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

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