They are home! Thanks for your donations!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How Beautiful!

Hope adores her art class! I have been so thankful that the teacher has been so accommodating, proactive, and committed to Hope’s well being. We even received a congratulations card from Hope’s art teacher, expressing her joy for us. Kathy, the art teacher, also shared with us why she is so happy and excited for us…she was adopted when she was an infant. I had the joy of sharing that with Hope, using a combination of drawings, pantomime and her dictionary. Initially Hope was confused; Kathy was an American when she was born but yet she was still adopted. I assured her that people all over the world are adopted. Hope seemed to understand and was very happy. Now she loves the art class because of what she does in it AND because of the kinship she has with her teacher.
Hope also desired to walk past her math teacher’s classroom again, just so she knows where it is and how to get to it. She is still fearful of the bald-headed teacher, but she knows that he is like her dad, loving another child enough to adopt as well.
In school a week and already we have met two people with the adoption connection. I don’t know if this is officially the “red thread” that is shared in Asian adoptions, but it is being woven together to make a beautiful tapestry by our Creator. Thank you, God!
All my best,

PS  I had mentioned that we met a woman in Guangzhou that was said she was a Catholic, and that we should pray for her. I think that I need to clarify my statement…lest I unnecessarily offend.
Michelle had said she was a Catholic but didn’t understand about Christianity. That was the part that I felt the burden to pray for her. If she had said she was Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite, Reformed, or any other “religion” and didn’t know how Jesus fit into the picture, I would have felt the need to pray for her heart. I think we often get caught up in the names, either in a positive or negative way. I like to refer to myself as a follower of Jesus, and it is Christ alone, by faith alone that I am saved. Praise Him!

So, if I offended, please accept my apology. It was not my intention, and I hope that my heart wasn’t eclipsed by my words. J

Friday, February 26, 2010

Three weeks and counting…

This time it is counting our time home. Although I have desired to log and blog every day, every waking moment has been filled to capacity!

Both Hope and Mandy are doing very well overall. We continue to have periodic “blips” where my desires and their wills don’t match…and results in a lot of scowling, door slamming, and pouting in their rooms. (Usually by our teen more than the other!) One day Hope slept 6 hours while she was sulking and was surprised that she wasn’t tired at bedtime. I don’t know how long she was in bed before she fell asleep b/c I am usually out moments after my head hits the pillow!

Mandy and Hannah have found a good playmate in each other, although I know that Hannah misses the days of life without a virtual twin and shared attention. Hannah tries SO HARD to incorporate Mandy and gives (usually) sacrificially. Every once in a while she struggles through tears, which is better than the crying 7-8 times a day two weeks ago. Mandy’s English is coming along and she understands more than she speaks, so we usually don’t have too much of a communication problem. Pantomime is used often too. We have been “schooling” in math sums, alphabet writing and identification, and following directions.

Hope has been going to school part time this week. Actually, it has only been for an art class, but she LOVES it. She is learning to weave a rug. In a little over a week she will be in the art class for 1 ½ periods, combining the weaving with a drawing class. Mrs. Babcock has been wonderful in accommodating Hopes desires and needs, and I am very thankful. Next week Hope will be starting Rosetta Stone-English on the school computer, will start trying instruments with the band instructor to find out which one she would like to learn, and may start a math class as well. Hope is uncertain about the math, as the teacher is bald. She seems to think that makes him mean, although I assured her that he is very nice. The math teacher is also an adoptive parent, so he is a perfect choice for Hope. I couldn’t have worked it out any better—thank you God!!!

We have had so many firsts since home! The girls have sat through many swim meets, band concerts, church services, and have discovered a love of SHOPPING!!! (what a change for Hope!) They have been to a local aquatic center for swimming (Hope just watched, but Mandy went down the three-story slide!), the dentist office (no repair at this time, just a cleaning, but Mandy cried through the whole thing. Cavity repair will commence a few months from now), and Hope had a quick doctor’s visit for her cough (next week we go for their second chicken pox immunization and blood titers…ugh!).  

I have had a glimpse into Hope’s heart. One night after a swimming meet I was getting the kids into the van to go home. Hannah was trying to get Hope’s attention by repetitively saying her name: Xi Fan! Xi Fan! Xi Fan! Finally Hope turned around and told her, “I’m not Xi Fan, I’m Hope!” Again, at the dentist office I was filling out their paperwork and listed her whole name: Hope Katherine XiFan Fathman. When she saw it, she told me no while pointing to her Chinese name. I put a line through it, and she was pleased. Of course Mandy then wanted the same thing…

Finally, I have to share a quirk of Mandy’s—she loves to look at, into, through, and around EVERYTHING. She then asks me for various things—a pin, my clothing, toys, a handful of change, whatever. I usually say ok to anything she requests when she is exploring (but not anything that she could break or has a large monetary or sentimental value) but then she doesn’t want it anymore and puts it back. Even when Hannah tries to give her change, Mandy always gives it back. She is amazed that the things she identifies as “Hannah’s” are to be shared with her also. One look into our toy room and dress-up closet gives her eyes as big as saucers, especially when I try to explain that it is hers too. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

It hasn’t been easy, but it has been good. I praise God for this journey and for my family and especially for the support of my dear husband. I can’t imagine life without any of them!

All my best,

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We're Back!!!!

We have been back home for two nights now, and I couldn’t be happier! We left for the airport with a VERY unhappy Hope, but somewhere in-flight she decided to leave the attitude behind. We have had a doctor’s appointment for Hope’s cough, tutorial on how to use TP for BMs, and a trip to the grocery store, and everyone has remained agreeable.
We need a trip to the dentist—THAT will not be fun or inexpensive—and the blood titers, trip to the doc for Amanda’s Hep B, etc. but those will wait for later. We start our home schooling on Monday…which should be interesting, to say the least.
Last night after I put Hannah and Amanda to bed I heard the scurry of feet in their room. When I went upstairs to check it out, Amanda was in Hannah’s bed and Hannah was reading our Baby Blues comic book to her. She pleaded for “just one more page”, which I agreed to: just one more page of Hannah practicing her reading skills, just one more page of Amanda’s increasing desire to learn to read and understand English. Not a bad deal, if I say so myself!
It feels SO GOOD to be home.
An interesting by-product of the trip is that our kids are much more appreciative of the little things we do for them. I offered to make them lunches for Friday and the round of cheers they all gave surprised me. I know it won’t last forever, but I will enjoy it while it does. J
All my best,

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We're Moving OUT!

Crazy morning! We managed to pack everything we used for the past three weeks into our four bags. Dave has been trying desperately to manage things at work while trying to confirm our seats on the plane and still be a presence in our family. Delta has been giving us the run-around--they checked Dave and I in but refuse to check in the girls--they are claiming that they are "unaccompanied minors." Talk about being hot under the collar! We *think* that everything is finally worked out, but we won't know until we show up at 6:00 tomorrow morning.
Dave is out now trying to get the girls' visas from the US consulate. If he can get back in time, we can catch a 4:00 bus to Hong Kong. That way we should be at our hotel by 8:30 tonight. If not, we will get in an hour later, but it would be very nice to catch the earlier one and be in bed before 10.
Amanda is getting very comfortable asking for everything she sees and pouting when she doesn't get it. Hope still shuts down if we ask her if she wants anything. The change is not easy for Hope, and her moodiness has returned. I am SOOOOOO looking forward to having this journey to be done. We NEED to be rooted and established, with a set routine and a regular place to call home, surrounded by family. For all the promises of expediting our trip, nothing happened that really mattered, and it has been hard. BUT, it is almost over. I can honestly say that I really don't care about the unending bus and airplane trips in front of us. I just want to get HOME.
Thanks so much to everyone who has encouraged and made suggestions through this journey...and I am not just talking about our time in China. We started it over a year ago when Dave was obedient to the call on his heart, and told me that he thought we should adopt. Our path was not a straight one, but one that wound around and took the "scenic" route. Had we not taken the long way around we would have missed "meeting" so many people and so many blessings. We also would have missed Hope. I thank God that He didn't listen to my whining. I am thankful that His way is perfect. Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or has instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14
All my best,

What was the Key?

Tuesday was a beautiful day! I know that Dave posted briefly about the swearing in for the girls, but there was so much more of the day.
I started the morning greeting the girls with a "good morning" and a smile. This was the FIRST time Hope answered "good morning" in return! Let me tell you, my heart soared at that moment!
We headed out to the zoo. We ended up going to the safari park first and then had to go back to the zoo, so we ended up riding the metro about 90 minutes more than we needed to. While switching lines, there were a LOT of pushy people, everyone wanting to get in first. There was one man in particular that was trying to run over Hope to make his way in front of us. Thankfully, I saw it coming and anticipated his move only moments before he started pushing, so instead of a soft Hope he made contact with my hard-set shoulder/arm. I then used my body to protect her from anyone else that was going to attempt to push her out of the way. It only took a moment and I didn't even think that she noticed, but when we finally got into the train, HOPE took MY arm!!! That was the first time also--she would allow me to take hers before, but she took mine!
The girls both liked the zoo at first. We met up with Kerri and her family at the zoo--we stayed about 2 hours. By the time we left for the consulate the girls (and Dave!) were whipped. Hope was scowling at this point, and even Amanda wasn't too happy. We didn't stop for lunch, but we bought breakfast at 10:30 and had been munching all morning on it. Hope requested that we buy strawberries outside the zoo, which I then proceeded to carry around, along with her drink, Amanda's drink, my water, and breakfast muffins. Even though I offered the food throughout the day, No one wanted to eat or drink. Before we went into the consulate we stopped in IKEA for a quick ice cream cone and hotdog. Hope wouldn't eat anything and was busy pushing us away again. Amanda liked the ice cream, and then we sat for 1 1/2 hours at the consulate. While there, Hope decided to eat the strawberries, which were rather bumped and bruised at that point, but the girls and I went to the bathroom to take the stems out and wash with my bottled water.
I don't know if Hope just realized that it WAS for real that she was going to become our daughter, or she finally got to rest from walking, or she got some nutrition into her, or SOMETHING, but she started smiling again. By the time we got out of there, went to Lucy's for dinner with Kerri and family, and started home, there was a part of Hope coming out that I had never seen before. Walking to the taxi, SHE grabbed my hand and laced fingers with ME! Something about her hands--she doesn't usually like us to have direct contact with them. But this night she did.
Back at the room Hope had a ball using the digital camera to take photos of her DVDs, the city from our hotel room, the TV shows, all of us, and after I showed her how, she started taking photos of herself--smiling!!! We all were laughing while being silly with each other until we turned off the lights.
I am still confused about what changed...I wish I knew so I could replicate it! I went to sleep a very happy momma.
All my best,

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We did it!

We did it, we did it. We officially lowered the Chinese population by two today and increased the US by 2. They were sworn in today. I cried. Amy cried. Hope smiled. Amanda continued to bounce off the walls.

It was a good day.

We pick up the visas tomorrow afternoon and we really have to run to jump on the bus to HK! We are coming home my children!

We can NOT wait!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Last full day in China

It is our bedtime on Monday. Tuesday will be our last full day in Guangzhou. The girls get sworn in tomorrow (the consulate appt went fine today we were told). Then Wed. we pick up their paperwork and head for Hong Kong for our journey home. We can NOT wait to reunite our wonderful family!