This will be a short post because today was pretty uneventful (thankfully). We took a bunch of medicine this morning, and praise Jesus we are feeling a little better! We know we’ve had so many people praying for us, and we really felt that today. Thank you!
We spent the morning in the room playing with Selah. She loves bubbles and play dough. She thinks blowing bubbles and popping them is hilarious. We took sandwiches from Starbucks at the hotel up to the playground to eat for lunch. Selah got a little brave and we helped her down the slide. I’m pretty sure it was her first slide experience. She really liked it!
We went to the pool in the afternoon. She likes splashing her hands in at the side of the pool, but she got so scared when Dan held her in the pool with him that we had to go back to the room. It is so hot here, and the pool felt great!
Selah started watching a few of the DVDs I brought today. She really likes Kai-Lan. She talks Mandarian with the DVD and laughs. It’s so cute. We’re still working on getting her to sleep tonight. We’re hoping that day-by-day she becomes more trusting of us and a little less scared.
Tomorrow is our consulate appointment, which is the last appointment we have on our trip. Then, we wait for her visa and can come home! Only 4 more days!
I didn’t write a post for yesterday yet. I know people were looking for it, but honestly, I was out of energy and feeling pretty discouraged. Now, Dan and I are both feeling pretty sick. Selah is still having a hard time at night, and one of us has to walk her for hours to get her into a deep enough sleep to lay her down. So, this post is not going to sugarcoat anything, and I’m going to be honest.
We started out the morning with Dan still pretty sick. We ate breakfast and Dan slept most of the morning. Selah and I played and took a walk downstairs in the hotel to the Starbucks. The crazy lady who keeps following us was there and started to try to talk to Selah and follow us. It was more than I could handle. So, I let her have it. Let’s just say she stopped following us and is now scared of me. Sometimes my temper gets the best of me.
I started feeling a little sick in the afternoon, but we decided to go on the group outing to the wholesale market and Shamian Island anyway. It was good to get out. The wholesale market was huge! There were so many jewelry vendors. We got Selah a little jade necklace to give her when she is older.
We walked around Shamian Island, which is beautiful, but it was incredibly humid. We picked up a few souvenirs and took some pictures and came back to the hotel. Our group ordered pizza and ate it on the little playground area at the hotel. It is so good to all be together and support each other. God provided such a great group for us to travel with, and they all have amazing kids. Selah started getting upset after a little while (evenings are very hard for her), so we left and went back to the room and started the hours-long process of calming her down enough to sleep. We think that she is desperately afraid that we won’t be here when she wakes up. If she wakes up during the night, she frantically searches for me and grabs my arm. This little girl has experienced a lot of loss in her little life, and we can never completely understand the extent of the fear she must have. There were a lot of tears from all three of us last night, to be honest. It’s so, so hard here. I went through 39 hours of labor with Levi, and this is by far much harder. We love Selah so much (she is so special, smart, sweet, and brave), but we want to be home so badly. We miss Levi and Ezra, our families, Chick fil a, and drinking out of the faucet (among other things). Please pray that we have the strength to make it through the next few days, that our health improves, and that Selah continues to learn to trust that we will always be here for her.
Dan woke up not feeling well again this morning, so we decided to skip our touring for the morning. Dan slept most of the day while Selah and I played and tried out the pool. She liked slapping her hands on the water at the edge, but she was really scared when I got in with her. She was really cute discovering the water for the first time, though!
Dan being sick is really hard for him (because, well, he’s sick), it’s hard for me because it means I am taking care of Selah by myself, and it’s hard for Selah because she’s not bonding with him as well. Since Dan has been sick, she’ll only let me hold her at night, which is now a couple of hours of pacing back in forth in the room until she feels comfortable enough to fall asleep, and then about 30 minutes of the same thing until she is in a deep enough sleep to transfer to the bed. She was up scared at 4 am this morning, too, so I had to do the pacing thing for a while again. I am absolutely exhausted.
A lot of people in our group are feeling sick, whether it be from food or sicknesses. Please pray that they will all feel better to finish out the trip and return home! All of the couples here are amazing, and we are so blessed to have them along with our family and friends back home as a support system during the hardest two weeks of our lives. Thank you for your prayers!
Today was our first day in Guangzhou. We had to wake up early for Selah’s medical appointment, which was unfortunate since Selah was up until about 2 am. She still has a hard time going to sleep. But, we found out from our guide today that what she is crying for at night is milk (which we didn’t know what she was saying in Chinese), so hopefully tonight she’ll be a little soothed when we give her a bottle at bed time.
We met up with all five of the other couples adopting from our agency (three of us were in Guiyang last week and the three others were in different provinces adopting up their kids from other orphanages) and loaded up in a bus to head to our medical appointments. It was pretty busy in the medical office. We were led to a section of the office just for adopting families where we had to go into different offices assembly-line style for different things (ENT, general exam, and a blood/TB test). Selah was VERY brave and only cried a little when they took blood. As long as her TB test clears, we will be cleared for our consulate appointment on Wednesday! As busy and crazy as the medical office was, it was amazing. This small little room was FILLED with families adopting orphans from China. Along with the six families from our agencies, we met lots of other families who were also adopting. There was a lot of Jesus’ love in that room! It was uncomfortable, chaotic, and filled with tears. If you think about it, isn’t that what serving God is all about?
After the medical appointment, our guide took all of us to the Wal-Mart to load up on supplies for the week such as water, diapers, formula, and snacks. This Wal-Mart was also underground, but much nicer than the one in Guiyang. It looked cleaner than most of the Wal-Marts in the states! We bought four cases of water to last us (hopefully) the remainder of our trip (we can’t drink the tap water here), a sippy cup and a toy ball for Selah, and some Chinese snacks that Selah likes (she asks for “wo she ma” ALL the time).
After we got back, we played in the room for awhile with Selah. She is really opening up! She talks on and on in Chinese and cracks herself up. Her smile just lights up the room. When she got bored, we explored our hotel a little. This hotel has a pool, a little playground, a Starbucks, and a garden. It’s amazing! We’ve never been in a hotel this nice. It is a welcome respite from last week. We are excited to go swimming with Selah for the first time tomorrow.
We ventured out to find a noodle place for dinner with three other families. It turned out to not be a great experience; we had a woman follow us the whole way and then sit and stare (without eating) the entire time we were there. It was so uncomfortable that we left halfway through our meal. She followed us out of the restaurant and asked us to buy things for her. We just walked back to our hotel and she stopped. It was definitely a weird experience.
Now we're still working on getting Selah to sleep. Bedtime is so hard for her, She is so happy all day and then really fears bedtime. Pray that her little heart would be comforted and that she will know that Dan and I will always be here when she wakes up. Thank you all for your continued prayers!
Selah had a little bit of a difficult night; she was up in the middle of the night and it took us a long time to calm her down and get back to sleep. In the morning, unfortunately, Dan started to not feel well. We think he was coming down with what Selah had earlier in the week. I filled him up with Zofran and vitamins, and he slept most of the morning while Selah and I packed. Late in the morning, Selah took a nap on my back (her favorite place to sleep, as uncomfortable as it is for me) and then our group loaded up our luggage to head to the airport in Guiyang.
We stopped for about 15 minutes at the city center in Guiyang. It has a very pretty riverwalk area and a traditional temple where there are few merchants selling local goods. It was good to have this last little outing with our group in Guiyang. Without the other two couples with us this week, we would have had a much harder time. We are SO thankful that we could walk this journey with them and their little girls this week!
We are so thankful for the city of Guiyang because it is where Selah was born and spent the first two years of her life. We took lots of pictures so we can show Selah that chapter of her life when she is old enough to understand. Life is not easy in Guiyang. We have never felt more appreciative of the things we take for granted in our daily life in America. We have it pretty darn good. We were, however, happy to move on to the next phase of our journey in China because it means we are that much closer to home.
Our flight was originally supposed to take off at 4:10, but it was delayed until 5:10, then 5:25, then nobody mentioned ANYTHING at the airport until about 6:50 when it started boarding. Then, we got on the plane and they announced that there would be another delay and we wouldn’t be taking off until 8:00. We finally arrived in Guangzhou at 9:15, then we walked off the plane and boarded a standing room only bus with all of our stuff and kiddos and took a jerky ride to the terminal. We waited for awhile for our luggage, waited awhile for our driver, and then waited awhile to check in to our hotel. Finally, at about midnight, we are finally in our hotel room in Guangzhou, even if we did all miss dinner (except for a roll on the airplane that had a surprise of beans in the middle) and are more than a little cranky about the delays today.
Selah did very well on her first airplane ride ever. She was a little scared and threw a fit and cried when Dan went to the bathroom. She is still scared that when one of us leaves we might not come back. We’ll be spending the rest of her life showing her that we will always be there and will always love her. Early tomorrow morning, Selah has her medical appointment. Please pray that this will not be too traumatizing for her and that Dan feels healthy tomorrow! Thank you all for your prayers!
After the night we all had last night with Selah grieving so hard, we were surprised that Selah woke up in a pretty good mood. We went to breakfast at the hotel and then came back to the room and played. She was laughing and smiling as we played with bubbles for a little while, and I did some laundry in the sink (so fun). We’re so thankful that Selah is finally feeling better. Thank you all so much for all of your prayers!
We went out to lunch at a restaurant with our group and we had some traditional local food. It was really good! The local food here is pretty spicy. After lunch, we went to a local souvenir shop where local merchants make everything. We bought Selah a few keepsakes from her province such as a little Miao doll, a silver medallion we plan to give her on her 18th birthday, and a traditional Chinese dress. As long as Selah was strapped to our backs, she did very well.
After our shopping trip, our guide took us to Selah’s finding place, which is where she was found abandoned as a baby. We weren’t totally sure we wanted to see it, but if Selah ever has questions when she gets older, we want to be able to show her this part of her history. Selah was found outside of a hospital when she was six months old and very sick. As we were walking where she was left a year and a half ago, I held her so tight. It’s heartbreaking that she’s experienced so much loss in her short life. But, God has had a plan for her long before she was left. As I held this precious, amazing little girl and walked along the path her birth mother took, I prayed that we would always meet her needs and that God would use her life for great things. We’ve only been with Selah for a few days, but we already love her so much. She is incredibly smart, funny, and loving. She has already learned two English words! She says “thank you” and “bye bye”. It’s adorable.
After visiting Selah’s finding place, we came back to the hotel and played with Selah for awhile. We opened up some Play Dough and Selah had her first experience playing with it. She touched it and had the funniest look on her face! It didn’t take her long to love it. We played with her stacking cups, her baby doll, and a little car. Her laugh is one of the best sounds in the world!
We ventured out to the underground Wal-Mart to get a few supplies before we leave the Guiyang tomorrow. We picked up some water, Selah’s favorite Chinese rice cake snacks, and we let her pick out a toy to keep her busy on the plane. She picked out a little Hello Kitty toy phone, and it is adorable to see her pick up and say “Ni Hao!” Wal-Mart is quite an experience. We wandered through the “fresh foods” section of the store and came across a bunch of fish tanks with fish swimming around. It looks like the pet section of the store, but nope, it’s the fresh foods section!
For dinner, we went to KFC. Selah had her first French fry today! This girl is going to have a whole lot of firsts with us. She wasn’t a fan of the French fry, but she loved the mashed potatoes. Ordering was a little challenging again, and somehow I only ordered one little piece of chicken, but it was just nice to have some familiar food.
This evening, we played with Selah a little more and started packing for our next destination. Tomorrow we fly to Guangzhou, China to finish up our last few appointments to finalize Selah’s adoption at the American Consulate. We think this change will be good for Selah and our bonding, and Guangzhou has some more things to do (like a pool and a playground). Tonight it only took about an hour for Selah to calm down enough to fall asleep in my arms. She still cried out for her foster mother, but it was definitely less intense than last night. We have a lot to thank Jesus for tonight! If these last few days have taught us anything, it is that we are not enough. We can't get through this without leaning very heavily on God and His promises.
We are so incredibly thankful for everyone’s prayers and encouragement. It means more than you could ever know! Please keep praying for us and the rest of our trip!
Today we had a “free” day, so there were thankfully no appointments we had to be at. Selah had a very hard time going to sleep last night; she kept calling out for her foster mother and cried and cried. We played lullabies and walked with her across the hotel room for hours to get her to calm down. Finally she fell asleep in Dan’s arms and he was able to transfer her into bed. Unfortunately, she woke up at 4 and was sick a couple of times. We were so upset; we were really hoping she would be better so we could feed her and work on her bonding with us. We considered taking her to a doctor, but here in Guiyang there are no Western doctors and only hospitals. We would probably have to wait hours to be seen, and that would add such a stress to our little Selah. Selah fell back asleep, and then we decided to feed her some congee for breakfast. She did pretty well, except at breakfast she started trying to bond with other Chinese people, especially our guide. I can’t say that I blame her, especially since she can understand what they are saying. It’s not good for our bonding for her to be held by anyone else right now until she understands that we are her parents.
After breakfast, we decided a change of scenery would do Selah some good (she hates our hotel room) and we went with our group to the Monkey Park. On the way in the van she had a pretty big meltdown crying for her foster mother. Once we got to the park, we strapped Selah in our carrier (she LOVES being on one of our backs) and she slept peacefully throughout the whole thing. The park was pretty cool; there were hundreds of wild monkeys roaming around and stealing food and water from people. We saw a monkey steal a water bottle from the backpack of one of the people we were with, twist open the cap, and drink it. It was crazy!
We had a little bit of a breakthrough this afternoon with Selah. She smiled and even laughed a little for the first time since Gotcha Day. We played bubbles, sang songs, and gave lots and lots of piggy back rides around our very small hotel room. Generally, Selah hates being in the hotel room and begs to leave all the time. Around 4:00, we walked a few blocks to a shopping mall with the other two couples with us. We played in a little play place, let Selah play in a little sandbox thing they had there, and had dinner at a little pizza place where we had to use Google translate to try (a little unsuccessfully) to order. Selah had plain rice, and she is VERY independent and will not let me feed her; she has to do everything herself.
We walked home after dinner, and Selah was tired. This seems to be a trigger for her, and she cried inconsolably for over two hours. As I am typing this, she finally tired herself out and let herself fall asleep in my arms. We are exhausted and heartbroken for the pain she is going through right now. Her life has been uprooted and changed too many times, and she doesn’t know who to trust right now, especially two people that she can’t understand what they’re saying. She cries out in Chinese and it is so sad that we don’t always know what she is saying. We have been trying to use Chinese with her a little, but our pronunciation is too off for her to understand much. Selah does this thing when she’s upset and can’t cry anymore; she scrunches up her eyes and closes them like she’s trying to disappear and be brave. It’s heartbreaking for us that we can’t fix her hurt right now. Please pray for her little heart. God has moved mountains for us to get here, and I KNOW He has big plans for her life. I can’t take away all of her pain, but God can.
Dan and I want to thank all of you for your prayers during our tough time here in China. It has been a very hard couple of days, but your prayers and comments and God’s grace has given us the strength to keep going even when we feel like we can’t. Please keep praying for us! We love you all!
I apologize that this post is out of order. I'm going to go back to writing about our Gotcha Day while I can, but the Internet is so spotty here that adding the photos is very difficult. Today has been one of the hardest parenting days Dan and I have ever had. After a very smooth gotcha day, we didn’t expect the morning to start out as it did. Selah slept through the night well and woke up around 7 am. She started vomiting, and at first we thought she maybe choked on a rice puff. But, it kept happening throughout the morning. We took her temperature and she had a fever. We called our guide and told him that Selah was sick and needed to see a doctor. He came up to our room, said it was no big deal, and took us off to our Civil Affairs appointment to finalize the adoption. Unfortunately, the vomiting kept happening in the van, but thankfully stopped as we got to the Civil Affairs office in Guiyang. We decided to hold off on more than a sip of water at a time to get through that appointment, but poor little Selah kept crying “shui, shui” (water, water in Chinese). It was rough watching the staff there think I was withholding water from my new daughter. I tried to mime to them that she was sick, and they pulled her shirt down and pointed to her feet (no socks) and told our guide she was sick because she needed to be more bundled. It was hard to get through that appointment!
I got ahold of our pedicatrician after the appointment (who is an angel for calling me back at midnight her time), and she said to withhold food for the day and only give sips of pedialyte every 15-20 minutes. Selah slept while I held her for awhile, but when she woke up she was hungry and thirsty. It is impossibly hard to withhold those things from a sweet little girl who you are trying to get to trust you. There were a lot of tears from all of us today. Not only is Selah sick right now, but she is also grieving the loss of her foster mother. It’s a hard day, and I can’t help but think that no little girl should ever have to go through all of this. We would really appreciate your prayers that Selah would feel much, much better in the morning and that Dan and I wouldn’t catch what she has so that we can continue to travel to our appointments and fly home without any problems. The Internet doesn’t work well here, and we are really, really missing our boys back home. We leave for Guangzhou on Friday, so pray that we make it!
Gotcha Day is such a blur. Our appointment was at 2:30, so we spent the morning anxiously watching the minutes tick by. To pass the time, our group decided to try and find the city’s only Starbucks. We walked there and discovered a huge shopping mall with pretty fancy stores, so we walked around for a little while.
After lunch, we had to exchange all of our money. It happened in our hotel room, so it felt a little mafia-esque, but it all worked out in the end.
We left at about 2:00 in a van with our group to go to the building to meet our kids. After an elevator ride that felt like an eternity, we walked off and into the Children’s Welfare Institute of Guizhou office. There were four foster families and four children sitting in the room when we arrived, and in a moment of chaos we all scanned the room for our child. Dan spotted Selah first; she was wearing the pink sweater we saw from the photos of her cake and fruit party. I knelt down in front of her and opened her backpack we brought with some toys for her. She looked at me, smiled, and said, “Mommy” perfectly clear. I looked up and her foster mother was smiling with tears in her eyes. It was a beautiful and sad moment all at once because while I was gaining a daughter, another woman was losing one. I stood up and gave her foster mother a hug and said “xie xie” (thank you in Chinese) and we both cried. I can never repay her for the wonderful job she did raising Selah for 14 months. Selah is so incredibly smart, and both her foster mother and father had been preparing her for our family very well. She knew mine and Dan’s faces from the photo book I sent. Her foster father pointed at Dan, said something to Selah, and she said with a big smile, “baba!” which is Daddy in Chinese. She immediately started playing with us and the toys we brought her. We were so concerned that it would take her a long time to be happy and to smile. We never saw her smile in any of the photos we had of her, so we wanted so badly to make her smile. It happened within seconds of meeting her! We really felt all of the prayers on our Gotcha Day. It went better than we ever could have imagined. Selah was wonderful, her foster parents are truly gifts from God, and it was incredibly special all around. Selah kept getting more and more comfortable, and she eventually started going around to the other kids and the room and sneaking their toys away to play with. She is a little rascal! If you point the camera at her, she grins from ear to ear. We just love her so much already.
After a very long three hours in that little room while we finished up some adoption paperwork, we took a long van ride with lots of traffic back to the hotel. Selah continued to do very well with us and kept calling us Mama and Baba. We went to dinner and she ate well and was VERY busy trying to get into everything. She did get upset at bedtime; I really think she was missing her foster parents. She finally cried herself to sleep in Dan’s arms around 10 pm. She is independent, curious, smart, and such a sweetheart. God is so good, and we are so lucky to have her as a part of our family.
This morning we got up early and drove with our group to the Beijing Airport. I am SO thankful for the awesome people in our travel group. Two other couples will be in Guiyang with us adopting little girls. The rest of our group will meet back up in Guangzhou on Saturday. Our flight from Beijing to Guiyang took about 3 hours, and then we drove to our hotel. I was surprised how big of a city Guiyang is! After we arrived at our hotel, our group went to lunch at a great little restaurant where we ate a ton of food for just about $6 per person. We explored the city a little and walked to Wal-Mart. It was quite the experience! The Wal-Mart here is underground! The six of us got a LOT of stares and some photos taken of us when walking around Wal-Mart. I don’t think they see many Americans here.
We unpacked our suitcases since we’ll be here for five days and set out all of Selah’s toys and her backpack we’ll be giving her on Gotcha Day as well as the gifts for the orphanage officials and Selah’s foster parents. We walked around the city a little more later in the afternoon with Zach and Rebecca (another couple adopting with AWAA) and found a pizza place for dinner. It was so nice to have a taste of familiar food again.
Tomorrow we meet Selah at 2:30 pm, which is 2:30 am for everyone back home. We are so excited! Our next post will be with pictures of Selah in our arms. Please keep praying for her and her transition. Her whole world is going to be turned upside down. Pray that God will give her peace and comfort. Pray for Selah’s foster mother, too; as we have been counting down the days with excitement until Selah is ours, she has probably had a countdown, too, but hers probably isn’t without sadness. We are so thankful to her for the care she has given our girl for the past year.
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