Waiting For Ladybug

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First Christmas home!

What a wonderful day it was! AbbyGrace wasn't quite sure what was happening at first, but she soon realized that there were presents to be had, and that's all it took! When she awoke on Chrismas morning and came into the living room, the first thing she saw was the bike that Santa had left for her. She hopped on immediately, and had to be coerced to stop and open the rest of the presents that were hers. It didn't take long before she was not only opening her gifts, but helping everyone else open theirs as well! She was thrilled with all of her gifts, and played most of the day (and has played lots since then as well). So, what I know everyone wants to see are the pics. So here they are!

Friday, December 22, 2006

English progress!

It seems that many have been curious regarding AbbyGrace's progress learning english. Between a few mandarin phrases that we have learned, and a few english words that AbbyGrace has learned, we have done well. When we got home, her english seemed to start taking off. She now says "excuse me", "thank you" and "byb-bye" most times without prompting. She says many things while repeating us.

When we first got home, she wanted nothing to do with our dog, Caramel. She was terrified of him. After a few days, she would tolerate him in the room. On Wednesday (two days ago) she was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. Caramel was roaming around the base of the table. I guess she didn't want him there, so she formed her first english sentence - "Caramel, go see mama!" She has warmed up to Caramel somewhat now. She loves to let him in and out the back door. When he is in his kennel, she asks where he is. This afternoon, Caramel was in his house. She asked where he was. I said, "Caramel is in his house." She walked away towards her room and then was quiet for a few minutes. Ethan went to let Caramel out of his kennel, and I hear Ethan say "AbbyGrace, no! You can't feed Caramel chips!" She was stooped down in front of his kennel feeding him pringles through the doorway. A few minutes later, Robert comes home. Robert, AbbyGrace and I were standing in the bathroom and Caramel walks in. AbbyGrace proudly proclaims "You can't feed Caramel chips!" For some reason, she said it with a really deep Texas twang!?! Where did that come from?

Saturday, December 16, 2006


We finally made it home! There's a lot of story to be told about the journey home, but there is so much to do now, so it must wait for now. I'll return soon to update.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I can only post pics in a post by itself

Longing for home

We're ready to come home! Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful here. We have enjoyed our time in Guangzhou. At the advice of many friends that have come before us, we have chosen a great hotel to stay in while in Guangzhou. The food here is good. The shopping is great (more on that later!). We're just ready to come home. I'm personally ready to sleep in my own bed, do my own laundry, drink my own coffee in the morning in my own kitchen. I'm ready to take my daughter to the park in the city where I live. I'm ready to get back to my corps and worship with the believers that God has blessed my life with . I'm just ready...
It won't be long now!
Today is Wednesday (I think). Today, our guide, XiXi, goes to our consulate appointment on our behalf. My understanding is that basically, the US consulate goes over all of our paperwork to make sure that it is in order, and issues AbbyGrace's visa. Tomorrow afternoon, we will go to the consulate to swear an oath (not sure what we're swearing, but I guess I'll find out), and then tomorrow evening, we will leave Guangzhou for Beijing. After spending the night in Beijing, we will leave for home on Friday.

NOW, about the shopping. THIS PLACE IS A SHOPPER'S PARADISE! We shopped pretty much all day yesterday. Our group started out at the pearl market, which is a 5 story indoor mall with nothing but jewelry stores. Row upon row of jewelry. Any type of jewelry, it was found there. We wanted pearls (of course, you can't come to China and not buy pearls!). Every store was about the same - you walk in, there are HUGE bags (I mean like tall kitchen garbage can size bags) FULL of strands of pearls. Not just one bag - but bags LINING THE WALL FULL OF PEARLS! It was almost unbelievable. I've posted pics just so you'll believe me. So, the bottom line - how much did they cost? I bought a strand of white pearls for AbbyGrace to give to her on her wedding day (I got a strand for myself for the same occassion) - I was told that they are the best quality pearls (they were the most beautiful to my eye), and paid $60 US for the strand to be strung and added a clasp. I thought that was pretty good. AbbyGrace is my daughter - SHE LOVED SHOPPING HERE! She loved pulling all of the pearls out of the bags, and has love putting all of the pearls on and standing and looking at herself in the mirror. So Cute!

NEXT - ELECTRONICS! This was a great place to shop as well. We ended up getting Ethan 4 GB mp3 player and spend about $93. We also bought a TON of DVD's at 12 RMB (about $1.50) each. We bought several movies that aren't even out in the states yet (or at least they weren't when we left for China) - Cars, Pirates of the Carribbean - Dead Man's Chest, Happy Feet, and a few more. That was LOTS of fun!

THEN - to the TOY MARKET! We didn't do a whole lot of damage here. Ethan found some cool wheel things that strap on his shoes to turn them into those roller shoes. I think he paid 60 RMB (about $8) for them. We also picked up a few other things in the adjoining "antique" market that caught our eye.

We purchased traditional Chinese dresses in every size for AbbyGrace today. We want to have her photographed in these dresses each year and send a picture to her foster family with an update each year. So, now the shopping is pretty much done. Now we can go home.

We miss all of our friends and family. Thank you to all of you that have emailed and/or left comments on our blogs. There is no way that you ever know how much it has meant to us to have your support and your prayers for so many months, and now while we have been here. THANK YOU - a thousand times - THANK YOU!

Now, let me see if I can post those pics!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

trying again - pictures


We did arrive in Guangzhou (sorry to leave you hanging). I've heard it before, but I'm not sure that you can really get a sense for it until you're here - SHAMIAN ISLAND IS ADOPTION CENTRAL! Every place you walk into, the first thing they ask is "you here to adopt? How old your baby? This size fit her!" The US consulate until recently was here on the island. For that reason, most Americans adopting from China end their journey on this island. All of the people on the island speak at least broken english. They really cater to American adoptive families. The island is packed full of elated parents, and precious children. It is such an amazing experience to walk the streets and see so many families with their babies in strollers out enjoying the day. It is a precious site.
The first thing we did when we arrived on Saturday afternoon was head to the famed "Lucy's" restaurant. Every adoptive family has had to have eaten at Lucy's. It has gained a status all it's own among families that arrive here wanting food that in any way resembles american food. It was so welcomed by our family.
On Sunday, we went to the Guangzhou zoo. It was a great way to burn off a little energy, and a fun way to spend a morning as a family. We were able to see elephants, giraffes, lions, and a siberian tiger very closely. It was really neat! We also were able to see a panda bear, though it was not near as close, and was caged so the view was somewhat obscured. There was also a small amusement park attached to the zoo, so the kids were able to ride a few rides. We all had a great time.
Back to the island we went and enjoyed an afternoon nap, and a little shopping, and rounded off our evening with a great dinner with several other Harrah's families at a Thai restaurant here on the island. I must say, I don't believe that I've ever eaten Thai food. I was very hesitant, but I went along because I wanted to enjoy the company of the other families. I was very pleasantly surprised. THE FOOD WAS EXCELLENT! If you find yourself on Shamian Island, YOU MUST TRY THE THAI RESTAURANT!
So, now it Monday (I think, the days are kinda all mushed together in my brain right now). Today we will complete paperwork for our consulate appointment, and have our red couch photo taken with the other Harrah's families. I can't wait for that! What a treasure to have a picture of all of these precious children (qt's).
Ok - I tried to add pics - for some reason, it's not letting me. I'll come back and try again later.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Leaving Nanning

Today we will leave Nanning. It is a bittersweet time. On one hand, we are ready to go. We are ready to move on to Guangzhou and finish the American paperwork necessary for us to return home. We understand that there are many more American conveniences in Guangzhou. We are ready for that. We are ready to meet up with so many families that we have met in the last year along this journey. Many of us will be there at the same time. It will be nice to meet them and see their children.
On the other hand, today we will take our daughter away from the province that she was born. We are leaving behind her place of birth. We are grateful that we have been given so many pieces of her life puzzle to be able to piece together a pretty good picture of her past. But, yet, this place is her history, and today we fly away - from the past toward the future.
As we leave today, I think of those whose lives have been touched by my precious Ning Yi - her birth parents - who quite possibly were faced with a child who's needed medical attention was greater than their resouces could provide. So on the doorway to a small hotel in Ningming county, China, they took their daughter, with a piece of jade (symbol of good luck in China) tied on a red thread tied as a necklace on her neck, and left their daughter to be found by someone who could care for her. I wonder how they felt? I wonder where they are? I wonder if they think of her every day as I have for the last year? I hope that they know that she will be eternally loved.
I think of her foster family who loved for for 2 1/2 years. I wonder if they realize that LiLi will leave today? I wonder if they are able to make it though the day without weeping over her loss. We have told them how grateful we are for their excellent caring and loving of her. We told them how much we love her, and how we will always care for and love her. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
I think of those children who remain in this city without a home. I think especially of those children that have a "special need" that causes them to wait for a family. We are told that very few children have ever been placed from AbbyGrace's orphanage. We were told that very few people will consider a child with a need. The orphanage directer was so very thankful to us for adopting our daughter. I think of those children that remain. Many of which will remain in these orphanages for their entire lives.
And just so you won't begin to think more of us than you ought, this doesn't mean that we are "great people" who have done a noble thing. This was a completely selfish act. We wanted a child. We wanted a daughter. We saw her picture, we fell in love with her instantly - we wanted to be her parents. We are the selfish ones.
But to those who are not as selfish as we are, that ARE great people, and have the means of caring for a child, I ask you - will you think of these children today with me? Will you condsider parenting one of these children? Woud you count it a privilege to help one of these children grow to adulthood - while enjoying spoiling them every day of their lives? You would change their life forever.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mother's Love

Today we visited AbbyGrace's orphanage, Mother's Love. It is truly a place of love. I was so incredibly touched by what I saw and learned there. Mother's Love is an orphange that is a now place for children with "exteme special needs". In many respects it reminded me of a children's nursing facility in the US. The children there were treated very well, and it was very easy to tell that they were greatly loved. While we were there, we were given a tour of the orphange, and were able to witness a life skills class in session. Everything was very orderly, and very clean. We were shown classrooms for music classes, physical therapy, computer & basic stimulation. It was very apparent that this orphanage was doing everything in it's power to make sure that these children are given every opportunity for growth that is possible from this orphanage.
When AbbyGrace came to this orphanage, it was a slightly different program. At that time, orphanages around the area did not have funds to care for a child with any type of special need. There was no money for hospital visits, or special medications. If a child in the Guangxi province needed special care, he/she was transferred to Mother's Love. We now understand that there has been a slight change in that the various orphanages now have funding to care for some special needs, so only the most severe cases are transferred to Mother's Love. For this reason, the orphanage moved to a smaller facility on the same property about a year ago. Mother's Love now cares for about 20 children in the orphange, and another 20 or so children that are kept in foster homes, and medical needs met by Mother's Love.
We were captured by the sights that we saw in this place. Especially by the plaque on the wall that says it all!

Day 3 - Part two

On Wednesday afternoon, we decided to rent a stroller and take a walk down to the people's park. This place is way more than a park. I is a huge kinda botanical gardens kinda place with a lake in the middle and beautiful walkways all the way around. There is a beautiful bridge that cross the lake, and a place to stop and feed the koi. There is also a section with amusement park type rides. It was a beautiful place to spend a few hours burning off a little energy.
Many of you will know that we are huge Disney fans. It looks like AbbyGrace is gonna fit right in!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


If you come back to this blog, could you please email me with your email address? My email is rsewinters723@cs.com . I need your help with a non-adoption related issue. Thanks.

More minority park pictures

For some reason, all of the pics didn't load, so I'm trying again.

Day 3 in Nanning - Minority Park

Today was a free day. We were able to explore a bit. This morning, we went to the minority museum. The Guangxi province is made up of many minority groups and this museum celebrates the largest minority groups, their traditions & culture. One of the cultural traditions that we learned of was of the "love ball". Young girls would make a "love ball" at a young age. At an annual celebration held for young single people, the love balls would be thrown. There would be a large court with a high pole with a hoop on the top of it. Girls would stand on one side, boys would stand on the other (imagine volleyball with a single pole and hoop). The girls would throw her ball through the hoop, and the boy that she hoped to marry would race to the ball on the other side to catch it. If the boy caught it, she would ask him "the question". If he agreed, he would then go to the girls houses to live and work for her family without wage for two years. If the girls family then agreed that he would be an appropriate husband, the two would wed.
It was a beautiful place with lots to see. There was a courtyard where different performances where held. We were able to view and participate in a few dances while there. There were also beautiful gardens to walk through and take pictures of while we were there. It was a beautiful place.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's Legal!

This morning we had our Civil Affairs appointment. At this time we were asked several questions: Did we like our daughter? Did we get along with her last night? Do we believe we could provide for her? Why do we want to adopt a child from China? Do we feel that education is important for the growth of a child? Do we realize that our daughter has a special need? How do we plan to care for her need? Does her special need make a difference to you? After answering all of these questions, and placing our thumbprint over signatures that we had signed on several documents, we were declared to be the legal parents of Ning Yi. The ceremony took about 5 minutes. That's it. What took a year of paper chasing, waiting, certifying, authenticating, waiting & more excruciating waiting was culminated in a simple 5 minute session of questions and answers, and a legal declaration. She now is legally our daughter.

We will wait for her passport to be printed, and on Saturday, we will head to Guangzhou to complete the American portion of the adoption.

AbbyGrace continues to be taking the transition very smoothly. No tears. What appears to be no grief. Because she has handled the transition so well, we believe that we will be safe to visit her orphanage on Thursday. I am greatly looking forward to seeing this place where miracles take place. The name of her orphanage is "Mother's Love". Only appropriate, I feel.

I'll leave you with just a few pics from today.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A few random thoughts

We are so in love with this little girl.
She is an absolute bundle of energy!
We need to buy a slide...and a baby doll stroller...and a tricycle (How on earth am I going to get a tricycle home from China? I need some help here, Steph!)
She is my girlie girl! Everyone teased me about how they were sure she wasn't going to be girlie because I wanted her to be. WELL, while we were still in the gotcha room, she was running like a banshee around the room - up and down the slide, we were all chasing her. But then, her hairclip fell out of place, and she had to stop everything she was doing to have it placed back to it's appropriate place. I LOVED IT! She sat for a long time last night and let me brush her hair - she acted like she really enjoyed it.
She is beautiful!
Her brother is ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE with her (as we all are!) And she absolutley loves him! She will run and laugh, and then look to him to see if he is following her, or laughing at her, and then will run to him and give him big hugs.
She doesn't like to be dirty AT ALL. Last night at dinner, if the slightest grain of rice was on her face, or on her hand, she would stop everything, and want me to clean her hands right away. ALSO, when we were in the room yesterday afternoon, Ethan gave her a dum-dum sucker. She promptly took the wrapper off of the sucker, went to the restroom door, opened it and went inside to throw the wrapper away. She's even better than Ethan!
We went to the restaurant at the hotel for dinner last night. We were ready for something that would be slightly familiar, but they also had congee for AbbyGrace. We ordered her congee, and she ate very well, insisting that she feed herself. She ate the congee well, but when our food came out, she got really excited! Robert had ordered a burger that came with FRENCH FRIES! She knew what they were, and insisted that she have some right away. No problem. She ate the first one right up, and then began to dip the fries in her congee (which she didn't seem to really like - who would? Fries dipped in rice porridge). We weren't going to give her ketchup because we assumed that she wouldn't know what it was. But then she saw it, and wanted it right away. She ate all of the fries, and all of the ketchup. She would dip each bite of the fries until she got to the end of the fry, and then drop the last piece into the ketchup and scoop it out with a spoon. She didn't want her hands to get dirty by dipping the fry down into the ketchup, so she used her spoon.
Last night when it was time for bed, I simply scooped her up and said "shui jiao le" (time for bed), and she crawled right in bed, grabbed her bunny, leaned over to me and said "mama", kissed me on the cheek and went straight to sleep. Now we're all sitting her just watching her sleep.
She's perfect!


What an incredible day! Where do I even begin? We arrived in Nanning at 11:00 am. We checked in at the hotel, and waited until we were to meet our translator at 2:50. This was the moment that we had been waiting for. As we entered the Civil Affairs building, I heard a conversation being had concerning Ning Yi (our AbbyGrace), and then our translator shared with us that the Foster Parents were there and wanted to meet us. What an absolute joy it was for us to be able to meet them. The family that has cared for our daughter as their own for more than two years. It was with great joy that I was able to hug the neck of the Foster Mother, and share with her my sincere thanks for her motherly care of my daughter. It was an unexpected pleasure. Then we went upstairs to a private playroom where they were to bring the children to greet us. Ning Yi was first. She entered the room running, and barely stopped. There was a slide that she had her eyes set on. As she begin to climb the stairs, we were close behind her trying to get her attention withoug scaring her. One of the orphanage workers called her nickname "LiLi" and asked her who we were. She turned, looked me in the eye and said "Mama", and then to Ethan "GeGe", and to Robert "Baba". Then she quickly went about her playing. We played for several minutes until we were told that it was time to leave. I was certain that the tears would begin then. But they didn't. I simply scooped her up, and out we went, while she still laughed and giggled. And to this point, there has not been a tear. I understand that there is still great possibility that the grief will come. However, I believe that the prayers of so many that have joined us in praying that the transition would be made easy for our daughter have been answered. Thank you, Lord! We are completely smitten with this beautiful gift from the very hand of God.
And now, what you've all been waiting for, the pictures!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

We Made It! And a day in Beijing!

After lots of planning, packing, re-planning & re-packing, Thursday, December 30 was the day the literal journey to China began. Due to inclement winter weather in Dallas, we decided that we should leave around noon to make our way to Dallas to make our flight scheduled for Friday morning. We picked Ethan up from school at 11:30, we had lunch & began our way to Dallas. When we were preparing to leave our hotel on Friday morning to go to the airport, I called United Airlines to re-confirm our flight status, only to learn that our flight had been cancelled due to inclement weather in Chicago. We got to the airport at 6:45 am, and learned that there was a flight that we could catch to Beijing that flew through San Francisco, and was leaving at 8:00 am. So off we went. We got through security as quickly as we could even though it was the longest security checks at DFW I had seen, and arrived at our gate just as the plane was boarding. We arrived in San Francisco, and once again ran to our gate as the last passengers boarding the plane. As the Beijing bound flight was backing away from the jetway, a front landing gear tire blew out. So the delay began. It began with the wait for the appropriate personnel to change the tire. Then the 20 minute delay in leaving caused enough delay in fight pattern that permission to fly over Russian air space had to be re-secured. Then as the new flight plan was being formatted, it was realized that the plane did not have enough fuel to fly the new pattern, so we waited for a fuel truck to get to plane to add more fuel, and then we waited for a tow trolley to arrive once again to assist in pushing the plane back from the jetway. An hour and a half later, it appeared that we may actually leave DFW. Once we got into the air, the flight was very smooth, but VERY LONG! We were SO READY to get off of that plane. We arrived at our hotel, got checked in, and immediately went straight to sleep (at 7:00 pm). We all slept well, but awoke at about 12:00 am, took Benadryl, and went back to sleep until the next morning. We were now ready to see Beijing.
Yesterday was amazing! Beijing is an incredible city. We toured TienAnMen square, and the Forbidden City. That was followed by a tour of the silk factory (where we purchased a beautiful traditional Chinese dress for AbbyGrace), and a Hutong Tour. For those that are reading this blog that are planning a trip in the future to adopt your children from this great country, please let me say how incredible the Hutong tour is. Everything was amazing, but the Hutong tour was the highlight of our day. I really encourage you all to do this. AND, for Harrah's families - MAGGIE IS INCREDIBLE! We have all fallen in love with her. You must request Maggie when in Beijing.
After the Hutong tour, we went to a place called The Free Market. You all know that I'm a shopper, but this is like shopping on speed! I've been to many countries, and shopped in many markets, but this is the highest pressure that I have ever experienced. WOW! We bought one book. That's it! It was not my idea of a pleasant shopping experience. Then we were privilieged to be able to see the Acrobatic show. Another must see in my opinion. It was incredible! A Peking Duck dinner rounded out our evening, and we returned to our hotel for the evening.
Now it is 4:30 am, and we are all wide awake (partly because Ethan was sick most of the night, partly because we are all so anxious for this day to begin). Today is the day that our day family grows from three to four. In less than twelve hours, we will have our AbbyGrace. We will meet Maggie who will escort us to the airport to fly to Nanning. We will check into our hotel, and then go to receive AbbyGrace at 3:00 pm. Today is the day. It's GOTCHA DAY!