Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gotcha Day!

I'm so sorry this is so late and maybe no one is interested anymore since we are home now. But, since I was unable to post from China about our trip because of various difficulties, I decided I'm going to do a gotcha day post, because I'm sure that's what everyone is really interested in. I think I'll also back post some of the other things we did on our trip, but I really want to get some of the good gotcha day pictures (and a video) up here.

We started out the day with a breakfast buffet in the morning. Then, at around 9am China time, we hopped on a bus with the rest of the group, to go meet our kidos. It was surreal. I thought I would be a mess...sick even. When I'm nervous or big changes are happening, I tend to get these uncontrollable shakes. I was really worried I would get that way, but I didn't. I really felt a peace and calm and just really excited to see my baby girl. I really chalk this up to all the prayers I know were happening for us at that time.

This is where things happen really fast. We thought we would be waiting awhile at the office for our girl to arrive. Boy, were we wrong! Just take a look and see.

It was, in some ways, a wonderful day for us. We had been waiting so long and working so hard to finally hold our sweet girl in our arms. But, it was a really hard day. The worst for Carissa. My heart just broke for her. Everything changed for her that day. She lost everything she had ever known. Yes, we knew that her days as an orphan were over. That she would be loved so much. That having a family is much better for her than growing up in an orphanage. But, she only knew that she was handed over from everything familiar to complete strangers. It was tough to see that pain and fear in her.
Here are some of the pictures from that day.

My precious baby girl, momma is so glad to finally have you in her arms. I know it was a hard day for you, but for me, it was one of the best. You grew, for many months, in my heart and the day finally came to hold you. I love you so much!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 1- Beijing

First, I want to thank you all for the prayers for our trip. It went very smoothly and we had no delay's. It was as enjoyable trip as a trek across the world could be, I suppose.
After a pretty uneventful flight to Beijing (I'll try to blog on that later), we had our first day of touring today. Our agency has us come in a few days early to get used to the time change and to have us get to know a bit about our children's culture. I really love that we got this opportunity.

When we woke up this morning we had a nice buffet breakfast in the hotel. Noodle's for breakfast was a big hit! They actually had a great mix of western-style eats and more traditional Chinese selections. Anyway, it was quite yummy!

After breakfast, we set off in the bus to Tiananmen square and the Forbidden City. The details in the buildings were beautiful and the area was huge. It was quite a walk for jet lagged people, but I think we all enjoyed it.


After that, we drove over to Hutong. Hutong is basically old town. It's a living example of the way Chinese used to live (and still do in this community). A community of houses where even the toilets and showers are communal. I was very intrigued by this area. It was very worn down, dusty and dirty, but just seemed rich with culture. And a tight knit community.

We took a rickshaw ride through the area. I tell you what, those men have some strong legs.

In Hutong, we were served a meal by a local family in their home. It was wonderful!

Overall, it was a great day. We all felt pretty good and we enjoyed seeing the sights.
Next, we go to Great Wall of China!

Friday, October 10, 2014


We have been working to get things settled and ready for our trip. Paul has been trying to get a lot of work done to make up for the time he will be gone. Breanna has been doing some homework in advance. Sean, well, he's been sick (more on that later), so he has been doing a whole lot of nothing. Me, well, I have been trying to get some packing done (Carissa's suitcase is packed. Yay!). I have been cleaning, kind of organizing (does hiding and stacking things nicely count as organizing? ;o) ), moving furniture around, setting up a crib, running errands, getting things for the trip and also meal planning so that I can get meals in the freezer for us to have on hand for when we get back home.

I find myself lost sometimes, overwhelmed by the amount of things we need to get done, not knowing what to do first. I'm just trying to take it one thing at a time and feel accomplished if I get even a couple of things done each day. It's weird going from this intense paper chase mode to just kind of waiting and preparing. I've been working paperwork for so long, it kind of feels like I'm missing or forgetting something. Kind of unnerving.

People ask me a lot if I'm just so excited, and I definitely am. I'm so excited to see Carissa face to face, to hold her and comfort her. But, there is also a bit of trepidation mixed in. I go from intense excitement one moment to "Oh my! what am I thinking?!?" There is the constant fight of the fear of the unknowns, fear that Carissa is going to have a really hard time, fear of the flight over there (have I mentioned that I have never been out of the US?), fear of getting sick on the trip, fear of my kids wondering off when I'm not looking....just fear. I know where that comes from and it's not my Heavenly Father. So, I feel like I'm at battle over my mind, sometimes. I know who's going to win, though. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I won't make my decisions based off of fear. I know that God has given me a place in my heart as well as the rest of the family's heart for this baby girl and He's going to take care of things for me, her, and the rest of the family. So, I just try and shove those fearful thoughts out of my mind and point my thoughts upward. I do better at it some times than others.    "In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?" Psalm 56:4

On top of all the preparations going on, we have been fighting illnesses in this house. I had an extremely sore throat a week or so back. It never went much further than that and tiredness, so that's good. Now, Sean has bronchitis. So, I've been really concerned about this. I'm really praying the rest of the family stays healthy this next 12 days and on the trip.

So, on that note, I have a few prayer requests:

For our health. That Sean would improve quickly and stay that way throughout the trip. That the rest of us stays healthy. That the trip to China won't be too hard on our bodies, including Breanna's asthma and all of our allergies and also our tummies.

For everyone's safety on the trip and when we are touring around various cities in China. Especially when we are riding in vehicles in the crazy traffic.

That our flights to and from China go smoothly. We have a couple of layovers that are cutting it super close, so we could really use prayers that everything stays on time.

For Carissa's heart. Please pray that, in her grief, God brings comfort to her heart that He can only give. That she somehow knows we are safe and that we love her so much.

Again, thank you for all your love, excitement, support and prayers during this time. It's such a comfort to know that we have friends, family and even a few people we haven't even met that are covering us all in prayer. It's an awesome feeling!

I just really can't wait to bring Carissa home and introduce her to this amazing community!

Monday, October 6, 2014

16 days

Appointments have been made and confirmed and tickets have been bought. We are heading to China in 16 days!
Then, 5 days after that, we will have Carissa in our arms.
This baby girl has no idea how excited her family is to love on her! But, she will know the love of her forever family very, very soon!
John 14:18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We're going to China!

Hold on baby girl!

Cause your family is coming to get you!
Today, we got Travel Approval! We are so excited!!
Usually, we would get final confirmation of our consulate appointment in China (where we get Carissa's visa to come home) in a day or two and could make our travel plans, but because there is a holiday going on in China until Monday, we have to wait until then or Tuesday. That also makes our travel plans take place a week later than we would like. But, we will have her in our arms this month. Most likely in 25 days. And that is something to celebrate!
October is going to be a great month!

Monday, September 15, 2014


I just wanted to give a little update on our Both Hands project we did a couple weeks back to help raise funds to bring Carissa home. We served our friend Rita for a day and us and the volunteers sent out letters, emails and spread the word via social media to sponsor us to work on her house. The sponsorship funds went directly to help us bring our daughter home to her forever family.

I must say, that we almost decided not to do the project. I had a difficult couple of months during the summer where I was just weary, especially on the fundraising front. I was scared of losing friendships, of offending people by asking too much, by seeming needy or whatever. Just a lot of fear that I knew was wrong, but just had a hard time shaking. We tried a few different plans to earn the money ourselves, without having to ask anything of anybody. They didn't work out. We even tried a couple of fundraisers that are usually pretty popular and those didn't really bring much funds in. I was thinking that maybe we just needed to take the hint and stop all those efforts and just put the rest of the adoption on credit cards or a loan and worry about it when we got home. I had come across the Both Hands fundraiser early in the process and we both absolutely loved the idea. But, we were still waiting on our home study to be approved at the time. Then, it was a busy, huge process to get other grant applications filled out, paperwork authenticated, etc. So, I had nearly put it out of my mind as a possibility, figuring it would just be too late to get it done and that people might be annoyed since we had already had some other fundraisers/fundraising pages and such out there.

I'm so glad that we didn't give up on this and that we had some awesome friends encourage us to follow through with doing this project. It ended up being far more than a fundraiser. We worked together with our friends to serve someone who really just needed the help. We formed a bond and a friendship with Rita and plan to carry on that relationship for the long term. I just really love her so much and am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to get to know her and her story. This most likely would not have happened if not for the Both Hands project. So, God orchestrated this so perfectly to really change and bless some hearts that day.

So, without further ado, I'm happy to announce that because of this project, we are now fully funded! We can now concentrate on packing and preparing our hearts and our home to welcome our daughter home. This has totally floored us! We are so relieved and so grateful for everyone's generosity, prayers and hard work throughout this whole process. We could not have done this without you. God has worked through you to give this little girl a mommy, daddy, sister and brother that love her so very much. A home, a forever family, nighttime hugs and kisses and cuddles...oh, that girl is going to get so much cuddles! She is going to know that she is loved. She is going to know that she was created by an awesome God who loves her more than we ever could. She is going to know, that no matter her difficulties in life, she was made just the way God needed her to be to accomplish His plan for her and those around her. She has a hope and a future!

We are so humbled and blessed to have such an awesome community that has supported us in all different ways in bringing our little girl home. Carissa is one loved little girl! and I can't wait to tell her about how so many people loved her and prayed for her before they even knew her.

I have not stopped giving thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16

We are getting close. Most likely, only a little over a month before our girl is in our arms and she gets to meet her forever family. We can't wait for that day!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The olders....part two...

My soon to be middle child...and the only boy...poor thing. ;o)
He's a crazy ball of energy. He definitely gives us a run for our money.

I'm telling you. This look says it all!
My Seany boy is a great gift. He brings energy and humor to the family. He can be such a handful sometimes and frustrate us all. You would think, looking at how active he is and how much he likes all things zombie, explosive, fighting, lightsabering and violent dinosaur, that he would be quite aggressive.
 And yes, he can get totally out of control. But, he is so soft hearted and empathetic when he thinks someone or something is hurt.
And he loves babies.
And he was so proud the day his little cousin came into the world.
Like his sister, he loves the outdoors.
Science and bugs and creepy crawlies, oh my!
This little guy is a cuddler and he loves fiercely.
He loves his sister. (And, oh my! Those piercing blue eyes just draw you in.)
He loves his cousin, Aiden.
And he loves his daddy so much.
He's smart, loyal, and funny.
A total ham from day one.
This kido is pretty awesome.
Pretty darn cute when he was little.
And pretty handsome nowadays too.
And I just love him so much!