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

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

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.


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!

Monday, May 20, 2013

NiNi Joins our Family!

What an amazing God we serve!!!!! To all of you who have been praying – THANK YOU!!!! NiNi is amazing! She came up and gave me a hug right away. She was a bit timid at first, but sat in my lap right away. There were three other families receiving their children at the same time, so the room was a little chaotic, but NiNi just watched and took it all in. By far her favorite thing was a little doll we brought that made a kissing sound and then said ‘I Love You!’. NiNi is already saying ‘I love you’ from hearing it so many times. I’m not sure what will happen when the battery dies, but we are going back to Walmart to look for replacement batteries ;-) When it was time to take the family photo, Virgil put out his arms and she went right to him to be picked up and gave him a hug. We had smiles almost right away, and as we are walking out of the Civil Affairs office, Virgil had her laughing!!! She was laughing and smiling all the way to the hotel and hasn’t stopped since. The light-up shoes were a hit, and she wanted to change into a new outfit once we showed her the clothes. It is obvious her hair is very important to her and she likes to play with it. I can’t believe how long it is. It is beautiful, and she is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! We’ve played with the beach ball and put different clothes on the doll. Right now she is ‘resting’, which means she’s on the bed watching Mi YaYa videos. Soon we are going out shopping for hair bows.
I can’t begin to tell you all how much of a blessing Xiaoyun has been. She was not only talking and interpreting for NiNi, she also went around the room talking to the other children being adopted. The other children were all boys – two were three years old and the other ten. We’re so thankful Xiaoyun was able to come with us, and she is really enjoying herself.
I expect tears by bedtime, and know that that is a natural part of the process, so we ask for continued prayers in the hours and days to come. Love you all!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Countdown to NiNi Gotcha

We are in Harbin! It has been a long day, but we are finally settled in the room, and as ready as we can be for our little NiNi. In less than 12 hours we should have her in our arms!!!!! Her little backpack is packed with Lili’s Hello Kitty doll, coloring book, photo album of the family, and the ever important Fruit Loops and gummies. Her clothes are folded neatly in the drawer and her light-up shoes are sitting waiting for her. Please pray for her little heart as she leaves her foster family and all she is familiar with. Elli and Enya are waiting anxiously for our skype call once we are back in the room.

Speaking of the room, for some reason when we went to check in, we were told our room had been upgraded. When we got into the room, I was shocked! We have a suite with a separate sitting room, and three beds!!!!! So much room to spread out and play with NiNi J

BTW- the flight was quite a trip. More like riding a bronco than an airplane. More than once Xiaoyun was gripping my hand, and she and I were both queasy by the time the flight was done (the mystery meat they fed us on the flight didn’t help much ;-)  )

Thanks for all the prayers and keep them coming!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Alive and Well

We are alive and well in Beijing!! It has been busy since we got here, but it has so much fun watching Xiaoyun take in the sights and sounds of China again. Virgil and I loved showing her the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. She’s had two authentic meals and loved every bite!!! Yesterday, once we got settled in the room, we met some friends who live here, and they took us to a ‘hot pot’ restaurant. It was quite an experience, and I actually tried several things I’ve never eaten before (I am a wimpy eater). We also took our first subway ride. By far, Xiaoyun’s favorite thing was the book store Josh and Leyah took us to. In about five minutes she had an armful of books, and we had to remind her of our 44 lb weight limit per suitcase for the flight. I may have to really sacrifice and leave my peanut butter here in Beijing (which is probably as sacrificial as I can be ;-) ) We found out that our guide here in Beijing will travel with us to Nini’s province, which is so nice! Shirley has been wonderful and has a great sense of humor. We went to a store down the street tonight, and realized Xiaoyun is a serious bargainer!!! I was looking at a scarf, and Xiaoyun starts grilling the lady about the quality of the merchandise and telling her she was way overpriced. Guess I’ll let Xiaoyun do all the shopping from now on ;-)
We also got a few tidbits about the girls today. Eva Ximi’s paperwork said she is ’happy all the time’. Eliza NiNi’s says she is ‘active and outgoing’. It’s hard to believe that in less than 48 hours we will have NiNi in our arms! We leave about lunch tomorrow, heading for Harbin. Soon we will hold both girls in our arms! Thanks for the prayers and please keep them coming!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

We're Off...

We are on the plane awaiting our departure to Beijing now. We greatly appreciate your prayers. Updates coming once we arrive as time permits!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

He Needs A Family Soon!!!

This is Ben and his 'little brother'. I don't know much about Ben except that he ages out very soon. There are a couple of posts about him on Love Without Boundaries website, and he has a large amount of grant money available. I can tell you that our daughter, Xiaoyun, was aging out, and I'm so thankful we followed God's leading and brought her into our family. Our paperwork was completed in ten weeks, and I know another family who completed their's in a month (we were already dossier logged in, and waiting to bring home LiLi). Please consider this young boy who needs a family soon!!!!

This is what someone advocating for Ben emailed me:
I remember that you adopted Xiaoyun right before she aged out. I was wondering if you could pray for and possibly spread the word about sweet Ben who will age out very soon. He has been given a very large grant that will make his adoption almost entirely paid for. I have also heard that the CCCWA would allow him to be added on as a third child. Thank you!

Emily's Graduation

Last night, Emily graduated nursing school. Just the other day she was playing with baby dolls (at least it seems just the other day to me), and then last night I'm watching her receive her RN degree.  I'm proud of her perseverance and desire to help others. She is going to make a great nurse!!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Eva Ximi!!!!!

Today is Eva Ximi's 5th birthday. While I wish we  were with her, I pray she is celebrating with her foster family. We are so thankful both she and Nini are with foster families, and my heart is heavy for the families who have loved and cared for them, and who will soon have to say goodbye. We are excited about the fact that, this time next year, we will be watching her blow out her candles. Happy birthday sweet Eva Ximi!!!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Update on Ximin and Nini's Gotcha Dates

We received Gotcha dates today! We go to Nini's province first and her Gotcha will be May 20th. We head to Ximin's province on the 25th and her Gotcha day is the 26th. Counting down the days!!!!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

They are all 'My Own'

I have been asked a question that perhaps many ask when they are contemplating adoption - "Can I love them like my own?" I'd like to answer from my perspective.
To begin with, I have six children - three I gave birth to, and three through adoption. They are ALL 'my own'. I have known the labor pains that came from giving birth, and the labor pains associated with paperwork and waiting.
When I was pregnant with each of my first three, I experienced all the emotions that go along with pregnancy - (crying on the Hallmark commercials), excitement of feeling the baby move, the thrill of seeing ultrasound pictures, preparing the room for their arrival.
Now, as I wait for two more little ones to come home, I find myself experiencing those same emotions (as I did with our other three adoptions). Random moments make me cry. I was in a store today, and as I was looking at clothes for XiMin and NiNi, I came across a tee shirt that said 'I love my .... and then listed dad, mom, brother, sister, grandparents, etc'. I started getting choked up. There I was, losing it in the toddler's aisle of a clothing store. Who  would have thought you'd have those same pregnancy hormones even when you're 'paper pregnant'?
28 years ago I washed and folded little clothes and made the room ready for my first child. Today I am still doing the same. Yes, they are a little older (and so am I!!), and the clothes a little larger than with my first child. Yes, there are many unknowns (but isn't that true whether you give birth biologically or through adoption?) When they cry-just as I did with Zeb, Zak and Emily (and now with Xiaoyun, Elli, and LiLi)- I will hold them and comfort them, and try to fix whatever is bothering them. I will rock them, feed them, kiss their skinned knee, say prayers before bed, get up through the night when they have a nightmare, clap when they dance in their princess dress, teach them to read, fix their hair for the prom. Most of all, I will pray for them and thank God daily for the privilege of being a MOTHER to each of my children.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Elli's 3rd Gotcha Day

In some ways it's hard to believe we are celebrating three years since we welcomed Elli into our family, but in other ways, it seems as though she has always been with us. I remember that our goal that day was to get a smile. We'd gotten several pictures of Elli during our paperwork wait, but none that showed a smiling little girl. I dared not hope for more than  smile, especially at the beginning, but I didn't take into account the people praying for us - at the exact time of Elli's Gotcha. God was gracious and sent us not only a smile, but a giggling little girl that has been laughing ever since! Happy Gotcha Day Elli!!!!