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!

Rainy Day in Shanghai

David here. Well, it turned out to be a cold, rainy, dreary kind of day here in Shanghai. We also got a call this morning that Wu Yi was not feeling well and she and Molly would stay home, so we decided not to go to the Expo. Instead, Lois and I went to NanJing Street - a famous shopping street here in Shanghai. It was quite an adventure as we braved the Metro, after getting instructions from the Hotel (it took us a few minutes to communicate what we were trying to do with the Hotel staff, but they finally understood and were very helpful). The Metro seemed to be very clean and fairly easy to navigate. NanJing was busy and crowded - but it has changed tremendously in the 8 years since I was last here. On my previous visit, NanJing was filled with Touristy-type shops with all kinds of Chinese Souvenirs/Trinkets; they have since gone through quite the upgrade. It is now mostly upscale shoping (think Lacoste, Guess, Omega, Cartier, an entire shopping mall of upscale kids clothes, ...). So, we wandered around, had some noodles for lunch, then came back to the Hotel for a xiuxi (pronounced show-she, think siesta). I did take one picture of NanJing Street ...

Molly did call us around 5:30 and said Wu Yi was feeling much better and would we like to meet them for dinner. Of course we said yes, then off on another adventure. Apparently, 6:00 is taxi driver switching hour - it took us quite a while to find one, and then help him to understand where we wanted to go (the first taxi we hailed didn't understand us and we had to let him go - it's always an adventure here :>) We did finally connect with Molly and Wu Yi and had a nice dinner. Then I decided to practice my videography skills and also practicing uploading video for next week :>) So, here is a short clip of Wu Yi at her best ;>)  (side note:  I have decided to upload our videos to youtube and embed them here - if you have a chance to view this video, please send me a quick email/comment to let me know how the video plays in the states - I want to be sure you guys have good video when the time comes :>)

And a final picture of Lois, Molly and Wu Yi. It has been good to see Molly, and Lois has had a great time reconnecting with her, sharing with her and spending time with Wu Yi.  But now, it is time to move on to Nanchang and get ready for Hannah Grace!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where in the world are David, Lois and Hannah?

David again.  Many of you have asked where we are travelling and where Hannah is, so we thought a few maps might be in order.  Here is a map of China:

And here I have blown up the east-central portion of the above map, so you can see Shanghai (on the coast, top right), Nanchang in the middle (capital of the province that Hannah lives in) and Guangzhou in the south on the coast (bottom middle, this is where the US Consualte is).

Finally, here is a map of Jiangxi.  We will be staying in Nanchang, but Hannah is currently living in Ji'an.  We are hoping to visit Hannah's orphanage in Ji'an sometime next week.

OK, that's enough geography and posting for one day ...  Good night (or good morning to you folks on the other side of the pond ...).

Fun with Molly and Wu Yi

(David here) We had a restful first night in China.  The bed was OK by Chinese standards - I've certainly slept on much "firmer" mattresses in China ...  I did comment to Lois this morning that I kind of felt like I was a piece of meat on a spit - I had to keep turning to keep from getting sore :>)  We both woke up around 2:30, but were able to get back to sleep and slept all the way to 6:30 - in China, I can be an early riser (which rarely happens at home).  We had a wonderful breakfast of bacon and eggs - Chinese style :>)  The bacon was boiled, yes, I'm sure - it was boiled.  The eggs were fried, nothing special or weird :>)  There were other, umm, delicacies available that Lois and I decided not to partake of ...  Though we did enjoy the noodles and fried rice.  While we were waiting for Molly to come to the Hotel, we wondered around looking for a 3-prong adapter for the AC adapter for the computer.  On the way, we found a McDonalds and decided it would be a welcome diversion for breakfast in the morning :>)  Molly and Wu Yi (her 4 year old daughter) took us to Yu Yuan, a very famous and old section of Shanghai, that is filled with restaurants and shops of all kinds.  Below is a picture of Lois, Molly and Wu Yi, followed by a picture of one of the streets in Yu Yuan.

Though Wu Yi is 4, Lois and I enjoyed practicing what it might be like in a few days (especially Lois).  She is quite a bundle of energy and reminded us that we're going to have quite a job keeping up with Hannah.  It is now late afternoon and Molly and Wu Yi have left to rest.  We will see them again in the morning and brave the Shanghai Expo - should be quite an experience ...  Have a blessed day - we have!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We're in Shanghai!

David here.  We have finally made it to our Hotel in Shanghai:  26 hours, 2 planes, 1 MagLev Train (way cool at 430 kmh!) and one crazy taxi cab driver (think New York taxi) ...  Lois has talked with Molly (her former Chinese teacher) on the phone and she will meet us at our Hotel tomorrow.  For now, we will shower and rest ...

(Lois adds...) As you can see, the preparation and the packing are done.  We are on the last leg of the journey to Hannah.  We'll spend a couple of days here in Shanghai to visit with Molly and her family.  We're tired, but glad we have finished the long flight here.  We have a few days to rest before we see Hannah.  Saturday we fly to Jiangxi province.  We will meet Hannah in the capital, Nanchang on Monday morning China time which will be Sunday evening your time.  Hopefully we will post video and pictures of our meeting by the time you get up on Monday.  Meanwhile I'll try to catch up on some posts that I haven't had time to finish before now including a map to show where we are going, pictures of Hannah's room and pictures from our toddler showers.  For now we are going to find something to eat and go to bed.  Thank you again for your prayers.  Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Hannah!

Happy Birthday Hannah!
Today is your second birthday! You're growing into such a big girl! We were hoping to be there to spend it with you, but we'll just have to wait a little longer. God's timing is always perfect. We will see you soon and, even though it will be late, we will celebrate together. (Maybe we'll even make Papa wear a funny birthday hat!) Here is a little cake for you. I hope you like strawberries. Next birthday we'll have whatever kind of cake you want. We pray that this year will be the best ever filled with God's blessing for you. Love, Mama and Papa

Monday, May 10, 2010

CIS Approval

Since we announced our travel approval from China last week, lots of people have been expecting to hear about our travel plans. We were waiting for our updated US Citizenship and Immigration approval. It took longer than we thought it would. We actually don't have our copy yet, but our agency got a copy yesterday and today is starting the process to get us an appointment with the American Consulate in GuangZhou, China. As soon as we have a date, we will get tickets. We have been saving frequent flyer miles and praying we can get seats on short notice, but the airlines has increased the number of miles you have to have to fly to China. We only have enough for one way tickets there. It looks like there are seats available for us to use our miles, but we'll be buying seats for all three of us to return to the US. What does all of that matter though? We'll be bringing Hannah home soon! We'll let you know our departure date and anticipated Gotcha Day date as soon as we have them. Thanks again for praying.

Mother's Day

I hope every mother who reads this had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday! Thank you to everyone who wished me Happy Mother's Day. It was a special day. I must admit that I was a little confused about what to do when the pastor asked all the mother's in the congregation to stand up. I hesitated for a moment wondering if I am officially a mom or not since Hannah isn't here yet, but in the end I chose to stand up. It was a sweet moment for me, but I thought about and prayed for women who want to be a mom, but are waiting on God to give them the desires of their hearts. I know how hard Mother's Day can be.

I also thought about Hannah's birth mother. I pray for her (and Hannah's father) every day. Does she think about Hannah and wonder where she is and what she's doing? Does she grieve the loss of her little girl? What difficulties did she encounter that led her to give up her daughter? Whenever I think of Hannah's parents, I think of a pair of finches that nested on our front porch during the spring last year. I was a little concerned because I know how the afternoon bakes our front door in the summer, but it was still early spring. It was fun to watch the parents taking such good care providing for the needs of their little ones. They seemed to be going back and forth with food all day. When the parents were gone, you could tap on the side of the house and watch the babies poke their heads up with opened mouths. That is how we got the picture above. I was relieved when their chicks started flying and left the nest until one day I saw that mama bird was spending a lot of time in the nest again, and realized that she had laid a second clutch of eggs. Summer was coming on and each day seemed to get longer and hotter and dryer. Mama began spending less and less time in the nest until she couldn't take the baking temperatures any more and abandoned her eggs. I cried the day I realized that she wasn't coming back, but I understsood why she had to leave. The conditions were just too extreme and there was no way to take the eggs with her. I cried again when we took the nest down and found five tiny eggs in it.

I know she was just a bird, but my heart broke for her and her loss. Did she grieve for her chicks? Do birds grieve? I don't know, but I think Hannah's mama did. I don't know what difficulties led her to abandon her little one, but they must have been pretty exteme, and I grieve for her and her loss. And I pray for her, for God to take her broken heart and heal it and then to give her the desires of her heart. I pray that she will be in heaven so that we can meet her. I'm thankful for Hannah's birth mother, for carrying Hannah, for giving her life, and for leaving her in a safe place so that she could be found and cared for. I pray God's blessing over her and I will teach Hannah to pray for her too. And one day I hope we'll meet her whether it's here on earth or in heaven.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

We Have Our TA!

That's right! Today we got our Travel Approval from China. We still don't know exactly what date we will travel yet. We are waiting for one more document from US Citizenship and Immigration that will allow us to make an appointment with the American Consulate in China to process Hannah's paperwork before we bring her back to the states. It is in the mail, and we hope to get it tomorrow. Our agency thinks we will have an early June appointment. Once we have an appointment on the calendar, we will make our travel arrangements. We are excited! Thanks to everyone who has prayed with us for this. Thanks for being excited with us! We are getting so close!