Monday, March 15, 2010

Nǐǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ ǐ Hǎoǎoǎoǎoǎoǎoǎoǎoǎoǎo Cowboy!

Sorry it's been a while since an update, life back in the fast lane of family has taken it's toll on the creative juices! Fisher is doing well and as you can see is a very happy and an imaginative little boy. He has plugged right into the family and if you saw him at home, you'd think he'd been here all along.

It's certainly been a wild ride since returning home, hence the appropriate blog title. The other night was cowboy night at church so Eli came down with his best cowboy outfit on, pretty good actually. Of course little brother being little brother, he just had to have some cowboy on too! So we rounded up another vest and straw hat, to which both began running around the house hollering, Yeeeaah Haaaaaaw Cowboy! (note: they both love Toy Story and Woody) So, much like the rest of our Ch'english (chinese + english) phrases and sentences, it quickly morphed into a long drawn out nǐ hǎo cowboy phrase for Fisher. Everyone was laughing so hard, and we all had to join in on the mangled phrase, fun for all.

The energy in the house is exponential with a very active 3 year old dropped right into the middle of it. He and Eli compete for everything, and I mean everything. Who can meet me at the door first each evening, who can open the door first when leaving, you name it, they're racing to it and fighting over it! "I had that first" phrases coupled with some sort of whiny expression from the 3 year old which is like finger nails on the chalk board, and means anything from, "leave me alone" to he "took what I wanted" has the old nerves a bit frayed these days. None the less, we wouldn't change much and what was a fairly normalized routine around here and even mix of boys and girls, is out the window and the girls are now hiding most of the time because it's testosterone city around here now, blocks, cars, and balls everywhere!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!

What a great blessing to have other good friends sharing the same blessing from God at the same time we are! We got together with the Bennetts and Giffens last night for a Chinese New Years celebration with all of the kids. The Bennett's son Hamilton is from the same orphanage in Inner Mongolia as Fisher, now they live within walking distance of each other. The Giffens returned from China with their precious daughter Lia Kate the week before we left. The kids all did great together and it was wonderful to share stories with each other and have such unique commonalities with other brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Just One of the Gang

Well it's been two full days and Fisher is just one of the gang for sure. He is doing well and acts like he's had 4 siblings forever. He roams from one to the other looking to play, annoy them, hug them, hide from them, etc... It's amazing how children find ways to communicate, even if they aren't speaking the same language. There seems to be very little that Fisher, Eli, and Dutch can't communicate with each other one way or the other. They've turned the downstairs into a testosterone play land!

As expected, Eli is having some issues. He is no longer the baby, a role he relishes and plays well. One minute he's fine and the next he's upset that Fisher picked up a toy he had no intentions of doing anything with. None the less it upsets him and goes into a short funk. He eventually snaps out of it, but for sure he's having to adjust. The one reassuring thing about watching this is Fisher picks senses when Eli is upset and has had his feelings hurt. He doesn't like to see Eli sad and typically will try and console him in some fashion. Not sure how long this will last before full fledged brotherhood sets in bringing indifference, but it's sweet for now.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fisher is an American!

We made it home to Birmingham pretty much on time this evening, yeah! Somehow out of 6 bags, only 1 made it from Chicago so the adventure is still ongoing.

We made it to the house for just long enough to grab a bite to eat and head out for Dutch's basketball game. Nothing like jumping into the mix, sink or swim Fisher, there's a lot going on around here. :-)

Fisher took very well to the boys and they've been running all over the house wrestling, playing balls, cars, guns and anything else they can get crazy with. He and Eli ran up and down the hallway at the basketball game laughing until exhaustion, hiding behind doors and corners from each other. I think he is going to enjoy the stimulus and his 2 brothers.

Now off to bed for some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This is China, right?

On our last night in Guangzhou we took one of the river cruises on the Pearl River (3rd longest river in China we're told). All we can say is woooooow! We are struggling to come up with a comparison in the states to equate to this experience. I guess it would be akin to Las Vegas meets New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco all mashed into a single location. It was almost 2 hours which gave us quite a bit of time to chat with our guide Thomas. It was a live history lesson for the girls as he shared how much things have changed in the last 20 years. He shared with them about his participation in the university student movement in 1989 which resulted in the standoff in Tieneman square. His account was fascinating to say the least. He shared how his first job was assigned to him, but that has now changed and everyone finds their own job now. He also shared how they could not move at will from one city to another which has also changed along with the citizens ability to criticize and question policy, to some degree. On the surface it's very difficult to notice the differences between modern day China and other western, democratic cultures. There are enough hints though it's not quite the same. It was an amazing boat ride for the scenery and living history lesson from Thomas.

Getting to the boat was an adventure in and of itself, much like all things China. We walked from the hotel to where we thought we could take one of the many river boat tours. As a guide, Thomas typically never has to pay for the activities he takes families to. Upon questioning the tickets, he was told he had to pay. This kicked off an aggressive negotiation and dialogue that was quite amusing for us to watch. We couldn't understand a word but it was obvious Thomas was not at all pleased with the two women that were badgering him incessantly. He finally told me we could just go by ourselves because he wasn't going to pay, to which I said no because we wanted him to spend the evening with us. He told us there was another place further down we could probably go so we said fine, and handed their tickets back to them. That initiated a whole different level of cat calling and squawks from the two ticket ladies as we strolled away. Within a minute we heard another women running up behind us speaking very animated and very fast.

This women looked more "official" with a clip board in her hand and some type of badge sash draped around her. She lit into a very quick dialogue with Thomas and kept pointing in varying directions, obviously providing additional information we needed to be aware of. Thomas finally turned to us and said, "she says to come with her, there is another boat they have down river that he can go on with us for no charge". Turns out the boat we were inquiring about wasn't a tour boat but one of the transportation boats. Hmm, even in Chinese, Thomas and the ticket ladies were not understanding each other apparently. So we headed across the street which lead to the "official" looking lady and one of the previous ticket taker women engaging in another animated banter, several radio and cell phone calls to who knows where. All of a sudden a mini-van pulls up to the curb and the two ladies motion towards it. The sliding door flings open and a women and child are ushered out along with a mango plant being removed. Hmm, did we just toss out a mother, child, and their plant so we can take a river cruise? They really wanted our $49 badly. Have to give them an A for effort. Who says there is no capitalism inChina?

Upon piling into the van and being whisked away, radios calling somewhere on the river obviously, I looked at Melissa and said, it's our own Amazing Race Asia! Your task is to convince a tour boat guide to let you take a tour in another location by absconding a mini-van, displacing a family with plants, and getting to the dock by the designated 7:30 p.m. deadline. If you fail to meet your deadline, you will be subjected to a dunking in the river and made to eat un-identified mystery meat balls (Fisher loves these at breakfast, yuck!) After about 10 minutes careening through traffic in a personal van, we pulled to the curb and were told, go, go, go! We whisked through a gate, ran down the sidewalk onto a dock, promptly onto a river boat with 3 decks, which pulled away immediately upon our stepping onto the deck. Whew, we made it, no dunking in the murky Pearl River! The rest of the night was a relaxing and amazing tour around a city sky line nearly indescribable in it's uniqueness.

We're off to Hong Kong in about 3 hours, will be home tomorrow evening!!!

Check the web album for pics of the river cruise.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Worshiping in China

Today I did something I can honestly say I would have never expected in my lifetime. I was able to worship Jesus Christ in mainland China, openly. I took Fisher to the Christian Church here on Shamain island. The service we went to was in both Mandarin and English, just enough to keep Fisher somewhat engaged. He absolutely loved the praise and worship as they clapped and sang. He LOOOOOOVES to clap and sing. I think his foster family must have had a karaoke machine. The sermon was in Manderin and translated as we went along into English. Some of the songs were in Manderin but some we sang in English. As we were singing one praise song in English it struck me what we were doing and to be honest, I felt very humbled and insignificant. I'm sure many people suffered greatly for this church and service to even be a reality. My small part of the world in Alabama and in God's vast plan seemed infinitely smaller this morning. 

This trip has made me realize how arrogant we are sometimes (i.e. Americans swooping into Haiti and attempting to sweep children across the border without permission). All of this, including countries that openly denounce the existence of God, is part of something so much greater than I am, so much longer lasting than my influence, and worthy of so much more thanks than I give. The foreign nations and tongues from Babel we read about in church have seemed like only stories, almost like fairy tales for me. Seeing modern day China and being in that church this morning made those biblical accounts more of a reality for me. I saw Chinese nationals vehemently praising and worshiping in a way I probably should be. 

My perceptions of China certainly have been knocked off their foundation since being here. Although much of what we hear is definitely true, much seems not to be. I can certainly say I was not expecting an open Christian church service and am not even sure how/why they are "allowed" to do this, except by the grace of God. What I do know is there were a few hundred committed Christian brothers and sisters from China gathered together today, so I know the Holy Spirit was there as He promised He would be when two or more are gathered. It was a beautifully amazing thing!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Well today we went to the Zoo Safari. Thanks to the Giffens who let us know how great this was. And it was!!!  We took the train tour first and then we walked and walked. It was worth the drive and the money. Who knows where else you would see this many pandas  and koalas in one place. The pandas were really fascinating. Fisher had the BEST time. He talked and laughed and pointed and snacked and had a super time.  He crashed on the walk to go find a taxi and slept all the way home. It was neat to see the city of Guangzhou. You really have never seen so many apartments in your life. All the skyscrapers you see are not office buildings, they are endless apartments. Apparently they have not invented dryers here yet b/c all their laundry is hanging in the windows and balconies. They may not have washers either but we don't know that for sure. Every alleyway is another line of market vendors. 

There are people everywhere. We all know that China is overpopulated but when you actually see the people you realize how many there are. How many people are in America? 300mil or something like that.. and China is 1.3 billion. That's insane! I'm trying to wrap my brain around that. And the history is so amazing. My brain is really swimming with seeing this country in all it's glory. It really is the experience of a lifetime. I'm trying to drink it all in b/c who knows if we'll ever be back here again. China is something everyone should experience. It will really give you perspective about America. Our country is so new and this one is soooo old. It's kinda freaky. I am really thankful that we got the chance to see it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Qinping Market

Fisher's trip to the medical clinic for his TB review went just fine, no problems. No redness, so no chest x-rays, yeah!

Spent some time in and around the Qinping market today, boy was this an eye opener for the girls. This is authentic China as you would picture in your imagination. We barely scratched the surface and will definitely be going back to explore, capture more images and videos. All we can say so far about it is, wow! Check out the web album for a lot more pics of the market.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shamain Island Guangzhou

Here is where we are staying in Guangzhou (the White Swan hotel). As you can see it's actually a small island, it reminds us a bit of Key West just without the ocean smell. It has it's own unique odor as you might imagine. As you can see Fisher is enjoying himself at one of the local playgrounds and with another family from Alabama we met today. They are from Camp Hill.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finally Guangzhou

Well here we are. We survived our 8 days in Huhhot. BRRRRR. That place is cold. The weather here today is low 70's and humid. Love it! It's kinda like a chinese key west. The view out our window is the Pearl River. It's really beautiful. This part of Guangzhou is an island. It's called Shamian Island. Guangzhou is about 10 million people so it's kinda nice being away from the hubub of the big city. We are in the famous White Swan hotel. Well, it's famous for people who adopt chinese children. This place is full of Americans. This hotel really caters to adoptive families. Thank goodness. I wish we had connecting rooms but they were all taken when we arrived. So we are just next door to the girls.

Fisher is doing great. He gets a little better everyday. He's a really happy boy but I think he gets frustrated when we can't understand what he wants. We know certain phrases like "I need to potty" but other than that we're a little lost. He likes to play with the girls and they like to play with him but it can get outta hand pretty fast and someone ends up getting hit or bit. (The girls are not doing the hitting and biting) He gets so wound up and can't seem to control himself. He's a really smart kid, but it's kinda like breaking a wild horse. He's never heard the word no, so we are having to learn some serious self control.

We had his medical exam today. He passed with flying colors. We just have to wait a couple of days for his TB test to come back. He got 5 vaccinations and was not a happy camper, but he settled down pretty fast. There's a big playground nearby and he went crazy. We'll be going there a lot. There's also a playroom in the hotel. It's sponsered by Mattel so it's full of their toys. They also provided us with "Adopt a Chinese Baby Barbie". It's hilarious. It's a barbie doll with a little chinese baby girl strapped to her chest.

We ate a late lunch at Lucy's. Cheeseburgers, french fries and blt's. It was awesome. We even got to sit outside. Have I said how much I like the warm weather. If I could find a flip flop shop I'd be in heaven. Bailey pulled mine out of my suitcase before we left so I don't have them here.

Well I better go see if the kid crying is my chinese kid or someone elses chinese kid. They're everywhere!

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's Moving Day

We've finally reached our stay in Hohhot and are flying to Guangzhou tonight. This is where Americans have their Embassy appointment to be able to leave the country with the children. Should be interesting with Fisher on a plane, will be a good indicator of how the long flight will go. We will be spending quite a bit of time today packing up, our rooms are an explosion of clothes and toys. Yesterday was an fair day. Fisher was tired from the onset yesterday morning and like any tired and cranky 3 year old, he wasn't particularly nice to his sisters. We did meet a nice family from Sweden that received their son day before yesterday. He and Fisher ran around and played together for quite a while yesterday. They were a joy to watch jibbering and running crazy together and belly laughing so hard with each other. He has shown the propensity to share well with the 2 boys his age we've met so far, perhaps there is hope for him and Eli. :-)

We spent quite a bit of time in the pool which he is absolutely crazy about. He plays and plays until he is literally shaking uncontrollably from eventually getting cold. Last night Channing got to Skype with her Social Studies class for about 45 minutes which they all loved very much. Her classmates had a list of prepared questions she answered for them. I think it was informative for them as she explained things are not as primitive as we all would believe it to be. She was able to show them on the camera the bottles of Coke, Sprite, etc... with the Chines writing on it which they all thought was very cool.

We'll see everyone on the southern end of China in a day or two.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Leavin Huhhot

Can I tell you how excited we are to leave tomorrow. I don't know if it's the cold weather, the stares, or the terrible sewage smell in our bathroom but we are ready to get the heck out of dodge. In Guangzhou it's in the 70's, the people there have seen way more white people so the gawking shouldn't be as bad and hopefully the room smells better. One thing I should have brought, glade plug ins. And if hear or see one more man hack up the biggest loogie of his life and spit I'm going to throw up. Ugh that's disgusting. And I'm not just talking about outside.

The one thing I'm sad about is leaving Louise. She will see us to the airport and then she goes back to Beijing where she lives. We will then meet Thomas in Guangzhou. He will be our guide the rest of the time.

We met a new adoptive family today from Sweden. They live in a small town in northern Sweden near the arctic circle. It's about 0 degrees there today and they just got about 3 ft of snow, so this weather must feel great. They speak very good english. They aleady have a chinese daughter who is turning 6 next week and they are here to adopt a 2yr old boy. His new name is Axel. Cute huh. Another family arrived yesterday from Germany to adopt but they aren't very talkative. We are so happy to see anyone other than chinese we probably talk everyones ears off.

Chris, Channing and Fisher are downstairs swimming right now. He LOVES to play in the pool. Bailey just went downstairs to get a pop and I need to take a shower so I'll write more later.

Historical Culture vs. Current Culture

So today we split up and viewed Hohhot in strikingly different ways. Fisher and I went with Louise to the newly opened Inner Mongolia Museum while Melissa and the girls went to the mall. We each explored Hohhot's culture, one from the historical and the other from the modern day vantage point. The museum had a very modern look and the displays inside were akin to any museum I'd expect to walk into in the states. Seeing the history of the grasslands and the Inner Mongolia territory was quite impressive. Viewing dinosaur structures that were pieced together from finds supposedly in the region, was spectacular. According to the museum, the People's Republic of China is responsible for the unification of the Inner Mongolia region and freeing the region from constant Imperial encroachment by the Japanese. I'll have to research that upon returning to the states to see if the world's history account of these events is the same. 

Fisher enjoyed the museum pretty well. He wanted to point out every animal in the displays and explain them, ask questions, touch them, etc... Good thing I had our guide with us, not only would I have not been able to explain what these animals were in English, I certainly couldn't in Mandarin.He wanted to walk for the most part and then push his own stroller without any help from me or Louise, he was adamant about this point, just like any 3 year old; "I do it myself!" 

Melissa and the girls went to one of the several malls nearby. We are apparently in one of the busiest sections of town with some of the newest shopping buildings, some are still under construction. Nearby is McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, high rise buildings with video displays, etc... it's a bit like a miniature times square. I do mean miniature but has some of that same sensation as you are wading across the intersections with the masses while dodging cars, motorbikes, buses that continue to turn on red long after the light has changed. I believe they felt a bit like famous people must, minus the paparazzi. There are very few if hardly any white people in the area, let alone fairly tall blondish females. They elicit long stares of disbelief and wonderment. They are quite annoyed by it at this point so fording the masses in the mall was a bit much I believe. Unlike in the states, staring is obviously not considered bad manners. Here it is verging on gawking. When i say masses, i do mean masses. I'm amazed at how many people get into certain places here, personal space is non existent. 

From the wide open spaces of Inner Mongolia's roots of the grasslands, to the extremely crowded streets, shops, stores, and restaurants of modern day Hohhot, it is quite the dichotomy in one location. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

We're Not in Kansas Anymore...

Today has been a good day. Everyone slept until 7 and was pretty lazy until we ate breakfast around 9. Fisher eats really well and eats just about whatever is in front of him. Breakfast is always an adventure with the staff as getting a high chair is a major ordeal. They must take the one we get every morning to the basement when we leave because it takes about 10 minutes the next morning to locate it again. Then getting coffee, even though it's basically the same word in Chinese, takes another 5 minutes. It's not really that bad, just kind of funny it's the same routine each morning so we have to laugh about it. 

Bailey, Fisher, I and Louise went to what I am told is the largest Buddhist temple in the area, Dazhao Temple. It was apparent we weren't in the Bible belt for sure! The odd thing is there were various types of Buddhas that differing folks were paying respects and praying to. Our guide was explaining how it was like praying to our God in America. Uh, ok if you say so. I guess we do "worship" a lot of different deities as Americans, but as a culture we typically agree on a single God. It was strange seeing the different Buddhas that you could pray to all in the same location, just different buildings. We walked there this morning through the city which was quite a site seeing everything close up on foot. For those of you with those images of amoeba like swarms of bicycles careening around the city, you would be like me, surprised and wondering where are all of the bicycles? It is apparent the bicycle is dying a slow death as the cars have begun choking the roadways pushing the bikes onto the sidewalks and other not so easy navigable areas. All in the name of progress and modernization. I would not propose to deny anyone their desire to own a car or improve their lot in life, but I feel like I'm looking backward in time while we are here and know where they are headed as we have seen it in America. Much of the historical images we have in our minds and have seen over the years are fading away with what appears to be prosperity and improvements, we'll see.

Fisher crashed hard in the stroller walking back to the hotel so we just left him in there upon return, he is a really hard sleeper! Another fireworks show in front of the hotel didn't awaken him from this slumber. I snuck to the pool for a few laps which didn't last long before Melissa had him in tow looking for me. While my workout ended, we got him in the pool for the first time. I think it was indeed his first time in a pool. After a bit of trepidation he warmed up to it really quick and we had a great time in the kiddy pool for the afternoon. He eventually was shivering uncontrollably as he got cold, but was absolutely distraught I bundled him up and left, just like a 3 year old. :-) We'll definitely be doing the pool from here on out to pass some of the time.

Here are some pics from today's walk about the city and temple:

Here a few more videos from today including some pool time. (if taken to login page, click Need a Password, put in your email and whatever password you want for viewing)

Friday, January 29, 2010


So another day has passed and we're all tired. I think we are all tired of each other, not sleeping well, the freezing cold, being constantly stared at, tired of the ebbs and flows of hitting, laughing, spitting, kisses, biting, hugs, rinse and repeat. I'm sure Kem can relate as it seems the boys in this situation are all coming with the same behavioral characteristics. A two year old here in the hotel is similar, but he's only 2 so it's not quite as aggressive. Fisher is like a 5 year old in his strength so he is really wearing on the girls who are tired of getting beat on. This isn't to say this won't pass as there are longer and longer stretches of goodness.

Tonight Fisher finally played with the girls in their room for about 30 minutes which was a relief. The other family came by today for a while and he shared his gold fish with the other little boy and was in playful spirits the whole time with them. One of the videos today shows one of those joyful stretches where he wanted to sing, and sing, and sing. 

All of the paperwork and official stuff has gone well and as planned. There have been no issues and we are in good shape to receive his passport on Monday and head to Guangzhou. Now to pass the time until then, which is a challenge when it's so cold out. We have to dress like we are going skiing just to walk to the store or something. There is a really great park a block from the hotel but we haven't been yet as it's tough to enjoy with the weather. At least it's sunny and we could actually see the mountains yesterday as the smog was lighter yesterday for some reason. 

We have also seen at least 4 firework shows in the last 4 days from the hotel. I don't mean fire crackers, I mean full blown 4th of July firework shows. There was one in the front of the hotel today to celebrate a wedding being held here. Apparently this isn't uncommon and occurs regularly in celebration of birthdays, weddings, events, etc... The other video is of the one in front of the hotel today. Now off to attempt the going to bed ritual..... (you may be asked for login credentials, simply click need a password, put in your email and whatever password you want, this should give you access to these videos I believe).

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Yes we are bored. Fisher is bored, the girls are bored, Chris and I are bored. It's just too cold to be outside for long and nothing much to do in the hotel. We leave here on Tuesday and it's only Friday. The family from Jersey left today. Lucky them. This hotel is beautiful but it's meant for businessmen not families. We are watching a lot of movies. We've seen Get Smart a few times, Sydney White, and now we're watching the Pelican Brief. It may be time for Fisher and I to take our daily walk. We walk the hotel a lot. There's a wedding going on today. About noon they shot off about 20 minutes worth of very loud fireworks right in front of the hotel. Just as we got Fisher down for a nap. It didn't phase him. He's a good sleeper at least. I guess fireworks don't need to wait til night around here. This was our third firework show in 4 days.

well we are getting restless so we are going to go walk again. Bye

No fear!

This kid has no fear. He does everything 100%. He's a lot happier today than he was yesterday. He still has a couple angry moments but more happy. He's starting to learn the word no. He responds to Chris really well. He is very much a daddy's boy at this point. The only time he deals with me is when we go on walks to give Chris a break.

Louise is our guide and today is her 30th birthday. We ordered a cake from the restaurant and told Louise to meet us here at 7pm. So I guess we'll go to dinner now so we can be back in time.

Did I mention I'm ready to go home?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

He's Perfect!

Well we are finally together. We met Fisher (Tian Tian) yesterday at 3pm. Bless his heart he was scared to death and did not want anything to do with us at first. Bailey ran back to the room to get the balls we brought for him to  play with. He snatched the balls up and then began to throw them. First it was an angry throw then it turned funny and happy. We soon learned he is a lot like Hamilton. He likes to hit, kick and push. He is ALL BOY, just like Hamilton. I'm a little scared for Eli.He is also about twice Hamiltons size. He is a hoss to say the least.

We came back to the room as soon as the paperwork was completed. He cried a lot. We sat at the window seat and stared at the crazy cars for a solid hour. We ate some gummies and snuggled. After Chris and Louise (our guide and translator) came back to the room Louise talked to Fisher and tried to help him understand. He kept saying I want to go back to mama. It broke my heart. Then he told Louise he wanted to go outside, so we decided to walk to McDonalds. It was a longer walk then we wanted right then but he really warmed up on the way. We ran and laughed and held his hands and flew him through the air. He was great. He ate some fries, a bite of chicken and spilled everything on the table. He turned into crazy boy. He learned to say ok and said it about 100 times.

He fell asleep in Chris' arms on the way home. That was about 7pm and he just woke up at 7:30. He slept through the night in his crib. It was too perfect. I'm waiting for the next storm to hit. He looks healthy and well cared for. I can't wait to get to know him better. I love him so much.

Corrected Video Link

Sorry to those that couldn't see the videos from the link provided last night. This one should work correctly today. More details to come later today from Melissa on her perspective of yesterday.

We received Fisher today!

We made it to Hohhot today via 1 hour flight from Beijing. We had been at the hotel for about 2 hours before receiving Fisher. It was not a particular easy transition and was a struggle for all as he was confused, not at all happy with the circumstances, and had a keen sense of what was going on. The girls made the transition somewhat easier as they were able to be silly with him and play with him while we did some paperwork. Everyone is exhausted and in bed tonight. We will write more tomorrow about the evening out of the hotel, the grocery store, etc..

I'm hoping these videos are viewable.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just Smile and Wave Boys, Just Smile and Wave

If you've seen either of the Madagascar films you'll remember these pesky penguins, always with a plan, and always trying to be inconspicuous in the process. This is how we have felt for the past 2 days while visiting the Great Wall and especially today at the Summer Palace. We were stalked a fair amount yesterday by the street vendors at the base of the climb to the Great Wall, but nothing prepared us for the aggressive elderly trinket sales folks at the Summer Palace and the shop keepers at a market we went to afterward. For folks from Alabama who preach no thank you's, yes ma'ams, and no sirs, saying no thank you simply becomes redundant and you have to smile and wave and continue on. It seems rude but after about the 5th no thank you to the same elderly lady circling the group, you realize she is not going to stop if you continue making eye contact with her. It's a hard tactic and one that we are not at all familiar with in the states. 

Baily was approached by a handful of teenage girls wanting to take their pictures with her and they were very polite and thankful, quite unlike the vendors. She was flattered and gladly posed with them. Channing had another group of young girls smiling shyly, waving, and saying hi to her too. Our guide said it was a holiday and likely they were from outside of the city and have not seen too many, if any caucasians, let alone a tall blond female. I think we were just about the only caucasions at the Summer Palace today, indeed an odd feeling. 

We needed to purchase a coat for Fisher today as we leave in the morning for Hohhot. We went to a local 4 story market which was claustrophobic and nerve racking for all. Once we found the children's area, we were swarmed at the entrance to every booth, imagine a flee market but inside with small 5x10 booths packed floor to ceiling with clothing. We spotted a coat that seemed to be about what we needed, so then the bidding began quickly and firmly. We got what we needed for a reasonable price and headed out without much further eye contact or pausing to browse as it was unnerving a bit, so we headed for the exit. It was a good precursor of what we will likely encounter in Hohhot as there are hardly ever any white people in that area. Just smile and wave boys, just smile and wave...

Great Wall and Summer Palace

This is Melissa's perspective on China. I really like the country. The people are very friendly and curious. We get lots of looks, especially Bailey, tall and blond you know. Our guide Louise is wonderful, she is very knowledgeable of everything Chinese. We went to the great wall yesterday. It was about an hours drive. The scenery was nice, but disturbing somehow. We passed a million trees on the way. However each tree was perfectly placed. They were in perfect rows, thousands of them, mile after mile after mile. It gave you a headache b/c you couldn't look out the window without your eyes following the lines of the trees. It was just so unorganic, so planned, so perfect, almost creepy. We would see a rogue tree out in a field and tell everyone to look. How dare that tree decide to grow wherever it wanted to.

The Chinese do not like to be cold. Everywhere we go they have the heat blasting. We are sweating to death and the chinese still have coats and hats on. This is my kind of place, except it's so extreme even I'm warm in most places. We can only turn down the heat so much in our hotel room without it becoming air conditioning which Chirs is threatening to do.

The great wall was unbelievable! So many different people and cultures coming together to view this wonderful sight. Mouths agape, ooohing and aahing. Trying to imagine what it must have been like back then trying to build this wall. We saw a family from Tibet in traditional dress. Very interesting. People from Russia, Australia, South Africa, and anywhere else you can think of. America seems like a very small place right now.

Today we went to the summer palace. It was over 700 acres and very beautiful. We climbed a million stairs. At the top some young Chinese girls asked if they could take their pics with Bailey. Some other girls waved at Channing and said HI. Louise says that a lot of these people come from rural areas and have never seen caucasions before.

Our flight for Huhhot leaves tomorrow at 11:30 am. We may have to reconfigure our luggage b/c they don't allow as much weight as the airlines in America. We bought Fisher a coat today. We didn't know exactly what size to get him. I'm sure it will be too big for him but better that than too small. I cannot wait to meet him. I'm praying for his little spirit. I'm sure he won't be happy or understand what is happening. He will be leaving everything he knows. I love him so much already, I'll want to squeeze him and kiss him but I have to try not to scare him. We are about to be a family of 7.

We are really enjoying our time in China so far. It's fun to interact with the girls without the interruptions of tv, cell phones and computers. They have hardly fought with each other. We seem to be a little more understanding here.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Everythings a Dollar

That is until you want to actually buy something. We spent a few hours at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall today which we were told really translates into the long wall. I guess somewhere along the line someone decided that wasn't as marketable of a title. There is a cool cable car ride up and back which reminded me of the old gondola at Vail. This was truly a sight to see and is impossible to describe with any justice. All we could think of was how could they do this prior and during the Ming dynasty yet we can't put a fence up on the Mexican boarder in the 21st century? The other amazing concept was that anyone would be trying to traverse across this area, survive, and then still be able to attack with any significance. The terrain is mountain goat like and certainly perilous for human travel.

It was the girls first experience with street vendors and boy are they energetic! Talk about not taking no for an answer, what a sales force they would make. Apparently everything is a dollar until you actually attempt to purchase said item for the low price of a dollar. At that point an eager and rapid dialogue begins with the "quality" of the item of interest and how what they were actually willing to sell for a dollar is not of the same quality of what you have chosen and your item is much more authentic, of higher quality, hence worth much more. Never mind you picked out the very item they were holding in their hand claiming to be a dollar as you walked by. Talking about your classic bait and switch. I think we have laws for these sales tactics don't we? Nonetheless it was a fun experience and worth the show for an 8 dollar t-shirt not worth more than 5 probably, but hey it's 100% cotton which we were told about 20 times during the sales pitch.

The remainder of the Great Wall adventure can be seen at

At least I think so as I can upload to Picaso web albums via an app but you can't view them from China as they are filtered.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Made it to Beijing

We successfully arrived in Beijing, and about 20 minutes early at that. Shortly before landing I pointed out how thankful I was we had such a short travel route of less than 19 hours compared to many of the other routes available that are approximately 24. The extra 5 hours potential travel time wasn't lost on the girls as they were desperately ready to disembark from that plane. We had no issues getting through all of the check points and meeting our guide Louise, which is a sweet Chinese adoption guide who has been doing this for 5 years now. She will be with us here in Beijing and Hohhot with Thomas (the Bennett's guide) meeting us in Guangzhou.

The girls did get their first glimpse of the differences in other cultures as they went into the first women's restroom in the Beijing airport. There were apparently "normal" toilets and then a Chinese toilet which they described as the bowl of a regular toilet on the ground, guess you have to be a good squatter. Needless to say they came out giggling. Everyone tried to stay up last night as long as possible but all of the girls were finally asleep by 8 p.m. local time, They were all up at 4:30 a.m. so i'm sure we'll be dragging this evening after a day at the Great Wall. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bon Voyage

Well the long awaited journey has come to the beginning of the end as we leave at 9 tomorrow morning. Glad to see as we leave tomorrow, our friends the Edwards have managed to get out of Kiev with their 2 newest family members and will be back in B'ham tomorrow night! Thanks to everyone for their prayers this week leading up to tomorrow and the amazing display of God's grace. See you on the other side of the world!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Jan.23 Arrive in Beijing at 16:25
Jan.24 Mutianyu Great Wall with lunch
Jan.25 Tour to Summer Palace with lunch and acrobatic show in evening
Jan.26 Fly Beijing-Hohhot CA1111(11:25-12:30)/Receive Fisher in the afternoon
Jan.27 Registration and notarization
Jan.28-Feb.01 other adoption process
Feb.02 Get Fisher's passport in the afternoon fly Hohhot--Guangzhou
Feb.03 Medical exam.
Feb.04 Medical exam.
Feb.05 Get medical report
Feb.06-07 Free
Feb.08 9:30 appointment with the US Consulate
Feb.09 Go to the Consulate for Oath
Feb.10 Get Fisher's visa in the afternoon, take train to Hong Kong
Feb.11 Home to Birmingham - arrive 4:30 p.m.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Here are the "hops" on our trip, Beijing (2 days) to Hohhot (7 days) to Guangzhou (10 days) on a map to get some perspective of the vast travel required.

View Larger Map

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dates, dates, and more dates!

The dates are pouring in! We received our Embassy appointment in Guangzhou for February 8th, one day before the last one possible. We are now booked on flights for next Friday the 22nd to Beijing. We'll arrive in Beijing late afternoon on the 23rd and spend two days there touring sites in Beijing that we think we can handle in the cold. We have to be in Hohhot on the 26th so will fly from Beijing to Hohhot on that morning, about a 1 hour flight to spend a week in Hohhot. We'll then fly from Hohhot on the 2nd of February to Guangzhou and leave for home on the 11th. Thankfully we found great flights this morning with only 1 stop in Chicago and minimal layover so we couldn't have found better flights and they were as cheap as any we've seen or heard for this trip!

Prayerfully all will go as planned because if we are not out on the 11th, Chinese New Year begins the 14th and we'd be stuck for a while. Our friends Dan and Leslie are stuck in Ukraine right now because of a silly printing shortage of blank passports! See blog to the right and pray for them!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

God's Timing - Romans 8:28

One thing Melissa and I have attempted to stress in our life decisions is that when all is said and done regarding a particular life event, we want the story and details of the events to clearly point to the grace of God and His ultimate control and ever present hand in our lives. While waiting for travel approval to arrive this week, we knew we did not have the funds to actually complete the process and actually go get our son to be. Yesterday we had to pay $540 just for the four visa applications to get into China. Upon opening yesterday's mail, there were two checks to us totaling $521! While some will say we had those coming any way, I can only say that in God's timing only does that happen, which it continually seems to occur in our lives.

That's just one example as this story is continuing to unfold in Fisher finally becoming a Freeman for life. Today, a family member wired us the money necessary to complete the process of getting Fisher home! We now have the financial security to complete this adoption, days away from having to book flights.

We are now awaiting for an Embassy appointment in China which is getting down to the wire. Chinese new year begins on February 14th so EVERYONE is trying to get appointments before it all shuts down for a country wide celebration. If we are not done by the 13th of February, the immigration paperwork for Fisher expires and we have to go through that whole process again adding months to the process. Either way, it will be a story, that when told, will glorify God as it should. It's during times like this, we can either live out our theology or not and if we believe Romans 8:28, this is an instance to live it out in our actions, thoughts, and prayers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We're Going to China!

We received our travel approval today and waiting on a call from Villa Hope with an embassy appointment date. Once we have that later tonight or tomorrow we will be able to book our flights.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is Fisher's 3rd birthday! Wishing he was celebrating with us, but sounds like we'll be with him soon enough. We've heard the travel approval is in route via mail so we should have more definitive dates early next week. It's running right up against Chinese New Year so the embassy appointments and travel are getting very tight. Pray we can get it all in and back before the 13th of February otherwise his immigration paperwork expires. Hmm, wouldn't that be interesting to get stuck in China?!