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, April 30, 2010

April 30th

Today we climbed the Great Wall! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to walk tomorrow, but it was incredible!!! The day was gorgeous and the temperature was perfect. I still can’t believe we were there. So much backbreaking labor to build it over many centuries. Afterward we went to a family style Chinese restaurant where they put all the dishes in the middle of the table and all the families shared. I passed on the entire fish laid out on the platter and also on most things I couldn’t recognizeJ Afterward we went to a jade factory, seeing jade carving in action. We also toured the Summer Palace where the Emperor’s family would spend the summer months. It was in the middle of Beijing but when you step through those gates it was like a different world. So ornate and serene. Surrounding a portion of the area was a large lake and we went out on a Dragon Boat for a tour. There are street vendors everywhere you go and if you show even a hint of interest they will follow you FOREVER trying to get you to buy their products. I could have bought a Rolex watch (authentic I’m sure!) for about $3. As mentioned before, the traffic is unbelievable. You choose how and where you drive. The lines on the roads mean nothing. How there isn’t a wreck ever second I’ll never know! We didn’t get back to the room until around 7pm and Em is already asleep. We are starting to adjust a little on the time and I see the wisdom in having us come a few days early to get on Elli’s schedule somewhat before we get her. Having said that, however, we are counting down until Tuesday!!!! We depart from the hotel at 7:30 Sunday morning and our flight to Hefei leaves around 10:15. I think it is a two hour flight. We appreciate all the thoughts and look forward to posting some pictures that include a beautiful little 6 year old soon!!!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 29th

Today, we went to the Temple of Heaven and took a tour of Hutong. The Temple of Heaven was beautiful and the architecture was amazing. Some of it dates back to 1530. Hutong is considered Old China and while there, we rode a rickshaw. After touring Hutong, we went to a tearoom to experience “Tea Culture.” We tried several different types of tea and learned some tea etiquette. We got back to our room around 4:00 and have been here since. We are trying to get well-rested for tomorrow. We will meet with our guide at 9:00 Friday morning and then go to the Great Wall and on several other tours. We will be gone until 7:30 and worn out by the time we get back.

April 28th

We have arrived in Beijing! We left the house on Tuesday at 5:00 a.m. and got here on the 28th at 2:30 p.m. Beijing time. We met one of the other families we are traveling with- the Bradley’s. Their daughter Mei-le is beautiful. She is four and was adopted from China two years ago. It took us about an hour and a half to get from the airport to our room. The traffic made I-65 to Louisville look like a Sunday afternoon drive in the country. The hotel we’re staying in is very nice, and there are American fast-food restaurants right across the street. We were very adventurous and ate at a McDonald’s last night. It cost us 51 dollars for three burgers and three fries. ;) In American dollars, that’s about $6.50. After arriving at the hotel, we got some paperwork on Elli. We found out that she loves baby dolls, blocks, and running around. She is not a picky eater, and she is shy and introverted. Tuesday morning can’t come soon enough!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Two days and counting!!!!

Now that we have tickets to travel I've been in a frantic scramble to get everything together. It's not like I haven't known for over 14 months that we'd be traveling to China, but I couldn't get myself in gear until I had a definite date to leave. Since we found out the dates I've been on an emotional roller coaster. I've cried some of everyday and rejoiced constantly. Our thoughts are on Elli and the upcoming transitions for her. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to be uprooted from all you know and are familiar with and given to complete strangers who look, act, speak and smell funny. The plane ride alone will probably be a terrifying experience for her. We covet all your prayers. I'm so thankful she has been in a foster program sponsored by Love Without Boundaries. They have paid for her to be with a foster family. Just the fact that she has been with a family and not in an orphanage should help tremendously with the bonding and attaching. If you have a moment, check out their Facebook page - the photos will really tug at your heart strings. We leave at 7:54 Tuesday morning. Gotcha day - the day we hold her in our arms for the first time- is May 4. Please say an extra prayer for Elli that day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Almost There

After finishing our home study in May, we were allowed to get on the Waiting Children's list. This list consists of children who are either over the age of 5 or who have health problems. Some have no more than a birth mark, while others may have heart defects, cerebral palsy, missing limbs, etc. Previously, our intent had been to adopt a toddler, perhaps with a minor special need. Once we saw this list, however, we knew this was where we would find our daughter. After searching through many files, we found Yang Chun Rong who would become Elli Chun Willoughby. After 14 months we are almost to Elli! It has been an incredible time of praying, anticipating, and yes, waiting. We have seen God at work throughout this journey. The Lord has blessed beyond measure Everyone has been so supportive and they are all very excited to welcome Elli home. We received our travel approval last week and will be traveling to China on Tuesday, April 27th. We will be in Beijing for 4 days. Then, we will travel to Elli's province {Anhui} and stay in Hefei for 5 days. Gotcha Day is May 4th!!!!! From there, we will travel to Guangzhou and will be there for the remainder of our trip. While in China, we plan on updating our blog regularly and hope you will follow along.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Paperwork Chase

Here are the stats thus far with our adoption:
2/25/09 -Application received and processed with Families Through International Adoption (FTIA)
5/26/09 -Home Study complete
6/19/09 - Letter of Intent (LOI) to Adopt Elli
6/29/09 - Pre-approval from China to proceed with adoption
9/24/09 - Dossier sent to China
10/13/09 - Dossier logged in (LID) with China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA)
1/13/10 - Letter of Acceptance (LOA)received from CCAA saying yes we can adopt Elli
3/15/10 - Article 5 issued from American Consulate
3/26/10 - Travel Approval (TA) issued from CCAA
4/27/10 - Heading to China to bring our little girl home!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our Journey to Adoption

The journey began many years ago for Virgil and myself. In 1984,when Virgil was in Honduras for military training, his attention was caught by a beautiful little girl there. He wrote me these words, "This one has been the hardest trip so far. I don't know why it has been any harder than the others, but it has. Maybe it's because of the little kids around here. The little girls are so cute, but they're very poor. This has got to be one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world. If you had seen it, you'd probably cry your eyes out. We really hadn't been around anyone until today at the airstrip. Before we left, all the kids were coming up to us asking for food. This one little girl was standing back by herself, I don't know why, I guess she was shy. Anyway, I took her an MRE and she just looked up and smiled and said 'Gracias.' She was so cute. She probably wasn't but about five years old. I'd give anything if she was our little girl." I was pregnant with our first of three children at the time, Virgil traveled a lot with the military, and finances were tight. Adoption was a dream we put on hold. Then in 2008, Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter, Maria, was killed in a tragic accident. We watched his interview on Larry King Live and the Lord began speaking to our hearts again about adoption. On February 13th, 2009, Virgil and I were reading a Max Lucado devotional that explained that life is an adventure that God has given us. He went on to say that we should step out of our comfort zones and follow God's call. He gave a list of examples of stepping out, and among them was adoption. Those words spoke to both of us immediately. We spent that weekend talking and praying and began the paperwork chase the following Monday.