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, May 4, 2022

 Today marks 12 years since we began a journey that has taken us further than we could ever have imagined. Today is Elli's Gotcha Day. A tiny, scared little six-year-old girl was placed into our arms, and it forever changed us all. Elli is now 18, and a junior in high school. She is a smart, very talented artist, who lights up when she's talking about something she is interested in. She foresees digital art as her career. She is working part time with an after-school program, and enjoys that, but has decided she doesn't want to pursue teaching. She's a quiet (generally😉), sweet girl, with a love for teaching others what she's interested in, with an aversion to being in the spotlight. 

Last week we celebrated Enya and Xiaoyun's 11th Gotcha Day. As we sat at the kitchen table celebrating Enya's day, I tried to read a little about the days following their adoptions. I could not make it even a few words, before breaking down in tears. To think how God orchestrated bringing three girls into our family in less than a year, is still such a miraculous thing to me. 

Enya is also 18 years old and a sophomore. She loves all things animals, particularly dogs, and is a walking encyclopedia of animal facts. Not surprisingly, she wants to work with animals when she graduates. She routinely goes into the special ed class at school to help out. She has a desire and love to help kids with challenges. She has some educational challenges herself and can empathize with those who need a little extra help in life. I personally feel working as an assistant in a special ed class would be a wonderful career for her if she chooses not to work with animals. She's a hard worker, with a servant's heart.

Xiaoyun will be 25 next week. Even as I type that, it is hard to believe!! She still lives at home and is a tremendous help to me. Her petite, 60-pound body, belies the fact that she is a strong woman at heart. She doesn't let her frail body stop her from being active in the life of our family. What she can't physically do, she knows how to direct the other girls to get done. She is a level-headed, big hearted young woman. She is thoughtful and looks for ways to be a help to others. The girls love it when Virgil and I are gone, because that means Xiaoyun is cooking some spicy Chinese food. She'll have 2-3 girls in the kitchen slicing, dicing, frying, and making the entire house smell like it's sitting somewhere in China. She's introduced non-Asian family members to the delights of authentic Chinese cooking. One of her favorite things to do (and actually this is true for every girl in the house) is to go to the Asian grocery in Louisville. It's like stepping right into the familiar for them. Every sense is stirred in there for them- sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound all come to life and bring a remembrance of their first home. I too, get excited because the memories of trips to adopt all come flooding back when we step into that store.

It's been far too long since I last put down in words all the life we've been living. I regret not keeping up this blog, for it is my memory keeper, and a way to reflect on all that God continues to do in our lives. Many surgeries (for several in the house, including me), and challenges with Erin, far greater than the medical issues we've dealt with, have taken up my energy and thoughts. I hope to start being somewhat consistent again, so that as the girls get older, they too can see all the ways that God is faithful.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

October brought the BIG DAY. On October 21, Elli's birthday, Emily and Scott were married. It was a perfect fall day, and they said "I do" beneath a vine draped arch at Tonya (Virgil's sister) and David's house. Xiaoyun was Emily's maid of honor. As I watched Virgil walk Emily down the isle, so many pictures of her growing up went through my mind. She was a beautiful bride, and I'm so grateful so many of the family were there to share in hers and Scott's special day. 
The day after the wedding we received word that my sweet grandmother had went home to be with the Lord. She had never recovered from the stroke she had had in the summer. The last real conversation I was able to have with her she told me to "Love those babies". That was true of my mamaw. She loved children and they loved her. She helped raise me and my brothers, my cousins, and many of my cousins children. She was always an encouragement to me, and she loved the girls. I wish Emma had been able to meet her. The rest of our children all have fond memories of visiting Mamaw. God blessed us with many years with Mamaw.
In November we went down to the country. Emma was able to see where Virgil's dad grew up, and where Virgil spent a large part of his childhood. We go every fall and take a picnic. Virgil's dad told the girls stories of when he was a boy and about Virgil as a child. 
November also brought a surgery. Meimei had a tethered cord release. She'd been having a few issues that caused the doctor to order an MRI and other tests. She spent two nights in the hospital. The first full day was a rough one for her because she had to stay flat on her back, but the anesthesia made her sick. The second day was much better, and once home she healed well. She was able to go to the family Thanksgiving dinner a week later.
Christmas is a big deal around our house. It's like a celebration month for the girls. We put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and Emma was beside herself with all the decorations and lights. Emma was just like the other girls when they had their first Christmas home. Just like Buddy on the movie, Elf. The girls don't focus on gifts, and for that I'm grateful. For the girls it's just spending time with family and celebrating Christ's birth. Just as it should be.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Emma's First Two Months

 It has been a busy few months since we came home with Emma. Virgil retired from the police department the end of July, which was such a blessing!! I had been doing a poor job of juggling kids, school, doctors appointments, and the household. Having him home has been so wonderful and just what I needed. 
August was a time of adjustments, doctors visits, school beginning and the juggling that goes with all of this. Five of the girls headed back to public school, which left Elli, Enya and Emma home.
Emma's doing very well. The fears that made her want to stay in China have seemed to dissipate. She is throwing herself into being part of the family. Of course there are still adjustments as she learns exactly what family ' looks ' like and boundaries she needs to learn, but she has a great attitude and has caught on quickly to our family routines. It is amazing how quickly she is learning English. She has grasped the language faster than any of our other girls did. She has a lot of energy and loves to learn. It is obvious she was a helper in the orphanage. She is quick to jump in and help out if she sees a need.
August also held the excitement of getting ready for Emily and Scott's wedding. What a joy to go with Emily as she picked out her wedding dress! The girls were so thrilled that their big sister was getting married. It was a reminder for me that time passes quickly, and far too soon they are grown and gone.
The end of August and beginning of September was also a time to celebrate 2 years home for Erin and Meimei.

In September we made the decision that the rest of the girls should enter public school. In all honesty, it was a tough decision to make, but one that we felt was right to do. The girls needed more consistency than I was giving them. Between appointments, teaching a child English, another with language delays, and three girls in three different grades and abilities, we felt it was time. The girls were all excited to be going, especially Emma. There were a few rough days because of some bullying for one of the girls, but they all settled in and are enjoying classes. Their first day marked my retirement from homeschooling. I was in my 24th consecutive  year of homeschooling. It seems odd, even now, not to think about lesson plans. It was one more new normal to adjust to. It has been a sweet time of getting to know Virgil again. It has not been 'just us' at the house for a very long time. Emma LOVES going to school and LOVES her teachers. She comes running through the door every afternoon telling us all about her day. She takes great pride in doing her school work well. Though she had already finished fourth grade in China, we placed her there again because she's still acquiring English. 

In September Emma received a sweet visit from a little girl who she had helped take of in the orphanage. LL is 5 years younger than Emma and was adopted the year before Emma. It's apparent that Emma not only considers LL her sister, but in a way, Emma feels like a mother to LL. LL came to the orphanage as a baby and they were in the same room until LL was adopted. Emma helped care for her many years. LL's mom was thrilled to be able to hear about her child's life before she came home, and it is truly a blessing that they can continue to grow up together. They only live three hours from us so they will get to see each other regularly. The visit was a little difficult because Emma has limited English and LL has mostly forgotten her Chinese. Once the language isn't a barrier, I know we will hear many more stories of their life in China.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Emma's First Week Home

Just a brief update on the last few days. We arrived in Kentucky in the early morning hours of July 29. Our flight from Dallas was delayed twice, and then we ended up flying into another airport that was further from home, but that could get us home the soonest. The girls did great with both flights, though by the end of the second flight Enya was feeling bad. Since we changed airports and it was so late,our welcome home (some family and friends who had planned to greet us) at the airport was cancelled. However, what a joy it was to see Virgil and the kids!!!! Emma went around and said hello and hugged each person. We arrived home around 3am, and Emma was so much fun to watch as she checked out her new home.
Fast forward one week home. Emma seems to be settling in. For most of last week she continued to say she wanted to go back to China, but the last couple of days have been better. She's worried about learning English, and she's homesick for a place that is no longer home. That is a hard pill to swallow for an 11 year old girl. Thankfully, Erin still speaks Chinese, and they've been talking quite a bit. She's helping us translate, which is nice so I can save Xiaoyun for the deeper conversations.
Friday night Zeb and Dana rented out a pool just for us to use. This was the first time Emma had met them or Sierra, and it was a wonderful way for them to get to know each other. Emily and Melody, and my mom and David were there as well. Emma, the girl who said she doesn't like the water, stayed in the pool the entire time!! She laughed and interacted with everyone. We all enjoyed ourselves so much, and I told Zeb it was the breath of fresh air I needed. Since then, she seems happier. She is becoming much more affectionate, and has hugged me and Virgil quite a bit.
As usual, the trip was hard on this 52 year old body. I've had a hard week physically, which was compounded by the fact I ended up with an infection. Antibiotics made a world of difference, and by Friday I was starting to feel like myself again. Virgil and the girls have taken good care of me, and allowed me to take it easy until I was feeling better.
Today we were able to go to church. Since we now no longer have a vehicle that will hold us all, we both drove, and I was prepared to come home with Emma early if she became unhappy. She actually did well, and greeted those who spoke to her. It was so good to be back in church!! Afterwards, some of the family came over for lunch. The photos below were made this afternoon.
Praising God for his faithfulness!!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Lack of Faith- His Faithfulness

This was written on Friday July 28.

I'm sitting on a plane to Kentucky. We've now been traveling 27 hours. Only an hour and a half before we see family once again. As I look back over these last two weeks, I am convicted by what a lack of faith I've shown. From the moment we got into Beijing and our connecting flight was cancelled, until we sat in the Hong Kong  airport and I worried how Emma would do getting on the airplane, I consistently failed to trust the One who brought us on this journey in the first place. My devotion this morning talked about how, if God cares even for the sparrows, and He loves us so much more, why should we worry? Also, what good does it do to worry when we aren't in control in the first place? 
It is though I have been looking at a single brush stroke these past fourteen days, focusing on nothing but a small drop of paint, when I should have been thinking of the beautiful canvas He was painting. I failed to look beyond myself, trying to be self sufficient, when I was never created for that. I am here to glorify the Lord, not be safe or comfortable, or in control. Some of the things I was concerned about came true. We had some tough days, but He was there throughout each of them- carrying us. Many things I worried about never came to fruition. I've been almost sick for days thinking that Emma might make such a scene at the Hong Kong airport that we would not have been allowed to board. Instead, she has smiled, held my hand and laid her head on my shoulder (both a first!) several times today. Who but God!!!! 
I'm thankful that when I am weak, He is always strong. He is always faithful!

Emma's First Plane Ride

Saturday, July 29, 2017

We Are Home!!

Below is link to short video at airport
Emma meeting family

Praising God!! All is well!!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Final Post From China

This will be the last China post. The bags are packed, and the driver will pick us up at 7:30 tomorrow morning. Emma knows we are leaving, and I believe she  knows we actually fly tomorrow. If this evening is anything to go by, it will be a long two and half hours, followed by a long journey home.
Our friend, John (our guide in previous adoptions), came by and talked with Emma for a while today and tried to relieve some of her fears. She has many friends who are still at the orphanage. I hope to get information on them in the weeks to come, and perhaps find families for them. Some of her friends who were already adopted have sent messages to encourage her. I appreciate them doing this!

Speaking of appreciation-

I am so thankful to all those family and friends who have taken meals to Virgil and the girls, mowed our grass while Virgil has been healing, given generously to help pay for this adoption (many of which I do not know), loved and encouraged both us here (families who are also adopting) and at home, took the girls on a 'daycation',  and many other things I am forgetting right now. Rumor has it that the kids at home have done a great job helping their dad- good job girls!!
I especially want to thank those who have prayed. I cannot begin to tell you how much your prayers have meant to us!!!! I am forever grateful for all who have prayed for us throughout this trip. God has heard and answered prayers!

I also want to say how grateful I am for Virgil. He has listened to my whining and complaining since I arrived in Beijing. He's loved on me from afar, and I thank God for such a husband!! I am blessed with an incredible godly man!!!

Finally, I want to praise God for this journey we are on. Though my faith has been weak, He has remained faithful. He was, is and will be in control, and is working all things for our good. I see but in part, but He sees the whole and is doing a mighty work. I stand in awe!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Two Days Till Home

I am counting down the minutes until we are on that plane heading home. I know it is a shame to be in China and be so eager to leave, but I long to be with family. I imagine that is the same as how Emma is feeling. Longing for her old home, her 'family'. Last night I finally went to bed and left the tv and lights on in the hope that she'd eventually calm down and go to sleep. She did, and this morning acted fine again. After breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning in the room. This afternoon we went to the Chen Clan Academy. Every time we've been here we have visited there and bought the girls a scroll that represented their province. The other times, we have toured the different areas, but this time we rushed through. It was very hot and humid, and Emma doesn't seem to do well with that. We got the scroll, picked up some bracelets for the girls, and came back to the room. She wasn't happy about leaving the guide and went straight to bed, and stayed there for a while. She is now on day two without a shower. She said she didn't want one, and I'm trying to be wise about which battles to fight, so I've not pushed the issue. Hopefully tomorrow she will get one. She used the pocket translator to tell me she has a good friend at the orphanage that she misses, and that she wants to go back to Guangxi. I told her after we were home, I'd try to find a family for him. She said she didn't want to go, and I told her I know, and that is how it was left. After that she didn't cry, and did eat some supper. As I type, she has started back up again.We will stick close to the room tomorrow. Our guide will bring us our final paperwork, and I'll be packing. I expect that when she sees the suitcases out, that it will get rough. Please pray for us all!
I would also like to request prayers for Friday. We leave for Hong Kong early, and fly out at 2:30pm. I am concerned how she will do when we get to the airport, and also when we go to board the plane. She doesn't want to fly and she doesn't want to come to the US, so I honestly don't know what to expect. Please pray that she will not have a meltdown, and will do well on both flights. The first flight is 15 hours, then a 3 hour layover before our last leg of 2 hours.
The picture below was the only picture taken today. I asked Enya if she wanted her pic taken, and when she went over to sit on the stairs, Emma ran over and joined her. Glad to have a smile.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Consulate Day

Prayers were answered this morning. Emma was in a great mood throughout our two and a half hours at the US Consulate. When it was time for our interview, she was asked if she knew who I was, did she want to be adopted, and did she know her birth parents. She answered each one without any issues. So thankful to have that behind us!
Enya didn't fare quite so well. She got sick three times while we were at the consulate. The van drive evidently was more than she could handle. Once back at the room, I gave her some medicine and she slept for awhile, and then was as good as new.
Later this afternoon we went to the park with our new friends. The girls all had a good time together. It's so nice to have other girls for them to do things with. Emma was all smiles and laughter right up until we got back to the room. We'd been in the room for maybe five minutes when she asked to call the guide. Since she'd had such a good day, I assumed she was going to tell the guide about it. I assumed wrong. Immediately after the guide said hello she started crying and saying she doesn't want to go to the US. I talked to the guide for a minute, and hung up. She's been crying ever since.
I had a friend tell me when we were here adopting our first time that I needed to remember that


This is so true. I've seen this time and time again. This is just survival and coping. Time, patience, and most of all love and prayers, will allow her to blossom and let her real personality shine through.

Monday, July 24, 2017

She said YES!!!

Will post more later, but wanted to say thank you all for the prayers- SHE SAID YES!! Praising God that is behind us!!

A Better Day and good TB Results!!

As usual, we're on a roller coaster, but thankfully it's been a better day. She was excited to go to the zoo, right up until we'd been there 10 minutes. I was able to get one photo of her smiling before she shut down. Today was different because she would not even talk to the guide. We didn't linger looking at animals, and as we were heading out, she asked to ride a couple of rides. Her and Enya rode two, and after that she was fine again. They both picked out a panda bear for their souvenir, and in the van they actually played with them together. Once we got back to the room, she continued to be in a good mood.
As we were heading back upstairs to the room, God sent me a gift. The family from Frankfort were also getting into the elevator and we arranged to go to the pool. Emma doesn't like the water, so I wasn't sure how it would go, but she splashed her hands in there a bit, and seemed fine watching Enya and the family's daughter play in the pool for a bit. Once we finished there we went to a small playground here in the hotel and they ran and played (and got some energy out- much needed!). I was able to sit and talk to a fellow adoptive mom, and it was just what I needed. Thanking God for His mercies!!!
We went to dinner with them, and I think the girls had as good a time as I did. They adopted a 13 year old girl, so all four girls visited while I had some adult conversation. It was so nice to talk about church and adoption with them. The husband's aunt and uncle live in Etown and were both teachers. I asked Virgil if he knew them, and he actually had the uncle for his science teacher in high school!! Such a small world.
Emma's TB test came back negative- thank you all for the prayers!!!!!! Rejoicing that that is behind us. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 we have our consulate appointment. I'll update once we finish with that.
Praising God for answered prayers!!!!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Shamian Island, typhoons, struggles

I'll be honest- I'm not sure how to go with this post. Keep it positive, or keep it real. Since there may be other families in the adoption process, I think I need to be real. I would be doing others a great disservice by only painting a rosy picture. The fact is, two of us had a meltdown today (and Enya wasn't one of them). Emma didn't care for Shamian Island very much. We've settled into what is becoming a familiar routine- She acts fine until we're with the guide, and then she acts like we have the plague. Once we leave the guide, she acts fine again right up until it's evening time. She then starts crying and wants to talk with the guide. Tonight she told the guide she doesn't want to go home with us. I know she is homesick, and my mind understands this, but it is hard on the heart to hear those words. I know once she is home and realizes it isn't a scary place that she will be fine. She's an outgoing girl, and I'm sure it won't take long to feel comfortable with the family and those around her.
On Shamian Island there are a ton of places to take pictures. I was excited to get some good photos of Emma and also some of Enya in some of the same poses as she had had six years ago when she was adopted. Emma refused to take any pictures. She wasn't interested in anything about the island, so we left quickly and came back to the room. Typhoon Roke (right now a category 8) started dumping a ton of rain on Guangzhou, so that has put a damper on getting outside. We're supposed to go to the zoo tomorrow, which Emma and Enya are excited about, but as it looks now we'll need to find some inside activity to keep us busy.
The highlight of my day was on Shamian Island. We were in a store and I heard what I was sure was worship music. When we went outside I realized we were right beside a church. Inside they were singing, "How Great is Our God". He truly is a great God and He is holding us in His hands! He is in control, which is such a comfort, when things feel out of control.
I'd like to ask for prayers that the TB test comes back fine tomorrow afternoon, and also that the interview at the US consulate goes well on Tuesday morning (They will ask Emma if she wants to be adopted and go to the US)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Guangzhou- Medical Exam Day

Last night we checked into the hotel, unpacked, and headed to a nearby 7-11 (yes, no kidding!) to pick up some ramens, bread, and drinks. Located right outside the hotel, it's very convenient for picking up basic supplies. After talking with Virgil and the girls, we headed on to bed. About 2:00 am I woke up to the sound of crying. Emma was upset, and it took a while to get her calmed down and back to sleep. The night before, she had also gotten upset, and it took about 2 hours to get her calmed down. Even though adoption is a beautiful thing, it is born from grief. Sorrow at being abandoned when they are small, and then sorrow at leaving all that is familiar to them. From what I can tell, Emma was well cared for, and for a while that will make things harder for her. In the long run however, it will be better because she won't have to deal with the memory of abuse that some children go through.
Imagine how hard it would be to be uprooted from your friends and caretakers, language, culture, food, sights and smells. Now imagine you were a child. So very scary.


This morning she was fine, though we had the same distancing herself from us when the guide is with us. I wasn't sure how the medical exam would go, but she bounced her way right through the exams and shots. They did a blood draw as well to check for TB. Prayers please that the TB comes back negative. If she tests positive, they will do a chest x-ray. If that shows TB, she will not be allowed to leave China until she is treated, which will take a while. I always breath a sigh of relief when we get the results back. We will find out the test results Monday afternoon.
Going to the medical exam building is always a pleasure for me because we meet so many other families who are also adopting. As I've mentioned on other trips, I'd love to collect all their stories and share them in a book. Each family is so unique. It was a double pleasure to go today because we were able to see a friend of ours who works with an adoption agency here in Guangzhou. We first met John when we came in 2011 to adopt Xiaoyun and Enya. He was our guide then, and also when we adopted Nini, Ximi, Erin and Meimei. He's like family now, and has kept up with us through the years. He hasn't seen Enya since 2011, so it was nice to reintroduce her to him.
One thing about staying at the China Hotel is that breakfast means you're bound to sit near other adopting families. This morning as we sat down to eat, we started talking to the family beside us. Usually I ask three questions- Where are you from? Where is your child from? How's it going?
I was delighted to hear they are also from Kentucky (Frankfort) - just an hour and half from our house. As we're talking, another family sitting opposite of them tell us they are from Louisville!!! Just down the road from us. What are the odds? I look forward to getting to know them more in the days to come.
After the medical, we went to Walmart to stock up for the week. The girls both picked out junk food to go with their super nutritious ;-) ramen noodle, and we headed back to the room. Emma was tired from the night before (I think she's also getting a cold) and she and I both rested for awhile and Enya played on the computer. Enya continues to keep a great attitude and goes with the flow.
Tonight John took us to a restaurant that is barely larger than some people's walk in closets. The girls had dumplings, and I had noodles that (I think) had some type of pork sauce. Emma ate a good amount, but is subdued still. I think partly from the shots, but also it is starting to be a pattern that as bedtime approaches she struggles. Please continue to keep her in your prayers!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Who Am I? July 21 on train bound for Guangzhou

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Red Folder- Nanning Day 4 With Emma

This afternoon we received what we've been waiting for- the RED FOLDER. Months of paperwork came down to this one special folder .It declares that she is no longer He Fuhao- foundling. She is now Emma Fuhao Willoughby- daughter of Virgil and Cindy. This is like her adoption birth certificate in a way. There are now 8 of these precious folders in our family and we thank God for them!!

Today we also went to a park in the center of Nanning. Surrounded by high rise apartments and businesses, it is an oasis in the middle of this city of over 6 million. It was close to our hotel- only about fifteen minutes walk. Miko said many of the older people go there frequently to get their exercise. She said because they often exercise in the city squares, they call them square dancers, though it is a far cry from the do-si-do we think of. This is my idea of exercise 😉. The ladies are so graceful in their movements. There were some ladies being photographed, and a man with a traditional Chinese instrument- close to the size of a violin- accompanying two ladies singing. A small waterfall, several ponds and lakes, a cherry tree orchard and peach trees, children's playground, amusement park, and miles of trails lined with flowers, magnolia and palm trees were just a few of the things we saw.  In the midst of this bustling city, it is a place to get away and relax.This afternoon we packed for the next leg of our trip. We head to Guangzhou tomorrow morning. Only one more week before home!!! Thanking God for His goodness!!

Enya, Miko and Emma

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 3 With Emma

Our view at breakfast.
Emma's friend LanLan sent her the shirt. LanLan was adopted from the same orphanage as Emma and they were best friends. She now lives two hours from our home, so they will get to see each other

There are statutes throughout this park. They represent different children's stories

This is a tropical area and the bamboo grows well.

One of the many interesting things to see at the Green Mountain Park.

Enya and I climbed one million steps (ok, maybe not a million, but our legs felt like it-lol) to the top of the tallest pagoda in Guangxi. It had a view that was well worth the aching legs. You could see the entire Nanning city landscape spread out below.

Tallest pagoda in Guangxi

Emma and Enya loved feeding the koi. I have never seen such a thick group of fish. They were literally jumping out of the water to get to the food.

Today we went to the Green Mountain, a beautiful park with lush greenery and flowers blooming everywhere. Nanning's flower is the hibiscus and it was covering this park. Bamboo, palm trees, cycads, roses, and so many exotic plants and flowers were everywhere you turn. Teak furniture surrounded lake after lake, so you could sit and enjoy the view. Koi fish filled the lakes and ponds. Sculptures, carved stones, exercise areas, and children's areas were throughout. We could have spent a week there and never seen all there was to see and enjoy. Such a beautiful place.
As beautiful as it was, it did not compare to hearing Emma laugh for the first time. The girls were playing with a balloon, and Emma started laughing. It was good to see her and Enya playing with each other. She pulls away from us when our guide is around, but once we are alone she interacts with us. This afternoon has been the best, as far as talking with us and she is even using a few English words. Her demeanor is really improving. She asks about Virgil often and wants to know how long before we can skype with him the next time. I can't wait for them to meet in person!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Official! Emma Fuhao Willoughby

We officially have a new daughter!! Today we went to the notary and Civil Affairs office to finalize what we started yesterday. Because Emma is over ten years old, she was required to be interviewed and sign papers. When she was asked if she understood why we were here, she said "Yes, they came to bring me home". HOME!! What a precious word. Even the guide was touched by what she said.
There were three other families adopting today. What a blessing to see these other children getting added to families as well! There was a speech given by the director of all the orphanages in Guangxi, and then she presented is with the coveted red folder that says Emma is now a Willoughby.
When the lady from the orphanage said goodbye, Emma got emotional and shut down for a bit. When we got to the hotel she wanted the guide to come to the room with us. The guide, Miko, talked with her for quite a while. Besides being scared, she was also upset because the water in the shower wasn't warm. Bless her heart, I had showed her last night, but didn't stay in the bathroom so she could have her privacy and she didn't understand how to adjust the temp. I had no idea. 😞 Miko explained it again and also told her to point to my phone and I can call either Miko or Xiaoyun if she needs to tell me anything.
After that she has perked up, and is currently writing notes to send to Baba and the girls. She had learned to write the alphabet, but I don't know yet if she actually knows the letters or is just copying.
The Power of Attorney that we had to have still had not arrived yesterday. We weren't going to be able to proceed without it. God, in His timing, had it arrive just when it was needed. It was delivered as we were walking into the notary office this morning!! I have no idea why I stress when I know He is in control!! It is a lesson He is continually teaching me. (I sure wish I'd hurry up and learn this lesson!!)
Continued thanks for all the prayers!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Emma Fuhao

Welcome Emma Fuhao!!
We have Emma!! She is tucked into bed playing video games with Enya. Our flight landed on time and before the storm (thanks so much for the prayers!!) . I found out there is a typhoon heading this way, but other than heavy rain it shouldn't affect us too much.
We had a few minutes at the hotel before heading to the Civil Affairs Office. Emma was very nervous, which is to be expected. There were a few tears, and I found out later that she had heard the orphanage director mention that she needed more surgery on her lip, and it scared her. Bless her heart. I'd be upset too. Leaving all you know, and hearing you have to have surgery, would upset anyone.
We visited Walmart for some comfort food, which looked a lot different for each of us ;-)
PB and J for me, ramen for Enya, and snack things for Emma. She didn't want supper, and they had told me earlier that she had been a little carsick. She's very observant, and quick to pick up on things (which is going to keep me on my toes!).
The director had some pictures of her as a baby, and they are also giving me some other information tomorrow on a flash drive. I'm so grateful to have that. She had the photo album we had sent, and when we got to the room she pulled it out and wanted to go over everyone's names. She and Enya are doing well together.
I think the day has caught up to all of us, so we are heading to bed early. Again, thank you all for the prayers!!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Monday, July 17 China local. - 12hrs ahead

I think I need to start a series on the best laid plans😊.

We arrived in Beijing Saturday afternoon. The flight was great. So many empty seats that Enya and I were able to stretch out and rest. I've never been on a flight that wasn't full. After clearing customs we found our way to the domestic counter only to find that our flight to Nanning had been cancelled. Because of lightning, most flights to southern China were cancelled. Of course I couldn't get the internet to work on the phone and it took hours before I was able to get in touch with someone from our agency. The flights for Sunday were booked, so we had to stay in Beijing until this morning (Monday). By the time someone made arrangements and picked us up to go to a hotel we had been standing in the airport for over five hours. We looked like the walking dead. Enya was a trooper and not once complained. Since we would be in Beijing a day and a half, I decided to show Enya a little more of China. Our guide took us to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. It was hot, but beautiful. So thankful Enya was able to have this extra experience. 
We won't arrive in Nanning until this afternoon, which is when we are supposed to meet Emma so I'm not sure if we'll go to the room first, it straight to Civil Affairs office. 
Prayers please for Emma's heart and also for the weather. It is heavy rain there right now so prayers we're able to land. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

The day has finally arrived! Enya and I are sitting at the airport waiting for our flights. First to Dallas, then Beijing, and final a connecting flight to Nanning, China. We arrived at the airport at 6:30 am, and we'll arrive in Nanning at 11:05pm Saturday evening (China is 12 hours ahead of us). Hopefully we'll be at the hotel by 1am Sunday morning. Nanning is a city of close to 7 million so the airport could be quite a distance from our hotel. Sunday will be a day to catch our breath and stock up on supplies.
Leaving was hard, especially when we'd planned on Virgil and I traveling together. Fortunately most of the girls were still asleep so that made it easier this morning. Please pray for their hearts. Telling mama goodbye is hard, especially if you've had a mother say goodbye before and never return. Pray also for Emma, as she is about to have
her life changed completely.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Best Laid Plans Part 2

Right now Enya and I should be half way to China. Instead, I'm sitting in my living room. The paperwork needed for only one parent traveling should have been ready today. However, for some unknown reason, the consulate sent a message to all couriers that paperwork scheduled for pickup would now not be ready until next week. Without that paperwork, we are not allowed to proceed with the adoption, so we had to rebook flights yesterday and our coordinator in China is working on changing all in country travel. It feels like I was on a bullet train and the brakes got slammed on. Everything was ready to walk out the door. It's been an emotional rollercoaster. We will now fly out next Friday.
The worst of this is the fact that a little girl on the other side of the world expected to meet her Mama and a sister soon. She's been told there is a delay, and I pray it hasn't caused her to think we aren't coming. I can't imagine the doubts and fears she has anyway. Please pray for her heart.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Best Laid Plans...

"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
Proverbs 16:9 ESV

The time is almost here to bring Emma home. Our plan was for Virgil and I to travel together. Our first time with just the two of us. I was excited and really looking forward to our time with Emma- a special time of just the three of us.
God, however, had a different plan. Last week Virgil developed a blood clot and had to have surgery. He's doing better, but won't be able to travel. While he was still in the hospital we received travel approval. Since Virgil cannot go, Enya will travel with me. While I sat at the hospital I filled out paperwork that we need because only one parent is traveling, and also paperwork to get Enya a travel visa. Virgil got home late Friday night, and right after getting home we found out my beloved Mamaw had had a massive stroke.
To say it was a stressful week is an understatement. As I type, I'm sitting at the ER with Virgil again because he started running a fever. He's evidently picked up a virus on top of everything else.
This is not the way I envisioned the week leading up to travel going. However, I know God is control (and yes, that's something I have to keep reminding myself of right now) and His plans are perfect.
Enya and I will leave July 7, and will welcome Emma FuHao into our family on July 10.
We'd appreciate prayers for Emma as she leaves all she knows to start a new life, prayers for travel, and prayers for healing.

Monday, April 24, 2017

They are all 'My Own'

Recently Virgil and I were talking to a couple who was asking about adoption. The comment was made that, though they were planning on adopting, he was wanting to wait until after they had one more "of our own". I knew he meant one more biological child, but I wish I had had the opportunity to tell him-

Adopted or biological- they are ALL your own.

I have had the joy of giving birth to three children. They were placed in my heart long before they were placed in my arms. Long before they drew their first breath they were prayed for. We waited expectantly for months before we looked into their eyes.
I have also had the joy of adopting seven daughters. They, too, were placed in my heart long before they were placed in my arms. They were prayed for long before I heard their voice. We waited expectantly for months before we looked into their eyes.
Granted our adopted daughters were not babies. The youngest came home at five years old and the oldest was just shy of fourteen. They came to us with broken hearts and broken dreams. They have carried burdens I will never understand. But they came with the same desire that all kids (and adults) have- the desire to be loved. Just as with a newborn, they wanted to be held, protected and provided for. They wanted to feel safe.They wanted to be wanted.

I have heard people say they aren't sure they can love an adopted child as much as a bio child. I'm here to tell you that YES, YOU CAN! I have a special place in my heart reserved for each of my children. No two are alike- even the bio's. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, that make them unique, that make them special, that make them mine. Yes, I parent differently now, but that has more to do with the fact that I am older (and hopefully wiser) than I was with my first three. When a child comes home with heartaches that have not healed, we must meet them where they are and love them unconditionally, but isn't that the same thing we do with biological children?

My kids are just that- my kids. All entrusted to us for a season. All bring their own 'specialness' to our family and makes us better people. Each a special gift from the God who knew us long before we were formed. I hope to one day meet this couple again so that I can tell them the real truth-

God places children in the families He has chosen. Sometimes He does that through birth and sometimes He does that through adoption.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

One More Daughter- One Less Orphan

We are excited to announce that we are soon to be the parents of Emma Fuhao, a ten year old who has waited so very long for her family to bring her home. We hope she’ll be home in the next few months. The girls are looking forward to introducing Emma to all those things she’s missed out on for all these years. Emma has had a first repair of her cleft lip/ palate and, like Enya, will need several more lip revisions and possibly palate revision. She had a congenital heart defect that was repaired when she was almost two, and hopefully will require no more surgeries for that.

Those who have spent any amount of time with us probably won’t be surprised at our good news. Truly, those who have met our other children realize how much adoption has blessed and enriched our lives. God has blessed us so very much and we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to show His love to a child who yearns to be loved and to belong.

We invite you to follow along as we prepare to travel to China once again. If the Lord impresses upon your heart to donate towards Emma’s adoption we would certainly appreciate it. Prayers are even more important and we covet those greatly!!
Our church has partnered with Lifesong to provide us with a $3000 matching grant, which means if we receive $3000 they will match it for a total of $6000. We thank God for a supportive church family who has come alongside us in our adoption journey, and who have a heart for the orphans.

Donations are tax deductible when donated through Lifesong. To donate you can click on the link below and put in our family number- #06655. You can also mail checks (with our family number in the memo section) to Lifesong at:
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744
Family number #06655