Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We finally made it to Hong Kong via a high speed train this evening. It was one heck of a trip and very exhausting. If this was any indication of what our 15 hour flight will be tomorrow we are in trouble. Ava had a few melt downs and we wanted to have a melt down as well.

Our flight leaves tomorrow morning at 10:30 and we will arrive home on Thursday afternoon around 2. I cannot wait to see my Lainey Bug...that is what's going to get me through the long journey home.

We had a wonderful last day in China today. We took some great pictures that I can't wait to share...just not tonight...I am tired and need to get up very early.

My dad booked us a hotel room at a hotel near our home. We will be staying there for a few days until we can get some things taken care of at home. My Dad was finally able to get into our house...and thanks to all of your prayers...the water did not reach our main living area. Praise the Lord!!

But we did have about 7 feet or so in the basement which means...all water heater...central vac...washer and dryer...all needs to be replaced. Not to mention everything that was stored down there. The basement needs to be pumped...cleaned...insulation torn down...oh I could go on and on. Outside our central AC unit went under...all Halainah's toys...sand house...all under. The garage...lawn mower...freezer...pressure washer...I could go on...all went under. It's a disaster but could of been worse. We will get through it...even with jet lag I suppose.

Thank you to all my family and friends that have offered their home to stay with getting things back together and most of all...your prayers. I truly appreciate them. Right now...I need to focus on getting home...than I will deal with everything else.

Goodnight from Hong post will be from home!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Early this morning we boarded a bus to go to the US Consulate for our Visa Appointment and Oath-taking ceremony. It was insanely busy and extremely hot. Guangzhou is so hot. You literally melt the minute you walk out the door. This morning the temperature was 105 degrees with 99% humidity. It is just awful. Anyway, we were there with about 10 other families. We all stood, raised our right hand and took our oath that all the information we have supplied is true and accurate to the best of our knowledge. When all was said and done the woman at the Consulate congratulated all of us on the new additions to our families. We applied for Ava's Visa and than we were on our way. Tomorrow afternoon we will receive Ava's passport back with her Visa. Afterwards we will take a high speed train to Hong Kong. We will spend the night in Hong Kong and early Thursday morning (Wednesday evening US time) we will board our plane for the 15 1/2 hour ride home. Please pray for our safe travels home.

Speaking of home...I really don't know where we are going once we arrive back home. As far as we know at this point we have no electricity or hot water. And both will need to be replaced. We are still unsure how much damage is done to our home. My Dad is still unable to get to our house since the flood waters have not gone down. We are trying to think positive...and positive is still really bad. We are praying...down on our knees that the flood waters did not reach the main level of our home. We are still expecting 6 plus feet of water...could be more. I cannot even tell you the level of stress I am under. I just want to come home to my own home... I want to relax and spend quality time with my two daughters. We have a lot of work ahead of us...a lot of work. It's devastating...truly devastating.

I will try to enjoy our last day here in Guangzhou. We plan on taking a cab back to the island early in the morning to pick up a few things that we ordered. Afterwards we need to come back and prepare to head to the train station.

Ava has been doing very well with all of the traveling. She's a feisty little bugger so that has been a little bit of a challenge. But she sleeps really really well. She naps every day for 2 - 3 hours and goes right into her crib around 9 and sleeps until 8. That has been a blessing for sure. I don't know if I could have added sleeping issues on top of everything else we have been dealing with.

I hope to update once in Hong Kong tomorrow night. If I am too exhausted I will post once I return. I would like to do a recap post about our entire journey and what tips and tricks I used to help Ava bond with me. But right now...I am way too stressed.

Only 2 more sleeps and I get to hold and hug my Lainey Bug!!! I can''t wait but she is going to be upset if she can't come back to her home!!! We may all have a melt down!!

Monday, August 29, 2011


So sorry that I did not post an update yesterday. I had too much on my mind with Hurricane Irene. I have been talking with my Dad on and off and we have been hit hard...VERY hard. We are coming home to a disaster...the worst that we have seen. I don't even know how we are going to deal with the jet lag and trying to clean up and dry off and replace what needs to be replaced. We are trying to keep our minds off of things and on Ava and finishing the final steps of her adoption but it's hard. We feel so helpless being so far from home.

Today we took a cab over to Shamian Island and went to The White Swan. It was so surreal being in that hotel again. It was 2 1/2 years ago that we were there for Halainah's adoption. It brought back so many wonderful memories and made us miss her even more. It has been pure torture being a part from her. Every part of me misses her. I ache physically and mentally from being away from her. I cannot wait to hug her and kiss her and let her know that Mommy and Daddy will never leave her again. Thursday is going to be so sweet in so many ways.

We are ready to come home. This trip has been mentally exhausting. We have had many issues to deal with. It would literally take me a week to write everything down. Ava has been through a lot. She has been thrown into 4 different families and I am sure that she doesn't understand nor does she know what a forever family is. In the beginning of this trip she was terrified of me. She would back in a corner and shake when I would come near her. She attached herself to her Daddy and he was her hero. Now...I call her my Koala Bear because she is attached to my hip and neck. She wants to be held by me all the time and follows me wherever I go...usually holding onto my leg as I try to walk. She cries when I leave the room and is happy when I return. She calls me Mama and loves to say "Oh Baby" with me. She kisses my arms while I am holding her and smiles all the time. And her episodes of shutting down have become fewer and fewer. She is learning to trust us and I believe she is beginning to feel the love. Right now she is dancing and jumping all over the room. A week ago she would stare at the wall with such a sad face...and a broken heart. It's amazing how much she has changed. If you asked me a week ago whether I believed she would make this transformation so soon...I would of told you "not a chance in the world."

Ava is also a little miss sassy pants. She has aggression built up and likes to pinch and throw things. We are working with her and feel that once we are home and things are stable she will learn that those things are unacceptable. It's so hard to pick your battles while you are on the other side of the world, trying to bond with your daughter but also trying to lay down the rules. But we will learn together as a family.

I am so thankful that we were able to soak in the beauty and culture of China with Halainah's adoption. This trip has been more of a challenge. Adoption is not easy...and I have not come across an "Adoption for Dummies" book that could help with any of the issues that we have encountered on this trip. But it is also so rewarding and I would never change a thing. I have two very beautiful treasures and I cannot wait to watch both of them blossom into two amazing young women...slowly of course.

Tomorrow is a big day as we head to the US Consulate for our Visa appointment and our Oath-taking Ceremony. I cannot believe that our trip is coming to an end and we will soon be on our way home. Wednesday we pack up and take a train ride to Hong Kong. I am not looking forward to checking into another hotel. But it will mean only one day away from our Lainey girl.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


We started out our day this morning by going to the breakfast buffet at The China Hotel. It was alright but not as good as The White Swan was. But the best part of the breakfast buffet was seeing all the families that we were in orientation with us in Beijing and meeting their new sons or daughters. Each of us had a story to tell from when we were in our child's province. But the theme was the same...most of the children bonded with one parent and rejected the other. It was nice to talk to the others about it and feel like it just wasn't you.

After breakfast we headed to Shamian Island to get our children's medical exams done and Visa pictures taken. It was one more step that needed to take place before we can leave. And we are so ready to leave China and go home. We need to get our sweet girl home and move forward. Although she is doing really well. She still shuts down at random times.

Ava's medical exam went very well. She weighed in at 22 pounds. Halainah was 20 pounds at 14 months and Ava is 22 pounds at 23 months. The doctor said that he cannot hear a heart murmur so he thinks her PFO has healed itself. But we know from past experience that PFO does not cause a heart murmur so you wouldn't hear it. We will have to see what Ava's cardiologist says. And he said that he does not see any signs of Pigeon Breast so he's not sure why that was noted in her medical report that we received when we were matched. We know that when Ava was found she was malnourished so we think that they must have noted she had Pigeon Breast at that time because her ribs protruded a bit. But anyway, it doesn't matter because her chest is fine. Ava screamed of course...especially when they took off her shoes and clothes. She is very attached to her shoes and feels very insecure when you take her clothes off so that didn't go over that well. But we consoled her and she got over it.

Ava and I are doing fabulous! I know it has been because of all of your prayers so thank you very much. Today she was attached to me like glue. She cried when I had to leave the room to fill out paperwork...she hugs me...kisses me...calls me mama and puts her arms up for me to lift her. She even trusted me to hold her outside of our room. And she fell asleep in my arms on the bus ride back from the medical exam. I think our relationship is blossoming more and more and hope it continues. She had a few distant episodes today. Those don't seem to be getting fewer and fewer...they have been about the same. But we still see times when she is so happy...laughing and playing. I think her adjustment will be an ongoing issue for a while.

Tomorrow we are going to the Jade and Pearl Wholesale market. I am not sure what I am going to purchase...maybe a pendant...we shall see.

The countdown is on...only 5 more days until we are on our way home. I CANNOT wait to see my Lainey girl. I want to hug her and kiss her and never let her go. It has been brutal being away from her and I can't stand it another minute!!

If you have noticed in all of my pictures that Ava is wearing a hat. Well I am glad I brought one with me because she will not leave the room without it. when she is ready to leave she will grab her shoes and her's the cutest thing. I may try a headband tomorrow but don't think it will work since she won't be able to put her hat over it. Ava had a hat packed in with a bag of snacks that her orphanage gave us when we got her. I think she is just used to wearing a hat while outside.

To all my family and friends who are home preparing for the hurricane....please stay safe. We are thinking of you and praying for you! We are extremely nervous being so far from home!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Ok....we are beyond tired right now so my post is going to be very brief. Today was a day of travel. We are now at the tail end of our trip and have checked into the China Hotel in Guangzhou . It is a beautiful hotel...but honestly I am missing the White Swan. Tomorrow we have Ava's medical exam and a bunch of paperwork to complete. It's going to be a busy day.

Wow...what a transformation in my sweet baby girl today. We have seen a different side of Ava today. She's so active...she laughs and giggles...she is a blast. In the room today she was all over me...kissing me, hugging me, following me around, mimicking me and putting her beautiful arms up for me to carry her. I was in shock. My sweet girl calls me Mama and her daddy Baba. It is music to my ears. Don't get me wrong...we still have obstacles to overcome and more trust to be built. Once we leave the hotel room...she seeks her daddy for security. BUT today...she let me carry her in the airport and she sat with me on the plane for at least half the ride. And I didn't have to bribe her with food or juice. My sweet girl...she's letting me into her world and it feels so good. I can't tell you how much we adore her and love her to a bazillion pieces.

So...that's it for now. I need to go to sleep...Ava was so active on the plane ride today. I have NO idea how we are going to fly 15 1/2 hours home with her. I can't even think about that right now.

To my family and friends that can't wait to meet Ava. Please understand that she will most likely not go to anyone for a while. She is still very insecure and there are still times that her little mind goes elsewhere. I know I keep using this word. But my sweet sweet Ava is so FRAGILE. When you meet will know exactly what I mean.

There aren't a whole lot of pictures to share today since we were mostly in transit...but I think the few that I am sharing today...well they speak volumes!!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


First I have to start this post by saying that my sweet Ava and I have broken down some more of the wall today. We still have a long way to go in our bonding and her trust in me. But everyday is an improvement. This morning when she awoke she stood up in her crib and let me know she had to go to the potty. So I put my arms out and she put hers up so I could pick her up. That was a huge step for my sweet girl. And I got tons and tons of smiles. We laughed and played and she looks deeper and deeper into my eyes every day. But once we leave our hotel room she still will not hold my hand or let me carry her. So...we still have a ways to go. But when we were at lunch today, she let me take her out of Tony's sight so I could take her to the potty...which was all the way downstairs. So I would was another very good day. She let me feed her and she sat on my lap at lunch. It took a little while and she still reached for Tony but...she stayed and we bonded a little more. And when we got back to our hotel room after a long day of touring and dinner...we played and played and laughed and laughed. I am confidant that she is learning to trust me. She didn't look over to make sure Tony was there...she was content with just me and our bonding.

Today was our last full day in Changchun, Jilin Province, China. So we toured a little since we haven't really done so since we came here on Sunday. Our day trip consisted of the Emperor's Palace Puppet Museum which was established in 1962. And we went to a zoo since we thought the kids would enjoy seeing the animals and getting out a little bit. Well I don't know what happened but Ava was in a great mood this morning...laughing and playing...and showing us more of her personality. But as soon as we entered the zoo until the time we left...she shut down...completely shut down. Our guide kept asking me what was wrong with her. She was walking around in a daze...with a deeply sad look on her face. She didn't want to look at the animals and didn't want to be there in general. I wonder what my sweet girl was thinking? Did she remember her foster Mama today? Did her foster Mama take her to the zoo often? It was almost like the zoo brought her back to a place that she didn't want to be. Because as soon as we left and got into our van...she completely changed. Sweet Ava was playing and laughing and smiling. Our guide said that she cannot believe the difference between the van and the zoo. We all agree that it must have reminded her of her past. She wasn't even seeking her security which is Tony...she didn't want his hand...she was so distant. Tony and I both feel...we just need to leave Jilin Province...we need to get our girl out of that she can begin to heal.

We received such a special gift today. Our guide gave our family and Jackson's family a memory book that was put together by their head teacher in their school. It has memories and pictures and milestones and hand prints and foot prints and drawings going back from May 26th 2010 all the way until Gotcha day. It was put together with such love and came with an English translation. We also learned that the school that Ava attended is sponsored by the Half the Sky Foundation. Which is how Ava's memory book was created. "Half the Sky Foundation was created to enrich the lives and enhance the prospects for orphaned children in China. The Foundation establishes and operates infant nurture and preschool programs, provides personalized learning for older children and establishes loving, permanent care and guidance for children with disabilities. Half the Sky's goal is to ensure that every orphaned child has a caring adult in her life and a chance at a bright future." This gift is such a special blessing for our daugter. Again...another piece of her past that she will long for when she is older.

We are leaving tomorrow for yet another flight for the last leg of our journey. We will be flying 4 1/2 hours to Guangzhou to finish up the rest of the paperwork...get Ava's Visa...take her for a medical exam and go to our oath taking ceremony. I am sad to be leaving Jilin because I am taking my daughter away from the only place she has called home. But we need to move on. Our fragile little girl needs to move on and begin her new life with us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


There is nothing...absolutely nothing in the world that can prepare you enough for your child rejecting you. I went into this adoption fully aware that it would not be as easy as Halainah's was. I knew there was a strong possibility that Ava would attach to one of us and reject the other. But when it happens to you and you are so far away from's hard...down right hard. Last night I broke down...emotionally I was spent. Do you know how it feels to have your daughter not be able to look you in the eye? Or back in a corner when you get close to her? Or cling to your spouse in total fear of you? Well I do and it broke me in ways I never knew I could break. But I cried it out and my best friend...the one who knows me better than myself helped me ground myself again. And so I prayed for strength to help me get through one day at a time. And let HIM carry me!

And today was a MUCH better day. Ava opened herself up to me today in a huge way. And we finally saw our sweet sweet girl smile. She is so fragile. When I look into her huge dark almond eyes I see the pain that she endured in her short life. Living in an orphanage for her first year and being tossed into two different foster families and than into our sweet girl needs time to heal and adjust. She is so confused and is still grieving. She completely shuts down at times pulling at her hair and grunting. But today there were fewer moments of grief and more moments of her breaking out of her shell and letting me in.

And today she laughed and played with me. She now looks me in the eyes. She let me take her to the potty 4 times and I was able to change her clothes. She gave me kisses and let me touch her skin...stroke her face and kiss her sweet lips. She still makes sure that Tony is in her sight and he is the one she wants when we are out walking. But was a huge step for my sweet Ava. And even if she wakes up wanting nothing to do with me again....I will work all day to gain her trust again.

This morning we took a ride to find the place where Ava was found. We have the information from the orphanage and set out on our adventure. At first we were unable to find it so our guide asked some locals if they knew of the location. Well before we knew it there was a crowd around us. And as it turns out, one woman told our guide that her sister was the one that found Ava almost 2 years ago. So she called her sister and about 5 minutes later she came walking up to us. She took us to the exact spot where she found Ava. I cannot even describe the feeling of standing in that spot. The tears came pouring down. I don't want to go into great detail as I feel it is very personal for my daughter and it wouldn't be fair to her to share something so personal. But what I will say is that conditions were was very cold...and her birth mom loved her so very much. We were able to ask this woman who found her all sorts of what was she wearing and what was with her and what happened to her next. I also asked her if she has ever found another baby. The answer was No...just our daugher...just Ava. And she was so honored to see our sweet Ava loved. Part of me wanted to stay in that exact spot...I wanted to soak in the sounds...the smell...I wanted to permanently etch that picture in my mind. We thanked this woman so much for giving us such a wonderful gift...part of our daughter's past...a part I am sure she will long for desperatly when she grows up. We hugged eachother and parted ways. I shed a few more tears while walking away...seeing my daughter walking hand in hand with her daddy...walking away from the spot she was found...the spot that brought her into our family. Our fragile little girl...her eyes so sad...her heart so vulnerable. I am so proud of her today...letting me break down the wall so much today...only days after her world as she knew it was torn apart.

I think we will all be ok. I think sweet Ava will open her heart fully and once she does she will be a strong little happy girl...leaving behing her fragile self. Thank you so much for all of your comments offering support and advice and most of all your prayers. They meant the world to me and helped me face another day of breaking down the wall.

Please note that the pictures I am sharing does not contain the exact spot Ava was found...only surrounding areas...the pictures we did take of her finding spot will be saved for her.

Oh and did I mention how tiny she is? All the 24 month clothes I brought...way too don't mind them hanging off of her in the pictures!!