Entries Tagged 'Gotcha' ↓

1 Year Ago

Can you believe it was actually one year ago today that we saw Hope for the very first time? So much has happened since then, and the year has flown by! We are so blessed to have her in our lives. We had a big party at the park planned for today, but we canceled it due to the rain forecast. The rain ended up not even coming, so that was a bummer! Grandma brought over a cupcake for Hope, and we sang Happy Birthday to her. She seemed to enjoy it.

Last night, I got to share Hope’s story at a church called Blessed International. It’s an amazing group of people, and it was so encouraging to tell her story again. I always get fired up when I remember all that God did to bring her here. God is so good!


More Bethel videos

I (Todd) am taking a closer look through the video footage from our trip to China since I’ve never really done so, and among other things I’ve found four more videos from the couple precious hours we spent at Bethel Foster Home on Hope’s Gotcha Day on May 2nd… They are a bit of a rough watch at times as our videographer skills need improvement, but I know there are some of you who will still appreciate being able to visit Bethel this way and see more footage of the precious little ones who live there…

Here and here are the other videos from Hope’s Gotcha Day, in case you missed them…

May 13th Guangzhou photos

Here is a last batch of photos from our last day in Guangzhou, China. The photos at the top of the album were taken during our bus ride to and fro the US Embassy in Guangzhou where we finished up the adoption process, and the rest were taken in and around the White Swan hotel.

Photo Album

Hannah napping on the bus

And a final photo album from our trip from our layover in the beijing airport on May 14th:
Photo Album


And once more, the link to the top level of the photo gallery for our China trip. (3,094 photos!)

The trip home

Our friend Kimmie asked in the comments of the last post how our flight home went, so I (Todd) thought I’d write a post about it.

After our last buffet breakfast at the White Swan hotel, we left at 10am for an hour drive to the airport in Guangzhou. Hannah at the White SwanThis was a very special ride for our family, because our guide Helen was able to translate between us and Hope, and so we were able to have some very special dialog with Hope for the first time. It started when we had Helen tell Hope in Chinese that we will be taking her to the doctor to get help for her eyes when we get home, and she asked Hope if that was ok, and then Hope got a big smile on her face and gave a big huge nod of approval! It was special beyond words. It was so exciting for us all to be able to actually communicate to each other using language after spending almost two solid weeks together!

There were a few questions like this before I remembered to turn on the camera, and caught this video of some of the rest of our ‘conversation’ with Hope (the audio is probably going to be hard to hear with the engine/road noise and the degree to which youtube whacks down the quality, but at least you can see her priceless head nods if you can’t hear the talking, and you should unfortunately be able to hear my embarrassing gushes too, lol):

A lollipop diversion tacticThese wonderful transactions with Hope and the fact that she was seeming to be a lot more gentle and comfortable in general with us brought us a lot of initial encouragement. I was now thinking that this was a reflection on how our flights were going to go. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Hope started to get pretty fussy and screamy at the airport and these activities escalated in frequency and intensity on the three hour flight to Beijing. The pictured watermelon lollipop helped us for a while, but we couldn’t teach Hope to lick it. She would only chew and bite on it, which made it not as long lasting a diversion as we desired, though Kim said they did develop a fun game of “ew” with it. (Saying “ew” and then dropping pieces of it to the floor). By the time we got to Beijing, we knew our flight home was going to be tough!

We had a five hour layover in Beijing and almost that entire five hours was full of stress. Hope was often upset and hitting us and herself and screaming. We had all of our stuff with us including luggage because we couldn’t check our luggage in until three hours before the flight. I wanted to charge batteries so the kids would have the laptop on the flight, so we stopped at the Haagen daz store and had some ice cream, hoping to pass a good chunk of time to charge the battery, but Hope couldn’t calm down, so thankfully Kim took her and walked around with her for a while, and endured. We were all completely burned out with all the screaming and all the staring from all the concerned onlookers at that point.

Then we had a very tasty dinner at a Thai restaurant in the airport there. Well at least everyone except Hannah, who had her China food staples, (Burger King) fried chicken nuggets and french fries. 😉 The stress continued to escalate during dinner, as Hope’s outbursts were happening more frequently and with greater intensity. During these outbursts we can usually not find anything to console her and just have to do our best to try and comfort her and wait out the storms.

A cute moment happened while we were getting through the airport security. We are kidsWe were filling out some forms and meanwhile the kids were walking and skipping around the area holding hands and playing, and Hannah was happily singing a song she made up called “We are kids!”. It was so cute! We are kids! It was also fun at the security point because I was getting noticed for proudly wearing my souvenir Ba Ba (Daddy) shirt, and Kim was making jokes with the checkpoint workers about it.

Once through security we took a twenty minute wrong turn in the terminal and had to then sprint to the gate while trying to keep Hope from jumping out of her stroller, so that even with a five hour layover we managed to almost miss our flight!

From the beginning of the thirteen hour flight home that took off at 9pm, Hope was a complete mess. By this time she would only let Kim hold her, and wouldn’t ever tolerate being in her seat. Kimberly had to go through the whole flight holding Hope and had to deal with many periodic outbursts. The hardest part of these tantrums was the people around us who would look and stare and glare and who we knew were all trying to sleep! Kim had a few times where she needed to take potty breaks, so I would hold Hope and she would get so upset that I just had to lay her on her chair and cover her to try and block as much of the sound as I could with my body! Stressful!

I had much respect for Kim swelling up in me throughout the flight. She handled this most stressful circumstance so well! When the screaming fits would get real bad, she’d take Hope to the back corner of the plane where it would effect the fewest numbers of people. Sometimes she’d have to do this on a moments notice from the napping position… At one point Kim came back to her seat crying and this was actually a seemingly helpful breaking point because Hope settled down for a little while, though she still insisted on being held. We were thinking that maybe she was processing Kim’s emotional response and had some sympathy! I also feel like God used it because it was also her same trip to the back of the plane where I was crying out to God in my spirit with the most intensity. I felt like I was past the limit of would I could take, and really needed some kind of solution, and all I could do was sit there and holler to God about that! Then Kim came back crying and Hope was quiet! She was then quiet long enough for us both to get a little nap in…

It’s all in the past now, and fortunately we don’t expect to have to relive any of that any time soon! Ni Ni and Ye YeWhen we landed in L.A., Kim told Hope that she was going to meet her Ni Ni (Grandma) and Ye Ye (Grandpa) who were waiting in the airport, and Hope smiled and started holding pieces of her hair up. We realized that she was wanting us to put ribbons in her hair like they did for her at Bethel on Gotcha day! 🙂

From the moment we got off the plane, Hope has seemed to be in a much better place than ever in our short time of relationship. Let me also mention that our other kids did wonderfully on the travel day. They were very compliant and helpful the whole way, and did very little complaining. I was glad for them too because they slept through much of the final flight.

Our friends the Winters picked us up at the airport and they have helped us so much! Among many other things they watched our dog for us for two weeks and hosted us for two nights when we got back. This was very helpful because our house was a mess and we just felt like we needed an easy place to begin recovering from our jet lag. The English speaking company was also very refreshing. And whenever Hope would act up, instead of staring and giving us looks, the Winters were there to lovingly help us calm her down! We can’t thank the Winters enough for all their support and for taking such good care of us when we got home!

Hope really seemed to be enjoying the Winters and their home. We walked to the beach near their home on Thursday beachin itto let Hope experience the ocean for the first time. It wasn’t quite the response I had imagined from her at first. I thought she would be fascinated by the sounds and smells but she didn’t really seem to notice it or want to be there, and wouldn’t even let the sand touch her feet! After a while though, the ocean overpowered her and she relaxed and fell asleep in Kim’s arms!

On Thursday evening, our friends the Hursts were able to stop by the Winters house, and some other friends of the Winters also came over, and we all shared a meal and had a nice worship/prayer time. This was a very refreshing time for me personally. It was also neat to see all our kids playing together once again and having fun!

Hope has been adjusting well since we got home and has really been seeming to relax and enjoy herself more, and the frequency and intensity of her outbursts are decreasing every day! God is good! 🙂

We got home Friday morning to our big mess called a home. Our internal clocks are all whacked out and we’re having a hard time taking care of business, but that’s ok! The first two nights at the Winters we were still up all night, and hungry and going out for fast food at 3am! Last night Hope was all wound up ready to party! If you could have been in our house you would have heard sporadic yelps from Kim and I from our bedroom as Hope was playing on our bed bouncing and jumping all over us and having a good ol’ time until some time after 4am! We are still wandering around feeling like we are in the twilight zone! Right now it’s 10:11pm and the kids are playing and Hope is on the floor enjoying a bottle, and Kim is out getting us frozen yogurt, and this all feels like what we would normally be doing in the afternoon, and it doesn’t feel like any of us are going to bed any time soon.. Oh well!

Update: It’s 6am the next morning and I went to bed at 2am and woke up at 5am. I am glad for everyone else in the house including the dog who is still sleeping soundly and I suppose this is good for me because I have to start back at the office tomorrow morning. 😉

May 12th Guangzhou photos

Here is a last photo post from China, a collection of Guangzhou photos from May 12th…

Photo album

red couch

Bethel songs

Children of Bethel singing songs on Gotcha Day on May 2nd:

(The second song, one of the kids actually wrote!)

Wow! We Did It!

I can’t believe our time in China is finally nearing the end! After all the paperwork, the waiting, the fundraising, the traveling, it’s almost over! Tonight was very emotional saying good bye to our travel group and our beloved tour guides Catherine and Helen. We all took pictures on the famous red couch this morning, and I was choking back tears the whole time, because for all these months, after reading blog after blog of other families here in China at the red couch, today was our turn! All the babies were dressed up in their traditional Chinese clothing, and they all looked so beautiful/handsome. I kept thinking about how special it is that 12 orphans now have families of their own.

This afternoon we went to the American Consulate to take our group oath, and pick up the babies travel visas. That was emotional too….. we were in a big room with all these families and their new children, all holding up our hands, and the head honcho guy declaring that we were finished, and congratulating us all.

Tonight was the whammy… we all went to Lucy’s for dinner as a travel group. I was choked up the whole time. We sat by our guide Helen, and she told Hope in Chinese, that her family likes her. We tell her in Chinese that we love her all the time, but there was something so powerful about this moment, when Helen did that. Hope got very still and her eyes started darting back and forth really fast and she reached out and hugged Helen so tenderly and nodded. It was like the realization hit her that her family LIKES her. I feel like she really needed to hear that and the rest of the night she just held me and kept giving me kisses.

She is such a precious girl. I can’t wait for you all to meet her. She has her struggles, and because she doesn’t talk yet she screams very loudly when she is upset. She has a hard time transitioning from one activity to another and throws big fits. Yes, she is definitely a two year old! But she has the most tender heart and she loves fiercely, and puts her whole heart into those wonderful little kisses of hers. She loves to laugh, and she loves to be tickled. She has a funny thing she does every night while I’m getting her ready for bed… She makes a funny sound with her mouth, then pauses….. then I do it back, and she thinks that’s hysterical.

She is a true joy, and she is loved by her brother and sisters. I think about what her life might have been like if she had never been adopted and I’m sooo glad she is coming home with us, where she belongs. Thank you so much for following our journey. It has been fun to have you along. We will keep this site going, and post updates of Hope, and lots more pictures of our trip.

We have a super long travel day ahead of us tomorrow and could use some prayer if you think of us! We will be leaving here at 10am, driving 1 hour to the Guangzhou airport… taking off at 1pm, and arriving in Beijing at 4pm… Then we will have a 5 hour layover, and then leave at 9pm from Beijing to LAX for a 13 hour flight! All that with 4 kids in tow! But I know His grace is sufficient, and we will make it! We love you!!! 😉

Gotcha day videos

Videos taken on May 2nd when we picked Hope up at Bethel Foster Home in Beijing, China.


More Gotcha:

And in case you missed the photos.

Earthquake near Chongqing!

We just read the news that there was a big earthquake a couple hundred miles from where we were staying in Chongqing! We didn’t feel anything at all where we are, here in South China, but we just discovered that one of the places where some schools toppled was in Chongqing, where we just were! 🙁 We hope that everyone is ok… Our prayers go up for the areas affected. The epicenter was on the other side of the Chongqing municipality from where Hope’s original orphanage is located (in Qianjiang).

It is soooo wierd, but the whole time we were in Chongqing, Todd and I both kept thinking about earthquakes! He even asked our guide Anita on the way to Chongqing airport if there are ever earthquakes in the area, and she said no. Kind of unnerving if you ask me!

Photos from Guangzhou

I am finally getting close to caught up with the photos, and so according to my original plan, I can start working on displaying some videos! 🙂

Here are some photos from our three days so far here in Guangzhou:

May 9th – Guangzhou
May 9th - GuangzhouPhoto album

182 photos
May 10th – Guangzhou
May 10th - GuangzhouPhoto album
123 photos
May 11th – Guangzhou
May 11th - GuangzhouPhoto album
60 photos

On a happy note

As reported, a couple days ago Hope was accidentally allowed to momentarily get hold of our compact camera, and she banged it to the ground rendering it useless, as the lens had been banged and twisted into an unusable protracted position. I have been messing with it off and on ever since trying to fix it, and just now I was able to unlock it! So it seems like it works again, and now I am just hoping that it keeps on ticking after its big time licking… 🙂

Now I am off to the pool to go capture some memories! 😉

We Are Homesick!!!

It has been a great trip to China, but we all have the general feeling that its TIME TO GO HOME!!! We miss you guys, American Food, and just having our own home. We are really looking forward to getting Hope in a routine and schedule. She must think its bizarre that we live in hotels, and keep transferring around in hotels. We have no idea of how much she understands of this whole process. We have 2 more nights here and then we fly to Beijing (3 hour flight), have a 3 hour layover, and then a 12 hour flight home. Im not looking forward to that part at all, and would appreicate any prayers you could send our way for that process.

On a good note, we had dinner with a nice family last night from Ohio. They have adopted a son, who has cleft palate. He is really cute, and it was fun to spend time with another family. Everywere you look, there are cute Chinese babies with American families. We had fun chatting at Starbucks this morning with a family from San Bernadino.

Right now, the kids are begging me to stop posting, we can all go swimming…so Im signing off and will post more later!



Impressions of Chongqing

Note: Links to photos at the bottom of this long post.

We have already been in Guangzhou for a few days now, and I am finally getting our photos together from Chongqing! I went out every morning in Chongqing and took a ton of photos. Not many of my shots seem to turn out very well, but I keep at it because I enjoy the observant mode it puts me in.

I really enjoyed the people and culture of Chongqing. While definitely culturally shocking, it was refreshing to be in the midst of such an open, peaceful, fun loving and abundant society. It was obvious to me that the people there really enjoy their lives and one another, as you’ll see from the photos. The main aspect of their culture I wish I could bring home with me is their openness, in the sense that they actually prefer to spend a lot of time in the midst of one another, instead of spending most of their non working time couped up in their homes behind closed doors like we do. Kimberly summed it up well at one point, when she said that there is a college campus feel to China, and this was distinctly the feel I got in Chongqing.

From my observations, I’ve noticed that the Chinese believe in mopping and sweeping a lot. Everywhere I’ve gone in China, indoors, outdoors, it doesn’t matter, somebody is mopping or sweeping something. It doesn’t necessarily mean surfaces are clean here, but I can guarantee you they’ve been mopped or swept recently.

I’ve noticed that whoever took the census for China doesn’t know how to count. They say there are 1.3 billion in China, and 30 million people just in Chongqing, but I think I counted at least 1.3 billion in Chongqing alone. Large numbers of people are everywhere at all times of the day. The pictures I took don’t even do justice to the experience of being surrounded by thousands of people all of the time everywhere you go. Everywhere I went in Chongqing, I saw densely packed city. And we only sampled a small part of Chongqing. Our guide Anita told us that if you wanted to travel around the circumference of Chongqing by car, it would take eight hours!

I’ve noticed that Chinese people exercise a lot. At any time I ventured out, there were hundreds of people just in the surrounding area of our hotel out enjoying their exercise. They might be dancing, aerobicizing, doing Thai Chi, hitting themselves on the chest, head, butt, etc., playing badminton, walking, jogging, carrying heavy things on poles, or in carts, sweeping, or mopping.

The impression I got from walking around Chongqing at different times of the day was that the people there don’t really work. I mean, there are many tall buildings that must have people working in them, and there are people working at the restaurants, and the law enforcement types (who are everywhere all the time, although they don’t seem to be needed), and the hotel staff was there working hard trying to keep our room clean, but everybody else just seemed to be out walking around, exercising, or shopping. The impression was persistent too, even when we drove an hour through the city to Old Town Chongqing, it was the same there…

I’ve decided that Chinese children are the cutest thing on the planet. Whenever I catch a photo of one, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. Even my amateur photography skills can’t harm a picture of a Chinese kid.

Whoever invented the game ‘Frogger’ was a Chinese person. Motor vehicles have the right of way here, and when people want to cross a street, even one that has hundreds of vehicles on it at any given moment, they just cross it. The only difference from the game of Frogger is that the vehicles actually do sometimes slow down (while honky fervently of course) or move around the pedestrian, and the fact that nobody gets ran over is the biggest miracle of all. There are seemingly no traffic lights in China. The traffic moves a little slower, but it is always moving. It seems that one can walk or drive in any which direction one wants to at any given time. The motto seems to be only stop when you absolutely must, and then only at the last possible millisecond. Gaging by the constant noise from the busy street outside our hotel, it is a rule for the Chinese driver to honk at least once every minute. Also, there is no such thing as a driving lane here. The lines in the roads are only for decoration.

Most signs in and around the cities in China that I’ve seen so far also have English writing on them. I learned from our guide that English is the second language here. I guess they only learn to read it though, because very few that I encountered speak it or understand it.

I’ve concluded that there is no such thing as an overweight Chinese person. I mean ok, I have seen two maybe three out of the countless numbers of Chinese people I have seen, but even then they were only mildly overweight. My theory is that they have the perfect combination of factors as a culture; They eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, they exercise a lot, even if it’s just walking everywhere all the time, and they’ve got the genetics. I am overweight, but a week in China has made me feel like a giant blimpopottamus. If the Chinese can figure out how to clean up their air and water even a little, they’ll easily be the healthiest people in the world. Maybe they already are.

I didn’t find out until we left Chongqing that it is called the Vegas of China. Every night there looked to me like they were celebrating some kind of major holiday, but I’ve been told it is always like that. It indeed looked like Vegas outside our hotel, with all the neon lights, but just without the gambling and other seedy activities. I am sure those activities can be found there, but they are too well hidden to allow Chongqing to be called Vegas. Right by our hotel was a fountain water show with music going for hours every night and the whole surrounding area was packed with people. I never got used to the constant exposure to the masses of humanity around me at all times. I found myself wondering time and time again when do these people work, sleep and eat? They are always outside walking around! Next to the water fountain was a huge open cemented area, and in the morning, hundreds of women are doing what looks like half speed aerobics. At night they are there again doing a half speed form of synchronized dancing. These people know how to have fun! Right next to that area was a little shop that at all hours has people outside it doing some kind of ballroom dancing. They especially like to dance to ‘La Cocarocha’.

Below are links to a ton of photos from our time in Chongqing. Take note that many of these pictures are of Chinese people staring at us, or mobbing us. I say ‘us’ but it’s our kids of course that attracts them. It turned into a game for me to catch people staring at us on the camera. I figured if they are going to stare at us, or mob us, then I get to take their pictures! 😉 After a while, it just became interesting to me to take pictures of the Chonqing people in general, and especially of the kids, since they are the cutest and most colorfully dressed things in the world by my estimation. If you notice that there aren’t many people in some of these photos, remember that I had to get up really early in the morning to find the city at a time that it wasn’t packed with people.

May 4th – Chongqing
May 4th - Chongqing257 photos, many photos of Hope and family included
Photo Album
May 5th – Chongqing
May 5th - Chongqing128 photos, no photos of Hope or our family included
Photo Album
May 5th – Chongqing Zoo
May 5th - Chongqing Zoo308 photos, with many photos of Hope and family, and Giant Pandas included
Photo Album
May 6th – Old Town Chongqing
May 6th - Old Town Chongqing351 photos, with many photos of Hope and family included
Photo Album
May 6th – Chongqing at night
May 6th - Chongqing at night55 photos, with only one photo with Kim and Hope getting mobbed included
Photo album
May 7th – ChongqingMay 7th - Chongqing
263 photos, with many photos of Hope and family included
Photo album
May 7th – Chongqing – People’s Hall and Three Gorges Museum
May 7th - Chongqing - People's Hall and Three Gorges Museum166 photos, with many photos of Hope and family included
Photo album
May 8th – Chongqing
May 8th - Chongqing139 photos, with many photos of Hope and family included
Photo album

On a sad note

I (Todd) am very near to posting hundreds of photos of our five days in Chongqing, China. I am just waiting for the pictures to finish uploading. On a sad note, I have to report the death of one of our cameras. As a warning to others like myself, don’t let your recently purchased, in brand new condition, expensive Canon IS870 ultra compact point and shoot camera get even momentarily into the hands of your super cute little two and a half year old daughter who takes great delight in throwing things around and banging them into the ground. Cameras don’t like being banged into the ground, not even once.