Saturday, November 30, 2013

Safari Park - Saturday, November 30th

We had another free day today until a 2:30 meetings so we decided to be adventurous and get out of here! I had heard the Safari Park is pretty cool and thought that was something the kids would appreciate. When I told them where we were going Caroline was ecstatic and kept shouting "we're going to see animals!" I'm telling you this girl is going to work with animals when she grows up. She loves them! So after breakfast we did a really quick fish loop (it's pretty much a requirement now) and gathered our things for the day.

Since we didn't have a ton of time we decided to take a taxi instead of navigating the subway. Matthew was so excited and told us that this was his first time in a taxi! And to make things even more amazing, it was an aqua taxi, his favorite color. So all 6 of us fit in one small cab. Remember what I said about no seatbelts? Apparently they don't have maximum occupancy rules either. 2 adults and 3 kids in the backseat! It took us about 25 minutes to get there, and we got to see even more of the city on our drive. I cannot get over how huge it is! I mean we drove for 25 minutes and there were still skyscrapers everywhere you look. Guangzhou is only the eighth largest city in China, and it makes New York look tiny! I discovered that Lily did not want to sit in my lap very long. Not looking forward to that 13 hour plane flight coming up... but at least it's at night so hopefully she will sleep most of it!

We got there and grabbed some maps, and Caroline immediately opened hers up and yelled "They have pandas! They have pandas!" We tried to find the pandas first, but we ended up walking through like 20 types of primates instead. Finally we found some white tigers. Brian paid 10RMB (about $1.50) to throw some raw meat at them. Like huge hunks of chicken or some other unidentified meat. Definitely wouldn't see that in the states! Matthew and Caroline both love giraffes, and we were able to feed them too! They all line up at the edge of the exhibit and people just constantly hold out branches for them to eat.

I realize this carry is not ergo-approved, but it's the only way she's happy!

We also saw some koalas, but our little koala girl slept through them. She did wake up for lunch at the koala cafĂ© though! There was a crazy long line for food, so we opted to just go through the snack line and get hotdogs and fries for the kids. Then we let them pick out an ice cream after. We are just the picture of healthy eating :)

After lunch we finally found the pandas! Either the pandas are by far the most popular exhibit, or several bus loads of people arrived after lunch. It was packed! You could hardly see the pandas there were so many people. Surprisingly, this was the first time I actually felt like I was in China. I guess I expected it to be ridiculously crowded all the time.

Once we had seen the pandas we had to head back to the hotel for our paperwork meeting. Mom bought each of the kids a little keychain animal, pandas for M and C and a koala for L. These proved invaluable as entertainment for little bit on the way back. We grabbed a taxi, and were forced to pay 150RMB to get back to the hotel instead of the 80RMB we paid on the way out. But, we were short on time and didn't have a choice. We felt a little victorious though because the first guy we asked was rude and we walked away, and another guy picked us up around the corner. He was much nicer. We quickly discovered why the fare was so much more on the way back. The traffic was awful! Instead of taking 25 minutes it took almost an hour, which made Brian 25 minutes late for the meeting. And he missed the laundry pickup :( Guess I'll be wearing my food-covered jeans a few more times...

Caroline fell asleep in the taxi so we put her right to bed. Then Matthew and Lily got some good play time in our room until Lily started getting sleepy again. I let Matthew play with my phone while she napped, and M and I got some snuggle time in the bed. Brian got back from his meeting and we decided that we would venture out again to try and buy a stroller. We didn't bring one because you can borrow one from the hotel, but every single time we've asked they've been out. We have several days of sightseeing ahead, and since Lily doesn't really like the Ergo we are going to need a backup plan. When C finally got up we headed out. I had heard there was a cheap umbrella stroller on the 4th floor of Aeon, and I wasn't disappointed! A pink snoopy stroller that was on sale for $25! Sold! I anxiously held my breath as I put Lily in it, praying that she would like it. Victory! As long as I was moving she was fine! My tired shoulders and back are so excited.

At this point the kids were hungry so we found a little coffee shop that had sandwiches and pasta. And the man working there spoke English! It was so nice to order food and know what we were getting! And one more perk - they gave us knives, and napkins!!! Who knew these would be such a delicacy in China. Why they don't use napkins I have no idea. Are they really that much neater when they eat? And knives... I mean, I know they use chopsticks, but you can't cut with chopsticks! And when you have a baby with a cleft palate, you have to cut stuff. We were those crazy hoarders who stuck all the remaining plastic silverware in our bags to take home and reuse.

Back home for playtime and bed. We are going to a local park and doing some shopping tomorrow. Yippee!

Orphanage Visit - Friday, November 29th

We decided not to take Lily back to her orphanage today, but we did want to be able to see it, talk to her nannies, and take pictures for her so Brian went alone. That left Mom and I with the three kids. The first time the adults were outnumbered! Since we had been going places every day since we got here, I thought it would be nice to have a laid back day around the hotel and let the kids get some good bonding time in. We started with breakfast. Normally Brian starts getting the kids food while we get everyone situated, but since he wasn't there mom went and got food. Once we got the kids eating, I left to get my breakfast. Of course Lily chooses this moment to shove a large piece of food in her mouth and start choking, and when my mom scooped it out of her mouth she started screaming since someone had taken her food. She never fully recovered, and was pretty fussy all through breakfast. Next we hit up the fish ponds and gardens. Lily hadn't seen them yet and Matthew and Caroline were really excited to show them to her. We spent some time walking around, and Lily spent some time attempting to walk directly off the ledge into the fish pond. This girl is going to be a handful!

When I got tired of rescuing Ms. Daredevil from a watery adventure we went back up to the room. The kids had fun playing together, getting Lily to laugh and walk around the room. We also discovered that she really likes pulling plugs out of the wall. Did I mention that she's going to be a handful? We were overdue on the kids' baths, so we decided to clean them up. Lily didn't really like the bath last time, but this time she loved it! I gave her some stacking cups and she had a great time banging them together and splashing. She didn't even mind getting her hair wet, which is more than I can say about the other two munchkins.

Then it was more playtime, and we were able to Skype with the Dusseaults who will be joining us in China on Sunday!!!! We opted to stay in for lunch and go out for dinner later when Brian got back. The kids were getting cranky so it quickly became nap time! Lily goes to sleep really quickly when I'm holding and rocking her, but I still can't manage to lay her down and leave the room once she's asleep. The second I put her down she wakes up and cries. I think this is the hardest part - I don't have a single second away all day long because when she's sleeping, it's on me! I know that once she feels more secure and knows her environment is stable this will change, but right now it's tough.

Brian got home from the orphanage around 3:00 while everyone was sleeping. He was able to talk with the orphanage director who said that they all love "Tang Tang" and miss her. He also met her main nanny and got pictures with her. She taught Lily lots of things, including how to walk. While the orphanage was in a newer and much nicer facility, he was still able to get an idea of how things were at her old orphanage. All the kids sleep in metal cribs, placed end to end with about 20 in a room. They spend most of their time in one large playroom. The kids under about age 3 are all together all the time, so Lily, James, and Elijah spent all day every day together. It will be interesting to see if Lily recognizes James when she sees him at the hotel in a few days! When Brian got there the kids were having lunch, which was basically just a bowl of porridge or congee. No wonder Lily loves to eat, she hasn't ever tasted so many flavors! Brian also got to see James and get a picture with him to send to Beau and Amanda.

After the orphanage visit he was supposed to go to Lily's finding spot, but the driver wasn't able to find it (haha!) They did go by the old orphanage and get some pictures of the outside, but he wasn't able to go in. While the nannies did seem to really care for the children and babies, it was still a pretty bleak and undesirable place to spend a childhood. We are so thankful Lily has a family now!

 This picture was on the wall of the orphanage - baby Lily!
The playroom

 Lily's crib
Lily's main nanny

Alright, so here's the exciting news for the day. Once all the kids were up from their naps, they were all playing in the living room together with Brian and I WENT IN THE BEDROOM AND TOOK A NAP AND LILY DIDN'T CRY FOR ME!!!!!!!!! It was amazing. But it was nearly impossible for me to get up and go to dinner. Finally they made me, and we decided to try a Thai restaurant. Because it had taken me so long to get up, it was after 6:00 when we left. This is already sounding a lot like a parenting fail... We got there, and it was a rather nice sit down place with live music circulating around the room. Step 2 of the parenting fail. Oh, and it was laundry day so I was wearing my half-marathon shirt and jeans with my hair in a ponytail. Not quite the dress of everyone else there. Those crazy Americans again! They seated us and Lily lasted about 5 minutes before she started to cry. She had drank all the water from her sippy cup, and I didn't have any snacks since I thought we'd be eating right away. Parenting fail part 3. I spent the next 15-20 minutes trying to entertain Lily in the hallway leading to the bathroom. It was only partially successful. I don't know if it's because we're Americans or if this is just how the Chinese do things, but every time we need to order food we have to hunt down someone. At least this time no one said no when we tried to order! While we were waiting on our food to come, Matthew fell asleep in Baba's arms. We couldn't wake him up, so we laid him down on 2 chairs and let him sleep. When the food arrived, Lily was finally happy since she could eat! Unfortunately this didn't last long because it was getting closer and closer to her bedtime and we didn't bring her bottle (and now the parenting fail has come full circle). Caroline was the only kid who was enjoying herself! She was dancing to the music, eating her food, and loving sitting on Daddy's lap. I was pretty much done at this point, so mom and I took Caroline and Lily back to the hotel and Brian stayed behind to get take out boxes and pay and carry home a sleeping buddy.

We've been trying to have Brian feed Lily her bottle and give her snacks and food to increase their bond, but she was having nothing to do with that when he got back! She fell asleep while I was feeding her, and I thought "Sweet! Only my arm is stuck, I'll actually be able to have some time to myself or to spend with Brian before I go to bed!" Yeah, not so much. As soon as I moved she woke up and cried and was laying on top of me again. Let me tell you, this adoption stuff is not easy! Tonight I had my first meltdown and felt much better after. I don't think I've cried since we got here, so I obviously needed to get it out. I think the hardest thing is not feeling like I can spend time with Matthew and Caroline, and they both started to feel it today when Daddy was gone. They were needy, Lily was needy, and I was exhausted! Baby steps, baby steps.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! Thursday, November 28th

I'm so excited right now because Lily finally felt brave enough to leave my side and walk around the room! She is in the living room with Brian and Caroline and is totally fine with it! She and Brian just had a great time playing together. She was sitting on me but completely interacting with Brian. They were laughing and smiling together playing peekaboo and passing her weebles car back and forth. We started having Brian give her all of her food too. We saw the way to her heart and took advantage :) now Brian is making sandwiches and is about to feed Lily hers. Thank you so much for praying for us! It is making a difference!

Here are the things we have learned about Lily so far:
  • We have nicknamed her the koala because she holds onto me with her entire body, even her feet!
  • She has started to babble and talk and her favorite sound is wawawawawawa
  • She has no fear of falling and has tried to walk off the bed several times and really loved trying to dive off some stone steps at the temple today. 
  • When she gets mad she throws herself on the floor on her back and pushes herself around the room 
  • She is not a huge fan of the Ergo :(
  • She likes to randomly growl like a lion
  • She thinks her brother and sister are hilarious 
  • Her favorite place to sleep is on me
  • She is not a fan of the bathtub
We had an early start to our day today. Matthew and Caroline were up at 4:30, Brian was up at 3:30, and I was up at 5:30. Lily, however, did not get up until 8:00 which gave me a break for a few hours. In that time we were able to Skype with dad, I updated the blog, and got a short workout in. It was great! Then we got ready and headed down to breakfast. I am seriously not sure how I'm going to survive when we get back and I don't have bacon, hash browns, pastries, and fresh squeezed orange juice readily available. 

At 9:45 we met in the lobby for our first sightseeing adventure! For Matthew and Caroline the highlight was once again riding the bus. I think this is going to be a trend. We should have just taken a trip to the train station and they would have been happy. Mental note for our next vacation. So we went to the Chen Ancestral Hall, which is basically a temple for the Chen family. Since Chen is the most? popular name in China, people would come here to trace their ancestry and light incense to send messages to deceased family members. Now it is a museum housing some amazing art. My two favorite rooms were the embroidery and ivory rooms. There were amazingly intricate artworks made completely from thread. In the ivory room they had incredible ivory carvings. I was just in awe that someone's hands had made these pieces. 


After a few exhibits the kids needed a break so we walked around in one of the atriums. Lilys personality really started coming out! She was walking all around and went up and down the steps over and over, laughing and smiling the whole time. I'm not really sure how to describe the way she went down the stairs. It seemed that since she had my hand she thought she could somehow jump with straight legs and hang from my arm down each step. Then Simon took us to another part that had an artist creating chops (kind of like stamps) and paintings. I ordered a chop that had Lily's Chinese name and American name, and a wooden dragon on the top for her birth year. I also got a beautiful pink floral painting on a tapestry scroll with her Chinese name to hang in her room. Brian got one with fish to hang in his office and mom got a red floral one with Flynn in Chinese to put in her office at home. They are going to deliver them to the hotel tomorrow and I can't wait to see how they turned out!


Simon took our group to his favorite dumpling restaurant nearby for Thanksgiving lunch. The food was authentic, northeastern Chinese cuisine and it was amazing! All the families were at 3 huge tables with lazy susans in the middle to share all the food Simon had ordered. We had fried dumplings, steamed dumplings, potatoes that were made like noodles, Chinese pizza, chicken, and these amazing Chinese potato chunks covered in a sweet glaze. I could have eaten the entire plate myself! It was definitely not your traditional thanksgiving meal, but I wouldn't have traded the experience! Although I did miss watching football. 

The walk back to the hotel was somewhat less enjoyable, since Lily was exhausted and didn't want to be in the Ergo and screamed the entire way. She finally fell asleep mid-cry when we were almost back. We borrowed another family's stroller for Caroline and she fell asleep too. It was obviously nap time! We all slept until dinner time, but didn't eat dinner since we'd had a big lunch. Then we just enjoyed playing (reference first paragraph). I am so encouraged by the progress with Lily this evening. Please keep praying for us!

Our orphanage visit is tomorrow. We found out that Lily's orphanage moved about 2 weeks ago, so we don't know if we will be able to see the place she spent the first 16 months of her life. We also don't know if we will all be going or just Brian. We're not sure if we want to take her back because we don't know if it will help (bring closure) or hinder her adjustment. Plus it's 2 1/2 to 3 hours in the van each way. Whoever goes will also get to see her finding spot. We are praying that we make the right decision for her!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Appointments - Wednesday November 27th

A little bit from last night: we went to a local noodle house for dinner. It was definitely a real Chinese experience! The wait staff didn't want to come to our table because they knew we only spoke English, so finally Brian got the attention of a waitress. I think rude might be considered too nice of a word to describe her, but she definitely was interesting! Thankfully the menu had pictures so Brian would point to a picture and hold up one finger. He ordered two things this way, and then for the third she said no. No? What do you mean no? We won't like that? It's dog? You don't have any? You don't want to put in the order for us? I have no idea why she said no, but she did that twice more before she finally let us have our third selection. Then they started bringing us soup, and these bowls of egg, and tea, none of which we had ordered but apparently all came with the meal. Matthew and Caroline were not huge fans of most of the food, but we did get them to try a few things. Lily of course loved everything! We again tracked someone down to get our check and were pleased to discover that we fed 6 people for $10! Awesome! Then we stopped by the 7-11 on the way back to the hotel for some ice cream.

Today was exhausting! We had two adoption related appointments today that took up almost the entire day. This morning was the required medical exam. We had to take Lily to three different rooms to see an ENT, a doctor to check her overall, and a nurse to weigh and measure her. She did as any 16-month-old would do and cried if she had to be separated from me. She settles down quickly though, pretty much as soon as she's back in my arms. This is something that I'm very thankful for, but also overwhelmed with. She definitely knows who I am and I am so glad that she is starting to attach to me. She smiles when she sees me, leans in for snuggles and hugs, and wants to be touching me at all times. The overwhelming part is that I am the only person she wants to be around. If Brian so much as looks at her she hides her head and sometimes starts crying. It makes taking a shower, eating, and going to the bathroom rather difficult. Brian reminded me that she hasn't had a mom for 16 months and is soaking up every second of it and making up for lost time. I was very thankful for this reminder and it gave me more strength and energy to love her even when I am physically exhausted. Please pray for my energy level and stamina to be in constant contact and the sole caregiver to this precious little one for the indefinite future until she decides her daddy isn't so bad after all :) Also please pray that she does start opening up to Brian. Since he has to return to work the day we get back I really want them to have this time to start bonding.

Ok so back to the medical exam. When we got an update on Lily about a month ago she weighed 10kg ( 22 pounds). Today she weighed 10.1 kg so they were right on in their measurements. That's pretty much all the info I got from today because the doctors and nurses didn't do much talking and wrote some stuff down in Chinese, so that was super helpful. Then of course we waited what seemed like an eternity for the older kids' TB tests (so thankful Lily is under 2 and didn't need one) and for the paperwork to be processed. Remember how I said that Lily wants to be touching me at all times? Well that pretty much means being held. I did have her in the ergo but had to take her out for all the exams and then she fell asleep so I was still holding her. And every time I stopped rocking or tried to sit down she would cry and wake up. I am going to be so buff at the end of this trip. We finally managed to get the ergo back on around her while she was sleeping when my back couldn't take it anymore and she slept the rest of the time until we got back to the hotel. Meanwhile, the Matthew and Caroline had a great time playing with Baba!

She loves food!
Chinese medical exam form
We were craving some American food so we decided to walk over to Burger King. It started to rain and was a bit chilly so thankfully it was a short walk. I never, ever eat fast food (except for Chick fil A), mainly because I usually end up with a stomach ache after. But those French fries were amazing! And Pepsi, also amazing! All I've been drinking lately is bottled water. Not so amazing! After lunch we needed to make another trip to the grocery store to get some donations for the orphanage visit on Friday. This time we visited Aeon, which is a grocery store on the first level and a department store on the other 5 or so floors. The Chinese really like their snack foods! There were at least 8 different aisles devoted to cookies, crackers, and packaged snacks. Now in the US I try to avoid going to the grocery store with both kids if I can. And if I do take them both, I put them in a cart to contain them. They don't have carts large enough for children in China, and now there were 3 of them! So to say this grocery store trip was chaotic was a bit of an understatement. Matthew was pushing the little cart around, Caroline was picking up and examining all kinds of Chinese foods, and Lily was getting tired of being in her carrier and starting to cry. Not to mention the fact that I had now been holding her for approximately 6 hours straight and was feeling a bit exhausted. We could not get out of there fast enough! And when the cashier told us that we had to go back and weigh the pears that we got before we could pay for them I thought I might start hurling them at her. Finally we made it out of there and walked through the rain back to the hotel. We had 30 minutes before our next meeting to play in the room, and I was so glad to lay on the floor for a minute! Then we realized that we had paid for 2 cans of formula at the store, and they never actually gave them to us! When we tried to take them off the shelf the worker kept saying no and gave us a ticket to turn in at the register. Guess they forgot to actually give them to us, and since I was so preoccupied with thoughts of hurling the unweighed pears at the cashier I didn't notice. Brian will have to go back later to try and straighten that out.

Back down to the lobby again to head to the police station and apply for Lily's Chinese passport. This visit involved some more waiting, but this time it was shorter and the building actually had air conditioning! I was super impressed with the passport official who sneakily took Lily's picture while she was sitting in my lap and she didn't even notice. Every other picture they want me to sit her by herself somewhere which she definitely does not appreciate! We got back on the bus and Simon told us that the China portion of the adoption paperwork was officially completed! Woohoo! No more appointments until our consulate appointment next Thursday! We are so excited to do some sightseeing tomorrow all together.

When we got back mom, Matthew and Caroline were all sleeping, so I laid on the floor with Lily while she played and Brian went back to Aeon. Finally at 5:30 we woke the kids up and we all got on the bed to play with Lily. From that point on I was pretty much useless. As long as Lily was touching me or leaning on me she was happy, so I attempted to stay awake while everyone played around me. At some point she I both dozed off, but woke up in time to eat. I was obviously spent so I went to bed and just let Lily sleep on me in our bed because I was too tired to stand and rock her to sleep. So thankful for a good night's sleep finally!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gotcha Day Video

Please excuse my nervous gum chewing and bra strap. I was wearing a sweater but that room was hot!

Adoption Day! - Tuesday, November 26th

The past 24 hours we have been Lily's guardians. Today, according to Chinese law, we became her parents! Here's what went down:

Little Miss Lily slept until almost 8:00 today! Her nanny said that she normally woke up at 7:45, and she was right! We got everyone dressed and went down to breakfast. We had to meet in the lobby at 9:30 to go back to the Civil Affairs Office, so we were a little more rushed than normal. We fed Lily some traditional Chinese food for breakfast and she once again scarfed it down! The girl can eat for sure!

Having my mom on this trip has been such a blessing, because after breakfast she and the kids stayed at the hotel while Brian, Lily and I went back to the CAO. They had a blast playing on the playground, checking out the fish, and playing cars until we got back.

Lily was pretty good about letting Brian hold her this morning and didn't cry when I left the room. She did get a little fussy when we got on the bus, and then quickly fell asleep in my arms. I was glad she did, because I wasn't sure what memories might get stirred up returning to the same room as yesterday. It was of course super warm in there again, but this time there was less crying and chaos. We were able to chat more with some of the families in our group and get to know them better while we waited, and waited, and waited. Of course the first thing they wanted to do was take our picture. And if you remember, Lily was sleeping. I was envisioning what an awesome experience this was going to be. When it was our turn one of the guides started tapping her and yelling things to her in Chinese. Exactly how I like to be woken up, someone shaking me and yelling at me! Then they wanted me to sit her up in this chair, while screaming and throwing herself backward. Brilliant. After a few unsuccessful attempts at a photo (shocker!) they let me hold her and had us stand up for the picture. This was followed by more waiting. Finally it was our turn to be interviewed by the adoption official. She asked us a few questions, we replied correctly apparently since she let us keep Lily, we presented her with a gift, and then part 1 was finished. I'm thinking this is a pretty sweet deal they have going on here. You ask people questions for 2 minutes and then receive a gift. This lady racked up like 12 gifts while we were there! Then we went upstairs for part 2, which of course included more waiting! We had fun playing with Lily during this time. She thought it was a great game to put puffs in and out of her snack cup, and then discovered that if she turned it upside down and shook it all the puff dust would come out. I was completely covered and she thought it was hilarious! Big smiles! We practiced her walking again too. She walked to me and gave me another big smile :) Finally it was our turn. This rather eccentric notary official asked us more questions, and we again apparently answered correctly. It seems like answering questions about yourself would be easy, but not when they are asked with a Chinese accent and you want to make sure that you are not answering yes to something like "Will you abuse this child" which kind of sounds like "Do you choose this child". Thankfully Brian answered that one while I was still trying to figure out what he said. That was it! We are now officially Lily's parents!

We returned to the hotel at 12:30 and ate another quick PBJ lunch since everyone was hungry. Lily was so hungry that she literally stuck her face in her plate and started eating! She ended up with jelly all over her forehead. Hilarious! After lunch the kids and Lily had a great time playing together and we really started to see her smile and hear her start to talk. Every time she sees Caroline or Matthew she reaches toward them and makes a sound. Her favorite game was handing cars back and forth to them. She "talks" to them, smiles, and waves the cars all around. Then we went in the bedroom to read stories to get ready for nap time, and instead that had a blast playing on the bed. Even though it's tough bringing little kids to China, watching them play was the reason we brought them. We are able to bond as a family from the beginning. What a blessing.

Things are going really well here and we couldn't be more thankful, but it's still hard! Lily pretty  much only lets me hold her, feed her, etc. I'm so excited that she's attaching to me (maybe out of fear but I'll take it!) but it is hard on Matthew and Caroline. I want to be there for them too during this transition and feel like a lot of the time I can't. I'm also pretty tired, as I am having trouble sleeping at night but am tired all day, and I pretty much don't get a break. Please pray for my energy and patience as we adjust to 3 kids! Also please pray that Lily would start being more trusting of Brian. He is being so patient and knows the relationship will come, but I also know that he wants to be able to help out and share that bond with her too. And finally pray for Matthew and Caroline. They are doing amazingly well and we are so so so proud of them. Please pray that they will continue to adjust to having a new little sister and that they don't feel left out or neglected by their mommy. Again, so thankful my mom is here to make them feel special and give them extra love!

Gotcha Day - Monday, November 25th

Sorry this post is late, I've been having major issues uploading pictures!

We enjoyed another hotel breakfast Monday morning followed by another visit to the fish and gardens. (This time the kids were in actual clothes). The kids had a great time running around the gardens while Brian and I sat on a bench in the sun. Then the official adoption part of the trip started off with a group meeting at the hotel. We are in a group with 9 other families from Lifeline who are adopting children from Guangdong province. We spent a few hours going over our schedule for the next 2 weeks and preparing our paperwork for this week. It was so great having my mom there to watch the kids so they didn't have to sit in a room and entertain themselves for 2 hours! We finished around lunch time and went back to the room to eat some quick PBJ sandwiches. I was feeling a little nervous so I did a workout video in the room to get some energy out. Caroline and Matthew did it along with me, and I'm pretty sure Matthew has better push-up form than I do. I'm telling myself it's because he has less body weight to lift. After a shower we had a family meeting to talk with the kids about what to expect and what Lily might be thinking and feeling. Then we prayed for her and for our time together. Matthew prayed that she would have fun with us. So sweet :o) We headed down to the lobby and hopped on a bus with all the other families. Matthew was so excited and said that this was his first time riding on a bus!

When we got to the Civil Affairs office we went up to the 8th floor to wait for our children. There was a playroom separated by a red curtain where they were all waiting. We had to fill out one more piece of paperwork, and while we were doing that I saw Lily come through the door with her caretaker. I only saw the back of her head, but I knew it was her! All of a sudden it got real!

They started calling families to come to the entrance to the playroom as children were brought out one by one. Soon it was a quite chaotic with kids crying, adults crying, people taking pictures and videos, and hardly any open space. We were the last family I think. They called Hui Cheng Tang and all of a sudden there she was! I don't even remember seeing her caretaker's face, just hers, as she stared at us wide-eyed. She came right to me and just stared all around the room. Caroline was so excited and wanted to hug her right away. Brian picked her up and the hugging marathon ensued. Lily was so brave, and such a good sport!

She went to Brian with no tears and just kept staring at her new family. She came out of the room holding a soft book, and kept a death grip on it the whole time we were holding her. We headed over to a chair to sit down and play with her. I put her on my lap and she just kept holding her book and looking all around. After about 15 minutes her caretakers came over, and I only realized that's who they were because she saw them and started crying. She stayed in my arms though, and calmed down after only about a minute.

Our guides started circulating and serving as translators while we asked their caretakers questions. Since seeing her nanny had made Lily cry, I kept her faced slightly away and Brian asked the questions. They told us that she had a bit of a cough and had brought her some medicine. We also learned that the orphanage did move locations 2 weeks ago, so that will factor into our decision to visit the orphanage later this week. The orphanage director also told us that she was scared of men because she hadn't seen any. We kind of expected something like that, so we will have to be patient on building her relationship with her daddy. Then we took our official adoption picture with the nanny and orphanage director. That was the second time Lily cried. She reached for her nanny and I let her have her and hold her for the picture. In just the few minutes we had to interact I could tell that she really cared about Lily, and I was so grateful for that. I know that while it wasn't the same love as a parent can give, she was loved.

She took a bit longer to calm down when the nanny handed her back to me again, but soon she was snuggled into my body observing everything around her. Caroline was so sweet and kept handing her all of her toys and giving her hugs. Finally it was time to head back to the hotel. Lily did great on the bus ride. Caroline however, not so much! All of the new adopted babies were quiet but my 2 year old was screaming like a crazy person! It could be because she was up half the night and didn't take a nap since we spent the afternoon getting Lily. Then when Brian got off the bus to stop at the grocery store for formula Matthew joined in the fun. I think the combination of not much sleep and adding a new family member was too much for them. They settled down once we got back to the room and gave them a snack.

We showed Lily around the room and sat her on the floor to play. I got the first little smile out of Lily when I started tickling her toes! I can't wait to see more of those :) We also practiced her walking. She is pretty good at taking steps by herself, but she has to be motivated! She reached out for our hands though and walked around the room. When Brian got back from the grocery store at 5:30 he had to turn right around again and go fill out paperwork back in the meeting room. The plan was to go get pizza after and bring it back to the room. Little did we know how long the meeting would take! We thought he'd be done around 6, but at 6:15 he came down and got my signature then went back to do more paperwork. We fed Lily one of the bananas we snagged from breakfast, and we got her second smile! She is definitely a good eater! Sweet Caroline fell asleep on the couch around 6:30, and Matthew joined her shortly after. Soon it was just Lily and I awake and I could tell she was getting tired. Around 7:15 my mom woke up and we decided to just put the kids to bed. Just then Brian walked in the door with pizza! The adults all ate some, then Brian fed Lily her bottle. She was not too happy at first because she couldn't see me so I moved and then she was fine.

I was exhausted and decided Lily must be too, so we attempted bed time. She let me hold her and rock her and she fell asleep rather easily. I was about to fall asleep standing up so I tried to lay her down in her crib. She immediately woke up and stood up in her bed. I showed her that I would be right next to her in the bed, and I honestly think I fell asleep before she even sat down. But she must have fallen asleep just fine because I didn't hear a peep!

She cried once around midnight but didn't actually wake up, and I rubbed her back and she fell back to sleep quickly. Then I was wide awake for an hour! I took some more melatonin and finally fell back asleep. Lily woke up again around 5:00 because her foot got stuck in the crib. I removed it and that made her mad, so I picked her up and lay down with her. At first she wouldn't lay her head down, but slowly as I rubbed her back she gave in and fell asleep on my chest. Once she was asleep I tried to roll her off to the side so I could sleep, but as soon as I did she climbed back on me. So I was awake pretty much from then on but I didn't care! She, however, slept a solid 12 hours!

Our Gotcha Day experience was everything we had prayed for and more. The past several months we have been praying for Lily every day, that God would be preparing her heart for her new family. We know that she is too young to really understand what is going on, but we prayed that when she saw us she would somehow know that we were her family, that she would feel safe with us, and that she would adjust quickly. Today all of those prayers were answered and we are so grateful!

Here are the things we learned today:

* The Chinese do not believe in air conditioning. Even though it was 75 degrees outside the Civil Affairs office was hot! Or maybe it was just the 50 or so people crammed into one room with kids crying and emotions running high.

Pictures from today: