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Sunday, January 31, 2010


Not sure when I will find internet connection again to actually send this, but it is Sunday evening here in Guangzhou. God continues to show is great mercies and blessings.

We praise Him that our new daughters (who still can’t talk to us) heard God’s word today for the first time and they got to hear it in their own language, from a Chinese pastor in a Chinese church filled with Chinese!

We praise Him and pray that this will awaken their hearts and help them see that He is the God of all peoples and not a God of “those” westerners.

God took us to a shop on Saturday where the shop owner was a Bible believing Christian and invited us to her church today.

His praise is felt from the inside out. There was no language barriers for Amy and I when His people praise Him. Amen!

As an added bonus Amy was carrying the church flyer around the market after the service (the flyer also only in Chinese) and she got to witness to a Chinese Catholic when she asked in broken English “what is the difference between a Catholic church and a Christian Church”. God used Amy! Tough enough to do in your own culture much less to someone with limited understanding of the religions and the language. God is Awesome!

Pray for Judy, the young lady who invited us to church. She is battling her own Buddhist family

Pray for Michelle, the young Catholic mom of a little baby with an unbelieving husband.

David and Amy

Saturday, January 30, 2010

There’s No TB On ME!

Or on us, for that matter. The girls cleared their tests this morning. Poor Amanda walked to the clinic like she was going to death-row…I tried to explain in my limited Chinese that the man would only look at her arm and then we would walk away, but it wasn’t until we were cleared and I was jumping for joy (literally, mind you. Just ask my bio kids—I have been known to embarrass them on numerous occasions!) that she lightened her countenance.
Hope started the day actually offering me one of her biscuits from the 7-11 (our breakfast haunt) when I asked what was inside. I REALLY hoped that it was the sign of something good…but then she caught herself and went into the angry mode. We have explained that if she is being mean to us, she gets no tv. Boy-oh-boy did she put up a fight when we got back to the hotel room! BUT, we are bigger, and have longer arms, and will NOT be swayed by a teen’s temper-tantrum (once again, ask our bios!) so she pouted lying on the floor next to her bed all afternoon.
This evening is the same. Unfortunately Amanda also feels the brunt of Hope’s consequences, which she immediately pouts about. She doesn’t understand, but her response is not ideal, so hopefully she will glean something from this struggle for control.
This afternoon we wandered into a shop that had “stuff” for sale. I was intrigued by the pendants that said “mother-daughter” and “sister” and purchased a bunch for the kids. Amanda wants hers right away, Hope doesn’t want hers at all, but I am keeping them for when we get home. Through broken conversation between Chinese and English, I found out that the shop owner is a Christian, has been for 4 years, and showed me her bible and her favorite verses. It ends up that the White Swan has church on Sundays at 11 in both English and Chinese. That will be the main point of our day tomorrow! We got her card and told her that we would pray for her. Her whole family is Buddhist, which she prays for every day. I probably ended up paying too much for the pendants, but I didn’t want to enrage a fellow believer. 
I have received so many messages of encouragement and suggestions of how to weather these storms. We don’t have WiFi right now; I type at night and we send when we go to Starbucks in the morning, so I don’t have the time to respond to all of them. Thank you everyone for standing by me/us during this time. I feel like you are holding my arms up when I don’t have the strength to keep them high. Thank you .
All my best,

Friday, January 29, 2010

Drawing Near

Amanda had her first experience in a swimming pool! She was excited about the concept from the point of buying swimsuits, and today we “took the plunge!” Her eyes were wide and she clung tightly, but she followed me into the water on her own accord and allowed me to walk her around the pool both on her stomach AND on her back. She even allowed me to put her head onto the water as she looked at the ceiling. We played with balls and kickboards until she had such a shiver from the water temperature that I decided it was better to end on a good note than to push it farther. Before we exited the water I did have Amanda stand alone in the chest-deep water and walk around. Just as long as she was walking TOWARDS me, she was fine! Just as we finished showering, another family with young children came. I offered for us to go back into the pool, which Amanda considered, until she saw them do cannon balls into the water. Then it was time to go! She may trust me, but not enough to submerge her fully!!! I must admit, it felt good not only to hold her close, but also for her to trust me enough to enter the water. I have been told that many Chinese never submerge themselves—in pools, lakes, or otherwise. A co-worker of Dave’s said that his Chinese wife just submerged her face below the water’s surface for the first time last year! Even in the shower she does NOT like having the water on her face. And Amanda trusted me fully. I feel honored.
Later, we went to the airport. Dave had been nervous for days about this trip, and now he was living his fears. After having our checked luggage checked (we had a butterfly magnet in it that Amanda had painted!) we were denied access to the plane at the security checkpoint. They said that we needed their passports. We told them that we had their adoption paperwork (which we used for both flights until this point) and a copy of their passports (that were waiting for us in Guangzhou), AND we had called our guide to tell them in Chinese, but nothing worked. Dave’s fears were becoming reality. We were told that we had to go to a police station to get a temporary travel permit, but there was NO WAY we were going to be able to leave and return in time for the flight! It turns out that we needed to find a police station in the basement, but we needed to leave NOW. Dave was fluctuating between being red in the face to having the blood drain away, leaving him rather pale, and when I heard that they told us to go to a police station, my stomach dropped through the floor. It was then that I heard God’s voice in my heart: “Watch.” In an instant I knew that I had to choose, and since I was the one to hear His voice, my heart quieted. As Dave strode away from the counter not knowing what to do, I couldn’t help but smile, because God was going to have to show Himself BIG to get us out of this mess!
Within 15 seconds, a Chinese man stepped out of the security line and had asked us if we needed help. We gave him the short-answer details, and he instantly told us where we needed to go and what to do. He also said that since he had time before his flight, he would be happy to walk with us. For the next 20 minutes, he acted as our translator and guide. Even at the police station, when it didn’t look like they would grant us our temp. passports, he pleaded on our behalf. $10 later, we had the appropriate paperwork (that each guide in the other provinces should have given to us) and we were back in the security line.
“Richard” that works for Teledyne was our angel for the day! Dave was in tears after we parted ways; God again showed Himself faithful for guiding our paths. I am so thankful that this time I was able to trust Him…I really hope I can remember for the next wave that comes! I am also thankful that HE simply told me to “watch”, otherwise I might have missed His hand. Lord, I stand in AWE of you!
Side note, Richard mentioned that he and his wife have been considering adopting a child. They had one 10 yr old son, and had considered adoption as a way of having another. I hope that God will use us for his journey of adoption!
All my best,

My Heart Broke

Today we had our medical appointment in Guangzhou. We showed up at the hospital a few minutes early; our guide was more than a few minutes late. By this time the girls had heard several children scream in pain from the immunizations that were given, so they were on edge.
We found out that Amanda’s vision is not great and she may need glasses. I say “may” because their testing was inconclusive, and no matter what strength of lens they put in her glasses, she couldn’t do any better than when she was looking at the chart without glasses. Unfortunately, they either said or did something to scare or embarrass her, or just the stress of being in the hospital for so long was wearing on her, and she started to cry—hard. I spoke to the guide and told her that I wanted the testing to stop, that we would have her vision tested in the states. She translated, and the doctors said that they needed to continue to test to find out what her vision was to know what to write down. I riled, and told them it didn’t make any difference what they did to her eyes, it didn’t improve the vision at all, and they were only making her cry so she couldn’t see through the tears. I told them to write ANYTHING down, I didn’t care; I was taking my daughter. I fully expected backlash—but it didn’t come.
The immunizations were awful. Each girl needed 4 plus a TB test. Hope needed to get a Hep B shot, even though she sero-converted. When I questioned our guide, she agreed with me, but shrugged her shoulders. That was one battle she wasn’t willing to fight. Amanda cried horribly, and was red eyed for quite some time. Hope did ok, very little emotion.
Once we were released (two hours after we arrived) we went out to lunch at Lucy’s and then walked down by the water front. We went back to the hotel room and the girls watched some Chinese movie we bought for a few hours. Dave and I were getting stir-crazy, so we thought we would all go walk around and see what was in the area. Amanda had a melt-down! She was shaking and crying uncontrollably. We tried to get Hope to tell her that we weren’t going to the doctor’s again, but she wouldn’t. (she is selective about what she will obey) We got a person at the hotel’s front desk to tell Amanda that we were going to just walk around, but NO doctors, but Amanda wasn’t listening anymore. Customer service got involved, took us back to their office, consoled and tried to explain to Mandy that all was well, but she wouldn’t, couldn’t calm down. Finally we just went out of the hotel carrying a crying girl. First stop: Mc D’s for an ice cream cone. We shopped around for a new pair of pants for Amanda since she doesn’t have a pair that really fits, but the shops were way too expensive there. We bought some candied fruit on a stick for Mandy, walked in circles for a while, and finally found a cheap, back-alley place for dinner. So far, we are all doing well—no intestinal problems! Right about the time we got a table for dinner Amanda settled back to her impish ways. On the walk home, she was in full swing of attention seeking behavior! Even through the worst of her melt-down, she still held on to me, and her grip strengthened as she realized that we really weren’t going back for more shots.
I dread our return trip on Saturday to get their TB shot analyzed.
I am so angry with our politicians. I had contacted them repetitively months before coming about this silly Hague law. These children are treated like livestock—and livestock are not treated well in China! It was MANDATED that they get the flu vaccine, Hep B vaccination when none is needed, and all with questionable timing and viability of the vaccines used. Once we return home we will have blood titers drawn to find out what is good and what needs to be redone. I would love for our politicians to take their child or grandchild and put them through what my kids went through today. Perhaps something would be done for these children who have no voice and no rights at this point. Perhaps.
Enough soap box—we are all tucked in for the day.
Until tomorrow,
All my best,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Broken, but not Crushed

OK, today wasn't anything "abnormal" but that doesn't mean good.
AM as usual, wake-up, clean up, and breakfast. Amanda chose all pastries--that was fine, as yesterday was all meat. Weekly average, ya know?
We left immediately following breakfast for Dave's co-worker's house. He is an American, left US after college for China, learned the language and found a wife. Now lives in Shanghai with two kids and his in-laws live with him. The kids are off school so he invited us to spend the day.
His kids played and my kids watched, but it was different from the hotel, so it was ok. Other than the fact that their water was turned off for the day, which I found out AFTER I had a BM in their toilet. Had I known... :)
How's that for transparency!??!
Afterward, we went to Dave's  company's New year's party that started with Karaoke. HUGE here, the place was massive! My girls were well behaved and endured 3 hours of other people singing.
Upon a suggestion of a friend in Shanghai, we went to a grocery to buy Chinese snacks for the US. Comfort food for when we return home, although Hope decided that she wouldn't want ANYTHING. Amanda chose a few items, I chose more. Once again, upon the suggestion of my Chinese friend, I wanted Hope to choose some feminine products in case she needed them before we returned home.  At that point we  hit our lowest level. If she thought she could take me, I really think she would have assaulted me in the store! Thank God that I can lift more than the average Chinese male, which gave me the upper hand!!!
Hope no longer tolerates me--she treats me with utter disdain. She forcefully pulls away from me and refuses to look at me. There is blatant rejection.
I knew about this. It isn't a surprise. That doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt.
By the grace of God I have been able to hold on, demonstrating love when my flesh wants to recoil.
If God didn't show himself clearly, I  would seriously consider granting her wish to stay here.
However, I am in THE MOTHER MODE. When I was told to let my other daughter be, let her embrace being "average", let her follow the path of "less than", I held my ground for both me and her. Now I am doing the same. Hope may be thinking she wants to stay "how it was", but since I know that is bu sing, excuse me, impossible, I will hold on long enough and strong enough for the both of us. I KNOW that God orchestrated this adoption. I KNOW it wasn't an emotional response of my own doing. I knew back then that I would have to depend on that the rubber meets the road.
Amanda is presently rejecting David and clinging to me. I like it, but yet am exhausted by it at the same time. She is not an easy child. Hannah will feel challenged by her for quite some time. I pray that they will become friends as well as sisters, but I anticipate the road to be rocky.
Tomorrow we leave for Guangzhou in the afternoon. I hope to take Amanda swimming in the morning. I heard that it is normal for Chinese people to be deathly afraid of water if they haven't had the opportunity to immerse themselves. I see that in Hope. I don't think she has truly showered since we got her. Mandy, on the other hand, LOVES the water and is indignant that she can't have an hour bath both AM and PM!!!
I pray that God will continue to give me the grit and determination to continue to show love to Hope when everything in me is screaming to recoil and preserve.
I pray that Amanda will be saved from the anger and bitterness coming from Hope.
I pray that their TB tests on Thursday will show negative, so we can come home soon.
Until then,
All my best,

PS If anyone wants to help another adoptive parent, there is another MI mom that is desperately trying to gather the funds to get her child. I don't have the address as I am writing, but I will try to include it in another post. I believe that it is a tax-deferred donation. Every $10 helps; I know! We have incurred 2k more on this trip than anticipated, due to our wonderful US government. I am not asking for help for us anymore; if you want to help a  family in need, please let me know. Otherwise, I will include the address for donating in my next post. Think about it...2 1/2 foo-foo coffees, 3-4 packages of Oreos, 4 2L of Coke, JUST THE EXTRAS!!! Would you be willing to "fast" from a luxury for a week to help another mom? Wouldn't you want someone else to do the same?
Guilt plus Godliness---what a mix!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Squeezed Dry

The past 48 hours have been so full of ups and downs I am becoming dizzy.

On Sunday we heard that there was a place nearby to do laundry that was cheaper than the hotel, so we loaded up our dirty clothes and made the trek with the girls in tow. 6 blocks of walking later we found it, but since we didn't want to wait until Wednesday to pick it up, it would have cost us $3 a shirt to have things cleaned. Granted, the hotel charged $2 for a pair of underwear, but it still was too expensive to get things done for the four of us. After the walk back to the hotel, we went back out to a market to find the clothing in sizes to fit all of us. At first Hope refused to agree to anything, so I bought the sizes and colors that I thought would work. Amanda was VERY clear on what she wanted!!! We found/God led us to a vendor's stall that had a younger girl selling shirts who spoke both Chinese and English. She got Hope to agree to one shirt, and when I encouraged her to buy another, the seller had the wits to tell Hope that the second one was free, so Hope readily agreed to another. When we got done haggling on the price, I had to run back and hug her neck and thank her! She got my daughter to be more compliant than I ever could!

After that we bought swimsuits at a local store for the girls and I to use the hotel pool, but Hope totally shut down. she wouldn't try anything on, she wouldn't choose a color, she wouldn't even look at the suits or at us. Amanda was overjoyed with the prospect of going swimming, so she is very excited about being able to use the new suit!

When we get back to the hotel Hope took a 2 hour nap. I figured that she needed it, and thought it would put her in a better mood. The evening went on without a big problem, Hope watched a movie we bought for her until about 11 PM, and slept in her clothes (again). 
Monday morning Dave went to work and the girls and I woke up reasonably late. From the first few moments of being awake, Hope set the tone for the morning. She was having an extreme-moody day, wouldn't hardly look at me, and moped around the room. Amanda was hopping on one foot around the room, so I was eager to get out to breakfast! A friend on mine invited us over to her house to spend the day, which I was excited to do because I never thought I would ever see her again, but also because Helen was born in Hong Kong (thus spoke Cantonese) but had married a Chinese man and now lives in Shanghai ( and spoke Mandarin). She would be my "translator" for both my girls! Unfortunately, Hope did NOT like the idea, and flatly refused to leave the hotel room. Bless her heart, Helen had sent her driver to our hotel, and while he sat downstairs waiting for us, Helen talked to Hope for AN HOUR trying to "convince" her to come out to her place. Thankfully, Hope agreed, probably because Helen said we could do laundry at her place and I needed her help carrying the laundry. When I found that out I grabbed what I could and headed out the door...I should have brought it all, but I did NOT want Hope to change her mind while I was grabbing the last of the laundry!

We spent the whole day with Helen. She conversed with both the girls; I found out more about Hope and her life in China than I had until this point, Hope seemed to enjoy talking to Helen and even Amanda was responsive and fairly respectful. Helen let the girls ride her boys' scooters, which was a first for both of them, but the girls had a blast! they must have scootered in front of the house for almost an hour! I heard about what God is doing in China with the ex-pat community and with the ayis, how her children are doing both in Canada (at Queens University) and in Shanghai, etc, etc. When we finally came home, I had really hoped that we were all in a good mood and the rebellious nature was left behind. I was WRONG!

This time David saw what I had described. Between flatly ignoring us to refusing to do what we requested, she was becoming more insolent by the moment. Amanda was bouncing off the walls, laughing at everything, (do you remember the movie "Gremlins"? I liken her to that...not when they become violent, mind you, but one step before.) but yet noticing Hopes reactions (or lack thereof) and would watch us wide-eyed to see what we would do. It feels like a circus here, and I am a tube of toothpaste that an elephant has stepped on...squeezed out and dry, but needing to do it all over again tomorrow...and the next day...and the next...for over another week in China! I feel like I may have more leverage in the US, but here I am stuck, trampled, clueless.

On a positive note, Amanda is bonding with me more and more. She reaches for my hand unprompted, when faced with a stranger talking to her or an unknown situation, she will hide behind me, and she is trying to please. As tiring as she can be, I know that it is a good thing!

Tonight is almost done--Amanda is sleeping next to me and Hope is in the bathroom ( and has been for the past 45 minutes...for someone who doesn't want to shower, she certainly seems to stay a long time!). Maybe tomorrow will be better. I have to hold on to that hope for my Hope.

Please pray for us.

All my best,


Friday, January 22, 2010

The Wall

I think Hope has hit it...and keeps on bumping her head.
We started yesterday morning in good spirits, but when it became time to leave Nanning Hope became very quiet and negative; every question was answered with "no". Unfortunately, our flight was delayed so we sat for quite a long time in the airport. Gone were the smiles, the willingness to play "tic-tac-toe", the desire to eat or drink. When we were in the air she lightened up a bit, and returned to herself by the time we got to the hotel. I thought it was all behind us, but I was wrong.
Friday stared fine; Dave went to work before we woke up, and the girls and I had a lazy morning sleeping in. Breakfast was fine, although Hope insisted on using knife and fork for her bacon. :) After breakfast, (which was around 11 am!) I asked Hope for her opinion on where to go. She chose (yea! she had an opinion!) the aquarium, and we went. Both Amanda and Hope had fun with the interactive screens; they "pushed buttons" on the screens playing games and doing puzzles for about 90 minutes! We wandered through the exhibits and had a good time, but soon I noticed that Hope was pulling back. Amanda was raring to go, so I kept and eye and a hand on her while trying to reach out to Hope, but she pulled farther away, both emotionally and physically. The aquarium was fantastic; we saw so many interesting species, plus feeding of the sharks, stingrays and other aquatic animals. (all overhead and next to us, as we were in the "tunnels"!)
When we finished the exhibits we ended in the gift shop, which I wasn't interested in, although I did offer to get the girls something, which they refused. There was the food court also, which I offered since it was 3 PM, but Hope refused. Once we got outside, I tried to find a restaurant, but Hope didn't want any of them. Since everything was in Chinese, I needed her cooperation to order, so I figured that we would go back to the hotel and find a bakery. That way I could point and choose!

When we got back, we did make the trek to a bakery around the corner and I let both girls choose what they wanted (BTW, bakeries in China have lunch items, not just sweets). We then went across the street to get some soft drinks, once again letting them choose their own. Amanda chose, Hope refused, but I bought two of everything Amanda chose. When we got back to the hotel room, both girls ate their food, as they were very hungry at this time. Mandy ate one item, Hope ate three, one of which was quite large. I told her that we were planning on going to dinner in 90 minutes, but she chose to keep eating. This was for a purpose, I later realized.
We were supposed to go out with a co-worker of David's for dinner, but traffic was HORRIBLE and after driving for 90 minutes, she decided to go home and meet us tomorrow. David finally got home after being in a taxi for 2 hours and said it was time for dinner. Hope refused. She kept on packing and re-packing her backpack, which only contained books and two winter coats. Dave finally went out to eat with Mandy at Mc D's, I stayed at home with Hope. She crumpled, crying silently, and wouldn't respond for at least 30 minutes. When she finally did move, she hid behind a chair. The next hour was just her and I together; Hope crying or ignoring me, Me praying fervently for her and us or weeping for her. My heart felt like it would break, as she was so overcome by grief. She understands the written word better than the spoken, so I kept writing notes to her, asking if I did anything wrong, why she was sad, offering suggestions of what she may be feeling or why she might be sad, telling her over and over that I loved her and would love her always; she only shook her head "no" with every note.
Hope finally started playing the music we bought for her, and Dave and Mandy came back from Mc D's. Mandy was happy with her happy meal toy, and kept trying to get my attention. She noticed Hope's crying, and was concerned, but was more interested in getting attention in any way possible. It was then that Dave gave me the "reprieve" to go to the lounge and write on the blog.

Right now my heart is continually breaking for Hope. Hailey wrote her a note saying how much she loved her and has always wanted a sister close in age, and how Hope is an answer to her prayers. I know that I have prayed for Hope for months, and the desire to adopt an older child that stared WAY before we found our Hope has been made alive. Mandy sees Hope's raw emotions and gets her cues from her...but is not certain why this other girl is so sad. Hope is grieving...hard! I only wish I could hug it away and make it better. I love this girl almost as much as my own flesh and blood...yes, I will be honest and say "almost", because there still is a difference, but the amount of love I feel for her is huge and growing every day. God has done a work in my heart to make it grow and expand beyond I could have imagined just a few years ago. I would speculate that He did it to include my China daughters.

Although this post has been predominantly about Hope, I won't neglect my other daughter here. Mandy is learning so much...she is as smart as a whip but yet less aware of limits. Unfortunately Dave has laughed at every antic of hers, and now finds her attention-seeking to be less than desirable. Mandy LOVES Dave, and would choose him over me any minute of the day. Mandy does like me, however, and will seek my attention and my approval. We had a good morning doing crafts together--painting and glitter art and playdoh. Or, I should say, I worked the too-dry-and-more-like-crumbly-plastic-stuff than Play-doh...I think it will be more workable tomorrow. I spent over an hour working it, not to mention that my hands turned smurf-blue when working the blue playdoh, even after three vigorous hand-washings! Anyway, Mandy seems to be wanting me; she grabbed my hands and arms when going through a part of the aquarium that had a rainforest sound, accompanied by a rainstorm...she did NOT like it and was quite frightened!! She also hid behind me when seeing sea-life that looked scary to her...I figure that if she is using me to hide behind, she sees me a someone that will keep her safe. That is money in the emotional bank, in my opinion.

I should keep a journal, as this writing has been very therapeutic. I don't know if someday Hope and Mandy will read this. I just know that getting the thoughts and emotions down helps. No wonder why my sister and my daughter Hailey journal so much! I do know that God has brought me and Dave here for a reason. I do know that God and God alone has increased my love for these girls beyond my understanding. If Hope and Mandy do read this someday, I hope that they realize that, even though I made and continue to make mistakes, I loved them SO MUCH even in these beginning days, and I KNOW that is will be multiplying in the days to come.

Why do I share all of this? Maybe for my daughters, so they can one day look back and know. Maybe for another adoptive parent, who is walking the same path. Maybe for someone else, who, faced with some challenge that only God knows, may glean some encouragement. I don't know why, but I just need to be obedient to the One who made all of this happen. He is the one who raises beauty from ashes...and if that doesn't describe my life, I don't know what does!!!

To Him who is Worthy,
All my best,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They're Officially Ours!

Today we got our paperwork completed for Amanda! According to the Chinese government, both Hope and Amanda are ours!!

This in addition to the fact that TODAY IS HOPE'S 14TH BIRTHDAY!!  Happy birthday, Hope!!!

It was a difficult morning for the girls, though. When I told Hope that we needed to go again, she told me "no". When I told her to put her shoes on, we really needed to leave, she started asking questions of where and why. I don't think she trusted my answers, but at least she was complacent and came along. Granted, Hope is normally quiet, but she crawled into a shell I hadn't seen since we got her. Even Amanda was more subdued.

When we arrived at the same place we got Min Zhi from the day before, I could almost guess what the girls were thinking. We were ushered into a waiting room and left alone. In the room were some large plastic toys, one of which was a huge ball. Dave and I started kicking the ball to the girls while sitting on couches. Smiles emerged, followed by laughter when Dave and I were falling off the couches and making wayward the time we were called out, our girls were more relaxed. Hope didn't want to be anywhere near us in the room we were questioned about our intentions, but I had her sit on my lap anyway. She heard the questions and answers and saw the exchange of RMB. Not what I would have chose, but all of a sudden it seemed to click...we weren't returning her/them, we were making it real. When it was time to leave, Amanda didn't cry at all, even when her ayi gave her a hug. instead, Amanda almost flew to Dave's side and grabbed his hand. Hope even took my hand--the first time she initiated!!!

After all of this, we went to lunch by the hotel again. We had Hope choose the restaurant and order; partially because we wanted her to assume responsibility but mostly because none of the restaurants have ANY English or ANY pinyin and very few photos of what the food is supposed to look like! We saw for the first time that Min Zhi will eat until the food is gone--as soon as we realized this, we took her food away because she had already eaten more than Dave. She may not be hoarding right now, but she definitely doesn't know to stop.

We stopped at Wal-Mart again, this time to buy some rubber flip flops. The big, cushy slippers I purchased for the girls yesterday found their way into the shower, and it's questionable whether they will dry any time soon. We also stopped at a DVD store and got the girls their choice of movies and music. It was nice, as Hope actually ASKED for some music!

This is a big change, even since this morning. I had to use her birthday as "leverage" to get her to wear her new clothes. I also used it to get her to agree to let me paint her nails. She only agreed to sparkly clear polish only on her pinky nails and only AFTER I painted Dave's big toe! What a guy!

Anyway, we now need to wake our new Chinese princesses. They both fell asleep while waiting for me to finish this post. We plan on introducing them to pizza tonight, followed by a scoop of ice cream. American eating at its finest!

All my best,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Daughters! (sisters)

Mom and Hope

Mom, Amanda, and Hope
Hope, Mom, and Amanda!

Now we have TWO!

We have Amanda! Or perhaps I should still call her Min Zhi, as it isn't official until tomorrow. Doesn't matter--we HAVE HER!!!

It has been quite a day! Min Zhi was very scared when we got her. She would hardly even look at us. Poor thing, she speaks Cantonese and we don't...she is supposed to know some Mandarin, but we have yet to discover which words she might know...

After we came back to the hotel, Dave and I took the girls to Wal-Mart (can you believe that there is one just around the corner?) to get some clothes. Both of the girls are taller than expected, so we needed to get a few things. Hope was wonderful and held onto Min Zhi's hand right away, so Min Zhi clung to her for dear life. While in Wal-Mart, Dave decided to take Min Zhi to find some DVDs to watch. Of course walking is overrated, so Dave decided to spin Min Zhi down the aisles, which brought a smile to her face. Tickling was discovered to bring out the giggles, and once it started, it hasn't really ended. Now Dave just needs to look at her and she starts laughing!

Hope had a hard time at the store. She was determined that I wasn't going to buy her anything! We NEEDED to get her some fresh clothes, so I didn't take no for an answer. The more she refused, the goofier I got--I did actually get her to say she wanted ONE thing, but that was after I threatened that if she didn't choose anything, we wouldn't be able to go to KFC. Bribery works in many languages!

Min Zhi had no problem showering once we returned home for the evening. It was so much fun wrapping her in a big fluffy towel to dry her off! Hope thought she wasn't going to bathe again, but I didn't allow that to be a choice. I offered her the tub or shower, which she promptly chose shower. After I left, however, she remained in the bathroom for almost an hour with water either running or being splashed, so I suppose she decided to try the tub after all. Poor dad had to use the bathroom, but didn't want to disturb Hope's first real bath. :)

Now both girls are cleaned, brushed, in PJs (yea!) and in bed. Hope keeps looking over at me and smiling. I don't know what made the connection today, but I am SO THANKFUL that it has been made!!!

It's funny--when we first started this process, my focus was on what would be good for the family. During the months of getting paperwork done, contacting governmental officials, and finishing details, I was thinking of what was good for the girls. Now I realize that I am the one that has been blessed the most. I don't know why God has trusted me with so much, but I pray that he finds me faithful.

All my best,


We have been taking a bunch of photos but will have to upload them once we get home!
Hope has been VERY quiet. Babelfish has proved itself wonderfully useful (we didn't purchase a translator) and we can communicate that way. Hope had her first experience of "surfing the web" yesterday and her first airplane ride today. I have been very "hands on" with the hugs, stroking of her hair, holding her arm, etc. I can feel that it isn't normal for her, but she hasn't pulled away either.
Due to our very quick stay in Kunming we didn't get a chance to sightsee or to try and visit her foster family, but we did call her foster family so she could talk to them (and so we could get their phone number.) Hope is never very talkative, even with people that are speaking Mandarin to her, so I think she is just painfully shy.
Hope came to us with the stuffed animal we sent (but not the photo album), some school books and a blanket-like coat in a backpack. She wore new jeans, shoes, sweater and coat. She also wore two layers of long-underwear, which I highly suspect are new but have been worn for a few too many days. I offered some new clothes that we brought from home, but she does NOT want them. I am going to take her out to have her involved in the process of buying at least a change of clothing, and then insist that she showers or bathes before changing. She wears her coat even indoors, and although she denies being hot, her "ripeness" indicates otherwise. David may be flying to Shanghai to do some business, so it may be easier for "just the girls" to take a dip in the bathtub together. :)
Hope has been wonderful in trying to "be a good girl", as our guide told us she was instructed to do. She was told that if she didn't listen to her new mama and baba we might not want her. I think that is playing into her quietness, and although it is nice to have a perfectly behaved child, I am eager to get to know the real girl underneath.
I must share one more thing! I don't know if any other adoptive moms, especially of older children, have questioned if they were doing the right thing taking their child out of a foster family and out of their culture. I was hitting incredible highs and lows the day before we got Hope! However, after seeing her swollen, red, ulcerated hands (probably due to washing clothes outside) and noticing how she responds when I brush her hair or tuck her into bed or tickle her feet, I really think that there will be many more "foreign" things for her to experience in America than just the culture. I consider it my true privilege to introduce her to our forever family and all the "perks" that it entails!
Next will be Min Zhi! Only 2 hours to go!!!
All my best,
Amy, currently in Nanning, China

Sunday, January 17, 2010

4 To Go!!

Dave and I are in Kunming to get Hope. We are scheduled to see her for the first time in FOUR HOURS!!! I have been up all night, even with an antihistamine in me. I think it is a combination of jet lag and anxiety...
The next day (Tuesday) we will fly to Nanning to get Amanda. After that I really don't know what our plans are. We don't officially have TA for Amanda yet, so hopefully that will come today.
I will write again when I have a moment. We may be going to the local Wal-Mart to get Hope some clothes later. Now, before you think we will be able to do this task with any kind of relative ease, let me assure you that China's Wal-Marts and American Wal-Marts are NOTHING alike!!! They have the same yellow smiley-faced character, but the similarities end there. I mean, where in America can you get chicken feet and jellied squid in Wal-mart??? Not that the 5 second rule for dropped food would be in effect in America's Wal-Mart, but here I have seen women whistling to their very-young children mid-aisle, even though the diapers were only 20 feet from them...
I will try to share more later! Please pray for us and especially Hope! 
All my best,

Good morning

Good morning one and all!

Mom and Dad are really boring.  We sat in the hotel room all evening.  We are getting ready to go to bed.  We get up in the morning and get XiFan at 9:00 am our time.  I still cannot grasp this all.

Pray for us, our kids, her, all of us!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

We're in the Air!!!

I have felt like I've been walking on air for days, and now Dave and I really are!
Thursday afternoon we leave the US and arrive in China Friday night! Whoo Hoo!
Hold on, girls! We are coming!!!
All my best,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Article 5

Xi Fan has her Article 5 from the US consulate in Guangzhou! Min Zhi's didn't pass yet, but hopefully tomorrow!!!
Look out, Beijing, here they come!!!
Could we actually get our travel approval BEFORE we travel???
All my best,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Four Days Until Flight!

We are in the home stretch! Only 4 days until we leave! It seems surreal.
This past weekend we had the pleasure of being able to visit extended family members—many of whom we haven’t seen for 4 years! It was great to see everyone again, catch up on each other’s lives, and laugh at the kids acting like kids. I was VERY surprised to find out that some were reading this blog—thanks, Diane! Dave is also trying to find a way to get Joel and Juliann over to Thailand after hearing their hearts for missions…which goes to show that you should be careful what you say to a “quick-start” personality! J

We haven’t heard yet whether or not our paperwork was approved for our article 5 in Guangzhou. We literally need things to be approved in a day and the mail to move quickly in both Guangzhou and Beijing. On paper it doesn’t work to get everything done in time, but God is bigger than that.

Thanks for standing by and behind us in this time!!!
All my best,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Make a Choice Already!

I LOVE GOD! My heart is overflowing with His praise! HE ALONE IS WORTHY!
It was quite an afternoon—
After being talked down to and brought to tears by our senator’s office, I was rather down to say the least. During a very “therapeutic” session of shoveling snow off our roof, God reminded me that HE hasn’t changed, even if our circumstances have. So I lifted praises to the heavens while standing on my rooftop.
Later, while shopping at a local food center I saw a girl we used to drive to Wednesday night church. In an inaudible whisper God spoke to my heart: Talk to her. Simple enough, I thought, so I stopped and chatted with this teenage girl. It was only small talk, but I was able to ask her about school and sports and other various things.  A few moments later while I was checking out, this girl got into line right behind me. She was only carrying a small sandwich from the deli, so I saw it as an opportunity to chat again. Once again, the whisper came: Buy it for her. It wasn’t a request, mind you, so I obeyed and told the person checking me out to add her sandwich. This girl quickly refused to let it be scanned, but I had the amount added to my bill to cover it. Feeling pretty good that I had obeyed, I told the girl goodbye and turned to leave. She ran after me, saying that she had to talk to me—and was rather distraught. Back in August we were TP-ed  and she admitted to me that she told the culprits where we lived and to being there while we were “decorated”. Bless her heart, her face was all blotchy, her eyes were watering, and she looked miserable! It was at that moment that I realized why God had been whispering to my heart…I had the profound joy of forgiving her and bringing her into a bear hug. I even forgave her if she had TP-ed us, just in case there was anything that she was not ready to admit. J When I said goodbye for the final time and saw her slip around the corner I knew that the small talk, emotional connection, and a $3.19 sandwich was just the appetizer for the main course. On special for today was a healing of the heart.
I am SO THANKFUL that He started the process on the roof—had I been inward focused, I might not have seen her, or felt like I had time to talk, or refused to buy the sandwich. Praise God that he got my heart in the right place so His blessings could flow!  And then, once I returned home… (see next post!!!)
All my best,

It Still Sits

NVC still has our paperwork and has not uploaded the information yet.
When I called last night, they knew me by name and said “we have your information right here.”
“Has it been uploaded yet?”

“May I ask why?”
Call me crazy, but it doesn’t seem like it is about policy at all. It is about a girl named Xi Fan, who may be stuck in China after all.
But I will not lose my hope! I will NOT lose my Hope!!!
Clinging to His promises,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Attention All Prayer Warriors!

We are in need for you to intercede for us!
Unlike the last post, our second call to NVC did not go as well.
Our case was not even listed as an adoption case, so I praise GOD that He prompted me to call.
The woman I talked to tonight told me that it would take to 5 business days to “scan and send” our information to Guangzhou. Never mind that it is already supposed to have been scanned yesterday. Never mind that this is an expedited age-out case. Never mind that we need this information to be approved in Guangzhou, have a courier deliver it to the CCAA, and have them approve it again for the proper paperwork to be available to complete for Xi Fan by Jan. 19th. I was told that they will send it NEXT WEEK.
We have contacted our state senator and our congressman via e-mail and phone (left a voice mail).
Our case worker at WACAP is contacting NVC to see if there is anything she can do.
And now we wait. And pray. And pray. And pray.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.  Isaiah 40:25-26

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families. Psalm 68: 5-6a

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks,he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-7

All my best,

Paperwork Update

Our paperwork was put into the computer yesterday at NVC but has not been cabled yet. I let the poor, unsuspecting woman who took my call the urgency of our case and how we need EVERY DAY to get everything done before Xi Fan ages out when she said to call back tomorrow. She now encouraged me to call back tonight. J Time for this wheel to SQUEAK!
Until then…

Angels All Around Us

I am still struggling with unbelief—we are up to 1/3 of our matching grant! There have been SO MANY people who tangibly have supported us, not to mention all of the prayer support we have. I mean, I have supported people I don’t know in the past, but nothing near how we have been blessed—there have been several $100 donations PLUS a $1000 donation…by someone whom I have never met! That on top of the $5000 we hope to receive from our Christmas angel—I have never know such generosity. This is something storybooks are made of!

It seems so meager to say THANK YOU, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to do so. THANK YOU to ALL of our angels! We appreciate each and every one of you!!!

Eight days until take-off!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Less Than Two To Go!

I can’t believe it…we will be in Kunming two weeks from now! Hopefully we will have Xi Fan and paperwork completed so we can stop the countdown clock. We have our tickets to Shanghai purchased as well as our tickets to Kunming. After that we will have to be flexible. Since we will probably have to travel before Travel Approval (TA) and certainly before Consulate Appointment (CA), anything can happen. BUT>>Xi Fan will be safe with us! And we plan on getting Min Zhi by Wednesday, so our new additions will be complete!
I had a few people ask how they could stand by us in this time. I know I mentioned our Christmas Angel who promised us a matching grant of $5000, but I failed to include how to donate. Checks can be made out to:
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744
**In the memo section please write "Fathman 939"

If you would like to donate online, please visit the website at and on the left hand side click, 'make a donation'. Then click the yellow box that says, 'make a donation'. This will take you to PayPal. Again, please put in the item description: "Fathman 939". Paypal does take a small fee, but know that all the funds received by Lifesong after that go 100% to our family.

You will receive a tax receipt for this gift of love.

Additionally, a beautiful woman (yes, another adoptive mom!) has offered to stand by us during our last few weeks here. She sells multicultural books, gifts, etc from her website. Please check out her items at There is a button at the bottom of the page for Fathman Family Adoption Fund. She has some beautiful books there—perfect for a cold Michigan winter’s night!
We are so thankful for all of our blessings—God has given us so many beautiful people to walk this path with us.

All my best,