Sorry for the silence here in blogland, but we were caught by surprise that the the trip home and the re-entry was the toughest part of the trip! It started one hour into the 11 hour flight from Korea. Dan made a few trips back and forth to the lavatory vomiting. Next thing I knew he was on the floor in the aisle doubled over in pain. We had a stash of meds that we took along 'just in case' and hadn't used them the whole trip. So I said.."Honey..how 'bout I pull out some drugs and you get back in your seat!'. You can imagine the attention we were drawing at this point. He said nope, he needed help. So we called the flight attendant and they soon made an announcement requesting the assistance of any medical professionals on the plane. We ended up with two American EMT's and a Korean Orthopedic Surgeon. They determined that he needed fluids quickly before he dehydrated, as he was now vomiting in the aisle. They suspected food poisoning, and assured me that they would take him upstairs, (yes the Airbus has upstairs) get him on an IV with painkillers and all would be fine. So I remained in my seat trying to keep some peace with the kids and hopeful that people would stop staring at us. About 30 minutes to an hour later they made another announcement that they had a more serious medical emergency and they were looking for an Internal Medicine physician or a General Surgeon on the plane. HELLO? I bolted upstairs after telling Macy to hold on to Ivy and not allow her seat belt to come off. The scene I found was Dan rolling on the floor with four medical people hovering over him. The Korean flight attendant told me that he was much worse, and they didn't know what was wrong with him, but not to worry because they now have found a very competent surgeon! WHAT? I started to fall apart. She said we are now in the middle of the Pacific and we can't land but he is a very good surgeon! I freaked out and asked to use the phone and called home to ask the kids for prayer. When I finally was able to speak to this competent surgeon he explained that he was pretty sure that Dan was passing kidney stones and that there was no medical emergency. He spoke better English than the flight attendant so I was able to calm down. They pumped him full of fluids and pain meds and got him to sleep. They told me an ambulance would be waiting in LA and we would need to go to the hospital. I said, "No Ambulance..we have 7 hours to go, lets wait and see how he is". I was determined to get home and not stay in LA. I called my son again and asked him to fly over to LA and meet us. (can't wait to get the phone bill) I didn't want to face this alone with the kids and all our luggage we had to pick up in LA. Dan slept the remainder of the trip and was able to handle the next short flight home, with the help of our son.
We were greeted at the airport by our precious family and many dear friends. Their love and support was amazing to us. What a relief to be home. We were all complete zombies as the girls only slept about 1 1/2 hours in the 26 hour journey, and I slept none at all. I can't imagine how tough it was on Ivy not understanding all that was happening, and then dealing with sleep deprivation as well. She really did well all things considered. The older kids had the house spotless and the fridge stocked with food. My sweet neighbor had decorated the front of the house welcoming us home. Our son-in-law spent half the night with Dan at the ER and they confirmed he had passed one stone and another remains. So far he's been ok. The term "Jet Lag" somehow doesn't seem like an adequate way to express the extreme exhaustion. Never in my life have I had this much trouble staying awake even while sitting straight up in a chair. Ivy is overwhelmed by everything in the house that is brand new to her. The first night she woke crying really hard for quite a long time. She let me just hold her in bed. The second night she did the same but not as long. I can't even fathom all the changes she is going through. But each day she gets a little more comfortable. She is bonding to me well as evidenced when I'm out of her sight she gets very nervous.
We made our way out to the backyard early in the evening tonight and the fresh air did wonders for us. Ivy is really enjoying the play set.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your prayers and encouragement.
This was our last day in China. We leave in the morning and begin our 24 hour journey home, and we are ready. I've had enough fried noodles, and I am looking forward to some mexican food. But most of all I'm looking forward to hugging my other kids and grandbabies. We are so thankful for how the Lord has shown such great mercy to us on this trip. It has truly been wonderful to be here in this country. Now we go home and embark on the new normal. I appreciate the way all of our family members have embraced this adoption. Our adult children have given us such encouragement. They know their parent's weaknesses and limitations, and the sacrifices this will mean for their own lives as well. And yet they have enthusiastically said yes to the call. We know we will face many challenges. It's not always as lovely as it looks in pictures. But the hard times will be gifts He uses to strengthen and transform us into His likeness. So here we go..Ivy will become a US citizen tomorrow when we arrive in Los Angeles. She's already legally part of our family, and officially she has won our hearts as well.
"We cherish the grace that is this unique family. And to the questions and the comments and the compliments, this is my reply: 'These are the children that the Lord saw fit to bless me with' "
Kisses from Katie..A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption
Thank you so much to so many of you who are praying for our family. Emma woke up feeling much better and her fever was gone! That was a quick turn around from 103* the day before. We feel your prayers on our behalf, and your comments are so encouraging. We decided that the zoo trip was a bit too intense, so we chose a more leisurely day on Shamian Island. The island is quiet and beautiful, and the shopping was great. Tomorrow we have to rise very early for our Visa appointment and Oath Taking Ceremony at the US Consulate. We are getting really close to coming home!
“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”
Today was difficult because Emma woke up sick with a high fever, sore throat and headache. She stayed in bed all day. We would appreciate your prayers that she would recover quickly and the rest of us would stay healthy for the remainder of the trip. We are scheduled for a trip to the Safari Zoo tomorrow and Emma is really hoping to be able to go and see the panda's. We don't have any pictures from today, but we posted some videos that we thought you might enjoy.
The first one is Ivy dancing for us when we visited her orphanage.
This is at the restaurant where the orphanage staff treated us to lunch. What an experience that was!
This is Ivy eating a cup of noodles in our room. She likes to grab my glasses and put them on.
Friday we said goodbye to Anhui and our many adventures there. I personally am hoping that I am done being scared for our lives when we cross the street. But we haven't been out much here yet so that remains to be seen. I do believe that some of our family members will miss their celebrity status, however. Emma sort of enjoyed people staring at her and wanting to touch her face. We had a long travel day as our flight was delayed. They announced on the intercom that our flight would be "very, very late". We wondered what that meant and Dan asked for an estimate. They said, "no estimate..very very late. Go to waiting room!" We were envisioning the idea of sitting there all night. But it was only a couple extra hours so we survived. Ivy continues to be such a brave, adventurous girl. She loved the airplane, and squealed with delight and cracked up laughing at the landing.
Arriving at the beautiful Marriott in Guangzhou was like a breath of fresh air. This was the first sight of Westerners and English speaking people in almost a week. We were ready to start hugging strangers! We topped the night off with a hot fudge sundae from McDonalds. We never go there at home, but it was the first stop in Guangzhou.
This morning we enjoyed the breakfast buffet and then met our travel group in the lobby. It was fun to see all their beautiful children and hear stories from the week. We all went to the health clinic which was packed full with other adoptive families. Ivy had a check up and TB test. She continues to amaze us with her strength, intelligence, and sense of humor. One thing we noticed is that when she falls down and gets hurt she refuses to cry. We are trying to nurture and encourage her expression of emotions. We had our guide talk to her about it and she said she doesn't want to cry. This is common in orphanage children. The guide told her that her mama would like for her to cry when she is hurt. The little sweetie said she would try. Sunday is a free day and we plan to go to Shamian Island for some shopping and fun.
Snackin' on raisins
Ivy discovered 'Temple Run' and pushed her way in on the game.
She enjoyed "Kids Praise" on the ipod and broke out singing in English.
We got a kick out of this sign at breakfast this morning.
Today was our first free day . It was wonderful to catch up on some sleep and skype with 'Big Sis' and her family. Ivy showed off her outgoing personality for them and some of her new English words, such as, "I love you". She continues to blossom and thoroughly enjoy coloring, playing play-dough, dolls, and teasing big sisters. She already responds to her American name and repeats things we say like a little parrot. She soaks up love, attention, praise, and food! Tomorrow we get her passport and then we are off to Guangzhou. This is in the southern part of the country and where the US Consulate is located. Here we will complete more paperwork, have Ivy's medical examination, our Oath Taking Ceremony, and receive her Visa. We will also meet up again with the families in our travel group. We have had a cultural experience here in Anhui which we will never forget. I asked the girls their memories of this province and they responded...pollution, crazy drivers who actually don't get mad, beautiful countryside, warm hospitality, friendly people, fast pace, unique food flavors, washing our clothes in the bathtub, Dad trying to speak Chinese and getting "hello" mixed up with "I love you" when he greeted people! Dan said that the city of Hefei is like New York City on steroids, except the people are respectful and don't get angry. We are anxious to get to Guangzhou, but it's bittersweet leaving the province of Ivy's birth. Tonight we took a stroll through a local park by our hotel.
Today we we were blessed to travel to Ivy's orphanage in Bengbu, Anhui. It is very difficult to find words to express the emotions of the day. Truly God directed our path. We will never be the same.
Ivy saying goodbye to her very first nanny when she was a baby.
Saying goodbye to her closest nanny
One hand in nanny's and one hand in mama's
“...because "Mommy" is forever. It's such a powerful name. Mommy means "I trust you." Mommy means "you will protect me." Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing with when you are excited. Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with when you are sad, or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed. Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts. Mommy is a comfort place - a safe place. Mommy means "you are mine and I am yours and we are family.”
Ivy has changed so much since yesterday. Her true personality is coming out. Yesterday she was quiet and somewhat reserved, with little smiles and humor appearing only occasionally. I took a nap with her, and after she woke I held her and cuddled on the couch. After a few minutes I heard a little sniffle. I realized she was starting to cry. I continued cuddling and comforting her and she let me hold her for about an hour while she sobbed. It was a cry that seemed to come from deep inside. It was so painful to watch and so hard to have no words that she could understand. But she seemed to comprehend my unspoken language. I wiped her face with a cool cloth several times and just let her continue until she was done. We were relieved that she did some grieving because we know this is a healthy sign. What a day for her. They told us she had never left the orphanage in her almost five years of life. And after the first time riding in a car and seeing the big world, she finds herself planted in a hotel room with these people who don't speak her language and look very different too. I'm so grateful she got some tears out. When she made her way off my lap, she proceeded to play with her new much-loved toys all evening. The bubbles were a big hit. She loves chasing and popping them. Then she picked up some chopsticks and started poking the bubbles that way. This confirmed our suspicion that she has quite a sense of humor! She also loved her bath. I rubbed lotion all over her and she seemed to like it, but acted like that was a totally new experience. Her skin is very dry. When I got her PJ's on her she proceeded to try and crawl in the little baby bed in the room! I led her to the big bed where she got to sleep in between Mama and Baba last night. She got a serious face and was quiet, and slept very well. But let me tell you, this girl grinds her teeth like none I've ever heard! And in our family I've heard it a lot. Do the jaw issues ever end at our house?? I think the stirring spoon in my much appreciated Via coffee woke her in the morning. I took my coffee cup over and left the light out and snuggled for a while. When she finally got out of bed she was a different kid. She started playing, laughing, talking and bouncing around. And as the day went on it only increased. I think she kinda likes the new life. The hotel has a wonderful big breakfast buffet. Can you even imagine this from her perspective? She eats anything and everything we put in front of her.
This morning we competed our paperwork at the Civil Affairs Office. We came back and ate a light snack (still stuffed from the buffet) and we are going to venture out walking without our guide. There is a mall and restaurants there so it should be interesting. We hope to find a yummy dinner. Almost no one speaks English in this city, so without our guide we are challenged! Our request to visit her orphanage was granted, so tomorrow we will take the long trip to Bengbu. It may be an emotional day, but an important one for piecing together her past. We will be able to see her 'finding spot'. I'm happy we get to go, but not looking forward to the drive. Basically I just close my eyes and pray while we are on the roads. I really can't even put it into words. Here's some photos from today:
She found Macy's hat, put it on and started to put on a little show. We needed another comedian in the family!
One of her favorite things is to brush the doll's hair. She quickly got the bright idea of brushing her sister's instead! Notice the backpack..she doesn't want to take it off.
Leaving the Civil Affairs Office
Aww..so thankful for big sister photographer on this trip!
Today was a travel day, so we don't have many pictures to post except our trip to Walmart. Our day started with a trip to the Beijing International Airport. Navigating that was truly an experience to remember. We have never seen so many people in one place. Fortunately an escort walked us through most of the process. After checking in our luggage, she mentioned that we should not bring so much stuff next time because they have plenty of stuff here in China!
We arrived in the capital city of Hefei which has 7 million people in just that city alone. It is a working city with a lot of factories. The pollution is really bad and started affecting us immediately. We can feel it in our throats, and my contact lenses quickly became coated with a film. The girls are coughing a lot. Our guide Christina met us at the airport with a cheerful welcome sign. We were hungry so she took us to the Noodle Bar in the hotel. I was thinking..yum..that should be easy. Not so. We were lost with the menu, and Christina guided us through the many noodle options as best she could. We ended up with very large bowls of noodles in broth and chopsticks to eat them. We were quite a sight! They did find some forks for us. It was kind of like eating chicken noodle soup with a fork. After we got some food in our tummies we ventured out to Walmart to pick up a couple things...mainly a hair straightener ;) Christina walked with us there. Hefei is not a tourist city, so we really really stick out. People are yelling and waving at us from the city buses and gawking at us on the streets. They all seem very friendly and kind. The number of people on the streets is intimidating, but Christina says it's safe. Crossing the streets is not safe, however! Pretty scary. I wish we would have taken some pictures while we were walking. I was hanging on so tight to the girls it was the last thing on my mind!
Ivy's orphanage is about three hours away. She will have to wake up early and leave about 6:30am. We are meeting at the Civil Affairs Office at 9:30am. It hardly seems real that we are here and tomorrow is the day. We are so blessed.. We are going to settle down now and hope for some sleep.
This is our guide, Christina
Bins of rice at Walmart
The candy aisle
This little bed was in our room...too small for Ivy. So we put some of the things we brought for her in the crib. We also have more toys, but we hid them away in the closet to pull out as we need them.