What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Great Wall

Ni hao! 

I don't remember where I was when my connection died last night. There was a problem with the VPN, but that is fixed now, thanks to a techie adoptive dad down the hall.  Thanks, Jim!

We have discovered that Caleb is quite the talker.  (Surely I mentioned this in my last post, though I barely remember what I was even writing at 2AM.)  According to our guide, he has a vocabulary far exceeding his age.  For some reason, this did not really surprise me.  In my mind I had prepared myself for him to be very intelligent.  Something about his information saying he "likes to lead the other children like an older brother" tipped me off, I suppose.

At breakfast he had an animated conversation with our guide.  She is a delightful young lady of about 30 years of age.  Later I will tell you more about her, but for now, I'll just say that she likes to talk as much as Caleb does, so they have a great time.  She repeats back to us what he is saying and it takes some effort on our part to keep up with all of it.

Anyway, back to breakfast.  Caleb inquired about the meaning of the "No Smoking" sign which was on the wall behind the guide.  She asked him if his foster father smoked.  He said, "No, he doesn't smoke or drink.  He only eats meals.  Smoke is bad for you and chokes other people.  But he did light firecrackers for me!! That smoke is suffocating!"


Later, on the way to the Great Wall, he chattered away constantly, asking questions about everything that went past the window.  I got some cute video of that.

The Great Wall of China was designed to keep out the invading Huns, as we all know.  It was also designed to keep five-year-olds at bay.  We tried to climb a little ways with Caleb, but it was truly impossible, with the rise on many steps being 8-12 inches and not even a foot's length deep.  So we stopped at the first little resting spot while Tom, always the trooper, continued on a little ways.  We were on our own, with no guide for the climbing, so I kept Caleb behind and tried to keep him from killing himself on the steps while Tom went up and back.  Caleb likes to know where we are at all times, and so he was not super happy about Tom leaving us.  "BABA!!!"  he called and then proceeded to try and follow him.  It was all I could do to keep hold of him by the jacket while he attempted to scale the steps to rescue his dad.

Caleb is testing us a little today.  Not surprising.  He needs to know where his limits are.  He'll find out soon enough.  I think he is beginning to get overtired and probably frustrated at our inability to communicate with him much.  I imagine at some point he'll have a good, hard cry and get some of the frustration out.  For now, though, we're good.

OK, pictures from today.  Click on these to enlarge and see them in all their massiveness....

Packing his things to take in the van.  He is very particular about keeping up with his stuff.

Climbing the Wall with Baba.

Sitting on the wall with Mama!

Caleb and MuShu

Family pic at the Wall.

The last one is a special gift to my China traveling friends.  (Just in case you're missing a certain essential part of the China experience right about now.)

The Squatty Potty


The Stork Has Landed

This is Abby posting for Laura, as her internet connection isn't cooperating at the present time.  She will continue this blog and post pictures as soon as possible.  Enjoy!

By now, most of you know we have Caleb.  He is doing great, adjusting well to us, and being very patient.

I thought I'd tell you a little about how yesterday went down.  I won't post many photos because the connection is slow.

We rose to a 5:15AM alarm clock and quickly got ready for the day.  We had to be at breakfast when they opened at 6:30AM in order to be ready to leave for the orphanage by 6:45.

Breakfast was a vast array of Chinese and American fare.  You really can't imagine what a Chinese 5-star breakfast buffet is like until you see it.  On the Chinese side: friendrice, congee, vegetables, pickled eggs, fried meats, fried eggs, sausages, the list goes on and one.  On the Western side: cereal, milk, muffins, fruit, etc.  Lots of variety and plenty of opportunity to overeat bright and early.  This is where Tom gets his fill for the day.  He's much less adventuresome at the Chinese restaurants for lunch and dinner.

The ride to the orphanage was about an hour long.  Lots of early morning Beijing traffic: cars, buses, bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, and many vehicles that defy description piled with oddly packed wares.

We arrived at the orphanage and quickly went inside to a meeting room.  There we began signing and placing red thumb prints on a lot of documents.  One of the documents was an agreement to care for the child for the next 48 hours, a waiting period, if you will.  If at the end of the 48 hours we "liked this boy", we would then complete the adoption, we were told.

In the midst of signing and stamping, I heard the shuffle of feet into the room.  I just assumed it was another orphanage worker, as there were many of them entering and exiting.  When I turned to look, there he was.  No announcement or fanfare.  He stood holding his Aiyi's hand looking as though he had not been up for long.  They had dressed him for his big day in a turtleneck sweater and a bright red coat. Under his sweater was a long sleeved shirt, and under his sweatpants where long underwear.  It was probably 65 degrees outside.

He was told that we were "Mama and Baba".  He looked confused.  They brought him to us and we greeted him in Chinese: "Ni hao, XiRui!"  He gave us the obligatory hug when prompted to by his nanny, just as I had predicted he would.  Later, our guide told us that he didn't know what was happening.  In my experience, it is possible he just didn't understand.  How do you explain adoption to a five year old?

We quickly found a bright red toy car in the backpack and gave it to him.  He fingered it excitedly, turned it over in his hands a few times, grinned widely at us, and then slid it across the floor with gusto!    Big room, slick floor, little boy, Matchbox car.  You get the drift.   He hasn't put it down, except to eat, potty, and bathe.  He has it right now in his hand as he sleeps.

The paper signing finished, we were done.  It was very quick.  We took a family photo or two inside and outside the orphanage, as that is probably the last time he will ever see it.  We left as quietly as we entered, little boy in tow.  No tears, no grief, just excitement that we were getting into a big van!  He told the guide he wanted to go to the zoo in the big van!

We were then off to the Civil Affairs office to register the adoption.  Caleb (XiRui as we call him now) was glued to the window, taking in all the busyness of the bustling city around us.  The guide engaged him in conversation and he chattered away with her, answering her questions.  He told her he had several foster siblings,  exactly how many we aren't clear about.  Her told her older and younger brothers and older and younger sisters, which the guide says is highly unlikely.  We shall soon know that detail when we get back with the orphanage workers in a couple days.  We aren't sure how long he has been back at the orphanage, but it was obvious that he didn't consider it "home" or really miss leaving it at all.

To be continued.....

Dear Caleb

Dear Caleb,

My body tells me I should be awake.  My common sense tells me I should be asleep.  But I'm far too excited about this day to sleep right now.

This is a day I've looked forward to for nearly nine months. However, long before that there was a divine plan in place for this meeting today.  I don't believe in chance, or luck, or fate.  I believe God has brought you and me together in this time and in this place according to His plan.  
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.~Psalm 139:16

As hard as I've tried, I admit to feeling less than well-prepared for what is about to happen in just a few hours.  I've done this before, but that doesn't make it any easier.   We'll be ushered into a waiting room, likely with a couch, and you'll be brought to us there.  Your care givers will tell you to greet us.  They will tell you to call us Mama and Baba.  There will be much chattering and talking in background. They will probably tell you to hug us.  I just want you to know that you don't have to hug us or pretend to love us yet.  While we have loved you for months, our feelings will not be hurt if you do not love us right away.  We will do everything we can to earn your trust and love and acceptance.  Given time, I believe you will learn to love and trust us.  

You have a big family waiting for you at home.  You may be surprised when you discover how big!  Our guide gasped when she discovered we already have six children.  There is no such thing as large families in China anymore.  Your brothers and sisters are ready to scoop you up and love and play with you!

I came to China with the most wonderful man--your father.  He is gentle and kind and he's truly very patient.  He's the best daddy in the world and I believe you'll be able to sense that very quickly.  Please don't be afraid of his bald head and big, blue eyes!  He will lead you by example.  Follow his example and you will do well in life.  He is so excited about being your daddy.  

God has uniquely gifted you in ways we don't even know about yet.  We will help you discover your talents and abilities so that you can use them for His glory, all the days of your life.  

Be bold and courageous, Caleb. You're being asked to do something that most adults could never do.  You're going to leave everything that is familiar to you in a few hours and your life will change forever.  I pray that the transition is not too difficult for you.  I pray that you have an adventuresome spirit and like to try new things.  Many exciting experiences await you!  God has given you a future and a hope!  

With love,

Caleb's Room


We finished Caleb's room today. (And not a minute too soon!  We leave for China tomorrow morning at a quarter past ridiculously early.)  I know this has been a long time coming, but I wanted to get it all together before I posted pictures.  Even now, there are a couple small details which will have to wait until we are home from China.  But mostly, it is ready, and we couldn't be more excited to show it to you.

This has been a group effort, for sure.  Tom oversaw the furniture painting, hardware installation, and bank rolling.  The girls created some artwork, painted furniture, and donated toys.  And I did the sewing and quilting.  Nearly every item in this room was handmade, thrifted, or repurposed from things we already had.  This was a low budget room!


To the left as we enter the room stands the bookshelf filled with toys, books, puzzles and various stuffed friends.  Take a good look at this, because it is likely to the be the last time you see it this organized.



Moving to the right of the bookshelf is the wall hanging I'm working on.  It's one of the last unfinished pieces.  It still needs to be quilted, but I wanted to hang it up for you too see where it goes and what it looks like.  I wanted it to have a homespun feel, like the rest of the room, with motifs representative of an active boy.  So, enter the plane, boat, climbing tree, baseball and bat.  Also represented are home and an American flag.  Around the border I stitched this verse:

God created boys 
full of spirit and fun,
to explore and conquer,
to romp and run. 


Under the window sits a little antique table.  This was the element of the room that I stressed over the most.  More than anything else, I wanted a little table for Caleb to sit at and play with his puzzles, trains, cars, what-have-you.  Finding said table was another matter altogether.  In the end, we chose to cut the legs down on an old enamel top table we already had.  That was a bit of an agonizing decision until Tom assured me that new legs could easy be purchased if we want to raise it back up again at a later time.  We painted the apron on the table a light blue and I covered the drawer with red, white, and blue paper.  The pint sized chair we found for a couple dollars at a thrift store, already painted a bright shade of blue.



Ah, the bed!!  I bit off a bit more than I could chew with this quilt, and not because it was difficult to make.  It was really quite simple to cut out the homespun blocks and piece them together in straight rows.  No, the difficulty came when I determined that this baby had to be hand-quilted.  That part has been very time consuming.  In keeping with the homespun feel, I took large, chunky stitches, but it was still slow-going.




Above the bed, Maggie is showing you the loft.  We'll call this the Lego Loft because that is where the Legos are going to stay if I can help it.  On the wall in the loft is some artwork the girls and I water-colored of a car, a boat, and a train.


On the last wall sits the dresser.  That dresser was the changing table for my first four babies!  It was originally stained brown. Then, for a few years, it was a slick black.  And now it sports a snappy coat of barn red paint.  Above it hangs the painting I found at a thrift store in town.  I knew as soon as I saw it that it was coming home to Caleb's room.  I just love the childish simplicity and the fact that it was so obviously painted with love, probably by a grandmother or other family member.  "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

You may notice that both of the photo frames in Caleb's room are empty.  That's because we are waiting to fill them with photos of Caleb with his new family!!


These blocks have been around here for 25 years or so.  The girls recently gave them a fresh coat of paint and I sewed them a new tote bag.


The barn was built by my brother-in-law Jack several years ago.  At Target, we found these fun barn animals to go in it.  Push their bellies and they moo, bleat, oink, and neigh.  Don't ask me how I know.

The girls have been making sure the toys aren't terribly lonely the past few months, but they are growing weary of waiting.

We all are!


 Hurry Home, Caleb!!!

We can't wait for you to be here with us playing in the room we lovingly created just for you!


That's me above.

In about 15 hours!


Crunch Time

With only seven days left until we leave for China, it's definitely crunch time around here.   The suitcases are out and we're starting to toss in miscellaneous items as they come to mind.  I have purchased quite a few articles of clothing from the Goodwill and the Salvation Army that I plan to wear a couple times and leave in China.  It makes sense to me to avoid having to pay to get laundry done while we're there.  And that way, with a lighter bag,  I'll have more room to bring back souvenirs for the children, right?

Thankfully, we were able to get the consulate appointment we wanted on April 11, which requires us to leave the U.S. on March, 28th.  We had thought the earliest we would possibly leave would be April 5th.  Leaving a week earlier was a very nice surprise and such an answer to prayer. 

Today we received our in-China itinerary.  Sure looks like a small amount of adoption paperwork and a LOT of touring and sight-seeing on our agenda for the two weeks we'll be there.  If you're interested in the what we'll be doing daily, check out the details below.

March 28: Fly out of Augusta 7:10AM
March 29: Arrive in Beijing by China Airlines  6:20PM
(Staying at Wang Fu Jing Grand Hotel in Beijing)

March 30: In the morning, go to the orphanage to meet Caleb!

March 31: Local sightseeing: Forbidden City

April 1: Get adoption registration certificate,
Apply for notarization and passport

April 2:  Local sightseeing: The Great Wall

April 3:  Local sightseeing: Summer Palace

April 4:  Local sightseeing: Zoo

April 5:  Local sightseeing: Olympic Park

April 6:  Local sightseeing: Temple of Heaven

April 7:  Local sightseeing: the Science and Technique Museum

April 8:  Get Caleb's Chinese passport
           Fly from Beijing to Guangzhou
           Stay at the White Swan Hotel

April 9:  Medical check and photo taking

April 10:  Local sightseeing: Yuntai Park

April 11:  Visa appointment and
swearing-in ceremony at the U.S Consulate

April 12:  Get Caleb's U.S. visa
           Local sightseeing: Six Banyan Temple

April 13: Fly from Guangzhou to Beijing to New York to Charlotte to Augusta

You'll notice I highlighted the "red-letter" day.  On Wednesday, March 30, we meet our son for the first time.   That will be Tuesday night your time here in the U.S.  I have tried to imagine that meeting in my mind.  A little boy, who has probably only known for a few weeks that he is being adopted, being greeted by a couple of strange looking and sounding Americans who are about to become his parents.  Let's just pray he has an adventuresome spirit and isn't scared to death when he lays eyes on us.  I somehow doubt that we are at all what he is expecting.

I'm busy finishing up the last few details on Caleb's room.  I have let too many other things get in the way so here I am, fingers flying, trying to get his quilt completed.  Crunch mode, for sure.  Tom says it isn't essential.  That's the practical engineer speaking.  But the emotional mother in me wants his room to be just right for his arrival.

I'm hoping the VPN we downloaded works and I can blog from China.  If not, I'll be emailing Lacy daily and she will be my ghost writer.

6.5 days.....

But, who's counting??


Travel Approval!!

Friday we received the call from our agency that we have travel approval!  What does that mean, you ask?  Well, it means that as soon as we can get a consulate date at the United States Consulate in Guangzhou, China, we can travel to get Caleb.  We hoped to know by today what our consulate date is, but it looks like it will be tomorrow before we know anything.  We have a very narrow window in which we can travel because of a trade fair in Guangzhou the last two weeks of April and a Chinese holiday the first week of May.

We are trying to leave on Monday, March 28th, which is exactly two weeks from today.  If we can't leave then, we will have to wait until probably May 10th to travel.  That is six additional weeks.  I'm so glad that God is in control of this!  As badly as we want to travel in two weeks, eight weeks will be here before we know it.  So, we're just trying to be patient and trust God in all of it.  He brought us this far and He isn't going to leave us now!!

I thought I'd show you where each of our adopted children was born.  It's interesting to me that when people ask about the girls, they often assume they were biological sisters, or from the same orphanage.  Nope, folks.  They are from all over the map of China and were adopted in 1995, 2003, and 2005 respectively.


First Lacy.  She was born in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province.  Go a little ways inland from the port city of Shanghai and you would be where Lacy was born.  Below is the Master of the Nets Garden.


To find Holly's birthplace, you have to go to the VERY SOUTHERN TIP of China.  That's right.  Find the southern most point of the mainland, then go to the southernmost point of the island of Hainan.  (The little island right above where it says South China Sea.)  That is the city of Sanya, and that is where our little Island Princess hails.  We loved every minute of our stay on Hainan.


Maggie's birthplace was Nanping, in Fujian Province.  Find the island of Taiwan and go straight across to the mainland of China.  This is Fujian Province and our littlest girl is from this beautiful mountainous area.


The red circle marks Beijing.  Our Caleb was born near Beijing, the capital of China.  The very exciting thing about that to me is that he will get to visit a lot of the most famous landmarks of China with us while we wait for his province to finish his adoption paperwork.  We will get to visit the Great Wall, Tienanmen Square, etc, with our little emperor.

I'll be back soon with travel dates.


Lacy's Newest Creation and the Cutest Grandbaby Ever


Almost daily, Lacy surprises me with a new creation from her knitting needles or crochet hook.  Today was no exception.

I came walking into the room to find a knitted egg flying towards my head.

"Think quick!" she yells.


I flipped it inside out.


And found this friendly alligator inside.


She got the idea for the egg from this book.  But the alligator is her own design.

He's perfect for Kyle's room, which you can see by clicking over to Abby's blog.

Which reminds me that I've never officially introduced Kyle to the blogosphere!!  I think it is high time I did that, don't you?


Here he is in all his adorableness, waiting to go home from the hospital.  He was born on March 2, 2011 at 11AM.   He's the cutest, sweetest baby ever.

(That's the truth because Lollees never lie.)