Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Children From Hard Places

On our own journey, we have learned a lot about the needs of orphans.  Reminds me so much of grace.  In this video, Dr. Karyn Purvis outlines the common characteristics of children from hard places and offers insight into what these children need most to heal and become whole.  ~D

Would you ever have thought the year before birth could have such a profound effect on development?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Finally...

...she's asleep and I'm not!  It's certainly been a long time since I've written.  Oh, only four weeks?  Well, we've lived enough life in those weeks that it feels like four months!  It is so hard for me to believe that Hayden Jingshu has only been with us for seven weeks.  I feel like I've known her for a very long time.  Every day is SO full.  In fact, nearly every day I think about blogging but by the time we get through the day and everyone is asleep, I am so tired that there is no way I could write anything you'd want to read.

So, what has happened in the last four weeks?  Where do I start?  Jingshu seems to love her new family.  All of us, not just some of us.  It only took about a week after we got home for her to decide that I'm not so bad, after all.  It might have helped that Darrell got sick and was in bed with a fever for four days!  He wasn't available and the other kids quickly resumed their normal social lives.  That means she was stuck with me.  That was a pretty rough week, but I'm thankful for the outcome. It took another couple of weeks for her to learn how groovy Logan is.  And that was VERY hard on him.  One day in the second week after we got home he decided he was DONE with her.  Or at least he wished he could be.  I told him that I understood how he felt and that he had a choice to emotionally "walk away" from her or keep trying.  He was ready to walk away.  I also told him that if he truly didn't care for her, it wouldn't matter to him how she felt.  The part I knew was that this love we have for her is not of our own making.  It is love from the Father.  So, even when he tried to "walk away," he couldn't.  Thankfully!  She now enjoys going to the pool with him, playing Legos with him, and giving him lots of hugs and kisses. 

She is learning English at a rate that is flat out scary!  She understands probably 80% of everything we say and speaks to us in English most of the time.  When she is very excited or angry she speaks in Mandarin.  I'm going to miss hearing that!  (Well, not the mad part, but the Mandarin.)  She says something new every single day! A few days ago, she needed to get past Parker and said, "Watch out, Parker!"  When she opens the pantry or refrigerator she says, "Let's see..."  Last night she came out with, "Close your eyes!"  One of my favorites is "...SO much!"  as in, "Thank you SO much," or "I love you SO much!"  I still watch her search for words, though.  Tonight we were video chatting with Parker on the computer and she said everything she could think of and kept searching for more words.  (BTW, the whole Parker-moving-to-college story is a blog post of its own, coming very soon.)

Because we knew she was not familiar with any church, much less a mega-church where she is a "celebrity," Darrell thought of several ways to slowly introduce her to the building and the experience.  It started with lunch with the Barnards in the FSM space, followed later in the week by a play date on the playgrounds.  Then, so that the music and the volume of the music wouldn't be a shock, Darrell took her to rehearsal.  Finally, we felt she might be ready.  The first Sunday that we went to church with her Darrell was the service pastor in the Worship Center, so he talked a little bit about our trip and showed a couple of pictures of Hayden Jingshu and our family in China.  Jingshu was so excited to see HER DADDY up on stage!  And then to see HERSELF up on the B I G screens was very thrilling!  The next week Darrell led worship in the Chapel.  She was amazed when she heard him play piano and sing; and then, he told the Chapel crowd about our trip and showed pictures of her and our family.  The third week, the sermon was all about adoption (with Brandon bringing the message only one week after returning home from his own 8000 Miles to Love journey)  and Darrell followed that by singing Steven Curtis Chapman's When Love Takes You In with pictures from both the Barnards' and Adcocks' trips to China.  I'm pretty sure Hayden Jingshu thinks church is all about her!  We'll see how it goes next week when there is no mention or pictures of her!

We've also started school.  Homeschool took on a new look at our house this year.  Even before we knew Hayden Jingshu was coming home, Darrell and I decided that McKenna and Logan would go to a school that meets once a week and I would teach at the same school.  We never felt led to change the plan, even when we figured out that this school would start less than two weeks after we arrived home from China.  A few days before school started, we asked a translator to explain to Jingshu that Mommy, McKenna and Logan would be going to school and that she could go, too, and that Daddy would go and stay with her for the whole day.  Or, she and Daddy could just stay home.  She wanted to go.  So, all five of us went to school the first day.  Three of us went into our classes.  One decided it was a bit too overwhelming. And the fifth was so wise to stay in the building with her, in a quiet corner where she could observe the kids coming and going and get used to the sights and sounds, until after lunch that day.  The next week they just stayed home together and I arranged for her teacher and her son to come to our house for a play date, bringing helium balloons to insure the instant bond!  We also had a play date with two other children from the class.  By the third Monday, she was ready to go.  Darrell went with her and stayed for a while, but was able to leave mid-morning because she was so content to be there.  She told us she had a fun day and looked forward to going back.  And I think she meant it until... (to be continued)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Daddy, is it OK to drink the water HERE?. . . CRAP!"

Logan's words, not mine.  And, unfortunately, a bit too accurate.

In China, even the locals don't drink the water unless it has been boiled (think hot tea) or bottled.  So, water is not brought to the table at restaurants.  That's helpful!

Apparently the locals do drink the water in Hong Kong because at our first meal there, six tall beautiful glasses of water were waiting on the table when we returned with our buffet plates.  Logan was the first one back.  When Darrell returned to the table, Logan asked the above referenced question...after drinking half the glass of water.  He said he was really thirsty and forgot, since it was just sitting there.

If you ever wonder if it might be okay to drink the water in any other country, just ask Logan.  He would love to help you avoid what happened to him.

Sunday morning, we woke the kids up with the news that we were going to the "Happiest Place on Earth" and they needed to get up and get ready right away.  Everyone was so excited!  For the first 30 minutes.  That's when Logan came to our room to tell us he had spent much of that time in the bathroom and he wasn't feeling so well.  Right away, we knew the culprit.  We offered to skip Disneyland, but even he still wanted to go.

Bless his heart.  And his intestines.  He was such a trooper all day long, starting with the long train ride with a few station changes.  I was amazed by how little he complained and how much he did with us, in spite of how horrible he was feeling.

That all changed when we were sitting in the amazing Lion King show.  He looked at me and said he had never felt worse in his entire life.  We tried to decide what was best/worse:  sitting here inside with air conditioning or being able to move around outside in the heat.  He stayed for the whole thing, but barely made it out of the building before losing his lunch.  At that point, we realized that we needed to get him back to the hotel as soon as possible, not including the station changes and crowded trains. Logan, Jingshu and I took a taxi back, while Darrell, Parker and McKenna stayed to see the fireworks.  Poor Logan was not so sick that he couldn't worry that I didn't have enough Hong Kong cash to pay the taxi driver as he watched (and listened to) the meter.  Every once in a while he'd look back at me.  I knew I had plenty and tried to reassure him.

After a warm bath and a good nights sleep, we were all thankful that by the time we left the hotel at 1 pm, he was feeling better.  God is so good!  We had asked some friends to specifically pray that he'd be better before we had to leave.

Moral of this story from my perspective:  Coca~Cola is your  friend, anywhere, but especially when in a foreign land!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Final Days in China

I regret that it has taken so long to write again.  I know there are those tiny, yet important to me, details that I have already forgotten.  So much life happens in every single day right now.  So, I'll go back and try to catch up.

Thursday, July 15th, we went to the American Consulate in Guangzhou with many other families we'd been with for the last couple of weeks.  While there, an officer called our family to his station to approve, one last time, all the information that our Chinese daughter needs to become an American citizen.  Then, we all stood together and raised our right hand to affirm...Okay, here is one of those details that I forgot.  I have NO idea what we swore to.  That ALWAYS happens to me.  When something big like that is happening and I think, "Oh, remember every word of this.  You're going to want to remember!" I PROMPTLY forget.  Just like when Darrell got down on one knee and I realized he was about to propose to me.  I focused SO much on wanting to remember what he said, that I'm not really sure I even heard it all!  Anyway, that moment felt pretty huge.  I wanted to get pictures, but the Consulate won't allow pictures inside or outside of the building.

That night we had dinner with a friend from Little Rock living in China.  It was SO fun.  He, obviously, speaks both Mandarin and English fluently.  I loved asking him about his work and hearing his perspectives on China.  I also loved hearing him interact with Jingshu and tell us what she was saying.  That's probably one of the hardest parts of where we are right now--wanting SO badly to know EVERYTHING she is thinking and saying and having no way to do that.  Well, actually, she is really good at communicating with facial expression and body language, but I know we're missing out on some GREAT commentary from her.

Our friend asked Jingshu if she was interested in knowing her English name.  He explained that we each have two names:  BaBa is also Darrell, Mommy is Tracy, GuGu is Parker and Logan, and JieJie is McKenna.  He pointed to her and said Hayden.  She, in no uncertain terms, let us, and everyone around, know that her name is Jingshu.  Three times.  Increasingly loudly.  We are SO okay with that.  We'd just heard that sometimes girls her age were excited about their new English name.  If she NEVER wants to be Hayden Joy, I will be a sad for a little while, but I understand.

Jingshu also asked the waitress, when trying to decide what to drink with dinner, if the apple juice was sweet or if the watermelon juice was sweet.  She chose the apple juice.  Terry laughed, saying she seems like a girl who is accustomed to many choices, as if she is from a wealthy home instead of a foster home in Luizhou (a poor city in a poor province).  I guess she adapted quickly!

McKenna and I had heard that we could get a great massage for not much money.  THAT is speaking our language!  Especially after 3 weeks sleeping on ironing board beds.  So, we went Friday morning to a Chinese medical center.  Amy, our favorite "local" on Shaiman Island, said the massages there are much better than what we could get at a barber shop (?) AND lunch is included!.  Enough said.  And she was right!  It was amazing.  It was more "clinical" than spa-like, and I had bruised muscles in my neck and shoulders for several days, but those muscles were surely more relaxed!  After our massages, we looked at the menu for lunch and decided to skip it.  By Friday, we had ALL had our fill of authentic traditional Chinese food.  We opted for a nice cold frappacino from Starbucks on the way for McKenna to do some shopping.  Unfortunately, she started feeling sick on the way and we had to get back to the room quickly.  I'm not sure what was going on with her.  Maybe the massage released some toxins that just had to get out, or something.  Either way, she rested and felt enough better later in the day for some retail therapy.  I hope we can post some pictures of the beautiful dresses she bought. Stunning!

If I could "make" Darrell do anything, I would've "made" him get a massage Saturday morning before we caught the train to Hong Kong.  And, I think I had him talked into it.  Unfortunately, instead of leisurely checking out of the hotel at noon and catching the train around 1:30, we had to leave our hotel at 9:30 am because there were no drivers available later in the day.  So, I guess we'll just HAVE to go back sometime.

One smart thing we did was pack everything the six of us would need in Hong Kong in just two small suitcases so that the other eight were ready for the trip back to Little Rock.  It took hours to get it all together, but we were SO glad we did it that way!

I don't know if we have pictures (that's Darrell's department) of the six of us walking through the train station with 10 suitcases, many backpacks and smaller bags, and a stroller, but can you just imagine it?  I'm sure we DON'T have pictures of it, because no one had a free hand!  There are three escalators in the Guangzhou train station.  Yep.  And no baggage carts.  We made it, though.  Several (if not all of us) had never ridden a train before.  It was a fun experience to add to the list of  "firsts".

Sitting in the train station, our guide, Wensi, asked Jingshu if she knew what was happening.  She explained that we would ride the train to Hong Kong, spend two nights there, then get on a plane for two LONG rides, and finally be in America.  She asked her if she was excited. Yes.  She asked her if she likes her new family.  Yes--listing each one of us by name.  Then, Jingshu told Wensi about the two dogs at our house.  She said she is afraid of dogs, but she knows she can just follow her BaBa and he will keep her safe.  How precious!  I just love how much she loves and trusts her BaBa.  She is a smart and discerning girl, because I can't think of anyone better to love and trust (on this earth)!

We warned the kids at breakfast that this would be a difficult day and that it would require everyone to work together and keep tempers in check.  I think that really helped.  I was SO proud of our crew for good "can do" attitudes and few lost tempers.

When we arrived in Hong Kong, we had no idea how to get to our hotel.  For the first time, we were on our own with no guide.  We had made our own hotel reservations, with the help of a travel agent in California.  In retrospect, there was probably a bit more information that I should've given her to help decide where we should stay in the city.  Live and learn, right?  Another good idea would've been to get advise from someone who has been there.  Our hotel was about 40 minutes by taxi (3 of them this time because of all the luggage), an hour train ride from Disneyland, and nearly an hour in the hired big van to the airport.  Disney was definitely the highlight of our stay in Hong Kong, except for Logan.  That's worth a separate post.

We checked out of our hotel at 1 pm on Monday, but our flight didn't leave until 11:15 pm.  That's a lot of time to fill with all those bags in tow, so we opted to leave the luggage at the hotel long enough to get lunch, then come back, call the van driver, and head on to the airport.  At least it was air-conditioned there!  In fact, the Hong Kong airport is the nicest one I have ever been in.  It is beautiful, with nice big seating areas close to open spaces so that 5 year old girls can run their stroller around and around and around without scaring too many people; a great assortment of shops to peruse; and a food court that included....wait for it...Burger King! I have never enjoyed a chicken sandwich as much as I did that day!

The airline person at the check-in counter was so nice.  It took SOME time to process six international travelers with ALL those bags.  He even encouraged us to rearrange some stuff so we wouldn't have to pay the overweight baggage fees.  Not only that, but he provided an extra bag, if we needed it!  All the while, one of us was having a long and loud meltdown because she kept running so far ahead of the rest of us that Mommy decided it wasn't safe and had the audacity to make her sit in the stroller.  If we weren't getting enough attention before, we were now!  The airline people were SO gracious.  Thank you, Jesus, for that!

Jingshu was SO, SO excited for that plane to take off. She could hardly contain it!  i was a little taken by surprise by my tears, realizing that she was leaving her homeland and everything familiar for a very long time. She is a great traveler.  Even when she got sick a few times, it didn't really upset her--no drama queen.  We were so glad that both she and Darrell had extra clothes in the carry on bag!  That flight was 12 hours and 40 minutes.  Everyone took a sleep aid to help us sleep through as much of that as possible.  I'm glad we did!   Then, after 6 hours in the London airport, the next flight was 10 hours long.  I encouraged everyone to NOT take a sleep aid for that one so we would feel like sleeping when we got home.  That was fine.  No sleep aid needed!  Darrell and Jingshu were asleep before the plane pulled away from the airport and my book fell out of my hand before we took off.  For some reason (probably because we were excited about coming home) that flight seemed like the longest to all of us.  For a while I would look at my watch every 15 minutes, thinking an hour had passed.  About 30 minutes from landing, McKenna and I took our little cosmetic bag to the "bigger" bathroom in the back of the plane and went in together to freshen up.  That was fun and funny.  Most funny was the look on face of the man waiting to come in after us.  Obviously, he's not a girl, and maybe doesn't even know any girls well enough to understand that we NEEDED to brush our teeth and put on makeup TOGETHER after all we had been through!

Finally, the wheels touched down in Dallas and our little China doll became a US Citizen,  regardless of what the USCIS officer told us in the airport.

Check back later today for the next post about the three hours it took us to get out of the Dallas airport and our WONDERFUL friends who drove all the way to Dallas to drive us home so that we wouldn't have to drive ourselves after traveling for so long.