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
video video

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