I have to apologize for it taking 7 hours to get an update on our blog!  We have been having too much fun!!!!


Wow, what an afternoon.  Our miracle girl is here and she is more of a miracle than we could have ever imagined.  We travelled to the Adoption Office to wait in a conference room for our daughter.  Outside of our little room was a big room filled with families who were waiting just like us.  Most of them were from Scandinavian countries, decked out in suits and ties.  A little different than us Americans who were looking quite casual.  Nevertheless, we were all there for one purpose – to finally be united with our children.


A few at a time, the nannies brought the children into the big room.  Of the three couples from our agency, we were the first ones.  We were told she was coming and we readied the video and the camera.  We walked into the big room and saw her sweet face that was filled with terror.  Her nanny handed her to me and surprisingly she came, reluctantly but she did let me hold her.  She sat in my arms looking around with this look of ‘What in the world is happening?’  She never cried but she was very solemn and sober and remained that way for the time we were in the office, about an hour and a half.  She never made a peep – she was completely still with her big eyes looking around trying to make sense of it all.  She held on tightly to her panda and a few Polly Pockets that Anna Claire had sent along (good idea AC!)


After all the paperwork, we returned to the hotel.  The whole time she sat snuggled in my arms but never making a sound.  It was clear she was sad.  In fact, when you look at the pictures you can see the sadness in her face.  My guess is that she was prepared quite well for her adoption because she seemed to recognize us, but there was an obvious level of discomfort (as to be expected!)


Once we returned to the hotel I put her down on the bed and she would have none of that.  So I picked her up and we sat down together and began to play.  Within 10 minutes she was noticeably more comfortable and her shell began to crack.  It wasn’t long before she was giggling on the bed, stacking blocks and playing with her beads, and consuming vast amounts of Teddy Grahams!  It was an amazing transformation.  We stayed in the room for a couple of hours and then ventured out for dinner.  As soon as we were outside in a different environment, she shut back down.  Her sad face came back although she was content to be carried by Eric.  Once we settled in at the restaurant, she came alive again.  And the kid can eat! 


That’s the play by play.  What isn’t captured in those words is the miracle that Lydia is.  We look at her and can’t believe our eyes.  She is perfect.  This “special needs” child who was far less than 3rd percentile in September is now this super chunky, giggling, spunky little girl whose smile will light up a room.  She is a miracle.  Only God could have orchestrated the events to bring her to us and we are even more thankful than before now that we can see and touch and smell our little miracle girl.  Our gratefulness is even more profound as we are with the two other couples who adopted alongside of us.  One of their little girls is missing her left hand, and the other little girl has an eye deformity that they knew about but several other needs that they were not aware of.  Certainly these little girls are precious creations, but they are also a reminder of what a miracle Lydia is.  We followed God’s leading to special needs adoption, walking in faith that where he led us would be good and right for our family, and here we are – with a perfect little girl who could not be more beautiful and more ‘normal’. 


She is now asleep.  I read her a story, sang her a few songs and laid her down in the crib.  Nope, she would have none of that.  So I picked her back up and laid down on the bed with her on my chest, just like a little newborn.  Within two minutes, she was sound asleep.  Perfectly peaceful.  How could I not praise God with all of my being for this miracle! 


Thank you so much for all of your prayers.  I hope you can know just how valuable they have been.  We will keep posting lots of pictures of our precious peanut, whoops, I mean our precious little CHUNK!


Now the mother of four,



a few more hours

To my dearest Lydia,

The time is close.  In just three hours I will leave this room, walk down the stairs, step into a bus, and make my way to you.  For three years you have been in my heart and my dreams; now, you will be in my arms.  At times, it seemed like this day would never come.  And yet now, it seems as though the journey never was.  Soon, very soon, you will be mine and I will be yours.

I will be your mommy and you my little girl.  I will love you.  I will hold you.  I will carry you.  I will cry with you and I will laugh with you.  We will be together, finally.

How we have come together is a story only God could put together.  And because of that, we can know that it is good.  But I know you will be sad.  You will cry and you will wonder what is happening.  You will try to figure out who I am and why I am taking you from all you have ever known.  You will be scared.  But I will be your mommy.  I will wipe your tears.  I will whisper your name.  I will give you love that can only come from the one who has held you in her heart.

I will be your mommy now, I will be your mommy later.  When you are running and jumping without a care in the world, I will be your mommy.  When you wonder how you came into this world, I will be your mommy.  When you look in the mirror and see a different face, I will be your mommy.  When you are afraid, I will be your mommy.  When you love life more than anything, I will be your mommy.  When you cry yourself to sleep, I will be your mommy.  When you give me snuggles, I will be your mommy.  When you want me far away, I will be your mommy.

No matter what, from this day forward, I will be your mommy.

I can’t wait to see you.

With all the love in this world,


the night before

Tomorrow at 2:00 we will leave the hotel to meet Lydia.  It is hard to imagine that this part of the journey is almost over.  For three years we have imagined her and come to love her and now we will be able to know her and bring her home. 

I don’t feel like I would have imagined.  If you had asked me a month ago what tonight would have felt like I would have described butterflies and anxiety and excitement and joy.  But I find myself somewhat sober.  Sort of not wanting tomorrow to come in this weird sort of way.  I guess maybe what it boils down to is that I am scared.  I am scared about having 4 kids, scared about parenting Lydia, scared about our attachment, scared that this whole thing is going to overwhelm me and I will never recover!  As Eric reminded me, it is almost exactly what I felt like before Josiah was born.  And I mean right before he was born.  All of a sudden, as he is stuck in the birth canal, I panicked and the emotion overcame me.  “I don’t want to be a parent!” I screamed (at that point, I think it was a little late!)  I was so afraid of what this new little boy was going to bring and wondering if I was ever going to get on top of life again. 

I think that’s where I’m at tonight.  The realities are looming over me and I am feeling very weak.  Very not together and not so ready for this journey.  Of course, being in a foreign country and surrounded by the unfamiliar doesn’t help…but it is more than that.  The weight of A-D-O-P-T-I-O-N is heavy, the idea of taking a child from all that they have ever known and promising to raise them and see them through all the twists and turns that adoption brings.  Add in there a different race, a different language, a different culture…it is a lot.  I know it is what God wants us to do, and I know that Lydia belongs to us; I just need to see her sweet little face and be reminded of that. 

I open up our suitcase and see her clothes and toys and my heart leaps.  I close the suitcase and look out the window to a world so different than mine and I am quieted.  Life is about to change – for her, for me, for our family. 

Dear Jesus, help us to love one another well.  Through the good days and the bad, the happy and sad, allow us the grace to persevere and the patience to see your hand.

We will update with pictures of our new little girl as soon as we can!

Wow…it is really happening.


Prayer Update

I wanted to let you guys know how powerful your prayers are!

**Eric and I are both feeling MUCH better today.  So thankful for that!!!

**We had no trouble at the airport.  Our check-in bags were a little overweight but they didn’t seem to care.  And our carry-on luggage was never weighed.  Yippee!!!

**We learned today that Lydia was returned to the orphanage at least a month ago.  While that worries me a little bit in terms of her being jostled around, it is a good thing for her adoption preparation.  We have been told that her orphanage is very, very good in preparing the children to meet their new families. 

Thank you so much for you prayers!  They are really, really keeping us afloat.


more learning...

I’m wising up on Chinese culture!

  1. Very few women have their ears pierced. 
  2. No one is listening to ipods – I have only seen one during our entire stay and that was a rickshaw driver!
  3. Everyone has a cell phone but very rarely do you see people talking on them.  And when you do it is a quick conversation.
  4. Lots of men have on pants that are too big, cinched up with a belt.
  5. Same sex affection is very common but opposite sex affection is extremely rare.
  6. There are western things to eat, but they taste really different.  Can’t wait for a USA Diet Coke!


two cultures, one family

In many ways, the Chinese culture puts Americans to shame.  If there is one thing I have learned in these past 2 days it is that Americans have very little past and you would be hard-pressed to find an American as proud of their country as the Chinese.  I tend to think of China as a very repressed place with a discontent population and certainly at times in its history that has been the case.  But present-day China is an interesting mix of the ancient and the modern, of communism and capitalism, of national pride and a desire for change.  What I have been hit hardest with is the immense history of this country.  Their historic landmarks are not from the 1800’s as are ours, but they are thousands and thousands of years old.  The Great Wall which we visited yesterday was begun in 100 B.C.  And with each building and statue comes enormous amounts of symbolism.  The number of posts holding up a door symbolizes your wealth, the amount of animals sculptured on the roof is an indicator of the importance of the building, the colors, the size, the shape, the materials – all are symbolic of something within society.  Horses symbolize success, the crane long life, the fish wealth, the tiger strength, bamboo perseverance for the man, the plum tree perseverance for the woman.  The combination of the ancient and the symbolic come together to form a culture that is rich with significance and meaning.  And the Chinese are unabashedly proud of their heritage.  They treasure it and are passionate about its celebration.   You can hardly find an American who flies a flag, but in this country they are filled with national pride.  Despite what we would consider governmental oppression in so many ways, the people are grateful for their leaders and respect them to an impressive degree.  America is very much looked at like the Promised Land – full of wealth and leisurely lives – but I have never sensed from the Chinese a discontent with their own country.  They embrace the one-child policy, are grateful to the government for health care provisions and housing, and generally see China as an up and coming world power for which to be proud. 

It is challenging to think how we might both increase all of our children’s appreciation for the country in which they live as well as instill in Lydia a sense of her heritage and roots.  She will always be Chinese, and I am learning that to be Chinese is to embrace a history and passion for the ancient and the symbolic unlike we Americans are generally capable of.  Certainly a responsibility of mine is to teach Lydia and help her to navigate the realities of her personal story – how might we best do that remains to be seen.  But there is so much to choose from, so much to learn and enjoy.  I know our kids are really excited to celebrate Chinese holidays – not sure if that is because party equals presents or because they have been instilled with their father’s passion for celebration.  But certainly our family will look different. 

Tomorrow, we will be a blend of two cultures, two histories, two nations, and two races.  There is no turning back now, nor would we ever want to.  I can hardly wait to see my little girl.



same globe, not so much same country

My observations from today…

1.  There are flowers EVERYWHERE.  ‘Window’ boxes on the sides of the interstates, huge ‘trees’ made from stacks of potted flowers alongside the sidewalks, flowers in the medians.  It is amazing.

2.  And next to the flowers is DIRT.  Everywhere.  It is disgusting.  There is no litter – I have yet to see a piece of trash on the ground.  But dirty, dirty, dirty.  Everything is covered in this film of dirt.  When you come home after being out you have this layer of dirt on you.  Cars are covered in dust.  I have no idea where it comes from but it is there – and no one seems to care.

3.  Construction is out the whazoo.  I have never in my life seen so many building being constructed.  At least 10 skyscrapers are being built just in the few city blocks where we are.  And when you drive to the other parts of the city it is just the same.  Absolutely amazing.   A two year old boy’s paradise!

4.  The food is gross.  I mean really, fish heads?  Heads of anything are not meant to be eaten.

5.  People.  Thousands. Millions.  It is unbelievable how many people are in this city.  17 million actually.  People everywhere.  It doesn’t matter what time it is, where you are, they are swarming.  I don’t know about the one-child policy in terms of Christian theology, but I can certainly understand how the government would need to do something.  I have never seen so many people in my life.

We need to hit the sack for an early wakening tomorrow but I wanted to check in and let you know that we are having a great time.  We miss home, but we are enjoying this once in a lifetime experience.  So much to see and take in.  Today we hit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall.  And drove by the Olympic Stadium and Village.

Tomorrow we will head for Guangzhou where Lydia is living.  And we will be getting her early the next day.  It’s hard to believe it has all come down to 2 nights of sleep.  So much going through our heads.  I would love to share with you but I need to go to bed.  Some prayer items…

  1. Neither of us is feeling 100%.  Pray that would change quickly!
  2. Luggage in China is a bit tricky.  Their weight restrictions are ridiculous so we are falling under the mercy of the airport check-in people.  Pray for favor!
  3. One last day without Lydia.  Hard to believe.  Pray that even this last day she would be hearing about us and getting prepared to meet us.  Pray for bonding and attachment quickly.

I have a ton on my heart to share.  I should be able to write a lot in the next couple of weeks.  We will have Lydia but there is nothing on the schedule in terms of sightseeing so our days will be a lot less full (sort of…) Thanks so much for your prayers.  We absolutely cannot wait to get home (and get a GLASS OF ICE for Pete’s sake!!!!)

Lots of love,




pretty much like Amazing Race.

What a difference some sleep makes!  We checked into our hotel at midnight last night and fell into bed – after of course checking out the pillow menu, the three-headed shower, the completely automated window coverings, and figuring out the internet.  We were able to sleep the whole night until we received our wake-up call at 6:30am.  The idea was that we were all going to be up at 5:00 in the morning anyway so we would start our sightseeing day at 8:00am.  Good idea turned really bad idea when we were sleeping soundly at 6:30!  But…hopped into my three-headed all marble shower room (I can’t really call it a stall…it’s a room) and got ready for our first day!  Enjoyed breakfast at the hotel – amazing buffet of anything you could ever imagine.  All I could think of was Josiah who would have been in heaven with all of the sausage!  (normal sausage, not cow lung sausage…more on that later).  We were joking last night that there is always someone in the group who makes everyone late…that would be me this morning.  Everyone waiting on the bus for Ashleigh – nothing like making a great first impression!

Speaking of ‘everyone’, we are travelling with a group of families who are adopting from our same agency.  Right now there are 7 families total but we will be meeting up with 14 more.  It is sort of funny, we definitely don’t really fit in.  Several of them are significantly older than us, several getting their first child, and all of them from the su-owth (you have to pronounce BOTH syllables).  Not so much the citified beachy young family with 3 kids who often resemble an Old Navy commercial.  They are all sweet people but I am not thinking we will get life-long friends out of the deal.  Which is TOTALLY fine with this introvert!  My circle of friends is plenty full.  Now I just have to figure out how to not look like a total snob when I just want to be by myself!

This morning our first stop was the Summer Palace which is the ancient summer home of the Emperors.  It was nice – got some good pictures of the architecture.  Beautiful day – very overcast but really cool so that was a bonus.  We were expecting hot and humid.  Sightseeing isn’t really my ball of wax but it is good to learn more about Lydia’s heritage and the country of China.  I kept thinking today what a different world she will grow up in and how do we raise her to have an appreciation for what is so completely different than anything she will ever be exposed to in the US?  We think Williamsburg is old, this place had buildings that were build in the 1200’s!  Original buildings.  It is such a completely different culture, and thus a very different worldview.

Our second stop was a Hudong tour which was a walking and rickshaw tour of the traditional Chinese neighborhood.  80% of them have been torn down by the government to build high rises but there are a few which have now been preserved (as in they can’t tear them down, not that they actually are nicely kept and ‘preserved’).  It was a very typical Asian experience – dirty, smelly, people crammed together.  If I hadn’t of visited and lived in Southeast Asia I would have been completely freaking out.  Again, I kept thinking – this would have been Lydia’s life, how different her road will be.  We went to the local market – tons of fruit, lots of meat guts hanging around (including cow lungs), and THEN, it happened.  We went to a local Chinese house for lunch.  Ack.  I was hoping to avoid this!  We were served a meal, pretty much just like P.F. Changs except without the forks and sweet tea and a little different in the atmosphere category.  Lots of options, everyone share.  I chose to partake of the rice.  Eric was a little more adventurous and said it was quite good.  I think rice and the Oreos in my suitcase suit me just fine.  Of course, their “houses” are these itty bitty hole in the wall places that in the US we would consider disgusting and practically uninhabitable.  And get this, in these ‘hudongs’ there are 30-50 families who share one bathroom!  Talk about a wait!

Then it was off on the rickshaw again – I felt like I was in Amazing Race.  And had we been, we would have won because our driver was a little crazy, a bit aggressive shall we say.    This afternoon we are just hanging out.  Eric is napping right now for a little bit.  Neither of us feels great which we are hoping will change in the next couple of days before we get Lydia.  I started on the antibiotic for strep this morning since I was feeling pretty rotten.  Since we are now both on drugs, I am hoping a good night’s sleep will bring us up to speed.

Our list of observations for today…

  1. The mullet is a very popular hairstyle in China – particularly with the women.
  2. Almost no one wears open-toed shoes.
  3. Chinese people are really small – and no one is overweight.
  4. There are a noticeably larger number of little boys than little girls.
  5. Coca-Cola is God’s gift to not-so-into China food travelers.


Lots of love,



**we have pictures that I will upload but I haven’t figured that out yet!  Stay tuned…





traveling around the world

I had good intentions of writing last night but by the time we got to the hotel I thought I was going to die.  Let’s just say…30 hours in airports and on planes is brutal.  We didn’t sleep one wink on the 13 hour flight from Detroit to Tokyo and so by the time we were waiting to fly to Beijing my body was screaming.  By that time we had been up for close to 24 hours.  I laid down for a little bit in the airport in Tokyo but I got the feeling that people don’t really do that in Asia.  In the US you wouldn’t think twice, but since I was the ONLY one laying down in the entire airport…maybe not so much in Asia!


But, we got here just fine.  And I didn’t even freak out – except for one small time.  We were standing in line to board the plane to Tokyo and I look over and there is a bearded Arabic man sitting at the gate, nervously flipping a piece of paper, and very quietly talking on his cell phone.  Yeah, I was a little scared!  Eric of course chastised me for being so ridiculously discriminatory but for real, he looked like all those terrorist people and he couldn’t keep his fingers still!  I think he was making plans but stopped when I gave him my evil eye. 


The flight was so long.   I mean really, so long.  All I can say is I am glad we have 17 days to recover and forget how horrible it is before we try and do it with a 2 ½ year old who doesn’t speak our language!  But we did manage to make a few observations…


  1. You don’t have to wonder why Americans are hated around the world.  They are big fat jerks so much of the time.  Hope we can give a few people a good experience with the old USA!


  1. I am thinking if Mark Burnett and I could get together we could make people-watching a reality TV show.  Seriously, who can figure out the most about someone’s life just be watching them in the airport? 


  1. 21 hours sitting on a plane is brutal for tailbones injured in childbirth.  I was wishing I had my little doughnut pillow!


  1. There really is NOTHING in Siberia.  Flew across the whole place…nothing.


  1. Listening to Josh Groban on the ipod while watching an episode of 24 on the laptop is a whole new experience – you should try it sometime.


  1. If Dean ever takes a transatlantic missions trip again I will personally raise the funds to send him first class – the man should not be subject to coach.


  1. Speaking of first class, after being squished for 13 hours in an 18 inch seat, do we really need to listen to the flight attendant tell us to put our tray tables and FOOTRESTS back up?  Couldn’t she just announce that to the 10 people in first class?  Talk about adding insult to injury…


  1. And last but not least, gay flight attendants find Eric QUITE appealing.  We even got some free wine out of the deal.


We are so glad we are here safely.  It really is still so surreal.  I am wondering when it is all going to hit me.


Lots of love,




We are here!  We have landed safely and have all of our bags.  We are staying in a ridiculously nice hotel in Beijing which we will thoroughly enjoy – they even have a ‘pillow menu’. 


We will write more later but the sleepy-sleepy pills are hitting hard.  Suffice it to say, we are very thankful to safely be here!


a father's love

I don't know if you have ever known the love of a father. I imagine that you have - for those first few months before your parents realized they would have to leave you. i imagine a father who was grieved beyond words that he could not love you and care for you like his heart so wanted. i imagine a father who was meticulous about the planning of where they would leave you so you would be found. i imagine a father who held you close and looked you in the eyes only to be torn apart that he knew what was coming. he knew he couldn't be the father he wanted to be, he knew it was all going to come to an end. i imagine a father who has prayed countless times from that fateful day that you would be found and you would be loved again by a daddy.

i wish i could tell him that his prayers have been answered. that in just a few short days you will have the best father anyone has ever had. that you will be loved beyond what he could have imagined. in just a few short days you can have daddy dates. you can experience daddy hugs and daddy kisses. you can feel the love and warmth that only a daddy can give. and most of all, you will have a daddy that will lead you to the best Father of all. you will have a daddy that loves Jesus more than anything in this world and he will lead you there. pretty soon, you will know a Father's love again.

in just 13 days we will meet you. 13 days. i can hardly believe it. hang on little one. your mommy and daddy are coming.


red stripes and blue stars

I was at Old Navy today. We had gone to return a few things and look for a special outfit for Lydia’s homecoming. I was thinking something “American” – she will fly on a Chinese passport but will become a U.S. citizen the moment our plane touches down on American soil. Certainly something to celebrate, and I figured since 4th of July was coming up it wouldn’t be hard to find something cute.

What was supposed to be a quick trip in and out of the store turned into a battle of anxiety and suddenly I found myself overwhelmed at the reality of what we are about to face. Yes, we have prayed and hoped for it for so long, but now it is here and the challenges and questions are looming over me. Lydia is Chinese, will look Chinese, will speak Chinese – how can I put an American outfit on her? How do I honor her heritage? Her birthparents remain in China; do I ignore that and turn her into an all-American girl? Her history is on the other side of the world – those who gave her life are still living in a country vastly different than our own. Am I allowed to take her away? Is it okay that I will be responsible for creating an enormous chasm between who she is now and who she will be in 5 years? Okay that she will lose, in a very short amount of time, much of who she is at this moment? And she will never get it back? As much as I am excited for us, I think I am grieving the loss that she is about to have - wondering how I reconcile my part in her grief. She will never meet her birthparents, never know where she was born and when exactly, never know if she has big brother. She will never know why. I realize that all this would be true if she was not to be our daughter, but the idea that I am intimately involved in her loss and grief is a bit haunting.

There is a pit in my stomach pretty much at all times these days. The scope of the next few weeks is overwhelming. In just over 2 weeks we will be handed a child and she will be ours to love and care for as long as we live. We have never met her, touched her, or said anything to her. She may or may not have ever seen our picture. We will not speak the same language, eat the same food, or live life the same way. In a matter of minutes, her caretakers will leave us and there we will be looking at her face, her looking at us, and all three of us wondering what in the world is going on. We will no longer be the family we once were nor will she be the little girl she has been for the past 2 ½ years. We will change drastically in the next few months and all of us will look at life far different than we did before.

Our tickets are bought – we depart Norfolk at 9:08 a.m. on June 26 as a family of five. And we will arrive home at 7:02 p.m. on July 11 as a family of six. Thirteen days from now our journey of 3 years will be over. Or will it just be beginning. The excitement is too much to describe, the anxiety almost too much to bear. But in this mixed bag of emotions that is my reality right now, I cling to the truth that God has undeniably led us on this journey and this little girl, Li Ji Shan, was created to be ours. She was ordained from the beginning of time to be our daughter and our sister. And we can’t wait to tell her. We can’t wait to be able to love her, embrace her, hold her close and whisper in her ear “You are mine.” Okay, she will have no idea what we are saying… but I think she will get it. And I guess we will have to see about that little blue dress with stars on it.


Packin' my bags!

This will not be long...my head is swirling and I can't really put two thoughts together. But...I wanted you all to know that we received word today from our agency that we will be travelling much sooner than expected! Our travel approval came from China very quickly (why am I shocked?) and we will be leaving June 26! That's like is two weeks almost! We can hardly believe it! We will be holding Lydia in our arms in just a couple of weeks!!!

Thank you for all of your prayers! We are getting really excited and absolutely cannot wait for you to meet her!