Thursday, September 01, 2011

Andrew's Birthday Pictures!

We are so excited to have a few pictures from Andrew's birthday celebration! You may be wondering where the birthday cake is.  We were a little confused when we first got them too.  It seems that the orphanage thought he needed to have dinner at Dicos more than a cake.  What is Dicos?  It is a fast-food chicken place kind of like KFC.  He probably liked if more than cake. I've had it before and it's pretty good.  I hope they let him have ice cream too!  (The ice cream is really good.)  When Hannah saw the picture, she said, "My brodder is at Old McDonald's."

We were hoping to get pictures with some of his friends, but we got this picture with his foster Papa.  We were so relieved to learn that he really is in a home with a foster family.  The paperwork we got on him was not very clear about that.  We found out that, as we suspected, he is in a bed and not a crib.  Now I can begin to nest!  We asked if there was anything they wanted to tell us about him and they said, "he is a super kind boy, very loving. Also, he is a smart boy too. He loves to learn." 

Here he is with his foster father and a couple of the girls who work at Dicos. 

Playing on the play ground.

Our little boy is already three years old!  It is hard to believe that we have to wait to go get him.  How long will that be?  We're not sure.  Please pray with us that we will trust God to open up doors for us to travel when the time is right.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Andrew!

Happy Birthday Andrew!
We wish we could be there to celebrate with you, but we will have lots of birthdays together in the years to come.  We hope and pray that it was a blessed day and that you know that you are loved!

Today is Andrew's 3rd birthday! Hannah and Mama made cupcakes in his honor. We don't know what his favorite flavor is yet, but Hannah and Papa love chocolate; so, we used chocolate frosting with LOTS of sprinkles because Hannah LOVES to use sprinkles. She got to put the sign and the candles in, and we all sang "Happy Birthday". Although he didn't get to eat one of our cupcakes, he did have a cake of his own in China thanks to Lady Bugs N Love, a company that specializes in sending packages and arranging for birthday cakes on behalf of waiting families to their waiting children in China. They also sent a camera so that Andrew's caretakers could take pictures of him having cake with his friends. We're not sure when we will get those pictures, but we will share them with you as soon as we get them!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Lincoln, Jonathan (holding Duchess), Hannah, and Kidd

For two weeks, Hannah got to practice having boys in the house.  We had three temporary brothers from Chengdu, China living with us for a couple of weeks.  There English names are Lincoln, and Jonathan, and Kidd.  They even called us Mom and Dad.  We tried to avoid using the word brother when talking to Hannah about them.  We didn't want her to get the idea that brothers come and go because her real brother is coming home to stay! 

Even though we didn't call them brothers, they treated each other like siblings.  They enjoyed playing with each other most of the time, but the boys did like to pester Hannah who had no problem yelling at them to stop or tattling on them to us. Since they left last Monday, however, she has been carrying around a picture of all of them and asking where they are.  She really misses them.  Duchess really misses them.  The house is much quieter, but we all really miss them.  We know that they have to go home to their mamas and papas; so, tomorrow they fly from New York back to China.  We pray that they have a safe journey home and that they always know that God loves them very much.   Here are a few pictures from the two weeks.

Hannah measuring Kidd on her growth chart...

...announcing the astounding results...

...and recording the important stuff!

Making Pizzas

Ready to eat!

Duchess was in heaven while they were here.

At Starr's Mill with Papa.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Introducing ..... Andrew Nathanael!

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.  Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

Near the end of April, Lois and I started looking through Lifeline's list of waiting children; open to however God might lead.  At the very top of the list was the above picture of this precious little boy - Lois and I were both drawn to him so we called Lifeline and put a hold on his file so we could find out more about him and start praying.  We read through his file and consulted with several medical professionals including a visiting physician in my research group at Emory - who is only here for a few months from China!  She was a tremendous help in reading through his Chinese medical reports and interpreting them for us (God is good!).  After the consults, and spending time in prayer, we really felt at peace in moving forward with adopting this little boy.  So, on Friday afternoon, May 6th, we submitted a LOI (that's adoptionese for Letter of Intent) to the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs.  Miraculously, they responded 3 days later with our PA (Pre-Approval) to adopt him!

And so, without further ado, we would like to introduce you to Andrew Nathanael Cooke!  At this point, our agency has requested that we not reveal his Chinese name or location until after we receive our LOA (Letter of Acceptance - probably sometime this Fall).  So, the most we can tell you is that he is 3 months younger than Hannah and he lives in one of the provinces that Lois lived in while she was in China.

The picture above is the first picture we saw of Andrew, here are a few more:

As you may have noticed, like Hannah, Andrew has a cleft lip that was repaired in China (and it looks like they did an excellent job).  Unlike Hannah, Andrew also has a cleft palate, which means he will need surgery at some point after coming home.

The information we have on him says that he is energetic, likes outdoor activities and likes playing with toys.  His favorite toy is a car.  He gets along well with others, but is a little timid. One update, made when he was 11 months old, said, "He is an outcome, restless boy, fond of music and watching TV, very lovely." We think that means that he is outgoing, energetic, and lovable :>)  We also have two recent videos of him, and he appears to be all boy: running, jumping, playing, rolling in the grass.  We also saw a gentler side of him as he played with a baby and his caretaker.

Because he will be older when we bring him home, he may have a harder time adjusting to his new life; so, we would ask that you begin to pray now for his adjustment when he comes home. When will that be? We are hoping to travel in December, but our agency doesn't want us to be disappointed if we don't get to travel until the beginning of the year. Of course, we would like to travel sooner than later, but we know that all of the details are in God's hands. He knew Andrew when He knit him. He was with him when he was born and has been with him every day of his life. He will be with him until we go to get him and everyday after we bring him home.

As I (Lois) went to mail our care package to him last Saturday, the song, "While I'm Waiting" came on the radio. Here we are waiting again, but we know that we are waiting on God and His timing which is always perfect. I don't know John Waller personally, but I would like to thank him for writing that song. It has encouraged us many times.

Here are some things that we are praying while we wait. We would be honored to have you join us in praying for our son if God leads you.

  • Andrew’s safety and provision while we wait for travel.
  • Patience while we wait to travel.
  • Blessings for him, his caretakers, and the other children.
  • His adjustment when we finally are able to go and get him.
  • Our adjustment as a family.
  • Hannah’s adjustment to no longer being an only child.
  • Wisdom concerning the details of travel since we are planning to take Hannah with us.
Thanks for following along as we take this amazing journey to our son!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pregnant with paperwork, again :>)

Yes, it is true - we are "expecting" again :>)  We have applied to adopt a little boy from China and have been pre-approved, by the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs to adopt him!  He will be 3 next week and is from one of the provinces that Lois lived in for several years.  So, though Hannah will be a big sister, she will only be 3 months older than her brother.

Stay tuned for more details, pictures and a name tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Hannah Wants to Tell You Something

Can you read my shirt?  I'm going to be a big sister! 
(Details to come very soon.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Part 1: Father's Day

"And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers."  Malachi 4:6

I know it has been over a month since Father's Day, but I still want to share some pictures with you.  I can't let another year go by without making a Father's Day post, because David is such a good Papa and Hannah loves him so much.  We didn't do anything amazing.  David had been up half the night helping to finish the media presentation for Vacation Bible School; so, he and Hannah slept most of the afternoon.  We had a nice lunch and Hannah gave him a card she made and a simple gift, but it was a sweet family time.  On Monday, we went and had all-you-can-eat pizza for lunch with Grandie and Grammy so that we could honor him as well because Hannah adores him too.  I have to admit that I had a few tears as I thought of my own father and how I wish that Hannah could meet her granddaddy, but we'll have to be content with photos for now, and look forward to a special introduction in heaven.  They would have loved each other a lot. 
Thank You, God, for Papa, Grandie and Granddaddy.  They are each wonderful, godly men and we are glad that you put them in our lives.

Here she is in these two pictures giving him her gifts.  First there was the gift bag holding chocolate...

...then, there was the "I love you!" kiss.

Here they are wearing their "Hannah's Papa" and "Papa's Hannah" T-shirts. 
(Thank you to Cindy Betsill who made them for us!)

Part 2:  What's in a Name?

That is all about Father's Day; so, if you want to stop here, it's okay.  We have been asked from time to time what Hannah calls us and why; so, I thought I'd write a little explanation.  That is not an easy question to answer because it continues to evolve.  Before we brought her home, David decided that he wanted her to call him Papa partly because it sounds more like Baba, the Chinese word for Daddy, and partly because he just likes it. (I like it because it reminds me of the time we spent getting to know each other through hundreds of emails while I was living in China.  We couldn't use the name God, and Father seemed to formal; so, we used Papa to refer to God.)  We started teaching Hannah to use Papa as soon as she joined our family, but for a very long time, she continued to called him Baba. She called me Mama, which is the same in English and Chinese for a long time too.  Then she began to hear other children use the words Daddy and Mommy; so, she began to experiment with using them.  Sometimes we were Mama and Baba or Mama and Papa; sometimes we were Mommy and Daddy.  Then, one day she tried to call David Poppy.  It makes sense if you think about it. If Mama can be Mommy, why can't Papa be Poppy?  I thought it was funny, but Papa didn't seem to feel comfortable being called Poppy; so, he nipped that in the bud really fast.  She didn't seem to be too sad about it when we explained to her that a poppy is a flower.  Now she some times calls us Moms and Dads. ( I love it when she says, "Thanks Moms!)  We're never quite sure what she is going to call us, but we're not really picky (except for the Poppy thing).  We just like having her call on us.

In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to show a few special pictures of
Hannah and her Papa taken over the past year. 

They like to read together.  Here they are reading the paper shortly after Hannah came home. 
Now they prefer to read books together.

They watched and cheered for Auburn football together.  War Eagle!

They enjoyed playing in the snow.

They played the piano together. 

They flew kites.

And they just enjoy playing and laughing together.

We love you Papa!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Duchess!

Duchess our Schnoodle was six years old yesterday; so, Hannah and I had fun baking and decorating a cake for the occasion.  She (Hannah, not the dog) likes helping in the kitchen and enjoyed "making a mess" as she called it.  The more flour that fell on the floor, the better she liked it.

When I took Hannah's picture with the finished cake, I said, "Smile."  She gave a big smile and said the cake was smiling too. 

I do think it was smiling. 

Especially considering its rough start.  (It crusted over too soon, and, like a volcano, burst open oosing batter out the side.)  There was nothing wrong with the taste, however.

Hannah and Duchess' relationship has grown quite a bit over the past year.  The first day we were all home together,  Duchess curiously investigated Hannah while Hannah screamed.  For weeks after that, Hannah would look at us and point to the dog as if to say, "Don't you know that thing is in the house?"  She eventually accepted that the dog was a part of the environment, but tried to keep her distance.  Here are a couple of pictures from our first month home.  Hannah had put on her red, squeaky Chinese shoes and poudly began prancing suqeakily through the house.  Duchess assumed that Hannah had a new squeaky toy and came ready to chase it wherever it went.  Hannah screamed and tried to get away, but wherever she went, the dog followed with great intensity.  Hannah didn't think it was funny (but it really was :).  We finally put the shoes away for a along time. 

Except for a little sibling rivalry, they get along quite well now.  Hannah helps feed Duchess every day and when we go off, she says things like, "Let's go home and see Duchess."  There is a little jealousy occasionally when she realizes that Duchess is sitting in Mama or Papa's lap.  Then Hannah says, "I want to sit THERE."  We tell her that she has to take turns with Duchess for two reasons.  First, Duchess deserves to have some lap time too, and Hannah needs to practice sharing before her future brother or sister comes home.  Eventually I guess she will accept her human siblings just as well as she has Duchess. 

We love you Duchess and hope you have many more birthdays to come!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Very Special Visit

We recently had a visit from a very special little guest.  If you have been following our blog since we were matched with Hannah, you may remember seeing the first picture below in a post we made on April 21, 2010.  

This is a picture of Hannah with her friend Kerry.  Right after we were first matched with Hannah, we joined a Yahoo group for families that have adopted from the orphanage where Hannah spent her first two years, and through this group, we connected with a family that had already adopted Kerry from that same orphanage.  They had sent a disposable camera to the orphanage in early 2009 and the nannies took pictures that included Kerry and Hannah when they were about a year old.  The pictures seemed to show that Kerry and Hannah had been really close friends.  Kerry came to live with her new family in June of 2009; so, she and Hannah had not seen each other for almost two years.  After months of trying to arrange a reunion, Kerry and Hannah got to meet again a few weeks ago as Kerry was traveling through Atlanta with her Mom and grandmother.  We had a great time visiting with all three of them. 

I cannot express to you how blessed we feel to know Kerry and her family.  When Hannah became a part of our family, she had to leave behind everything she had known the first two years of her life.  Her country of birth, her language, her home at the orphanage, her caretakers, and her friends.  We're so glad that Hannah now can keep a connection with Kerry and three other little girls we know from the orphanage.  The book of James says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above," and we believe this is a special gift from God for these girls.
Do they really remember each other?  After all, they were only a year old the last time they saw each other.  I can't say for sure, but I can say that Hannah intereacted with her in a way I haven't seen her interact with other children she meets for the first time.  That night after playing for several hours, Hannah told me, "I want to put it there."  When I asked her what she wanted to put where, she said, "I want to put my bed there" (beside Kerry's bed).  Does she remember that she used to have a bed near Kerry's bed?  I don't know, but I'm really glad that they have a chance know each other and become friends now. 

As you can see from the pictures, they had a really good time playing together. 

They stayed up later playing with each other the first night...

And continued playing and having fun the next day.

There was a lot of laughing,

a lot of sharing,

and a lot of fun!

Getting ready for a good-bye hug.

Thank you for coming to see us, Kerry.  Thank you for bringing your mama and grandma with you.  We had a great time and hope that you'll come back again.  We hope this will be the first of many reunions.