Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wecome to America!

Hey everyone. Lois here with a post update that is way past due. I'm sorry it has taken so long to write again. I think about it every day, but I've just found it hard to stay awake longer than Hannah. She gets to take a nap; I don't. Now that we seem to be over jet lag, I hope to be able to stay awake past ten o'clock. David started back to work the Friday after we returned; so, he has been trying to catch up. He has been working from home most of the time which has made life interesting since his office has been downstairs in the living room that has no doors. Hannah doesn't think twice about going to visit any time she thinks about it which is often. Last Friday, he got someone to come help him move the furniture to an upstairs guest room (thanks Chris!). Hannah is doing great enjoying life and entertaining the whole family. I'll tell you more about our time at home in later posts, but for the rest of this one, I'll tell you about the last day of our journey. Enjoy!

After checking out of our hotel in Hong Kong, eating hash browns and eggs for breakfast at Burger King and waving good bye to China, we borded our plane in Hong Kong and headed home!  With a full tummy, we happily wait to board our plane.

Hannah did amazingly well on the long journey. We only had one melt-down that lasted for about 20 minutes, and we think we could have avoided that if we had done things a little differently. It was NOT the time or place to try to teach her a lesson about throwing her toys on the floor! Altogether, 20 minutes out of 16 hours is not bad. There were a few other newly adopted children on the flight, and some of them didn't seem to do as well as Hannah. The Varns were on our flight and we got to visit with them a few minutes. The rest of the time we played with toys and stickers, read our books, ate snacks, walked around the plane, and slept. She found it pretty hard to get comfortable, but was able to sleep quite a few hours anyway.

The flight should have only been 14 hours long, but Chicago had a stormy weather just before we arrived, and all traffic was backed up. They wouldn't let us land, so we flew to another airport nearby for an hour to re-fuel before flying back to Chicago. Even after we landed, we had to wait another 45 minutes on the tarmac until they found a gate for us. When we finally got off, we took our secret brown envelop and went through Immigration and Passport Control. It took a little time, but we got to visit with the Varns some more. We didn't get to see what was in the brown envelop, but the official we gave it to must have been okay with the contents because we were quickly given a green light to go.

Hooray! We were officially in America and our daughter was an American Citizen! Of course that meant that we were now subject to all the laws of the land including those that govern airport security! I was prepared for a meltdown when they told us to take off her shoes and take her out of the stroller, but she didn't even cry when they took her sippy cup of juice to test it for bombs. She didn't really like being frisked along with Mama. Mama didn't really enjoy it either. We were exhausted by this point and disappointed when we learned that our flight to Atlanta was delayed due to the bad weather, but we made the best of things by finding a McDonald's near our gate. Hannah didn't seem to mind having chicken nuggets and French fries again. There aren't many people that can say they've had McDonald's four times in three different countries in three days. Hopefully, we won't have it again for a long time.  Here we are with a full tummy and happily waiting to board our flight to Atlanta.

We were glad to get on our flight to Atlanta earlier than we expected and that it was short and uneventful. It landed after 11:00 PM, but Sheila Watson and Kay Croxton were there with  my mother a ride waiting to meet us. Thanks Sheila, Kay and Mother. It was good to have someone there waiting. After letting Hannah meet her Grandma Stallings, we found our luggage and went out to let her meet Grandpa Cooke and Aunt Carisa. We drove to their house to meet Grandma Cooke and then we finally drove home. We were surprised to walk in and see Welcome Home balloons and other treats left by Aunt Carisa.

As exhausted as we were, our bodies told us it was past lunch time; so, we sat down to eat our first meal together at home as a family at 2:00 AM. David and I had turkey sandwiches and Pringles while Hannah had a scrambled egg, sliced turkey, yogurt and Pringles. With full tummies, we were all happy to fall into bed after a very long day to sleep for a very long time. Good night and Wan an! ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz.....

The next few posts will not be in chronologial order as I tell about Hannah's new life ...  More pictures and details to come :>)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beginning the final leg home ...

Hello all, David here. We have made it safely to the Marriott at the Hong Kong airport. Wow, it's hard to believe we've been in China over 2 weeks, and we have had Hannah for over 1 1/2 weeks - where has the time gone? Tomorrow we start the marathon ~24 hour journey back home ...

We left our hotel in Guangzhou at 2:30 and our guides were able to get Hannah's Visa and top-secret, sealed brown envelope in time for us to catch the 4:15 train out of Guangzhou for Hong Kong.  It was a 2 hour ride and Hannah did well, though she really started losing interest after the 1st hour or so ...

For tomorrow's flight, Lois has all kinds of snacks (food is a great distractor, at least for Hannah), toys, books, coloring books, stickers, ... Is it enough to entertain her the whole way home? We shall see ... At least they have us seated in the back of the plane. Lois has already decided that we will take turns letting Hannah walk all over the gate area until we board, hoping to tire her out (or at least get her to the point that she would like to sit for a while). Our new friends, the Varns, from Southern Illinois are also on the same flight as us, but they are up in Economy Plus (the somewhat expensive seats :>) - so we may or may not see them. They elected to start their journey in the morning - they will fly to Hong Kong from Guanghou, layover for a few hours, then get on the flight for Chicago.

We arrived in Hong Kong about 6:15 and decided to go ahead and eat at the train station instead of waiting until we got to our Hotel (it was about a 45 minute ride out to the Hotel). There was a McDonalds, it was quick and easy ... I do understand now, how McDonalds makes money off of families (the quick and easy part is pretty tempting after a long day; and in China the added benefit of familiarity just kind of seals the deal). The room is clean and comfortable, but a far cry from the Suite we had in Guangzhou.  At least it is a king-sized bed.  Hannah is in a portable pack-and-play, and seemed especially excited about getting in it; I guess anything new peaks her curiosity ...

Our flight leaves around noon tomorrow (around midnight Atlanta time) and goes direct to Chicago where we are supposed to deliver the top-secret sealed brown envelope to the immigration officials there. Apparently they will unseal the envelope and know what to do with it's contents (I don't even know what's in the envelope ...) We have been told to prepare for a 1 - 3 hour adventure through US Immigration, we'll see ... We have a 5 hour layover, so we should have plenty of time.

It will probably take me a while to process all that has transpired over the past 2 weeks. What an amazing journey - at approximately 4:15 PM, on Sunday, 5/30, Lois and I became parents, and Hannah found her forever family. How unbelievably blessed Lois and I are! The transition thus far, has not been without it's bumps, but it has been amazingly smooth. Thank you for sharing this journey with us, for praying for us and for encouraging us - we could not have done this without all of you. And there is no way we could have done any of this apart from our Father in Heaven who adopted us into His family.

With that, I bid you all good night as we say good bye to our daughters home land ...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

And God said, "Let there be sound" ...

And there was :>) David here. Not sure where the switch was, but God must have flipped it over night ... Hannah woke up happy this morning. She smiled at everyone at breakfast and started grunting and moaning more than usual. Then while we were waiting for the bus to go to the toy store, she and Rachel had a "give me 5 down low" moment:

On the way to the toy store, she started giggling, squealing and making all kinds of noises (of course, I wasn't thinking very clearly, so I didn't get any of it on video :>( The toy store was pretty disappointing, basically just one section of a department store. I was envisioning some huge mall with floors and floors of toys ... Oh well, with such a limited supply, we didn't buy much :>) However, the whole time I wheeled Hannah around the store, she was babbling and squealing and grunting and pointing; touching things, swinging her feet in the stroller - all in all, more interaction, sounds and exploration than we have seen from Hannah since we got her. And she has been going ever since ...  We have thoroughly enjoyed watching come out of her shell - each day has brought something new and exciting.  We are so blessed and so thankful for what God has done, though there will probably come the time that I'll be asking God where that switch was so I can turn it off for a while :>)

Today was our oath ceremony - bascially, anyone who gets a visa from China has to swear an oath that all of the information they gave was true. Since Hannah can't speak yet, we took the oath for her (and since I filled out all of the paperwork, it makes sense that Lois and I should take the oath for her :>) Being that we were going to the Consulate's office, Lois dressed Hannah up in a pretty dress, complete with hair bow and new shoes - of course, Hannah loved that:

It turns out that the oath ceremony is really a very informal thing, and it was hot, and we had to wait about an hour before taking the oath - the dress was really overkill.  The seasoned veterans new this and dressed their new children comfortably, us newbies had our children all dressed up.  Oh well, it made for a good picture or two :>)  The Consulate's office is in the process of building (the new building will be ready in 2013), so in the mean time, they have rented the 4th floor of this rather non-discript office building.  But, since they wouldn't let cameras inside, this is the best I can for a picture of us in front of the Consulate's office:

They told us that they process around 25,000 visa requests a year (for all of China), and that last year was the first year that special needs adoptions surpassed non-special needs.  So far this year ~61% of all adoptions have been special needs.

After the ceremony, we came home, changed clothes then headed out for dinner and a trip to the "Trust Mart", kind of like a local supermarket.  Dinner, was, well, interesting.  The Chinese food this trip has been really disappointing.  Maybe it was the cities, or maybe the culture is just changing.  You used to be able to get kung-pao chicken, sweet & sour pork, sizzling beef, and lots of other stir-fried dishes just about anywhere.  This time, we were hard-pressed to find any kind of stir-fried dishes on any of the menus.  We've been told that as the Chinese people have become more affluent, they want "exotic" food when they go out to eat, and so the restaurants are catering to this new clientèle.  All kinds of sea "creatures" and animal parts; I guess it's good for business, bad for Americans looking for simple Chinese food ...  It's not been all bad, but it's definitely been better.  I think that has been the most difficult part of this whole process - finding a suitable lunch and dinner for us and Hannah (thankfully, a large breakfast buffet has been included with all of our hotels).  We've had McDonalds and Subway for lunch more than I care to admit ...

The main reason we went over to the Trust Mart was to buy a relatively inexpensive stroller for the trip home.  We've been told it would be a wise investment as the Hong Kong airport is one of the largest in the world, and the Chicago airport is one of the largest in the US.  A stroller will certainly help save the back, and should be well worth the $20 ...  We should be able to check it at the gate (ie take it all the way to and from the plane).

And so with that, the China portion of of our journey will soon come to a close.  Hopefully, we will be boarding a train to Hong Kong at 4:17 tomorrow afternoon, arriving in Hong Kong sometime around 6:30 or so.  We'll spend the night at the Marriott near the Hong Kong airport, then fly out of Hong Kong just after noon on Friday.  If I can get internet access at the Marriott, I'll be sure and make a final farewell post from Asia ...

Until then, have a blessed day - we certainly have!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The paperwork has been completed and accepted!

Hello all, David here.  We got word on the way home from the zoo that all of our consulate paperwork had been submitted and accepted.  Tomorrow we go to take the oath for Hannah, and then we get her Visa on Thursday and start the long journey home ...

Today we went to the zoo, but before I start those pictures, I thought you might like to see her in her new jeans:

The zoo was fun, and we were able to find most of the animals in her favorite book (one we sent to her in her care package - we also brought a copy with us).  Here are a few from the zoo:

We had a good time, and I think our favorite spot was watching the Giraffe's eat.  For anyone who knows our dog, duchess - well, if you thought she had a long tongue, check this out:

And speaking of eating, this is not very exciting video, but I know that the grandparents like to see video of their new granddaughter, so here is one of her at the zoo enjoying one of her favorite pastimes, eating cheerios :>)

I will say that right after this we had to put the cheerios away to get on the bus - and this time, Hannah had a full-on melt-down most of the way home from the zoo.  The first melt-down at the medical clinic, we think, was more of a hysterical panic/fear kind of melt down.  The one today, we are pretty sure, was more of a toddler-tantrum/angry type of melt down.  Even after the cheerios were brought back out on the bus, Hannah didn't care, she was in screaming mode and couldn't be consoled.  So Lois just held her and let her scream (trying valiantly to soothe her, I might add) all of the other parents looked on with compassion - they've all been there this week ...  After about 5 minutes, she finally started calming down ...

After the zoo, we came home and had lunch and rested, then the Varns and us went over to Shamian Island to the White Swan Hotel, to take our own "Red Couch" pictures.  For years I have heard about this fabled "Red Couch"; well, perhaps there is a fabled one somewhere, but I was disappointed to find out that there are about 6 of them in the lobby area, and none of them looked particularly "special" to us ...  In the end, we just plopped ourselves down on one and started taking pictures :>)  Not sure if that was appropriate or not, but we did it anyway.  Here are the resultant pictures, first one with the whole family:

Then one of Hannah by herself:

And finally, one of Hannah and her friend Rachel (the Varn's little girl):

In hindsight, we probably should have sat the girls on the edge of the couch, so we could see their pretty shoes as well ...  Oh well, that's what happens when you put amateurs in charge :>)

After the pictures we did some shopping, ate dinner at a great Thai restaurant, then came home.  It has been a busy day and we are all tired (Mama and Hannah have been asleep for a while :>)  It's time for Papa to join them.  Tomorrow is a trip to the toy market - oh boy!

Monday, June 07, 2010

We are officially TB-negative!

Howdy - David here. A few nights ago, I mentioned a video of the medical clinic where Hannah had her examination. Since we had to go back to the clinic today, I thought it would be appropriate to post it now, so here it is:

Speaking of the medical visit, we are officially TB-negative :>) Woo Hoo! That means we can come home as soon as we get Hannah's Visa (which should be on Thursday). The TB reading went very well - Hannah started to cry when Lois wheeled her up to the Nurse's desk to read her PPD placement, but it was over before she could really start. So, it was a non-issue, which is a good thing ...

Before I get into the days stories, I have another first to tell you about.  Last night at dinner, Hannah finally giggled :>)  It wasn't much, but it was definitely a giggle.  She has also giggled a few times today as well, mostly after Lois or I build a tower out of the stacking cups and then she knocks them over.  It is good to hear her begin to laugh out loud.  She still isn't talking (well, just one word here and there), but we know that will come with time ...

OK, so on with the days events.  Today was shopping day, and in honor of our new little fashion queen, thought I would tell you a few stories.  It all started in Nanchang.  Lois' sister Harriet had given Hannah some white sandals that we have with us.  After getting Hannah, we realized the sandals were probably too big, but we decided to pull them out and see how big they were.  All we did was match them sole-to-sole with the shoes she was wearing, I didn't even think Hannah had seen them - but when we started to put the new sandals away (they were at least 1/2" - 3/4" too big), Hannah grunted and stuck her foot in the air, as if to say, "Hold on there, let's give these things a try, shall we?"  So, Lois and I obliged.  Here is the photo I took:

See that silly grin?  I'm in big trouble ...

So, I told you the story of the Qi Pao yesterday (she will get to wear it one more time tomorrow as we will make a special trip to take a picture on the fabled red couch at the White Swan Hotel).  Last night our whole group went out for dinner to a Malaysian restaurant around the corner, and Lois decided to put Hannah in a dress that Molly, Lois' former Chinese teacher (whom we saw in Shanghai), gave her.  We put her down in front of the mirror and saw that same silly grin - this is really not good ...  Here is the resultant picture (unedited and uncoaxed - completely spontaneous):

Today was shopping day and one of the things Lois wanted to get Hannah was some more shoes (she would like to put away the shoes that Hannah came from the orphanage in).  As soon as we wheeled Hannah into the little shoe store, her eyes kind of glazed over in sheer delight - not a good sign ...  Lois found a cute pair of  soft leather shoes with butterflies on them, and then we decided to get her a pair of tennis shoes.  I found a really cool pair of orange and blue ones :>) Lois and Hannah found a pair of white and pink ones with sparkles (ooohhhhhh).  Guess which pair won out?  In the end the sparkly ones were 7x cheaper than the orange and blue ones, so maybe she was just trying to save me money, maybe?  Here is the resultant picture, again uncoaxed and unedited:

Quite the model, no?  I am in deeeeeeep trouble ...  If we can keep her shopping the 50% off sales, at least it won't be that bad ...  Lois found her some jeans (get this, Calvin Klein for $8 :>) a top and some socks, and that rounded out our day.  I just walked into the room where Hannah and Mama are sleeping and this is what is at the foot of Hannah's bed:

Yes, I can hear you snickering even now ...  And that's not all of the shoes - we also have a pair of red ones that match her Qi Pao around here somewhere ...

This evening we took a river boat cruise on the Pearl River.  It was very nice and the weather we great.  Guangzhou is about equal with Key West (or perhaps further south), so it can be really hot and humid here, but this evening was cool, with a nice breeze.  Here are a couple of pictures (not my best work, but we were trying to light Hannah and get the background lights - Hannah was enjoying herself though):

Tomorrow it's the zoo!  Until then ...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A fashion queen in the making?

Hello All, David here. Lois is fast asleep, and I will be joining her very shortly :>) So this will be a quick post.

We thought we had a budding fashion queen on our hands, and it has now been confirmed :>) Here she is in her Chinese Qi Pao:

After we dressed her, we let her look in a mirror and she looked back at us and beamed a big smile - she loves new clothes and shoes, but that's a story for later.  After the group picture we came back to the room to change for the Botanical Gardens, and Hannah was very upset - I guess she was thinking she had just gotten this new outfit and would like to enjoy it a little longer ...  We did changer her over her cries of protest.  Tomorrow is a shopping day, I may be in trouble :>)

The botanical gardens were beautiful, though quite hot.  Here are a few pictures:

Tomorrow it's back to the medical clinic for a quick TB test read (thank you all for praying, to my untrained eye, it looks very negative to me), then off to a local shopping mall for some shopping (supposedly reasonable prices, we'll see ...).  Then a river boat dinner cruise tomorrow evening ...  Big day, so I better go get some sleep.  Have a great day of worship!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

We're in Guangzhou!

Hello all - this is David. It has been a really busy couple of days since Lois' last post. We are still dealing with some intestinal "issues", but we think they are beginning to subside. thank you for your prayers ...

Before I begin the update, I thought I would post a few pictures of our trip to Hannah's orphanage. This first picture is the welcoming gate to Ji'an city:

This one is of the building where Hannah spent most of her time (though we are told she was quite the independent adventurer and had pretty much free reign to go where she wanted; we were also told that she helped the other Nanny's feed the babies ...).

And a picture of the gate of the orphange, this is where Hannah was found at 2 days old (though the gate has been rebuilt in the last year, she was found near the left corner of the gate):

And finally, a picture of Hannah with her Nanny.  As you can tell, Hannah was not completely happy to be there (that's her old crib in the left portion of the image with the red and white blanket):

I think the most interesting thing that happened on the trip was as we were leaving the restaurant to go back to Nanchang.  All of the Orphanage staff was saying good bye and Hannah waved good bye to them all!  (she had only waved good bye once to our guide earlier in the week).  I don't want to read too much into this, but it was almost as if she was intentionally saying a final farewell to all that she had previously known ...  Maybe????

While waiting for Hannah's passport, I was able to shoot a quick video of Lois playing paddy-cake with Hannah, it's not the best, but I think you will enjoy her smile :>)

We finally got Hannah's Chinese passport around 3:00 and headed to the airport where we accompanied 5 other families on the "no longer orphans" flight from Nanchang to Guangzhou. Hannah did extremely well, as long as we kept feeding her cookies and juice :>) We arrived in Guangzhou around 8:30 and didn't get to the Hotel until 9:00. Needless to say we were all wiped out. Lois put Hannah down in the crib, but she didn't seem to be sleepy, so she tried to pick her back up; at which point Hannah started to cry - it seems that a crib is a safe place (or at least familliar), and that's OK ... Within minutes Hannah drifted off to sleep, as did Mama and Papa ...  The room is, well, what can I say, unbelievable. We are at the Garden Hotel, in a suite - I'm not sure I've ever stayed in a Hotel room quite this nice, and I've been in quite a few over the years ...

Today was medical examination day.  Nothing major, height (84cm), weight (11k), cursory ENT check (normal), cursory full body check (normal) and TB test (prayerfully normal :>).  We forgot to ask for a stroller until just before leaving for the examination, and then it never made it to the room, so we kind of held up the group a few minutes waiting for it.  In hindsight, it might have been a *much* better day if we had left it ...  The medical facility was full of adopting families (I think that is all they do at this facility) - I have a video I'll post tomorrow ...  At first, Hannah seemed to be doing just fine:

UNTIL, we had to take her out of the stroller, and then take away her sippy cup - and two wrongs never make anything right ...  She started to cry almost immediately and by the time we walked the few feet to the ENT room, she was in full melt-down mode; it was quite a traumatic experience for all involved - and the whole clinic knows how good her lungs are (and commented so :>).  Mama tried to hold Hannah while they looked in her ears, but Hannah was in hyper-melt down by this point, so Papa stepped in and played the bad guy.  On top of all of this, they use a little squeaky toy to test the children's hearing (though how Hannah could hear anything above her own screaming is pretty amazing).  In a compassionate, though incredibly unwise move, the nurse gave Hannah the squeaky toy hoping to calm her down a little.  Unfortunately, they had to take it back when we left the ENT room and now we were in super-hyper-melt-down mode and it only got worse with each room we visited ...  After the TB test (yep, Papa was the bad guy again), Mama scooped her up, sang to her a little and then we put her back in the stroller and restored the sippy cup - within several seconds, all was  better (not right, but better).  And by lunch, she was happy and playing with her friend Rachel and seemed to have forgotten it all (of course there is that common thread of food again :>)

I'm not sure we will soon forget the day (Mama was particularly stressed out over the whole ordeal) ...  So you see, if we had just left that stroller ... (I think God might have been trying to warn us, and we just weren't listening :>(  Though Lois did comment later today that Hannah seems to come out of her shell even more after tough experiences like this; kind of reminds us of our journey with the Father ...  We did buy Hannah a red Chinese QiPao (CheePow) and some matching red shoes today - tomorrow is group picture day :>)  We'll be sure to post pictures :>)

The rest of the day was consumed with paperwork - literally.  Two hours of governmental forms, Visa applications, Immigration documents ...  And everything has to be absolutely perfect.  The guides told us that if they submit 3 incorrect  consulate packages in their career, they are forever banned from the US Consulate Office here in Guangzhou - so you can see why it took so long to make sure everything was absolutely correct ...

OK, that's quite enough for now.  Tomorrow we are off to the Botanical Gardens.  Have a blessed day!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

This is Lois. I just wanted to give a quick post to say we had a very good, but long day as we visited the orphanage. We got to meet the director, Hannah's nanny, and her friends. We took pictures, but David hasn't felt well again all day; so, he has rested since we got back and hasn't downloaded the pictures. Hannah was tired of being cooped up in the van all day; so, shortly after returning from the orphanage, I went with Helen and the Varne family to Walking Street, Pizza Hut and a dancing fountain show. We had a good time, but Hannah was so tired when we got back that she actually led me to her crib so that she could go to bed. We found out today that she likes to play Paddycake and peek-a-boo and smiles whenever we play. I taught her to make the sign for "more" so that she doesn't have to grunt when she wants more of something. We heard her speak today! Her nanny told us that she can say a lot of words. She hasn't been using them with us, but today she said something in Chinese about "going" as we were going out to walking street. She has a deep voice. She is also getting more and more to attached David. Every time he went to the breakfast bar this morning, she would watch for him until he came back. I am going to stop there because I am one tired mama. Thanks again for all of your prayers and encouraging emails and comments. We love you all.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

And then ....... Hannah Smiled :>)

Hello Everyone, David here.  Lois and Hannah are fast asleep - it was a busy day, with many breakthroughs ... But first a picture from our official visit to the Adoption Office this past Monday.  It is a picture of Lois, Hannah and I and the 2 ladies that accompanied her from her orphanage to Nanchang.  I don't know what their role is, but we are thankful that they took such great care of our little girl.

We went to the park this morning for several hours - Hannahs first experience in a stroller, and I think she likes it way too much :>)  She started whimpering when we got back to the Hotel and tried to get her to walk to the room - we had to put her back in the stroller ...  Here is a video of Hannah feeding the gold fish; unfortunately, Papa is a little slow on the trigger so I actually missed her throwing her piece of cracker, but you get the idea :>)

We have also been trying to get a good picture of our new friends, the Varns, who have adopted a little girl that is 2 months older than Hannah.  We finally got a good picture of them today, and here it is (Mark & Sharon, and their little girl Rachel):

After the park we went shopping for porcelain.  This province is very well known for it's porcelain and we wanted to get something from Hannah's province as a keep-sake for her as she get's older.  While Mama was looking for a keep sake, I was watching Hannah along with our guide.  We were playing peek-a-boo (or a variant thereof), when suddenly, it happened.  It kind of caught us all off guard and we weren't exactly sure, so we played again, and there was no mistaking it, Hannah smiled!  Our guide was able to catch it on "film", just for you, and here it is:

What a beautiful smile!  We knew she had it in her, we've just been waiting for it to come out.  She has done really well today and with each passing day seems to be more comfortable with us and is certainly bonding with Lois.  Bath time, for whatever reason, is a completely different story, but I'll save that for another day.

Tomorrow, we will travel to her orphanage. I'm not exactly sure how Hannah will react to seeing everything again, but we feel it is really important for us and for her to see it and get pictures, so we can tell her all about it one day ... Please pray that all will go well ...

Well, that's quite enough for one day, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A day at the park without Papa

David here (well, almost here ...)  I have had better days ...  Sometime last night, I started having aches and pains, and woke up this morning with a low-grade fever.  So, we decided it would be best if  I stayed in the hotel room most of the day and rested (along with some extra-strength Tylenol and coricidin).  I am happy to report that as of right now I am feeling better and my fever has finally broken ...

Our guide had arranged for us to go to a local Palace/Gardens area within walking distance of our Hotel, so Mama and Hannah went without me.  They appeared to have a good time, though Hannah was not willing to feed her crackers to the fish (after all, they were her crackers):

We also had a major milestone with Hannah today - she had here first BM since we got her on Sunday.  Maybe that is more information than you really wanted to know, but we were really concerned for her, and very excited to see it :>) (at least I didn't take a picture of it :>)

(Lois)  We had a good time at the palace getting to know each other more and getting to know the Varns family that is here with us.  They have adopted a little girl named Rachael.  She is just a couple of months older than Hannah and is adorable.  We have tried taking a picture of the family for two days, but none has turned out very well.  We'll get their picture tomorrow so that we can properly introduce them.  It was a surprise when we got here to learn there was to be another family adopting with our group, and it has been quite an encouragement to have them next door.  They are veterans because they adopted a little girl Ruby four years ago.

We want to thank all of you for your comments and emails.  You also have been very encouraging to us.  We thank you for all of your prayers and look forward to coming home and introducing Hannah to all of you.  She's a little shy like her mama; so, we'll have to do it a few at a time.  We love you all,  Lois

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's Official!

David here.  After signing many forms written in Chinese, putting our red thumbprints on several documents, visiting 2 different official offices, and having our official picture made (which, of course, Hannah did not like at all, where is Rene with his funky monkey when you need him?) it is now official - according to the Chinese Government, we are now the official parents of Hannah Grace Cooke!

What a difference 24 hours makes.  This time yesterday, Hannah was one unhappy little girl.  Here is the video of our initial meeting with Hannah, just as we spotted her coming in the Hotel ...

Today, she has had her moments, but with each passing moment her personality is slowly beginning to emerge.  We still haven't seen her beautiful smile or heard her make any sounds (other than crying of course, so we know she can make sounds :>) but she has started walking around some, interacting with us more and she even waved goodbye to our guide this afternoon.  She is currently sitting on the bed with Lois playing with some stacking cups - and seems quite engrossed in them.  We think we almost saw a smile a few moments ago ...  One thing is for sure, there is nothing wrong with her appetite.  She ate quite well at breakfast this morning and also for lunch, and the only thing she has spit out so far was the boiled egg we tried at breakfast - mental note, no more boiled eggs for now.  Below is a short video of Hannah playing with her stacking blocks on the bed:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hannah Came Early!

Hello Everyone! David here. When we arrived in Nanchang last night, Helen (our guide) surprised us with the news that Hannah would be at our Hotel on Sunday afternoon at 4:00! We were excited, to be able to start our lifelong adventure with Hannah earlier than expected (OK, and a little nervous as well). So, it is now 6:00, and Hannah is sleeping in Lois' lap on the bed. She came at 4:00 - right on time. First a few pictures, because I know everyone wants to see her :>) Here you go:

There is another family staying next door to us that is from Southern Illinois, and who are adopting a little girl from another orphanage. Their little girl was a little earlier than Hannah, so we were sitting in the lobby of our Hotel watching them when we saw Hannah come through the door - we knew it was her as soon as we saw her. I have video, but it will take a while to edit and get up on the blog - so check back for that later :>)

Our first meeting was not as peaceful or quiet as we had been praying and hoping for, but it was not unexpected. Actually, from everything we have read and been told, it is a good sign when they cry – it indicates that they are grieving the loss of everything and everyone they currently know (nothing is familiar to her here). Although Hannah did cry (and loudly enough that our guide suggested we go back to the room), she finally calmed down when Lois started singing to her. She has since cried off and on, but the crying is getting shorter and she is ever so slowly beginning to interact with us (at least she will follow a toy with her eyes – and she clings to her little stuffed blue dog that we sent to her in a care package). We are thankful that apparently Hannah had a good solid attachment to her caretakers at the orphanage, and while it may be hard on her and us for the next day or so, in the end, her grieving now will enable her to attach more quickly and permanently to us. Thank you for your prayers – please continue to pray for all of our adjustments. At the moment she is sound asleep in Lois’ arms – and I do mean sound asleep. Since it is only 6:45 here, we will probably only let her sleep for a little while, then see if we can get her to eat or drink something (so far, she has refused both). And so our Journey of Hope to a Waiting Child begins a new chapter. Stay tuned for more later …

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Preparing a Place for Hannah

It took us longer than we thought, but we finally finished preparing a place in our home for Hannah. Her bedding is yellow with pink and butterflies on it; so we painted the walls pink and green. We've had a lot of fun picking out the bedding and the crib and the other items in the room. As I've worked on her room, I have thought a lot about John 14:2. Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them, and then He was going to return to get them.

I am including a picture of her crib which is not actually set up in her room. We have set it up in a corner in our room for the time being. We hope that being close to us will help her feel more comfortable.

I also wanted to include a few pictures from the two showers that were given for us. The first shower was given by my two sisters, Hazel and Harriet and my niece, Jodi. There were a lot of family and friends there. Here are pictures of the cake and decorations.

The second shower was given by some wonderful friends at our church, Harp's Crossing. The cake was in Chinese! The words on the four sides of the cake say: Mother, Father, Daughter, Family and the circle on top of the cake says Hannah.

Friday, May 28, 2010

We have seen the future, and it is a little scary ...

David here.  We leave for the airport in about an hour, but wanted to upload this before we left.  We experienced a new first in China - first the picture, see if you can figure it out:

If you look closely at this guys helmet, you might make out the golden arches ...  Give up?  McDonalds in Shanghai - Delivers!  Is that the epitomy of laziness or what?  You can't even get out of your apartment to order fast food?  You have to have it delivered?  Not only that, but they deliver 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!  Go figure ...

And now for another video (more practice for me :>)  Thought you might enjoy seeing the chaos that ensues when a redlight turns green and the 100m scotter dash occurs:

Ok, time to finish packing and continue our journey to Hannah!