Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mishaps in Beijing

We arrive in Beijing at 2:20 pm.....The adventure begins!
After we get off the plane, everyone boards the "people movers" to head through customs, etc. I tell Mark - let's NOT ride the "people mover" - lets walk! We had been sitting on a plane for 12 hours, I wanted to MOVE! So, we are walking, carrying all of our carry on baggage.....we go through the thermal scanners & guess what? My temp was reading high so the airport officials direct me to a separate area to get my temp taken (checking for swine flu!). Mark is not allowed to come into this area with me.....of course, my temp read fine!

Okay - now I'm nervous that I'm getting sick or something....but we go on through more check points. Guess what? There is another temp taking area - and they pull me into it AGAIN! Mark & I are a little concerned at this point because we know that if you have a high temp - you will be quarantined for up to seven days! Praise God - my temp reads fine again.

We finally get our bags & meet one of our Guides, Rosa, and head to the hotel. We are in the van with two other families from our group....Richard & Nancy (whom we flew to Beijing with) and Jason & Angela from Texas.

You must remember that we have not slept much at this point....we had about 16 hours of travel under our belts & we were pretty tired. That being said - we arrive at the hotel, grab our carry on bags & the bell boys grab our checked luggage - to be delivered to our rooms. In the hotel lobby we meet Kevin & Connie who had been in Beijing a day before we had gotten there.

We went to our rooms - which had a BEAUTIFUL flower arrangement from our guides waiting for us. Our luggage came soon thereafter. Rosa stops by our room & asks if we got all of our bags - "yes", we tell her and off she goes.

We know that the water is not safe to drink & since we've decided to stay awake until nighttime (trying to get on China time), we call Kevin & ask him to show us where we can get bottled water. He took us on quite the hike - to a market - where we bought two packs of bottled water & carried them back to our room.

It was at this point that I realized we did NOT have all of our bags! And the bag that was missing? The laptop bag - the laptop bag that my DEAR friend's son let us borrow for the trip! Not only that, but it was the bag that had ALL of our adoption documents in it!!!! Copies of passports, birth certificates, credit cards, plane tickets!!!!!!!! I felt HELPLESS! I had put this bag between two seats in the van on the way to the hotel & forgot to grab it when we got out.

Mark calls our guide, Rosa, and tells her what we have done. She tells us not to worry - she will get it back for us. How??? I couldn't imagine what van in all of Beijing even had it! We prayed & prayed. At midnight Rosa called our room, from the lobby, she had our bag....EVERYTHING still in it. God is so good!

Monday, August 31, 2009

When It All Began.....

So, our journey started EARLY July 30th......

But before I can describe what that was like, I have to tell you that on July 29th we carried our African Grey parrot, Mosley, to our neighbor, Sandy, to watch for us while we were away. We carried dog food to our neighbor, Tommy, to feed our dog, Sage, while we were away. And finally, we carried Savannah, Hayden & our other dog, Guru, to our wonderful neighbor, Bobbi, to take care of while we were away.
I don't know, I was feeling VERY blessed to have all of these wonderful people help us with all of our most precious family members......I was also feeling VERY sad to be leaving Savannah & Hayden behind. Part of me wished we would have brought them to China with us.....but I knew they were in good hands & that Bobbi would take good care of them - as if they were her own.
That night Mark & I TRIED to get some sleep before our big travel day - but we didn't get much.
We were up by 5 am the next morning - Bobbi at our door & ready to bring us to the airport by 6 a.m.

So, we head to the Nashville Airport....keep in mind that Mark does NOT like to fly - AT ALL. When we finally board the plane to head to Washington, DC, and walk ONTO the runway, Mark discovers that our plane is not exactly the size he was thinking it was going to be. Oh no! They checked our carryon bags & onto the plane we went. I was enjoying myself, Mark, on the other hand, was not.

When we arrived in Washington we were happy to meet Richard & Nancy, another adoptive family in our group. We would be making our flight to Beijing with them. We were also happy to see United's LARGE 777 ready for us to board. Once on board, we were also pleased to know that we had emergency exit seats (tons of leg room).

The flight from Washington, DC to Beijing was 12 hours long...despite our roomy seats, it was hard to get comfortable & hard to sleep. We catnapped on the plane but were anxious to get to China! The most exciting part of the flight was being over the North Pole! It was breathtaking!

We're Home!!

Okay, I know, it has been a LONG time since I posted on our Blog. I started it with good intentions.....then, when we got to China we discovered that not only is Facebook blocked there - so is! Yikes!

That being said, we are home now & all is wonderful & we can't wait to share all of our China adventures with you!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tomorrow - we fly!

Today has been such an emotional day. Savannah & Hayden are all packed up & ready to go to our friend's house. I teared up as we all paraded down our street - luggage in tow to their house. It is going to be hard to leave them in the states for two weeks while we are in China. We are missing them already.

We are also SO excited to be going on this journey to baby Ella Mei-Wan. We are being blessed and covered with prayer by all of our friends & family & we know God is with us throughout this entire time. We can't wait to see the adventure God has in store for us!

I have been able to look at all of these pictures of little babies in the orphanage Ella is heart races to see if one of them is her. How can we tell who she is? Will we know her on our Gotcha Day? Will we be able to pick her out of all the other children? When we see her - we WILL know - this is the beautiful child God has given us to care for!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eagerly Anticipating

Just 2 more days to China......6 days to Ella. My heart is skipping a beat just thinking of our new family member!

Today we received our official "In-County Travel Itinerary" highlighting EXACTLY were we were going in China & when. Each day there seems to be a new "clue" guiding us closer to China.

Today I am busy washing laundry & finishing up packing for our big trip!

Here are the hotels we will be staying at while in China:

Best Western Premier (Beijing)

Gloria Grand Hotel (Jiangxi)

Asia International Hotel (Guangzhou)

Novotel Citygate Hotel (Hong Kong)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Showered with blessings!

July 24, 2009 was such a special day!

First, we had our long awaited travel meeting. We were able to finally introduce our family & our waiting children to one another in our travel group (number 149b). It was a relief to hear some of our questions answered by Kristen Hussa, , our travel coordinator. Now that I know everyone's voices & stories - I can't wait to meet them & their new little ones in person!!!

Later that evening, my neighbors, Bobbi & Sandy, threw a wonderful baby shower for Ella. SO many friends came - my heart overflowed with joy - knowing the love and support Ella is going to come home to.

My friend, Seanna & her diaper cake!!!
(One of the MANY beautiful gifts at the shower!!!)

Drawing you closer....

So much is going on....we are surrounded by blessing after blessing! We can see God's hand at work in every part of this adoption process. Everyone is telling us what a blessing WE will be to Ella - all I can see is the blessings WE have received & will receive because of our decision to follow God's instruction and bring Ella into our lives!

America World Adoption Agency is handling every part of this process so gracefully. We are so thankful to them & their staff for drawing us closer to our little baby girl!

I spent the better part of July 19th photocopying all of the documents needed for our trip. All is collated and ready to go! Whew!

July 20th we received great news that we have our Consulate Appointment (8/10/09 at 9:00 a.m)!!!! This means that we can start booking flights and making concrete plans for our trip.....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Wait.....

Now that our dossier is off to China, we wait.......

What would we name our little angel? One evening, as we sat on Savannah's bed for nightime prayer, we asked the kids what we should name this new addition to our family? Without a moment's hesitation, Savannah spouted out, "Ella"! We took a vote & all agreed - baby Ella was her name!

The waiting process for our baby girl was a LONG, hard one. When we began the adoption process, we lived in Lantana, Florida. On September 5, 2006 we moved to Murfreesboro, TN, hoping for a more quite, safer place for our children to grow up.

Many times we prayed that God would show us what this waiting was for. We prayed that He would hold our little one close in His arms - until we could get to her.

Now, four years later, on June 19, 2009 we receive THE phone call! Leah Rockey was on the phone telling me the referral had come! I could hardly believe it! It was the day we were having Savannah's 9th Birthday party (a camp out, sleepover)....what WONDERFUL news!

Leah told us that we would receive an e-mail of Ella's photo the next morning and a Fedex with the referral in it tomorrow too! She told us about her round cheeks, rosy lips, dark eyes, no hair and bright blue sweater. Her Chinese name is Yue Mei Wan born on November 22, 2008. She was 7 months old! 14 pounds and 23 inches the Jiangxi Province!

Praise God!!! We FINALLY know who Ella is!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let the Paperchase Begin!

After the Chapman concert we began to pray. We asked people in our church to pray, friends to pray, family to pray. We wanted to make SURE this is what God wanted for our lives. The cost of an international adoption is great and we would need a miracle to afford this expense.

On May 23, 2005 we began the steps necessary in our adoption process. We interviewed several adoption agencies and decided on America World Adoption Agency. And so the "paperchase" begins.

It took us quite a while to gather all of the papers needed to complete our Dossier. Application letter, birth certificates, marriage certificate, physicals, blood work, financial statements, employment letters, Home Study, Police reports, fingerprints, passports, biographies, family photos. CHECK!!! We had it all! Certified & authenticated!

On August 23, 2005 we had our fingerprints done & then waited for our I-171H to come.....we waited and waited. For some reason, this VERY important form was held up to the point of all of our other documents were expiring! We sent a letter to the FL senator on 12/12/2005 expressing our concern and on 01/23/2006 we FINALLY received Adoption Approval!

Our papers were headed to China!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Journey Began

I'll never forget the day we began considering international adoption. Mark & I had spoken casually about adopting from China when we first were married. Years passed and since then had two beautiful biological children of our own. Savannah, a wonderful 5 year old little girl and Hayden, an energetic 2 1/2 year old little boy.

Mark wanted more children and I was thinking I wasn't ready to be pregnant with another child.

Then, one day, we were given tickets to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert by good friends of ours. The evening of the concert, God spoke to me in a VERY real way. Despite my feelings of being overwhelmed with the two children I had, God assured me that HE would help.....making all things possible through Him.

We walked out of that concert that evening March 19, 2005 with China & international adoption pulling on our heartstrings.....