park. It is home to the largest amount of big cats in one sanctuary. We road in a wire-enclosed bus, and Xiaoyun pointed out that we were in the cage and the tigers roamed free ;-) . I must say I felt a bit like I was in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ – LOL. The tigers, lions and other felines were quite the sight to see.
Once we left there we went to visit the Saint Sophia Cathedral. The architecture is Russian (Heilongjiang province borders Russia), and was a beautiful old building to tour. No matter where we go, NiNi is content and takes it all in. We finished our sightseeing with a boat tour that took us to a small island in the middle of the river (our hotel sits next to a main river that runs through town). It had many weeping willows and lilac bushes (lilac bushes are profuse here and fill the air with their fragrance), and was a very pretty place to walk around.
We ate supper at a restaurant that Shirley had found. Each table is in its own private room, and the amount of food they brought us would have fed two other families. Shirley and Xiaoyun chose the dishes and did a great job picking things even I would eat ;-) . When the bill came, it was even cheaper than McDonald’s. We ended the day with frozen yogurt, hugs and kisses, and NiNi snuggling with Xiaoyun and falling asleep. A great day all around!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Still Doing Well!

Today went well. It was a busy day of sightseeing, and we're all a bit worn out. NiNi is doing spectacular!!! She is so affectionate. Laughter and smiles ruled the day. Will write more tomorrow.

Blessings,
 Cindy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eliza NiNi Willoughby!

It's official!!! Ha Nini is now Eliza NiNi Willoughby! Paperwork is signed, complete with NiNi's hand print on the paperwork. After many pics and thank you's, and a note and gift sent to her foster family, we headed back to the hotel. Nini did great throughout it all. She was awake at 4:30 this morning and she and I laid on the bed snuggling and looking at each other until she fell back asleep around 6 am and slept another hour.. Once back to the hotel, she did get in a good nap, and Virgil and I just sat and thanked the Lord for what He has done! Later we went to Walmart and bought a stroller, which NiNi loved, and some more ramen noodles :-) .

This evening we went out with another dad who is here to adopt a sweet ten year old boy, and our guide, Shirley. She had been told of a good Russian restaurant and we went to try it out. The building itself was incredible, and built around 1925. The food was a lot like what we have at home.

Nini is adorable! She loves her little stuffed dog that straps onto her arm, and she keeps it on almost all the time. She is playful and has a sense of humor. She's a lot like some other members of our family in the fact that you don't mess with her stuff. If she wants to share, you're good, but if you try to take something- look out! She also has a bottomless pit for a stomach ( also like some of her sisters). We cannot get over how much she can put into that little body! We're still waiting on our meltdown. She may save it until we have Ximin and then has to share toys- LOL!

Xiaoyun has decided to go to work for FTIA - our adoption agency . She has had an invitation to stay with Shirley- our agency guide, anytime she wants to come to Beijing. She has taken on almost celebrity status here, since she can speak both Chinese and English. I thinks she's enjoying the limelight ;-).

Shirley has been a huge blessing, and has made the whole process so much easier. So glad she's with us.
Thanks for continued prayers! Love to all!