Saturday, September 10, 2016

Chimelong Safari Park

The Safari Park in Guangzhou is amazing!  We were able to spend an entire day there with another family and a daily friend.  Though it was HOT, we loved every minute of our time seeing the animals in their own created habitats.
 The triplet pandas were born in 2014.  They were quite content eating their  bamboo and seemed to be taking their stardom in stride.
 Their poor mama was done.  She looked like she needed a long winter's nap!
 While visiting the safari park, we attended three shows that included a variety of animals and tricks.  This hippo was loving his part of the show - eating bunch of carrots!
 We watched as this baby tiger battled with an ice cube that contained some sort of meat in the middle.  He was not giving up!
 The giraffes were amazing.
 and the koalas, too cute!  They were awake and some were even walking around a bit!
 The tigers....such majestic creatures.
 A show in which part of the entertainment was watching this chimpanzee feed an elephant....really cute!
 Elephants....we watched as a few elephants even proceeded to play basketball with the trainer.  
 Tigers....meat was hanging from this contraption and the tigers would lurch into it in hopes of snagging a piece!
 Chapman was all about ice cream!  She was so taken with this that she proceeded to eat most of the cone all by her little self.
 Our little Maryn asked and asked to see the pandas.  In fact, we couldn't find the pandas and I feared Maryn would totally sleep through the opportunity.  However, as luck would have it, all there of us awoke in time to see the pandas!
 Following our day at the safari, our friend Veronica wanted to continue to entertain us by taking us to eat dim sum.  It was SOOO good!  I knew she would know what to order!  Maryn and I struggled to eat with the chopsticks....and it was quite comical to see me feed Chapman noodles without any utensils.  My hands played a big part in her dinner that evening!  I asked our friend Veronica how she feeds her son and she said he is just learning to use chopsticks so she cuts everything up for him.  Great idea, only I didn't have a knife or scissors on hand!
 Our favorite person met us in China for the safari fun and dinner.  Veronica is one of those people that you meet very few of in life.  She is inspiring.  She has a heart of gold.  She works so hard for the children of China.  She wants them all to have a home.  She won't take "no" for an answer.  We adore Veronica and we are so thankful for the time we were able to spend with her in China!  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Girls are no longer easy to adopt from China.  And there are far more little boys available for adoption in China than there are little girls.  The adoption of healthy baby girls from China, which used to be a fast process, is non-existent.  All children adopted from China have some sort of identified medical need.  

We are traveling with a single mom, her new 7 year old son, and her mother.  The mother smiled a huge smile one day and said to me, “I am so proud of her.  She has been preparing for this (motherhood) for a long time.”  This is, perhaps, one of the kindest remarks I have ever heard and I pray that I remember to tell my children just how proud I am of them as they accomplish their dreams in life.  It is so easy to get caught up in what we want our children to do in life or to worry about how their decisions will effect their futures that we forget to be in the moment and just be proud of who they are and where their lives/life experiences have taken them.  

Pizza every.single.night of a two week trip does actually get old.  

Coke Zero in China is awful.  

Several Chinese people working in the hotels or in a business that accommodates westerners often will give themselves an English name.  Some are very common - Grace, David - and then there are the ones that are just hilarious - one guy named “Fun” and another named “Crazy”…..

We have met some amazing families during our stay in China.  Families who are adopting for the first time - I love them because I love seeing and being reassured that there are still families seeking to adopt.  We have met families who are back for their fourth and fifth children, children who have pretty significant needs but are so worthy of love and the commitment of a family.  We have met families who are adopting aging out children, children that in less than a year would be forced to go to work at the age of 14.  Families are fabulous yet seeing these brave children is the real blessing.  These children, big and small, are some of the most resilient, strong, and deserving kiddos one will ever meet.  These are children who, more likely than not, have known love, they have been cared for BUT they have never known the true love of a family.  It is sad.  The children we have met this week are a mere fraction of the children who wait.  I was just told during this trip that an agency met with an orphanage recently that didn’t even know international adoption existed.  Imagine.  There are children, healthy children, who wait because of a lack of knowledge from the caretaker.  Blows my mind.  

I absolutely love hearing the Chinese language being spoken.  And it is even more joyful to hear a 7 year old little boy talk in his native tongue, huge smile on his face, and just know that he is loving his new life.

Being sick in China is scary.  Being sick in China, far away from medical care will take you into panic mode.  

The smells in China are quite breathtaking and unforgettable.

My parents have been amazing.  Pretty sure that they now know the good, the better and the not so good about the four older kiddos at home.  I am thankful for their willingness to keep our children at home and for the time that they have had to spend with them. 

The traffic in China puts Atlanta to shame.  The driving in China never disappoints.  Ryan made the comment that he just loves how anything can technically be a lane in China - sidewalks included!

There are moments when I do feel guilty that I can’t do more for these children.  I want them to all know the love of a family.

Is this our last adoption?  We are constantly asked this question by friends, family, and multiple times here in China.  Honestly, we have given up answering this question.  My children will tell you that we said MK was our last adoption.  And then Maddox was the last.  And then Maryn.  And now there is Chapman.  Truth?  We feel so blessed and honored to be given the privilege of parenting six children, bios and adopted.  Are we full?  Yes!  We feel like we are all good with our crew!  But one never knows for sure until God closes those doors or begins to ask other things of you…..we thought He was done but obviously He wasn’t.  And we are thankful for His many blessings!  

Snickers are universal.

Hong Kong is a beautiful city but it is where I feared for my life most in a driving situation.  I am pretty sure all four wheels were not on the ground when we arrived at our hotel for the night.  And we did not have seatbelts on. Then, we were greeted by the nicest little man who reminded me most of the wedding planner on Father of the Bride.  Absolutely the laugh I needed after the cab ride I had just experienced.  

Neighbors and friends are the best.  My village has been along side my parents for the past two weeks delivering meals, chauffeuring my children to and fro, and just entertaining them during the time that we have been away.  So very thankful for each of them!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Her Name

Chapman is named after my maternal grandfather.  I love a good family name and Chapman has always been one of my favorites!  It is very fitting to her for many reasons....first one being that on day one I noticed she responded when we called her name.  The reason?  Chapman sounds very much like her nickname at the orphanage, ChenChen.  Tonight as we were having dinner, I was reminded of the gifts that God gives us in some of the most subtle ways.  Chapman is a little jokester.  Just like my Grandaddy.  She loves a good game.  As I played with her and tickled her and she laughed, it struck of my favorite games to play with my Grandaddy growing up involved my back.  He would lay me across his lap and take his knuckle and climb my spine....if you do this, you are sure to laugh at some point!  We would see just how long we could take it before cracking up!  And my sweet Chapman, her need is in her back - meningocele.  Yet, she giggles and reminds me with every smile to remember this man who was such a large part of my life growing up.

A Day of Rest

Today was all about rest.
We slept late.  We took our time at breakfast.  We fed the fish.  We spent time at the pool - three hours to be exact and it was delightful.  We visited with new friends who are on this journey with us.  The stories, the families, and the children are all amazing.
We took a walk to the local Chinese equivalent of Target.  It's nice to get out of the hotel room and just be amongst the people of China dodging traffic like we do this everyday!  Our walk was Chapman's time to nap so she cuddled up on my chest and out she went for the next two hours as we browsed about the store.  Maryn was pleased to pull us around the toy department and make sure we saw each and every toy that was ready for purchase.  Thankfully, she just enjoyed her time looking and wasn't really interested in purchasing.
Then we took some time to play on the playground.  Guangzhou weather isn't really as bad as we remember it being in June two years ago BUT it is super humid nonetheless.  Once the girls were looking like they had been for a swim again, we chose to make our way inside to a more accommodating, air conditioned playroom.  The girls loved their time just hanging out!