Day is Done…

Well, the day is done! I cannot believe how smoothly it went for us! Thank you all for your prayers, I know they have made a difference. But don’t stop now…keep on praying that Abigail will sense our love and attach quickly to us so that she feels as happy as can be!

On that subject, all signs are good that she loves being with us. As I mentioned in the caption of one of the photos below, it was completely amazing to see her affect brighten up by the end of the day. She was interactive and smiling wide just before bath time, which was a complete contrast to her “flat” look for the majority of the day. I can’t imagine how terrifying this must be, at least initially, for these girls. After that its just got to be darned confusing in every imaginable way. But she is doing great now, and is sleeping as I write these words. I pray that this is the case for the other six girls in Abigail’s group and the other six parent-groups here with Erin and I.

The adoption papers we had to sign today went through without a hitch and the donation to the orphanage is now right where it should be: There helping others. Every official was very kind and seemed genuinely happy for the girls and for us. And now, we just get to spend time with Abigail! Tomorrow we’re heading out to the supermarket and expect to have people checkin’ her out (and us). Americans holding Chinese babies apparently draw a lot of attention.

Our coordinator has been wonderful and came through again today. I had an interesting conversation with her during one of our waiting periods, as well. She is a believer and part of a house-church. She shared some interesting experiences that I won’t relate now, but may in another medium. Suffice it to say I would like to help out with her community in any way I can when I return to the states. She was very interested and excited to hear that I am a Pastor (she also made me laugh when she asked if I’d read The Purpose Driven Life (she hasn’t but wishes she could get more good books to read over here).

Well, I’m going to try and get some sleep…and as I do, I can’t help but think that God is so good: Abigail, connections of faith, it’s all Grace in plain sight!

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Our first smile (worked hard for that one). It was amazing to see her countenance brighten up by the end of the day!

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Oops! That smile just went away. Her first real bath (really) and not too sure what to make of it.

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And back to laughing!

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Back to playing, but now in her new PJs!

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Getting ready to sleep…

"Gotcha Day"

Well, overnight a change indeed! We are so happy!!!!

I probably will have just a few moments to post this, so let me just give you the quick details. The nannies from the orphanage arrived a few minutes early this morning, which was a real treat, for sure. The only problem was that we had no interpreter there yet…so we just rolled our video tape and shot a close up of our Abigail (we knew right away who she was). After a few minutes of this, Li Na made it down and things moved quickly from there.

As you can see from our very first family picture, things started out quietly. Abigail seemed at peace for the first few minutes and then, as the screaming of her friends became louder and louder, Abigail decided she’d give it a try. And man did she ever. We both tried to console but to no avail. All in all though her big brother (“Ge ge”) gave us enough practice in similar situations, so we weren’t worried. What finally did the trick was taking her out of the room and walking the halls. She settled down quickly as I sang Zip-a-dee-do-da (one of Jackson’s favorites, too, at her age).

As I was keeping Abigail happy, Erin was left to complete the initial paperwork, which went smoothly. In fact, things are going so smooth that we’ll have the final notorization on her adoption forms in just a few hours. This is unusual (there’s usually a 24-hour waiting period) but we’re not complaining, it will be so wonderful finishing the adoption process so soon!

As you’ll see in the photos below, she is doing well, all things considered. Poor thing must think her world has been turned upside-down, because it has. After talking with her nanny, we know she’s a fit in our family. When asked what her personality was like, the nanny laughed and said “Well, she’s very active…and she really enjoys taking things from other kids!” Sounds like she and Jackson will get along just great — after he learns who the boss is!

I’ll post more pictures as I have a chance…

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Our first photo together, just moments after we met!

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Hello, Abigail, women ai ni, xiao baobao (We love you, little treasure)!

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Concentrating on her blocks!

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Sleeping peacefully…

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…on mom!

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After her nap, we met with a Registrar of the People’s Republic who officially proclaimed our adoption official. We’re holding the “Red Book” in our hands that contains the official adoption record, which authorities will want to see from time to time.

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Abigail’s Welfare Center Directors, right after we signed the papers making her adoption official!

Change, overnight

Change, overnight…

Abigail. Tonight is the last night you will spend not knowing Mommy or Daddy.

Tomorrow is the first day we will walk together.

While we were awake into the night, anxious to meet you, you were sleeping,

unaware of the love and life that is waiting for you in the bright morning of a new day.

I feel joy!

Change, overnight.

I know this feeling…

Jackson. I remember these feelings. Yes, just before I met you.

Then, as now, we waited for you to come into our life.

Then, as now, I knew I had but hours

until I would hold you in the bright morning of a new day.

I feel joy!

And I cry.

Change, overnight.

I know this feeling.

And a gift is given…

I soak in warm moments of remembered joy, present joy; the gift comes into focus.

It is not that we are giving you so much, Abigail.

It is not that we have given you so much, Jackson.

The gift given is in both of you, to us.

In you we see angels dancing and the nearness of God’s love.

Doubt fades away and we sing the song of heaven.

I feel joy!

And I cry.

You are grace.

Change, overnight.

Our Day as Tourists…

Well, good morning to you all! As I write this it is your Saturday afternoon and our (early) Sunday morning. Today’s itinerary is simple: Fly to Hefei, where we will meet Abigail in about 27 hours.

Yesterday was a very full – and a very cold (around 20 and very gusty in the morning) – day. But all went extremely well…pictures are below. We began in Tiananmen Square, which didn’t seem as large as I thought it would, given that it can hold 1,000,000 people. I was struck that the student protests of ‘89 were held right next to the tomb of General Mao (“The Great Man” as our guide said). The people we’ve talked to seem quite satisfied with their life, though, and perhaps just a little jealous that recent reforms toward an open market have created challenges. Our guide “Judy” mentioned that she has it much more difficult than her parents did because she has to “buy” her own “home” whereas the previous generation did not have to. “Buy” is in quotes because “buy” really equates to a lease that returns to the government after 70 years; the government owns all land. And finally, don’t confuse “home” with anything remotely close to a single-family dwelling. So far as I’ve seen, any such places would be extremely rare in this city.

Back to our day…

From the mausoleum we moved past the People’s Heroes Monument and toward the South Gate of the Forbidden City (called the Palace Museum by locals). This was a very interesting tour and I’m sure that I would have had wonderful commentary on all I saw if this were any regular trip. It is funny though, as I’m not really here to “tour” but rather to discover a much greater treasure than the sights I can see I felt a little detached from it all. My mind wasn’t all that engaged, I suppose, thinking of the next couple of days and how they will change the rest of our lives – all of us, Erin and Abigail, Jackson and me!

We then went to lunch at a famous restaurant in downtown Beijing (the name escapes me now – I’m not myself :^) and had their signature dish: Beijing Duck. Quite a process to make this dish and it yielded wonderful results (although I could go for a cheeseburger right now).

From there we went to outside the city and ended up at the Great Wall, where apparently, I became a real man by climbing the Wall (I even got a certificate that says “He is no man who doesn’t reach the Wall”). It amazes me, given the terrain, that this wall was ever constructed. The grades rival anything you’ve every walked up. But I suppose if you were worried about raiding parties from enemies, you’d do what you could to protect yourself.

For all those people who might be worried that we’re not being taken care of well (read: my mom :^) I can assure you that we are. The people who have coordinated our trip and the entire adoption process are wonderful. Our coordinator Li Na is a buoyant soul for sure; very quick to laugh and ever ready to help out. All the coordinators truly care about the babies that are to be adopted and they truly care about this strange group of Americans! All-in-all there are 33 couples here and all have different stories. It has been fun to meet them and learn where they’re from and what they do.

Today the group will split up considerably as all the couples will now fly to meet their children (one woman is adopting an 11-year-old boy!) in one of eight provinces. In about a week, we’ll all meet up again, though, and I know that will be an experience!

I’ll write more from Hefei, tonight…

BTW…you can click on the pictures posted for better resolution shots…

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Erin, Reed and Mao, outside the Forbidden City

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In front of The Gate of Heavenly Peace (we feel so peaceful!)

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Shadows on the wall

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Through the Wall…

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The Great Wall

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Detail: Firepot inside the Forbidden City

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Just for Jackson — wow a Dragon-Turtle!

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Inside the Forbidden City

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“Judy,” our guide for the day and a CHI coordinate (front right) and Li Na, who is our coordinator (back left).

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A monument outside General Mao’s tomb

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…and the mausoleum

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Erin at the “The Gate of Heavenly Peace” (Tiananmen)

We're Here in China!

Ni Hao Everyone!

Well, we made to China (half way around the world) in a completely uneventful fashion. The only snag was that our flight from San Francisco left about an hour and a half later than expected. But taken in the grad scheme of things, this is a bargain. The flights were great and the people we’ve met thus far are great. And, all things considered, we had it easy getting to San Fran as so many in our group of about 30 families had to travel from the snowed-in midwest and east coast. But I think everyone who was scheduled to make it, actually did (even if, in some cases, the luggage has not yet). Once on the ground in Beijing getting through customs was very simple. A stamp on the visa, pick up our luggage (which did arrive) and we met our guides. Very cool.

Beijing is a huge city. Our guide mentioned that about 13 million live in the city, proper, and that the population swells to about 20 million on any given work day. That’s a lot of people! And today we get to move around in the mess of it all. We’re going to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square (where we’ll see The Gate of Heavenly Peace among other things), and the Great Wall. I’ve linked those so that you can look up their history, if you so desire.

This morning we talked with Jackson, who is doing great by all accounts. The really special part is that we hooked up via the internet for a video conference! We loved seeing our boy, who we already miss, and I think he loved seeing us (as he had about a 2-minute giggle-fest making faces with Daddy). He also thought that the bed in our hotel room looked neat because it has a Dragon-head bedpost design.

Well, for both of us, I’ll sign off and head into our day. Thank you for your prayers and continued support. Check back often as I’ll be updating this site regularly with pictures and our journal.

Reed (and Erin)

PS… Below, you’ll find the update on Jackson’s first day with the Smiths…

Greetings dear brother and sister-in-law!

By the time you read this you will be in China! Amazing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Just wanted to give you a quick update on Jackson’s first day. The day passed so quickly and he did great. He had a good day at preschool – he was “line leader” for his job and seemed happy about that. After preschool we made a quick trip to Costco which went very well. He picked out a big box of the Kraft crackers and cheese for snacks and was excited when he saw how many were inside. He also wanted to get a bag of carrots for Uncle Jeff and that was the first thing he told Jeffrey when we got home. Then he asked “do you know what Uncle Reed told me before he left on his trip?” Jeff said no, and Jackson said that he was supposed to eat lots of Uncle Jeff’s carrots and be sure to have pudding after his lunch…it was very cute. Especially calling you “Uncle Reed” instead of Daddy, Reed!

He wasn’t in the mood to leave to pick up Jenna and Connor from school, so I did have to carry him downstairs and we missed only that one sticker today. But he didn’t get really upset. And he was very talkative with Connor on the way home, Jenna ended up staying after school for a middle school game. Connor asked me quietly if it was ok to talk about Mommy and Daddy to which I said sure. When I went into the post office to get the mail and some stamps I guess they talked quite a bit about your trip. When I got back in, Connor said that he asked Jackson if he missed Mommy and Daddy (which is a question I would have had him avoid, but anyway) to which Jackson replied happily – “A little bit, but they miss me a lot more!” I thought that was so cute.

He got ready for bed well, and did all his stickers and everything. He did not go to the bathroom all day and said he still didn’t need to at bedtime! I said he didn’t have to, but if he chose not to then he would wear a pull-up because we didn’t want his Bob the Builder bed to get wet. He thought about that for a while as he was brushing teeth and such, then he decided he’d rather go to the bathroom. I was glad! And boy I could not believe how long he went. We laughed about it and tomorrow he probably will go more regularly I hope. He fell asleep within minutes and hopefully he’ll sleep well all night.

He seems to have a great understanding of why you are gone, and I’m sure the time apart will be hard, but I really think he’s going to do fine. He liked putting the first sticker on your Trip to China chart, and to be able to see Abigail at the end of the days is a fun reminder of how quickly you and she will be home.

Well, there are many more little details of our day that I’ve probably left out, but I just wanted you to know he had a wonderful first day. I think the most upset he was today was driving home from the airport and he asked for a drink of orange juice. When I reminded him that Mommy had taken the orange juice with her instead of leaving it in the van he was not happy! He’s so funny…after he got over being mad he wanted to know what you would do with the cup on your trip, Erin. He’s so smart, and always thinking! He didn’t think you would want to carry it around all the time on your trip, and you should have left it for him!

Much love to you both. Enjoy your “just the two of you” time before you are united with your beautiful little girl!

Cindy

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The Dragon Bedpost that Jackson likes…

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Our Air China 747

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Jackson as we were saying goodbye (he actually did really well…as you read in Cindy’s email).

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The last family photo before Abigail…won’t it be great when the four of us can be in one frame?

 

Abigail's HTS Report – 10/21/04 – 11 months old

Yong Ran is (almost) 1 year old and she is lively. She can sit, stand, and crawl. If I hold her hand, she can walk around to play. Now I am training her to walk alone. I have already taught her so many things like playing different kinds of toys and games like clapping her hands for welcome, waving hands to say good-bye. She can put the toy to her ear to hear its sound. She can talk to herself in the mirror. If Yong Ran is hungry or sleepy, she can let me know using her hands to help explain and babbling to me. She is really bright. Yong Ran is quite attached to me. If she sees me, she will come to me in her baby walker and hold my clothes to let me hug her. When I hold her in my arms, a bright sunny smile will appear on her face.

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Abigail at 11 months old (this photo was taken about a one and a half weeks before we received her referral notification)

Abigail's HTS Report – 7/22/04 – 8 months old

Yong Ran is cute and developing well both physically and mentally. As an eight-month-old, Yong Ran has learned many skills such as clapping hands to greet people, nodding her head meaning “yes,” and sometimes wrinkling her nose at me as if playing. She is so adorable. She is very fond of toys. She fondles the little eyes on the toy or chews on the tail of the toy fish. Sometimes she plays so hard that her drool is all over the carpet. Once when she discovered the different reflections in the mirror, she stared in looking from right to left, her eyes chasing after the kids in the mirror and looked so confused. She still looks confused by this mirror business every time she looks at it.

Yong Ran has good strength and can sit, stand, and crawl all on her own. She rolls around when she gets tired of sitting. She can hold herself up with her arms stretching out to support her weight on the floor and play while resting at the same time. Yong Ran throws big fits crying aloud when she is hungry or sleepy. As soon as we satisfy her needs, she can calm down immediately.

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Abigail at 8 months of age

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