Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, Dec. 14th - Sick Day :(

At 4:30 am, Bethany stirred in her crib, but thankfully went back to sleep.  I had actually been awake for a little while because my stomach was bothering me.  I lay there for 30 minutes trying to be very quiet so that Bethany wouldn't wake up.  By 5:00 I knew that I was not going to be able to wish that sick feeling away.  Thus began an awful day of vomiting and a bad case of the "runs!"  I wondered if it might be a stomach virus, but later Dan went down to breakfast with Bethany and asked around to see if anyone else was sick.  No --- just me.  Before lunch, Dan was feeling queasy, too, and we decided it must be food poisoning.  He and I were the only ones who had eaten our particular meal... it just seemed like if it were a virus that someone else of the 20 in our group would have been sick, too.

The day was long for me (only spent between the bed and the toilet) but maybe even longer for Dan who had all the care of Bethany to himself.  I managed to tell him how to mix up Bethany's formula before her morning feeding, and he took over from there.  Back a week ago in the Kunming Walmart, we'd chosen not to buy a stroller for Bethany.  We wanted to carry her as much as possible, and we didn't know for sure that she would like being pushed, anyway.  Emily had NOT tolerated anything but being held, and we'd managed fine with her.... but she could walk, even though we carried her a lot because she was so fearful.  Bethany is a heavy little chunk, and she can't walk!!  We'd been doing fine switching her back and forth whenever Dan or my back or arms were hurting.  However, today, Dan had no one to pass Bethany off to, and his back might never be the same!

I was sad to miss our day's outing -- the Guang Zhou zoo.  Of course I hated feeling terrible, but most of all I hated missing the time with the rest of the group.  The afternoon had only free time scheduled, but in the evening, we couldn't make it to the river boat cruise, either.

Thanks to two other kind moms in our group, I was armed with oral rehydration fluid, anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea meds. Later in the evening, I was able to keep in a small amount of food and drink, and was starting to feel a little bit better.  I was still extremely weak, and was getting concerned about being able to get around the next day.  I Skype messaged with Anna at home and Dan's mom and asked them to pray and get the word out to others to be praying.  I fell asleep almost right after that and woke up 3 hours later.  I already could tell that God was restoring my strength.  I slept on and off the whole night, each time feeling better when I woke.  Praise Him for His mercy!  I'm so thankful, too, for LOTS of friends and family who prayed us through that ordeal!

Sunday -- shopping

   Our group met to load up in the bus this morning at 9:30.  The first stop was the Chan clan home.  It's an old home that has been turned into a museum that includes lots of original furniture and artifacts of the family and Guang Dong province.  In different rooms surrounding an outdoor courtyard there are artists doing exhibitions of their work.  You can order scrolls or fans or pictures with your child's name in Chinese hand painted while you wait.  We were here before with Emily, and it was fun to take a couple of pictures similar to ones we did 2 years ago.

Next we went to a shopping center that is known for its wholesale jade and pearl market.  

The kids were getting a big antsy at this point, and we entertained them while one parent was making a purchase by going down, around, and back up this escalator!!

                            Dan is in the middle of the up escalator with Bethany in the pink!

Whenever the opportunity arises, we fall into natural conversation with one or the other of these families along with us.  It seems like we've all known each other a long time, and I just love the way everyone works together in survival mode!!  These are awesome families!!

After shopping, we headed back to the Garden Hotel.  We let Bethany take a good nap, and we rested, too.  When she was up and after she'd had a bottle, we went for a walk in garden behind the hotel.  The whole place is so beautiful.... great for a photo shoot!

Our room is about half way up on the far left wing.

This little chunk is heavy!!  :)

Our group met up in the lobby to all go out to eat together again.  This time it was to an Italian place.  We have lots of options for restaurants within good walking distance.  Our only disappointment was that our favorite restaurant from 2 years ago had been replaced by a Korean cafe.  

Bethany was really restless, and finally we realized why..... she proceeded to have quite the blow-out diaper!!  We had to exit early and head back to the hotel for a bath and to wash out clothes!!  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


This morning we had to get going a little bit earlier, so we headed down
to breakfast in the hotel to eat and get our things together.  At 8:45,
Aron met all 5 of us Lifeline families to take us by bus to the medical
clinic that is approved by the US consulate to conduct the medical exams
of all the adopted children that will be applying for a US visa later next
week.  We had seen a couple of the families at breakfast, and then met the
rest in the lobby.  It's about a 20 minute drive to the clinic-- depending
on traffic -- and we had the ride there and wait time at the clinic to get
to know each other and all the new family members.  Our Lifeline families
are from all over:  Alabama, Maine, Ohio, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.  We
also ran into several families from other agencies that we'd met in
Kunming on Gotcha Day and had gotten to know at the hotel there.  These
families were from Washington D. C., Florida, and New Jersey.  The entire
clinic was one big circus!  I'm sure that there would have to be a better
way to organize the whole thing, but in the utter mayhem, we got to know
still MORE families with other agencies while waiting in line for the ENT
doctor's office or the general pediatrician, or the nurses station.  It's
hard to estimate how many families were there, but I'd guess close to .
Little ones under age 2 got to be excluded from the blood draw used to
test for TB, so we didn't have to do that, but while we were waiting for
our other families to be ready, we got to hear stories of how God had led
couples to adopt.  It's not only Christian families that adopt, but most
of the ones that we've met have been.  That common ground is incredible,
and it's one of the things that Dan and I enjoyed most about our last trip
here.  New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Idaho, California, Georgia.... and
more---- story after story of God's providence in leading us all here
through this week to change our lives and those of our sweet Chinese
children!  And, the coolest thing is that this happens week after week.  A
statistics quote by the consular's office said that Americans alone have
adopted more than 66,000 children from China since 1999.  Wow.  So, in
spite of the chaos of those corridors of the clinic, we left encouraged by
all that the Lord is doing and has done!  -- Children entering homes to be
orphans no more..... lots of love, care, and attention offered to little
ones who have had a hard start.  The amusing thing was that so many of the
stories that we heard began with, "We never thought we'd adopt a child!"
God's ways are so much higher than ours!  We met couples that hadn't had
children before, and met others with large families like ours.... and lots
in between.
When we got back to the hotel, we got Bethany to take a nap, and Dan left
with our paperwork to go to a meeting in which Aron would help organize
all the multitude of things that we need for these steps of the process:
our passports, Bethany's passport, her vaccination record, proof of her
abandonment, her birth certificate, all our immigration paperwork, and
more.  If it were up to us to know what to do at which office, we'd be
sunk!!  We praise God for the Lifeline Chinese staff who know this process
backwards and forwards and walk families like us (clueless!) through it
every week!!
Our 5 families decided to get together for supper at a restaurant near our
hotel.  Dan and I knew the way since we'd been here before, and one of the
families that had been in this province for their Gotcha Day had been
there once, too.  It's a Thai restaurant that has great food and a fun
atmosphere.  They couldn't seat us all in one spot (there are 20 of us
total in the 5 families since two couples brought along biological kiddos,
too, and one couple is adopting 2 Chinese boys) so we broke up into 2
groups.  Our group laughed the ENTIRE time at one little 5 year old who
can out-eat all the grown men!!  He is a Hoot!  You'd think that he must
have been starved at his orphanage, but he is chunky enough (like
Bethany!) to know that that isn't true!  He just loves food!  We were
seated at a round table that had the large circulating part in the middle
so that you could spin around the food on the center and serve yourself
from the dishes there.  We each ordered a couple of entrees and shared.
This little guy would stand up in his chair, spin the center to whatever
was left and help himself!!  :)
Bethany is still being such a good little sleeper!  She gets fussy a lot,
but has only cried when we're put her down for a nap or nighttime 3 times!
 Amazing.  And, Dan and I are still going to bed about the same time that
she is!!  (Baby bed time is good for parents with jet lag!)  She actually
likes the crib at the Garden Hotel better than the pack-n-play that the
Kunming hotel had for her.  That's good news for us, because the crib that
we have at home is almost identical to this one!!  Maybe this pattern will
keep up!

P.S.  Mom, Dad, and Bethany are at the airport in China now, and they'll arrive in Atlanta Thursday morning.  We're so excited to see them tomorrow!!

Friday - On to Guang Zhou

   This morning we didn't have anything on the schedule, so we decided to
go back to Walmart to pick up a couple of things.  Our main item on our
list was a teether for Bethany.  She has 3 cute little teeth, and it
looks like she's about to cut another one.  Her gums are bothering her
and she's chewing on anything and everything.
Our other Lifeline family needed some things, too, so the dad went along
with us, and we trooped through the first floor.  Even though the deli
area had some roasted Peking ducks hanging that might have tempted us, we
pushed on by and willingly passed on the goat's leg (I'm not talking about
leg of lamb....  this was fresh goat leg-- complete with the hoof!!).
chicken feet, and sides of pork!!
We found exactly what we wanted in the baby section, made our purchases,
and headed back to the hotel.  As often is the case with babies, we might
as well have not wasted our time.... we opened up the teether, gave it to
Bethany, she won't give it the time of day!!  Her current "teether" of
choice is her shoe strings!!  But, since her feet never touch the ground,
I guess her shoe strings are fairly sterile!!  :)
We just snacked on food we had in the hotel for lunch and packed up for
Guang Zhou.

Here's Bethany playing on the floor while we packed!

 We had to check out by 2:00, and then David took us to the
airport.  He has 2 or 3 other families coming to Kunming for adoptions
next week, so he'll stay to meet them, and another Lifeline guide, Aron,
will meet us at the airport in GZ.  We'll meet up with 3 other families
(in addition to our 2 that have been here in Kunming) for the rest of our
stay in China.

The flight took about 2 hours.  We were interested to see how Bethany
might do while flying!  Let's just say she wasn't too crazy about it!  She
played with a few toys that kept her interested (but not for long!) and
then were served a meal.  That was tricky because she was within reach of
both of our food.  So we took turns eating while the one with Bethany kept
her from dumping the other's food off the little pull-down table!  From
that point on, it went downhill.  She fussed and fussed... but not yet in
full screams.  We passed her across the aisle to our friends and their new
son who all love her as much as we do!!  Then, the Chinese lady sitting
beside us tried to take a turn!  Bethany can be hard on hair, and the lady
wasn't aware of that!   While Bethany was sitting in her lap facing her,
she reached up and took a big handful and yanked and wouldn't let go!!  Oh
yikes.  But, the lady (who could speak a little English) said it didn't
hurt too much!  :(    After we got her fist out of the lady's hair, it
pretty much was all screams from there on.  The people behind us were
sympathetic, but the ones ahead didn't offer their opinion!  One of the
Chinese young men behind us was trying to practice his English on her.  He
said, "Little girl, Why are you crying??"  Then, he actually almost got
her to stop by peeking at her from around the seat.  That was short-lived,
though, and she basically just screamed until we got off the plane.
We were very glad to find Aron (she is a lady, so maybe she should spell
it "Erin") and head to the Garden Hotel.  Our room looked so familiar.
Last time because Emily was from this province, we actually spent 2 weeks
here in the Garden Hotel, and it felt like coming home in China!  Even
though we were 3 floors down from last time, the room was identical, and I
unpacked and "knew" where to put everything.... it already had a familiar
place!! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thursday - Orphanage visit

When we visited Emily's orphanage 2 years ago, it was very hard
emotionally.  I had already warned Dan that I was likely to be a wreck
today!!  I'd been in touch with a lady who had adopted a daughter from
this orphanage in Kunming a couple of weeks ago, and she'd told me a lot
about it.  She said that it's the "Ritz Carlton" as far as orphanages
go.... which had not been the case with Emily's home.  So, I was hoping
for the best, --as far as it might not be quite as depressing of a day as
it otherwise could be.  That turned out to be the case.  The Kunming
orphanage is the main one in this province as Kunming is the capital city.
If we were told correctly, they actually oversee 800 children.  That seems
unbelievable, but the place is huge.

It has about 20 buildings, the latest one of which is a complete hospital that serves not just the
children, but the community as well.  Most of the children do not live on the premises, but are in foster care in and around the area in villages. Some of the staff visit these villages twice a month to make sure that the kids are being well cared for.  You could tell that they truly were concerned for the best of the children.

We first met the orphanage director who was very nice.  He had taken time
out of a meeting with all the orphanage directors of the province that was
going on at the time.  Before he returned to the meeting, he invited us to
stay for lunch which was being prepared for all the participants of the

The lady who was in charge of all international adoptions (and had been
the one to bring Bethany to us on Monday) gave us a tour.  We started in
the closest building which was a special needs school.  We interrupted the
preschool class and played with the kids there and admired the art work
they wanted to show us.  They actually have a room full of art (mostly
paintings) that the children ages 12 and up have done.

The next stop was the baby house, but it also is the home to the infirmary
and doctor's offices.  There were sick little ones in a room that had
windows into a type of nursery like we'd see in an American hospital.
They were so sweet.  You could tell that they didn't feel well, but a
couple of the ones that looked to be about 2 or 3 years old waved at us
and one even blew us a kiss!  So precious.  There were several
nurses/nannies there which made me feel a little bit better about those
sick little kiddos without a mommy to take care of them.

Then we went to the baby room.

We had already been told that they had
made lunch for Bethany and wanted to feed her!  They obviously like to
feed her!  Ha!  The caretakers were all very nice, and they came and got
Bethany as soon as we walked in.  I don't think that she was attached to
any one lady in particular, but they all liked her and talked to her and
smiled at us!  One of them got her and went over to a big circular table
that several ladies were sitting around in little chairs.  They were each
feeding a bottle or some food to a baby.

I had already guessed that Bethany had been held while taking her bottle, because she didn't try to
grab it from me and hang on to it while I had given it to her in the hotel room.  She also makes really good eye contact and doesn't seem to feel stiff in our arms.  Sure enough, the ladies held all the babies while feeding them instead of propping a bottle in their cribs.  Bethany was fed some "congee," which is a rice porridge which seemed to be made with some broth and a type of green vegetable.  They absolutely shoved it in.  She hardly had time to swallow.

 I didn't watch the whole feeding because I went over to another part of the room to take a picture of her bed.  But, Dan said that when she got full, she just wouldn't close her mouth and swallow.  So, the caretaker got the picture and stopped shoveling!

Bethany's bed is the second from the left

They let us stay there and take pictures and play with babies for quite
awhile.  The room was very large and had its own little kitchen in a side
room, while another side room was a changing room with 4 or 5 changing
tables and a washing area beside it.  There were probably 30 babies there
in all.  Some were asleep in their cribs; some were being fed; some were
on foam mats on the floor with baby gyms above them which had toys and
rattles attached.  The cribs all had nice colorful comforters and some had
colorful toys or mirrors on the sides for the baby to look at. 

funniest thing was toward the end of our time in the room when a lady came
in with a baby in a carrier on her back.  She was holding something in her
arms, and it looked like some type of mop.  My first thought was that she
was a cleaning lady, and was "wearing" a baby while she worked!!  :) 
Then, I turned around and saw 3 more ladies coming in with babies, and I
realized that they must have had them outside for fresh air.  I was never
sure what the first one was carrying, but apparently it was not a mop and
she was not a cleaning lady!  We definitely saw some heartbreaking sights
that will haunt me, but over all, we could really tell that the caretakers
loved the babies and wanted to be doing what they were doing.  In fact,
there was one elderly woman there that David told us later has worked in
that baby room for over 30 years.  And, the best thing was that she was a
Christian!!  WOW!  He said that she was not the only one.... apparently
there are 5 believers that work there.  Before we left, we had a chance to
tell them how much we appreciated the care that they'd given our Bethany.

We left from there and walked around outside while our guide pointed out
places and told us what they were.  We walked up to the dining house and
main kitchen of the compound and were told to wait there for the lunch to
be ready.

 Soon all the regional orphanage directors and staff
representatives came in, and we had lunch.  It was very good -- lots of
different dishes that all went with rice.... one with beef, one or 2 with
chicken, several veggies, a soup, and one that David warned us to
avoid.... frog!!!  Dan and I took turns eating as Bethany was REALLY
needing a nap and was very restless.  After lunch, we walked to see the
new hospital building, and then on to an apartment building which housed
some staff as well as some foster families--- one of which was the foster
home of the little boy that our other Lifeline family was adopting.  We'd
met his foster mom and several of his foster brothers and sisters earlier.
 There are 6 different couples that live as foster families in the
orphanage compound, all with about 8 kids each.  It seems to be a great
set-up with a good mix of healthy kids and special needs kids in each
family.  Some of the healthy kids David told us were "social orphans" who
were not available for adoption.  Their parents might be in jail or in
some similar situation in which the child has been removed from the
From there we walked toward the exit and ran into a group of older boys
walking in the same direction.  We were delighted to learn that the kids
never "age out" of this orphanage.  When they've finished school, they can
continue to live there as long as they need to.  If they can go to
college, the administration works to help them--- or go to trade school,
or to get a job, or whatever they can manage.  But, the place is still a
home to them whenever they need to come there.  We met these boys-- at
least one of whom worked close by and had just come home to the orphanage
for lunch and was returning to work.  We also watched as several school
aged kids returned to the public school after coming back for lunch.  The
school was just about a block down from the orphanage.  So, the special
needs kids who weren't able to go to the public school had their own
school there on the grounds, while the kids who could would go to the
public school.
At the entrance/exit gate was a small building that appeared to be a
security guard's room.  David told us that it was a "drop box," though.
Our family had recently watched the Korean movie "The Drop Box," and it
was such a strange feeling to be witnessing one that was in use.

 Inside the little house was a baby bed and an incubator for newborns.  On the door and outside the building were signs that David translated for us that were meant to discourage parents from abandoning their children..... phone numbers of people that would counsel them or offer help, information of government agencies that would pay for doctor's care if the child had a medical need that the family couldn't afford, etc.  And yet, rather than have the desperate families or single moms abandon their babies in a place where they might not be found quickly enough and could die -- there was still the safe option of ensuring that the baby would be found quickly and cared for well.

So, in all, the day was a positive one.  We left being glad that there were places like that--- as we definitely know that lots of other orphanages in China and around the world are not so nice.... and yet still feeling very privileged that we have the opportunity to raise little Bethany ourselves.  No matter how good the care she could get, there is NOTHING like a family!

Side note

To try to minimize confusion, this note is from Rachel at home in Alabama.

As some of you already know, Mom cannot access her blog from China, so she is sending us reports day by day, and then we post them here.  However, this process has made the blog fall behind "real time."  (This is Tuesday, and the last post was of Wednesday last week in China)  Meanwhile, a few days ago Mom and Dad got food poisoning.  Thankfully Bethany hadn't eaten anything out of that meal except for a banana, so she didn't get sick. Thank you to all who have been praying for them!  Mom wrote this morning to say that they were feeling better, and had been able to attend the important Consular's appointment that had been scheduled for yesterday.  Please pray for continued strength as they will soon start the long trip back home.  We're so excited to see them again!  They will fly into the Atlanta airport late Thursday morning.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Wednesday-- being a tourist

Since we are just waiting for Bethany's passport to process now here in
Kunming, our guide planned for us to do some sightseeing.  If I understood
him correctly, the lake we visited is the largest fresh water lake in
China.  However, that might not be right.  At any rate, it's the biggest
attraction for the seagulls flying south for the winter!  The little lake
in the park across the street has lots of seagulls, but this lake has many
more.  The lake front is built up really nicely, and there were people
selling bread and nuggets of food for the birds that looked similar to dry
puppy food.  The only negative thing was you had to be very careful not to
get "bird bombed!!"  The weather was cool, but not too cold.  The wind was
really blowing in across the lake, though, and made it chilly on the board

Our guide David 

Getting sleepy...

and she's asleep!

After we'd fed the birds plenty, we decided to go get some food for
ourselves.  We headed to a really nice Chinese restaurant and had lunch.
Up until this meal, we really had not seen Bethany eat very much.  We knew
that she MUST like to eat just by the looks of her cheeks and chub, but we
just hadn't found anything that she inhaled!!  We HAD determined that she
had never had much of anything cold or even cool.  If I don't get her
formula warm enough, she just sort of chews on the bottle.  She wouldn't
take the apple juice I'd tried to give her, and she made a surprised look
when I gave her some yogurt, even though after the initial cringes, she
did eat some and seemed to like it.  Well, David ordered some steamed egg,
and she gulped it down!!  It's about like a breakfast egg casserole, but
it's softer.  She obviously approved of that choice, and when I held her
up to change positions, she started to cry because she thought we were
leaving and weren't going to let her finish her food!!  :)
After lunch she took a good nap, then we met David for checking over all
the documents for accuracy before we take them to Guang Zhou to the
meeting with the U.S. consulate.  The other Lifeline family was there,
too, and when we were all done, we decided to have supper together at a
restaurant next to the hotel called Bluebirds.  I'd been told by another
family that had adopted from Kunming that it was a good place to eat, so
Dan and I had eaten there last night and wanted to go back.  Bethany was
fussy, and we had to eat in shifts, which is basically what we do all the
time except at breakfast in the hotel where they have a good baby high
chair for her.  We knew that a bath would make her happy, so we ate
quickly and headed for the room and bath time.  We definitely have that
routine down pat now....  a long warm bath, warm footie pajamas, a nice
warm bottle, and Bethany falls asleep and stays asleep all night.  You
can't ask for better than that!