Yes, God is so VERY good! And we are so not worthy, but He has blessed us with our precious Lucy! She’s been in our arms for three days now as I write this and it is amazing to see her transformation in just three short days. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the many prayers said on our behalf! We know so many have lifted us up and we are so very grateful.
Day 1: Gotcha Day / Forever Family Day – while most of the kiddos arrived between 10am-11pm on Monday, Feb 2nd, we had to wait another hour for the arrival of Lucy. But our wait was certainly nothing in comparison to what she went through. She and three other kiddos from the Xinyang area were put in a car at 5am that morning to be driven up to Zhengzhou which took them 7 long hours (there were too many for the orphanage officers to handle on the bullet train – which was really too bad as the bullet train is barely over an hour). She was the very last child to be brought into the Gotcha Day room and for about 2 seconds she had this stunned look: But then she immediately burst into tears even before she was given to us. Oh……..it was so hard to see her like this. But of course this is a natural reaction when you see a bunch of strangers and know you are far from the only home you have known and aren’t quite two years old. Alas, our Gotcha Day picture is with little Lucy in tears. Lucy cried all during the bus ride back to our hotel (25 min) but we were ever so thankful that after just 2-3 minutes in our room, she calmed down and began to settle in. We offered her many different treats, hoping she would like to eat something but instead she took them all and just held them. Her shoe fell off and she held on to that as well. This is very common for these precious children. Their worlds have been turned upside down and they just hold on to anything for fear that object might also be taken away from them. About an hour after getting back to the hotel, Chuck needed to go work on some of the adoption documents as a meeting had been called so he was then gone for about 90 minutes. It was during those 90 minutes that Lucy started to warm up to me. She sat in my lap and looked at the pictures I showed her of Henry and Audrey and pointed to them like she had seen them (we had sent her a little book of our family a couple of months ago). She also started to eat a few M&Ms. At first she was picking off the little candy coating, making a wonderful mess, but then she started to eat them full on. Yes, there is no doubt the girl loves chocolate! And she loved the stacking cups that we had brought. Later when Chuck returned we ordered take-out and Lucy at some of the beef & noodles soup dish that I had ordered. I was thrilled she was eating all the meat as her reports had indicated she was little anemic but it likely because she has not been given enough protein for a growing little girl. After bath time, she and I snuggled for a bit before it was time to lay her down in her crib. Thankfully, she only woke up once during the night with a dirty diaper. I was so thankful she was able to get a good night’s sleep. Day 2: This was the day we learned of Lucy’s love for yogurt. Or maybe I should say adoration of yogurt?! Our daughter just might devour the entire selection of yogurt that is laid out at our hotel’s buffet breakfast each day if I let her. But I am thankful for this since yogurt has protein and all sorts of good stuff for her tummy. After breakfast, the day started with all of the families needing to get on the bus and go to the notary’s office for more adoption paperwork. This time, instead of having the only child that was crying on the bus, I had a peaceful sleeping baby by the time it was to take our family picture with the notary. Thankfully, they let her sleep for the picture! Afterwards, we came back to the hotel and Lucy and I shared some (actually rather tasty) ramen noodles in the room and then the three of us headed to Walmart to stock up on a few more things that we needed. Our family got so many looks at Walmart. Most seemed friendly though but most don’t say anything to us so we wonder what the locals think about this. Chuck found out just yesterday as we asked one of our guides about this. I’ll share more on this later. Lucy did so well on our little shopping excursion (and had her first stroller ride!) that we even felt comfortable enough to take her out to a local restaurant that was recommended by our guides. She did great! She ate a bunch of the braised sparerib meat from Chuck’s dish and then also had a bunch of fried rice. She tried my spicy chicken dish but did not care for it. I wish we could get her to eat some veggies though – no go there as of yet. Anyway, here she is feeding herself at dinner like a big girl: Day 3: This day a smaller group of us traveled on the bullet train to Xinyang, where all of our children were born. Thankfully our guide was able to get tickets on the bullet train so the journey was quite short. If you’re curious, the train typically travels at about 190 mph. I suppose you could say that we had our 15 minutes of fame that day. When we arrived at the train station in Zhengzhou and were waiting to board the train, a small group of people approached. It was a TV reporter with a couple of cameras and there were a couple of train station volunteers that wanted to help us with our bags (orphanage donations). They came right up to Chuck and I and interviewed us. The reason they were there was because that day was the first big day of train travel for the “great migration” as it is called when the Chinese take off from their jobs in the cities and travel back home to their families to celebrate Chinese New Year or Spring Festival as it is more often called here. Anyway, it was all very odd and funny at the same time. Some people from our group teased us and wondered if they chose us to be interviewed maybe because Chuck kinda looks like Drew Carey. Once in Xinyang, we visited Lucy’s orphanage. There is a lot to write about this, but I am going to save that for another time. For now, suffice it to say, I was thankful for some good things that came out of this visit, and for a LOT more knowledge of how Lucy was cared for during this visit but it was, of course, sad and hard in many ways. Afterwards, we squeezed in a super quick lunch at the local KFC. Here is our cutie enjoying her first French fries: Then we were off to the passport office to apply for Lucy’s Chinese passport. Thankfully that all went smoothly and we were back on the train to come “home”. Sadly, the 20 minute ride from the train station to the hotel took 75 minutes instead as we crawled back during rush hour. Well, I wouldn’t really call it rush hour in China. I think about 50% of their waking hours are rush hours. Chicago traffic is easy peasy lemon squeezy compared to their traffic. Seriously. Anyway, thankfully, Lucy fell asleep in the van ride to the hotel. She has really been a great little traveler for us thus far – so we are hoping and praying this will be the case for our long journey home on the 13th. Feel free to start lifting us up in prayer for that now! A couple shots of our little traveler on the train and being funny with mama trying to pull off her glasses as we waited for the train in Xinyang: Day 4: Here is Lucy going to town at breakfast. Of course, more of her beloved yogurt and here eating her congee too. And her first sips of apple juice. Yum! It was quite apparent she had never sipped out of a normal cup before – so it was a messy yum! After breakfast, we decided to bring Lucy to the hotel’s pool area. They have a large pool but it is probably a bit cool for little ones. Thankfully they have a small pool that they keep at a hotter temp in the early morning when adults come to get in their laps and then relax in the hot tub, but they turn down the temp later in the morning so it was perfect for Lucy. Here’s our little China doll with daddy. While she is warming up to him, it is baby steps. Here daddy needed to bribe her with M&Ms in order to get this shot. It is now early Friday morning (day 5 with Lucy) as I finish this entry. We plan to go to the Henan Museum after breakfast to learn more about the province from which she hails. Then it will be lunch, nap for Lucy, dinner and packing up as we fly to Guangzhou Saturday morning. We are excited for Guangzhou. The weather is lovely there – high 60s to low 70s – and the schedule will be more relaxed with less long meetings and bus rides. The big events will be Lucy’s medical check-up and her US Consulate appointment. We are looking forward to this city … especially with knowing it brings us one big step closer to finally being home with our family! On that note, please continue to lift up Henry and Audrey and all who are caring for them. They’ve been real troopers without us and have been so good from the reports we are getting. We are so thankful too that almost every morning we have been able to Skype with them; it surely had been SUCH a blessing for all of us!!!