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

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quick update and pictures

I seem to be falling further behind in my posts. For now I'll try to send more pictures, since that is quicker. Saturday was a beautiful day and we went for a great drive that ended at the park feeding the ducks again. Sunday she got to meet Zak, Mandy, and Zeza for the first time (they had been in Minnesota last week) . She loved Zeza, but it took her awhile to get near her. Before long she wanted to hold her. Zeb and Dana came over also and it was wonderful to have ALL our kids together. Elli, of course, loved all the attention. She also got to meet her cousin Mandy and see Curtis, Nancy, and Sarah again. It was a full day for her. They all left at the same time(Emily did too) and Elli was so upset. Virgil got to see how heartbroken she is when either he or Em leave the house. It took a while to get her occupied with something else. Elli helped Em watch Allysa for a little bit yesterday and even rocked Allysa asleep. Elli is picking up a few words and does well at repeating back words you say. She was given a gift bag full of books from some children at ECA - a school where Virgil teaches DARE. She loved the books - especially the ones that you push the button and it makes sounds or says letters. She carried that bag around all afternoon and looked at those books over and over. Everyone has been so very kind - calling to check on her, sending cards, emails, and- most of all- saying prayers - we can never thank you all enough. Our family is truly blessed to have such a wonderful support group of friends and family who care so much for Elli.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 22, 2010

We awoke to sunshine this morning and are looking forward to a day with Baba and Emmy both being home all day. We had to go back on post yesterday for the results from the x-rays. Elli has hip dysplasia. We will be going to an orthopedist to decide if she will need a future surgery. The order for her blood work was put in incorrectly, so she had to have more blood drawn. Unlike last time, when she was asleep when it started, this time she was wide awake. She was a trooper about it all and didn't fight it. Just those tears again. Elli chose her own clothes and hair style yesterday. She had little pig tails all over her head and everybody at the doctor's loved it. We bought her her first Happy Meal last night and went and fed the ducks at Freeman Lake. She liked them from a distance, but wasn't too excited when they came right up to her. Elli has slept well for the past three nights, as has the rest of the family. We've all needed a good night's sleep, we just didn't think it would be three nights in a row. Elli is such a lovely young lady and she will share, but normally only on her terms. We stopped at an intersection where the fire department was collecting money for the Crusade for Children. Cindy was looking through her purse when I pulled out a couple dollars from my wallet. We looked back and Elli had pulled out her purse and was trying to give some money that she had. Just one of many examples we could give. God has so blessed our lives with this little girl. I do hope and pray that we make as much a difference in Elli's life as she has our's!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Updates on Elli May 20

Elli is doing much better! Tuesday she ran a fever, had leg cramps, and slept a lot. That meant Tuesday night she slept almost none (1 hour). Getting our time clocks adjusted has been difficult. Fortunately we ALL slept last night. Elli had to go to the doctor and have some blood work done (checking on her immunizations and making sure she isn't deficient in iron, folate, etc.) They also did an x-ray of her hip to see if they can figure out why she limps. The doctor doesn't think the surgery she had prior to being abandoned was a hip surgery - he said perhaps it was a hernia. He will be writing us up a referral to go to the international adoption clinic in Louisville where she will have a complete once-over. She did wonderfully getting the x-ray's and her blood drawn. She actually fell asleep before it was our turn to go in and didn't wake up until they stuck her. She didn't fight it, but did shed giant crocodile tears which broke my heart. She bounced right back and was all smiles before we left the doctor. Our neighbors brought her a baby doll that drinks, laughs, and snores, and also the stroller to go with it and she spent the rest of the evening playing with it. She received a doll the night we got home and she had both babies in the stroller talking and playing with them. Such a sweet sight. Last night was the first night we didn't have a battle over bedtime. She actually laid down between Em and me on the couch and just drifted off. Hopefully that was a sign of things to come. It rained today and she wanted to go outside and stand in it. We put on the galoshes that Uncle Curtis and Aunt Nancy got her and an umbrella and we went for a walk. She enjoyed that so much. They came to visit today and she was on her best behavior. She is starting to think everyday is Christmas morning. Every person who she's met has brought her something. She is getting spoilt and we are enjoying every minute of it!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17

We had a rough night last night. Elli was awake or crying in her sleep most of the night. Virgil finally gave up trying to sleep and got up at 3 am. Elli and I got up around 5 and she was raring to go. She had a meltdown when Virgil left for work, but after 30 minutes or so she was fine again. Unfortunately it didn't last. She started crying around 9:30 and started vomiting for the next couple of hours. We had a sad little girl on our hands for a while. This afternoon she did perk up and drank some water and ate a couple of crackers and has done better the rest of the day. As with every day I don't know what I would have done without Emily helping me out. She has been such a great help and a blessing to us all.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We're Home!!!!!!

Hello from Kentucky! I am so glad to be able to say that. We are thankful the trip went well and we made all our connections. Elli did well on the flights and slept for about 6 hours total. Virgil bore the brunt of keeping her occupied on the flights because she wanted Baba's attention constantly. We had to run to catch the last flight, but we made it in time - thank goodness. From the time we left our hotel until the time we stepped in our door was 28 hours. We are all exhausted and Elli went to bed at 7:00 this evening. It was after 1:30 am before we got to bed this morning. She had to check out EVERYTHING in her room and in the house. What impressed her most were all the pictures of her we had throughout the house. She collected them all and has showed them to us all many times. Virgil amazed Elli with his ability to get ice and water out of the refrigerator door : ) . She played all day today and met Zeb and Dana and visited for a bit with her Uncle Curtis. She takes up with men much quicker than women. We have enjoyed looking at the blog and all the sweet comments people have left. Today was the first time we have seen the blog since we left (it is blocked in China). Thanks to Eddie for the great job keeping it up for us. It will be a wonderful thing to show Elli one day. We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you for coming along on our journey and for all the prayers and encouragement. We'll continue to update in the days ahead. Love you all!!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Coming Home

This is our final post from China. We leave the room at 6 am. It's hard to believe the time has come to introduce Elli to her new family, friends, and country.
Today went very well. We ate a big breakfast (as usual) and walked around the area a bit more. Then Elli and I went to the play room and had a great time playing in a giant playpen. We got all the stuffed animals in the room and she lined them all up in the play pen with us. Then she had me lay down along with all the animals for our 'nap time'. Fortunately no one else was in the room :)
Our guide brought our final paperwork, including Elli's visa. We broke down and bought Elli squeaky shoes - all the other kids already had some, but we held out until the end. Once we put them on her feet she got the biggest smile. It was obvious she was so proud of them. I'm sure we will all grow to hate the sound they make in a very short time :). We have enjoyed our time here in China, but we are all so very ready to come home. Just sleeping in our own beds sounds so enticing. We cannot begin to tell you all how much we appreciate you taking this journey with us. We will continue to update Elli's progress once we are back home. We love you all and are so thankful for the prayers and support!!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We're Official... Almost

Hello! We're as official as we can be until we land on US soil. Once we hand off the mysterious brown envelope, which we aren't allowed to open, to the immigration officials at the Chicago airport. Then Elli will be a citizen of the United States.
We went to the consulate and had our swearing in ceremony yesterday with several other families from different adoption agencies. The couples traveling with us said that when they came for their first adoptions the room was packed with no place to sit. Adoptions are down considerably since the new rules went into place. Still, it was exciting to see all these children being brought into real families. It was an emotional time. After more than 14 months of paperwork, waiting and praying it came down to 'raise your right hand.' We celebrated by going out to supper with the other two families.
We did a little packing yesterday and will finish up today. The bellboy will pick up our luggage at 6 am tomorrow and we will head to the airport at 7 am. It will be a LONG day.
It was fifteen months ago today that we decided to adopt. Who would have known, besides our Heavenly Father, that Elli Chun Willoughby would be the one. What a blessing the Lord has given us! Love and a big thanks to all!!!
The Willoughby's
Virgil, Cindy, Emily & Elli

Family Pics

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another Day Closer to Home

Hello to all! We had a rough night last night and went to bed late, but today was much better. We kept Elli from taking much of a nap today and she's now sleeping sweetly in her bed. Upon receiving some good advice, (thanks Carla) I took Elli to the pool after we took the famous Red Couch picture (I think Em sent it to you already). Didn't Elli look adorable in her little dress? Em did too. Virgil and Em went shopping while we were at the pool. I couldn't talk Elli into putting on her bathing suit (we don't think she's ever been swimming). She hates having a bath so I wasn't sure how she'd be at the pool. When we got there she put her feet out to keep the stroller from getting too close. I left her in the stroller and got into the kiddie pool myself and acted like I was having a blast. She finally got out of the stroller and came over and sit on the edge. She was wearing long pants and she pulled them up so she wouldn't get them wet. Little by little she inched closer until she got her feet in the water. By the end she was actually standing in the water splashing me. She wouldn't sit down, but progress had been made.
Afterward we spent some time in the room watching the Pleasant Goat and then went out shopping when Virgil and Em got back. I bought Elli some lace for her wedding. I also won some brownie points by buying her some ice cream. She did the I love you sign back to me today and said Emmie's name - finally. She also repeated 'love you!' back to Virgil. She's running up and giving Virgil a kiss without being asked and is giving me hugs without me BEGGING. She is having her 'moments' but we feel once we get back home and get into a routine that will help a great deal.
They have her birthday recorded as October 21, 2003, though that is a guess. We aren't so sure. She acts much younger (more like a 3-4 year old).
We have our consulate appointment tomorrow afternoon for her swearing in and then all is done but the packing. That may be the most difficult task of the entire trip LOL. Love to all. Can't wait to see you all soon! Thanks for the prayers! Keep them coming!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another Great Day

Just an update on the day. It's been a really good one. Elli has behaved better today than any other. We left this morning at 10 and went to a pearl factory where we bought pearls for Emily's and Elli's wedding days. Afterward, we went to a music/movie shop and bought Elli some Disney DVD's in Chinese and English and also some traditional Chinese music to listen to.
Then on to our favorite part of the day - the market where the locals do their shopping. You could find everything from squid to scorpions to poisonous snakes and everything in between. From cooked already to still crawling around waiting to be bought. One of the men with us tried the scorpion and said it tasted like potato chips. Believe it or not, I didn't try it :). They had all kinds of animals for sale - the cutest puppies. Also dried fruits, veggies, herbs, mushrooms, etc. It was a lot of fun to walk through.
Once we got back to the area where we're staying I was treated to a foot and shoulder massage. -70 minutes for $10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I may not be able to leave here. The lady was great and said I should come back tomorrow ;) We did a little more window shopping (Elli fell asleep in the stroller) and then went out to eat with the other families. We had a really good ham and pineapple pizza.
Elli is quite skilled already at getting Baba to buy her a toy wherever we go. Fortunately, they are really cheap. Virgil told her 'I love you' today and she repeated it back. He can open his arms wide and she'll run into them and give him a big hug. When I try to do the same thing she shakes her head no. Guess we can't all be her favorite. We survived another squatty potty - this time for Elli - and lived to tell about it.
At this moment she has found the ramen noodles and opened a package. It's after 10pm and she's eating again. We're all trying to stay awake until she slows down.
We love and appreciate you all. Thanks for all the prayers!!!!!!!!

Here is a little clip of Elli singing with one of her favorite TV shows, "The Pleasant Goat and the Big, Big Wolf."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shopping Fun

Good News!

Praise the LORD!!!!!!!!!! The TB test was fine. Her medical exams are all finished. The next (and last) hurdle is the swearing in ceremony on Thursday. What a blessing to have that behind us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have done some shopping and Elli did great. We borrowed a stroller from one of the stores and got Elli a dress for her baby dedication. She actually liked the stroller and the dress.
We just finished a bowl of ramen noodles and are hoping she takes a little nap, so we can rest. Truthfully, the only one who needs rest is Virgil. She wants his constant attention. Emily was holding Virgil's hand today and Elli had a fit. She pulled their hands apart and grabbed Virgil's herself. It's obvious who she is most attached to. Love to all!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

To all you mothers just waking up -Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!!!!!!! Mine has been wonderful except for the fact that I couldn't talk to the boys. I had a sweet note and a mother necklace from Virgil and Em had a card from her and Elli that made me really cry. She had saved the first picture Elli had colored on Gotcha Day and included it in the card.
No breakfast in bed but a buffet fit for a king. I even tried the pizza they had (tasted pretty good). They serve so many things we don't consider breakfast. Today, the Princess had noodles, a banana, apple, slice of banana bread, 2 yogurts, half a muffin, Emily's scrambled eggs, and a bite of a brownie. I'm probably leaving something out but you get the gist of what we are up against. We'll be taking weekly donations of groceries from all who can give :). Two teenage boys had nothing on this bottomless pit.
We went on a tour of a folk art museum. I'm pretty sure Virgil didn't see much of anything. Elli kept him running the entire time. Not sure where he is getting all this energy, but I'm so glad he has it! Afterward, we went to the grocery and picked up the basics - water, soda, ramen noodles, Barbie for Elli, peanut butter and jelly for Em and me, and diaper wipes for our hands.
We had paperwork to do this afternoon, so Em took Elli into the playroom they have here at the hotel. We went out afterward to look at the shops and Em found a great deal on a dress, which made her day. We also got Elli's dress for picture day. It started raining while we were out and we were soaked by the time we got back to the room. Elli thought the rain was fun, but look out when it comes to bath time. We persevered and she is looking and smelling sweet in her PJ's.
Tomorrow morning another tour and then back to the medical clinic for the TB check. Her arm looks fine to us so we're praying all will be fine. We should be going there about 1-2 tomorrow afternoon.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On to Guangzhou

Sorry for the delayed update. Just got internet up and running a few minutes ago. We left Hefei yesterday. Our flight to Guangzhou was scheduled to depart at 6:30pm. We left the hotel about 4, got checked in for flight, and then started hearing the announcements that the flight had been delayed. Many flights were delayed because of the weather. We probably flew out around 8:00 and by then Elli was already tired. It was her first flight, we think, and we had more turbulence than we've had on any flight. She did ok for a few minutes and then she teared up and was not happy. She did eventually eat a little bit and did ok the rest of the flight. We had to wait at the airport for another family whose flight had also been delayed, so it was around 11:30 when we checked in.
Once we had breakfast this morning, the fun began. The medical exam office was a mad house. Screaming children everywhere. So many people adopting . If we hadn't been there for such a stressful event I would have enjoyed sitting down with each one and listening to their stories. Elli did fine for the exam. They checked out her limp and the scar on her inner leg but weren't sure what type of surgery she'd had.
Then we waited a while and... on to the torture chamber. She had to have five shots and the TB test. Virgil held her and she broke our hearts with those tears. Once it was over she was fine again, and has been going 100 mph today. We go back on Monday afternoon to have the TB test read. That should be our final hurdle. We still have paperwork to do, but the exam was the biggest thing.
She is doing well still and is calling for Baba if she can't see him. If we are out and she doesn't see one of us she gets upset. One of the other families we're traveling with said their first daughter has been that way since she was adopted 3 years ago. Both the families are doing well. It was good to see them again and compare notes, and also suffer through shots together. Please remember them in your prayers also for their TB tests.
We went to a restaurant tonight that had American food. Cheeseburgers, fries, and ice cream :) !!!!!!!!! By the way, our eldest daughter is also doing fine. Even better now because there are lots of stores to shop at all around the hotel.
I want to wish each of you mothers a happy and joyful Mother's Day - I know mine will be, even though I'll be missing my kids who aren't with us (and grandbaby!!!). Love you all and thanks for all the encouraging emails!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Silly Time

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Early Mother's Day Gift

I'm official!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Virgil and I had to go downstairs to get some paperwork and Virgil had to go back up for something. I stayed downstairs and when he came back Em and Elli were with him. When he went back to the room without me she opened the door and looked out and said MAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!! She said it a couple of times they said. She was looking for me and smiled when they came downstairs and she saw me. What a great Mother's Day gift!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some Things I've Learned in China

Squatty potties are not my thing or Em's - you would not believe how excited we get when we see a western toilet
Peanut butter is a rare commodity, but if you find some (thanks Skippy and Walmart) it's like manna
You can use a chopstick for a knife to spread on that special PB and also the jelly
Tissues work great as plates
I don't like hand washing clothes
If you adopt a Chinese child and you're from the USA expect a lot of stares
I miss my Diet Dr. Pepper
I also miss COLD drinks - their cold is our lukewarm
If you buy a yellow stuffed monkey at the zoo check first to see if it makes an annoying screeching sound when it's belly is squeezed
Tissues are three-ply and Elli separates each and passes one part to each of us (she's been taught to be thrifty - Em has her work cut out)
Cinderella Barbie cost more than a suitcase
Don't open your mouth when taking a shower or forget and put your toothbrush under the tap.
The waiters and cooks remember what you order for breakfast and fix it without being asked
We've been told not to be in your bare feet on the bedroom floors so we had been very careful to always have on shoes - however once Elli came into ours lives we've all sat on the floor our standards have been lowered just to get a smile
A man who never would wear a bright yellow shirt not only will wear one but also buy one all because a little girl likes the color yellow
Em will put on my bathing suit and sit in the floor of the shower to try and entice Elli to take a shower (she will also -because she forgot the rules -open her mouth wide and let water pour into it - you should have seen the look of horror once she realized what she'd done)
A little six year old being sick in the night will make us all jump up and help with the clean up (I don't think that ever happened before)
Beach balls from the dollar store are the world's greatest!!!
Diaper wipes and hand sanitizer are life savers
A Dora the Explorer backpack from a yard sale (fifty cents) is a cherished item taken everywhere
That our family will do anything for a laugh from Elli - to include being covered in stickers and post it notes
Shorts and t-shirts are not the norm even though it is in the 80's here and humid
Light up tennis shoes with Disney princesses on the side are really cool!!!!
Baked beans, cooked veggies, sushi are served at breakfast here
In a city of 6 million there is only ONE Walmart
Elli loves a type of milk we think is like Pediasure in the US
A six year old has more energy than two adults and a teenager combined
Cards sent with us and read every morning from people back home start the day out right
Prayers are answered every second of everyday

It's Official

We just got back in the room from getting the official notarized paperwork showing that Elli is ours, and also that she was abandoned. As we were talking to our guide she told us that the orphanage director told her that last year another family had Elli locked in and somewhere in the process they pulled out. It must have been far into the process because Elli had a passport they had already taken in preparation of them coming to get her. The date on Elli's passport, and believe me it made us cry to see it, was June 25, 2009 just days after we were locked in for her. The orphanage didn't even realize the other family wasn't taking her before we had chosen her. It takes our breath away to see how God has worked through this and how He had chosen her for us and us for her.

Day 3... Pics from the Zoo

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 3 AM

Elli Chun is up and moving! She ate a great breakfast and is already laughing. What a difference a day makes! She slept well through the night, with no problems. She wanted to hold Mama and Baba's hands into and out of the restaurant. We're getting ready to head to a park that has a bunch of animals that just freely roam. Will update later. With love!!

Few thoughts from Mama

Elli is taking a nap so I thought I'd write a few thoughts. Once she is up she thinks the computer belongs to her. Em will send a video that shows just how protective she is of her things. It is sad to see how watchful she is of the few things she owns. Today she took her first trip to Walmart (we think this is correct because there is no Walmart in the area she is from. As we were going in she told us (through our guide) that her mama had already bought her some clothes and she didn't need any. I about lost it in Walmart. It is so obvious the love shown by her foster mama. The photo album we sent months ago has obviously been looked at many times. Where her name was written was rubbed on so much the name was no longer there.

She loves the mirror and looking at herself. There was probably only the mirror in the bathroom we were told. The pictures we brought of her she keeps pulling out and looking at. The photo album the family had made for her she has looked at again and again. She points to each person and I have to tell her who it is. She'll know everyone's name before we even get home. She really loves looking at baby Zeza.

We bought her some videos at the store and she has watched Snow White alot today. We'll stay in the room the rest of the day. Being out among people is not her safe zone right now. While at Walmart we found peanut butter and I can't tell you how happy that made Em and I. It isn't something they commonly eat here but our American stomachs wanted some comfort food. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for supper -YEAH!

Elli does have a limp that worsens when she is tired. It causes her to lose her balance and her foot turns in some when she is leaning against something. Please pray her stomach calms down. She did eat some and she is drinking water and juice.We can never tell you all how much your prayers have meant to us. It so obvious He is answering. To hear laughter and lots of smiles is beyond our wildest dreams. What a blessing! I think we mentioned in an earlier email that the paperwork became official today and we have in our possession the certificate that says she is ours!!!!!!!! It takes my breath away!!!!!! She is awake so I will close. Forgive me if I'm repeating earlier messages or am rambling.

WE LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!! There are many who may be emailing to another email or posting comments. Please know we can't see the posts or other emails while here.


More Pics

Stylin with Jie Jie!


Writing with Baba

Smiles with Baba

Our 1st game of pingpong

Playing with Mama and Baba

Snapshots from Day 2

Sisters! Elli and Emmy

Love my new glasses!

Mama & me enjoy one of my favorite things-pics/videos of me

1st trip to Walmart with tour guide and driver

Mama feeds me my 1st "real meal," ramen noodles