Friday, February 28, 2014

Xi'an to Guangzhou

Trent left Thursday and we had Friday all day with the just the girls before a late flight to Guangzhou.    Why the change in cities?  We have to get to the U.S. Consulate to get her immigrant visa and a medical exam.

So before we left, we got to see the old city wall in Xi'an.  The air quality was (somewhat) better and so being outside didn't feel like you were sucking the exhaust out of a diesel truck.  Here are Ruthie and Sherry on the city wall.

It was a late flight to Guangzhou and Maggie did pretty well on the flight.  She was active but we made it.  We were late getting in, with arrival time about midnight in our hotel.  Can you tell someone was tired?

But she woke up happy and glad to eat breakfast.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Am A Better Person Because of China

China has changed me and for the better.  I wouldn't want to live here, but then I like who I am here better than who I am without China.

-Spending time in a country where you can't breath the air without significant health risks, makes me complain less about a hot or cold day back home.

-Spending time in a country where your right to drive is determined by a lottery and then only granted to you every other day, makes me more tolerant of a day of increased traffic back home.

-Spending time in a country where you can't drink the water out of the faucet in the nicest hotels, makes me more tolerant of my water bill when my pool runs in the summertime.

-Spending time in a country where toilets are commonly holes in the ground, makes me thankful for my bathroom and less concerned about the material of my countertop.

-Spending time in a country where you are only allowed to have one child, makes me less frustrated when my 2nd child doesn't pick up his toys.

-Spending time in a country where the government owns all of the housing, makes me less envious of the house around the corner that I cannot afford.

-Spending time in a country where almost everyone lives in an apartment high rise, makes me more grateful for the yard my children can play in.

-Spending time in a country where good medical care is hard to come by makes me more tolerant of my co-pays, deductibles, and premiums.   They are inconvenient but I still have the option to have them and their benefits.

The list goes on and on.

It is always hard to return from China.  I like who China makes me to be.  In a week I will return home.  As I recover from jet lag, I will feel a deep since of discomfort for the materialism around me and the entitlement that you cannot escape in the U.S.  I will listen as my kids complain about there being too much food on their plate or as a friend complains about how long they had to wait in the check out line at the grocery store.  Something will eat at the inside of me because I don't like what privilege has turned me and those I love into.  I will strangely miss China and the hardships there.

Then sadly over weeks and months, the life of privilege will start to harden my heart again.  I can't escape it.  I will become more entitled and less grateful for all that God has given me again.  I will think it is a hard day when I leave my cell phone at home or when I have to walk in the heat to pick my kids up from the school (where they are getting an excellent education).  I will nod my head in agreement when someone complains about the wait at Starbucks or how they have to get take out again for dinner.   I hate the materialistic, need to be comfortable, ungrateful for all that God has given me side of me.  I hate that I can justify those behaviors by a sense of importance or just deny them altogether because they are commonplace where I live.  I don't like who America makes me to be.  I love America, but I am a more grateful person when I am in China.

This is why Trent and I decided a long time ago that it is good for us to leave the country every year or two and be reminded how blessed we are.  

Ruthie and Maggie's Adoption Agency sends people on mission trips all over the world.  They aren't cheap but then when you consider what we have, they really are.  They are life changing.  I met Maggie on one and now generations of lives will be changed because of my going.  You can read about them HERE at http://www.awaa.org/act/default.aspx.  You should check it out.  I can't afford not to go.  Can you?

Last Day In Xian- Laying Low

Today is our last day in Xian.  I hate that the pollution has been bad and kept us from doing much but I also recognize that it is better for Maggie to lay low too.  This morning we sent daddy off to the airport.  I am glad he is going to be able to return to the boys and get the house ready for miss Maggie.



It rained yesterday and knocked down some of the pollution so we can actually see buildings outside of our room.  Ruthie has climbed up into the window several times to look down on China.  I often wonder what is going through that beautiful mind of hers.   I don't know if she processes China as her birthplace.  She really doesn't talk about it and I don't push.  She will when she is ready.


Later I caught a few pics of my littlest blessing looking down on her country below.  Isn't she just beautiful?


This time tomorrow will be on a plane for Guangzhou.  That marks the last leg of the wonderful adventure and some cleaner air too.  I am looking forward to both.

Uneventful but Memorable

We were supposed to go to see the Terra Cotta Warriors today but Trent and I did not have a peace about getting the girls out in that much pollution.  There is a lot of walking outside to get to the warriors and pollution is still at hazardous levels today.  I think our guide was relieved when we asked to do something indoors instead.

She took us to a Chinese History Museum downtown and it was really interesting.  There were still some warriors there so I think Trent enjoyed it.  It is amazing to see artifacts that are 7000 years old.


After the museum, we went to lunch with our guide.  I really like her and wish we lived closer.  Maggie did great at lunch and then went crazy on the ride back to the hotel.  What started as frustration at having to sit in the van turned into a full blown temper tantrum.  It got scary when her nose and lips turned blue and I could not do anything to console her.  We got back to the hotel and she fell right to sleep.  Note to self- do not let this child get over tired.    Please pray for our plane ride in 2 days to Guangzhou.  I am a bit concerned about her willingness to sit through it combined with the stress the altitude will put on her heart.  

Daddy heads home tomorrow.  We will miss him bunches but I am glad he is getting home to the boys.  

Thanks for praying. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

Maggie Day 3

We wrapped up our 2nd day with Maggie by just spending some time in our room.  There is a Chinese version of Walmart close by where Trent and I purchased some Chinese legos for the girls.  They are so cute playing together.


Maggie also got her first bath.  I have learned a lot about this first bath thing since 2009 when I terrorized Ruthie with hers'.  At the orphanages, they bath them by wiping them down good so when you take this child and put them in a big tub of water, they think you are drowning them.  I wised  up and gave Maggie her bath in the sink and it went sooooooo much better.   They also say not to bath them on the first night because they need to keep their smells familiar.  Score one for the Henderson's - 2nd night non-drowning bath was a success.



Today we headed out to the Bell and Drum Towers and then to the market.  Oh the looks we got from the locals.  I also took my first Chinese subway to get there and it was so much better than what I expected.


Maggie fell asleep in her carrier on the way back and is now fighting the rest of her nap as I type this.
All in all, it has been a great day so far.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maggie Day 2- Making it Official

With adoptions in China, they give you a day to spend with the child before you make it official.  Well today was sign a ton of paperwork, pay your money, and make it official day.

But first things first.  We started the day with a Skype date with family.  Maggie took a few minutes to wake up but then chatted their ear off.

She is beautiful even at 7 in the morning. 


Then it was off to an early date at the Civil Affairs office and the police station.




Trent and I had a lot of business to tend to so Maggie was entertained by my sister and her sister.



At the police station, she got a kick out of playing peek-a-boo with daddy.


A Few Things We Have Learned About Maggie:

1. Girlfriend loves to eat. 

2. She does not lay still for diaper changes.  Wiping poop off a moving toddler in several layers of clothing is NOT easy!!

3. She loves to mimic you.  She was even mimicking me coughing.

4. She sings.  I don't know what she is singing, but she sings a lot.

5. You can't keep headbands in her hair.  You can distract her for a minute but then she still goes back to pull them out. 

6. She head butts when she doesn't get her way.  I remember seeing this in some of the kids in her room and apparently she picked it up.  That is going to have to change quickly.

7. She giggles a lot and it is absolutely precious. 

8. She talks a lot. Again it makes no sense even to the translator but she just keeps on going. 

9.  She does not like to be restrained.  She didn't like me wearing her, she cries when you buckle her into the stroller, and she pushes my arms away when I hold her in the car.  Girl wants her freedom. 






GOTCHA!

We have her!!!  Everything went great.



We were a few minutes late getting there because it took us longer at the bank than we expected.  As soon as we arrived and turned the corner, she was there with my friend and her son.



She hardly fussed at all except when we tried to take her sponge bob balloon away. :)


She did great when we handed her to Trent but after a few minutes reached for me again.




The van ride back to the hotel was too funny.  She talked up a storm and was happy to flash those precious dimples.  Our guide said she had never seen a baby talk that much.







Her color and respiratory rate look great.  I am super encouraged and enjoying watching her bond with her sister.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Just A Few More Hours

It is 1:45 am here and about 12 hours before we get Maggie.  I am experiencing a typical case of jet lag so I am wide awake trying to convince my body that it is not 11:30 am.   I have been updating a lot on Facebook but I just remembered that not all of my family has Facebook.  Sorry Aunt Penny. :)

The big theme (other than incessant travel) has been the air quality.  China is experiencing exceptionally poor air quality right now apparently because they have been burning more coal to keep warm.  I know, I know, you are thinking "hello it is China! Don't they always have poor air quality?"  Well, yes but this is really bad.  It is like can't make out the building in front of you, people wearing masks, make your asthma crazy, China admits it's bad!!!

Here is a website I found in my jet lag to help explain it.  http://aqicn.org/city/xian/.  Now if you will type in Beijing or Maggie's city, Baoji, you will see that the level is at it's highest which is Hazardous!  Let's make a comparison.  The website says Deer Park Houston near our ship refineries has "good" air quality.  That is the worst air some of us will ever see.  Unless you visit China today.

Please pray for Maggie that this air quality will not be too hard on her lungs and cause her more trouble breathing.

Next post should be Gotcha Day!!!





Thursday, February 20, 2014

Almost There!

We are in Tokyo and just a few minutes from boarding our flight to Beijing.  It has been a long travel day but we scored free upgrades on our international leg so I can't complain.  Ruthie was a great little traveler.   So far, everything is going as planned.  Thanks for praying, for wearing your Bring Maggie Home shirts in support of us, and for just be all around awesome.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Special Place for A Special Girl


Welcome to Maggie's Room.

So I have to tell you all about this special space.  First you might notice the tree on the right.  That was painted by a sweet friend from church.  So many of you purchased shirts with a similar tree on them and I wanted that in her room to help represent that part of her story.  I made the pennant out of extra material from the pillow I made for her.   Trent's step mom is currently working on a quilt for her out of the same material.

The white four poster bed was from another friend at church and will be where I sleep when Maggie is sick until she is big enough to move into that bed herself.   The play kitchen and other toys you see here were donated by a good friend from her daughter, Iris.  Iris' mom is from China and has helped me translate many emails with Maggie's orphanage.

What you don't see here is a bookshelf on the left at the foot of the bed.  One of the shelves is full of Chinese dolls that were given to the girls by their Aunt Penny.


Ladybugs are a symbol for adoption in China so I knew I wanted to include them in her theme.  You have no idea how hard I searched for the perfect lady bug bedding that had to include pink so it would go with her tree.

The giant chalkboard wall was made by her daddy.  Our sweet baby sitter and friend came over and wrote the saying for me.  This left handed mama does not do chalkboard writing with out smearing it on my way across.   The bottom space was intentionally left open for Maggie's art.

The stuffed animals on her bed were given to her by her siblings from their own collection.


Another friend from church made the Heaven Sent picture and her  diaper bag.  I made the bow holder to match Ruthie's.  Yes I know we need to get this child some more bows.


Finally, the chair and cabinet are from a dear friend.  She had them in her daughter's nursery and thought of us when she heard how I was decorating Maggie's room.


As you can see, Maggie's room is filled with love and thoughtful sacrifices.  I am pretty sure this community is as excited as we are about bringing this baby home.   Soon very soon.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Well It Happened Again.

We got our TA in 6 days!!!  We are going to China next Friday to get our baby girl!!!!!  THANK YOU to everyone who prayed!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Want To Pray For A Miracle With Us?


Before I ask you to pray for a miracle, I want to tell you that it has been done before.

When we were waiting on Ruthie, we received our TA in record time.  You can read about that HERE.

Now we need a TA so we can go get Maggie.  We have been told that it takes generally 2-4 weeks and they have seen it come in 1 week only 1 time before.  If we could get our TA in one week (by this Friday) we could travel next Thursday to get our Maggie.  There is a chance we could still travel if it comes on Monday or Tuesday but tickets go up in price as you get that close to travel and we would have a little more trouble getting a consulate appointment so this Friday would be ideal.  

Would you pray with us that we could travel to get our baby girl next week?  Pray that China would look at her condition and be motivated to move quickly on her behalf.  Then if you are feeling motivated to pray some more, some inexpensive plane tickets would be AWESOME!

Thank you from this momma's heart

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Know What You Have Heard.

Let Me Tell You What I Have Experienced.

Yesterday I was visiting with a friend who asked me, "it is true they only feed them sugar water?"
I had to laugh.  Of course not!

Last week, a patient asked me if I was scared to go to China or if the government might not let me? "Why on earth would I be scared?", I asked.  His reply cracked me up.  "Because they throw Americans in prison there for no reason."   Hmm.  I have never heard of an adoptive family being thrown into prison in China and I have never feared that I would be.  "No sir, I am not scared to go to China and I think the government is fine with it too."

Have you ever thought about it this way? I wonder what people in other countries say about coming to America?  Are they afraid that we might throw them into Guantanamo or accuse them of terrorism?  Do they hear one story about a bad foster home (because we do have them) and then draw broad generalizations to all foster homes?  Do they think every American man who marries an Asian woman just wants a slave?  Are we all spies who want to eat their children? That is what they tell them in North Korea.  Just a thought.

I can't speak for every orphanage in China (just like you shouldn't) but I can speak for what I have seen.  Ruthie came to us more functional with her hands than her doctors ever expected.  They said you could tell that she had been worked with.  I have pictures of her with nannies and volunteers on gym balls, outside playing, and smiling.  She had some nutritional deficiencies from a very strict diet, but we have recovered from those and she is now doing great.

As for Maggie, I spent a week in her orphanage.  I watched nannies following a strict schedule with the kids, I watched them distribute bottles (with formula- not sugar water) with kids names on them that were prepared especially to the needs of that child.  I watched them play with them, kiss them, and sing to them.  I saw nurses come in and give them medicine if needed. They went outside to play twice a day.  I met a friend there who broke down in tears several times at the idea that we would serve China's orphans.  The place was immaculate.  These kids were taken good care of and they were loved.

So if you are a waiting parent, be encouraged.  Your child might not come to you as big as an American kid who has eaten fresh vegetables every day and a side of chicken nuggets, but they are most likely being fed.   They may not be co-sleeping with a nanny or being carried in a Bjorn all day, but they are most likely being loved and held.  There will be some catching up to do, but it will happen.  It happened for us and we are excited to walk through it again.   I am thankful for these ladies who have loved my daughters and you should be too.  You aren't necessarily rescuing them from that horrible place.  You are giving them a family and a future and carrying on the desires for them that each of those nannies shares with you.  One nanny there carried around a picture of one of the kids who had been adopted.  It was of the child in their new home and she cried when she showed if off.  They love your kids and they are thankful for you.

If you are an American but not necessarily involved in adoption, remember that we wouldn't want them to believe everything they hear about us and we wouldn't want them to ascribe mistakes of our past (slavery, etc) to our present state.

One last piece of encouragement.  Both Ruthie's and Maggie's orphanages are growing.  They are adding on buildings and foster communities because they are closing many of the older more rural orphanages and bringing the kids to the larger ones where they have more services.   China is improving in their orphan care and the Chinese are stepping up to adopt more of their own.  Be encouraged.  It's not perfect, but it is getting better.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Year of the Horse

Every year I take pictures of Ruthie for Chinese New Year.  It is hard to believe that next year I will be photographing her with a little sister.  So far we have just celebrated with a little Chinese food take out.  I am so focused on traveling that I postponed going overboard again until next year.   I love this child so much that it takes my breath away.