Mom’s Travel Journal
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April 13, 2006
The past few days have been filled with
many activities. On April 11th we took the girls for their physical
exams. It actually wasn’t bad. Mia went in happily and only cried when they
took her clothes off for the exam. She
is becoming a clothes diva, and doesn’t want her new pretty clothes taken from
her. We enjoyed walking and shopping
some more on the island. We decided to be adventurous this day, and leave the
island for lunch. So, all three families
in our group met in the hotel lobby and took taxis to a Pizza Hut that was
located in a nearby shopping mall. Two
families made it there at about the same time; however, the third family had a
taxi driver who wasn’t very good with directions. Let’s just say they got to
explore more of
April 12th we spent shopping and finding all the last gifts. We enjoyed lunch at Lucy’s…my favorite has become the Chicken Fried Rice. Mia enjoys helping mom make a “happy” plate. I think she likes this dish too. We have enjoyed a banana split (from Lucy’s) together as well. Chocolate ice cream is her favorite (Mommy’s too). In the afternoon, we all went swimming again. The pool at the hotel is beautiful, but it is very cold! Mia loves the water, and she was even trying to put her face in and blow bubbles. We will have to try to go swimming more at home. We had dinner all together tonight. It was a fun time, and we enjoyed Take out pizza from Pizza hut. It was the best, and so much nicer because we shared it with a room full of friends.
We are nearing the end of our trip to
I want to brag on my wonderful boys. Nolan has been such a great big brother, and he has been such a big help. He has learned so much on this trip (we all have). We are so proud of the way he has handled all the many different situations we have encountered. He has handled it with grace and maturity. Garrett and Nate have been the bravest of us all. They so willingly sacrificed their mommy and daddy’s time so that we could come to get their baby sister. They have so willingly given of their time and their love. The little we have been able to talk with them they have done such a great job waiting with grandma and grandpa. We are so proud of you guys!! You are mommy’s Super Heroes!!! Mommy cannot wait to hug you and love on my boys! I just know that you will fall in love with your baby sister all over again. She is greater than the pictures could ever tell!!
We have our oath taking ceremony today, and then we head home tomorrow. Thank you all for following our journey, for your love and support, and for all your prayers along the way. It made our journey an easier one knowing that we have friends and family on our side. We pray God’s blessings for you all!!
Today we stayed near the hotel. We did some (ok, a
lot) shopping for souveneirs. It was fun to pick
special things for our family and friends. We ate lunch at McDonalds. We had a fun going on this little
journey. We saw some of the street
vendors selling things like mushrooms and ginseng. The food tasted so good! We are missing home and needed some comfort
food. We spent a lot of time outdoors
walking up and down
we visited the
We had such a wonderful and relaxing time here. Nolan was quiet the hit with the teenage girls. He had one young girl almost swooning over him. She just kept saying “He is so handsome”, and she just giggled. He has been getting his picture taken a lot. Of course, his mommy thinks he is good looking. All my boys are handsome! After this terrific adventure, we went back to the hotel for a rest. The mommies all went out for a little while to the big shopping mall. It was an adventure all by itself. We thought Saturday’s at our mall were crowded! We spent a little time in the afternoon playing on a playground nearby. That was fun. We will go to sleep early tonight!
On this day we went to the
It is now a museum that displays many mediums of
art. The building itself is one of great
beauty. It is an ornate building with traditional Chinese design. We viewed several rooms that showcased such
artwork as hand painted porcelain, silk embroidery (simply gorgeous),
bone/ivory sculptures, silk paintings, and carved wood pieces. All of these, of
course, were available for purchase. We were pleasantly surprised at the
inexpensive prices of a lot of this art work.
At the back of the building there was a beautiful garden filled with
bronze sculptures depicting life in
We had made the request that we be able to view and purchase pearls. Our guide Vivian took us to a huge building (shopping area) that was devoted totally to wholesale jewelry. She had researched and found a reputable dealer and so we purchased pearl necklaces and bracelets at wonderful prices. We enjoyed a Dim Sum lunch with hot tea. This lunch consisted of little pastry type foods. We tried one that was a chicken dumpling similar to a chicken pot pie. There was some type of squares that we were told were yam cakes and one that was like jello. We tried these but didn’t care for them…they were pasty and not very sweet. We had an egg custard tart which was a lot like our egg custard without a lot of sugar. Overall we enjoyed trying all these local favorites. I do miss Taco Bell very much!!
We then returned to our hotel for the babies’ naps, and after naptime we enjoyed having a little time to play with Mia. She fits our family so well. We feel certain that God made this perfect match. She is so much like our boys, and it seems as if we have known her forever. She is an adorable, precocious little girl! She has her daddy and brother wrapped around her little finger (her mommy is pretty much so too). She is the perfect princess. She has been a fairly “easy” baby. The only difficulty that she has frequently exhibited is her dislike of bedtime. She will kick and scream and fuss. We are slowly working through the temper tantrums. She definitely is comfortable with both Brad and I. What a Beauty!
I have to take a few minutes to brag on all the kids in our travel group. They are a terrific bunch of older brothers and sisters. They have done so well and haven’t complained about all the walking, the different foods and smells, and all the many people. I have seen them all be so respectful and kind to those around them. They are all an attraction themselves. At least once or twice a day (sometimes more) they have everyone here wanting to take the kids pictures. Sometimes there are large groups of teenagers who want a photo shoot. They have been so good natured through all of it. We have seen them all take on the roles of brother and sister with such love and happiness. Wow, we have 5 older children and 4 babies with our group. We make quiet a group, but we have such fun together!
tonight we took our first Taxi adventure (it is best to just close your eyes,
take a deep breathe, and pray). We went to McDonalds. It wasn’t exactly the same as home (they
offer corn as a choice on their Happy Meals), but did it ever taste good at
that moment. Mia tasted her first
Chicken Nuggets. They weren’t a very big hit, but the French fries were! We
then decided to walk back to the hotel.
This proved to be another fun adventure as we had to cross several busy
streets without getting run over. Keep in mind that this was our whole group
that went. So, we had 6 adults, 5
children and 3 babies (which we were carrying).
We made it across and back to
We took a tour of
We continued from their and stopped so that those brave enough (or maybe I should say with more energy) could climb lots of stairs to the top and see a watch tower. I opted to stay at the bottom so as not to have to carry Mia all the way up. The others said it was great fun at the top to see the school children and wave and say hello. Our tour guide told us that children here have required English classes from the third grade on. They love to practice their English speaking skills with us.
been feeling very well all morning (a sickly tummy) so I was a little glad that
we were ready to make our way back to the hotel. I enjoyed being out and seeing
the culture and parts of
She is in love with her daddy again.
A visit to Mia’s orphanage was the agenda for today. I tried to approach this day with an open mind and heart, but I could feel the tension building within. I knew that Mia was ours, and I knew that we had to do this. I wanted to have something to tell her as she got older. Never the less, I think I was worried as to what her reaction would be. Maybe it was a combination of that fact and what we would see when we got there. I knew that I would probably want to take all of the little ones home with me. In addition to all of this Mia was very clingy to her mommy this morning. I think she sensed that we were going to do something important today. I didn’t mind that she wanted to hold on to me, but I felt that she was picking up on my mixed emotions. The last thing I wanted was to make this day any harder for her. So we got up this morning and prepared for the trip.
started the morning with a great breakfast (The White Swan has a beautiful
buffet). We shared this breakfast with
our friends from
We were greeted by the orphanage director and his wife (she had brought the girls to their families). They were very eager to make us comfortable, and we were treated like honored guest. We were shown the restrooms (squatty potty), and offered a drink of water. Our guide, Helen, then instructed us that this was the appropriate time to make any donations or gifts to the orphanage director. The two families had decided to give diapers and formula as this was a request from the orphanage. The director was very appreciative and seemed to be very grateful (his expression when he saw the diapers was priceless). A few of the people in the office part played and talked with the girls. We had sensed that the girls were well loved, and it became very apparent as we visited. These people seemed very anxious that we know how well these girls were taken care of. They wanted to show off the girls accomplishments. Mia went in (I was worried that she would never want to leave with us), and she played, talked with her “Ayi”(Auntie), ate some type of rice porridge that they fed her, and drank water from this bent spoon they used. She went over and played with the other children there. Her Ayi asked her about her Ma Ma and she pointed to me, and then she found her ge ge( big brother). Nolan was never far from her side. He has the protective big brother thing down well! Today she seemed to be uncomfortable with her Ba Ba (daddy). I think he was feeling very stressed about the visit and a little sad about this. I think that she saw mommy as her comforter today, and am hoping for a better day for her daddy tomorrow.
We walked around and looked at the orphanage itself and were taken slightly off guard by how tiny it really is. We had seen pictures and imagined it to be much bigger than it was in reality. The babies were well taken care of and loved; however, they just didn’t have a lot. There were only a few toys, a small indoor playground (we had seen this in pictures), several cribs, and one little picnic table that the kids ate at. In spite of this these children were clean, dressed, and played well together. They had very devoted care takers, and were touched, loved, cuddled, and kissed. Mia blew kisses and kissed the aunties cheeks a lot. We could just sense that these people wanted to take care of these babies. The children were just adorable, and I prayed that each one of them would find forever families (I had to control my emotions as I wanted to take them all with me). I prayed that God would protect them and keep them well.
The time had now come for us to take our leave. I started to tense a little as I wanted Mia’s goodbyes to be as painless as possible. She surprised me and grabbed the director’s wife’s hand, blew kisses to her auntie, waved goodbye to her friends, and then left very content. After receiving the orphanage flag, the director thanked us for caring for these girls, and we tried to let them know how much we thanked them for these beautiful children they had cared for. That for me was a very emotional moment. We walked outside, and took a few photographs. Mia reached for me, so I picked her up. We climbed inside the van and sat down. I was worried for nothing. Mia waved and blew kisses to her director and his wife. She snuggled against me and was asleep by the time we drove out the drive. It was as if she knew right at that moment that we were hers, and she had closed a chapter in her life.
The van driver got slightly lost and so a kind policeman showed us the way out of town (wow, we got a police escort!). We drove back to the hotel just soaking in all we could about this beautiful yet mysterious land. Mia must know about her homeland and its people, but it is almost hard to describe in words. Maybe someday we will be able to bring her for a visit. I couldn’t help but pray that God would someday help these people find Jesus. Who knows, maybe our daughters will someday be that link.
This proved to be a very exhausting and emotionally filled day. We had a late lunch back on Shamain Island ( at Lucy’s… one of our favorites), and then we did a little souvenir shopping and called it a day. We spent the evening giving special attention to Mia as she seemed to be insecure tonight. She had several crying spells, and seemed out of sorts. She wanted to leave, and would wave bye bye, and blow kisses. When we wouldn’t take her to go, she would burst into tears. We made it through, and she finally went to sleep cradled in mommy’s arms. I was exhausted and emotionally drained. I felt kind of sick, and just wanted to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow will be smoother.
Garrett and Nate we miss you. Mommy knows that you are having a good time with grandma and grandpa. Your baby sister can’t wait to meet you. The time left is getting shorter. Keep being my wonderful, brave, big boys! I love you to the moon and stars and back again!!!!
Today was the day that Mia became ours!! We spent the morning in government offices promising to always love and protect her. This was definitely not a problem. We are so in love with her!! She let her personality shine today. She woke up smiling and laughing. She went back and forth between mommy and daddy. Her Chinese name Le means happiness/ joyful. It is definitely a fitting name. She played with Nolan, kissed her daddy (was he ever thrilled) and hugged tight to her momma. She seems very secure, and doesn’t mind sharing her love with everyone she meets. I think she intends to be the life of the party. She smiles all the time. With amazement I watch her take it all in. She is a very inquisitive child, and this new world offers her many things to see and marvel at. She is constantly looking around and pointing to everything in sight. When she sees something she likes she will point and say something (we are still learning what she is asking for). At breakfast she wanted to try everything she saw. She smiled and waved at everyone around her and then…. The waterfall came on (A famous picture spot at the White Swan Hotel). She was practically jumping out of my lap with excitement. She kept saying Wa wa (or at least that is what it sounded like). Daddy took her for a walk around to see the fish and the waterfall. I think her daddy is quite smitten, and she has definitely become his princess!
After breakfast, we brought her back to
the room for a quick cleanup and change of clothes. She wore her new clothes
like a princess! We already have a
fashion diva, and does she ever know what she likes! We followed our guide
Vivian (actually we relied on her to lead us) through the government
procedures. That was that, and she is officially our! Now just to get the
We arrived at the Adoption Registrar’s
office at . I was filled with a wide range of emotions
that are almost too hard to describe (I can’t really speak for Brad but I do
know that he was very quiet). You are still living in this surreal state of
mind. It has been so many months of paperwork, preparation, and waiting. We had just experienced a wait that was
probably one of the most trying times of our lives. We had made it through almost 24 hours of
traveling, and we were in a new and different country. The country of
The time was fast approaching for the girls to be brought to their families, but we would have to wait just a bit longer. They had been caught in a traffic jam coming from the orphanage. So we sat and waited (of course there wasn’t any excitement or anxiety in that room, haha). Just as we were starting to pace the floor we decided to all look out the window. There they were our china dolls, Mia and her orphanage sister, Jaelyn (Nolan was so excited he could hardly stand it)! A few minutes later they arrived upstairs and after a few moments the babies came in the room. They brought each daughter one at a time to their families. We had all agreed to hold as much of our feelings until later. We wanted the girls to not have the added fear of our emotions as well. Even so I think a few tears rolled down my cheeks as I held Mia for the very first time. The orphanage director called out her name and placed her in my arms. She immediately looked at me (with a very curious expression) and then burst into tears and much screaming. Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for; however, it was a very understandable one given all that she will leave behind. We spent the next 30 minutes (maybe an hour….I lost track of the time) talking with the orphanage director. At this time we were allowed yet another glimpse of these beautiful little girls stories. We could clearly see that these girls were truly loved and cared for deeply. It is just another wonderful example of God’s hand in this incredible Journey.
Upon arriving back at the White Swan we brought a screaming Mia up to our room. She had cried and screamed the entire way back on the bus and continued to cry and scream for a few hours after that. She took turns at being mad at Brad and then at Me. I just held her and told her that she was ours forever and that she was very loved. She had enough of mommy and so went to her daddy for the first time that evening. She found a blanket and doll that she liked and pulled them to her tightly and this seemed to soothe her (Guess what Nana? …She seems to love her blankie and sucks her first two fingers,hmmm). At this point, she seemed to do better and even smiled once. Brad had to go take care of paper work, so mommy got in some great playtime with Mia. Believe it or not she does like dolls even if her favorite toy is a ball! She loves stacking cups and played build the “tower” and knock it down over and over. She just laughed and laughed…what a beautiful sound! She went back to her daddy when he returned and didn’t seem to have any difficulty switching between the two of us (She even smiled and played with her brother). She seems to be clarifying her roles for mommy and daddy. She definitely turns to mommy now for comfort and caretaking (which makes mommy quite happy). So, at bedtime she reached for mommy, and we rocked (which is no easy task without a rocking chair) and cuddled until she fell asleep. She slept in a little bed that was set up by the hotel. She slept through the night. I slept restfully but lightly and would watch her sleep from time to time. Children are just angels when they sleep. We can hardly wait for her to meet her other wonderful brothers at home. She is already bringing so much joy to us!!! What a blessed houseful of children I will have! God is so Good!!
Today was the day that we would hold
Mia for the first time and become her forever family. How can you put into
words all the things that you feel? I spent a very anxious morning to say the
least! We had been waiting for this
moment for what had seemed like an eternity (Our journey really was short
compared to others!). I have discovered through this that no matter the timing,
it is a very emotional experience for all concerned. Our travel group met for
breakfast. It was a beautiful buffet, and it was full of many types of foods.
They were all delicious I am sure, but I couldn’t eat very much as I had a very
anxious tummy. After breakfast we were all a bit restless and decided to walk
Today we left
There is much more that I would like to describe but will do so later after we arrive back home. I can say this … we should always be thankful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us.
We arrived at the White Swan Hotel. It
is just amazingly beautiful with waterfalls, plants, paintings, and very
luxurious accommodations. We found Ms Michele and Ms Kim. We were able to all
enjoy dinner together. Imagine coming half way around the world to visit with
old friends from
(Garrett and Nate….We love you and will share pictures of your new sister tomorrow.)
As I am typing this I am fighting a
huge case of Jet lag and not sleeping well combo! So please forgive any typos and grammatical
errors you may find. We started our morning by never going to sleep the night
before. We left our house at
getting off the plane, we went through immigration and customs. We got
checked into our hotel. It is a beautiful hotel that had a beautiful flowing
fountain out front. We stepped into a luxurious lobby with lots of marble and
cherry wood trims. We then went to our rooms and were equally surprised. The
room has a room that looks like a hotel room in the
Ok, Mom is posting a little late. I
have been extremely busy over this past week. I was so unprepared for the news
we received. I had been praying, but I assumed that it was not God’s timing. I
had settled on the fact that we would be waiting until May 5th or 6th
(or even later) to travel for Mia. The key here is that when God is in
control, you should never assume. On Sunday night all the families in our group
made a date to pray at .
We decided that we would do this every night until we brought our daughters
home. Little did we know that God was going to answer our prayers the very next
day. We had news of our travel approval as of that morning (it could have arrived earlier… I
was so set that we would have to wait that I stopped checking emails. One of
the other moms in the group had to call me to find out why I wasn’t responding
to the emails.) I was beyond happy….and thus the whirlwind began! With some
very clever maneuvering and a wonderful travel agent and caseworker, we would
board a plan to pick up Mia on
The last week has been spent gathering the items necessary to take with us on the trip. I had been gathering and shopping for things a little at a time; however, when it game down to “let’s go” time, I found that there was still a lot to get done. With lots of prayers for strength, I started packing. Several Wal-Mart runs later, we were finally ready to put things in the suitcases. So “LET’S FLY”!
Mommy needs to get on the stick! She hasn’t posted anything!!! Hmmm…. Must be busy packing Dad’s stuff while he’s playing with the website! What would he do without her! :>O