Joel and I have sensed a calling to international adoption for many years. In May, 2009 God made it abundantly clear that it was time. After much prayer, research and wise counsel we began the process to adopt a daughter from China. God directed us to an incredible agency that was founded by a family with an amazing testimony. This blog is a chronicle of our journey, to inform our friends and family and as a record of events for our daughter to read one day. Join us in the journey... it is sure to be an adventure!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One Month Today

It is hard to believe it, but it has already been one month since Grace was placed in my arms. It makes my head spin to think that time has passed so quickly. She is adjusting beautifully to life with us. She seems to enjoy the chaos of a household with two three rowdy boys.

Here are some of the milestones that we have passed this month:
1-Daddy is no longer the Yeti :)
(If you don't understand this, read THIS POST)
2-Two new teeth
3-Learning to sit up from a lying-down position
4-Learning to push up and support weight with her arms when lying on her belly
5-Learning to crawl
6-Learning to take some unassisted steps (I've counted 12 in a row so far.)
7-Learning to Clap when we say "yay"
8-Learning to give kisses
9-Learning to wave goodbye
10-Saying "uh oh"
11-Learning what "no" means :)
12-Learning to respond to her new name
13-Learning what it means to feel full, and pushing food away when that happens
14-Becoming secure enough in her food supply that she will refuse food that she dislikes.
15-Learning that Pasta is her favorite food

There have been so many things. These really are just the tip of the iceberg. I could not have imagined that she would do so well.

She's done all of this, by the way, with a chronic double ear infection which our doctor suspects that she has had for a very long time. She has been on some form of antibiotic for nearly 3 weeks. (This would explain the miserable 15-hour plane ride home.) We hope that this third antibiotic has done the trick.

We will be taking her to Washington DC on Tuesday to meet with all of the specialists on her cleft team. The appointments will last from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. We will meet with an ENT, a Plastic Surgeon, and 5 or 6 other specialists. We hope to come away with a good idea about her future medical needs and treatment. We also hope to have her first surgery scheduled. We were expecting, before finding out that her lip had been repaired, to have 2 surgeries in the first 6 months. It appears that she will only need one. There will be more surgeries when she is older as well.

Our current focus is learning how to live life in a house where we are outnumbered (a friend told me that we'd gone from "man to man defense" to "zone defense"), and learning all about this new little person that God has blessed us with. What a personality she has! She is a strong little girl, what plans must God have for her life? We sure are glad that she has two incredible big brothers to help watch after her.

Here's our crew: The Cowboy, The Jedi Knight, and The Ballerina

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We're Back!

We had a wonderful trip. Grace is amazing! We will be posting continued updates on this original blog, including some Halloween photos in the next few days. Thanks for all of the prayers and support over the past months!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Visit to the US Consulate

Today was a big day. All of our paperwork was processed at the US Consulate today....that infamous Consulate Appointment that we waited for with bated breath a couple of months ago. I am pleased to announce that, contrary to my greatest fear, I did not forget any important documents at home. We had more than we needed in fact, imagine that! :)

Our paperwork breezed through the consular offices today, and we went a few hours ago to swear an oath that all of the information that we had provided was accurate. (I thought is was the citizenship oath...it turns out that they skip that step in adoption.) So, on Wednesday we will recieve Grace's US Visa, which will allow her onto US soil. We also receive an immigration packet that we are not allowed to open. When we land in Newark on Thursday, we will hand that packet to an immigration official who will check it, stamp it, and allow us access to the US. When those documents are stamped, and we pass beyond that desk, Grace will be a US citizen~Yippee!

I actually got a little choked up at the swearing ceremony today...it was a really neat experience.

We then came back to the island and celebrated with a meal at Lucy's...a legendary place for adoptive families. Then we did a little shopping :) There are a couple of shops here that donate some or all of their proceeds to orphan care in China, which is really cool. I have purchased one special piece. It is an embroidered silk that was once part of a garment, probably belonging to a peasant's wife. It is between 150 and 200 years old. It is a portion of the "100 Birds" design which represents happiness. At the center is a Pheonix which is very popular in Chinese art, it is the symbol for "princess". Among the birds are embroidered peaches, which both Grace's and our hometowns are known for. The coolest part? The silk was collected from the region of China that Grace is from. I will get it framed when we get home.

While shopping, I also asked one of the ladies in a shop about the meaning of Grace's Chinese name. I'd seen a couple of different possibilities. Upon looking at the Chinese Characters, the shopowner informed me that Ruo Yun means, "Pure as a Beautiful Cloud". How cool is that?

Tomorrow is a play day for us as we wait for the visa to be processed. We will be taking a dinner cruise on the Pearl River, which we can see from our room, tomorrow evening.

A new friend told me about the most amazing thing today. On these long intercontinental flights, there are a limited number of seats that have a space for a baby basinette...so the baby can lay down to sleep! We called continental and they have reserved these seats for us for our 16.5 hour flight from Hong Kong to New Jersey. This means that Grace can actually get some rest! And, I might be able to as well :) Even better, the seats are at the front of the section (just behind first class) so there will be no seats directly in front of us, but a wall...more leg room! Some times it is the little things in life :) I'm gonna go find that lady tomorrow and hug her neck!

Love y'all, Be home soon!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


We had a unique opportunity to worship in a Christian church this morning with a dual language service. The building was filled, and the courtyard held people standing and sitting. Loudspeakers broadcast the service to those who could not get inside. I ended up walking Grace for the entire sermon, as she continued "singing" well after the music had ended. We so enjoyed visiting this little church and seeing worship take place in Grace's native tounge. I think it is very cool that her first church experience was in her homeland. Though she will not remember it, this too has become a part of her story.

Before going to church, I decided to take the opportunity to take her "red couch photo" while she was dressed up. The White Swan hotel has a lobby area with these red velvet couches that have become a traditional spot for photos for adoptive families. In fact, later this week we will gather with our entire group for a photo of all of the kiddos adopted this week on the same red couches. I'll post those when the time comes, but the ones I took today are just so sweet that I had to share them. This was a rare moment that Grace allowed me to put her down without making a big fuss.

Tonight we hope to meet up with a group of friends that I've made online who are all here this week. I don't know if we will make it, because we also have an appointment to put our paperwork in order for the consulate appointment tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon we will travel to the US Consulate (which used to be right next door, but has been moved across town, ugh!) There we will take the oath of citizenship on Grace's behalf.

That's about it for now, Joel still feels crummy, please pray that he will whip this thing so that he can feel good for the remainder of our trip.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Survival Mode

I apologize for not updating you in several days. Mommy had to go into survival mode as Grace decided that sleep at night was optional. I napped when she did. We seem to have found a good routine for getting to sleep now, it still involves crying. But, we have had 10 hours of sleep for the last two nights...yay!

We are now in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. More about that in a minute.

We traveled yesterday morning to the airport, and stopped to do a little sightseeing on the way at a park on the Yellow River. When you look at the photos, notice the rafts that you could ride made of dried, inflated sheep skins and bamboo. Joel was disappointed that we didn't have time to try it out. These rafts are one of many Muslim influences in Grace's home province. There is a large Muslim population, and that is reflected in many things including the local cuisine. There is a distinct flavor and smell to Lanzhou food. It often includes cinnamon, which surprised me. But, where we use it in baking, they use it in beef broths, very tasty. There is also a nice tea that I tried called San PaoTi. It is unique to the area, and looks almost like soup, with many dried things floating in it.

We knew that Lanzhou was the most polluted city in the world. Because of the many refineries surrounding the city, and the high mountains that are beyond them, all of the smog that is produced is trapped over the city. But, we arrived at the end of a week-long hiatus for most businesses, due to the national holiday. So, the air had time to clear. We enjoyed blue skies for our entire visit. As we were leaving town, we experienced a bit of the norm, as we drove through the refineries, the smog was beginning to build again. At times it looked like we were driving through fog. Locals had cloths tied over their mouths and noses as they worked. My eyes and sinuses burned. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to visit when we did, and to avoid most of this.

We arrived at the famous White Swan Hotel around 5PM. It sits on Shamian Island in Guangzhou which I've decided to call "adoption land". This city is a necessary stop for any American adopting from China. Many adoptive families stay at the White Swan. And, the Island is certainly set up to cater to us. There are restaurants with american fare and 80's music, little shops selling baby clothes, diapers, and squeaky shoes. The shops also lend strollers to the families for free (hoping to build a relationship and earn your business.) This island was once the home to several foriegn consulates (including ours), and I believe it was once called the French Concession area. You can certainly see the French influence in architecture. It has the feel of a beach town, with palm trees and other trees that have something like spanish moss hanging from them. As we walked through town last night, Joel mentioned that it reminded him of New Orleans, and it certainly does. We enjoyed Lanzhou very much, but in one day we went from a cold desert to a balmy beach resort. It is very pleasant here. It is also much easier to order food :)

This morning Grace had her medical exam, which was our most unpleasant part of the trip. The actual exam was really no big deal. We had a height/weight check, ear/nose/throat, and then a doctor looked her over to make sure that her health matched the medical report from the orphanage. Then they checked her immunization records and determined that she needed 6 shots to enter the US. Bless her heart. Since I didn't want her to connect anything unpleasant with Joel, I took her and held her for the shots. It was terrible. She was a sweaty mess when it was over. Wanna know why she needed them?

Well, back when the Hague treaty was signed, someone forgot to include the part that existed before the treaty that said that adoptive children could wait to be immunized in the US. It was essentially a clerical error. So, ever since the treaty was signed a few years ago, all kids have to have all of these awful shots at once. Thanks to the hard work of petitioning adoptive parents, last month a bill passed the Senate to do away with this. But, it still has to come to vote in the House, which happens in the next few weeks. Hopefully, by the end of the year, this traumatic start to a new life will have been done away with.

~She steps down from her soapbox~

So, now she is sleeping it off. We started her on Motrin this morning to help with the discomfort. She did okay, and even ate a hearty lunch after it was over. Joel is feeling a bit under the weather, and is sleeping now too. We brought antibiotics with us, and he's started taking them, just in case. Hopefully he will wake up feeling better. So, there is a quick recap of many thing that have happened. We love y'all! Blessings!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two Girls and a Yeti - Another Post From Joel

One of the things our agency and other wise people warned us about was the issue of attachment. Sometimes, the child will not adapt well early on to either parent, which creates a high-stress situation for parents and adoptive children that can last for several weeks. The most common scenario however, is that the child attaches to one parent (usually Mom, since many of these children have not had much exposure at all to men in the orphanage) while keeping their distance from the other.

Where our Grace is concerned, it looks like dear ol' Dad drew the short straw. :) She has quickly attached herself to Mom, but continues to be highly suspicious of me.

A couple of days ago Amy jokingly said to Grace "he looks like the abominable, I know." I quickly corrected my wife, reminding her that we are, in fact, on the Asian continent and therefore I cannot be the abominable snow monster. I must be a Yeti.

It stuck.

Now I'm "the Yeti."

Currently, she occassionally lets me play with her; "play" of course being tightly defined as her throwing toys on the floor and me picking them up to hand back to her. Come to think of it maybe I'm not a Yeti after all. Maybe I'm the golden retriever!

For the past several days its been "two steps forward, one step back" where my new relationship with this little girl is concerned. I'm totally OK with it, and thankful that I was warned in advance of this possibility. Plus, it makes the "connective" moments with her all the more rewarding. But I sense that the best reward through this process is what I'm learning from this little one; a highly spiritual lesson she doesn't even realize she is teaching!

Think about it this way. 18 months ago I began, with my wife, planning to adopt this little one whom I had never met, and who had never met me, into my family. Enormous sums of time and money have been invested in this effort. Now that she is legally ours, she bears my name, my provision, my protection (brief warning to emerging young men, I WILL kill for her!), and all the blessings that come with being a part of a nuclear family. God willing, she will never again know what it means to be hungry. She will never legitimately fear for her future. She will never lack anything she needs, and all of this will be due to her father's provision.

Yet as an adopted child, she doesn't yet fully understand all of this, and so her response to me is one of high suspicion and fear. To her, I'm just a strange, scary-looking Yeti who simply doesn't belong in this new picture she has now become a part of.

At the same time, she doesn't mind sleeping in this lush hotel room I'm providing, nor does she object to all the wonderful new food she has at her disposal because of her new Daddy. Additionally, she also doesn't mind using the Yeti if it suits her purposes. This morning at the breakfast table Mom told her "no," to which she responded by looking up at me, hoping she could "divide the house" and get her way. It would seem that Daddy isn't so scary after all if he can be used to accomplish her agenda.

In short, she now enjoys the full range of blessing that is available to her as an adopted child. But currently, she has no real desire to develop a relationship with the one who has provided these blessings to her.

In other words, she is very much like all the rest of us.

Scripture tells us that before the world was created, God chose us to be His own. Before we were even born He developed a master plan that included us belonging in His family. At the right time, He sent Jesus Christ into time and space to die as our substitute, bearing the wrath of God against sin in our place. Furthermore, He drew us to Himself, and literally "adopted" us into His family, making us co-heirs with His only begotten, blessing us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, and providing for us what Paul says in an inheritance so great that our natural eyes, ears and brains can't even fathom what is in store for us.

And how do we respond to such great news? From birth, we seek our own way. We treat the Father with disdain. We don't mind enjoying His blessings, its just the relationship with Him that we aren't that interested in. We are sometimes afraid of Him, sometimes using Him, sometimes caustic toward Him, many times abusive of His gifts.

And what does the Father do in response? He continues to love and pursue until we are truly His. He doesn't give up, and He ALWAYS succeeds!

Yep, this darling little girl is teaching me more than she knows. It is truly an honor to be her Daddy, and such a joy to emulate, as much as any rotten-to-the-core, fallen man can, the actions of my heavenly Father toward my own daughter.

More pics are coming soon, by the way. :) Thanks for the continued thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Bath, A Park, A Zoo, and Famous Noodles

Grace had her first bath. I'm not sure that she enjoyed it, but she accepted it without complaint. She did enjoyed being rubbed down with lotion, though.

We all slept pretty well last night. I am so very thankful for the foam mattress topper that I managed to get into my suitcase. In China, the nicer your hotel~the harder your bed. We are in the nicest hotel in Lanzhou, quite a bit out of our league, frankly. So, we have hard beds and stiff backs.

We visited the city zoo today. They have a Panda, which they are very proud of. We saw several animals we had never heard of before. There was a common housecat in the pen with the pheasants. We couldn't figure out how he got in, but he sure looked like he wanted out. We were the main attraction for much of our time there. Many people, particularly older men and women, want to come and see Grace, ask where we are from, and find out about our other children. They are very sweet and all say kind things to Grace about all of the love that she will have with our family. They have all been very happy to see one of their orphan children find a home. Once when we stopped in the park outside the zoo to listen to a pick-up musical preformance by locals, we drew most of the crowd away from the musicians. I pulled out a photo album with the boys' and our extended family. The people looked through all of the photos and talked about how the boys look like us, and how my mom and I look alike, and how Joel and his brother look alike.

We were at the foot of a rather tall mountain, and kept hearing people calling out to one another. Our guide told us that some of the old people climb the mountain every day for excercise and that the ones at the top were calling out to the ones who were farther down the mountain. I do not know if they were calling out words of encouragement or teasing them for not making it to the top yet :) Excercise is very important to the older people here (60s and above) and they spend a lot of time at it.

We walked through part of the oldest section of this 2,000 year-old city while looking for a taxi. Our guide told us that much of it would soon be demolished for the government to put in new apartment buildings. The people whose homes are demolished will be given a new apartment. She said they were very happy about this.

Our next stop was at one of the more than 300 Lanzhou Noodle restaurants. This city is famous for it's hand-pulled noodles cooked in a special beef broth. *Trisha~I understand why you loved coming home to that smell when you made the recipe. It is wonderful! We thoroughly enjoyed that meal. And, I learned how to eat foot-long noodles with chopsticks!

Grace continues to come out of her shell a little at a time. We are seeing more and more of her true personality. She sings often, and loves to play imitating games. She also let Joel get very close to her while making similar sounds back and forth at the zoo. She even reached out and touched his beard. When we got back to the room, he sat down on the end of the bed next to her. He was able to touch her hair for the first time and rub her back a little. This is huge progress. She was still nervous about it, but didn't start crying this time.

Another huge milestone in this process is poop. Really! Every morning the guides ask if the baby has pooped. Some children stress so much that they won't even do that, and they can get sick if that goes on for too long. The saying is that the first poop belongs to the orphanage, and the second one is the family's. In other words, the first one doesn't count after you get the baby. Well...not only is Grace a champion eater, she's a champ in this arena as well. She truly is a Rainey :) (Sorry to those of you who think that is TMI..)

She is sleeping now, I have taken a nap, and Joel is working on one too. When she wakes up we will go out with another family that we ran into from Indiana who just adopted a 2-year old boy, Joshua. We've been hanging out together some and sharing experiences.

We love you all, and enjoy so much getting up in the morning to read your comments. Thank you so much for your prayers. We have certainly felt them. Tomorrow is another day of touring, including the provincial museum. Grace's paperwork will be finished by Thursday and we leave this wonderful city on Friday.

By the way, Trisha, our guide is your guide's wife :) I've heard some great stories about your family, I think you made your mark on Lanzhou!

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Legal!

The daughter of our hearts is now legally our daughter in every way, Praise the Lord! We went to the civil affairs office this morning and processed the necessary documents to make her ours. There is more paperwork, of course, regarding her passport, visa, citizenship, etc. But, in the eyes of both governments, she is officially ours. The photo I'm adding with her footprint being made was the step the finalized the adoption. Also, there is a photo of Joel, Grace, and I with the assistant director of the orphanage.

Her health appears excellent. She will certainly plump up over the next few weeks, but she has been very well cared for. She came to us in the outfit that we sent her in a care package several months ago. It was snowing in her hometown when they left yesterday morning, the ladies showed us pictures on their phones, so she was bundled in multiple layers.

She has done beautifully. She is a shy girl, and buries her face in mama's shoulder when she gets nervous. So far, she is still nervous around Joel. We were told to expect that she would attach to one of us and avoid the other for a while. He has been able to hand her a toy, give her a snack, etc...but then she is ready to turn away from him. We are taking baby steps :)

She reaches for me and clings to me, which are good signs. Some babies need to be taught this. She is eating absolutely anything that we will give her...western or eastern food...it makes no difference! We visited a restaurant this afternoon just down from our hotel that she really enjoyed. (So did we!) As you can see, her lip is repaired, which was a surprise to us. Her palate is still open, but she eats like a champ. We aren't even bothering with the cleft bottles we brought, we picked up regular bottles today like the one from the orphanage. She does not like to leave a table with food still on it, and seems to have no "fullness meter". I've employed a little trick that we learned from our friends, the Turners. We have to put food in her hand to walk away with.

I want to add some information for our sweet friends, the Turners, who recently returned from adopting RuoYi from the same orphanage. Trisha, you won't believe this, but I found out the our girls were in the same room together, and they were playmates. I also found out that the girls went to Beijing last winter together for their surgeries. They were there for two months. Grace's lip repair looks very good, just like RuoYi's.

She can stand, and take steps while holding our fingers. She does not crawl, and does not push up when laying on her belly. We have been playing games to work on upper body strength. She will catch up on those quickly. She has a sweet smile, and giggles when tickled. She also has this little happy dance she does when she sees food that she really likes. She rocks back and forth side to side really fast, it is so funny. She is really good at imitating what we do. When I combed her hair this morning, she reached for the comb and made the same movements. When I clap, she claps, often the same number of times that I did. She is a smart, funny girl. We are so blessed to have been chosen to be her mama and baba.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Word From Joel

Hey folks! I thought I'd take this shift on the site, since about four hours ago my wife developed an "appendage" that has yet to turn her loose. :)

We arrived in Lanzhou, Gansu Province a little before 2 PM China time, and were promptly picked up by our guide Jessica. We arrived at our hotel at about 3 PM, and were told we would meet our daughter within the hour. Just before 4 there was a knock at our door, and suddenly, 18 months of praying, filling out forms, dreaming, seeing the first pictures, praying some more, signing our names at least 1000 times, etc. all came to a wonderful climax.

Right now we are introducing her to french fries (we like to eat healthy you know) and she has quickly attached herself to Mom. But she's still not too sure about that big hairy white dude her nannys have told her is Daddy.

I however, think she is the most adorable little girl I've ever seen! I'll wait patiently for the privilege of holding her, and it will be worth it. For now, sharing french fries is fun enough.

The nurse and Assistant Director at the orphanage, along with our guide In Lanzhou, have all been extremely helpful. Tomorrow we start the process of China paperwork, medical exams, and all other things neccesary to tie up loose ends on the China side before heading on the 15th to our consulate.

We look forward to seeing everyone soon with a brand new member of the Rainey family! For now, check out the new pics, and thanks for the continued prayers!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It Certainly is A Great Wall!

We did visit THE wall today, and climbed as high as my goofy, swimmy head would allow. It struck me as funny that I had written about the "ancient" hutongs from the 1400's yesterday when I heard our guide mention dates in the 400's for that wall. It really is amazing, stretching over 6,000 miles across China. I would love to post photos, but even my old photos that are the header for this blog aren't showing up for me now. Hopefully this will change once we get to Lanzhou. If it does not, I will email a few to a friend (Hi Denise!) and ask her to post them from the US.

We had some other adventures today, including a meal that included a whole, steamed fish. (For those of you who went to Antigua with me, remeber Clarence? Ha Ha) That fish gave some in our group the creeps, but Joel and I thought he was tasty. We asked what kind it was and our guide called it a Grassfish. One of the men in our group asked if that is a Chinese Carp, he assured us it was not :)

We head to the airport in the morning to travel to Grace's province. I was handed a document today that said, in a nutshell, we agree for you to adopt this child, please proceed to the appropriate office in her province with this document to complete the process. WooHoo! We were told that we will not meet her until Monday, but history with our orphanage reflects families receiving their child on Sunday evening. We arrive mid-afternoon, and have packed the bags in such a way to be ready to meet her immediately upon arrival at our hotel. We have also learned that most plans are fluid in China...which gives us much hope :) Either way, within 36 hours I will be holding my baby girl. I wish I could express how this feels, but I don't know the words. I am excited, nervous, awed and humbled...and that doesn't even begin to describe it.

Please pray for us especially during this part of our trip. These first few days with Grace could be challenging, depending on how she responds to us. Also, pray for the young lady who was to be our guide in-province. We learned tonight that she is very ill and that they are sending a replacement for her. There are several other families that will travel together to a different province tomorrow to receive their children. There are some huge unknowns facing some of them. When you pray for us, please remember them as well.

Lastly, because internet access has been a little sketchy at times, I'm not going to respond to your individual comments. Please know that we are reading them and that they are a great encouragement to us. We are blessed to have wonderful friends and family supporting us during this journey. Hopefully, our next post will be the one we've all been waiting for!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reflections on Two Days in Beijing

I tried to post about 8 hours ago, and the internet wasn't cooperative. We have discovered, as some friends before us did, that we cannot upload photos here in Beijing. I will keep trying, but suspect that this will not change until we arrive in Lanzhou.

Yesterday, Joel and I were able to explore Beijing on our own as we were the first from our agency to arrive. We began our day at our hotel breakfast buffet for an eclectic meal. My plate held pork buns, milk buns, watermelon, baked sweet potato, fried rice, scrambled eggs, bean congee and Spam. Also available were salad, black pickled eggs, pimiento loaf, and pastries.

We then converted some US dollars into Chinese Yuan, and we were ready to explore. We acquired a card from the front desk that has the names of popular destinations and our hotel in Chinese and English. From there, it was simple enough to hail a taxi and point to our desired destination on the card. First we traveled to the Temple of Heaven which was used twice a year in ancient China for offerings made by the Emporer to Celestial bodies, primarily the Sun. It is a beautiful complex with grounds that seem to be a community gathering place. We walked through traditional Chinese gardens filled with ancient Cypress trees and found people playing games, playing instruments, and having sing-a-longs. Since we were at our own pace, it was a truly relaxing time with perfect, if smoky, weather.

Temple of Heaven Courtyards

Temple of Heaven

I fell in love with the detail.

The architecture is amazing.

Dragons are everywhere.

Later we walked down the block to the Pearl Market that Joel had purchased from several years ago. We had fun picking out pearls for a necklace for Grace when she is older. My sweetie even blessed me with a special treasure from Cathie's shop. We watched our sales lady, Stacey, knot our pearl strands.

The Pearl Market. The higher the floor, the more expensive the merchandise.

Stacey hand-knotted our pearls while we watched.

Then, as jet-lag got the best of us, we caught a taxi back to our hotel and found a restraunt with a photo menu for dinner. It is nice to be able to point out what you want to eat when no one can understand a word that you say :)

This morning began with a similar breakfast selection. Then, we met other families from our agency for some touring. We are the only family from the East Coast in our group. We are also the only ones not going to the same province that they are all going to. We will separate on Sunday to travel to our children's provinces, then we will meet back up in another city to process our children's visas.

Our first event of the day was a rickshaw ride through a traditional hutong, which is an ancient neigborhood with tiny streets, over 600 years old. These neighborhoods were only available to members of the royal bloodline or members of the court. The only way to live in one now is to be the descendant of one of those families. Our rickshaw driver was an older gentleman with a sense of humor. He thought he was Mario Andretti, and kept racing past the others in our group and giggling about it. He also like grabbing onto the back of other rickshaws to make it harder for their drivers to pedal.

A view in the Hutong.

Our guide, George.

Waiting Rickshaws.

Bike outside a home.

A pet?

We then visted a shop to see how silk cocoons are processed by hand into fabric. Of course, there were many lovely silk items available for purchase there. Lunch took place at a restaurant run by one of the 55 minority groups in China, the Dai. The food was very nice. We learned that Kung Pao Chicken is a Dai dish. My favorite was duck meat, breaded in something I couldn't identify and fried to resemble a giant hush puppy.

Silk web being pulled to become a comforter.

Cocoons are soaked and then pulled apart over these hoops to stretch and dry.

Next our great guide, George, took us to Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City. All I can say is that they are both massive. The Forbidden City was the residence of the Emporer in ancient China, and consisted of 9,999 1/2 rooms. (That 1/2 kept him from equalling the Jade Emporer, his father, whose palace in heaven had 10,000 rooms.) We learned much history today, and walked about 10 miles (maybe a tiny exaggeration).
A Lovely Garden Behind the Forbidden City.

Fu Lion in the Forbidden City.


~In the US we drive defensively, Chinese drive offensively...this makes for crazy traffic but few accidents. They are not distracted drivers. Even though signs and signals seem to be merely suggestions, none of the cars are banged up or scratched. Bicycle riders are fearless!
And, bicycles are everywhere!

~Street Vendors: Wow can they be persistent! Our guide calls them mosquitos. Many are hucksters, and we have been taught to completely ignore them. If you even say no in response, it causes them to follow you longer. Can you believe that you can get a Rolex on the street in China for $5? WOW! :)

This fruit was for sale everywhere. We never learned what it was.

~Ancient Culture: It is astounding to think that the buildings we were standing in today were over 600 years old. We saw porcelain and Jade from the Ming Dynasty, that's the 1400's. How does something so fragile survive so long? Being from a relatively young country, it is almost too difficult to comprehend.

~Beijing is very eclectic: Our breakfast isn't the only thing that is eclectic here. Beijing is a global community. This would explain the Reggae bar that we saw in the 600 year-old hutong. The architecture reflects this as well. Ultra-modern buildings are interspersed among ancient buildings. Some high-rises look similar to a US big city, and some are topped with a pagoda-style roof.

That's more than enough for now! Tomorrow we visit the Great Wall, a Jade factory, and an acrobatics show. Then, the next day, we travel to Lanzhou alone to meet our baby girl...we're almost there, sweetie!

Guess what we brought to China with us?

A stinkbug...since they are native to Asia, this guy is just visiting his homeland :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We're There!

We arrived at our hotel almost exactly 24 hours after leaving home Tuesday morning. (It is now Thursday morning in China.) Thirteen hours in an airplane are definitely longer than 13 hours on the ground, by the way :)

We are at the Holiday Inn Beijing, and have been interested to see how much it caters to Westerners, and yet how few are actually here.

We noticed that everything was very foggy as we landed yesterday, and have since discovered that there are a lot of what we assume are forest fires near the city. A large section of China is covered with smoke right now. No worries, there isn't any danger, just a lot of haze.

Since we arrived during the National Holiday, the airport was deserted, and the traffic was mild. We are one day ahead of our group, so we are about to venture out on our own to see what we can find to get into. The Temple of Heaven and the Pearl Market are our goal.

No fun photos to share yet, I'm sure we will have some tomorrow, though!


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Red Thread

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says:

"An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break."

This proverb is recited often in the realm of Chinese adoption. Sometimes the telling of it is deeper, stating that when a child is born an invisible red thread ties them to the people who will be of great importance in their life. As they grow, the thread is pulled tighter, drawing these people to them.

A few weeks ago it crossed my mind to look back at my daytimer for May 2009 to see what we were doing when Grace was born. I was stunned when I realized that the week of her birth was the same week that Joel and I felt the call to pursue adoption. In fact, she was discovered at the front gate of her orphanage on the 6th, and within 24 hours of that date we had made the commitment to adopt and begun searching for her. That started with following God's leading to the China adoption program, and then being led to our amazing agency. We submitted our application to CCAI about a month later.

I believe that the red thread does exist, and that my Father has the needle in his hand. He is knitting together our family in a way that we never could have done on our own. In an obscure town in the interior of China, a little girl is waiting for a family that she doesn't yet know. In His infinite wisdom, he chose her as our daughter.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Leavin' On A Jet-Plane....

It has been a CRAZY week! We were assigned a consulate appointment for October 18th. This means that we will leave for China on October 5th, and we will meet our baby girl on October 10th. Gotcha day....the date will be 10.10.10.

We missed getting a September consulate appointment by 1 day. And, I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed. The Lord quickly reminded me that His timing is perfect, which He has reinforced just today (that's another journal entry).

Our international plane tickets have been purchased. We are traveling to Beijing one day early as this affected the combined total of our plane tickets by thousands of dollars. (AACK!) We will arrive on 10/6. The seventh is the final day of a national holiday, and that's the only reason I can come up with for such a crazy ticket price! So, we will arrive before our travel guide. Joel is quite comfortable navigating Beijing, so we will tackle it on our own for that one day.

Our general itinerary will be:

10/5 Depart

10/6 Arrive in Beijing, mid-afternoon (around 1 am Eastern Time)

10/7-9 Tour Beijing

10/10 Fly to Lanzhou (This is the capital of Grace's province)

10/?? Fly to Guangzhou (Around the 15th, this is the location of the US Consulate)

10/18 Consulate Appointment

10/19 Oath taking Ceremony

10/20 Receive Grace's US Visa

10/20 Fly to Hong Kong (overnight layover)

10/21 Depart for and arrive in US

Traditionally, from the other families I know that have traveled to Grace's province, the nannies and orphanage director are waiting at the hotel with your child when you arrive. We may very well see her when we walk in the front door. I have much to share about her province, but I will do that seperately. I will say this much, it is a remote part of the interior of China. We will most likely be the only Westerners in the area. It is definitely, "the road less traveled." We also understand that this will make us quite the novelty. We shouldn't have a hard time making new friends!

There will also be many other various appointments along the way, including a medical exam for Grace in Guangzhou. We may not have all of that in writing before we leave, but are confident in the expertise of our guides who will have navigated many adoptions before ours.

We will be holding our baby girl in just 37 days

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trave Approval!

We just received travel approval to go and get our little girl...we are ecsatic! We hope to get a consulate appointment toward the end of September, which will have us leaving around the 13th. Help us pray that this is the case, otherwise our trip will be delayed by 3 weeks. I'll share more when we know!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Room of Her Very Own

Parents who are adopting internationally, as we are, are taught to be prepared for a number of possible institution-related behaviors. Some children are taught to self-soothe by sticking their finger in their ear or sucking on the corner of a towel. Some children rock themselves constantly for stimulation. Others, coming from a situation where food has been limited, hoard food in pockets or overeat for fear that the abundance of food may not continue. Some children do not cry in the beginning, becuase they have learned that crying brings no comfort, no result. Nannies are not able to respond to every child every time they cry. So, many children just stop doing it. There are a thousand other variables, and every child is different.

Recently, I was reading a post by a fellow adoptive parent about some unique tendancies she was facing with her daughter. This precious girl, adopted from an orphanage internationally as an older child, was in the habit of hiding odd little things around the house. Eventually, her mom asked why she was doing this. Her reply, "I've never had things that belong just to me, and I want to hide my things now. I don't know why. I know that no one will take them here, but I can't help it."

It had not really occured to me until reading this post that children living in many orphanages have no personal belongings. Of course, this makes sense. It would be a logistical nightmare to keep up with whose clothes were whose if you were doing laundry for over 100 kids. I think that one of the small joys of our early days with Grace will be giving her things that will belong to her. I wonder how long it will take for the concept of "belonging" to occur to her. How long will it take for her little mind to comprehend that the doll that I've kept next to my computer for the past 15 months is hers to keep? How long will it take for her trust in us to build and for her to realize that she belongs with us?

One of our first big opportunities to show her that she belongs here will come on the day that we bring her home. My mom and dad just spent the past week here helping me prepare Grace's new room. It is wonderfully soft and girly, and I love it. I find myself walking by and just staring into the room, trying to imagine her sleeping under her soft blanket in the crib that her Daddy just put together.

I know that trust will come only through patience and time. But I think it is going to be a wonderful experience teaching this little one that she is our daughter, and she always will be.
Seth's old dresser got a new life with paint, glass knobs, and a wood applique.

A lovely shower gift that matches her room perfectly!

An old lamp shade, painted white. A white bed sheet, cut into strips and made into raw-edged yo-yos. Rosettes glued to the shade with pearls in the center. Girly lamp for under $5.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Rattle Heard Round the World

We have precious friends, newly gained, who are in China right now finalizing the adoption of their precious girl. Their daughter is 2 months older than Grace and is from the same orphanage. We suspect that they are playmates.

A few weeks before they left, my friend offered to take something to the orphanage director (who would be delivering their daughter to them) for Grace. Not wanting to take up too much of their limited luggage space, I found a small pink rattle and shipped it to my friend. I attached a slip of paper to the rattle with Grace's Chinese name in Chinese Characters.

The morning after my friends met their daughter, I got an email. My friend said that she had indeed given the rattle to the director. When she pointed to the name on it, the director's face lit up with a smile. Through the interpreter, she told them that she had heard that we would be coming very soon to adopt RuoYun.

When I read that message...well...I burst into tears. I'm so excited for my friends. Adding to that the surreal thought that the rattle that I bought in Westminister a few weeks ago has traveled to the other side of the planet, to rural northwestern China, and is now in the hands of my baby girl.... And that they have been notified that we will be there soon.... It is overwhelming. This dream that started 15 months ago, just days after Grace was born, will soon come true.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Communication Between Two Governments

This week, on the 12th, the US Consulate in Guangzhou (GZ) issued our "Article 5". This, essentially, is a document that notifies the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) that we have been approved to adopt Grace, to bring her back to the US, and that her immigration and citizenship paperwork is ready to be finalized once we arrive in China.

Our agency's reps in China physically walked-in to the consulate to pick up these precious documents and the forward them to Beijing and the CCAA. This means....drumroll please....that we are on the FINAL step of this process. Sometime in the near future (around August 26th if recent trends continue), we will receive our Travel Approval. This is China's inviation to come and get our daughter.

Travel schedules are still sketchy, but if our TA does indeed arrive before the end of August, we may be able to travel in September. Our agency knows that we will be ready to go at a moment's notice if necessary. Please help us pray that we will be able to travel next month, and that we will be able to do all that is necessary between now and then to get ready for the trip (and get the boys ready for the new school year!)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I recently learned that blogs using the blogger platform are not accessible in China. And, because I desperately want to be able to post photos and notes about our adoption trip for everyone back home, I have created another site. So, I am uprooting, at least until we return to the US. This blog will not be updated again until after we return.

We have a new Shutterfly Share Site that we will use as a travel journal. You can access it HERE. If you would like an email when I update it, just become a member of the journal. One pretty cool side benefit is that the grandparents can order copies of any of the photos that I post directly from the share site. So, they can have prints of Gotcha Day delivered by Shutterfly before we even make it home.

Some sweet friends have generously offered to lend us a netbook for travel, so that we can send updates without lugging a laptop all over China.

Now...off to get 9 prescriptions filled, get a blood test to see if I need a HepA vaccination, finish emptying Seth's old room, turn it into Grace's new room, meet with our social worker for the home study update, finish the back to school preparations, buy the rest of the stuff on the packing list, CLEAN MY HOUSE....but first....I'm gonna watch a movie with my hubby :)

**The text of the posts on the Shutterfly Site have now been moved to this blog for the sake of continuity. They are chronological in sequence from this point forward.**

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tiny Girl

It is amazing how quickly this sweet face has captured our hearts from over 8,000 miles away. I wonder about her continually. How is she sleeping? Has she been sick? What is her favorite food? Does she laugh? Does she have a friend? Did she receive the gift that we sent? Does the blanket keep her warm at night?

We had a very few questions answered this week. We received an update of her height, weight, foot length, head and chest circumfrence. We also learned that she has 4 teeth and that she is "healthy". We are so very thankful for the update, which means that the orphanage is now aware that she is being adopted. At the same time, we are concerned about the information revealed.

Our sweet girl has gained just under a pound in eight months. At 15 months old (today), she weighs just over 15 pounds. These measurements tend to be taken fully-clothed as well. As a cleft-baby, feeding is no doubt a challenge for her.

I have been blessed to meet many friends online who are adopting or have adopted babies just like Grace. And, I have learned that these numbers aren't that unusual for a cleft baby. One sweet friend told me, "Any weight change that isn't backward is a good thing."

So, we have put away all of the 18-month clothes that we planned to take to China. It is time to gather 9 month clothes instead. A dear friend, who happens to be a NICU marvel, is helping us to design a game-plan for nutrition to help her grow strong and healthy. We have special nursers for cleft-affected babies in hand, and are ready to put them to good use.

The wait is harder now. We know that she needs us. We know that loving attention and nutritious food are going to radically change her world. And, we anxiously ancticipate the moment that she is placed in our arms.

Please help us pray for Grace to remain healthy while she waits for her new Mommy and Daddy to bring her home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baby Steps

In my first post on this blog, I compared adoption to a marathon. It certainly has been! I thought that sending our dossier to China would mean the end of paperchasing. On the contrary, that paperwork was just training for the REAL paperchase that was to come. After an adoptive family received the Letter of Acceptance from China, there are basically 4 steps that must take place before travel.

1-Immigration Provisional Approval ~ @ 3 weeks
2-Immigration Processing through the National Visa Center ~ @ 1 week
3-Issuing of "Article 5" by US Consulate in Guangzhou ~ @ 2 weeks
4-Issue of Travel Approval by China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) ~ 2-4 weeks

We are waiting on step #3. Our paperwork is being hand-delivered to the US Consulate today. We expect our Article 5 to be issued on August 12. This puts us on track for a Travel approval, hopefully, by the end of August. Once the TA is issued, we will request a consulate appointment in Guangzhou. We will leave approximately 14 days before this appointment, because it falls at the end of the trip. But, the entire trip is contingent upon the scheduling of that one appointment.

Our timeline gets a little hairy here. All of China shuts down Sept 23-25 for the Moon Festival. (I would LOVE to be there for this!), and also Oct 1-7 for another holiday, National Day...which seems to last an entire week. So...to be frank...please pray for speedy processing so that we won't have to wait until mid-October to travel! We're almost there, baby girl!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An End In Sight

God so often provides things that I need, before I even realize that I need them. Last March, Joel's phone contract was up and he decided to upgrade to a Blackberry. That month, Verizon was running a Buy One Blackberry/Get One Free Sale. (Crazy, right?) So we went the next day to get mine. I thought it would be fun to have, but I never dreamed that I would need it.

We learned about Grace early on a Saturday morning through an email on my Blackberry. We were going to have a family day out that day. Without mobile email access, I would not have seen that email until late that night. From the time that I read the email on Saturday morning, I had 18 hours to gather paperwork and get it sent to our agency so that our referral could be locked in. I very well could have missed that opportunity and lost our referral.

Yesterday, on an interstate somewhere below Atlanta, I received the email that informed us that our LOA (Letter of Acceptance) had arrived at our agency. This document had to be overnighted to us, and I had 4 hours to let them know if it should come to an address other than our home. I would have been too late for that one also, and our precious LOA would have been sitting on our front porch in MD until we found someone pick it up and overnight it to us in MS.

Thank you, Lord, for providing a tool for this adoption before we even decided to begin the process.

Oh...and we have our LOA!!! It is the final approval to confirm that she is ours, and a document that we must sign and return to China confirming that we still want her. (It is also called the Letter Seeking Confirmation.) Our agency estimates that we will travel in 10-13 weeks! We will be waiting for two documents now, one from our own USCIS (Customs and Immigration), and the Travel Approval (TA) from China. The USCIS document is the confirmation that her immigration paperwork is in order. The TA is our invitation to come and get her! I have a ton more paperwork to get together over the next couple of days. We have about a day and a half of down time before our mission trip gets into full swing, which is a blessing. So, I am going to try to find a business center in this hotel so that I can get it all printed out and get started!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Grace Project

Recently a precious friend of ours approached me and said, "How is the Grace project coming?" Then he said, "Grace Project...I like that!" I like it too. God is certainly using this adoption as a means of exhibiting His grace in our lives.

Did you know that adoption is a beautiful picture of the redemptive work of Christ? Without Jesus, we are fatherless. Without Jesus, we have no hope. Without Jesus, our future is tragic.

Just as God gave us the gift of marriage to help us understand the relationship between Jesus and the church, He has also given us adoption so that we can understand and reflect what it means to become a "joint-heir with Christ."

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 8:14-17 NKJV

Those of us who have chosen to turn our lives over to Christ are adoptees!

A few months ago I contributed to a devotional book that will be published in the fall. My contribution is quite brief, because of the space constraints of the published work. But, the message of this passage applies here. Forgive the choppiness of this post...

Background Passage: Psalm 82

Focal Verse:
“Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and destitute.” (Psalm 82:3)

This Psalm is meant to warn national leaders of their responsibility to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among those in their charge. When coupled with James 1:27, it is clear that this same responsibility lies at the feet of every believer.

My husband and I have felt a calling to adoption for many years. Recently God made it clear that the time had come for us to begin that journey. As we began delving into the adoption process, we were surprised by the reactions of many of our Christian friends. All have been supportive, but few seem to realize the Scriptural mandate that we have been given as believers to be active in orphan care. Many have never considered their own position as a co-heir with Christ, and the beautiful reflection of that which we are given through adoption. Paul Pennington, in his blog, Hope for Orphans, stated, “Caring for orphans is God’s will for everybody. Adoption is not.” Consider what role God would have you take in the care of the weakest among us. Whether it is through foster care, adoption, advocacy, or financially supporting those who choose adoption, God’s calling is clear and unavoidable.

So, it's the Grace Project...in more ways than one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Man, I thought waiting was hard before we had ever seen Grace's picture. It is a very odd feeling to have a child on the other side of the globe, whose care you have absolutely no say in. How is she doing? Has she been sick? Has she had surgery? Did she sleep well last night? Did she laugh today?

If anyone out there is in need of a lesson in patience...I can tell you where to find one.

This week began in China with the Dragon Boat Festival. Any of you who have young children may have seen the Ni Hao Kai Lan episode about this celebration. All government offices were closed Monday through Wednesday, so very few approvals have shown up this week.

We are on the 55th day of waiting for our LOA from China, which is the final step in the approval process. Then there will be a few more hoops to jump through regarding her citizenship paperwork and our travel appointments. I'm excited to have found an online community of people that are in the same *dragon* boat, waiting at various stages of this process to go and get their little ones. We all compare our time lines...hoping that we might gain insight into when we might see some forward progress. Though it could come at any time, I am trying to tell myself to not expect anything before the end of July. Thankfully, the next couple of weeks will be pretty hectic as we go on mission to the Gulf Coast to continue Katrina relief. My mind will be filled with feeding hungry mission teams, so there will be little time for worrying about the paper chase.

That said, I am ready with the next step. And, our agency is on alert to call us for info on where to overnight the paperwork, depending on where we are at the time. So, who knows, maybe we will have to track down a notary while we are there!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our Baby Girl's First Birthday

We received Grace's pictures and information on April 24th. Just eight days later, on May 2nd, she had her first birthday...

Of course, we had to celebrate!

We shared a fresh strawberry cake ('cause it's pink and all), and sang Happy Birthday. She also got a couple of presents which we will take with us to China in a few months.

It was a bittersweet celebration. We are so excited to have found her, and to know that we will be together soon. But, it was really hard to know that we were missing this milestone. I have lots of photos of both boys on their first birthdays. I especially love the tradition of getting their own cake to play in. Maybe we will do that with Grace on the 1st anniversary of her Gotcha Day!

Big Brother blew out her candle...

Her gifts: Some clothes, a "teetheable" photo album so that she can start learning the faces of her family, and

Her first baby doll.

This was the first thing I purchased after we decided to pursue the adoption of a daughter. Her name is Magnolia, and she was designed by the adoptive mom of two sweet girls from China. You can learn more HERE. (A portion of the proceeds from these dolls goes to assist children in orphanages around the world. And, I've just discovered that Magnolia has a lot of new friends, too!) Very few Asian dolls are on the market today, especially dolls for young children. Magnolia has been sitting on my desk for 10 months as a daily reminder of the blessings of this journey. I cannot wait to give her to our baby girl.

(By the way, the quilt she is sitting on is Grace's bedding. We will begin preparing her room soon. There will be pictures!)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

God Has Given Us A Daughter!

I finally have the privilege of introducing the newest member of the Rainey family to you. Her name is Abigail Grace. Her Chinese name is Liang RuoYun.

Our adoption agency recently had the extraordinary opportunity to access a database of children that they do not often have access to. This has allowed them to match us many months before we really expected it to happen. We received her photos and information about a week and a half ago, but have been waiting for a certain pre-approval from the CCAA before we were allowed to share her information online.

Our beautiful baby girl just had her first birthday on Sunday. It makes me sad to have missed this milestone. But, I know that we will share many more with her!

These are the things that we know:

~Her Chinese name, RuoYun, means "like all living things", the surname, Liang, identifies her as a resident of her particular orphanage.

~She was abandoned at approximately 4 days old at the gate of the orphanage where she resides.

~There is much poverty in her province.

~Her province has the highest rate of both birth defects and infant mortality in China.

~She is with people who truly care for the children in their charge. I have been in contact with families who have been there, know the director, and attest to the children receiving the best care possible in their given situation.

~She has a third-degree unilateral cleft palate and lip which will require multiple surgeries and speech therapy once we get her home.

~She is a quiet child.

~She likes to play with blocks.

~She loves music.

There are many children in her orphanage with mild to severe special needs. The population of the orphanage increased significantly last year. Many of these little ones have very little hope for adoption. The fact that such kind care is given to so many with special needs is a tribute to the Nannies and Orphanage Director. It is a comfort to know that she is with people who love her.

The orphanage was damaged by an earthquake in 2008. Caring people there have been working since then to raise the funds to rebuild so that they can be in a safer structure. This building is being erected now, and they hope to move the children around August.

So here's the BIG question...When do we go and get her?
We don't know for sure. We are waiting for a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from the CCAA. Soon after we get this, we will recieve an invitation to travel. The trip will be planned at that point, based upon the appointment that we are given at the US Consulate in Guangzhou. I will share more about the details of the trip when the time draws nearer. We expect (hope) to travel within 4-6 months.

We are so excited, so thankful, and so very blessed to have the privilege of parenting this sweet girl, and her big brothers Sam and Seth.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

We Have a LID

We finally got the email a few days ago that our dossier has been logged in by the Chinese government. Our LID (logged in date) is March 15, 2010. This is the date by which we can measure, as time passes, approximately when we would be matched. This is assuming that we are never matched with a waiting child (one with additional physical needs), which is unlikely.

Effectively, we are on two waiting lists. One is in China for a healthy child. According to time lines in place now (which are subject to lengthen or shorten), we will be matched in 3 1/2 years. (I know, that is a very long time.)

We are also on the waiting list with our adoption agency for a "waiting child". These are children who have been deemed either unadoptable or unlikely to be adopted by China. They have different needs ranging from severe disabilities to being over the age of 9. We prayerfully considered a list of possible needs, and selected the ones that we felt equipped to handle. So, when and if a little girl with one of these needs becomes available, we will be matched by our agency. Since there are fewer families seeking waiting children, we expect to be matched via this avenue first. There is absolutely no way to gauge when this might happen.

So, if you are wondering WHEN we will get a call...so are we :) It could literally be Monday morning, or 2013, or anywhere in between. What we do know is that God is in control of it all, including the timing. So, when our little girl is ready to meet us, He will introduce us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Dossier is in China

I just received word that our dossier has been hand-delivered to the CCAA. This is the department of the Chinese government that is responsible for approving and matching orphans with their families. What a journey! This all began in early June, 2009. Now, 9 months later (how appropriate), the paper pregnancy truly begins. I just re-read my first post on this blog and shook my head at aspirations to have our paperwork in China by December. Oh well...His timing is perfect, and He is orchestrating it all. Of this I am sure.

This weekend, while at a retreat with some great women from my home church, I received word that the paperwork was in transit to China. To celebrate, I finally broke down and did something that I have been restraining myself from for months. I bought Grace's first dress.

I have avoided this for several reasons. One of these being that it could literally be several years before we are matched. Styles change and all that, but this one drew me in and I could not resist. So, one day our daughter will wear this lacy, girly dress. And, one day when she is grown I will give it to her and share it's significance in her story. Bit by bit, by a stocking, a dress, a room soon to be prepared and through many prayers...she is becoming a part of our lives.

Monday, January 25, 2010


We began this journey in earnest 7 months ago. I still remember looking at the pile of documents that came from our adoption agency and thinking, "How will I ever get through this?" It was all so mind-boggling at the time. But, step by step, piece by piece, I've muddled through it all. It almost seems surreal that our dossier is complete. (The photo shows the result of 7 months of literal blood, sweat and tears.) I handed it all over to my friend at FedEx...we are on a first-name basis now...a couple of hours ago. It should be in Denver by 10:30 tomorrow morning (that is amazing to me).

After critical review (not once, not twice, but three times over), binding and translation into Mandarin, our dossier will be on its way to our daughter's homeland. Assuming I did everything correctly, This should happen by mid-February.

Once it arrives in China it will be reviewed by the CCAA and Logged In. The day this takes place will be our LID date (logged in date). LIDs are important because they signify when a family is queued up in line to wait for a child. People who were matched with a child in December all had a LID date from 3 1/2 years ago. Because we are on the waiting child list, it is quite possible (we are hopeful) that our LID date will be irrelevant because our adoption agency will do the matching instead of the CCAA in China. This often goes more quickly because most waiting children are considered unadoptable.

Regardless, we know that we are on God's timeline here. We know that He is in charge of revealing Grace to us. So, until His time is perfect we will wait...and update paperwork.

I began this blog with a running analogy, comparing adoption to a marathon. The first leg of this race is now complete. I can't see the finish line yet, but I know it exists and that is enough for now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

CCAI Responds to Haiti

When we chose our adoption agency, we did so, in part, because of the testimony of the founders. It was important to us to work with folks that held a similar worldview to ours. We have been impressed with CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International). As an international adoption agency, they really have their act together. Now, I am blown away.

CCAI had recently begun working in Haiti. The relationship there prompted a response to the events there in recent days. I cannot recount in any better words the story they shared with me through email this week.

Wednesday Jan 20, 2010

Dear CCAI Supporters,

We landed at Port-au-Prince International Airport at 13:59 pm yesterday and hand delivered your contributions [...] to the orphanage staff.

[...]an orphanage that has been caring for about 130 kids, was badly damaged by the powerful earthquake that hit the poor Caribbean nation last on January 12, 2010. Although no children were severely hurt, their dorms were devastated beyond repair. The older children have been living under five tents and the babies are being cared for in the trunk of a big truck. Fox News and CNN managed to reach the orphanage three days after the quake, but their reports of the terrible conditions did not lead to the immediate and adequate aid of food and water that they desperately needed.

On 1/17 at 18:24, [...], an American missionary from Denver sent us an urgent message, pleading, “We need[supplies]quickly!!!”

We immediately contacted one of our long time supporters who had offered their family private jet for emergency use the day before. They wholeheartedly supported our request to use their plane to send supplies to the orphanage. We spent the next five hours storming several Wal-Marts and Walgreens purchasing[supplies]. At 5:30 am, over 2000 pounds of supplies were loaded onto the jet and the plane took off at 6:33 am Denver time.

Five and half hours later, at 13:59 pm, we successfully landed at the war-zone like Port-au-Prince International Airport in the midst of many dozen landing and taking-off aid aircrafts and helicopters from around the world.

We were totally surprised as soon as we opened the gate. Five orphanage staff and volunteers[...] were right there, ready and waiting with a SUV and a truck! We had no idea how in the world they were able to drive and park right by our plane.

We have never in my life seen people so excited, so thankful and tearful, nor who hugged so hard!

We unloaded the supplies as quick as we could and covered the truck with tarps. We offered them an advise we received prior to our departure from another pilot who has been transporting aid to Haiti the day before: Cover the supplies with tarps and let a couple of guys lie on top of it pretending dead so supplies will not be high-jacked on the way back to the orphanage.

At 16:00 pm, we left the airport with seven completely exhausted American and Belgium doctors who had been working in Haiti non-stop for over three days! A free ride in a fancy private jet could provide a little physical and emotional comfort to these heroes.

A huge thank-you to all of you unsung heroes who took action to care and to love. Thank you for entrusting us with your loving donations.

Please visit www.haitiadoption.org to view our Haiti trip photos.

For The Haitian Children,

Josh and Lily

All I can say is WOW. I am proud to be working with this organization. Want to learn more about CCAI? There is a link at the bottom of this blog's homepage.

The above photo is the header for CCAI's webpage.
Disclaimer: I edited the details of what was delivered, the name of the orphanage, and the names of the workers for safety purposes because this is a public blog. These edits are denoted by [brackets].

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Final Authentication!

My nice friend and the FedEx store called...yay! So, the final document is now at the Chinese Embassy for the last layer of approval. As soon as it returns we will have a complete dossier! Look for a nonsensical celebratory post in about a week :)

Love ya'll!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Blizzard Threw a Kink in Things

On the Friday night before Christmas a blizzard hit the Maryland/DC area (and a lot of other places, too). Joel and I were planning to hand-deliver our final document to the State Department on the following Monday, just before leaving to visit our families for Christmas. We had planned on stopping at the FedEx store on the way home from DC that day to overnight the document to the Chinese Embassy for it's final authentication. Our hope was for that document to be waiting for us when we returned home on January 2.

Well...the blizzard shut down DC. So, we couldn't go. We decided to overnight the document to the State Department before leaving so that we could turn around and send it to the Embassy as soon as we got back. The problem is...the State Department has not returned it yet. I know this because my FedEx tracking number has not been activated. I know...I know...the holidays and the blizzard and weekends got in the way. So....we wait....because we can do nothing else. I guess we should get used to it. There is a lot more waiting ahead. We are so very close to having a complete dossier...so very close.