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, 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.