Sunday, April 14, 2019


It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that our precious daughter Halainah Grace passed away on February 18th 2019.  She was 11 years old.   Our lives will never be the same.  Our hearts are broken and our lives irrevocably changed.  When Halainah was first put into our waiting arms, I turned to my wife and said that I now know what the true face of an angel looks like.  Halainah was an extraordinary child.  So kind, so very gentle, and so patient.  She never complained, and always made us proud.  To say we are devastated is an understatement.  There are no words to express our sorrow, no words to describe our pain.  Everything is empty.  The empty chair, the empty couch, the empty bed, the empty car seat. We will grieve her loss until our hearts stop beating and we take out last breath.  My lost love, my lost child, we miss you so very much.  We love you so very much.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


In 20 minutes we will begin the first step of our long journey home.  We are taking a high speed train to Hong Kong.  Tomorrow morning at 10:30 am China time (10:30 pm your time) we will be leaving on a 15 1/2 hour flight home.  I am filled with anxiety about the flight and how Colton will do.  Please pray for us, for a smooth flight home.  And for Colton to be comfortable and relaxed.  The journey home is always exhausting.  I'm praying this time around it's less exhausting.

Not sure if I will be able to post from Hong Kong.  If not...I will see you all in America.

China...I will miss you tremendously.  You are a part of my children.  But there's no place like home and I am dreaming of my own home right now with all of my children tucked away peacefully in their own beds.

Thank you for praying for us and following our journey to Colton.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


We had a full day today and are exhausted.

Today started out bright and early.  Since we are the only family from our agency, we took a cab to the US Consulate to apply for Colton's Visa.  The US Consulate is in a completely different building now so nothing was the same as it was for Halainah's and Ava's adoption.  Our guide was unable to go into the building with us for security reasons.  So we were completely on our own.  There were a few people that spoke English there so it made things easier for us.  Once we arrived in the correct room we saw a couple of families that we had met in Changsha from different agencies.  So it was nice to chat with them.  I think we are all in the same place right now...ready to go home.  We all rose our right hand and took the oath together to never abandon our children and that all of our paperwork is true and accurate.  Once that was complete we were fingerprinted again and we were sent on our way.  Tomorrow our guide will pick up Colton's passport with the Visa and our paperwork we will need in order to pass through immigration in the U.S.  So this is the very last step in the process.  

After our Visa appointment we came back to the hotel to relax a little and eat lunch.  And at night we went on a river cruise.  At this stage we are all very tired and ready to head home.  We really did not feel like going on the river cruise but we knew Halainah would love it so we pushed ourselves.  I am glad that we did.  It was very peaceful on top of the boat with the wind blowing and seeing the beautiful lights of Guangzhou.  Halainah loved seeing the lights especially the rainbow bridge and rainbow building.  It was a nice way to end our trip with the river cruise being our last tour.  

Tomorrow we begin to make our way back to the U.S.  At 4:45 pm which is 4:45 am your time, we will depart from our hotel here in Guangzhou and head to Hong Kong via a high speed train.  We have done this for our other 2 adoptions.  It's an exhausting trip so I pray that we are not all cranky by the time we arrive at our hotel.  I remember arriving close to midnight when we adopted Ava.  Colton gets extremely cranky around 9:30 if he is not in bed.  He likes to be on his back with his feet up in the air.  He does not like to be held when he is past the point of tired.  So these next 2 days of travel should be interesting.  Please pray for us for our journey back home.  On Thursday our flight home is 15 1/2 hours.  I seriously have no idea how we are going to do that with Colton.  Halainah was up for 14 1/2 hours on the flight home but she was happy to just sit in our laps or stand up between our legs.  Ava slept 8 hours out of the 15 1/2 hours and was content the hours she was up.  Colton likes his space and it's hard to do that on a plane.  He was miserable on the 1 hour flight to Guangzhou so many prayers needed for us.  

Everyday Colton changes.  He is still a happy boy.  But he can get moody and irritable when he isn't stretching his legs.  When he gets in that mood he doesn't want to be touched by anyone.  When he gets so cranky because he's tired we know just to put him in his crib.  He will stick his thumb in his mouth and he will be asleep in minutes.  How on earth can we do that on a plane?  Lord, please be with us on this plane.  

Halainah said she loves China and she will miss it, but she's ready to go home now because she misses her sister Ava.  She also said she wants to sleep in her own bed with all of her stuffed animals she left at home.  Her favorite part of the trip was seeing The Great Wall of China and getting her baby brother.  She also said that she wants to go home because she doesn't want to melt in this heat any longer.  

And so our journey is nearing the end.  We say goodbye to China once again and begin our long and exhausting journey back home.  I have so many things that I will miss about China and some that I will not but that's for another post.  This trip has been different in more ways than one.   I saw things that I guess I needed to see, but broke my heart in so many ways, that I am unsure why I needed to see them.  I am so glad that my children are mine and that I know they are being loved on by their family and that they will have the best possible lives we can give them.  But there are so many left behind.  I don't know why there are so many orphans, I don't know why they are growing up without the love of a mommy and daddy.  But I do know and I have to believe that the Lord will watch over them.  That they are precious in His sight.   And that He has great plans for them.  Maybe I need to do more to advocate for them since they don't have a voice.  I don't know.  But I will listen to Him and will follow.  

Please continue to pray for us until we are home safe.  And please pray for the 148 million orphans in the world who are left behind.

John 14:18
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

Monday, July 14, 2014


We braved the heat once again today.  And believe it or not we lasted a lot longer than yesterday.

Today we went to Liu Hua Hu Park which is a huge park that is within walking distance from our hotel.  It's across a very busy street so we had to go through the underground tunnel to get to it.  It was another very hot day.  But the park is mostly shaded by huge trees so we weren't standing in the scorching sun.  We saw many local residents practicing Tai Chia and other exercises.  There is equipment for adults to work out on.  We saw a man who had to be in his 70's doing some crazy exercises that we couldn't do in a million years.  Tony and I joked and said we need to live in China for a year to get in shape.  

There was a huge playground for the kids to play on with swings and slides and monkey bars.  But Halainah's eyes grew wide when she saw the amusement park area.  At this point our guide had to go back to the office as someone's paperwork at the Consulate was wrong.  So she left us at the park and gave us directions to get back.  Well that wasn't such a good idea.  Halainah wanted to go on some rides and play a few games.  I went up to one game that she wanted to play which was a fishing game.  You had to hold the fishing pole and catch fish that had magnets on them.  I tried to give the woman money but she kept pointing me to something.  I tried to find what she was pointing at and I found a ticket booth but no one was in it.  So I told Halainah I was sorry but we couldn't do anything at the park because no one understood me.  Well, the look on her face broke my heart.  You see, Halainah is a really good when she asks for something I want to give it to her to reward her for being so good.  And her daddy feels the same way, so he set out on a mission to make her happy.  We did find a place that was selling tickets but you had to buy specific tickets for each ride.  And since we couldn't tell the man which rides we wanted to ride, it was a complete guessing game.  So we added some charades to it to try and act out which rides and games we wanted to do.  In the end we got a few tickets and we had to hunt for the rides the tickets went to.  One ride, the roller coaster was something she wanted to do.  But we didn't have tickets for that one.  I think the guy felt bad for us so he finally let us on with wrong tickets.  Halainah was happy she went on some rides and played her fishing game so it was a successful day despite the communication issues.

After the park, we came back to the hotel to cool off, eat lunch and have Colton take a nap.  We set out once again around 4:00 to Shamian Island.  Shamian Island holds a lot of sentimental memories for us that we will cherish forever.  We stayed at a hotel on the island when we adopted Halainah.  It has many shops that sell Chinese souvenirs and children's supplies.  All adoptive families go to the island to pick up traditional Chinese dresses and outfits.  We saw a few adoptive families today but the island isn't what it used to be.  The White Swan Hotel which was the main hotel that adoptive families stayed at is closed for renovations.  So most shops have closed down because there isn't enough business anymore.  We were able to show Halainah a few of the landmarks that we visited with her and Ava and take a few photos.  We also visited Michael's shop which is the place that we bought all of our children's chops.  A chop is a hand carved stamp that you can have made with your child's English name and Chinese name.  We chatted a while with Michael and talked about how business isn't what it used to be and he prayed it would get better.  We bought a bunch of things from him and he presented us with a little gift which is a scroll that says "Praise God" in English and Chinese characters.  I found it very fitting.  And I am praising God for all the blessings he bestowed upon my life.  

Colton did amazingly well today.  He sort of just went with the flow today despite the heat.  As long as we fed him and let him nap he was happy.  He was in the stroller most of the day today and he didn't complain once.  But he was so happy when he was able to stretch his little legs out when we got home.  He is a chubby little guy for sure.  Everyone says "big baby" to us.  And he is a very big boy.  I still don't know how he fits into 12 month clothes but he does and there is room to grow.  Maybe I am so used to my girls being tiny.  Although Halainah is average size now but my Ava is still a little petite firecracker.   We love you Ava and can't wait to hug you!  

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday) we need to be at breakfast at 6:45 am and in the lobby at 7:40 am to go to our Visa appointment & Oath-taking ceremony.  This is the last step in the process.  I can't believe we have come to this final day.  On Wednesday we pick up Colton's Visa and we take a high speed train to Hong Kong.  And on Thursday we fly 15 hours home to begin our life together as a family of 5.  I am excited to come home and very ready for it.  Yes I am homesick and I miss my Ava.  Our family is just not complete without her.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Oh my gosh when I tell you it's hot have no idea what HOT is.  When we adopted Ava in August of 2011 I don't remember it being this hot.  You step outside and within seconds you are dripping wet.  We are sweating in places that you wouldn't think you could sweat.  I know...too much information.  It's very hard to be outside which saddens me because I don't want to spend my days in the hotel.

But honestly it's almost unbearable to be outside.  Today we decided to venture out at about 9:30 to Yuexiu Park.  It's a huge park across from our hotel.  It contains the symbol of Guangzhou, a huge sculpture of the Five Rams.  Locals visit the park to practice Tai Chi and other exercises there.  We saw people playing cards, playing instruments, singing and dancing.  The locals don't seem to mind the heat as much as we do.  I guess they are used to it.  The highlight of the part to Halainah was the lake filled with tons of Koi fish.  Halainah desperately wanted to feed them and asked me if I had bread in my backpack.  I told her no but I had her brother's Cheerios in my backpack.  She said "ok...that will work...besides everybody loves Cheerios."  She's too funny.  And she was right...the fish went nuts for the Cheerios.  Halainah was loving it.  And too bad for Colton...he was out of Cheerios until we made it back to the hotel.

We only lasted about 1 1/2 hours outside in the heat before heading back.  Halainah's fever finally broke during the night last night...thank you for your prayers for her.  She is still not feeling that great but she made it through the park.  She's complaining of a sore throat now but we are on day 2 of antibiotics so I'm sure we are fine.  Still praying the rest of us stay healthy.

We spent a few hours in the hotel to rest and cool off.  We went out to grab something to eat around 4:45 and the heat was much more bearable at that time.  After dinner we went swimming in the pool.  And after a swim in the pool, I threw my monkeys in the tub and they had a blast playing together.  I can't wait until I have all 3 of my monkeys in the tub!  Only a few more days and we will be making our way back home.

I love China.  I will be forever grateful to The People's Republic of China for giving me 3 amazing and beautiful children.  However, it's time to come home.  I'm tired of living out of a suitcase and eating out everyday.  I'm tired of running all over the place.  And I am getting a little tired of the stares.  In the beginning I was totally ok with it.  I get it...we are different.  I get that the locals are genuinely happy for us and our children.  I love the thumbs up that we get all of the time.  But I just want to go back to our "normal" life.  Halainah is struggling at this point too.  She gets stopped all the time, the locals love to touch her face and tell her she's pretty and they love to talk to her in Chinese.  In the beginning Halainah would smile and say "Ni Hao".  But now she's telling the locals, "I don't speak Chinese" with a little bit of an attitude.  We have tried to explain to her that they are just curious and to smile and be nice.  But I sort of can't blame her at this point.  I think 2 weeks is a lot of time here and we are just ready to start our lives as a family of 5.

Colton is still a good baby.  But he's starting to show us more and more of his personality.  He is at the point where he only wants to be held.  It doesn't matter if it's me or Tony but he doesn't want to be put down.  So we are seeing more tears from him at this point because we can't possibly hold him every second of every day.  I think once we get home and can get him in a routine that may change.  I am sure that he is loving be loved on everyday.  So I can't blame him for wanting to be in his mommy and daddy's arms.  There were no arms to hold him a lot in his orphanage.  

Tomorrow we are visiting another park and heading to Shamian Island to do some shopping.  Halainah is excited about that.  

Only a few more days and we come home...can't wait!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Our day started off bright and early once again.  Part of the adoption process involves a medical exam for your adopted child.  It does not take long, however, when you go to the office that performs the medical exams, it's jammed packed with other families from all over that are adopting as well.  It's always nice to meet up with others who are at the same stage of the game as you.  They check weight and hearing and a few other things.  Luckily since Colton is so young he did not need his blood drawn for a TB test or any immunizations.  

Colton's exam went really well and everyone can't believe that he was listed under the special needs program due to his birthmark on his face.  Seems really silly.  We are very lucky in more ways than one.  Not only is he really healthy, he is an amazingly sweet and easy little guy.  He is happy 99.9% of the time and is only sad when he is hungry or tired.

Halainah is battling something right now so please keep her in your prayers.  During our crazy journey from Changsha to Guangzhou yesterday Halainah developed a high fever at the airport.  It shot up over 103 degrees.  I have been keeping it down with Ibuprofen but once it wears off it shoots back up to 103.  We decided to start her on the antibiotics our doctor sent with us.  I'm so glad we have them.  Usually I would never just start antibiotics without knowing what we are dealing with.  But being on the other side of the world we decided that we don't want to take any chances.

So after Colton's medical exam we decided we needed to spend the day inside trying to get Halainah's health back in order.  We all slept a lot today so I think that we all sort of needed a day of rest.  We have been running non stop since July 2nd.  

Guangzhou is very nice.  We love the familiarity of it.  Since this is our third time here we know where the restaurants are and where to buy water.  We are staying at a beautiful hotel which makes days like today not so bad.  We have a few trips planned to different areas that we have never explored before.  I'm praying Halainah feels better so we can stick to our itinerary.  And we are praying the rest of us stay healthy.

Leaving Changsha was bittersweet yesterday.  Colton's orphanage changed me.  It brought such a deeper sadness to me for the orphans of the world.  I adopted 3 amazing children.  I know their stories although there are many gaps in their stories, I know.  But seeing in person the ones left behind, breaks my heart to the point that it's hard to breathe.  We had to turn our backs to the ones left behind, with our son in our arms promising to give him a better life, we had to walk away.  But what about the others?  What about the little girl in Colton's room that sat in a small little pink chair rocking back and forth staring at the floor?  Her eyes so desperate, her emotions non existent, her body so thin with bug bites all over?  What happens to her and all the others just like her?  I want to change the world, I want to do more.  Maybe the Lord has something in store for me...I don't know.  All I know is that his heart is far more broken than mine.  

I watch my son blossom more and more everyday.  He leans in for kisses now instead of pulling away.  He smiles more when you play with him and cracks up laughing.  He cries when we leave the room because he doesn't want to be alone.  He leans back in your arms instead of trying to sit upright.  He puts his arms up for you to pick him up.  His bug bites on his body are healing nicely.  We love him more than anything and so thankful the Lord led us straight to him.