Moving Toward Normal

Matt went back to work last week, so while we’re still settling into life and working toward our new “normal,” this was a big step toward that normal. It was an intimidating one! When we came home with FangFang, going from being home with 3 kids by myself a lot of the time to having both Matt and me home with 4 kids felt pretty manageable; I was not sure that transitioning to a lot of time of me being home with 4 kids by myself was going to be the same!

Honestly, overall, it has gone better than I expected!

The hardest part has been the toddler naps (or lack thereof). Matt had been putting the littles down for their naps, and they’d gotten used to that, apparently to the extent that my presence is now a significantly distracting novelty. Last Monday neither little one napped. Tuesday only one napped. But Wednesday and Thursday both napped, and it was glorious! I could work! There was a break for me in the middle of the day. It was so nice. No naps on Friday. Monday of this week both littles napped (but only after a combined 2 hours or so of effort from me), and Tuesday neither napped. That has been incredibly frustrating – not only do I not get to work or get any calm, quiet time during the afternoon, but I spend 60-90 minutes trying to get the littles to do something they’re not going to do, and that’s time I don’t get to spend doing anything else productive, and they don’t nap anyway. Then we’re all grumpy for the rest of the afternoon. I’m really not ready for them to give up naps – but whether I’m ready for it or not, I’m not sure they’ll keep napping regularly for very long. I need to come up with a different strategy for getting in my work hours, and I think I may need a different nap-encouragement strategy, as well. I’ve gotten some advice, and I’m working on it. In the meantime, this is an area in which we could use prayers – for patience, gentleness, and sleep.

We’ve been able to do school every day, which has been really encouraging to me. We’re figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Being intentional about getting out some good toys for the littles makes a huge difference. Often times, trying to do everything in the morning does not work; but neither does saving the most intense stuff for the afternoon. We need to start with math right away and get through it before we move on to anything else. And while the bigs are doing math, I can often read to the littles and get in a little bit of quality time with them before I need to devote my focus to the bigs again. Once math is wrapped up, I give all the kids a little bit of time to play. Then we do Language Arts and “reading school” – Bible, history, geography, and the girls reading out loud. If everyone’s stamina is holding up, we can sometimes get in science, too, but it often works better to leave that for after the littles’ naps. We’re making our way through the curriculum at a pretty good pace, and while I would have loved to have gotten more done before we went to China, I’m generally pretty happy with where we’re at right now and how we’re able to move through it even with everyone home.

science experiment time!
science experiment time!

I’m working on the balancing act of my own household responsibilities and investing in the kiddos beyond school time. Miranda really enjoys games like Backgammon and “the dice game,” a simplified version of Yahtzee that she’d been playing with my dad. Madeleine CaiQun loves reading and snuggling. Both littles are very into almost anything I’ll do with them – building towers and toppling them and snuggling and reading together. Everyone loves it when we pretend they are airplanes and I fly them around. I’m trying to make time for those things.

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At the same time, though, I need to pay bills and keep up with dishes and laundry. Friends from church had been bringing dinners for us a few times a week through last week, which was so helpful, but I’m now back to planning and preparing all of our food. I’m incredibly thankful for all of the meals I prepared and froze last summer and fall – those are going to sustain us through much of this semester, I expect. Matt has also been helping out with all of the necessary household stuff in the evenings.

And in the midst of it all, we’re tackling appointments and evaluations. In the space of 11 days, we’ve had or will have 11 different appointments, procedures, or evaluations – not all for FangFang but many of them for her.

The big girls are convinced that while we're waiting for PT to start, they should be helping FangFang learn to crawl.
The big girls are convinced that while we’re waiting for PT to start, they should be helping FangFang learn to crawl.

I’ve also spent hours filling out paperwork and talking with intake coordinators for various programs and checking items off of our running to-do list with the nurse at our pediatrician’s office. Friends have been kind enough to help out with our kiddos, which I so appreciate, so that I’m not dragging 4 kids with me to every single appointment or procedure. A pretty quick x-ray appointment? We all go. It’s just part of life. However, today’s CT scan for which sedation is required and I need to be able to focus on a 3-year-old who derives major comfort from food and is not allowed to eat for hours before the procedure and whose sedation recovery I’ve never experienced before? I’d like to tackle that one without another 3 kids in tow, thankyouverymuch!

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with all 4 kiddos in the x-ray waiting room

I did leave the house by myself with all 4 kids multiple times last week, an accomplishment of which I was immensely proud! It requires a little bit of planning, but it feels pretty manageable, so I’m thankful for that.

I don’t feel like we’re in any sort of normal rhythm yet. I think we’re tackling everything we need to do in order to move toward that, though, and I have hope that we’ll get there. Of course, we may get there just in time for the end of Matt’s semester, which changes everything again, or for a femur rodding surgery, which will change everything, too, or – please, no! – a femur fracture, which would also change everything, but we’ll work through all of that as it happens. We just keep moving forward, taking one step at a time, and moving toward the goals we hope to reach.

Omaha and Beyond

Our trip to Omaha last week was amazing. We knew going into adopting FangFang that the medical care necessary for a child with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) would be significant. What a blessing to be able to see a specialist in every single related area all at once!

We arrived on Tuesday night and checked in at Rainbow House, which is right down the street from Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and is where most of the families getting treatment for kids with OI stay. We’d heard good things about it…and there were some good things…but actually our experience there was awful and ended up having repercussions that extended days (and dollars) beyond our stay. That’s all I’m going to say about that now, but we were pretty disappointed.

However, our experience at the hospital itself was great. It would be impossible for me to recommend the OI clinic in Omaha more highly!

Matt took Miranda, Mei Mei, and Atticus out for some adventures on Wednesday morning, and FangFang and I headed to the hospital. First up for her was a dexa scan, which measures bone density.

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Her bone density z-score actually came back at -5, which means the density of her bones is 5 standard deviations below the mean value for children her age – that is a huge difference.

We also did a bunch of x-rays – partly as a baseline, partly to give us more information about a recommended course of treatment now. I was really pleased – everyone was so helpful and easy to work with. I wanted an x-ray of her right humerus, as it had broken last September and felt a little off to me, but that wasn’t included in the standard list of initial x-rays, so the radiology nurses called right away to get an order from the OI clinic for that, so we could do it all at once.

FangFang and I had some time to kill in between appointments so hung out in the cafeteria for a while, about which she was pleased!

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You mean I can choose any snack I want, Mom?!?!

Next up was audiology. She clearly did not share their view that their attempt to look in her ear was a “no ouchie” situation, and after that she was pretty uninterested in their attempts to engage her further. We were able to measure that her ear drums do move, which is a good sign, and we’ll just leave the rest for next year.

Then we were free for the afternoon! Matt and Atticus went back to Rainbow House for naptime, and all 3 of the girls and I went to the hospital playroom for a play date! The online community of OI moms is so incredible, and 3 of us moms had discussed ahead of time the possibility of getting our girls, all with OI, all home from China within the last couple months, together. It was so cool to connect in person!

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The kiddos had fun playing, and we mamas got to chat, which was so nice!

Xiao (on the left) and FangFang were actually both at Agape Family Life House together in China, so they were reconnecting here for the first time since they were adopted! At first they seemed to have some cognitive dissonance seeing each other again in a totally new environment, but as our time went on, they warmed up to each other and were interacting really sweetly.

photo by Xiao's mama, Heather, of Snapshot Photography
photo by Xiao’s mama, Heather, of Snapshot Photography

It was so good to see. FangFang continued to ask about Xiao throughout our time in Omaha. We were so thankful it worked out for us to reunite these two, and we hope they can continue to enjoy this relationship in the years to come!

That evening we were able to reconnect with an old friend from our days in Chicagoland, who is now a professor at a nearby university, and we enjoyed a dinner out with him and his family.

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We really enjoyed that not only was this a trip to get some much needed medical care for FangFang, but we were also able to work in some fun times and connections with friends, both old and new!

Thursday was an early morning as we headed to clinic. We were given a large room (the better to house our large family!), and we settled in there. We just stayed in that same room all morning, and all of the doctors and medical professionals rotated around and came in and talked with us. It was awesome to see so many experts so quickly and easily!

First we met with Dr. Rush, the clinic director, and his team.

photo by FangFang!
photo by FangFang!

Then we saw Dr. Esposito, the world-renowned orthopedic surgeon. We also met with a social worker, a dentist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and several nurses.

We learned so much. We went into this already having a lot of general knowledge but lacking the medical expertise to apply what we were learning to specifically what FangFang’s care would need to be. The doctors there believe that FangFang has Type IV moderate OI, which is what we’d expected. Her right femur shows evidence of having fractured and healed multiple times in the past, and it’s significantly bowed, so it will need to be rodded. Hopefully we can do that surgery before it fractures again, but it would also be great for her bones to be slightly more dense before we attempt it, so we’ll probably wait 4-6 months. That gives this mama a bit of time to prepare for the surgery, too, and try to prepare FangFang as well as possible. We’ll also have her left femur re-rodded at that time. It broke about 8 months ago and was rodded in China, but the rod has migrated a little bit, and that will start to get uncomfortable, so Dr. Esposito is recommending that we take care of both legs at the same time.

After clinic we split up. It was great for both Matt and me to be there and be able to ask questions and meet all of these key players on FangFang’s care team, and all 4 kids did amazingly well, given the expectation that they sit in a small room reasonably quietly for over 4 hours. There were some other things we needed to take care of that afternoon, so Matt took Madeleine CaiQun and Atticus with him to tackle that, and Miranda stayed with FangFang and me at the hospital. FangFang would be getting some bloodwork and her first stateside infusion of Pamidronate, which works to strengthen her bones and help them grow in their density.

Unfortunately, FangFang is not a super easy stick, and no matter how good they are, she is not happy for anyone to be poking at her veins, so that portion of the day was a bit traumatic for her. We got the infusion going, though, and then we were free to wander the halls!

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They had plenty of fun toys in the infusion center, but we hadn’t had lunch yet, so we went off in search of some food. I was so thankful that Miranda had stayed with me. She really has stepped into this role of big-sister-to-3 amazingly well, looking out for FangFang and offering hugs and playfulness and protection. Any time I needed to step away to use the bathroom, I asked a nurse to keep an eye on them, but it was Miranda who really engaged with FangFang and kept her happy.

We actually spent most of the afternoon in the surgery waiting room with Xiao’s parents. It was great to get to chat with them more…and they also helped me out a few times. I joked with Heather that everyone needed a friend who could serve them even while their own daughter was in surgery!

By the end of the day, we were super ready to be done. I hadn’t realized quite how long the whole process of getting the infusion would take, and we were finally discharged that evening about 12 hours after we’d checked in to the hospital that morning. Whew! It was a long day.

Between the reports of the suspected impending ice storm and our unhappiness with things at Rainbow House, we opted to drive home that night, so Matt and the other kiddos picked us up at the hospital when we were ready to go, and away we went, arriving home around 1:00 am.

The kiddos did really, really well with the whole trip, and we were so thankful we were able to get to Omaha so quickly and get such great input from so many experts in the field about how we can best care for FangFang. It was really awesome, and we’re so thankful for that opportunity.

The days ahead are rather daunting, as Matt heads back to work today. It has been such a blessing having him home in these early days as a family of 6, enabling us to have a much smoother transition than I suspect would otherwise have happened. However, he does have to return to teaching, and I’m somewhat intimidated by the prospect of having much longer days at home by myself with all 4 kiddos! Yesterday, a day during which Matt was gone for much longer than he was regularly away for most of winter break, was also a bit rough – I had moments of feeling quite triumphant…but that feeling was quickly squashed when both littles, enamored with the novelty of having Mom put them down for their naps instead of Dad, refused to sleep, rather complicating my plan for the day. We obviously have some kinks to work out. We’ll also be beginning the process of meeting with our local specialists (a local orthopedic surgeon, a PT evaluation, an OT evaluation, a school system evaluation, etc), and we’ll have to see how all of that goes and what the effects on our lives and schedules are going to be! Please pray for us as you are able!

Sunday – Resting, Touring, and Waiting

Adoption is always a game of “hurry up and wait,” and your time in China is no exception. You get to Asia, and you spend a couple days adjusting to the time change before getting your child; you get your child, then you hang out in province for a couple days waiting for their passport to be ready; you get to Guangzhou and do your child’s medical exam, and then you wait for its results; then you do your Consulate Appointment, and then you wait for your child’s visa to be issued. Right now we’re in the stage in which we’re waiting for the results of our child’s medical exam – in particular the TB test results – so that we can go to the Consulate Appointment.

On Sunday morning we slept in and played a bit. I picked up a new “diaper bag” for our time in China – I’d been so focused on condensing and packing so as to get everything to China that I hadn’t really thought about how I’d carry things around once here. At pretty much all times, I need to have all of my break box supplies, some diapers and wipes and extra clothes for the girls, and bathroom supplies (one should not assume that a public bathroom in China will have toilet paper, a sink, or soap). And sometimes I need to have water bottles, snacks, forks for the girls to use to eat, and some entertainment – but not all of that fits well in my backpack. Saturday night we made a quick stop at the shops near our hotel, and I bought a cheap bag with a fun pattern that coordinates well with our stroller 🙂

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Madeleine CaiQun has quite an imagination and has LOVED being able to make up stories and scripts to play with her stuffed animals and toys and involving others in them, particularly her Uncle Danny. As the second child, she’s not often given an opportunity to be in charge, so she is loving this!

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Having requested some restaurant recommendations beyond those in the hotel itself, we ventured out in search of a restaurant called “Muslim Chicken” but without an English sign announcing it as such. For those who may follow after us, to get there, you go past the Starbucks and exit out of the hotel near the entrance to the Food Street restaurant. Walk past the 7-11, and keep going until you get to the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. It’s the first restaurant after that – its identification sign (which is not in English) has a green background. I think we could have ordered better, but our food was pretty good, and all of us ate a decent meal for about $11.

Then we headed back to the hotel and got ready to head out for some touring. First we visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. I didn’t really know anything about Dr. Sun Yat-sen before that, so it was an interesting introduction to his role in China’s history. Plus it is beautiful!

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Next we headed over to the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall / Temple / Academy. It has been a place of worship and a school and is currently a museum of folk art.

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We saw beautiful paintings, furniture, and carvings of wood, ivory, and bone.

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I got fewer pictures than I would have liked, but that was in part because I spent much of our time there walking around holding FangFang, and she even let me wear her in the Ergo for part of the time!

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At times it seems that her preference for Sharon gets stronger by the day, but I also need to continue to remind myself that her tolerance of – and yes, even bonding with – me is also increasing. And she had been with us for less than a week at this point. That’s barely any time. Our time in China can feel so long, but in terms of bonding, it’s really so short. FangFang’s comfort level with all of us has increased dramatically in just this small amount of time, and that’s something for which we can be quite thankful.

We also did just a little bit of shopping, Danny and Sharon more than me. Paying for the costs associated with this adoption has pretty well wiped us out financially for the moment, but it is so important to us to incorporate elements of our daughters’ birth culture into our family’s life, so I came to China with a few specific items in mind that I was hoping to bring home.

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One of the fun parts of this trip is connecting with other adoptive families. I’ve been thinking this trip about how I’d talk with people about what it’s like to prepare for an international adoption trip. I think the way I’d describe it is that it’s like preparing to give birth, while at the same time preparing to travel overseas for several weeks to a country in which you do not speak the language, and instead of your child being a baby, you are instead handed an older child with definite thoughts, opinions, preferences, and feelings, all of which they may or may not be able to communicate effectively to you. Whether your trip goes well or not, it is stressful! It is so nice to connect with other families going through the same thing.

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After our time at the Chen Family Academy, we went back to our hotel and ventured out in search of dinner. We were looking for a noodle and dumpling place, which we did not find, but we instead ended up at the Macau Street Restaurant, a place at which we’d eaten with our travel group on our last trip! It was particularly memorable because, on our last trip, Miranda had insisted that these individually packaged wipes were “money,” and we brought several of them home with us, and the kids still play with them 🙂 We requested a few extra to bring home from this trip, as well.

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For those looking for good places to eat around the China Hotel in the future, head left out of the hotel, past the McDonald’s, past the shops and then the next hotel, go around the bend, and it’ll be soon after that. It was another good meal 🙂

After that it was back to the hotel, where I put FangFang to bed – she hadn’t napped and was quite tired! Daniel and Sharon and I stayed up chatting for a while, and then it was bedtime for everyone!

Here We Go! Some Specifics and Some Prayer Requests

The wheels are in motion for our trip, both literally and figuratively – my mom is on her way here so that she can spend the next 2.5 weeks with Matt and Miranda and Atticus. Tomorrow afternoon Madeleine CaiQun and I will head to St. Louis to begin our journey to China.

As we look toward our trip, I’m feeling acutely the need for prayer, moreso even than with our last adoption trip. Perhaps it’s that I know more this time – the more I know, the more I realize that I cannot make things happen all in my own power. It’s also that I’m traveling without Matt this time – I am so thankful that my brother and sister-in-law will be there with me, but it will not be the same as having Matt (and my other kiddos) there, too. FangFang’s medical needs are also more significant than Madeleine CaiQun’s were. Adoption trips are always intense, but I am especially feeling the weight of that this time. Would you pray with and for us? Here are some specific requests:

  • Please pray for our safety in traveling (and in remaining home). I know this is morbid, and I know that probabilities are small, but my biggest fear is that the plane will crash or that Atticus will dive head-first off the table, and we won’t all see each other again this side of heaven. Please pray that we all survive the next 2.5 weeks.
  • Please pray for Matt and Miranda and Atticus and my mom. I’ve done a lot to make their time as easy as possible – freezing meals and leaving gifts – but these next couple weeks are going to be a significant departure from normalcy for everyone. Please pray that they have fun together and do alright.
  • Please pray for all the travel logistics. These are not insignificant. CaiQun and I have 2 separate flight itineraries (one domestic; one international), meaning that the airlines don’t really have to work well with us for the international itinerary if our domestic flight gets delayed tomorrow and we miss the international flight. Then on Sunday, we’ll be taking a taxi from our Hong Kong hotel to the train station, where we’ll catch a train to Guangzhou. We then need to meet up with a van our agency is sending to take us from the first Guangzhou train station to the second, and we’ll take a train from that second station to Nanning. Please pray that all goes smoothly in all of this craziness.
  • Please pray for little FangFang’s heart. Her world is about to change dramatically, and we pray that her heart be prepared for and open to us as her family. We pray that we will be able to show her some love and fun early on. Please pray especially for her bond to me – children joining their families often can only handle bonding to one adult at a time, and my brother and sister-in-law are awesome, but it would be ideal for her to form her primary bond with me first. I am anticipating some heavy grieving from her as she leaves the nannies from her foster home and comes to us.
  • Please pray for Madeleine CaiQun. She has some anxiety about returning to China. My prayer is that this trip is a beautiful experience for her, but I’m not certain how it will go. Please pray for her processing her return to her birth culture, as well as her adjustment to becoming a big sister again. Please pray that she’ll allow my brother and sister-in-law to care for her at times, especially when FangFang is needing me.
  • Please pray for my endurance, patience, graciousness, and love. I expect these to be some of the most intense parenting weeks of my life as I mother 2 girls through huge experiences in their own lives.
  • Please pray for everyone’s health. I’ve had a persistent sore throat and just feel generally yucky, which I suspect is nothing significant, but I’m heading in to get it checked out this afternoon, just to be sure before I leave the country and my access to Western medical care. More significantly, please pray that we make it home without any of FangFang’s bones fracturing. I’m traveling with splinting supplies, but we won’t have such great access to medical resources in China to review my splinting or get x-rays easily or provide care in the event that a fracture would be truly serious.
  • Please pray for my brother and sister-in-law. I am so thankful that they are joining us on this journey. Please pray for the 3 of us adults to work well together through what will be, at times, a stressful trip. Please pray for our communication and for us to have great grace with each other.
  • Please pray for wisdom in decision-making. We are going to need to make the call of whether to request permission to visit FangFang’s orphanage. We will have to decide how much sightseeing seems wise and how much we’re going to need to just hunker down in our hotel room. There’s still some question of where we’ll stay in Guangzhou – there’s a serviced apartment building just across the street from the hotel at which our agency has people stay, and staying there would save us a ton of money and give us more space, and that’s where I’ve been planning for weeks to have us stay…but someone staying there last week gave it a pretty unfavorable review, and I’m still not 100% certain how we’re going to handle that situation.
  • Speaking of money, please pray for financial provision. We’ve applied with one more grant organization, and it would be a huge blessing to get some funding from them. We’ve borrowed money to pay the rest of the costs associated with this adoption, and please hear me when I say that this debt is worth it. We go into debt for houses and cars; bringing a child into a family is of so much more importance than those physical things. But needing to pay back thousands of dollars of debt at the same time that we are incurring thousands of dollars of medical expenses for FangFang’s initial medical care is going to be tough.
  • Please pray for these next 24 hours or so at home – I still have some packing to do and miscellaneous tasks to finish (paying bills, etc), but I’d also like to spend some good quality time with the rest of my family, whom I won’t see for so many days.
  • Please pray for all of our hearts as we are separated as a family for the next couple weeks. This is so hard for me.
  • Please pray that we can honor our God as we interact with various people in China. Please pray that we are respectful and loving in all we do.
  • Please pray that we keep our priorities straight and focus on what’s truly important about and throughout this trip.

I’m going to share the basics of our itinerary below so you’ll know a bit more of how to pray each day. Keep in mind that we’ll be 14 hours ahead of Central Time – so, for instance, our meeting FangFang on the morning of Monday, December 12 is still going to be your evening of Sunday, December 11. If you stay up late enough and I have good enough Internet and a calm enough baby, you may get to see some pictures – Sunday nights are a time of rejoicing in the China adoption community 🙂

Here’s our basic schedule –

  • Wednesday, December 7 – Madeleine CaiQun and I fly from St. Louis to Newark, where we’ll meet up with my brother Daniel and sister-in-law Sharon.
  • Thursday, December 8 – We have a 1:00 AM flight from Newark to Hong Kong.
  • Friday, December 9 – Because of the long flight and the time change, we leave at 1:00 AM on Thursday but don’t arrive in Hong Kong until 6:00 AM on Friday. We’ll head to our hotel to drop off our bags and then try to stave off jetlag by going out and sightseeing for the day.
  • Saturday, December 10 – We’ll have another day of sightseeing in Hong Kong and continuing to adjust to the time difference.
  • Sunday, December 11 – We’ll travel from Hong Kong to Nanning via the rather complicated route I detailed above.
  • Monday, December 12 – We’ll meet and take custody of FangFang.
  • Tuesday, December 13 – We’ll finalize FangFang’s adoption.
  • Wednesday, December 14 – Thursday, December 15 – We’ll hang out in Nanning while we wait for FangFang’s passport to be ready. We may take a trip to her city to visit the orphanage from which she’s from. We may do some sightseeing in Nanning. Or we may need to spend a lot of time building bonds and connections in the hotel room.
  • Friday, December 16 – We’ll travel from Nanning to Guangzhou.
  • Saturday, December 17 – We’ll have FangFang’s medical exam.
  • Sunday, December 18 – Monday, December 19 – We’ll hang out in Guangzhou, maybe doing some sightseeing, while we wait for the results of FangFang’s medical exam.
  • Tuesday, December 20 – We’ll have our consulate appointment to finish the process of applying for FangFang’s visa to enter the United States.
  • Wednesday, December 21 – FangFang’s visa should be ready.
  • Thursday, December 22 – We’ll take the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and then board a flight from Hong Kong back to Newark. The time change works in reverse this time – we’ll leave Hong Kong around 6:00 PM but arrive in Newark around 9:00 PM. My dad will fly out to Newark to meet us, and he and I and the girls will spend the night in a hotel.
  • Friday, December 23 – My dad and the girls and I will fly back to St. Louis, and we should arrive back in Columbia mid-afternoon.

Solid internet access is never a guarantee in China, and of course, actually caring for FangFang (and Madeleine CaiQun) is going to be my priority, but I do hope to be able to post regularly and keep you all updated, and should you want to send encouragement or prayers, I should be able to get them while there. Thank you for praying, friends!

Some Thank Yous and Our Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Pre-Travel Sale

This is going to be my last blog post about money, as it relates to this adoption. Some of you might want to stop reading right now, but if you’re a friend or family member or a follower of our adoption journey, I am asking you to hear me out 🙂 After this post, I’ll be on to talking about bigger and better things – things like bonding and attachment in adoption and some ways in which you can be praying for us as we go to China to adopt FangFang – in short, the beginnings of the real work of adoption and parenting. Before I do that, though, I’m going to write about finances one more time. Money isn’t the most important thing, not even close – but it’s important, and it matters, and what we do with our money is a reflection of what truly matters to us in our hearts.

First, we want to say a huge thank you to those who have already contributed toward the costs of our bringing FangFang home. Those of you who have bought artworks or offered financial gifts have played a huge part in making it possible for us to complete her adoption. THANK YOU. Not only has your financial support been so incredibly helpful from a practical perspective, but it has been a tremendous encouragement to us. We know that you want to partner with us in doing something that reaches beyond just us and beyond just you, in bringing our precious girl home and into our family. All children deserve families; she deserves a family; and we are grateful for your part in making that a reality. We know that you are with us for real. Not just when it’s convenient and not just when it costs you nothing, you are truly with us. Thank you.

To the friends from high school who have reached out and contributed, thank you. To the friends from college who have given gifts and purchased artworks, thank you. To our moms and dads and brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles, we thank you. To friends from our church in Chicagoland and friends from our church here in Missouri, thank you. To our friends in the art community, thank you. To friends who may not fit into any of those categories, thank you. So many of you from so many different times and places in our lives have come together to make the completion of this journey a reality. We see you standing with us, and it makes such a difference to us. We know, and ChenFang will know, that even before she was here, even before she was officially a part of our family, she was loved and cared for by so many.

We are so close to being fully funded to cover the rest of the costs associated with finalizing ChenFang’s adoption. In an attempt to get us as close to that number as possible, we are offering some additional artworks for sale in Matt’s etsy shop. He uploaded a number of prints over the weekend, all of which are priced to sell – there are 6 images remaining for $40 or less. These are a couple of my favorites.

shell-print

book-brick-print

If you’re doing some Black Friday or Cyber Monday Christmas shopping this weekend, would you consider purchasing a print or a painting for someone on your list? If you’re sharing with others a list of items you might appreciate receiving as Christmas gifts this year, would you consider including one of Matt’s prints or paintings on that list? It would be tremendously helpful and a great encouragement to us.

Or of course, if you would like to make a straight financial contribution, you may do that, as well, at this link, or there are instructions in this post for mailing a check.

Thank you all for partnering with us, for helping to bring our sweet little girl home and into our family. It means the world to us.