Monday, May 28, 2007


Please click on the pink "comments" link at the bottom right of these 2 paragraphs. I have changed the settings so that anyone can leave a comment on our blog now.

I am creating a "Guestbook" here for all of our friends, family, and guests that have followed Mia's blog at some point or another. The messages from all of you mean so much to us - and we wanted to officially keep this record for Mia so that she will one day know of all the people who followed her journey into our hearts. Thank you & we love you all!

At Home Photo

This is the only picture I have since returning you will notice that both girls are still in have been all week. Jet lag is for real. Especially trying to get 2 girls to change their clocks from China time to Central Standard time! Ugghhh!

Now that we are feeling human again - I am sure to break out the camera for some interesting pics! Keep watching! :)

Oh my - she is growing up so fast! Even over the last few weeks she has blossomed even more into a "Big Girl" instead of my 'little girl'. I was thinking this week...where did my 'little girl' go to? God has blessed us with such a wonderful, sweet, beautiful little girl...and now he has blessed us Mia joins us being the wonderful, sweet, beautiful little sister!

This is my mom climbing the Great Wall. It was sooooo steep. I am so happy that she didn't trip and fall and take the crowd down with her! ;)

Noni and Macy at the Great Wall.
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Forgotten Photos

Macy wanted to wear one of Mia's hairbows...I think she looks like a Power Ranger Princess!

Brad, Macy, & Mia at one of the bus stops between Yang Xi and Guangzhou.

Happy Sisters!

Go Hogs!
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Deleted photos

These are the pics you didn't see from mother's day! We couldn't get everybody to be happy at the same time!
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beautiful, Wonderful, America

I have been on many missions trips. I have always returned home and been thankful for living in America. This trip has taken me beyond any other visit to another country. China is so different. I always wondered why people would want to go to Montana and why they would talk about it being so "great". I have never been there - but always thought these people crazy for calling the middle of nowhere - "great". Now I understand. After being in cities with 16 million and 10 million people for 3 weeks...just seeing land and green grass is beautiful. People are wonderful - but when there are SO is nice to feel space again. China inhabits 1/6 of the world's entire population (out of 6 billion people on the planet - 1 billion live in China). It is hard to even try to communicate the massive amount of people. I was overwhelmed by how many people there were. How could you ever know very many?

In America we have the freedom to live anywhere we want. We don't have to get permission or a license to live in a certain city. In China there are so many people - you have to "apply" to move to the city. Many times you are denied b/c the cities are so overcrowded. In China you can not own land. The government owns the land - but you can own a building or house on top of the land.

Our 2 acres of rocks, dirt, weeds, half burned brush pile, huge trees with wonderful green leaves, and our home has NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD! When our family went for a walk down the driveway in our pajamas the other day - no one could see was wonderful! The wind was blowing through the leaves in the trees...the sky was beautiful and blue....and even though our yard is still a wreck and needs lots of work finished on it - IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL to me. I told Brad this and figured he would say I was crazy - but I think he was contemplating agreeing with me (even though the unfinished yard is about to give him a nervous breakdown!)

In the entire time we were in China...I NEVER recall seeing blue sky. The cities are so smoggy. Even the drive into the country to the orphanage was hazy. Maybe in west China near the mountains they have blue sky??? I don't know - but I missed our blue sky and cool breezes and fresh Arkansas air! All we could do was breathe deeply when we got off the plane in Fayetteville! Ahhhhh!

And FREEDOM. I don't think I have ever fully appreciated this. We look a lot at America's downfalls - and yes our culture is deteriorating...but it is still a WONDERFUL country to live in. I thank God in a new way now that I am an American. It really is a wonderful thing.

A couple of things I did observe was that I saw more "cheap" looking/scantily clad women at our 5 hours at the Denver Airport than I did during the entire trip in China with millions of people.

Also - there was an "emptiness" about the people in China that you just couldn't put your finger on. I know we give America a hard time about our disintegrating culture - but there is still a strong Christian presence here. That is what made America so strong and successful to begin with. There were several people I spoke with at the Denver airport that just had something "different" about them. A joy. A peace. Sometimes you can just sense that some people are Christians by coming into contact with them. I did not encounter this at all the entire time we were in China, even though I know there is a strong growing Christian community there.

Maggie and Rosa had made the comment that it would be nice if there is a God - but when you have been taught otherwise... your entire life like they are in China - it is hard to believe in religion. I think that when you have a real encounter with God and experience a RELATIONSHIP with God, (not just churchy religion) YOU WILL KNOW that religion is not the answer, but that God is. And that He is REAL. I know I have NEVER been the same since I embraced these truths...since I asked Jesus to come into my life. And I have studied out the facts - because I don't want to just be RELIGIOUS. I want authentic faith. I want the genuine stuff. What is real? What can I count on? I can count on the Bible - many atheists have set out to disprove it - and changed their minds about it as they researched and found that it is accurate. I am so thankful that I have the peace....REAL peace that comes from KNOWING God. Not religion. I am sick of religion. But God has been AWESOME in my life. I am soooo different now than before I gave my life to Him.

Anyway....I get passionate when I talk about the miracle of my life... :)
I am so thankful to be an American. I am so thankful to know God in a real way. I am so thankful for my family, my church full of amazing friends that are as close as family, and BLUE sky! And the fact that it was 60 degrees when we landed in Fayetteville...and that we have run our air conditioner whenever we wanted since being home....wooooo hooo!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Processing things...

Brad and I were able to spend a couple of hours talking last night - the first chance we have really had. Even in China things were so crazy that we didn't talk like we needed to. He just really wasn't himself on this trip and we were trying to define what got to him. The day we visited Tienanmen Square and saw all of the beggars and sick people really got to him. He was really struggling with fear that Macy would somehow get some kind of illness while we were in China. It was a real battle for him and really drained him. I could tell that he had receded into a shell at some point.

But I know that God works ALL things together for good - and may be using this experience to build Brad's trust in Him. He always has so much faith for everyone else. I guess this was his time to not have to be strong for anyone else. Please pray that we will learn all that God wants us to from our experiences in China and that God will bring new freedom from fear and worry to our lives.

Tuesday night...getting better

Macy was sooo exhausted that she fell asleep on our way into town to pick up our manna from heaven (aka blessed food!). She slept from 7 PM straight through until 6 am this morning. Mia slept from 10 - 1am. She went back to sleep about 3am and is still asleep at 9am! I however never could go back to sleep after I am running on two hours of sleep today. My mind was just whirling last night and I couldn't sleep. I stayed in bed and rested though. So MAYBE tonight we will have a victory party and ALL sleep through the night! Could you all please pray for our family to recover from jet lag and to get on a good sleeping schedule!? God has been so faithful - and once again we need his help with this sleep thing!

Bring food...see baby

Sounds like cave man lingo, huh? :0) GOD BLESS MILLIE CALICO! Millie made us dinner and we ran by to pick it up....sooo good. I am still on strike from cooking this week! Then we ran by Mark and Carolyn's b/c they had some steaks for us! Krista had a great comment when she brought us food yesterday and was the first to get to hold Mia....."Bring has get to see the baby!" AMEN! And what a blessing these two nights of food have been! :) Love you guys!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Coming Out of my Coma

I have lost a few days of existence this week. But I am seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I'll make it!

I can't believe it! When we got home I told Joyce (Brad's mom who spent our first night with us) a little about Mia's routine in case she was able to help with her any during the night - but told her to bring her to me if she was inconsolable. I really expected that b/c in China she didn't want Daddy or Noni - just Mommy. But....I woke up 19 HOURS later to find that Mia has warmed up and bonded with Mamaw immediately! Wow! She was a doll for Mamaw and only cried when needing to have a poopy diaper. She is constipated from the trip.

I SLEPT FOR 19 HOURS STRAIGHT WITHOUT WAKING UP! Oh, I take that back, I got up at 4 am to throw up and eat a bowl of cereal. Only up for about 15 minutes so that doesn't count. I don't really remember it anyway - just a faint memory. So I get up at 9 PM, Joyce leaves, and we all go back to bed at 10 PM. Up from 12 - 2 with Mia. Down from 2 -4am. Up again from 4 - 6am. Down from 6 - 10 am. Our clocks are definitely messed up. We all took a nap today (Monday). Me and Mia from 1:30 - 4:30pm, and Brad and Macy from 1:30 - 6:30 pm. Krista - my angel - brought us dinner tonight. I was so thankful. I knew no cooking would be going on in this house for a while. I don't even feel human yet. After dinner we went for a walk down our driveway to get Macy woke up. I will write later about the emotions and feelings and observations I made during this walk.

Monday night we slept from 11 - 2am. Up from 2 - 4 with Mia....up with Macy from 4 am - 5:30 am. Macy was WIDE awake. I would just think that maybe she had gone back to sleep and then she would start wallering around in the bed again and talking. Then her breathing would get slow - & I would think - Ok she's finally asleep....but then she would belt out "The itsy bitsy spider...." ! If I wasn't so exxhhhaauutted it would have been really funny!

Macy went on to preschool today (Tues) and we were told DID NOT take a nap. How she managed that after being up all night I don't know. Mia and I managed to go back to sleep from 8-11am. The rest of the day was a zombie like state.

Travel Home Pics

Noni getting to hold sleeping Mia one last time before departing on her flight to Memphis.

Mia wrapped up in a blanket sleeping soundly on the SF to Denver flight.

I captured this smile with wagging tongue while waiting to board one flight.

Macy can smile with her tongue hanging out too! My Old Navy girls entering America!!

18 Days, 17 nights

You've heard of the movie - "6 Days, 7 Nights"....well this trip could be a new blockbuster film!

We were up at 4:30 AM to set our luggage out in the hall - then we left the hotel at 6 am. Never would I have guessed at this point what lay ahead in the next 33 hours. Utter chaos.

We got to the airport in Guangzhou- loaded our luggage onto carts and headed towards the check in counter. Our group divided into 2 lines among the 8 lines or so available. It took FOREVER for us to get through this line. Mom went on ahead of us. We didn't see her again until we got to the gate to board the plane.

Then we had to go through the departures line. Between the time mom had left us and we got to this line - about 300 Chinese people had gotten in line in front of us. It was one of those weaving roped off lines like you stand in for 2 hours at 6 Flags. When we FINALLY made it through this line... we had to go through security. The lines were unbelievably long for 8 am on a Saturday morning. I had packed UNOPENED baby Tylenol in case we needed it on the plane and diaper rash cream. They made me go to a counter and buy a Ziploc bag to put these items in. By the time we hoofed it to our gate there was NO ONE left except my mom who was insisting that they not leave until her daughter made it to the gate. The Jordan's from North Carolina caught a cart to the gate and got there right after us. Our group applauded when we boarded the plane - we made it!

This first flight was from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong we had to go check in at the United counter. There were 2 ladies working this line - and about 30 people in line. We were down to one hour before our flight left. Everyone else lives on the east coast and their flight departed an hour after ours. We went through security AGAIN and found our gate. Then we bought a couple of cokes but I decided it would be easier to drink as soon as we got on the plane instead of trying to carry an open drink and all of our stuff while loading. Bad call. They confiscated my drinks when doing a final bag check right before loading! Wasted money! And they were more than $2 each!

On the flight we were once again - seated at the back of the plane. These big huge international flights carry like 500 people I think. Fortunately the guy seated in our row of 4 seats (Brad, me, and Mia and him) offered to move to another open seat so that our family could have more room. I am not sure if that was his motive - or if he saw the new baby and dreaded what the ride might be like! It was a blessing except for now that there was a seat open - Macy wanted to sit with us instead of Noni. Noni and her had 2 seats in front of us. It wouldn't have been too bad except me trying to keep both a 4 year old and a baby happy on a 13 hour flight....was a little much. Both of them were squirmy. But they did AMAZING! I can't tell you what a miracle it was. They did GREAT! Especially Mia who had cried every time we took a cab anywhere b/c she didn't like enclosed spaces. She never cried more than 15 seconds the entire day - and that was b/c she was either hungry, wet, or sleepy. Thank you to all of you who prayed. I know it was God's favor. I am so thankful.

I tried to close my eyes every time Mia was sleeping just to rest and conserve energy. And boy did I need it! San Francisco Airport was a NIGHTMARE! When we landed we had like 2 hours to go through immigration with Mia, retrieve our luggage, go through customs, recheck our luggage and make it to our gate. First of all - I am trying to go into the left line for US citizens and mom insists that we have to go through the "visitors" line. She says that is what the lady at the American consulate said to do. I am not too sure about this - but trust her. After standing in this line for about 15 min - she asks a security person and they say "Oh, no - you need to be over here in the immigration line." I tell mom we are not trusting her anymore! We finally make it through this line and now Mia is OFFICIALLY A U.S. CITIZEN! Wooo hoo!

No time to celebrate though - Mom swears that the stewardess announced that our connecting flight from San Francisco to Denver would be departing an hour early. So we are stressing to get to our gate. So.....we go to the luggage console figuring ours will once again be the only luggage left....but there is NO luggage. Mom asks - and they had switched our flights luggage to console 6 instead of 2! Ugghhh! We wade into a couple of hundred people, get our luggage, but there are NO luggage cars anywhere. And we are down to an hour before our flight supposedly leaves. Mom is fanning herself - having a part hot flash/part meltdown/part nervous breakdown...and we are looking everywhere for a luggage cart. I find this big cart thing - we load our luggage - and some employee comes up and says, "You can't use that."

About this time Brad snaps. He throws all of our luggage off into the floor with exasperation. I ask an official looking employee how we can find a cart - our flight leaves in an hour....and he calmly says -"There are just a lot of flights coming in right now. They are bringing up more carts. Should be here in a few minutes." To which he then turns away. No helpfulness. No care. I am just an ant that got lost on his hill.

So....we commence to dragging all of our luggage ourselves! If you could have seen this on video! Ohhhhh myyyyyyy gooodddneeeesss! I had Mia on my hip in a carrier, diaper bag on other shoulder, pushed Macy in the stroller with one hand (with bags hanging all over the stroller), and dragged one large suitcase behind me with my other hand. Mom put a small suitcase on top of a large one and somehow pushed 3 bags?? Brad took the remaining 4 - 5 suitcases and cave man style DRAGGED them through customs. you could see the FIRE in his eyes! Then we had to wait in yet another line to recheck our luggage to our final destinations.
By this time we are all sweating bullets! We find this huge line in front of us going through security that we are sure we don't need to go through b/c we are a connecting flight. Wrong. I asked the girl working the line of about 300 people where we should go to get to our gate - and she just says -"get in line". I informed her very nicely :) that our flight leaves in an hour....but there was no compassion. Fortunately a "higher up" employee - and the ONLY one that showed kindness to us at the SF airport - waved us over and put us straight through to the front of the line. God bless him. However mom gets held up in security - b/c there is some "substance" in one of her bags. She says - "I promise it is just pillows...I will take them out and show you" which the security people answer "No, do not take anything out of the bag. There is something in the bottom of it." They acted like there might be a bomb in it or something. She lifts the bag up and sees that it is her bottle of water they gave us on the flight earlier. Thankfully they believer her, feel sorry for her, confirm and confiscate the bottle of water, and let her pass. We then hoof it to our gate to barely make it by the supposed 10 am departure time to see it posted at 11 am as our tickets say.

But the extra time gives mom time to buy soap and a new shirt. I had packed two extra shirts in my backpack in case of spit up - not knowing sweat would be the reason I needed them! We have just enough time to freshen up and then load our next plane to Denver. Mia and Macy both slept this entire flight! But by the time we reached Denver - I was about to cross my eyes and pass out from exhaustion. I think it was just the accumulated emotional, mental, and physical stress of the trip. Both mom and I look like druggies with bloodshot eyes! Brad just goes back and forth between being pale and being flushed.

When we get to Denver the walk to the gate we need for our flights is literally like a mile. We are trying our best to make it when a cart driver offers us a ride. He drove us from like Gate 58 to Gate 80. Our flights left from 91. God bless him. After getting a sandwich I spread Macy's blanket out and lay down on the floor. I told mom and Brad that after you have been traveling over 24 hours - there is no shame. We looked like a homeless family -our stuff and us all spread out. After I slept about 30 min to an hour I felt like maybe my eyes would quit crossing. We moved to seats closer to our gate. So many people would stop to comment on how beautiful our girls were. I thought it was sweet since I think we all look like beggars at this point.

To sum up the last leg of the trip - we board our 4th and final flight of the day at 8:20 CST, 25 hours after getting up this morning. We make a quick 1 1/2 hour flight to Fayetteville. Both girls sleep again. As soon as we get off the plane Brad has me video tape him kissing the ground! We then give Mia her American flag to hold as we walk out of the last airport of the day! She waves it so proudly! Brad's mom and dad, John & Lesia, Krista n Tina are all at the front waiting for us. How wonderful to see faces that we love and have missed so much!

We arrive home about 12:30 AM and it takes us about 1 1/2 hours to get everyone a bath and ready for bed. 2 AM lights out. 34 1/2 hours after getting up this morning! Whew! This has been worst than a youth Lock-In! ;)

Since our flight came in so late and the airport is so far - we are planning on having a "Welcome Home Mia" party sometime next week for people to meet her and visit with us. Maybe by then we'll have pics developed and some video produced!

Day 17- Last full day in China

Today we went down to the lobby at 2 PM to take a few group pics, then off to the American Consulate at 3 PM. The entire "ceremony" there didn't take long - we just had to wait in line for them to confirm that we were the people on our passports, then we had to all stand and take an oath that everything we have signed our name to during this adoption is true and accurate. There were probably about 60 babies with 60 families in the room being adopted out to America on this day. I think the lady told us that there are about 6,000 children adopted from China to the US each year??? Couldn't really hear her b/c her mic wasn't working and babies were crying.

We went back to the hotel and spent the evening packing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Last couple of days in pics

See the American people dancing with the dancers in the background? That is (l-r) Joel Oswald from VA, Russell Holcmob from CA, and Grandma Bonnie Bear (half of her anyway). The Banana Leaf restaurant was great for entertainment and for food!


Razorbacks rule the Asia International Hotel in Guangzhou, China! Mia even had a razorback outfit! :)

Mia's first real bath. I think she can already swim or something! She LOVED it!

Our group of 9 families for group picture today, May 18, 2007.

Coming Home!

I have never been so ready to come home. Not only b/c I miss my bed, my house, my friends, my church, my town, ....but b/c I am ready to bring our new daughter into our home. She has never had a home...but now she does. We are her forever family. Brad and Macy are both READY to come home, BOTH tired of this hotel room, BOTH cranky, BOTH ready!

It is 9:30 PM here now....packing up our bags. Today we went to the American Consulate and received a special packet of paperwork to give the immigration gate when we land in Denver. Upon landing in America - Mia will be a US citizen! Woooo hoo! We get up at 4:30 am, send our luggage off at 5AM, leave the hotel at 6 am, and fly out of Guangzhou to Hong Kong at 8:25 am. We will then connect from Hong Kong to Denver, stopping over at San Francisco for fuel or something like that. We will have a 5 HOUR layover in Denver before flying to XNA in Fayetteville and landing at 10:19 PM Saturday evening, May 19. We will have been up for 30 hours when we land at XNA. I really think Jet Lag will be permanently tattooed on my head by then.

PLEASE pray for us. Mia is an extremely good baby and has bonded AWESOMELY. However, she is restless. She does not like to be in dark rooms or confined for long periods of time when she is awake. The taxi rides here have been very fussy. And those were only for 15 - 30 min. So the 30 hour trip, 16 hours of which is one flight - we NEED YOU TO PRAY for her to be CONTENT! I know that God can do this - he has been so faithful to answer all of our prayers regarding Mia and this journey so far. So please ask the Lord for favor for our family as we travel.

Hope to see you all soon! We will 99.9% not be at church Sunday......duh, huh?!! :) But we do plan to recuperate and be in church the next Sunday, Memorial Day Weekend. So if all of you from Huntsville First Assembly do not catch a glimpse of the new McMath angel this week - you can see her at church NEXT Sunday - as long as all is well at our household! :) Macy can not wait to see her church, her preschool, and her friends again! Also, Mamaw, Pa, Max, Maggie, Copper, JoJo, and the kittens are high on the list!! :)

Love to you all! Thank you for praying for us on this journey. Oh - and P.S. to the West Memphis following - we hope to be with you in service sometime this summer so you can see our sweet Mia in person! ;) Maybe Big Daddy can see her before Christmas!!!!

I will continue to post to this blog for a few weeks to allow you to follow the transition process for our family. I know that many of you adoptive families have found the blog helpful and I will post more tips and BTDT thoughts later this week also. My mom and I have been forming a list of things that would be helpful for you all!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Orphanage pictures

We were received with great hospitality. We were taken into a conference room and each of us had a plate with all of this fruit on it!

Mom chowing down on something. We are not sure what kind of fruit it was - but she like it!

Mia getting her first taste of banana!

These are the 7 cribs that the 7 baby girls in our group slept in.

Macy standing in front of a bunch of walkers on their patio.

Our group standing outside the baby room we got to see. Left to right: Gary Morris holding baby Jessica (from Oregon), Joel & Shauna Oswald holding baby Kylee (from Virginia near DC), Steve & Jodi Rathjen holding baby Faith (from New York), and Russell & Lisa Holcomb holding baby Jenna (from California). And of course Macy in her red shirt (from Arkansas - Go Hogs!)

Brad video taping the inside of Mia's crib. I'm sure he will turn it into a video moment.

We learned from the nannies that Faith and Mia shared a crib during their baby days. They also said that Faith and Mia were the most outgoing of the bunch.

Our family standing in front of the Yang Xi orphanage. I thought it was so neat that this is the last time Mia will ever have to see this orphanage unless we come back by choice at a later time to visit China. She is a McMath now!

The orphanage director and nanny took us to a restaurant to eat lunch. This is our big circular table with the spinning family style center. I'm not sure what all was served today. ;)

This is Mia's "finding spot." She was left at the gate of this eating establishment on the day she was born, August 21, 2006. I journaled about this a few posts down from this one.

The director and nanny waving goodbye to our bus. They were truly caring and sweet to us this day. I think that they are happy that these babies have loving families now.

More Macy funnies

1. In the cab the other night Mia grabbed a handful of Macy's hair. Macy said, "No Mia, don't pull Sissy's hair!" It was so comical! I don't even know where she picked up referring to herself as "Sissy". We've not called her by that name. That made it even funnier.

2. Last night Macy was praying before she went to sleep and going through the usual requests when she said, "Help me to follow the Lord...and help the Lord to follow the Lord." It was too cute. She had been watching a cartoon on TBN that was probably produced in the 70's - Brad and I thought it was corny - but she loved it!

Day 15

I feel like I am in the twilight zone. Are we ever going to go home? Are we stuck in hotels and paperwork forever? I am SOOO ready to see Huntsville, Arkansas again! To see green grass. To see our beautiful trees! To see our Ozark mountains! smell the chicken houses....well, OK, maybe I won't go that far....but then again - YES I will! The chicken house smell is better than the sewer smell in most of the bathrooms here! They must not have good plumbing or something b/c most of the bathrooms reek!

Anyway, today I had to stay in the room from 9-11 AM while Maggie and Rosa went to the Consulate for us. We had to be by a phone just in case any questions arose. No call - so that was good! Mia did not sleep well last night. I think it is b/c she didn't eat much yesterday so she was hungry and was making up it through the night! She was so fussy - Brad was concerned. She didn't wake up or cry hardly at all the first few days we had her - and last night was really hard. But according to most of the families in our group - this was the case. We have no structure to our days now - so I am sure that is why everyone is out of whack. Can't wait to get home!

Tonight we ate at a GREAT restaurant called the Banana Leaf. The food was excellent and the entertainment was great! There were about 5 guitar & drum players with about 10 dancers that moved around the room with lively and festive music. They got a couple of our guys and one of the grandma's up to dance with them. It was hilarious! I'm pretty sure Brad captured it all on film (of course). :)

Day 14

Day 14
Today we were scheduled to go to a park for a little sightseeing and be back by noon. We opted to stay at the hotel. Everyone said we made a good choice. The ones who went said it was HOT, miserable, and hundreds of steps! The park was more like an outside museum type place with statues of stuff. No nice breezes and trees. Brad and I decided we would walk to the friendship store that everyone has been talking about. It ended up being about....5-6 blocks and we were both POURING sweat by the time we got there. Literally. The shopping center we went to was VERY UPSCALE. Like Dillard's but way nicer. Very expensive. The supermarket we were looking for was on the 5th floor. Even their food was expensive. $5 for a box of Ritz bits crackers! I couldn't believe that we had walked in the heat for this! We ended up buying 6 bottles of water for our room and a jug of apple juice for Macy.

THEN...on the way down....well, first of all-Brad was NOT having a good day. He was very edgy and Macy was hyper, Mia was fussy, and I was too easygoing! :) On the way down the stairs - I was experimenting with having Mia in the stroller and walking with Macy. Macy had a plastic drawing board tucked into the basket on the stroller. Brad was carrying the stroller, with Mia and the bags in it...when the drawing board slipped out...and clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, get the picture. It was VERY loud! All the way down the open staircase inside this uppity department store. About 30 Chinese employees turned and just stared at us. You could see Brad about to crawl under the closest clothing rack! Red face. Gritted teeth. Narrowing eyes. Mia was fine until this point - but the cluttering and clanking startled her and she started screaming. Brad wanted me to take her out of the stroller, but I said, "Just start pushing it - maybe she will get distracted and be fine." About 30 seconds and 20 steps later....she was still screaming. By this time Brad was about to blow a fuse b/c the onlookers had grown by about 20. Let's just say that we didn't really talk until we were out of the building! :) If he wasn't so mad it would have been an absolutely hilarious moment! ;) After hoofing it back to the hotel and 5 gallons of sweat later - he realized that he had not taken his thyroid med this morning. And without it he is a bear!

Mom, Mia, and I took a taxi back to Shamian Island tonight to finish up some shopping. I had some name scrolls made for Macy and Mia for their rooms that have both their Chinese and English names on them. I also bought about 10-12 small cheap identical gifts for them. Each year on the date that we received Mia into our family we will have "Forever Family Day". Most adoptive parents call this "Gotcha Day", the day they received their child into their family. But since we are blessed to have 2 girls - we will celebrate "Forever Family Day" and they will each receive a small gift that day that came from our trip to China.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Some new pics

Mia's first French Fry from McDonald's. We are getting her trained right. We like to eat in this family!

Me and Mia with one of the head nannies from Yang Xi orphanage. We are standing in front of the orphanage.




Our famiy at the outdoor museum. HOTTTT.

Macy in front of intricate embroidery screen.

Guy playing Chinese hacky sak with Brad.

The snakes for sale on the street at Shamian.

Macy holding some kind of living squeezy fish thing. If you squeeze it - water squirts out. They are swimming around in a tank of water.

Mia at her medical exam. Check out that HUGE hair bow! Her head is soooooo tiny!

A Few Travel Tips for those About to Travel to China

My mom Dorinda has a couple of travel tips that will be relevant for those of you about to embark on your journeys:

1. Pack a cheap egg crate for your bed. It doesn't take up much room - she will leave it here when we leave - and it has made a BIG difference making her bed softer. Wish I would have thought of it!

2. Don't just bring 2 shirts and 3 pairs of pants. You will get tired of wearing the same thing over and over!

Day 11, 12, & 13

Day 11
We were supposed to all go to a Chinese church on Shamian Island - and area here in Guangzhou that is famous for it's tourist shopping. It is kinda like an outlet mall except Chinese style - and definitely catering to adoptive families. But we were just too wiped out from the long bus trip to the orphanage yesterday. We basically slept, ate, slept, ate, and that is it today. We did walk to Starbucks so Brad could try out their Wi-Fi on his PSP. He was impressed with how fast the Wi-Fi was there. Then we did walk about 4 blocks to find a street side flower vendor to buy flowers for my mom for Mother's Day from my dad. We were able to get 18 red roses and 4 Lillie's in an arrangement for about $20.

Day 12
Today we went to an outside museum for about an hour before heading to Shamian Island for shopping. It was of course it was hard for me to enjoy. There were some incredible things there though....carvings made from single pieces of stuff....but I was really too hot too care. It was around noon time. Then we headed to Shamian. The first couple of hours was miserable for me b/c I had Macy with me and she was tired and cranky. But Brad took her back to the hotel on our bus at 1 and let my mom and I stay with others from our group that wanted to shop longer. We did some power walking 4 year old to corral and keep from breaking things! :) We ended up buying most of the things we had on our list that we wanted from one place - "The House of Love". CoCo was the girl that helped us and her service was impeccable. If we wanted something in a different size she would go out of her way to find it (3x for my dad...!! Chinese men are usually on the tiny side!) But it was SOOO sweltering outside today. I think the humidity level was higher than usual. Mom and I were literally about to MELT...especially me b/c I had Mia strapped to me in a carrier through all of this! And my girl is such a trooper! She did so great through it all! Except for one minor glitch...she did projectile puke all over me while we ate lunch....but no biggee!! Usually I have been letting her experiment with table food...then giving her a bottle a little later. Today I gave her a bottle - then she was eating some of my rice and noodles. She got gagged - and UP came her formula! But fortunately it was very fresh and still smelled like formula - not sour stomach! We just took one of the hot rags they bring for your hands and wiped my pants down. The food was GREAT though. We had fried vermicelli (similar to lo mein from Hunan's) and fried rice. We agreed that if the food had been like this the whole time - we would have been loving it!

Mom bought a hard case suitcase from the store "Jordan's Place" - it is on a side street - for $36. It would have cost $200 at home. We then loaded all of our purchases in it and wheeled it to the taxi stop. Several of the families in our group were still here when we headed back...but we were worn out. We took a taxi back to our hotel - it cost about $2.50. The drivers here are amazing. Even though the traffic is crazy - cars everywhere - you never see cars that are dinged up or many accidents. It's wild. And the taxi drivers are excellent. They just whip in and out and get you anywhere fast. They don't speak English - you just give them a Chinese card with your hotel name on it and they take you there.

Last night AFTER a shower - we went next door to Pizza Hut. I told Brad I didn't think I would ever speak these words...being from Huntsville, AR - where Pizza is about all you have - "This is like the BEST MEAL!" After all of the "interesting" fare we have had - good pizza was heavenly. And their pizza from Pizza Hut is VERY good. The only thing is - no diet coke anywhere in China. They have Coca Cola Light....which after you get used to it isn't too terribly bad. That is their sugar free version of diet coke.

DAY 13
Today we took Mia to her medical exam. The guides told us on the way that 90% of all babies will scream and cry at this appt, so be ready. I told a couple of the families that maybe we could be the miracle group and that not be so. Everything else in our group has been so miraculously wonderful. And guess what? None of our babies cried! Mia even slept through one checkpoint! There were 3 checkpoints inside the clinic. (1) weight and height, (2) doctor checks ears and throat, and (3) doctor checks heartbeat, makes sure you recognize Mongolian spots....which are the blue, bruise looking birthmarks on the backs of all Asian babies.

I saw my airplane friends Herb & Monica from Ohio here with their little girl. They are adopting an almost 2 year old - so she has a little more difficulty adjusting - but is definitely bonding to her Mama.

We came back to our hotel - had a quick lunch at KFC next door (I didn't want to walk far in the heat and turn into a sweat monster again) and then I headed up to the paperwork meeting on the 39th floor. By the way we are on the 31st floor. My ears pop a little everytime we go down. We spent about 1 1/2 hours doing paperwork. Rosa would give us a form, walk us through what to put into each blank, then start again with another. We are now officially done with 99% of paperwork and fees.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Day 10 - Visit the orphanage

We left the hotel at 8 AM this morning and took a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to Yang Xi to visit the orphanage where Mia has spent the 8 months of her life and to find her "finding spot".

Brad called the bus ride "horrendous". I would call it a cultural experience. First of all the shocks were out in the front of the bus we took. So the ride was very "bumpy" to say the least. Up, down, squeak. Up, down, squeak. So I sat up front so that I wouldn't get car sick. I find China fascinating. There are SO many people. In America we have groupings of housing areas. There are the rich areas, the subdivisions for middle class, and the old worn down housing for lower income families. But not here. In a one mile stretch you will encounter nice apartments, followed by shabby apartments, followed by shacks, but in no order - just all jumbled up together. And the sequence repeats. Again, and again, and again. The drive to Yang Xi was mostly on the expressway - all paved. We did see lots of water buffalo out in the fields. Also, we saw many farmers in the customary Chinese field worker round hat - out working and irrigating their fields. It was like the scene out of Mulan where they march past the filed workers.

When we arrived at the orphanage, the director and assistant came out to meet us. They ushered us into a meeting room with an oval table that had a pile of some kind of native fruit and bananas in front of each seat. Our guide showed us how to peel this fruit to try it I wasn't too crazy about the kind I tried. Kinda jelly like texture. Mom loved whatever she tried. Macy loved the bananas. I am guessing it was safe for us to eat b/c our guide directed us to eat! :) The standard is supposed to be: "Any fruit you can peel is safe to eat while in China."

We then went upstairs to the baby room. This room only had babies that are "referral" age (of age to be matched with an adoptive family). There were 18 babies in the room. All of them were in a stainless steel looking crib with a smooth board in the bottom of it. You will remember from my earlier posts that it is very customary for people in this area to sleep on mats or boards b/c of the humidity. Several of the babies had large sores on their heads like Mia did. Our group has speculated that these are from either rubbing their heads against the boards repeatedly and causing sores that in turn get infected....or bug bites that have gotten infected. We really are not sure. I was able to post to my Yang Xi Yahoo group that we would be going - and that if there were any parents that had been matched with a baby from there - that I would try and take pictures. 5 parents responded before we left. It was so wonderful to take pics of 5 of the babies for their new families. I would have loved to have had something like this while I was waiting on Mia. It was also wonderful to know that these 5 babies had a "forever family" they were about to go to. All of the babies in the room were between 4 months and 3 years old. There is also an infant room with tiny babies - but we are not allowed to visit this room. Since this orphanage has only been established for 5 years - the oldest child there is under 5 years old.

One observation is that the nannies were VERY loving and VERY friendly. They knew every baby by name. They all addressed Mia by her name "Zhen Zhen" (pronounced 'Jen Jen'). Several of them tried to get Mia to go to them, but she wouldn't...she held onto Mama! But all of the nannies shook their heads yes in approval and said "Mama". I think they are very pleased to see that she has bonded with me already. That made me feel good! :)

One of the babies in our group cried every time they took her into the baby room. And she continued to cry for the next 2 hours. I think it traumatized her parents too. It was really hard to think that your baby was crying b/c she thought that she had to go back there. Mia was very happy the whole time - as long as I was holding her.

The director and head nanny boarded the bus with us to take us to lunch and to help us find our "finding spots". We had lunch at an authentic Chinese restaurant in the town. No KFC or McDonald's here. I think their population is around 50,000 - a small town for China. Especially considering Beijing is 16 mil and Guangzhou is 10 mil. We all sat at a large round table in an air-conditioned room of the restaurant (thank you God!). The nannies were acting like it was freezing in there and I was rejoicing for air! Of course we had the spinning round thing in the middle so that we could eat our meal family style. There was fried pork similar to sweet and sour chicken, strips of beef with peppers, a plate full of onion and garlic and cashews, and a few other things. Then they brought us each a bowl of fried rice. The best we have had since being in China. Also, they brought out a pan of fried steamed rolls with a dip that tasted like glaze for donuts. MMmmmnn...good. I had 3!

We then headed out to find the places where each of our girls was abandoned and found. Mia was left in front of a group of street front vendors. I think specifically it was a restaurant. As we looked at the spot - it was an overwhelming feeling. We got back on the bus to go on to someone else's spot - and tears began to stream down my face. What circumstances left this beautiful baby girl on the street 8 months ago? There are so many people in China with many different takes on this child abandonment issue. Was her birth mother in agony at having to leave her baby girl? Did her husband bring the baby against her will? Did she leave her feeling that she didn't have a choice? Did she leave her in hopes of having another baby that might be the longed for boy for the family name? Was she an unwed mother? The pain of what she may have felt overwhelmed me. And then the thought that such pain has brought forth so much joy for our lives. It is b/c of this abandonment that we are here - but what if we had not obeyed God's leading to come and get this girl? What if we had said no? You can't know how this broke my heart. She is already a part of us. A part of us that God left incomplete has been completed by Mia Grace entering our family. I already can not imagine our lives without her. But what if we had said no? I can't bear to think about it.

As I held her close on the bus, kissed her spiky little hair on top of her head, and my tears stained my shirt - I thanked God for choosing me to be her mother. People say - what a lucky baby that you would go and get her from that life. But I think - No - what lucky and blessed people we are - that God would choose us to be her parents. Why us? WE are so lucky. WE are so blessed. We are so blessed that God has chosen both Macy and Mia to be our daughters. I am humbled that God chose me to the mother of these beautiful and wonderful girls.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I took this pic just now of Mia waking up and playing with Daddy.

Macy checking out the "pets" at the meat market. She was going "Ohhhhh - look at the little turtles, frogs and snakes!" And I told her I didn't think they were sweet little pets - but that people were planning on eating them!

Daddy working his magic again on the sleepy girl!

Macy sitting under the "Great Stone Dragon" like Mulan!

Brad ordered this Baked Pie at McDonalds. He thought it was blueberry. But it was nasty! It said "taro" pie....can't remember what that is? A root maybe?