Say "YES!" to God's call.
When He calls, He always enables.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


We always tell our children that the greatest gift we can ever give them is each other. No one else will ever be able to understand what it was like to endure the trials and joys of having been raised by Jerry and I. Their siblings will be there to support them in times and in ways that we cannot. The gift of family is a treasure even if it sometimes just looks like an ordinary earthen vessel.
Simon and Jed couldn't be more opposite. Jed is smiley and outgoing and full of enthusiasm. He is the best at wii boxing. Even Everett can't beat him. Simon is shy and reserved and studies things carefully. He sometimes slips off in the evening and goes to bed while everyone else is still playing. When he saw how much turkey I put on his plate at dinner, he smiled as if he was opening a birthday surprise.
They seem wonderfully happy here. I believe one reason is that they have each other. I confess, I worried about bringing home two 'older boys'. Those worries seem pretty silly from this end. There is Alot of Chinese being spoken around here, since Dominic and Rosie recovered their mother tongue, and I do worry that I cannot be in control of what is being said. I heard of a mom who told her kids they couldn't speak Chinese anymore because they were obviously making fun of their siblings and all things American. I totally understand that. However, I would much prefer for them to be bilingual, even if it takes a little longer for them to acquire English. Even though the Chinese are all learning English as fast as they can, I am pretty sure that speaking Chinese will still be useful when the kids are older.

Here is the Jedi that Everett drew for Ric's Star Wars birthday party. We played 'pin the light saber on the jedi' with blindfolds. ......I am hoping that Ric's parents will start letting him spend more time with our family (he was here for a month over Christmas break but went home last week) since now we will be able to offer them a 'Chinese immersion program'. How strange is that?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts after a week at HOME

Gee, but it's great to be back home......Home is where I wanna be.....I've been on the road so long, my .........uh, okay,sorry, no one wants to hear me sing.........But all that is true. The kids are all doing great and spend most of their time having Alot of fun. Although, we never heard Rosie and Dominic speak a word of Chinese to each other, they both can speak to Simon and Jed. When we brought R and D home, alot of the responsibility to 'show them the ropes' fell on Nellie's shoulders. This week, we have been delighted at the way Rosie has stepped up as the big sister and Chinese interpreter, to help Simon and Jed.

The best news of the week came while the kids were watching the new Superbook cartoon about Daniel. Rosie told me that Simon 'knows Jesus'. I wasn't totally surprised because he had seemed so happy at church, but I was totally surprised that he and Rosie talked about it. (I am beginning to think that quiet little Rosie might be more of a FORCE than I had previously realized - just like Katrina, a Type A anomaly in this otherwise laid back family).

I have completed 29 plane flights since God first sent us to China in 2006. Even the Xanax only took me from 'terrified' to 'nervously keeping an eye on the stewardesses'. If bravery really isn't 'the absence of fear' but rather 'doing what you have to do even though you are afraid', then God must be working on making me brave. But like patience, that isn't really a character quality I had been seeking :/ . I would be okay with never needing to be brave again.

Every time we have done an adoption, and more particularily, every time we have gone to China, we thought it was our last time. This time I am not making any predictions, although I have a lovely sense of being Finished at this moment. During the adoption process, the missing children are never far from your mind and heart. You think you can imagine what it will be like to have them there , but it is never the same as you imagine. Knowing that older children can have a hard time adjusting, there is always a nagging fear that this effort to make life better for two kids might totally ruin the lives of the ones already home. The children at home have each been praying for Simon and Jed every night for over a year. I believe those prayers prepared Nellie, Rosie, Dominic and Andy's hearts to be able to welcome them home with joy rather than jealousy. And at the moment, joy is here in abundance.

Partly because of jet lag, I feel like we haven't had much individual time with any of the kids this week, so it was nice that I had the chance to make a trip to Chapel Hill (a five hour drive) for Andy's doctor apppointments, with just Andy and Jed. We stayed in a hotel and shopped and ate at a few special places, which included Jed's first trip to McDonald's, complete with Happy Meal. Simon still has that in his future. One of Andy's doctors asked Jed in Chinese if he missed China and he, very clearly, told her that he Did Not.

Some time this week we will start school. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe not.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lifeline Group

Some of the lovely people we met on this trip - All of them ordinary people, just like us, who were led to this unlikely place at this appointed time.

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The Last Day in China

It was so much fun to watch Simon and Jed's reactions to the animals at the zoo today ! They chattered and pointed and made it obvious that they had never been to one before. It was finally relatively warm so a perfect day to stroll through, but cool enough that the animals were all very active. No one here seems to be worried about providing a natural environment for the animals , so they have no place to hide from the visitors, and can be seen much more closely than in any American zoos I have visited.

This afternoon we are packing. We will meet tonight with our group for pictures and put our baggage out for the porters at 6AM. We have a short first flight - about 2 hours- to Shanghai and then a 15 hour flight to Atlanta. We will be traveling for 25 hours, but because of the time change, will arrive only 13 hours after we leave. That boggles my mind. I think that means we get on the plane when you are having dinner Tuesday night and arrive Wednesday night. But for us it will be like leaving Wednesday morning and arriving in Atlanta Wednesday night, but living a 25 hour day in 12 hours.

The boys are ready. In fact, they have been in waiting mode, passing the time watching movies, for days now. We are so thankful for the prayers, encouragement, and support from everyone during this whole process, but especially during this trip. It has been a truly wonderful time for all of us. We have made new friends and met people we only knew in cyberspace. We have had more adventure than I thought my fearful heart was capable. I really, really hope that we get to support MANY of you when you make the decision to embark on a similar adventure!


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Monday, January 9, 2012

Photo Fatique

We have two boys who are Really tired of posing for pictures!  We went to the White Swan (the hotel we stayed in when we adopted Andy) today to do some shopping and take the traditional 'Red Couch Adoption Photo" - you can see the results, the third photo is in our hotel, on our way out to 7/11 to pick up lunch. The timing for this, is actually pretty good, since, not only
are we leaving soon, but as you might notice from the black spot at the bottom of the pictures, my camera is dying.
We left early this morning and had what we thought was a successful morning at the consulate, but just got a call saying that one of us has to go early tomorrow morning again, as a date was left off some paper we signed. I nominated Jerry, since I am allergic to early mornings.  When he returns we will go with our group to the zoo and then come back to pack.  It will be so worth facing the mountain of laundry at home to get to see everyone again!
Tonight we are having a 'Room Service and Star Wars' family night to introduce the boys to SW in preparation for Ric's birthday party..
Another God thing - when I was buying backpacks, clothes, toys, to bring to the boys, whenever possible I bought Simons in red and Jed's in blue. When we got the boys and the guide asked them their favorite colors, Simon said red and Jed said blue. Smile.  It's always good to remember God's hand of direction when things get hard, as of course, in a fallen world, they will.   

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Camila and Ric !

This morning our group was taken to shop at two large indoor market/malls. Each were 5 stories tall, one totally devoted to jewelry, primarily jade and pearls. Mothers adopting baby girls like to buy pearls to give on their daughters 16th birthday or their wedding day. Not my cup of tea (not that I
don't like jewlery, but gold and valueable gems are my preference). I still needed some clothes for the boys so we left the buildings and mingled with the hoards of people in surrounding neighborhoods, looking for a bargain (TOTALLY my cup of tea). I found the longsleeved tshirts I have been looking for and matching angry bird sweatshirts, so the boys will get a change of clothes tomorrow. I hate that most of their pictures on this trip are in boring green jackets!

Speaking of tomorrow - it is our day to go to the American consulate to raise our right hands and swear that we will be good parents to these boys. No pictures allowed, even of the outside of the building. At that point the official business will be done (except for a small glitch with Jed's paperwork form his province, which will be taken care of in the afternoon).

Tonight we ate dinner on a riverboat cruise of the Pearl River. We don't have any pictures of Simon looking at the camera because he was working on eating 12 chicken feet. EWW !

THanks to those who are praying - the hard greiving baby seems to be doing a bit better and her parents got a decent nights sleep so they are doing better, too! I know they would still love your prayers though, she still isn't eating much.

Please wish Camila and Ric Happy Birthday today!!!

Love, from China, Catherine ________________________________________________________________
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Saturday, January 7, 2012


This morning we went for the boys TB checks. Both were fine but our friends had a little scare when their daughters showed a reaction and necessitated an xray. After a few anxious moments, and her xray came back clear, happy tears were shed all around. (The USA does not allow non citizens with suspected TB to enter the country until they have completed many weeks of treatment and our children are not citizens until they step onto American soil. It is a classic Catch 22. Had her xray not been clear she would have had to remain in China, but since in Chinas eyes the adoption is final, she could not be taken back to the orphanage.)

While we shopped a little on the Island we saw some people playing badmitton (a fairly common sight) and decided to buy the boys a set. Jed lost the first shuttlecock up on a roof so Jerry took over his position and Simon got good at the game pretty quickly. A Chinese couple walked by and the man challeged Jerry to a few rounds, so he got to sweat a little today.

This afternoon I worked on Consulate paperwork (it is never ending!) and tonight we went to a Mongolian restaurant with our group. Today we added a single mom who traveled alone with her 7 year old to pick up her almost three year old. She will return home going west through Thailand and Gemany so will have traveled all the way around the world in two weeks, alone with
children. Yikes! She could probably use your prayers, as could another couple in our group who are first time parents and whose baby daughter is greiving hard and not even wanting to eat.

We highly recommend adopting 10/11 year olds !! They are a TON of fun!

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Friday, January 6, 2012

World Second Tallest Tower

We began today with a visit to the second tallest tower in the world. The tallest is in Dubai. The nice part about it is that the three other families in our group are great. In addition to the Thompsons, today we met a family adopting their third child, first girl and a couple who is in contention for the 'bravest people in the world' award. They are approaching 50ish doctors who are adopting their first children ! A baby girl and an 11 year old boy !! They changed their first diaper yesterday ! Do you think life might change a little for them?!! I sure wish they had a blog we could follow, but as it happens, they know Trish Enloe Patterson, our friend's Robert
and Rita's daughter. Small World. Simon had a little trouble with car sickness on the bus again today (glad I had a bag with me) so we went to a pharmacy and bought some car sick medecine. I won't give it to him unless gum and all else fails. We went to a huge bookstore this afternoon, which I
thought would thrill Simon but he couldn't pick out anything he wanted. I knew Jed wouldn't want anything, but he actually spent sometime looking through a book about animals, but said he didn't want it. I picked out a few things for them , including some tiny , cheap math books to do when we get home. There were hundreds of different 'learn to speak English" programs because Chinese parents all want their kids to speak English. Our boys will learn much more quickly with 'instant full immersion', although perhaps not so quickly as the others, because they have each other to speak to. BTW, See the boys sweaters? Chinese also love wearing clothes with English words on them. The sweaters say DON OT BLEACH HAND WASH....LOL....hope they don't mean it.

At dinner tonight, I drew a tic tac toe game - Jed was familiar with it, Simon was not. We were surrounded b waitresses asking questions again tonight - usually addressed to smiley Jed, even though he was mad at me for telling him not to tell me No when I tell him something. (It was 'put your jacket on', because I knew we were going to walk outside to dinner and he did not.) In situations with that kind of timing, I just imagine what he
might be saying, smile. Our guide said an adoptive mother of an 11 year old girl called her to translate a frequently heard comment from her daughter.. It was 'mom, you are crazy!' Ya know, if they are saying that, (as I'm sure mine might), I would just as soon not know. At the moment, Jed is watching
Cars2 and Simon is reading a Snoopy cartoon book I bought today. Jerry is watching soccer. They are all precious !

Loving this adventure , Catherine
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Medical Exam Day

I wanted to beging by giving you a glimpse of that 200 dollar meal. The boys are eating shrimp and please note - the flowers on the table are orchids. Jed and Simon were totally unimpressed that the room was moving. I guess when you figure that moving into a 5 star hotel with strange looking 'big nosed' people , who make you bathe and change your clothes regularly and buy you things every time you step out the door and offer you more food at one sitting than you have ever seen before, a spinning room must just be a normal thing in this new strange world.

Today we went to Shamian Island for the medical exams. We are
traveling now with another family we know from online - the Thompsons ( from PA. They have adopted two precious 5 and 6 year old girls who are bothe doing great. Faith hasn't had much time to keep up her blog, but I am pretty sure her girls don't spend as much time occupied with movies as my boys do. At the moment Jed is watching
Tranformers and Simon is watching Mickey Mouse. The medical exams went fine, Simon had to have 4 shots , because he is over 10, and he didn't even flinch. We go backin two days to have their TB tests read. Failing that would be the only thing that could keep us from all returning home on time. We know of two families who had to leave their kids here for a couple of
months while they completed the treament for TB. Not fun. I'll check their arms tomorrow and hope to see nothing.

It is FAreezing here! The latitude is the same as the Florida Keys, and I can pretty much guarantee that nobody there will be wearing down jackets there, as we did here today, any time this winter. There is obviously something about the temperature realtive to the equator that I don't understand. Any help out there??
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guangzhou - blocked

We have made it safely to Guangzhou, but cannot get through the government internet blocks to post on our blog. We are trying to find another way around the blocks. The boys are still doing great. We had worried that Simon might be a little sad about leaving Xian, but he showed no signs of it, and was very smiley on the plane flight. (Unlike me, I am wondering if
I can double the Xanax dose. I kept saying to myself 'John Makinson does this because he LIKES IT, all the time, and Cathy even went with him! ...Just when I thought I was so used to flying I was heading to Broadway .....) This hotel is gorgeous and we have been upgraded to the executive floor. We somehow got the idea that meant we could eat on the glass walled, rotating, restaurant on the 30th floor for free. The first 200 dollar meal I have ever eaten.....OOPS! should have tried the the lobster claws!.......Catherine
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Muslim Market Shopping

It is no secret that I like to shop. Today was shopping of the very best kind! - in an interesting foreign place with tons of deals to be had, if only you can come up with a few of the right words to negotiate/communicate. We went back to the Muslin Market without a guide ( so, no need to hurry, feeling she might want to move on) but with a driver (so, no need to worry that an hour long wait for a taxi could end in failure and we would be lost in China forever). This is how we do it - we stroll along together until I see something I am interested in, then we part ways and Jerry and the boys look at things that interest them in the vicinity. After the shopkeeper and I have come to an agreement about the price, I call for Jerry and he tries his Chinese out on the shopkeeper, makes jokes and pays the bill. This girl hit the jackpot with our Nrth Face purchases, although since she started asking me to pay 380 yuan for a jacket and I ended up paying 160, I felt pretty good about it, too. :) Jerry got a Manchester shirt for a pretty good price and the boys got yo yos and the Bee Movie (Jed is watching right now while Jerry and Simon are down playing ping pong).

There were alot of places cooking amazingly delicious looking Muslim food on the street but our guide suggested we should stick to the restaurants. I did buy some wonderful bread.

If you look carefully you can see Jerry's white head above everyone in the middle of this picture.

The boys were fascinated by a man doing magic tricks. When he asked me if my husband was Chinese, I said no, he is the white headed man over there and the whole crowd laughed like I had told the biggest joke. It is very hard not really knowing what people are saying, particularily to the boys about us and about adoption. The subject comes up frequently everywhere, but always in restaurants. Chinese are loud, pushy and inquisitive and there are no questions that are considered bad taste. So when one waitress finds out we are the boy's parents, a crowd of waiters, waitresses and any other interested parties, usually forms. And they talk to the boys. Today we went into a very small restaurant in the Muslim district. The kind where you sit down and they take your order (the menu had pictures, thankfully) and then you have to pay before they send it to the kitchen. And then they brought packets of wrapped dishes to our table and asked if we wanted to rent them to eat off or if we were planning to eat out of the serving dishes. We rented 4 sets - 50 cents. At that point about 10 people were surrounding our table talking and laughing, asking the boys questions. I usually watch the boys carefully to make sure no one is being mean, and today they seemed to be smilling back, so I guess it was all good. Occassionally, in shops, when they find out we are adopting them, people will say thank you, or give us a better deal on what we are buying, so I think , in general, people think it is a good thing and that the boys 'are very lucky'. We try to express, that we are the ones who have been blessed.

These girls were excited to see themselves in the pictures that I took.
Both boys continue to be cheerful and good natured. Jed often wakes me up with a hug, like used to, smiling and saying 'goodmorning, Mama'. Today he told me, 'I love you', in English. Wondering how Simon will feel about leaving his hometown, tomorrow. thanks for your prayers, Catherine

Monday, January 2, 2012

Late Night Musing

These are the kids waiting for us at home. I miss them.
The one in the middle is Ric. He will turn 7 while we are in China. We will celebrate his birthday the first weekend after we get home. Star Wars.
It was at Ric's age that three of my Chinese boys were found and taken to the orphanage.
It was at Ric's age that three of my children were left. Alone.
Can you even begin to wrap your mind around that ?
And now they leave everything again, but they are not alone. They will never be alone again. They have family who will never leave them. C

Older Children

The nice thing about adopting older children is that they already do so many things for themselves. The hard thing about adopting older children is that they do so many things for themselves in ways that ......let's say, won't work at home. When Jed first came, I showed him how to take a bubble bath. He locked the door and stayed in for a long time, but I fugured that was okay. Simon said he took showers, so it wasn't until two nights ago that Jed showed him how to take a bath. I should have been paying more attention. They went in seperately and each spent a Very long time in there last night. At the end of that time, when I looked up from my book, every jar of shampoo, conditioner and bath foam was empty and on the floor with all of the towels and an inch of water. Their fingers were clean and pruny. sigh. smile. Tonight there will be showers.
I think when we get to Guangzhou we need to try to communicate a few more things with them that will help at home. Like putting the toilet seatup when they pee. And changing socks and underwear. And brushing teeth daily. And washing hair. And for Simon, not throwing trash on the floor, because at home the lady with the push broom sweeping up trash will be him :) (maybe I shouldn't tell him that yet since things are going so well).
The giggling is of them watching Nemo, which seems to be their favorite - they have watched it over and over the past few days. (For those who will be traveling for older kids, I am SO glad I bothered to bring one of our car DVD players and a batch of movies, mostly Disney we had in Chinese. They have given us the use of Jerry's laptop which we had to make available for R and D to watch movies on when we got them. So far we have not seen any movies to buy here in China, but I know they will be abundant in Guangzhou.)

We said goodbye to our sweet guide , Celine, today. She will be taking a might train to another province to help another family adopt a baby. Her baby, who is two, lives near her, but is primarily cared for by her mother, so he will be fine while she travels.

We visited a museum today and saw the largest stone lion in China, and alot of other Chinese dynasty things. After we went to lunch with Celine and our driver, we went back to our hotel before deciding to venture out on another shopping trip. Unfortunately, the bellmen told us there were no taxis from 3 to 5 in the afternoon. Huh? In a city of Xty million people, all the taxis take a break at the same time?? So, we walked down the street and stood with other people trying to get a taxi. It was true. We saw many taxis, some parked, some driving, but none that would pick up people. We walked.

More trivia. I learned at the museum that the Emperor who buried all those Terra Cotta Warriors under the ground, wasn't the only guy to do that. Emperors and other rich guys were always burying stuff to help them in the afterlife - gold , jewelry, chariots, you name it. So I asked Celine, who the stuff would belong to if were found, say on My property. (Like oil in Texas.) She said, 'We have a Constitution. It says that all of the land in China belongs to China and everything under the land belongs to China. Although, in this new, more capitalist economy, people can own houses and apartments, they can only own them for 70 years. But they can never own the land.'

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Last night the boys watched movies on our bed waiting for the New Year because their beds had too many toys on it for them to fit (Where are the neatnick kids who typically come from orphanages? R and D were compulsively tidy . These two act like 'the maid will clean it up'. LOL Maybe they are secretly genetically related to me.) After we entered the New Year, we called Ryan so we could tell him about the future. It is good.
Today we walked on part of the city wall that was built around Xian 600 years ago (or maybe in the year 600?) complete with a moat and ramparts (never knew what that part of the StarSB meant) just like at a castle. There were even men there dressed in castle-like armor.
Chinese New Year decorations are going up everywhere, including the city wall. Apparently , like our Christmas, they figure if you are doing all that lavish decorating, it ought to be up a month or so ahead of time.

We also went to the Drum Tower (Chinese ring a bell in the morning and bang a drum at dusk) in a Muslim part of town and bought the boys traditional Chinese clothes for the 'red couch picture' in Guangzhou and Chinese New Year at home and some wooden swords. They were delighted with the swords, the clothes , not so much. We also ventured alone to the wholesale clothing market again and had another hour wait for a taxi. It is a hard place to live.

We asked our guide when she last saw the sun and she couldn't remember. It seems like it would be so drepressing to live all winter in grey smog/fog, but most people are noticeably cheerful and friendly. Today a groupf of teenage girls asked if they could take pictures with me. Like I was a movie star. Of course, I accomodated.

The boys are best buds. I am so glad that God led us to Jed's picture (he was on another agency's site and I advocated for him for awhile). If it weren't for Jed, I don't think Simon would have stayed with us. And if we hadn't already been adopting Simon we probably wouldn't have considered Jed. They obviously belong together and having both of them actually makes this adoption easier on us. On the way to China, I had the typical 'are we making a huge mistake?' worries. On the day we met Simon, I would have settled with going home with one. I am so glad that I am not the one in control here. His ways are better than mine.

This picture shows how Simon and Jed were feeling about sightseeing by the end of the day.