Wednesday, December 30, 2009

God's Hand


Hi Everyone, I hope all of you have a wonderful New Year. I wanted to share a story with you that shows once more that God has designed all of our lives. Ever since we have been home from China Julia has asked me if I know where her friend Emily is living. I had told her several times that I knew she was in America, but I didn't know where. She asked me again last night about 6:30pm, Mom, do you know where my friend Emily lives? I told her the same thing as before. Around 8:00pm Mark checked e-mail and there was one from the receptionist at our church. She said she had received a call from a lady whose daughter knows Julia and gave me her phone number. I called the number and it was in Louisiana! The lady was Emily's mom and had found out about Julia through her sister. Her sister lives in Denton, TX about an hour from here and she had read Lindsay's article in the Texas Catholic newspaper. She had called her sister in Louisiana to tell her about Julia. Julia talked with her friend Emily last night and was so happy! They will be visiting the north Texas area in late January and we plan to get together! God is so good! I almost started crying when I heard her say she was Emily's mom. I feel so humbled by God's goodness! Have a Happy New Year everyone and God Bless!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Wonderful Christmas!






Hi Everyone, This is the first chance I've had to sit and update the last several days. Julia is doing very well and has had some bouts of homesickness which is to be expected. It seems when she sees pictures/videos of her Chinese home, homesickness sets in. We don't want her to forget about her Chinese home, but maybe some time needs to pass before we show her those pictures again. It's too fresh for her.
We took her to the opthamologist two days before Christmas and she will need to have outpatient surgery to loosen the muscles between her eyes. The doctor said they are pulling too hard causing one of her eyes to turn in somewhat. She had lost some vision already in that eye, but wearing a patch on her strong eye will help her regain that vision. She will need to wear the patch for two to three hours a day for the next six months. If she had been eight years old or older, the doctor said she wouldn't have been able to regain the vision in the weak eye. God is so good!
We had snow on Christmas Eve! The Dallas area hasn't had a white Christmas in 81 years! It was so cold that night; I thought I was in Hohot again! The church was freezing because every time the doors were opened the blast of cold air would rush in. Our sanctuary is in the shape of the cross so two sets of very tall doors are on each side of the cross. There's no outer room to enter before opening those doors so if it's cold, the air comes rushing in!
We celebrated Christmas Eve with my parents at the Adams' house and as always, they were the most gracious of hosts. I think Lindsay held Julia the majority of the evening and Julia loved it! It was scary driving home because the roads were pure ice. We just don't get ice that often so we aren't used to driving in it!
Julia loved opening her presents on Christmas day and her favorite was the Nintendo DS from Santa Claus! Lydia's favorite was the scooter from Santa. Fortunately, the snow and ice melted by the afternoon so they could play outside.
We are so appreciative to everyone for the gifts and cards that you have sent. We received a very special package on Christmas Eve from a family we haven't had contact with in a while, but they are always in our thoughts. Thank you Tarter family; the girls loved the DVDs! Another very special gift came from the Adams in collaboration with Carrie and Amber at New Day. It was a very beautiful book of pictures from Amber's photo journal of Julia's foster family and Julia's every day life over nine months. She took pictures of us meeting Julia in person for the first time and when we had afternoon tea with her foster family. It was so so very special. Thank you again to all our family and friends! We will continue to update so keep following! Until next post.....................blessings,Michelle,Mark,Lydia,and Julia.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reunion!!

Hi Everyone, Well the big reunion between Julia and Leah Hope occurred on Friday night! Julia was so excited all day long and kept saying, "Leah will be here at 5:00 today." When Leah first arrived, both of them were quiet and just checked each other out. A couple of minutes later they were off playing like they had been together every day! God is so good and has provided both of these girls with one another. We hope to get together with Leah's family often so they will have that strong bond. After Leah and her family left, we took Julia and Lydia to a minor league hockey game here in town. It was so fun; Julia would stand in the aisle dancing when the music played. She also cheered for the home hockey team; I think we have a Texas cheerleader in the making! Tonight was wonderful. We went to mass at 5:00 and were given the pleasure of introducing Julia to everyone. For those of you who may not know, our parish donated all the funds for Julia's adoption. It was so special to introduce her to the people that gave so willingly to bring her home. Thank you St. Jude and Fr. Tim!! I think Julia felt everyone's love; she was so good and even tried singing a couple of the hymns. We are looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family. My parents are driving from east Tennessee to Texas to be with us. I hope all of you have a merry Christmas and I will be updating as much as I can through the Christmas holidays. May God bless you and keep you. Until next post.....................Michelle,Mark,Lydia, and Julia P.S. We will post the reunion pictures tomorrow!
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Settling In!





Hi Everyone, Mark and I are closer to getting over the jet-lag. Julia and Lydia are fine with a nap here and there. My biggest complaint has been just feeling tired and not being able to sleep through the night. It'll get better; at least I didn't feel sick.
We have had a very busy week! We took Julia to the pediatrician on Monday and she ordered all kinds of blood tests. She referred us to an endocrinologist and a pediatric opthamologist. She also faxed our application to Scottish Rite Hospital here in Dallas. Julia is receiving such good medical care and the majority of it is being donated by the physicians! We are so blessed and God is so good.
We took her to meet her teacher and to see her classroom on Tuesday, then on Wednesday, she went to her class's Christmas party. She did really well and jumped right in on one of the games. Before the class Christmas party, Mark and I took her to have her hair shaped and trimmed. She fell asleep when the stylist dried her hair; she was so cute!
Today, we took her to the school district offices to have her language skills assessed. She will be placed in ESL (English as Second Language)when she starts kindergarten in January. The assessor could tell that she had had good instruction especially on writing/reading skills at the New Day preschool. Miss Sarah, if you are reading this, good job!
Tomorrow, Friday, she and Leah will reunite! Julia is so excited to see her friend;it has been about nine months since they have seen each other. When I asked which friends she misses the most, she said Leah, Emily, and Victoria. I'll let you know how the reunion goes and Saturday at 5:00, Julia will be introduced to the church parish.
Yes, it's been a busy week, but Julia has handled it very well. She still misses her Chinese home and talks about her life there. I love hearing about it! Until next post........................blessings, Michelle

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We're Home!!!!





Hi Everyone, We arrived at the Dallas airport last night around 8:30pm. It had been a very long day of traveling! Even though we were tired, we were energized when our friends were waiting for us at the baggage claim area. They had brought balloons, a huge banner from Lydia's religious ed. class, reporters, and a camera crew. No kidding! You may see more about our journey to Julia on the local news in the future. Also, they had stocked our refrigerator and accessorized our house for Christmas! We are so blessed to have such gracious friends! I promised to tell about the train trip from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. The actual ride was okay, but the before and after were arduous. We had four huge suitcases and three carry ons and all had to be transported up four flights of escalators. There were no elevators! If no kids were involved in the process, it may not have been too bad. Julia had to be carried because it is very difficult for her to keep up. We had to hurry because it was near time to board the train. We didn't have time to eat and no food was served on the train. We were exhausted! When we arrived in Hong Kong two hours later, we discovered that our hotel was forty five minutes away. It was just one of those bad travel days, but we made it.
The flight home went well until the last fifteen minutes. The turbulence was really bad and it was all I could do to hold down my stomach contents. Julia wasn't so lucky; she vomited three minutes before landing and didn't make it to the barf bag! She was covered and so was her seat! Fortunately for me, Mark was sitting next to Julia! I had sat next to her the first half of the flight, then we switched! We were late arriving so we didn't have much time in between flights. We couldn't change her until we claimed our baggage so you can imagine how the customs experience went! Mark had to change his shirt too because he had to carry her through customs. I felt so bad for Julia; she was still sick before we went through customs. We saw another family that had been on our flight and both the mom and daughter had thrown up!
We're home and all that is water under the bridge. Our own beds felt so good! We just have to deal with the jet-lag for several days. We can handle that.
Thank you to everyone for your support, comments, and prayers! We will keep the blog updated for a little while to let you know how Julia and Lydia are doing. God is so good and it is so good to be home! Until the next post.....................................blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Our Way Home!!

Hi Everyone, We just wanted to let you know that we are getting ready to go to the Hong Kong airport. Our flight leaves at 11:30am (9:30pm Central, 10:30pm Eastern) and it's Continental Flight 98 to Newark, NJ. When we get home and unpack, we will tell you about the travel day we had yesterday (train ride from Guangzhou)! Let's just say it was an adventure!!. Please pray for safe travels for us. BTW, we found a Catholic church in Guangzhou not too far from the hotel and were able to go in and say some prayers. There were two nuns saying the rosary in Chinese; it was so special. The name of the church was Our Lady of Lourdes; we felt so at peace. Until we return to Dallas......................................blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting Closer to Home!











Hi Everyone! We are getting closer to wrapping up this part of our journey. We had a pretty busy day today. The flower garden tour was well worth it! It was beautiful and peaceful with fresh air. It reminded me of some of the landscape art at DisneyWorld. It was a nice sanctuary in a very busy city. I don't know if I mentioned before on the blog, but this whole area is under reconstruction. The city is hosting the Asian games in the future so all the buildings and roads near our hotel are being worked on. It makes for hazardous walks within a two mile radius.
I've bargained a little more for some last minute Christmas gifts; I'm quite pleased with my bargaining skills. In one of the stores, I wouldn't budge on the price so the sales lady kept adding more merchandise to the pile. We finally agreed and I ended up getting another suitcase in the bargain.
We went to the US Consulate this afternoon and took the oath to make Julia a citizen as soon as we touch American soil. Everyone started clapping and going woo hoo! The paperwork has come to a halt. There were about thiry eight families that repeated the oath together; it was a great moment to be an American! Overall we have had a good time and learned a lot about each other in the process. We just feel so blessed that we live in our country. God has been so good to us and we feel His presence even here where faith can't be expressed openly. The people we have encountered have a genuine goodness about them; that's the Holy Spirit! Until tomorrow..................................blessings, Michelle,Mark,Lydia, and Julia

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Better Days!

Hi Everyone, Let's try this once more! The last couple of days have been much better. After my last written post, we ran into another family at one of the little shops near the hotel. They have a five year old daughter and just added a two year old little boy. Their daughter started throwing a fit in the store and I told the parents I knew what they were going through. The wife said that adding the second one had been much harder than she had anticipated and wondered if maybe they had made a mistake. When she said that, it was like a weight lifted off me. It wasn't just our family having transition problems! Another way God showed me that He is with me and my family. He let me know that it was going to be okay.

We have enjoyed Italian, Thai, and German restaurants at night and during the day, we go to our American food favorite, Lucy's. BTW, another lady came up to me at the same restaurant and recognized Julia! She and her husband had tried to adopt another little girl from New Day, but weren't successful in obtaining her file. They were matched with another child, but keep up with New Day's web site.

Julia continues to have her ups and downs, but doesn't run to the phone as much to "call" her Chinese mom. She actually told me that she loved me tonight at bedtime;a huge step! She has been "wrestling" with Mark, but still gets upset when Lydia wrestles with him. We're puzzled about that one.

We had the infamous red sofa group pictures today as you could see in the previous post. She wore her Mongolian native dress and looked so cute! She had a meltdown right after those pictures because we wouldn't let her use the camera. When we returned to the room and she had calmed down, then we let her take some pictures.

Lydia is continuing to struggle with our attention being divided. I can only pray that she will be accepting and loving in time with Julia. I've never been in her shoes; I was the youngest and I'm trying to be patient with her. We'll keep praying!

Tomorrow we are visiting a flower garden, then in the afternoon we take our oath at the consulate. Thursday we take the 5:00pm train to Hong Kong, spend the night at the Hotel Regal, then fly to Newark,NJ. Three hours later we will head for home sweet home. It's been such a journey in so many ways and that journey will continue once we're home. Our family, friends, and church family will be so helpful as we adjust to life as a family of four. Thank you again for all your prayers and support, please continue! Until tomorrow..........................blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia

Something Happened!









Hi Everyone, I just typed for one hour and lost everything that I had written!! Instead I will post some pictures and type everything all over again. I'm so bummed!! Until I can type everything again..........................blessings, Mark,Michelle,Lydia, and Julia.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Emotional Meltdowns!




Hi Everyone! Today is the 13th day we've been away from home and we've all had emotional meltdowns in one way or another. I spoke to my Mom and Dad through Skype this morning and cried like a baby! We all are tired and Lydia still doesn't feel well. She still has a low-grade fever of 99.5 so I took her to the doctor at the hotel. She has a throat infection so they gave us an anti-biotic, some compounded vitamins, and some Chinese liquid medicine. I hope she gets better by the time we leave; she hasn't been able to eat much and is having a difficult time right now. Please pray for God to give her the strength to be a loving sister and to realize that she is loved as much now as before.


We went shopping around the hotel ( we were able to get a stroller for the week by turning in laundry at the store next door) and ran into a family from Maine. They have one five year old adopted daughter from China and just adopted a 2 year old boy. The five year old was throwing fits in the store and I mentioned the roller coaster of emotions. The wife and the husband both said it had been more difficult this time because their daughter wasn't used to sharing attention. It sounded like our family situation right now and I felt relieved that others were experiencing the same thing.


We ate at Lucy's again for lunch and I was taking Julia and Lydia to a public bathroom just a little way down from the restaurant, when someone said , "Excuse me, is that Julia from New Day near Beijing?" I couldn't believe it! The lady named Rebecca had visited New Day two years ago with her sister-in-law and recognized Julia! She and her husband, Jeremy, live in Guangzhou and were eating at Lucy's for lunch with their eight month old baby, Angela. What a small world. God is so good and gives us reassurance at every turn.


My favorite number is 14 so hopefully day 14 will be happy with no meltdowns - please pray for us. We're getting closer to bringing our girls home. Until tomorrow..........................blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia

We made it to Guangzhou!

Hi Everyone, our flight from Hohot to Guangzhou landed close to 11:00pm. We had one short stop from Hohot to Batou. We needed to go to the restroom in the Batou airport; it's the first time we felt really out of place. There were no foreigners at all!
We arrived at the White Swan Hotel at 11:30; the girls slept on the plane and in the van to the hotel. Mark and I finally went to bed around 1:00am. There was no sleeping in because Julia's medical exam and was at 8:30. The rep from the agency told us that because there were so many families this time, only one parent was to go with the child to the medical exam. Mark went with Julia and I stayed with Lydia at the hotel. Mark said that everything went well, but they asked him, "is there any problem with Julia's brain?" Mark told the agency rep how she can count to 100 in Chinese and to 50 in English; she translated to the doctor. Mark said she had an amazed look on her face! They also called in another doctor when they examined her scoliosis. Mark had no idea what they were saying about it.
She ended up having to have three shots and a skin TB test. She didn't cry at all and told Mark that she was a brave girl. We are so proud of her for not crying! That's a lot of shots and we didn't prepare her ahead of time. We told her that she was going to the doctor for an exam.
We ate lunch at Lucy's - they have American type of food. It tasted good! Later, Mark had to go to a meeting for more paperwork in the agency rep's room. He was there for about 1 1/2 hours filling out paperwork. Lydia, Julia, and I went to the playroom at the hotel. It's a nice playroom for younger children, but Julia loved playing with the toys anyway.
Tomorrow we have the opportunity to get a Buddhist blessing for Julia, but aren't going to do it. We want Jesus's blessing only plus we want to sleep in. It has seemed weird that we've had to split up when doing paperwork/examinations etc., but you do what you have to do.
BTW, the hotel is nice, but we were very spoiled in Hohot. The White Swan's decor is older and seems in need of renovation. Also, there are tons more tourists here so it's very crowded at the buffet area. The weather is great, though. With that said.........there's no place like home, there's no place like home! Until tomorrow..............................HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDSAY!!!!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shopping and Relaxtion

Hi Everyone, today was a fun day. We met our guide, Sandra, in the hotel lobby and she took us to a factory that made all kinds of Mongolian merchandise. There was leather goods, jewelry, ethnic Mongolian clothing, knives, sabres, trinkets, regional liquor, cashmere clothing/scarves, food, and candies. I did all of my Christmas shopping in one stop! We bought Julia a native Mongolian dress and hat and she looked so cute when she tried it on.
We let Lydia and Julia buy something of their choosing and Lydia chose a furry stuffed dog (no cat available) and Julia chose a furry horse. She named the horse Ena, and wrote his name on a piece of paper. She spelled it, Enilta - pretty close! Lydia named her dog, Lulu.
After our fun shopping excursion, Sandra took us to a local restaurant that was really good. Even though the chicken still had bones and skin on it, the actual meat was very tasty. They served it with steamed bread rolls. Another dish was very spicy thin beef with green and red chilies, and green onions. She also ordered us some vegetables - green peppers and red bell peppers with onions. I liked everything except when we walked out and saw several goat heads staring at us through a glass case.
Later, we took the girls swimming in the indoor swimming pool. It was 22 degrees outside, but the pool was nice and warm. The attendant kept bringing us hot water to drink; it does keep your insides nice and warm. Julia LOVED being in the pool; we'll have to enroll her in swim lessons in the spring.
Tomorrow we leave for Guangzhou and I'm going to miss this area. The people have been extremely nice and the pollution isn't bad at all. Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't want to live here, but I've really enjoyed our stay here. We may not be able to post again until we get to Guangzhou so until Saturday.......................................blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pictures!

Hey Everyone! This is Lindsay, Mark and Michelle were were having trouble updating, so they asked me to put these pictures on their blog for them : )

Hello again! We woke up to a picture perfect day weather wise. The sky was blue and the smog had lifted. There were the most beautiful mountains in the background. Our guide took us to the Inner Mongolia museum. It housed a series of very comprehensive exhibits on the history and culture of Inner Mongolia. Mark and I would have stayed all day, but when you have a five and an eight year old, there's no way. Lydia enjoyed the real dinosaur bones and Julia liked the prehistoric elephant bones. There were articles of clothing dating back to 300 A.D. I highly recommend visiting this museum if you're ever in Hohhot.

We had a different guide today; her name was Sandra. She was very knowledgeable and dressed so well. I've figured out how they (women) can look nice and stay warm without looking like the Michelin man. They were two layers of black tights, beautiful tall leather boots, and a long cashmere top. The coats are all down, but they don't look bulky. I've felt so dowdy while I've been here, but I've been warm.

We spent the rest of the day taking it easy. Lydia's throat was still hurting and Mark and I were calling our doctor at 3:00am our time. We have some anti-biotic samples and he graciously told us the correct dosage. Please pray that she feels better soon; we have nine more days to go and some long traveling time. Julia is such a joy and continues to amaze us with her English. We've started to notice a pattern of jubilance, then feeling down. The down moments do not last long, but when she is down, she goes to the phone to try to call her Chinese mom. Mark and I unplug phone and pretend we are talking with her Chinese mom to let her know Julia misses her. We hand the phone to Julia and she speaks in Chinese, then hangs up. She usually goes back to her jubilant self. Please keep praying for her and her foster family.

Tomorrow we are going shopping for souvenirs and I'm looking forward to it. Thank you again for all your comments, prayers, and support. It helps us to not feel so isolated. Until tomorrow...........................blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia





Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Notary Day and Passport
















Hi Everyone, We had all the paperwork notarized today and applied for Julia's passport. What's really interesting is that when we pulled into the lot of the government building, it looked like any business building parking lot in the States. The SUV's, BMW's, and Mercedes were parked everywhere. Our guide said the people that work there are very rich. You're either a have or have not; there's no in between. I know it is like that in most countries of the world; we are very blessed to be in America.

Julia is doing very well. She has very quiet, pensive moments, then her joyful giggles will burst out. I can tell she is going through the grieving process in her own way. Lydia really looks after her and loves being around her and now she is the one with the sore throat. She was so tired at the government building she fell asleep in the chairs. She slept most of the day when we returned and didn't feel like eating lunch. Mark stayed in the room with her and Julia and I went to the hotel restaurant. All of the workers love seeing her and I've noticed that she does not want to converse with them in Chinese. She stays quiet or will try to say something in English. However, she did call one of the hostesses Ayi which shows respect and the hostess was so happy!

Tomorrow we are going to the Inner Mongolia museum if Lydia is feeling up to it. She was feeling a little better after dinner and was in bed by 8:15.

The music in the restaurant has been traditional Christmas songs and guess which one keeps playing over and over? You guessed it, "Silent, Night." I just give thanks to God for letting us know He is with us along with the Blessed Mother. Please keep lifting us up in your prayers; we are continually giving thanks for your support. Until tomorrow..............blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia

Monday, November 30, 2009

First Day in Hohot







We woke up early this morning, 5:00am! Julia and Lydia had slept very well and everyone was in a good mood. We had a 9:00 appointment to complete government paperwork. When we arrived at the hotel where the orphanage officials were, there were two other adoptive families with infants in the room. They were from Spain. I was able to speak with them in Spanish and it seemed much easier to do that here than at home. I've noticed that since we arrived and all we hear is Chinese, my brain is thinking in Spanish. Interesting!

We filled out paperwork for about an hour and a half. I've never put my fingerprint on so many papers before. We were the first ones finished, then we had to go to the airline office to book our flight for Guangzhou.

Thankfully we had the rest of the afternoon free. We ate lunch and all of us took a nap.

One of the things that is interesting about this city is that right here in the upscale commercial center, there are still donkey carts, live chickens, and small vendors. There are Mongolian symbols on a lot of buildings. I think it is a neat place! It is very cold, but we aren't out in it very long.

Tomorrow we will get Julia's passport and hopefully we can do some sightseeing. We will let you know next post. Until then...............blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and Julia

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hohot Arrival

Hello again! We made it to Hohot from Beijing, but first we wanted to include a couple of pictures from the Great Wall! Isn't is beautiful; the weather was wonderful that morning.

When we landed at the Hohot airport and were pulling into the gate, God gave us a beautiful sign that He was with us. They turned music on in the airplane and Silent Night, Holy Night was playing in English!!! The specific words that came on were "Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child, Holy Infant so tender and mild." Mark, Lydia, and I all together looked at each other and said that's no coincidence. Thank you Lord for Your loving assurance and strength.

Julia and her caretaker were waiting for us in a meeting room on the third floor. We signed several papers and then it was time for the caretaker to catch the train. As expected, little Julia cried and cried saying she needed her Chinese mother. She continued saying she needed to get on the train to go to her Chinese mother. We took her to our room and Mark and Lydia left to walk around and I stayed and comforted Julia. When I told her that Leah Hope had cried and was sad at first too, that seemed to comfort her. I told her I understood why she was so sad and and said it was okay. I told her I would feel sad too. God was definitely giving me the words to comfort her because within forty five minutes, her crying ceased. Her grief will continue, but she started playing with Lydia as soon as she and Mark returned.

Please continue to pray for her and her foster family. We can feel His presence as we continue to walk this journey. Thank you for all your comments, prayers, and support. We are now able to see the blog and the comments.

Tanya Lea, Molly, and Mandi, I have several pictures of your beautiful kids and will try to e-mail them to you this week. I gave each one a big hug and kiss from their moms in America.

Until tomorrow...............blessings, Michelle, Mark, Lydia, and JULIA







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Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Adventures!


Hi Everyone,

We have been going non-stop since yesterday morning! Mark, Lydia, and I decided to spend more time at the preschool and it was very busy. The kids were busy cutting potatoes for the Thanksgiving meal being prepared for all the staff and kids at New Day. I could tell that Julia was not as vivacious as the day before. She told the nurse that her throat hurt and sure enough, the nurse said that her tonsils were inflamed. That explained some of her melancholy, but I think the reality of her leaving with us was beginning to set in. She sat quietly during the group picture and didn’t insist that Lydia was beside her like the day before. I said multiple prayers throughout the morning to help her with the upcoming transition.

The day before, Thursday, I had the opportunity to sit in on a training about grief, loss, and healing. All of the foster families were represented and I sat beside Julia’s foster mom. At the end, they were invited to share how they feel when their foster children leave. That is a very difficult task for most Chinese women (to share feelings publicly). One foster mom across the room just broke down into tears about the huge hole she has in heart and how she doesn’t know what to do about it. That set-off a chain reaction and every foster mom in the room started crying including Julia’s mom. All I could do was hold and pat her hand. My family is the cause of her pain, but the trainer gave her very good, practical ways that she can start to heal. I prayed for her and I ask all of you to pray for her and her husband’s healing.






On a lighter note, we were invited to their house for dinner on Friday night. Lydia had played ALL day with the foreigners’ little girls so when we finished a very good meal, she conked out right on the sofa at their house! Julia’s foster father graciously offered to take us back on his electric bike cart. That was so nice because otherwise, Mark would have had to carry her for the ten minute walk.

Everyone we’ve encountered has been so gracious and hospitable. I see God’s light and grace in so many faces here. If only they knew Him……………..

This morning(Saturday) we were able to visit the Great Wall! The weather was cold, but we were blessed with sunshine and it wasn’t crowded. The mountains were so majestic and there was such tranquility standing on those boulders. Our guide was very fun and loved Lydia. They rode down the toboggan together. We were at the part of the Great Wall where they’ve built a stainless steel Schillterban to ride down the mountain. It was like a roller coaster. It took about two hours to get there from New Day, but it was definitely worth it.

We stopped at a restaurant on the way back which is famous for its Peking Duck dish. We aren’t big duck eaters, but we tried it……….and didn’t like it! I had to go to the restroom and in the hallway to go there, I noticed a man spitting. We were indoors for crying out loud! I just told myself, this is China, not the US;move on. I also had to get used to the “squatty potty” system when I made it to the restroom. My germophobia was desperately trying to take over, but I seriously squelched it. I’d drive myself crazy if I let it take over. I had my handy dandy anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer to help me with this problem.

As you can tell, we have been very busy. Today is the last day of being a family of three; tomorrow we will be a family of four. I pray that Julia will learn to accept us as her forever family so we can see that wonderful , joyful spirit that we all know and love.

Until tomorrow……………………………………blessings, Michelle, Mark, and Lydia

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A New World

Thanksgiving Day, November 26th

We made it to China and the flight went very well! Lydia was a trooper and didn't complain hardly at all. The driver from New Day Foster Home
met us at the airport and the free-for-all was on! I've never seen anyone maneuver around like she did. First of all, the smog was very thick and it was close to being dark and she was making her own lane on the freeway. It's a miracle that we didn't hit someone or get hit.

I know Lindsay A. talked about the "great divide" when going over the bridge to New Day and she was right. The freeway stopped and it became a one lane winding road for about twenty minutes. What was so scary was that people were walking and riding their bikes with no reflective lights or clothing and I just knew we were going to hit someone! What an adventure!

We arrived at the foster home, put our bags in our room, and about fifteen minutes later, Julia and her foster family arrived! Julia was in her foster
father's arms and she looked at us for a minute, then immediately jumped down to go to Lydia. She then gave me and Mark big hugs and was laughing her infamous belly laugh. Her foster mom and dad were very nice and they had also brought her little brother(foster), William.

We ate dinner together at New Day's cafeteria and the food was really good - very flavorful. The Kung Pao chicken was especially delicious.
Julia was super excited and she and Lydia started playing and running as soon as they ate. We are really going to have to help Julia know how to stop eating when her stomach is full. Her foster mom told her that she had had enough and Carrie told us that she will eat until she throws up.

It was such a blessing to see Julia with her foster family and how they interact. Her foster father told one of the New Day workers that he was glad that both of the children weren't leaving at the same time; he said he wouldn't be able to handle it.


We had a pretty good night's sleep; we slept until 5:00am. We spent the morning at the preschool and touring the foster home. The first child that I held was Reagan, then Lindsay, then Jennifer. Jennifer loved Lydia and spent five minutes staring at her while being held. We went downstairs and there was our Julia. She belted out Lydia and bolted to her; she also gave Mark and me hugs and kisses! She let me hold her and kiss her on her face and forehead; Julia wanted Lydia by her side at all times. We played with Elizabeth, Victoria, Drew, Evan, and Adahlyn. I went around the corner where the younger kids were and gave Khloe a big hug. She was eating her snack the first time, then later, she was eating lunch. I'll try to catch her at a better time tomorrow. Drew made a comment that his parents were coming soon to get him too! Evan sat in my lap while the girls played food server in the kitchen area; I went back to Drew, bent over and he unzipped my fleece top! He's going to be a ladies' man!

We were invited to Julia's foster parents house in the afternoon and we walked, There must be big animals that use the same street because we noticed a lot of poop on the road. There were leaves burning on the side of the road, trash being shoveled in the back of a truck(community garbage pick-up), stray dogs everywhere, and corn husks all over the place. Even with all that, I'm so glad we're here and see God's touch everywhere.

We had a nice visit with Julia's foster family. They served us bananas, peanuts, oranges, and hot tea. They asked us if we knew about Julia's medical condition and if we knew she was allergic to peaches and plums. We told them all about the pediatrician, Scottish Rite Hospital, her education plan, and how Lindsay asked us about adopting her. They made the comment that to them the process had moved very fast. We explained the whole time line and how it had taken us about sixteen months to get here. At the end of the gathering, they told us that they felt peaceful and happy about where she was going. Thank you Lord for making their hearts at peace.

I have more to tell, but jet lag has caught up with me. I'll update again tomorrow. 

Blessings, 
Michelle

Monday, November 23, 2009

First Step

We made it to New Jersey and are enjoying a leisurely night before the long plane ride tomorrow. Our bags were nicely under weight so that made it easy to tote them around.

We appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers! Please keep them flowing! Also, please pray for Julia and her foster family. We have heard that her foster family is having a difficult time.

Next time we post, we will be in China. Blessings to all of you, Michelle, Mark, and Lydia

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Travel Dates Are Official


Hi Everyone, we are good to go!!!! Our consulate appointment is set for Tuesday, December 8th and we will receive Julia's visa on the 10th. We are planning to book flights to leave on November 25 to stay at New Day Foster Home outside of Beijing for three nights. On the 29th, we will fly to Julia's home province, Inner Mongolia, and stay in the capital city of Hohot. We will be in Hohot until the 4th of December, then all FOUR of us will fly south to Guangzhou. Our plan is to be home on the 11th of December.

We would be happy to take a small present to New Day for your kiddos if you mail it to us before we leave. Please e-mail us at mgilx2@aol.com if you plan on mailing something to us. We can't wait to see Julia and the rest of the New Day family!

God has blessed us so richly and we can't thank Him enough!! Praise be to the One who is, was, and will always be!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Julia, we're coming!

We are so excited that we will be traveling soon to get Julia. Last night we taped our Skype "talk" with her. Mark edited it so you can see her singing "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" in English and Chinese. Julia, we'll be singing together in no time! Praise be to God!!
video
video

Travel Approval!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We received word from our agency today that we received TA. They are still working on the dates so I will post them as soon as I receive them. Right now they are trying for a consulate appointment on December 8th. We could possibly be leaving on Thanksgiving! God is good!!! His timing is perfect!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Article 5 issued



Hi Everyone,
We haven't posted for a few weeks, but I'm happy to announce that the US Consulate in Guangzhou has issued our Article 5. It has been forwarded to the Chinese authorities and now we wait for official travel approval.

We spoke to Julia this past Tuesday night through Skype and she was in such a good mood! While we were talking with her Adahlyn and Drew came running into the room so I said hello to both of them. The intern helping Julia said it was time for snack, but Julia wanted to sing a song before she left. She sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". She sings us a least one or two songs every week!

We are so blessed that she is at New Day! They are teaching her Kindergarten concepts and she told us all the days of the week in English. She has also been working on phonics! Each week she sounds out an English letter and gives us examples of words.

I don't know how long it will be before we travel, but I know all of this is in God's time. Before long, Julia will be sounding out those words in her Kindergarten class at Norton Elementary.

Lord, thank you for blessing us so richly!

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Step Closer


We received really good news today! Our I-800 form was pre-approved by the USCIS and was forwarded to the Consulate in Guangzhou. Our agency thinks that we may be traveling in four to six weeks based on timelines they've experienced lately. We are so excited and I feel a definite need to get my act together. Those of you that have traveled already especially during cold weather, I would love to hear your travel suggestions. Please keep us in your prayers during this hectic time! God will get us through this next phase especially with you guys lifting us up. Also, please pray that Julia will have an open heart to this new journey. Thank you to everyone for all your support and help! Blessings, Michelle

Friday, October 2, 2009

Julia Update


We spoke to Julia the other night through Skype and she was so excited. It was the Autumn Moon Festival plus National Day. She was looking forward to eating mooncake and told us that her older foster sister would be dancing in Tiananmen Square.

She sang to us in Chinese and we asked her if she could count to 10 for us in Chinese. Mark and I wanted to hear her say the numbers in her language. She looked at us like she was offended and told the translator that she could count to 100 not just to 10! She then counted to 100 to show us. We know that she is very smart and we didn't mean to insult her. I love her spirit!

I love this photograph of her too; I wonder what's going on in her mind. I can only imagine!

We're still in the wait mode for TA and with everything being closed this next week, don't expect any news for a while.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

LOA!!!!!!!


Well, what a week! To begin with, we decided to host the "Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima" at our house. The Legion of Mary chapter at our church started the program and they bring a blessed statue of Mary to your house for a week. We were the first family to host her and we asked her for her intercession to help bring Julia home. As you know whatever Mary asks her Son, he does. (remember the wedding wine at Cana) She had been here three days and wham! we had our LOA! Our agency was shocked; they were not expecting it so soon. The average amount of days from LID to LOA for our agency is 74 days and we received our acceptance on day 49!

So when will we travel? Our agency hopes by the end of December based on timelines they have dealt with in the last few months. I'm very excited but also a little nervous due to it being very cold weather in Inner Mongolia at that time of year.
We filled out our I-800 paperwork and it was sent on Friday, the 18th to the NBC.

I know several of you readers out there are not catholic and don't believe in the power of Mary's intercession with her Son, but His mother holds a special place with Him. She whispers her requests in His ear in Heaven and He does what she asks of him.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moving Along




It's been a while since I wrote on the blog so I wanted to update everyone on the latest news. We received a call from our agency last week and they informed us that we have a LID of July 27, 2009! We are getting a little closer to bringing our precious Julia home! Our friend, Lindsay (who interned at NDFH), came home on Monday night and she had so many pictures of Julia and her friends at the foster home. There was the most precious video of them singing, The Muffin Man. When we skyped with her on Tuesday night, she sang that song. We had asked Lindsay to come over so Julia could see her. They had had a very emotional goodbye in China so Julia was very surprised and happy to see her!

Last week, my eight year old daughter, Lydia, and I went to an incoming Kindergarten get-together at the park near our house. We were representing Julia and brought her pictures with us. Mark and I plan to put her in Kindergarten soon after we bring her home. We feel the routine and getting to know new friends will be beneficial for her. We took pictures of a couple of potential classmates holding her picture, then we e-mailed them to NDFH. The next day, we received pictures of Julia looking at her potential classmates!

We feel so blessed that Julia is in such caring, loving hands! God continuously shines his bright light on the kids and their caretakers. I mentioned our friend, Lindsay, who is such a mature, caring teenager. She wrote the most breathtaking article about Julia in the Texas Catholic newspaper. If you would like to read this article, please go to www.texascatholic.com and scroll down to COLUMNISTS. As a result of this article plus God's infinite wisdom and mercy, a pediatric doctors' group has offered their services for Julia's pediatric care. PTL!!! We are so blessed and give thanks every day. Hope you enjoy the article; please pray for the doctors, Lindsay, Julia, and us. God bless!