Saturday, May 31, 2014


Friday was a very easy day.  We had no where to be, only to wait in the room for the delivery of Maisie's passport.  After a long breakfast, we had no problems just hanging out, being silly, playing with beads and looking at books.  We even stayed in the room for lunch and got in a good nap.  
Finally at 3:30 the passport came which was not a minute too soon as the walls were starting to close in on Miss busybody.  What a cute little passport it is!
For those that are curious, this is basically a temporary Chinese passport for her to leave the country as she is not yet an American citizen to receive one from the US.  Part of the paperwork the past few days has included some to terminate her Chinese citizenship since China does not allow dual citizens.
We finished the day heading out to the 2nd of two malls connected to our hotel.  One is an older 6 floor mall very packed and crowded with people and full of shops and restaurants.  The other is an 8 story mall packed with higher end stores,  people and restaurants.  These people like to shop.  I told Erik that I was shocked that there could be so many stores that sustain themselves with all the choices there are.  He reminded me that there are 32 million people in the city that need to shop somewhere.  This city is just full of one huge building after another.  We have had a good experience in this city and of course the highlight was receiving Maisie here.  However, we are both so ready for the 2nd phase of the trip.  We will meet back up with all the adoption families we were in Beijing with and all our new little ones.  It will be about a 2 hour plane ride.  Our rep has talked with Maisie about getting on the plane, not going home yet, but getting to see a whole bunch of other Chinese babies with their new mommies and daddies.  It was pretty cute to listen to that dialogue.  Leaving you with some local pictures of Chongqing (the biggest city you've never heard of).

Outdoor shopping area behind the mall

View from the plaza by our hotel

View from our room.  The mountains are the direction Maisie's orphanage was
8 story mall #2 -connected to hotel by underground walkway

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Orphanage visit

Warning..mama's thoughts of the day = long post!
To begin, one should know that we say that Maisie has been in an orphanage.  But within the large, campus-like setting, she actually lived with a foster family for the past 2 1/2 years.  The children interact and sped their day time with other children that live in the more traditional orphanage setting on campus as well.  That is why we go back and forth in our reference as to where she has lived.

The day was covered in prayer.  I know many friends and family responded to the call for prayers for peace to reign on this trip.  Maisie had already expressed a disinterest to our guide for going back.  Of course we gave her all the reassurance that she would come back with us, she would not stay there and that we were her parents now.  However, as good as she had it as an orphan there, one thing remained.  She had a real family now instead of (to use their term) a  "simulated family"

She warmed to the idea of presenting her new mom and dad to her friends and pass out candy to them which is basically a tradition among the children who get homes to do when they return for their goodbyes.  It was about an hour trip north of the city some pretty, wooded mountain area. We arrived with no panic attacks on her part (sadly these things really can happen).  The children in her group were practicing for a performance for the upcoming Childrens Day festival on Sunday.  They invited her to hop for the song and dance to which she did.  Be still my heart, it was precious!!
Doing her dance - front and center.

Immediately she grabbed her backpack and she was so ready to pass out the suckers.  She was mobbed.  I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of and with children whose parents were waiting for them in the states.  (I am constantly amazed at how tight knit this adoption community is).  She saw me hugging one boy and she about lost it.  She come over tearing us apart to the point of tears.  It happened a second time, so I just decided to play it cool from then on.

We met the father in the cafeteria then they took us down to the family's apartment.  Little Maisie was fine being carried by the foster mom as long as I was 3 feet behind.  The apartment was picture perfect.  It was a humble place to American standards, but something from a fairy tale as far as an orphanage is concerned.

Two girls and two boys are in each apartment with the foster parents.  There are 3 bedrooms one for the girls, one for the boys and one for the parents.  There is a nice little living room, dining area and kitchen.  There is a separate bathroom for the kids from the adults.  The children's bathroom actually had an adorable western style toilet for them to learn how to use.  Little thing like this go such a long way in the transition of adoption.  I keep feeling beyond blessed that Maisie was afforded this life.  My first choice would be that of course evil things like abandonment and orphans would never exist in the first place, but God showed her favor in her desperation.

Foster family with 3 other siblings
The siblings in the family room

 Brother showing me his family that will be coming from Italy for him soon

Cute little bathroom with squatty potty and western toilet

Boys room

Girl's room
Chatting with everyone
We parted ways with the family.  There are no words adequate enough to express our gratitude.  Tears and hugs may be awkward in their culture, but that's the last gift I had left to give.  As we walked back up the hill to the car, school had let out and all the nannies and teachers were going down the road.  Without fail, every one we passed called out her name and asked little questions regarding her new parents.  She must of said hello to 20 or more adults.  She was quite social, and seemed to be be known by all.  Even as we left, she went up to the guard gate and said her greetings.  In the final picture you will see more workers saying their goodbyes to her as well.  We ended with a walk by the lake which Maisie enjoyed.

At the Loving Lake
Many people have hard, emotional experiences going to orphanages and seeing all the children with no home or family to call their own.  I felt blessed on this trip to be able to see the incredible care and feel the love that is afforded to these children.  Best of all, I was able to find a few children, take their pictures and tell them (through our guide) - "Your mommy and daddy can't wait to come get you!!"  It is a blessing to know that these children are finding their forever families however heart breaking it is that they are there.

Loved.  An orphan no more!

Wednesday zoo day


In trying to keep up to date, I will mainly post photos from the day.  We went to the Chongqing zoo to see the pandas.  It was nice to spend a few hours out walking, but the zoo itself was nothing to write home about.  We hated telling our guide that was so excited about the pandas that we have some pandas (in a much better facility) only miles from our house at the Smithsonian National Zoo. 

When it comes to walking, it appears that Maisie has never had an agenda handed to her.  She walks so slow.  She has quickly learned it was pretty fun to hop on our backs instead.  We now have that request in her little Chinese down pat!

 Maisie was so excited to see the animals and the elephant put on a really good show as he took a long playful bath.  The better thing about this Chinese zoo was that the barriers were a lot less between humans and the animals which meant we got to see them fairly unobstructed and close.  At one point Maisie went running toward the tiger den not realizing there was a plexi-glass wall as a barrier.  She rammed right into it resulting in tears.  After they subsided, she told us "they closed the door on me!"

Later on, after dinner we were walking the shopping area and decided to get a small ice cream cone.  We got two with the intention to share with Maisie.  It took her all of one bite to decide it was hers instead.  She shared well, but kept her eyes intently on the ice cream to make sure she was going to get it back. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tuesday- It's official!

There is ONE LESS orphan in this world!  As of 2:30 pm local time we had our 24 hour "harmonious period" and we were taken back to the adoption office we had received Maisie and signed all the paperwork saying we would always take care of her and give her a good education and never abandon her.  Finger prints were taken including hers and we were handed the official notice of adoption.

She has done so well, considering we are messing up her schedule pretty good.  She sacked out on the way there and on the way back.  We celebrated with a good local lunch with our guide.  Maisie downed some egg drop soup, some kind of pickled veggies (that our guide said was too salty for her), some rice and veggies and some pork and meat off mine and Erik's plate.  We don't really have any reason to attribute it to the orphan food hoarding because she does say "no" to things and will stop when full, she just likes her food!

We got our dinner at the grocery store tonight.  I went over to get her some steamed buns, and she charmed the ladies behind the counter.  In the out door market we saw some pretty odd things, but the grocery store today had some pigs snouts, all sorts of animal parts including some of these lovely chicken feet.  Enjoy.

She also got a bath tonight.  I wasn't sure what she was used to or how she would do, but she loved playing in the big tub.  

She ended the evening with a small whimper and wouldn't let me rub her back but at least let me stay on the bed next to her until she fell asleep which took all of about 2 minutes.  She once again slept hard through the night for about 11 hours of which we are grateful for this good transition.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gotcha Day- A day to remember

Our Gotcha Day for Maisie was perfect.
I have seen videos, read blogs and heard stories of so many others, I just had to hope without expectation that her little heart would at least be cracked open to our existence.  Any expectations (that I tried not to have) were far exceeded as she simply walked in the large room and right into our lives.
We were the only family adopting at the time, so it was just us and our guide and a few workers doing their job behind desks as we sat in a large waiting room.  A lady came in and announced Maisie was here, just using the restroom before she came in.  Two ladies shooed the poor thing in the room by herself and apparently kept telling her to go to us.

 It didn't take her long, but it was a brave thing for a little girl in her situation to do.  She walked up to Erik first,  gave him a hug and smiled big as he took her in his arms.  She was then more interested in breaking out her snacks than meeting the parents. But as she pulled her little treats out, she decided we were worth sharing with and sat and played with us taking everything in.  

It was so uplifting to me to see her foster mom walk into the room after her.  As much as I wanted to spend time getting to greet Maisie, I wanted to take advantage of every second I had to thank and talk with the mother that Maisie has known for over the past two years.
Maisie was well stocked with snacks and the goodies we had brought her, so it afforded us almost and hour and a half to sit down and talk with the foster mom and the orphanage lady that was in charge of international adoptions.  We were well stocked with questions and thankfully even brought a gift just in case she happened to show up (which is out of the norm).  We received the information and were so happy to be able to tell her we are in contact with Maisie's former foster sister of two years and that they would see each other soon.  I asked how long Maisie has known about us or the adoption.  I was so taken back by the provincial response.  The mother told me that when the sister was adopted back in December, that started conversations between Maisie and the mother about adoption.  That was several months before our referral. I was so grateful that Maisie had this time to start processing what it could mean for her.  I also didn't take lightly the fact that Maisie's health and well being is the high level it is today because of the individualize care she received in the foster home.

We finally ended the meeting with an appointment to return to the orphanage and foster home in a few days.  Maisie said her good-byes and enjoyed a super fun escalator ride out to the car.

She seemed to enjoy the car ride and was mesmerized getting to look out the moon roof.  She walked in the lobby of our hotel like a boss and just kept chattering away.  

Our guide had many good things to say about her talking and behavior.  She used our Western toilet and thought it was pretty fun to have her hands splashing in the sink to wash up.
We patiently waited for a decent hour back home to wake up the siblings and Skype.  They all voted we should keep her.  She seemed to recognize them from the pictures.  We got to meet a few other family members before bed time.  She has played non-stop, giggled hard and loved on us.  She didn't have any intention on going to sleep until we resorted to shutting off every light to which she cried for a few minutes and then crashed hard until we woke her up 11 hours later.  I couldn't have asked for a smoother day.  I know it was because of the prayers of many in which we thank you for every one.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Anniversary in Beijing

*written on Sat, finally able to catch up on Monday!*
Day 2 in Beijing found us celebrating our 17th anniversary at the Great Wall of China.  The traffic here is always in jams so it took us about an hour and a half to get to the section we were headed for.

  Time was passed by more  history and cultural lessons from our agency reps.   In an instant we were looking out at rugged mountains.  The wall seemed to just grow on them.  The path of the wall followed every bump and divet on the old land.  It was steep climbing that made me take it slow and pause often.  The trip down was no better on your knees from the aged stones being worn away here and there. 

  We had lunch as a big group and continue to get to know each other and enjoy everyone's company as we all anticipate getting our children.  Our new friends come from all over the US and there are a few children tagging along as well.

Our lunch was so big and late in the day,  we just weren't that hungry for dinner so we settled with a corn on the cob stick from the outdoor market and a yogurt drink and called it a night.  We have an early wake up call in the morning as we catch a flight to the center of China to "the biggest city you've never heard of" Chongqing.   It has 32 million people within its sprawling suburbs and one little person there holds a special place in our hearts!

In Chongqing!

We have arrived in the province which Maisie is. We feel kind of lonely after being around 12 other adopting families since we are the only ones that are in our area.  We will be glad to see all the families we have only known for 3 days next week when we reunite with all of our precious new children in hand.  
Tomorrow is our life changing day.  For us and for Maisie as we enter her little life for the first time.  We had a small hiccup in our logistics this afternoon and we will be moving to a new hotel tonight.  I am hopeful for a better internet connection to load up tomorrow's pictures for all to see.  Please continue to pray for a smooth transition as Maisie loses everything she has ever known and learns to accept us as her forever family.

Friday, May 23, 2014


We arrived a little weary yesterday afternoon.  The time difference is exactly 12 hours ahead, but we were immediately meeting other adoptive families as we got off the  plane, so the excitement had surpassed the exhaustion as we chatted away. 
We finally checked into the hotel at 5, then out for a fast dinner, shower and a quick Skype with the kids before we sunk into bed.  By 5 am we were awake and ready to face a full day of taking culture and customs and sightseeing.

The breakfast buffet was huge and we easily got our fill while laughing at our first hours with some new friends.   We took a bus to walk Tian ' anmen Square and the Forbidden City which like an onion, its layers of walls and housings seemed endless.  We then took some rickshaws to the district of alleyways and had a late but scrumptious lunch in the private home of a family that are local prize winning pigeon racers.  -Who knew huh?  No pigeon was harmed for the preparation of our food.  

In the midst of all this, our 2 sweet agency guides answer all our cultural questions, teach us language phrases and fill our heads with the history of everything we are taking in.  

Tonight for dinner we roamed the local streets and saw things like scorpion on a stick ( fried or live), steaming dumplings, hard sugar glazed fruit and so many unidentifiable meats that overwhelmed the senses.  We wearily walked back to the hotel but stopped long enough to take in a Friday night dance party in a city square.  (Line dancing that is).  Interesting sights, smells and sounds.  Jet lag still hasn't fully let us go, we are getting to bed pretty early again.  Tomorrow is our last full day in Beijing then off to Maisie's province on Sunday.    

I am having a hard time connecting my pictures on to the blog for a few days.  Trying to get that worked out.  I will take some from my phone to put on tomorrow and keep seeing what I can do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The day is here!   The suitcases have pretty much been packed for a few days now.  Just a couple rearrangements and last minute additions have been made.  
The past few days have been all about numbers in my head and I feel like Rain Man.
  2 more lunches to pack
36 hours until we get to Beijing
I'm missing 2 weeks of Lydia's preschool

We're waiting for the next flight to take us on a 15 hour trip, but that is one of the better numbers because that means I will be sleeping in the homeland of my baby girl in 24 hours from now.
  A few short days from now and we will finally have our Maisie in hand.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The week between

As mentioned in a previous post, there is always something you are waiting for in the course of adoption.  After we received the fabulous news that we had Travel Approval, we just had to wait on the confirmation that we had an appointment with the American Consulate in China.  Seems easy enough right?  I mean after all the paperwork and government documents we have filled out, to schedule an appointment with a fellow American couldn't be too hard.  It turned out to be a little more agonizing than we anticipated.  We had to wait 5 long days with emails and phone calls on our behalf by our agency.  By Wednesday morning I was getting unsure that we would be able to travel when we were hoping.  But, finally it came, we booked our tickets to fly out exactly a week later.  

Whoo-hoo!!  Three days from now we will be on our way to the other side of the world.

So, in this time, I have packed mine and Maisie's suitcase, 
notarized more forms to take to China, 
notarized forms to leave with grandparents for kids. 
 Cleaned out my closets, drawers, 
Washed my car interior and vacuumed (very important before leaving on a long trip - can we say "nesting").  Returned all the library books and videos (I can't take that $2.00 a day video fine).  
Shopping trips to Target, Wal-Mart, clothing stores, drug stores.  
Finished up all the work at hand with our Cub Scout pack, 
Attempted to finish my kids home school review (my appointment is the week after we return)
  Writing out all possible numbers of friends that will be helping out with the kids
  Writing out schedules and menus 
 I get a happy moment when my fellow adopting friends (that I have never met) message me about meeting up in China. 
In the chaos, I got to take in a few games in which it will be the last that I will get to watch my kids play their spring sports.  I will miss not being there for Caleb's last few games and about 1/4 of Alexia's softball season.   It's all good though and one week from tomorrow we will have our Maisie in hand and all the chaos will be worth it 100 fold. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Early Mother's Day present

The day after I resolved to sit tight and wait a few more days before I started getting anxious again, it happened. I was in the grocery store and got a text from a friend in the same agency that she just received her TA.  I checked my emails.  
None for me yet. 
A second friend responded she did not have hers yet either.  Okay, that made me feel a little better.  I called Erik, on the verge of tears from excitement.  I was just excited that she had hers which meant they it had to be coming.  It was almost 45 minutes after her first notice that I finally got my email.  And just for the record, I had the phone in one hand while vacuuming with the other as I kept refreshing my inbox. 

CCAI- Travel Approvals Received- Please Read & Respond!

AHHH...That is a beautiful subject line.  
Read and respond we did.  We hope to travel in 11 days which lines up with some pretty cool happenings.

17th Wedding anniversary in Beijing
Maisie's Gotcha Day on Memorial Day
In China for their national holiday- Dragon Boat Festival 
Getting to be in Guangzhou with American friends from our hometown that live in China as they finish paperwork for their little girl they adopted!
You couldn't have planned all that to coordinate so nicely!
We are so excited.  Travel agents are being contacted today.  I am now in "full-on" mode.  No slowing down, we've got things to do, places to be, stuff to pack, papers to sign and a little girl to get!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


What time is it?  How much longer until we go?

     I hate not knowing what time it is.  I have to know how much time until things are going to happen.  Unfortunately I have passed this quirk on to my son.  He has to know what is happening, at exactly what time and how many more minutes are left, then he starts the verbal countdown (we have to leave in 10 minutes).
  Adoption is pretty much synonymous with waiting.  However, the difference is, you don't know where you are in the timing of the figurative adoption line.  It would be redundant to list all the processes you wait for again and again.   Right now, we are in the final phase of waiting (well, pre-China at least.)  Referral is secure, visas are issued, meds and shots are done and even packing has commenced.  We are waiting for China to give our agency the green light to send us over.   This is like being 40 weeks pregnant, going into labor, hospital bags are packed and everything is ready to go...but you have to get insurance approval before you leave for the hospital.  So, now you are on hold with someone in another country waiting for them to tell you when to go.  I know, that's a crazy analogy, but that's where I'm at.  I am half crazy myself because of all this waiting.  I have nested, shopped, cooked ahead and yesterday I busted my thigh tearing up the stairs to catch my phone hoping it was our agency calling.  (I've never been so disappointed to hear my sister's voice).  
   A friend yesterday told me this is her "building the ark" phase as she waits for the rain to come down.  I wish I had that grace.  Some days are better than others.  I am thankful for the time I have for a few more preparations here and there.  BUT, I'd just rather have Maisie home with us and get this family going.