2014 Redux

I’ve started an update post here so many times. So many posts are composed in my head but fail to make it to the keyboard. So much on my heart but too few words to really do any of it justice. And truthfully? I’m still processing so much interiorly and I’m not sure I will ever be able (or inclined) to verbalize it fully.

Suffice it to say that 2014 will go down as one of the more eventful (if not most challenging) years to date. So much packed into such a relatively short amount of time.

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The year opened with that familiar sense of joyful anticipation in expecting a new child through adoption. As the New Year 2014 dawned last January, our dossier sat on a desk in China waiting in queue. We were in a familiar state of waiting and wondering about who God had planned to join our family next. Then came the Marianna’s referral in February followed by finding Joseph’s picture on the waiting child list the very next day.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 6.33.18 AMThe next few months are a blur to me now as we scrambled to assemble that second dossier for Joseph and then jumped hurdle after hurdle of red-tape, waiting for clearance to travel. During that time, we also wrestled with the demons of doubt and fear–the likes of which we had never experienced previously. The unknown was/is scary and at times, paralyzing. Mike was a rock throughout and more than once I found myself clinging to his seemingly unshakeable confidence that served to carry and anchor the both of us along the journey.

Then the day finally arrived in July when that long flight took us to a foreign land and later on to that hot, stuffy room where we met M&J for the first time. The joy. The anxiety. The fears. The doubts. The relief. All emotions came to a head at the same time.

And then we were home and the real journey began.

But the jumble of emotions continue to linger as we struggle (yes, still) to find our feet. The challenge has been–and continues to be–to not get ahead of ourselves or allow fear to dominate but rather take one day at a time and embrace the chaos rather than try to resist it.

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In August, the babies were claimed for Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. This was a day I had been looking forward to even more than Gotcha Day. Why? Because it made them more fully a son and daughter of God, a member of Christ’s Church and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. Ontologically and eternally, their souls were marked with the sign of Christ. Their mortal and immortal lives had changed.

God be praised!

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In September, after 8 weeks of the Ponseti treatment involving weekly cast changes, Joseph underwent the first life-changing surgery to lengthen his Achilles tendon and separate his fused thumb. By the end of the 4 hour surgery, and for the first time in his life, he could fully dorsiflex his foot and he now had two thumbs. It’s a partial thumb, but a thumb no less. Two more fingers on his right hand will be separated at a later date but we rejoiced at the improvement prospects this one surgery now offered for his future.

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It didn’t slow him down a bit.

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Go ahead. I dare you.

After 3 weeks, the casts were cut off and he went into boots and bars which he wore round the clock, save an hour a day. After the relative mobility he enjoyed with the casts–however cumbersome it was–being saddled with foot braces prevented him from doing more than a crawl. This frustrated him and was a hardship for all of us to watch him struggle. But true to his nature, Joe didn’t let it keep him down. Instead, he demonstrated for us (as he does again and again) the virtues patience, forbearance and fortitude.

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20141030-DSC_7635Slowly, steadily we began to find our feet as a family. (This is still an ongoing thing.) Homeschooling was now underway, however fragmented and interrupted our days are. Naps started becoming more regular thing for the babies as did their comfort level around us and their new surroundings. We learned to read their cues more effectively. They would tense up whenever we left the house and visibly relax when we returned home. They went from not napping at all to taking two naps a day–reaffirming the fact that in many ways, they developmentally are still infants in toddler bodies.

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In November, they both turned 2–just a day apart.

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December arrived and with it, Joe was weaned from being strapped to his boots and bars round-the-clock. He will continue to wear the device at nighttime until about age 5. But having them off while he is awake has helped him gain a whole new sense of freedom. He even learned to run for the first time.

Let that sink in for a moment. At 2, he finally discovered the exhilaration of moving his legs fast (and steadily at that). Never before had his gait allowed for him to take more than a few wobbly steps at a time before he’d fall over. Now? Just try to stop him if you can. He began wearing shoes (on both feet!)

He is slowly learning to use his new thumb. The skin grafts and sutures still make it very sensitive to the touch but he is beginning to use that hand again, a little at a time. The older boys are his greatest OT/PT advocates, using touch therapy and encouraging Joe to put crackers and crayons between his new thumb and forefinger.

For her part, Marianna (who we now call May–a derivative of both the name Mary and the Chinese term mei mei meaning “beautiful sister”–has blossomed into a beautiful, confident little girl. She still has diva qualities which makes her more demanding and less tolerant than her brother. She has been slower than Joe to pick up language skills but understands most everything that we say to her and will make real effort to imitate language sounds. Despite this, she has no trouble expressing herself and (ahem) making her needs known.

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Christmas was especially fun of course to watch the babies experience the holy season for the first time. So many firsts. So much wonderment. So much to appreciate through their little eyes.

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The babies have largely acclimated to us and to each other and although it remains a (pointless) battle to get them to cooperate with each other, they have proven that siblinghood is possible and even natural over time, despite an inorganic beginning.

The past year has been one of incredible stretching and growth. Much of it uncomfortable but all of it necessary and incredibly formative. We are grateful for both the blessings and the trials but look forward (please God) to a quieter 2015 as the dust further settles and we continue to get into a groove. We pray for the continued healing of our babies and for us to be able to continue to put one foot in front of the other, tackling each day without getting ahead of ourselves and overwhelmed by the future.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015 to you and yours!

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Settling in

One month ago we met the babies for the first time. Two weeks ago, our feet landed on US soil with them in tow. Throughout, we’ve been on a steep learning curve as we all try to acclimate to one another and settle into the new normal. Make no mistake: this was a tall order.

Coming home was amazing. Not only was the visa ordeal in China over and we were once again back in the company of our loved ones but we also came home to a clean house with a warm meal on the stove (thank you Bernadette) and a fridge and pantry full of Costco items (thank you Mom, Mary, Jess and Holly…and others I’m sure I’m forgetting) and diapers (thank you Suzanna!) Mike’s amazing dad kept up on the mowing and even took care of several items from our honey-do list that had long gone neglected by us in the months leading up to our trip (thank you Dad!)

Yes, it’s been good to be home.20140731-DSC_4330But it has also been a blur.

There is no getting around the fact that our lives have changed significantly by adding not one but two vulnerable and highly dependent little people into our fold. The task has been joyful but daunting. Rewarding but mightily overwhelming. Factor in the jet lag, nearly doubling the number of littles in our charge and just the daily grind of re-acclimating to family life–including the multiple doctor’s visits around town–the potential for tears (for all involved) is ever-present.

Within a week of being home and with my clean house now trashed, Mike had to return to work and I suddenly found myself needing to get acquainted with being left alone with all 5. It was either sink or swim, but thankfully I’ve had a small army of family and friends rallying around to support us. Trips to the pediatrician’s office, getting Joseph to the orthopedist and getting him started on the Ponseti treatment for his foot, getting Isaac seen by the endodontist and hearing that last year’s cracked tooth incident now warrants a root canal next week and all the other myriad of activities, tasks and duties that make up normal family life. I’ve yet to catch my breath.

Cue self-pity party.

Or not.

Life has indeed changed significantly…for the better. But don’t misunderstand me: this past month has been one of the hardest I’ve ever known. We are being stretched and challenged in ways I never knew possible. I say this not to complain or to discourage. We are in a time of transition and are more overwhelmed than we’ve ever been but in a good, soul-cleansing way.

It’s very tempting to lament the hardships of our new normal, the loss of my free time and the uphill battle with which we are now faced. Too easy to resent the never-ending whining and tears and napless days. It would be very easy to dwell on the daily difficulties and lose sight of the little everyday joys. And I’ll admit, I’ve caught myself wallowing in my little discomforts (little sleep, two clinging toddlers, having food thrown in my face and being bitten when I try to kiss them) even as our brand new toddlers have been trying to make sense of the world that has just been turned upside down on them.

But that’s when I have to remind myself (for the thousandth time) that it’s. not. about. me. However much this time of transition is uncomfortable and trying for me, it must be 1,000 times so for them.

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We made a decision not for luxury but for love. We consciously chose the “not easy”. So it should come as no surprise to anyone–ourselves especially–that being suddenly and irrevocably responsible for 5 kids (two of which are scared, grieving toddlers with demanding physical and emotional needs) has been one of the most (if not THE most) difficult challenges we’ve ever faced. Since being home I’ve had my weaker moments of feeling like a failure, even resentful, of what we’ve been tasked with.

But I’ve also been blessed to see the beauty, the goodness, the joy, the grace. I have seen glimpses of their future–OUR future with M and J. I have witnessed Isaac and Sam turn to butter in the hands of these two babes. I have heard them remark (daily) how they can’t believe how LUCKY they are to have TWO babies. I have watched with pride as Sarah has outgrown being the baby of the family and blossomed into the role of the proud big sister, eager (if not a little aggressively) ready to help carry or feed them. Marianna and Joseph are irreplaceable members of our family and they are teaching all of us so much about God’s love and mercy.

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We are still deeply entrenched into the time of transition. In time, wounds will heal and what feels foreign now in terms of managing the sheer number of littles around me will soon be second nature.

We are making progress in the right direction. It’s slow and tedious work. Two steps forward, one step back. We are still far from any sort of schedule, naps are still elusive (seriously, how do two 20-month-olds simply NOT nap?) and both babies cling to me–and only me–throughout the day. We are working on getting them warmed up more to Mike. It just all takes time and patience. Truckloads of patience.

I was thinking about all of this the other morning during prayer and came across this quote from the Gospel of John which pretty well sums it all up:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

 

Home

I was jolted awake by something and stared around the room. There was something strangely familiar about my surroundings but I couldn’t quite place what it was or why. I looked down at the baby lying in the crook of my arm next to me and then at the other baby lying peacefully in the crib next to the bed.

Worlds were suddenly colliding.

Was I really home? With the babies?

I rubbed my eyes and surveyed the environs again. I was in a bedroom…my bedroom…at home in Maryland. At least I think I was. But where was Mike and the older kids? Any why was I waking up to this strange mid-afternoon light?

I looked at the clock. 2:10pm. My senses were slowly returning. The kids were at Grandma’s house down the street. Mike was napping in another room. Marianna and Joseph were here with me, resting peacefully. Jet lag could not disguise the fact that all seven of us were truly…blessedly…wonderfully…really home.

 

~          ~          ~

 

After the news from the Consulate on Sunday that once again told us that no visas could be issued, the families stuck in China started feeling like we were living in a real world Groundhog Day. Life was settling into some semblance of a routine:

-wake up, go to breakfast buffet, chat with other families, try to stay optimistic

-hear bad news from Consulate: we still had no visas

-find something to do, some outing to that gets us out of our hotel room for a few hours and distract us from our plight (shopping at Carrefour market, walk to the park, taxi to Shamian Island, etc.)

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-come back to the hotel room and nap babies while Mike entertains the older kids in the lounge 7 floors up

-meet for “dinner” consisting of appetizers and cocktails in the executive lounge (included with our room rate) at 5:30pm; commiserate with fellow stranded families

-go to bed, praying that tomorrow brings better news

-lather, rinse, repeat

 

 

So when Monday came, every family was now accustomed and had themselves braced for another Groundhog Day. We readied ourselves for breakfast, all the while checking our phones for the promised status update from the US Consulate. The usual update time of 8:15am passed.

We wondered.

We loaded our breakfast plates with the now familiar spread: watermelon, dragon fruit, sausage links (the babies love those), french toast with hawthorne berry sauce and fried noodles. We were just getting the babies buckled into their highchairs and their sausages cut into bite-sized pieces when one of our guides came rushing in, looking anxious and asking if we had seen one of the parents in our group. I pointed in the direction I had seen J walk by with her family and put the bibs on the babies.

I glanced over at J wondering what was up–and why did our guide only have news for one family, not all of us? I saw that J had our guide’s cell phone pressed to her ear listening intently to whatever was being said. She looked serious but then noticing we were all watching her, she smiled and gave us a thumbs up.

Thumbs up? Could that mean what I thought it meant?

Our guide walked over to us and uttered the words we’ve been waiting to hear:

Your visas will be issued today. Every family who has been waiting will get their visas today. I am headed to the Consulate now to pick them up. Meet me in the Conference room next to the lobby at 11:30am…I’ll give them to you then.”

The breakfast area erupted into a frenzy as families sitting at nearby tables and across the hall leapt to their feet and hugged one another, crying and rejoicing that the storm we had weathered together was coming to a close. Husbands were on their phones texting and emailing travel agents.

We were overwhelmed with joy and relief. (We would later find out that the reason J was on the phone with the US Consulate was because the visa of one of the two kids she was adopting did not come thru right away–but thankfully did later that day.)

Neither Mike nor I had touched the food we had put on our plates and we simply could not eat now. Instead we downed our coffees and hurried the kids through their breakfast. All the while, texts were flying back and forth between Mike and Todd, our travel agent, who was working furiously a half world away to secure us 5 seats on a flight — ANY flight — that would be US-bound. God bless Todd…he had 6 other families who were waiting on the same service.

It was going to be tight.

Amazingly, within minutes of getting word that visas were being printed, Mike glanced down at his phone and back up at me with a grin. “He got us on a flight out of Hong Kong…tomorrow morning.”

Praise God.

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Families scrambled back to their rooms to pack up and to work on securing flights home. Not all airlines were as accommodating as ours and many families were forced to assume hefty change fees, others had to split up on different flights altogether.

We all met one last time in the executive lounge for dinner and goodbyes. As joyful as we all were, our hearts were heavy as we said goodbye to these faces that had become family during our nearly 3 weeks in China.

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Early the next morning, we climbed into vans that would take us the 3 hours to the Hong Kong airport.

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A former British territory, Hong Kong still retains some very British concepts

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Not much to say about the 15 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago except that it was long but largely turbulence free. Since M&J were “lap infants” and did not have their own seats, we spent a good deal of time walking the aisles and bouncing the them near the galley kitchen in the back.

IMG_0630The United flight attendants were friendly and accommodating and there were plenty of other babies on the flight so ours were not the only noise-makers. Seven or 8 hours into the flight, they finally crashed. However they slept only fitfully in our arms so I laid a blanket on the floor of each of our rows and they got a good 3-4 hour stretch there, giving our arms a much needed break. There was blessedly no turbulence during this time so we didn’t have to disturb them to buckle.

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At 1:45pm local time, our plane touched down and M&J were the country’s two newest US citizens. The 2-1/2 layover in Chicago was just barely enough time to clear customs, scan and re-check our luggage and then race thru security and then to the gate of our last flight. That final 1-1/2-hr flight to DC was excruciating. We were so tired and everyone was falling apart emotionally. Our eyes were struggling to stay open. But as we flew over the midwest and I looked down on the familiar sights of farmland and highways that I’m certain we have traveled, my heart began to swell.

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But then there was that moment we had long for…

…that blessed moment of catching our first glimpse of those we loved and who prayed us through this journey.

Relief and utter joy bubbled up and spilled over in ugly tears.

(photos curtesy of Jess Norton–thanks Jess!)

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Truly, there is no place like home.

Worth it

This morning I looked at my watch at 7:30am local time and realized that if things had gone according to plan (ha!) we would have been walking through the front door of our home.

Home.

It seems so far away, so long ago that we backed out of our driveway and Sarah waved “good-bye house! Miss you!” and blew it a kiss. I miss our family and friends back home. I miss cooking in my kitchen. I miss walks to the pool. I miss car seats and seat belts. I miss conversations with those who know me well. (Bern and Mary Bridget–I miss laughing with you and our 3pm cocktail hour.) I miss sitting on our back patio with guac and chips listening to music pump through the scratchy speakers. I miss watching the kids play in our backyard.

I miss our backyard swing with the dirt patch beneath where grass never grows.

But despite our homesickness and heavy heart at not being able to leave China (yet!) the fact that we have these two makes it ALL worth it.

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They are precious in His eyes as well as ours. Already, we can hardly remember our lives before they were with us. And we keep talking about how when we get home, they are going to love ______ or we’ll have to make sure we move ______ out of their reach.

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Sure…life is crazier now with two extra littles. But crazy sweet too. Living for 2+ weeks in a hotel is not easy. But you know what’s harder? Not having kids.

BTDT. Don’t wanna go back.

Our hands are full but our hearts burst with JOY. They keep us on our toes but make every discomfort, every single dollar spent, each extra day spent hoping for better news from the State Dept worth it.

And those long months of waiting and praying for them? Priceless.

They bring meaning to it all.

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We have so much for which we are thankful. I need to remember that this time spent here is not a matter of life and death–we WILL get home. It’s just a matter of time.

The experience of the past few days has changed my perspective on what’s important. No longer do I fear (much) the flight home with two lap infants on a crowded plane. I surrender the dream of bulkhead seating–just give me some standing room on a flight to the US and a sling and I’m good.

But also, it’s made me realize just how enormously blessed we Americans are…and that when we do get home, we get to return to a fairly comfortable lifestyle.

It’s a little different here.

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The view from the executive lounge during cocktail hour in a beautiful hotel is jarring. Makes me feel a little guilty frankly.

Other things we are grateful for:

– The kids are good sleepers and have been napping at roughly the same time each day. (which I know is apt to change when we are home–but I’m enjoying the schedule right now.)

– Everyone is healthy. The tummy bugs have swept through our little group and are at least held at bay for the time being. Mike’s sinus infection has improved (thanks to a forward thinking doctor who prescribed broad spectrum antibiotics for the whole family “just in case.”)

– Both kids are smiling, crying, pooping, peeing and getting into mischief at regular intervals. Both are saying words like “mama”, “dada”, “ball”, “hello”, “bye-bye”, “yay!” and “no-no-no”. Joseph continues to blossom more each day and graces us regularly now with his gorgeous, toothy grin. My heart sings to observe the transformation. Both kids are are attaching well to Mike and I though Joseph still sometimes has a stronger preference for Mike. Sometimes me. Sometimes I have two babies, one in each arm and on each hip, both wanting only me, often screaming at the other to go away, wanting my full and undivided attention. I now know what it feels like to be a rockstar. Like a million bucks.

– We are together–all of our kids are with us which is a luxury many families stuck with us cannot enjoy.

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– We are surrounded by wonderful people who share our plight. We encourage one another daily and can cry on each other’s shoulders…all without shame and all with total understanding and commiseration.

– Our accommodations are comfortable and we have access to ample clean bottled water–even if we can’t drink the stuff from the faucets or brush our teeth with it.

– The hotel staff is sympathetic and helpful.

– The food is delicious and filling.

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East meets West

– The pool is lovely.

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#notafan

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– I have access to laundry facilities. (sort of)

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– The kids have been troopers. They are eager to be home but holding up well.

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It doesn’t hurt that there are boys their age here to help pass the time. Praise God for that!

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Yay for fellow homeschoolers!

We are in this for them…for all of them. We’d do it again in a heartbeat if it is the means by which we must graft M&J into our family.

Soon, very soon, this will be a distant memory. A blip on the radar. Something we’ll be able to laugh over…or maybe write a book about. For now, we are continuing to lobby those back home to help us get them onto US soil.

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You wanna know what else we are grateful for?

YOU.

Everyone who has read this blog and followed our journey. Every single last one of you who have been praying us through this, offering support of all kinds and especially those who have helped these past 24 hours in contacting your senators, congressmen and news stations.

We read each and every comment here and on FB…every single share is noted and appreciated. Every single moment you spend thinking of us, praying for us, lending us support is appreciated. We are overcome with gratitude for the wealth of love and friendship you have extended to us.

Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Pizza Party

Thanks to a generous person from the States, several families here got to enjoy a pizza party and a few moments of much-needed levity with the kids. Papa John’s has never been such a comfort or tasted so good.20140725-DSC_3932 20140725-DSC_3936 20140725-DSC_3939 20140725-DSC_3940 20140725-DSC_3941 20140725-DSC_3946 20140725-DSC_3957 20140725-DSC_3959 20140725-DSC_3979 20140725-DSC_3984 20140725-DSC_3985 20140725-DSC_3993 20140725-DSC_4005 20140725-DSC_4010 20140725-DSC_4017

Stuck

No visas today.

Our homebound flights have been cancelled. <—that is a sentence I thought I wouldn’t have to write.

The State Dept is being tight-lipped and there is little news coverage. We are resigned that we will be stuck in China through the weekend (and possibly beyond?) There is no way of knowing. Our agency reps will give us an update in the morning but even the Consulates are being given little information.

Oh the irony! That of all the hoops we jumped through with getting China to get us all the documents we needed, it’s our own government that is grounding us here.

I want to stress that we are SAFE. We are being well cared for by the hotel and our agency staff here. Additionally, the company of fellow families stranded here with us are a welcome distraction.

A little happy hour goes a long way…

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Furthermore, we are so very appreciative of all the donations we received prior to travel. Estimates for rescheduling flights are staggering right now but we are hopeful the airline will show mercy to us.

Nothing left to do but cast this at the feet of our Lord and hope for the best. Very appreciative all all your prayers and support.

Wrapping things up

*URGENT PRAYER REQUEST* due to a computer glitch in Washington DC, no visas were issued today by the US Consulate here in China (or anywhere in the world for that matter). Families who intended to travel home today with their children are currently grounded/stranded here until further notice. We cannot leave the country until Marianna and Joseph have the necessary visas to enter the US. Please pray that the glitch can be fixed quickly and we can make our flights home on Friday.

 

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We will need baby gates. Lots of them.

You know it’s been a long trip when you are counting down the hours – not days – until you are home, even if it’s multiple days until that blessed moment.

We touch down at Washington Dulles in just a little over 54 hours. And what a hallelujah moment that will be! Between now and then we have 1 more night here in Guangzhou and then take a van (actually two vans for a group our size + luggage) tomorrow afternoon to Hong Kong where we will spend one last night at an airport hotel before checking into our flights home Friday morning. Our first flight will take us 4 1/2 hours to Tokyo and from there the remaining 13 hours to Washington DC.

Pray for us? And for our fellow passengers who will be within earshot of M&J. Both are screechers.

The past couple of days have been considerably more relaxed than the rest of the trip has been thus far. After the babies’ visa medical exams on Monday, we had little to do besides enjoy some time poolside and even got some shopping done at a local pearl market.

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From there, we took a taxi (actually we had to squeeze our family into two taxis–I am L’ingOL at that) to Shamian Island, a quaint little isle adjacent to Guangzhou with tree lined, cobblestoned streets, a plethora of little shops and cafes and dozens of bronze statues–the whole place had a decidedly European flair.

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Today (Wednesday) was the big day at the US Consulate. I wish we had been permitted to bring cameras because I wanted so much to capture the beautiful sight of our American flag waving in the breeze. For all our country’s problems, there is nothing quite as comforting (or emotional) as seeing one’s flag displayed proudly on the compound and stepping on “US soil” when you are so far from home. The throng of people outside the Consulate was overwhelming and intimidating. I’m guessing they were all Chinese in line to apply for travel to the US. But our guide navigated us through the US Citizen line in a matter of seconds and right up to the door that lead to the blessedly air-conditioned building.

Inside, we swore an oath (something to the effect that we are who we say we are, we understand what we are doing and promise to vaccinate the children upon entry into the US) got fingerprinted (for the billionth time) and were on our way. The visas are currently being processed for Marianna and Joseph and will be placed into their Chinese passports which will be available tomorrow afternoon.* At that point, we will be FREE to leave the country with all 5 of our children.

When we returned to the hotel, we took pictures of our travel group. Allow me to introduce you to some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met:

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Peter and his wife are ex-pats living in Shanghai who have 6 biological kids (the youngest is just 5 weeks old). They’ve lived in China for 7 years and fostered their new daughter, Elsie since she was just weeks old.

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Ana and her husband Tony (not pictured) are also ex-pats living in Shanghai. They have 4 grown children (including Armand here) and fostered several children before falling in love with this little guy. When they met little Alejandro, they couldn’t let him go. Congrats to the Sisante family!

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Meet the Polks. A homeschooling family from Colorado who raise grassfed catlle and have 6 bio kids. They came to China to bring home 2 more. Their oldest sons came along for the trip and have become close friends with Isaac and Sam–we are so sad that we live so far from this wonderful family.

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The Vogts are among the funniest and most fun-loving couples we’ve ever met. Danny is a hoot and Amy is a photographer. Little Jeremiah is going to love his 3 older siblings who are eagerly waiting for him at home in Colorado.

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Tanna was joined by her sweet mom Becky to bring 8yr old Jay home. This sweet family was just 20 days away from bringing home a little girl from Russia last year when Putin terminated all adoptions of Russian children by US families. To see Jay’s sweet smile is to see the face of an angel. Congratulations Smith family!

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Janeen and her daughter Brittany traveled from Indiana to bring home these two sweethearts…making a total of 9 kids for this beautiful family. I want to be her when I grow up.

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Scott and Lucy are first time parents of sweet little Tori. They’ve been trying to adopt from China for 10 years and we were honored to witness the blessed first days of this beautiful new family.

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Stacey (center) and her son Justice from Florida were accompanied by their sweet-as-can-be friend Carissa to bring home 4yo Zoey, a little girl with equal parts sugar and spunk. LOVE these people!

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Travel group 2117 — 9 families, 13 Chinese children who now have families.

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Weaksauce attempt at getting all the babies to smile and look at the camera.

 

Our bags are already packed. We are ready to go home. Two more sleeps!