Tuesday, January 16, 2007

12-26-2006 Another Day in Memphis

(Click the image to see additional pictures / slideshow.
Note: there may be several pages of pics.)

December 26th was our last full day in Memphis before hopping on another plane and heading home to California. Early that morning, friends Brea and the Canadays who have a little girl, Cassie who is also from China, came by to say hello. Caroline and Cassie had a big time playing together.

We then had lunch with GG at Huey's where Caroline had her first experience with Mac and Cheese. We had a great time at lunch and Mac and Cheese is one of Caroline's favorites now!

After lunch we went over to Nanny's house for a visit with Nanny and Jerry. Then Mike and his sister's (Caroline's Great Aunts!!) Mary Beth and Anita and Anita's daughter Candice came to meet and visit with Caroline from Jonesboro, AR. A few minutes into the visit, Caroline fell fast asleep. It was her nap time and I guess all that Mac and Cheese from Huey's put her over the edge!

Once she woke up, we visited Paula at work for a few minutes and then headed back to Gailie's house. Paula came over for a big playtime at my Mom's house that evening. Caroline is so friendly and loves to play with her toys.

Then we went for a quick visit over to the Terhunes who also have a baby from China named Mae. Caroline had a great time playing with Mae, Corinne and Zach and Sean and I really enjoyed reminiscing about our trip to China with Grace and Matt.

After our visit, Sean and I were dying for some "real" Memphis Bar-B-Que so we headed to our new favorite Bar-B-Que spot in Memphis...Central BBQ. To our surprise, they had opened a new location on Summer not too far from my Mom's house so we stopped in there to get some Ribs to go. Would you believe that they were out of ribs!! We were shocked...a BBQ joint out of Ribs!! We would not be thwarted as there is nothing in California close to Memphis Bar-B-Que ...so we called in a "to go" order to the Central BBQ location on Central and headed that direction. When we arrived to pick up our order, they said they had no record of our "to go" order so we would need to get in the back of the line and order again. We decided not to wait in line as Caroline was exhausted and we needed to get back to Mom's to pack. Sean and I could not believe the bad luck!! My very sweet Mom then offered to drive to Corky's to get us our Bar-B-Que "fix" while we put Caroline to bed and started packing. How sweet is that! We were thrilled and we enjoyed Memphis Bar-B-Que after all and Corky's was delicious!

It took Sean and I a long time to pack as we carefully organized and packed all the wonderful gifts for Caroline. One of our suitcases was destroyed in the trip home from China so we ended up packing in a big cardboard box. It was hilarious but successful!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Christmas Day in Memphis 12-25-06

(Click the image to see additional photos / slideshow.
Note: there may be several pages of pics.)

Christmas Day we opened gifts at my Mom's house with GG. We were overwhelmed by the kindness of family and friends as there were so many packages awaiting Caroline at Gailie's house. Caroline had such a great time ripping through the wrapping paper, ribbons and boxes. We had a wonderful Christmas brunch...Sean made us a delicious mushroom and cheese omelet and Mom prepared a fruit salad and rolls with butter and jam. It was a relaxing time with Caroline and my family which we truly treasured.
That night Mom made a yummy lasagna and Christopher came over for dinner. He showed us the video he taped of our arrival at the airport.

Jo Sammons, also an adoptive mother, included the sweetest and most heart warming poem about adoption with her gift. Sean read it aloud to us and I want to share it with all of you. The poem is by an unknown author and I had read it previously before we got Caroline. But reading it again on Christmas morning with our daughter crawling over our laps and giggling as she tore through wrapping paper...it really touched me even more.


Once there were two women
Who never knew eachother.
One you do not remember
The other you call Mother.
Two different lives shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star
The other became your sun.
The first gave you a need for love
And the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality
The other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent
The other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions
The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile
The other dried your tears.
One gave you up - it was all that she could do.
The other prayed to God for a child
And God led her straight to you.
And now, you ask me through your tears
The age-old question through the years.
Heredity or environment - which are you the product of?
Neither my darling - neither
Just two different kinds of love.
Author Unknown

Christmas Eve in Memphis 12-24-2006

(Click the image to see additional pictures / slideshow.
Note: there may be several pages of pics.)

On Christmas Eve we always go to Nanny's house during the day to have a yummy Christmas meal and open presents with Nanny, Paula and Jerry. Nanny had a beautifully decorated tree with lots of gifts underneath it. Caroline had a big time opening presents and playing with her Daddy in the Santa hat. Nanny prepared a delicious meal and Caroline decided that she LOVES Nanny's lima beans. That was her first vegetable to actually eat since we left China. After lunch, Caroline played a very fun game of dipping her pacifier into Nai Nai's iced tea. You will see in the pictures how much enjoyment such a simple activity can bring!!

After we left Nanny's, we took Caroline back to Gailie's where GG rocked her to sleep for her nap before her big night out on Christmas Eve. I don't have any pictures of GG rocking her to sleep since we were trying to be very, very quiet! It was so sweet and both GG and Caroline loved it.

On Christmas Eve, we were delighted to visit the McCormacks for a wonderful dinner at their home. Ann, Jimmy and Katie are so sweet and they they were perfectly prepared for Caroline's arrival with a highchair set up by the kitchen table and a crib downstairs in case Caroline fell asleep. Caroline had a big time opening Christmas gifts and she really loved the rice that Ann cooked. It was Dot's recipe and it was so YUMMY! After dinner, Katie played the piano and we realized how much Caroline loves music! Gailie and Caroline danced to the music and had so much fun. Caroline just lit up and really enjoyed sitting on Jimmy's lap and adding her "two cents worth" to Katie's piano playing. We may have some piano lessons in our future!! Thank you to Katie for sharing the piano bench with her. Caroline laughed and smiled the whole evening.

When we got home that night...she was so full of herself...still giggling and playing and not even thinking about going to sleep. After repeated attempts by Sean and me to sooth her to sleep in any way we could think of...we got in the car around 1:30 am where she finally fell asleep in the carseat around 2:30 am! Oh well...it worked and Sean and I got to take a tour of our old stomping grounds as we drove around Harbor Town and downtown Memphis!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Meeting Family and Friends for the first time! (12-22-06 and 12-23-06)

(Click image to see additional pictures / slideshow.
Note: There maybe several pages of pics.)

We left Hong Kong on December 22, 2006 and after a flight at least halfway around the world...we arrived (exhausted!!) in Memphis (via LAX) on the same day since China time is 14 hours ahead of Memphis time.

The pics for today are of Caroline and Family and Friends who met us at the airport for our Homecoming. We don't have too many pictures from the airport as most of us were too emotional to even think about taking pictures. Thank you to Sean Canaday (who works for Northwest) for getting the great pics of us getting off of the plane with Caroline. Thank you also to Beverly and Glenys Moore for sending us the pics that they took at the airport.
Also a special Thank You to Christopher Speechley for video taping our arrival. He got some really neat and special footage of everyone there and I hope to be able to post the video to the blog...as soon as I figure out how to do that!!

Lastly, thank you to all of our Family and Friends who were at the airport to meet Caroline upon our arrival. It really meant so much to Sean and I...more than you will ever know!
For the purpose of our journal I want to remember our Family and Friends who were there! Family included: Mom (Caroline's Gailie), Sean's Mom, Paula (Caroline's Nai Nai), GG, Anne and Katie McCormack, Bette Gordon, Christopher Speechley, Calvin Griggs
Friends included: Katie and Virginia Wilson, Beverly and Glenys Moore, Angela, Sean and Cassie Canaday, Amy and Megan Patterson, Lois Pittman, Patricia Shappley, Lana and Rick Owens, Tonia Jackson, Peggy Scruggs, Candy and Bob Willis, Flo Patton, Lynne Witherington and Grace and Corinne Terhune.

On December 23rd, we visited Nanny's house where Caroline met her Nanny and also met one of her Grandfathers, Sean's Dad who came into town from Tampa, FL to meet her!

More Christmas pics still to come!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

December 22nd - Caroline Grace JinMei Powell - the newest US Citizen!!

(Click image to see slideshow / pictures.
Note: there maybe several pages of pics)

December 22nd most importantly marks the day that Caroline Grace JinMei Powell became a US Citizen as our plane touched down on US soil in Los Angeles.

We had to wake up very early this morning as we had an early flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. Then we flew from Hong Kong directly to Los Angeles. The flight was long but Caroline did surprisingly well. She slept or quietly played most of trip. The Borgesons with baby Abby and the Andrews with baby Grace (all in our CCAI travel group) were on the same flight with us and everyone did really well.

When we landed in LA, we had to go through immigration as a "foreigners" so that Caroline's Chinese Passport could be stamped properly. She is officially an American Citizen!!

As a note: technically, Caroline does not have dual citizenship since the US and China do not recognize dual citizenship between the countries. However, China will always consider Caroline as a citizen.

Thank you all for following our journey of a lifetime and for all of your prayers and kindness.

Stay tuned for our Christmas pictures...I will try to get to these this weekend.

December 21st - Last full day in Guangzhou and US Consulate Appointment

(Click image to see slideshow / pictures.
Note: there maybe several pages of pics)

December 21st is our final full day in Guangzhou, so the three of us decided to stick around Shamian Island and take some last pictures of the sites and hit any remaining shops that we had not visited yet.

First things first...we made our regular trip to the beautiful and abundant breakfast buffet in the White Swan Hotel. This was one of Sean's favorites!!

Next, we wrapped Caroline up because it was a little chilly so early in the morning and we headed out to walk around Shamian Island one last time before we leave tomorrow. We came across two groups of people doing their regular morning exercises in two different parks. In one park it was a group of men and women stretching and in another park, there was a group of women performing dances as part of their exercise routine. They had music and props such as hats and scarves that they spun as they danced. It is amazing how they all gather so early in the morning to exercise together. There is a little coffee shop called Blenz that overlooks one of the parks. Caroline, Sean and I stopped at the coffee shop and had a cup of delicious coffee on the patio while listening to the festive music and watching the beautiful ladies dance.

There are many life-size bronze statues throughout the park areas on Shamian Island, but the one in our pictures really demonstrates how pervasive the adoptive community is on Shamian Island. The statue depicts a Caucasian couple - the man with a video camera and the woman with their Chinese baby in a stroller. I can not tell you how many of these "threesomes" that you see as you walk around the Island. We laughed when we saw the statue and Sean and Caroline posed next to it as we found ourselves looking very similar to the statue family!

In the afternoon, we took a 30 minute bus ride to the US Consulate where we would take an oath as adoptive parents and Caroline would receive her Visa allowing her into the US and granting her citizenship upon our arrival in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, no cameras or video cameras are allowed in the US Consulate so we do not have any pictures of this momentous event. This is the event that we have been waiting for as it signifies the end of the very lengthy adoption process...although not the end of the journey!! I have posted some pictures of Caroline getting dressed for her big day at the Consulate. She wore a beautiful pale green dress hand smocked by my Mom...Caroline's Gailie!! I have to mention that the dress would not have been possible without the help of sweet Grace Terhune!!

Once we arrived at the US Consulate, we went through security and then waited with about 60 or so other adoptive families with whom we would take the oath in the reception area. Before the oath, we had to present copies of our passports and photo page for each of us at the interview window so that the Consular staff could verify our faces and Caroline's face with our passports. Then the Consular Officer, a very nice pregnant American lady, said a few words about Adoption and then administered the oath. Honestly, there was not anything emotional or touching in the words at all...but it was so emotional for me as I looked at Sean holding Caroline.

Wow! What a truly amazing and wonderful experience the adoption of Caroline has been.
We thank God everyday for blessing us with the gift of this precious little girl!

December 20th - US Consulate reviews Visa Package and our Pearl Market Trip

(Click image to see slideshow / pictures.
Note: there maybe several pages of pics)

I am so sorry that it has been so long since I posted! WOW! Being a Mom keeps me really busy and it has been so hard to find time to get on the computer. I am going to play catch up today by posting the rest of our China trip pics and then I will start posting Christmas pictures and day to day Caroline pics. She is doing great and is as adorable as ever. We absolutely love her to pieces!

On December 20th, Our CCAI guide Jocelyn took the Visa paperwork for all of the babies in our group to the US Consulate and reviewed it with a representative there. The reason that we have to stay in Guangzhou for a week is to have the final part of the adoption process completed - Caroline's Visa. The Visa that she will receive will allow her into the US and thus to become a US Citizen once we land in Los Angeles. All the families were instructed to wait in their hotel rooms that morning until we received a call from Jocelyn that the Visa paperwork was in order and that there were no problems.

We received a call from Jocelyn just before noon and Sean answered the phone. I was expecting it to be a very short phone call in which Jocelyn would say all was "good to go!" Instead, she informed us that the US Consulate in Guangzhou had never received our new Homestudy completed after our move to California. The US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) is responsible for sending this document to China and we had received notification that it had been sent. This sent us into a slight tailspin as the bottom line was...the US Consulate did not have it and it is a critical document. Although it was not a required document to bring to China, I did bring a copy of the Homestudy...just in case and Jocelyn was able to get it over to the US Consulate so that the Visa paperwork was complete and in order. Whew...crisis averted!!!

That afternoon, we took our lives into our hands as we jumped into a Taxi with the Borgesons to head to the Pearl Market in the downtown area of Guangzhou. Jocelyn gave us a hand written note (in Cantonese) instructing the driver where to take us. The Taxi driver's drive like crazy people. I am serious...I had to keep myself from looking at the road in front of us. To make matters even more scary...they do not have car seats for children at all so Abby and Caroline were perched on my and Sara's laps.

Guangzhou is a city of 10 million people and it was bustling when we got out of the cab in the area of the Pearl Market. Jocelyn warned us about pick pockets as it is so crowded along the streets there. Interestingly enough...although we were in the heart of a very metropolitan area, I saw people carrying baskets of fruits and grains over their shoulders (see pictures.) It was a very strange juxtaposition of the economic boom going on in China and the still very rural and old fashion way of life.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

December 18th - Red Couch Pics, December 19th - Tour of Guangzhou

(Click image for additional photos/slideshow. There are several pages of pics.)

December 18th, we had the "famous" Red Couch Photos taken!! This is a tradition started by our adoption agency, CCAI. They have taken pictures of each family and all the babies of each travel group on a "red couch" in the White Swan Hotel for every adoption they have ever facilitated. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the camera battery so my photos are limited!!! Friends have promised to send me copies of their pictures.
On December 19th, we took a little bus tour of Guangzhou. Our first stop was an Ancient Budhist Temple called Six Banyan Tree Temple. Our next stop was the Chen Family Academy and Museum. Artisans in Guangzhou are well known for their carving work in jade and ivory along with the handpainted porcelain and hand sewn embroidery.

December 17th - Busy Days in Guangzhou

(Click image to see additional photos/slideshow. There are several pages of pictures)

December 17th was the day that Caroline had to have her Health Exam in order to get her American Visa so thst she can come home with us! She passed with flying colors and was a true champ...that is, until it came time to have her ears checked!! She was not happy about that at all.
We are happy to say that Caroline has gained almost a pound since she met us! She now weighs 18.9 lbs and measures 71 cm.
We also took a walk across the bridge to Qing Ping Market which is a bustling street market focusing on spices, herbs, nuts, grains and mushrooms mostly used for medicinal purposes. Many items were quite exotic for example there were dried snake skins, sea horses and starfish...not to mention the live scorpions, snakes and turtles.
Enjoy more pics of beautiful Shamian Island in Guangzhou!

December 16th - Arriving at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou

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We arrived in Guangzhou on Saturday, December 16th and our CCAI guide, Jocelyn, met us at the airport. We took a bus ride to the beautiful White Swan Hotel which is located on Shamian Island along the Pearl River. Shamian Island was a British settlement at one time and the architecture is more typical of England than China. Although Guangzhou is a huge city of 10 million people, the streets of Shamian Island are quaint, treelined and very pedestrian friendly. Unlike Nanchang, there are many gardens, parks and playgrounds throughout the island.
As we were told and it is evidently clear...this is one of the nicest and most western friendly hotels in China. The Hotel service, restaurants and shops are all very upscale and first class. In fact, many world leaders have stayed here including US Presidents.
Jocelyn tells us that this is the most popular time of the year for weddings and we have seen many couples having their wedding photos taken in the park areas.

December 15th - Leaving Nanchang

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I am trying to get caught up on posting our pics again. Here are a few from the Nanchang Airport on the way to Guangzhou.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 14th - Adventures in Nanchang - our last full day

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These are the last of our Nanchang pics. I will post again tomorrow and get you caught up on the sites in Guangzhou!!

Thank you all again for your prayers and encouragement. Sean and I are absolutely amazed at how much Caroline has come out of her shell. Her personality is adorable and we are having so much fun watching her enjoy life!

PS - In Guangzhou, we took our laundry to the Dragon Hometown Shop and met Lilly Tan, Joan Fox's friend. She was so sweet and said to say hello to Joan and her family. She has asked me to bring something back to Memphis for them.

December 13 - Adventures in Nanchang

(Click image to see additional photos/slideshow. There are 2 pages of pictures.)

On December 13th, we visited a rural farming Village outside of Nanchang. Our guides told us that this would be very similar to the farming villages outside of Ruijin City where Caroline was born. Her biological parents may live in a Village very similar to this.

Although this rural way of life is so foreign to us...the people seeming to be wanting or needing so much more...our guide told us that the people in this simple Farming Village are content and satisfied with their way of life. These villagers live their life according to an ancient Chinese story that Kiki told us...they are proud to work hard and have this Village to show for it.

December 12th - Adventures in Nanchang

(Click image to see additional photos/slideshow. There are several pages of pics)

Sorry it has been awhile! We made it to Guangzhou and Caroline's first plane trip was a success! She is doing great and sleeping much better. She is over the cold and fever that she had the first few days and she is all smiles! We are having the best time with her.

We are going to try to catch you up on pictures from the last few days in Nanchang. These pictures are from December 12th in Nanchang which included our visit to the ancient Chinese Pavillion of Teng Wang and Caroline's first swimming experience. Enjoy!
P.S. The shops within walkiing distance are out of phone cards for two days!!! We will call and touch base once we can get our hands on a phone card! We are doing great and just didn't want anyone to worry (Mom!)!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In the eyes of the Chinese Government...it is official..she is OURS!!

(Click the image to see more photos / slideshow. Note there are 3 pages of pics)

I thought I would catch you all up on what we have been doing over the past few days in Nanchang. Sunday was Gotcha Day…the day we got our beautiful daughter! The Chinese typically bundle their babies up in layer upon layer of clothing and Caroline was no exception. When we got her she had on the little green fleece suit and orange and yellow hat that you saw in the pictures, but under that she had 2 more sets of pants and 4 sweaters. It was like peeling an onion to get down to our baby!! The sweaters were hand knit by her foster mother. We gave her a bath which you can see from the pictures…she really loves. She took a bottle and slept great the first night.

On Monday, the three of us went downstairs to breakfast which is a buffet in one of the Hotel’s restaurants. Although I think she is used to being held and fed, she sat in the high chair and did pretty well. She LOVES eggs…prepared pretty much anyway. She also loves rice and watermelon. Surprisingly, she didn’t care for the congee which is kind of a rice porridge. The babies here are used to a bottle of formula mixed with some rice cereal. They also like to drink water. She has been taken her bottle pretty well, but she has not been interested in water or apple juice at all.

After breakfast, we had meetings to fill out the official paperwork for Jiangxi Province concerning the adoption. Our CCAI representatives here in Jiangxi are Kiki and Evelyn and they have been great. They are so helpful as everything is in Chinese and of course we can not read it.

At noon the Orphanage Director came back to the Hotel to tell us more about the Orphanage and answer any questions that we might have. He took pictures with each family and gave us all two gifts. One is a Provincial coin in a lovely wooden box and the other is some soil from Ruijin which was in a beautifully wrapped package.

Jiangxi is an agricultural province where over 80% of the people are farmers...hence the soil is very important to them and their way of life. Another interesting characteristic of the soil is that it is red from the iron and other minerals. In China, the color red means lucky or good fortune and the word for red is Hong. All of the babies found in 2005 from the Ruijin Social Welfare Institute have the name Hong as part of their name.

The Orphanage Director knew each baby by name because he is the one who actually named each one. He went around the room and told each family why he had chosen the name for their baby girl. Caroline’s Chinese name is Jin Hong Mei. All of the babies have the same surname of Jin and the babies found in 2005 have the first name Hong which means red. He said that he named our baby Mei because Mei is a beautiful plum flower which grows in China. It is a beautiful and hearty flower…able to survive. He told us that they have been calling Caroline the nickname MeiMei.

Later that afternoon we took a bus ride to the Notary Official’s office where we had a short interview and signed more paperwork.

Then we went to the Wal-Mart in Nanchang. Wow…it is amazing that we would fly half way around the world and end up back at a Wal-Mart!! We all needed diapers and other baby items so it was really quite a convenience, but I have to say that this Wal-Mart is not like any other I have ever seen. It was definitely an experience. Our guides gave us a little tag to wear around our necks that explained in Chinese the reason that we were in Nanchang. When we walked into the Wal-Mart, we were like rock stars. Everyone stared at us and come up to us speaking Chinese and touching Caroline’s cheeks. They are friendly and after showing them the little tag…they would all give the thumbs up sign to us. Many of the people have never seen Westerners before and they just want a closer look and some want to practice their English. We had Caroline riding in the seat of the cart which she enjoyed and we found ourselves surrounded by about 6 Chinese people all touching her and talking to her in Chinese baby talk. Everyone was very friendly, but it is still a little intimidating I have to say.

On Tuesday, we ate breakfast at the buffet in the Hotel and Caroline decided that she would eat the congee...but no eggs. She also tried the apple juice and really liked it too. We saw the pediatrician, provided by our agency, around 11:00 am. He said that she looked very good and healthy, but prescribed some antibiotics for her runny nose and cough. The pediatrician visit was a little traumatic so after a nap…by all three of us…we bundled up and took Caroline out for a walk on the streets of Nanchang. Sean carried her in the Snugli that Sarah Mae Terhune let us borrow and Caroline loved it. The weather is cloudy and the temperature is in the high 40’s. Again, we got a ton of stares and a few folks stopped us to talk, but of course we could not really communicate due to the language barrier. Everyone is on bicycles or mopeds and they zip all over the sidewalks in between the crowds of people walking. There are little storefronts of dimly lit noodle shops where women are cooking huge pots of noodles and such and people just pop in and sit down. We saw a group of older Chinese gentleman playing some sort of board game on the sidewalk and conversing with great animation. There was an old man walking the street with two wooden barrels attached to a board that he carried over his shoulders. He would stop and serve steaming bean curd to folks on the street.

There are 4.4 million people in Nanchang…it is a large city to us…but it is not large by China’s standards. It is interesting to see the rural nature of the people and the living quarters in what appears to us as as such a big city.
Nanchang is truly such a different place and we are loving being able to experience it.
Our guides, Kiki and Evelyn keep reminding us that Nanchang is not a tourist city but they are eager to show us the flavor of Nanchang. They say that the people love to eat spicy and flavorful food. They took us to a “real” Chinese restaurant for dinner and the food and the presentation was amazing. They served steamed eggs for the babies which has the consistency of flan or custard. This is the first time I had seen steamed eggs and Caroline got so excited when she saw them. She proceeded to make quite a spectacle of herself as she ate 3 bowls of steamed eggs and them promptly feel asleep in my lap. It was hilarious. Once her little belly got full…she crashed. Kiki said that she would give me the recipe for steamed eggs since they were such a hit!

Tomorrow, we will take a half day tour to the Teng Wang Pavillion. This ancient Chinese Pavillion is a symbol of Nanchang the capital city of Jaingxi. On Thursday, we will take a tour of the country side outside of the City to get a feel for the area.
Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement. So far…things are going so well and we are truly so blessed. We thank God everyday that this little girl was meant to be our daughter. After only three days it is impossible to imagine life without her.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Here she is!!

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I am so sorry that we are just now posting. Babies keep you really busy!! Things are going wonderfully here with Caroline. She has had a very smooth transition so far and we have had her laughing and smiling a lot. She is actually quite a little "ham"!

We think she is absolutely beautiful and and we are so thankful to the foster family that has taken care of her for us over the past year. You can tell she has been very well cared for and loved!!

Tomorrow will be a little less busy as we have completed all of the paperwork and appointments until Friday. I will try to update you with more detail tomorrow.

Please enjoy the pictures of the love of our life!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Finally Here in China!

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We made it to China!! We arrived in Hong Kong last night at 6:15 pm (Hong Kong time) on Friday Dec. 8th. The flight was about 15 hours so we were beat when we arrived. Our CCAI agency rep, JoAnn, met us once we got out of customs and led us to a charteredd bus for CCAI families that took us to the Regal Kowloon Hotel here in Hong Kong. We met several other families from CCAI that are adopting children from all over China. It is so neat and everyone has been so friendly!!

From what we could see last night, Hong Kong is a massive city...so many skyscapers and lights. It is beautiful and the skyline is so dramatic. Every night at 8:00 pm, there is a laser light show from the roof tops of these huge buildings and all of the buildings are lit up with colored lights. It is so amazing!

We are taking a tour this afternoon and we will visit Victoria Peak, Aberdeen Fishing Village, Stanley Market and a Jade Jewely Factory. We are having a traditional Dim Sum lunch too!

We can not believe we are finally here, in the country where Caroline was born!! According to our itinerary, we will leave Hong Kong on Sunday morning, Dec. 10th around 8:30 am to go to the airport. We will fly to Nanchang in Jiangxi Province where we will meet Caroline in person for the first time!!

Thank you all for your love and support! We can feel your prayers!

Please continue to pray for Caroline and her transition to her new family. Although tomorrow will be a wonderful day and the happiest of our lives...she won't understand that yet. Tomorrow will likely be a difficult and sad day for such a little girl. We are praying for God to prepare all three of our hearts for this next stage of our life...the making of our family!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

China...Here we come!

(Click either map to enlarge the image)

Things have been a whirlwind the past few days. We received our Travel Approval from CCAA and our appointment with the US Consulate was confirmed for December 20th. We are leaving for Hong Kong on Thursday, December 7th and our Forever Family Day also affectionatley known as "Gotcha Day" is December 10th. It is hard to believe that we will hold Caroline in our arms in less than 5 days!!

We will stay in Nanchang the capital city of Jiangxi Province for almost a week and then we will fly to Guangzhou in Guangdong Province where we will stay for the remainder of the trip. The US Consulate is in Guangzhou and this is where we will go to take our oath and legally adopt Caroline.

Tomorrow, I will take Sadie and Mac to "The Bone Adventure" where they will vacation while we are in China. The Bone Adventure is a Doggie Daycare and there are no cages so Sadie and Mac will be able to run and play with the other dogs during the day and will sleep on doggie beds in the Bone Adventure Hotel rooms at night. The folks that run this place are so friendly and Sadie and Mac love it!! They have a Web Cam where you can view the dogs. It is hilarious to watch!! Take a look. Sadie and Mac will more than likely be in the "Outdoor Play Area" or the "Blue Room" during the day. If you want to take a look at the web cams... click here.

Then click on the video camera icon for one of the Play Areas. Mac is a yellow lab (his coat is a darker "yellow" color) with a red and black collar. Sadie is a black and tan coonhound with a purple collar.

Now I am off to pack!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Updated Photos of Caroline and Travel Very Soon!

Today we received these updated pictures of Caroline. They were taken on November 5, 2006 so she was a couple of days past her first birthday. She looks like she is raring to go and ready for her Mom and Dad to come get her!! The updated information we received indicates that she has 3 teeth and can walk when someone holds her hand.
We received our Travel Approval (TA) from the CCAA yesterday and we are currently awaiting the confirmation of our appointment with the US Consulate. Once that appointment is confirmed we will be given definitive Travel Dates. Right now our agency has told us to be ready to leave December 8th!! Wow!! That is next week!

We will post more details when we have them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

GG's Birthday Trip

(Click the photo to see the rest of the
pictures from GG's Birthday Trip)

GG and Mom came to visit us the last week of October for GG's 80th Birthday! We had a super visit and Birthday celebration. I had hoped to post these pics sooner but GG's Birthday was "trumped" by the arrival of Caroline's photos!! Then last weekend she was "trumped" again when we received the news of Sean's success on the CA Bar Exam. GG has assured me she does not mind having her Internet debut postponed for these great events!! I have attached pictures from GG and Mom's visit. Thank you both so much for visiting...we loved having you!

There are quite a few pictures so I labeled them individually rather than opting for the slideshow. Once you click on the photo above, you can view the pictures (there are 2 pages of photos so make sure to click page 2 at the bottom of the Flickr screen) or you can click "View as Slideshow" once you are in Flickr.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Caroline's Dad passed the CA Bar Exam! Let's Celebrate!

First things first!!! God is so good to us and we are so blessed! Thank you all for your prayers.

Wow! Has November been a month to remember or what!! First we get the referral of our beautiful daughter and then today we received the results of the California Bar Exam that Sean took in July. He passed with flying colors and I am so very proud of him.

I have the utmost respect for my husband, not only because I think he is brilliant...but because he is so dedicated to the task at hand. Sean gave it his absolute all to insure that he left nothing on the table that would keep him from being successful! We had so much riding on this Exam...I mean we moved across the country for Sean to practice law in sunny So. Cal!!

Way to go, Sean!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sweet Caroline!

We are so proud to introduce our daughter Caroline.
She is truly a gift from God!
Birth Place: Ruijin, Jiangxi Province,
Peoples Republic of China
Birthdate: November 1, 2005
Height: 25.59 inches as of June 23, 2006
Weight: 14.96 lbs. as of June 23, 2006
Her current Chinese name: Jin Hong Mei

Our agency has told us she likes to smile and loves music ...just like her Dad.
We are so in love with her!!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

We're in!

I woke up this morning at our normal time of 4:30 am PST and with blurry eyes, I immediately checked the website for the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) and I saw the news!! I called Sean to come and look at the website just to make sure that my eyes and mind were not playing tricks on me! With a smile of relief and a look of disbelief as we have waited so long...he confirmed it. The CCAA has finished placement of children with families whose documents were received before August 25, 2005. Our log in date (LID) was August 24th!! We made it!! We will now excitedly await the call from our agency with specific news about Caroline. We hope to see our daughter's sweet face in the next few days. Stay tuned...this journey is just starting to get really FUN and EXCITING!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Caroline's Guestbook

I have recently added "Caroline's Guestbook" to our blog. You will find it located down the right hand side. Our plan is to save this guestbook for Caroline to read when she is older so that she can see how much she is loved even before we have laid eyes on her! We welcome you to say hello, leave a prayer, share your adoption story...as it will all be a part of Caroline's story.
Thank you so much for visiting our site and for sharing our journey.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Caroline's Nursery

I am finally posting pictures of Caroline's Nursery. It is a wonderfully fun work in progress! When my Mom visited in July, we had the best time painting, moving furniture, organizing and getting it ready for Caroline. Everytime Sean and I pass by the Nursery, it fills our hearts with absolute joy to think of her here. As you can see from the pictures, Sadie and Mac feel quite at home in the Nursery too. We have learned quickly to keep a baby gate across the doorway so that Mac can not "retrieve" Caroline's stuffed animals.
Caroline's Nursery
(click any image to view slideshow)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

We welcome visitors to our new digs!

Since we moved to Southern California in May 2006, we have had the great pleasure of having my Mom, Mike and Nanny visit us. My Mom came out on her Birthday for 10 days right after Sean took the California Bar Exam in July. Mike visited for a long weekend in August and Nanny visited in September. Since Nanny is the only one that was able to benefit from our recent purchase of the digital camera...her SoCal trip is documented here as our Showcase!!

Nanny's visit to Southern California
(click any image to view slideshow)