Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The beginning of our story

  Jenna Grace Wyant

"...For I know that plans I have for you," declares the Lord,"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plan to give you a hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11

Our long road to this adoption is truly a prompting from our living God who has a good and perfect plan for each one of us. 


God has blessed Shane and I with three wonderful, healthy children.  Michael just turned 14, Josh is 11, and Rachel is 7.  They more than keep me busy and I have no longing or desired need to be filled by having one more child.  With that being said, I do know without a doubt that God has called us to adopt this little girl from China.  But why China?  Why not the USA, this awesome country of freedom that I love so much?  There are so many children in the foster system right now that need loving homes.  Honestly I don’t know why it is China except that our daughter is there and God has shown us that we need to go and get her.  How you say?  Well, here’s a little of our story and how this wonderfully, crazy journey began. 

As many of you know I work as an Occupational Therapist.  For the past 12 years I have worked within the early intervention system in Illinios, birth to three years old.  I have worked in school and other places, but I love the babies and I always have.  It has been a true blessing to work with so many families over the past decade (I can’t even believe I just wrote that, I can’t possibly to be that old…anyway, back to the story!)  About 5-6 years ago I worked with a family who had adopted a little girl from China.  She was about 18 months when they brought her home.  She had no known medical problems, but developmentally she was behind as most children who have lived institutionalized are.  She did not interact, did not speak or babble, she did not even cry.  What she did do was pull out her hair.  That was her coping mechanism, as she had learned that crying did her no good, she just stopped doing it.  As a typically developing 1-2 year old will sit in the crib and cry out until someone comes and meets the need, this little one just sat in her crib and pulled out her hair.  There’s a good ending.  She made so much progress.  With some therapy and lots of unconditional love of her new family she thrived.  When she graduated our program at three years old she was looking very “typical”.  I fell in love with that little girl and was amazed at that transformation that took place in her life.  I told Shane about her then.  At that time Rachel was small and we had decided not to have any more children.  We even took things into our own hands and made sure we would not have any more children.  As I have said often “the baby factory is closed”.  I told Shane “maybe we should adopt a little girl from China.  I always wanted 4 kids (before I knew how crazy that would make me and how little sleep I would be getting) and Rachel will have a sister.”  He quickly said “No!”  I figured I had my hands full with our 3 (those of you who knew our boys back then know that is true) and on many days did not feel that I was doing that great of a job as a mom anyway.  So I decided that adoption was not for our family and left that alone.  I really had put it out of my head, started making other plans…

In August 2010, we made a big change when we prayerfully made the decision to take our kids out of public school and put them in a private Christian school.  This is something I said I would never do.  I did not want our kids raised in a bubble.  I wanted them to know what the real world is like and be able to function well within it.  I wanted them to have all those “normal” high school memories of prom, homecoming, etc.  God had a different plan for our kids.  They now attend Christian Life School in Kenosha, WI.  I have to say this is one of the best decisions we have made as a family.  I have grown more spiritually in the past 2+ years than I ever could have imagined.  I don’t go to school there, but I am there, everyday, and I see the Christian life lived out in all these precious, imperfect people loving Christ and each other.  It truly is a beautiful thing and I am learning so much about how to live out my life as a Christian and walk in faith every single day.

Fast forward…  October 2011.  Michael turns 13.  We want to do something special for him.  We take him and a friend to Casting Crowns concert.  The lead singer talks about their daughter they adopted from China.  They even have a song on their new album “I’ve come so far to find you.”  I remember thinking that is great!  But that’s about it!  About the same time our pastor and his wife announce they are feeling called to adopt (again).  They are in the process of adopting 2 little girls from China (they just received their notice to travel and will be leaving in just a few days from now as I am typing this).  She says to me: “Do you want to do this with us?” Me: “You mean go to China?”    Her: “No.  Adopt.”  Me: “No, Shane will never… It’s not for our family!”  Her: “You could pray about it.” Me: “No.  I will pray for you, and you let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you all.”  I went home and told Shane about all that.  That’s it.  He didn’t say much…  I really didn’t think much about it, except that is great that they are doing this.  Also, there was a little girl in kindergarten at the school where I’m working who was just adopted from China in May and started school in August.  Not speaking much English, but she was there and doing ok.  And she is ADORABLE!!!  Funny thing is, I knew there were four kids in that class that didn’t speak English, but I didn’t not know that adorable little Ellla was adopted from China.  Are you seeing a pattern here???  I wasn’t!!!  But you know what they say about hindsight.  God was just setting it all up!

November 2011  - National Adoption Month.  It’s all over Moody radio.  Shane’s listening to stories every day.

November 22, 2011 – We are packing getting ready to leave, headed to Missouri for Thanksgiving with Shane’s mom.  The kids were off getting their things together, as we were leaving the next day.  Shane sits me down at the kitchen table and says “Julie, I have something I need to talk to you about…I feel like God’s telling me we are supposed to adopt.”  I’m sure my mouth about hit the floor and I said “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?”  After a few stunned moments I said, “Ok!”  We had a long drive to think, talk, and pray about it.  Shane is a “take the bull by the horns” kind of guy and by the time we were headed back home from Missouri that Saturday evening he had me online checking out adoption agencies.  Now this may seem spontaneous and short sighted, but remember the seed was planted over 5 years ago and God was leading this.  I knew for sure that Shane had not thought this up on his own, God was definitely leading.  As a matter of fact he was pretty scared to admit this calling and even said, “This isn’t what I want. This is what God wants us to do.”

We told our families, we chose an agency, and we chose a little girl.  To type that and to say that sounds terrible to me; “we chose a little girl”. This was my biggest fear.  I prayed and prayed to God telling him that I could not choose.  We felt led to adopt an older child, but younger than Rachel.  We decided we could meet the needs of a child with a mild to moderate disability.  We wanted a girl, I wanted Rachel to have a little sister.  But, I could not choose which little girl.  People were telling me “you will just know which child is yours”.  They kept telling me this, but it wasn’t true for me.  We had several little girls identified and I had no way to make that kind of decision.  I really felt bad even choosing in this way.  We talked about it with the kids.  Within less than 24 hours Josh went to Shane, on his own, and said “I think we should adopt Jenna”.  We were getting in the car headed to school the next morning and Rachel said to me “Mom, I think we should adopt Jenna”.  Michael pipes up from the back seat, “me too, Mom!”  Neither of them knew that Josh had talked to Shane the night before.  I know that God was speaking to me through our kids.  He knew that I felt I could not make that decision.  He did it for me!

So now the hard part was over and the busyness began.  Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. 

Remember little Ella.  I started telling some of my friends at work that we are planning to adopt, from China.  This is well after Christmas and I find out that Ella has only been in the states for about 8 months.  I went in to the classroom to meet her and talk with her.  She is a delight and has a good handle on the English language.  The teacher kindly connects me with Ella’s mom and we meet.  They are an awesome family so willing and ready to share their experiences to help us through this maze of international adoption.  If you are reading this I just want to say “Thank you”. 

I am finally writing this to all of you who somehow know us from one of our many journey’s.  I have been thinking of writing to all of you.  I want everyone to know.  Just this past Friday, October 19, 2012 we received our “Letter of Seeking Confirmation” which is basically the first officially approval from China telling us we can adopt and asking us if we accept and intend to adopt Jenna as our daughter.  We will fax the signed statement back to WACAP tomorrow and they will start the immigration paperwork process.  I truly want all of our friends and family to understand that this process is a walk in faith and is being led by Jesus.  We are not doing this in our own strength, but through the power of Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
In July 2012 we were able to get some updated information on Jenna.  She is now 4.  Her birthday in March 21, 2008.  They sent us these updated photos:

Stay tuned to see what happens next….


YEAH!!!  Kim Johnson helped me learn how to update and access my blog!!!  Thanks Kim :)

Our Trip Diary:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 (Day 1)

We woke up bright and early this morning to get together all the last minute things for our trip.  Jill Capp came over around 10 am to drive us to the airport.  We got there just a little after 11:00 - thinking this was plenty of time we went to check in.

Outside of O'Hare before our flight to China :)

"Thanks Jill"


Little did we know that there is a weight limit on CARRY ON LUGGAGE!!!  I could not believe this.  We crammed all the "extra" stuff in our carry-ons because we knew there would be a 44 pound weight limit on CHECKED luggage in China on oin-country flights.  I'm sure we were a sight - all five of us unpacking and re-packing our suitcases - running each bag over to the scale to re-check it to make sure it was less than 7 kgs.  Oh my goodness, I am had to try and make sure 
we kept what we needed in our carry-ons (still keeping under that  7 kgs, remember).  Luckily I had stuffed a few backpacks into our luggage and we were able to use those and check a few of our caLittle did we know that there is a weight limit on CARRY ON LUGGAGE!!!  I could not believe this.  We crammed all the "extra" stuff in our carry-ons because we knew there would be a 44 pound weight limit on CHECKED luggage in China on our in-country flights.  I'm sure we were a sight - all five of us unpacking and re-packing our suitcases - running each bag over to the scale to re-check it to make sure it was less than 7 kgs.  Oh my goodness, I am had to try and make sure rry-on bags.  Another thing we didn't know was that we could check two bags per person and we had only planned to pack one per person.  So it all worked out and we didn't have to pay extra for luggage.  YEAH!!!  So far we are about 2 hours into our 15 hour flight and Shane asked for ibuprofen (I can't figure why the man would have a headache…).  I looked through all our carry-ons and it seems it must have been put in a checked bag.  That's okay, a nice man sitting near us offered Shane an Aleve.  

Security was easy.  We had just enough time to grab a sandwich, eat it real quick, and call our parents to say "adios"or I guess I should say "Zaijian" (zi-jee-ahn). .  As we were boarding the plane we walked through the first class seats.  I was thinking to myself "this would be sooooooo nice…" We then enter the coach section, Rachel turns around with the most serious and confused face and says loudly "Is this the same plane?"  Needless to say everyone within ear shot got a good laugh.  She was quite confused, poor thing.  I can just imagine she must have been thinking "this is pretty cool" and then saw our section and was quite shocked.  That's okay she had the people around us literally laughing out loud.  At least we all have our own TV screen and we can watch whatever we want.  It's pretty cool.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 (Day 2)

We made it to Hong Kong all in one piece, though a little stiff from the crazy positions we found to sleep in!!!  Rachel was blessed that she had an empty seat next to her.  She was able to lay down and sleep pretty comfortably.  We took turns and I was able to get some good sleep the same way.  The boys were not so lucky!  Immigration and customs was easy.  The customer service here has been excellent.  Everyone has been kind and overly helpful and friendly.

We all had a comfy bed at the Airport Marriott and awoke before the crack of dawn.  We have an ocean front room (complementary upgrade, who knew?1?!?!?) and are currently waiting for the sun to rise.  Yes, we are all awake, but then it is 3:00 pm, back home.  

Our first breakfast in China - Hong Kong
Rachel and Josh trying out the chopsticks!

Friday, January 18, 2013 (Day 3)

We all had a comfy bed at the Airport Marriott last night and awoke before the crack of dawn.  We have an ocean front room (complementary upgrade, who knew?1?!?!?) and are currently waiting for the sun to rise.  Yes, we are all awake, but then it is 3:00 pm, back home.  

We were excited to see the sun rise over the bay, but that did not happen.  It was so "foggy" that we really couldn't see anything.  There were mountains all around us, but it was difficult to see how beautiful they were.

    Waiting to board our first in-country flight!
  • We had a great breakfast and met another family from Ohio that were there adopting a little boy, their second adoption.  There was another couple there with a little boy with Down Syndrome.  He was so happy and cute and full of energy.  You couldn't help smiling when your saw him.  We saw them again later at the airport and were in line next to them in the customs/immigration line.  The little boy's name was Silas and he was their 7th child - all adopted - from all over. 

Rachel outside the Kunming Airport
This has been a long day though everything has went very smoothly.  We arrived in Kunming at 2:30 this afternoon and our guide met us.  His name is Jerry Dong.  He is very high energy, talks and laughs a lot telling us all about the city and his country.  We took a bus to the hotel with him.  He explained that we are in very high altitudes here and may be dizzy or have an upset stomach!  By the time we reach the hotel I was feeling it… A little water, snack, and sleep helped a lot.  We all fell asleep in the same room, although we have two rooms.  That was interesting.  I woke up at 9:00 p.m.  Michael had been on his  iPad the whole time that we were all sleeping so he and I switched spots.  I tried updating the blog and getting on Facebook with no luck.  I did send out an email update.  It is so encouraging hearing back from all our friends and family at home.

Tomorrow we will rest, walk around and explore the city, and try to get on a schedule.  We will go to the Stone Forest (about a 2- hour bus ride away) on Sunday.  We meet Jenna Monday.  That is our Gotcha Day!!!!

I feel very blessed to be an American, here in this strange-foreign land.  Our guide asked us if we go to church and pointed out a church to us.  I have no idea what kind of church or what is allowed inside, it looked somewhat a lot like a Catholic church back home.  He quickly told us that "I am communist, I am not allowed to have a religion or believe".  That is so sad and so beyond my scope of understanding that he feels that way, but he has no concept of anything different.  His name is Jerry Dong.   We are praying that he can see Jesus in us and have a longing in his heart for something he has no way of understanding…

This is the airport in Kunming.  It is about 30-40 minutes outside the city.  It is fairly new, built within the past few years.  They are building a railway system from the city to the airport, but it will take several years to complete.

At Green Lake Park
Saturday, January 19, 2013 (Day 4)

We woke up around 3:30 am (China time) and we are really hungry.   We were all so tired that we never got up to eat dinner last night.  Good thing we brought those Nutty Bars and peanut butter crackers.  We will have to wait to eat breakfast.  Today is our "free day"  to go out and explore this lovely city.  I can't wait to see the Chinese Wal-Mart.  They also have Starbucks, KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut.  Our guide told us to shop early because there are very long lines to check out at the stores (2-3 hours sometimes….).  There is a park and lake nearby.  We are in walking distance to everything.  Let's hope our google translate works correctly.

Josh is a Star!
We made it to Green Lake Park.  The seagulls were quite the attractions.  Apparently they travel here in the winter months from Siberia and stay in the Kunming area.  The kids were feeding them bread, when the "paparazzi found us".  They were pulling on our arms, putting food in our hands to feed the birds, and snapping pictures like crazy.  They got some good shots and were pulling on me, I am assuming to buy the pictures - but since I don't speak Chinese and they didn't speak any English - we quickly went the other way!

We came back to the hotel and the kids worked on their homework and Shane and I took much needed naps.   We then went out and walked around the city and had dinner at the BlueBird.  On our way back to the hotel for the night we stopped at Dairy Queen for Blizzards - they were very good.  Just like home!  I was so tired and Shane was trying to get us all to stay awake, hoping that we wouldn't wake so early the next morning.  It seemed like everytime I would blink my eyes I would fall into a sleep.  Finally, we decided to get out of the room and go to the lobby and play cards.  That, apparently, is not allowed at our hotel.  They made us leave!!!!  So we played one game of UNO on the bed and then I passed out on everyone.

Stone Forest
Sunday, January 20, 2013 (Day 5)

 Rachel and I woke up early again…..and hungry!!!!  We made it to our first sightseeing spot in Kunming.  The Stone Forest.  It really was awesome.  Our guide compared it to our Grand Canyon - but the opposite?!?!?!?  I can't believe that I've seen China's equivalent to the Grand Canyon, but haven't seen the Grand Canyon.  That's on my bucket list.  We can take Jenna when she is older.  

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel, kids did some homework and Shane got a good nap in the boys room alone.  I got a sketchy nap with the kids in the room.  We headed out again for a walk around the city and to find a place for dinner.  We found Wal-Mart, not at all like home.  I felt like I was on a different planet, just getting there.  Rachel commented that it was like "the Lorax".  Weird underground circle with scooters and bicycles and cars and people everywhere.  This country girl is NOT digging it.  But it's okay…..  We did not find a new place to eat.  Everywhere we looked, just looked too, well, scary!  We went back to the BlueBird restaurant across from our hotel.  They have a really good spinach salad that I think I could live on.  The meats are all different and Rachel is struggling to find something she can stomach.  The boys are doing good, they are trying new things and not complaining at all.  Shane who is my pickiest eater of all is doing okay too.

We had an emotional evening, Shane and I.  Realizing this is the last night before our family changes.  We are confident and sure of God's plan for us, but there is some sadness in the excitement.  Our sweet family will be forever different.  Different and better I am confident, but it's hard to see the forest for the trees when you are in it!  And we are in it!!!  God is good.  I just keep going to Him in prayer and petition for peace and confidence in His plan.  

Romans 8:28 keeps coming to mind
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.  

and... 1 Peter 5:6-9,10
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power forever and ever.  Amen.

Rachel wrote this on the mirror after her shower this morning.
Monday, January 21, 2013 
(Day 6 - Day 1 with Jenna)

We are excited, scared, nervous, anticipating, anxious, and we have to wait until 2:30 p.m.  That is what we are doing right now.  WAITING to meet our daughter………

Rachel and I went to the gym and exercised.  The boys are being lazy…..

We journeyed to Pizza Hut and got us some good American food.  By the time we walked back to the hotel it was time to gather our belongings and head out to meet our new daughter.   We really had no idea what to expect.  We drove about 30 minutes in city traffic in a hot bus.  I was not feeling too good when we arrived.  I was thinking we would go inside, get settled, get our cameras ready and then they would bring Jenna in with all the fanfare she deserved.  Not so……  As we walked down the driveway/alley to the building, our guide, Jerry, points to this little Nissan pickup truck with a backseat.  There was one baby girl that I could see, but there were two others who got out of the backseat of that little truck.  Jenna was on the other side of the truck and when we walked up they said this is your daughter.  Not the hoopla I was hoping for.  She was very scared and starting to cry.  I was fumbling around with the camera.  It was quite chaotic.  

When we got inside there were two other families there getting their one year old baby girls.  One of the babies was almost the same size as our Jenna.  She is so cute and so tiny.  She was very sad and cried a lot.  She did let me hold her and at one point she was shaking terribly.  I thought she was just reacting to the shock of it all.  Then she started saying something that I though sounded like "Jesse".  There was another baby there named Jesse, so I thought maybe she wanted her.  She said this a few times and finally I asked someone, "What is she saying?"  Oh, she needs to go to the bathroom!  And sure enough, that was her problem.  

The craziness continued with picture taking, paperwork and more paperwork.  We were able to sit down with the orphanage director and caregiver and ask some specific questions about her.  That was really nice.  We learned that she has been with the same foster family since she was around one year old, so almost 4 years.  There was a mother, father, older brother and sister in the home.  (A little side note - Jerry told us that in the countryside couples are allowed to have 2 children, but in the city only 1).  I asked lots of questions about her development and lifestyle.  They told me that she cried when she was told that she would be adopted soon.  That makes me feel that she was happy with her foster family, and scared of the unknown, just as we all were.  She was holding a "Minnie" mouse purse and the picture book that we sent her a few months ago.  We were told that the purse was from her foster family and she has been sleeping with the purse and the book every night.  She also had the pillow pet that we had sent her.  I'm so happy that we did that, we were told there were no guarantees that she would get them.

 It was difficult on the kids to see her so sad and upset.  Josh and Rachel were both crying at one point, and Michael was being tough but you could see the compassion on his face.  The boys were good to take pictures and video for us.  I'm so thankful.  Rachel was thinking and came to me as said "mom should we get some of the stuff out that we brought for her?"  "Yes, that is a great idea Rachel"  So she got out the bubbles and started blowing them toward her.  Jenna slowly warmed up to Rachel and eventually popped a bubble, blew on the wand, and then held the wand and blew bubbles herself.  The kicker was the i-Pad though.  She calmed down and played on it like she knew exactly what she was doing.

We were all of a sudden ready to go.  Jerry says "get your things, lets go."  She started to cry again, but put her hands up for me to pick her up and hold her.  That made me smile through my tears.  The bus ride back to the hotel was hot and seemed to take forever.  She sat on my lap with Rachel next to us.  Rachel helped her with the i-Pad and she played it most of the way back.  They dress the babies so warm here.  I could not believe it.  She had on 3 layers of clothes and it is in the upper 60s.  And these were not thin layers either.  We are wearing short sleeves and a light jacket for morning and evenings.  She was sweating on the bus.  Jerry said she was fine. He said she is Chinese, that is what she is used to.  I said would you please ask her if she wants this coat off.  He did and she (not to my surprise) said "Yes!"

We got back to the hotel and she played on the i-Pad some more.  She imitated drawing a circle and cross for me.  I'm sorry, I just had to see……  Her fine motor and gross motor skills are really good.  She imitates everything Rachel does.  She threw the little basketball to try to make a basket in the little hoop we hand hanging on the wall.  Then Rachel got out the balloons and that was a big hit.  She was throwing and batting and kicking at them.  Eventually she was running around, literally laughing out loud.  This is what have been praying for, for over a year.  She knows us.  Our God is amazing and loves us so.  She totally knows us.

Shane and the boys went to KFC and brought food back as not to take her out and traumatize her even more.  She ate and ate and ate.  I think she would have eaten more, but I was afraid she would get an upset tummy.  The kids played some more and she started to warm up more to Shane and the boys.  She loved hitting them with the big balloons.  She is full of energy and is fitting in just fine with our rowdy bunch.  I was a little concerned about how we would get her to go to sleep, being so wound up and excited.  Michael put in "its time to sleep" in his google translate and played it to her a few times.  I helped her hug both boys and tell them "good-night".  Then we came back into our (the girls') hotel room.  The girls put on their matching PJs from Nana, brushed their teeth, we said prayers and they both fell asleep within minutes.  As I replay this day in my head, it is nothing short of amazing.  

Shane says for me to add in here when he was laying down with the girls, Jenna was trying to say "Rachel" :)

Tomorrow we head back to some place to do more paperwork and then on to the police station to apply for her passport.  This should prove to be an interesting day.

Rachel ended the night by saying "This was the best Gotcha day ever."  I have to agree.

To God we give all the glory.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 (Day 7 - Day 2 with Jenna)

We woke early again today, but not as early; 5 am - it's getting better!  Jenna slept through the night and we had to wake her for breakfast.  She was groggy, but smiled when she saw me.  She ate a good breakfast, but was specific in what she wanted.  I took her around the buffet and she shook her head "yes" and "no" for the foods she preferred.  She ate fried rice with eggs and ham and some veggies.  She loved the watermelon and refused the pears, pineapple and oranges.  I took some Cheerios and raisins from the buffet and she ate those as a snack later in the morning.  

We left right after breakfast and returned to the apartment/government office where we met her yesterday.  We did some quick paperwork and were off to the next place.  The police station was very busy, but our guide is very smart and experienced.  He has "relationship" with workers.  He had his friend get him a number for us early this morning, so we did not have to wait in line.  We were in and out - lickety split!!!  Passport is being processed.  

We were back at the hotel by 11:00 a.m.  More playing with bubbles, balloons, and iPads.  She is very attached to Rachel already and will interact with the boys a little by hitting them with balloons or slapping at them and laughing.  I asked Michael and Josh to join the girls out in the hallway and blow bubbles, they humored me and actually had fun trying to blow and capture the biggest one!  We then headed out for lunch.  We hit Pizza Hut again, knowing that Jerry was taking us out for authentic Chinese dinner tonight, I wanted to make sure the kids got at least some calories in them.  Jenna ate rice and pizza.  Michael carried her in a backpack and she was smiling the whole way.  I think she liked being up so high where she could see everything.  We came back to try to get her to take a nap.  She was very good and stayed in her bed for almost an hour, but never went to sleep.  She played and talked with her stuffed animals, while I tried to nap.  I did get a few snoozes in.
  • funny little side note - as we were walking to Pizza Hut we saw an accident.  That's not funny I know, but no one was hurt.  A bicyclist fell off his bike in the middle of the road after either hitting or trying to avoid hitting a pedestrian crossing the street.  Strange happenings on the other side of the world…...

We went to the Chinese restaurant and had a great time.  The food was good (even Shane liked it).  Rachel ate mostly bread and drank their hot tea they serve with all meals.  She had some almonds when we got back to the room.  Josh took pictures of the food with his iPod in case we want to go back (without Jerry) we can order the same food.   Jenna held Rachel's hand and walked all the way to the restaurant and back.  She has a little bounce in her step which is just adorable.  She has been resisting Shane today and threw a little fit when he picked her up to cross the road.  We just let her throw her fit and as soon as we were on the other side of the road he put her down and she was just fine.  Already testing the waters….

authentic Chinese restaurant for dinner

Jenna is an awesome little girl and is fitting into our family amazingly well, but we are still on an emotional roller coaster.  Rachel had a good day with her, but this evening they took a bath together (and had a great time) and she saw the pronounced curve in Jenna's back.  This was very hard for her and I tried to help by explaining surgery and how it would help her, but I gave her too much information and she just broke down and cried.  We are praying that God will reveal the best medical path for her in the next few weeks to months and for grace and peace to our family as we navigate these unknown waters.  

We had a nice prayer time before bed tonight and Josh went to Rachel to comfort her and put a big smile on her face.  Michael went to Jenna and she tried interacting with him the best way she knows how right now.  I'm very thankful that the kids are with us, but this is all really hard on them.  I know that it will grow them and stretch them as a part of God's plan on their lives, but it is really hard for this mama to watch.

Tomorrow is a new day.  I pray for peace and joy that can only come from our God as we embark on.  We go to the orphanage for a tour in the  morning.  I pray this will be a good experience for all, especially little Jenna.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 (Day 8 - Day 3 with Jenna)

Bests of the day from... 
Michael:  It was fun watching Jenna be a "spaz" (screaming, running, wouldn't stop talking in Chinese, pulling my hair, hitting me) and giving Chinese girls my autograph.
At the Jade store - Josh and Jenna
Josh:  Going to the jade store.  The hamburger at dinner.  
Rachel:  Going to the silk store; getting a traditional chinese dress and silk pillow and picking out jewelry for Jenna when she is older.
Shane:  Hearing that Jenna had a really good relationship with her foster dad and understanding that this is probably why she isn't connecting with me.
Julie:  Watching Jenna start to connect with Michael and a little more with Josh.  Going shopping with our guide was also really fun.  Seeing the orphanage and watching the caregivers do exercises with the children who have CP.

This was a mural they had outside of the orphanage.
Playground out side in a courtyard area.  It was very nice,
but looked brand new, as if it had never been played on.
Today was a great day.  We started off with a trip to the orphanage.  I was concerned that Jenna would be confused and afraid going back there, but she wasn't.  She took Rachel's hand and led her around like she owned the place.  We saw all the different rooms and saw some of the babies and older children with more severe disabilities.  The name of her orphanage was Kunming Children's Welfare Institute.  They have a program of sending most of the children to foster care after being in the orphanage for a few months and being checked out medically.  They come back a week before being adopted and stay at the orphanage to give them time to adjust to being away from the foster family.  

When touring we went past the baby room.  The workers came to the window to greet us and the children being adopted.  We had 2, one-year old babies in our group plus Jenna. The workers seemed genuine and happy to see them again.  They have known Jenna since she was six months old and asked to take a picture of her with us to send to her foster family.    We were able to take pictures in the orphanage, but just none of the babies faces!

After the orphanage visit, Jerry took us shopping for some traditional Chinese gifts.  We bought some jade pieces to give to her when she is older and some other small gifts.  The boys really enjoyed looking at all the different pieces.  It was a government shop, which guarantees the authenticity of the stones.  They also employ a LOT of people.  It would be like walking into Kay jewelers and having 6-10 people watching you and waiting on you., but at each case.  It was crazy!!!
This was taken just inside the government Jade shop.  Jenna was very excited in this stop, and she was moving fast in this photo...

The silk shop was next.  They took us in and explained how the silkworms pod single and double.  They use each for different products.  They had everything silk; from silk stitched pictures to blankets, scarfs, clothing and more.  Jenna and Rachel each got a traditional silk Chinese dress.  Jenna's face was a glow!

Playing around while waiting for daddy to pay for the dresses.  We did a lot of waiting!

We had a hodgepodge lunch of left-overs, snatched food from the breakfast buffet, and almonds.  Jenna napped today.  After 20 minutes of singing loudly in Chinese while Rachel was trying to fall asleep, I decided to lay down with her and she was out within a few minutes.  She slept for a few hours and it was very difficult to wake her.  When I did finally force her to get up, she was not happy.  She covered her eyes with her hands and refused every attempt I made to console her.  She was crying some, but mostly I felt like she was just mad and wanted to make sure we all knew it.  This lasted for a good 45 minutes.  I finally turned on a Chinese DVD - their equivalent to Hello Kitty/Tom n Jerry mix (thanks to the Groh family for loaning those to us).  She sat on my lap in front of the computer for at least 15 minutes with her hands over her eyes.  She then started to peek through her fingers to watch the cartoon.  I had to get up to get ready for dinner, so I asked the boys to sit with her.  She cuddled right up to Michael and buddied up with him for a while.  I changed her clothes and got her ready for dinner, and she was still mad.  Michael carried her down to the lobby to meet the other couple we were having dinner with that night.  By the time we left for dinner she was fine.  She definitely has a strong will and knows what she wants.

She is a bit of a picky eater and she loves candy, gum, and sweets.  At the orphanage I asked the caregiver in charge of her, about Jenna's teeth (they are rotten).  She hesitated and sighed, then told us that the foster family spoiled her, giving her candy all the time and her teeth are now rotten.  At dinner she would not eat her rice and beans and veggies that I ordered for her.  She ate part of Rachel's quesadilla and my chips.  We had dinner at an American-type bar and grill.  It was very nice and felt really comfortable.  This was where a group of 8-10 year old Chinese girls who came up to us and asked for our autographs and wanted pictures with us.  It was very cute and their english was very good.  The couple that we had dinner with just happen to be surgeons, and can you believe it - the husband is a spine surgeon.  Sorry, I don't believe in coincidences and I thank God for putting this nice man in our path.  He was very encouraging and reassuring that if we get her started in treatment and surgery soon, she will do very well.  He was very happy to connect us to friends of his who work in pediatrics and are the best in their field.  I also received an email from my friend Joy, who is a PT, today assuring me that we have many options of treatment.  I'm feeling so much better.

We had a quiet evening in the hotel room after dinner.  Well it wasn't quiet, but it was nice.  I can hear her squirming around in the bed and whispering to herself and maybe to her stuffed animals now as I type this.  That nap was a little too long, I think.  But she is so good to stay in her bed - the foster family did well with that.  

She is starting to imitate some words already.  Today she imitated (approximations of) silly, Rachel, Josh, (she puts her lips together like she is going to try, but has not yet said Michael - that is a hard one), ready, go, bubbles, and more than I can't think of right now.

Oh, and did I mention she loves her new pretty clothes and most of all her hair bows and head bands.  She stands in front of the mirror and takes out and puts back in her hair accessories.  Then she looks at me for approval and to hear "pretty girl".

I am tired, but feeling so much stronger than I was last night as I typed up the memories of the day.  I am tru.ly honored and stand amazed at our glorious God who has orchestrated all of this and put so many wonderful friends and family members in our lives to encourage us and lift us up in prayer.  

Tomorrow we go the "finding spot".  It may prove to be another emotional day……

Thursday, January 24, 2013 (Day 9 - Day 4 with Jenna)

So we went to the "finding spot" today.  It was weird because, as our guide explained to us, everything has changed.  It was a bus station in 2008, but now there are raised highways and interchanges and roads all around.  She was found at the Kunming eastern bus station under the tree of greenbelt.  She was found on 9/23/2008, estimated age of 6 months.  There was a note left with her, but the police department would not release it.  :(  I will contact the private investigator again when we get home to see if he can find anything out, now that we have a little more information.  I contacted him before we left and the orphanage would not release any information to him about Jenna.  We also have a copy of the article that was in the local newspaper about her abandonment.  

It was really hard on Shane because Jenna is still very much resisting him.  I had to carry her a far distance and I wanted Shane to carry her for awhile.  She wiggled and squirmed and pushed and kicked.  Then he was thinking of her birth mother and how she must have felt in that spot 4+ years ago….  He prayed with the kids that she would have peace and know that her daughter is being taken care of and loved.  

This is a "spot" we chose to take the family picture.  It was such a large area.  We just had to guess.

This building behind us is the old bus stop.  It has now been
converted into a hospital.

Jerry, our guide, then took us to a traditional Chinese tea house.  He has been taking us to some really nice places.  This place was somehow connected with the "tea growing" department at the local university.  So we tasted a lot of tea.  They took us into a tasting room and we sat around a big table.  Jenna was really good and sat on my lap most of the time.  She liked the crackers they had there, but didn't care much for the tea.  It was really interesting and the lady there got Shane to buy a lot of tea.

 Michael got a little "drunk" on the tea.  Who knew that was possible?  But, he says caffeine has the opposite effect on him that it does on most people.  He was tired and dizzy and his eyes were a little glossy.  His cheeks were red and he was kinda slurring his words (just a little), but he was laughing a lot?!?!?  I'm not sure about that boy.

All the older kids got a chance to make tea and serve it to us, Josh
was a little shy about it, so I thought I would put his pictures in.
He did a great job!
 It was a really cool place to visit and learn about "real" tea. (Not the powdered stuff we sell in America that is so cheap!)  On the way back to the hotel I got to see just how tenacious our daughter is!  She did not want to sit on my lap in the bus today.  I tried to put her in the seatbelt, but she is such a little peanut and Hudini-like that she was able get out of the seat belt.  So I held her as she wiggled and pushed and cried and tried to unclasp my hands by pulling my fingers open with hers.  We were both sweaty and tired by the time we got back to the hotel. 

We made it back and got a little rest, started packing to leave tomorrow, and then went to dinner.  It was good, but we are getting tired of Chinese food-the real deal is different than the buffets back home.

Jenna continues to amaze us.  She is just so funny and she knows it!!!  She has these great facial expressions and definitely talks with her beautiful brown eyes.  She knows what she wants and some of these things she wants and is used to getting are not good for little girls.  It's hard with the language barrier, but it is very obvious when she understands and just doesn't want to listen sometimes.  Usually she hides the things she has and wants to keep behind her back or runs away and hides.  Just like any other 2-3 year old does trying to test their parents.  Only she is almost 5 and seems to have been getting away with it, and is quite smart about it.  She is going to keep us on our toes.  

Friday, January 25, 2013 (Day 10 - Day 5 with Jenna)

This morning consisted of breakfast and packing for the airport.  Jenna played really well while we were getting our things together.  She even ventured out into the hallway (our rooms are right next to each other and we had both doors open) and walked into the boys room (with Shane) and stayed in there for quite a while without me.  

One of the funny things that she has been doing is bouncing on the balloons like a hippity-hop ball.  She laughs and screams and it is really cute!  She is now saying all the kids names - it doesn't sound perfect, of course, but we all know what she is trying to say.  

We got her Chinese passport today and now we are headed to the airport.  Jerry went with us and got us checked-in and on our way.  Jenna is very independent and wants to do as much as she can on her own, although she will let me help her with things and I think she likes the help.  Anyway, she insisted on pulling her suitcase.  It was the cutest thing.  I'm sure everyone thought we were horrible because is was almost as big as her.   But she would not let us help her.  She thought the escalators were great.  She just laughed and laughed and looked up at us with those eyes of amazement and excitement.  Then the big moment came - BREAKTHROUGH  at the moving sidewalk in the airport.  She walked up to it and just froze.  Shane was next to her and she let him take her hand!!!  She thought the moving sidewalk was very cool and we had about 3 or 4 to go on.  She let Shane help her on each one.  From that point on she has been letting him help her and even pick her up and carry her.  This was huge and made Shane so happy.  He's such as softie (in a good masculine sort-of-way) and it was really bothering him that she wasn't warming up to him the way she was with me and the other kids.
Jenna's first art project! (and just for the record - she picked out ALL of her own hair accessories)
She found this book of hand-art and has been bringing it to me for 2 days, but I never took the time to sit down and do it with her, so I packed it thinking we would have time at the airport and we did.  I traced her hand and we made a peacock.  She even said "peacock" in imitation of me.  She colored in her fingers (on the paper) as the feathers and glued on the eye and pom-pom balls.  She was so proud of her artwork.  She gestured that she wanted to do it again.  So I drew her hand for her and just sat back to see what she would do on her own.  She did it exactly perfect and all I did was put the glue on the paper.  I think she is going to be ready for school very soon.  She loves to color and draw and play with stickers, etc.
The plane ride was interesting.  Again she did not want the seat belt or to be confined in any way.  She figured out very quickly how to undo her belt.  I put my had over it so that she couldn't undo it and she reached over in her anger (and I'll show you attitude) and unbuckled Rachel's belt.  Rachel just looked at me in amazement.  It was very hard not to laugh but we did contain ourselves.  I had to get the iPad out and I struggled to find an app that she could do.  She is so impulsive and moves so quickly that she opens new apps within seconds of me starting another one.  Finally I opened up the "my home" app and she loved it.  It's a family in a house and you can move the people around, have them eat, turn on/off the TV, open/close the curtains and so much more.  Very fitting, I thought.  She played with that until we had to shut it down.  That was a long 15 minutes of her trying to unbuckle, but we made it.  Good news is that she doesn't hold a grudge.  She gets over her anger as quickly as it came (most of the time….)

Our new guide in Guangzhou met us after we gathered our luggage.  Her name is Elsie and is very nice and helpful.  She was talking with Jenna and very engaging with her.  We loaded our stuff onto the bus and off we went to the next hotel.  Jenna wanted to sit in the back of the bus with Josh, but she slid off the seat twice, so I put her in my lap.  You guessed it, we had a wrestling match all the way to the hotel.  But again, we made it!  This hotel is amazing.  Very, very nice.  Much better than the last one, except we only have one room.  It has two twin beds with a sitting room area which is nice to hang out and watch TV.  Rachel is sleeping on the couch, they boys have camping blow-up mattresses and Jenna is in a crib.  I felt a little bad about putting her in a crib, knowing that she is almost 5 years old, but she did really well in it and we didn't have much of a choice.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 (Day 11 - Day 6 with Jenna)

Just waiting to be called in for our turn.
Today was quite eventful.  We had the medical appointment and application for Jenna's US visa at the US Consulate.  It was very organized, but it was a little like herding cattle…  There were many Americans there - which was really cool to see.  We talked with many of them as we were waiting and it was very encouraging.  Some of them were on their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (some more) trips to China for adoptions.  One man saw Michael's Casting Crowns t-shirt and told us that he knows Mark Hall.  "He is a great guy," he said.  "Very involved with their local youth group." They were from Atlanta.  Shane said it felt like a big church gathering, fellowshipping with everyone.  It was interesting to hear everyone's story.  

There were many kids with varying special needs.  One older girl in a wheelchair, a 2-year-old with a rare-skin disease where any time she falls, gets bumped or any kind of friction her skin gets so damaged that she gets blister-like open sores.  Her face had several spots and her legs and torso were wrapped in gauze.  But, with all that she truly was a beautiful little girl.  We saw several babies with unrepaired cleft-lip and palate.  The older children with this diagnosis were repaired.  Some of the children there had no obvious disability.  We are finding that Jenna is not the only strong-willed, independent little one being adopted.  One of the moms in our group said today, very matter-of-fact, "well, it makes sense that they would all have such strong personalities - they are survivors".  I had never thought of it that way, but it is very true.  Survivors!!!

Jenna did really well with all the chaos, until the TB test.  It didn't help that they took her from us and would not let us go in with her.  She cried and cried….  It was hard not being able to explain it to her myself, even though our guide did try.  We got through everything else without a hitch and made it back to the hotel.  

Oh, I almost forgot we went to the "Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Memorial Halll" which Elsie said was very important., before our appointment.  It was a memorial built to commemorate Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the great forerunner of Chinese revolution.  Building started in 1929 and was completed in 1931.  It was quite impressive.

Jenna is still showing more and more interest in her daddy.  He is very happy about it, as am I.  She is now letting him hold her, carry her, and hold her hand when we are walking places.  I was able to leave her in the hotel room today with Shane, Rachel and Josh and she did just fine.  Rachel and Jenna did more hand-art projects and they both did a great job.  Michael and I went to the grocery store to get some staples to keep in the room.  It was fun going with Michael, and he carried all the heavy stuff back to the hotel.  He also pointed out the rotisserie ducks which still had their necks and head.  I took a picture because it was so odd.  

I woke up yesterday with a screaming sore throat.  I started talking some antibiotics, just in case.   Michael also wasn't' feeling well, so we started him on them too.  After shopping today, I asked Elise to take me for an herbal remedy for my sore throat.  She did and it feels better when I drink it, but I can hardly swallow now.  Michael says he is doing much better, but I'm really not.

Rachel had been asking to go walk around the hotel, since we arrived, so after I got the groceries put away her and Jenna and I went exploring.  It is really beautiful, with a "garden" and ponds with fish and a huge waterfall.  The problem was that it was raining and I really didn't want to get soaked.  So we did the escalators and the big beautiful staircase and nosed around a little.  Then we went back to the room and sat outside in an open area to just run around, blow bubbles, and Rachel practiced her cartwheels.  At one point both the girls went over by the elevator.  They have fresh flowers floating in bowls of water.  Rachel said that she put her hand in and the Jenna did the same.  Only Jenna had  on long sleeves and she got her shirt wet.  I think I mentioned earlier that she is quite particular about things.  She wants her clothes just so, so and her hands and mouth cleaned immediately after eating.  Anyway, she did not like her shirt sleeves wet and she was telling me all about it.  She kept pointing at Rachel and then showing me her wet sleeve.  I'm pretty sure she was tattling on Rachel.  It was funny!  I tried to video some of it.

At 4:00 we had a meeting with our guide and other families from WACAP.  We got all of our paperwork in order for our meeting with the US Consulate.  Our appointment is on Tuesday.  There is another little girl in our group who is 4 also and her and Jenna blew bubbles together.  I gave one of the bottles of bubbles to them and Jenna did not look at all thrilled about that.  She tried to take it back, and I told her "no, it's ok, she can keep them, you have one".  I'm sure she heard "No" and that's about it, because she just kept staring at that bottle of bubbles.  Oh well…..

So for dinner we went to an authentic "Mexican" restaurant and it was actually really good.  The name of it was Tekilas.  But the service was terrible.  Michael got his food after everyone else was finished eating and the couple that was with us, the lady never got her food!  My fajitas were good though.

Jenna took a bath in the big bathtub and had a blast.  She put her head under the faucet and made silly faces at me.  She kept looking at herself in the mirror and smiling.  If this is any indication of how she will do in the water, I am thrilled.  I would be really hard if she was afraid of the water, in this family of water lovers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013 (Day 12 - Day 7 with Jenna)

Another interesting day.  Who knew that you could go to an evangelical Church in China? I did not know that, but we experienced it today.  Our guide is a believer and she said that the churches like the one we visited are restricted in what they can teach by the government.  She said she doesn't think they follow closely to the Bible.  The service was Mandarin/English and they sang one song in English twice at the beginning and the end. All the speaking was interpreted, but there were several songs in Mandarin that obviously were not.  The sermon was on Revelation and the fires of hell.  We were thinking maybe this church is flying under the radar for now, it's hard to tell.  They had a lot of rules.  No cameras, no food, no intimate behaviors, and more.  Jenna sang and clapped along with the rest of us.  She got a little restless, but all the kids did.

On the way to church we walked through a pedestrian mall.  It was the most bizarre thing I have ever seen.  Rows of stores along the walkway/street filled with the largest variety of merchandise.  Some souvenir type things, pet stores, scorpions, dogs and cats for sale, mice and rats, turtles, fish, salamanders, dead lizards and snakes, random parts of animals dried to use in soups and such including some feet and other things I couldn't identify.  Bags and bags full of beans, noodles, rice, flour, etc.

After church we went to a little shop called, "Jenny's".  The people that we are with are all informed about everything Chinese adoption related.  Apparently there is a big Facebook group I had no idea about.  Anyway, according to our new friends she (Jenny) is a believer and had Bibles and plaques with scripture verses on them as well as SQUEAKY shoes!  I said I would go with them, but I was NOT buying any of those shoes.  Guess what, I got sucked in!  Jenna loved them and she got two pair.  We also got some neat keep-sakes to give her later.

We came back to the hotel for the afternoon and had some drama.  Well, first Shane took the older kids out of the room so Jenna and I could take a nap because I was feeling so bad.  Jenna wasn't feeling bad and apparently did not see the need for my nap.  She was really good though.  She stayed in her crib and entertained herself.  I finally got up and took  her out to find the rest of the family.  I thought they were going swimming, but they decided against that when they saw that the water was 18 degrees celsius.  I guess that's pretty cold!  We found the crew walking around in the garden.  Jenna loves the escalator and we were talking with another family in the lobby.  I let Rachel take her up and that was a big mistake.  Jenna must have lost her balance and I saw was her rolling (tumbling) down the escalator - slowly, but still rolling down.  Shane was quick to run and grab her and she wan't hurt, but she was scared!!!  It took a really long time to calm her down and as soon as she was ready to get down and play she got bumped in the nose by an un-named sibling.  It was a total accident, but she was hurt and now really mad.  She cried and cried and hid her eyes with her hands like she did that first time in the hotel after being woken up from her nap.  So we tried the DVD again, but she kept screaming.  Shane went over to her and prayed with her and she immediately calmed down and watched the rest of  the show with only a whimper now and then.  That was amazing to watch!

So we went out to eat dinner with the family I talked about before.  He is a pastor and this is their second adoption.  The first was from Ethiopia.  They are really fun to be around.  We ate pizza and then decided to treat ourselves to some Haagen-Dazs ice cream.  We went in and realized none of us had actually been to a Haagen-Dazs at home.  It was quite fancy and expensive.  They brought us lemon water in wine glasses and took our order at the table.  We were feeling a little ripped off at $6 for one scoop of ice cream, but then after we paid our bill they brought us a gift.  A bag with 3 ice cream sample-sized treats.  But the ice cream didn't turn out to be the treat.  In the bag was also, dry ice!  Our new friend, the pastor, thought it would be fun to just drop on piece in the water glass, just to see.  Well my boys took that and ran with it.  Dry ice added to raspberry melted ice cream remains and some water make really pretty steam.  This went on for quite a while.  Needless to say we all had a good time.  Michael kept one piece and found a drain with standing water on our way back to the hotel.  Can anyone guess what happened next?

Jenna continues to get closer and allow Shane to do more for her and with her.  She really likes Josh.  He is playful with her and makes her belly-laugh often.  The honey-moon of having a little sister is wearing off and Rachel is beginning to feel sadness and with the realization of the newness of our family.  She had a really hard time last night, but we were able to spend some time together after Jenna went to sleep and talk about things.  We cried together and I promised to take her on "mommy dates" just her and me, as often as I can.  

Good news for Rachel - she finally let Shane pull that tooth this morning, that has been sticky straight out for weeks!!!  When we went to the little shop after church, her daddy bought her some pearl earring from the "tooth fairy".  She really looks like a big girl now.

Jenna is learning things so quickly.  Phrases that I have used with her she already understands.  "Do you need to go potty?"; "Time to brush teeth!";  "Let's take a bath","No" and she is learning "Wait"; that one is much harder.  I am careful not to gesture with my phrase the first time just to see if she understands.  She understands a lot more with gestures.  She has finally slowed down enough on the iPad to actually play the "My Home" app without going into mail, safari, and who knows what else.  Now that is progress!

Monday, January 28, 2013 (Day 13 - Day 8 with Jenna)

This was our first day to sleep in since we arrived in Guangzhou.  We took full advantage and slept until 8, then lounged around until 8:30.  By the time we woke up the kids and everyone got ready with only one bathroom, we almost missed breakfast.  They shut down the buffet at 10 am. But, we made it and made the 10:30 bus to the zoo.  It was very interesting.  Elsie asked Jenna and the other 4 year old girl what animals they had seen before.  Jenna hadn't seen any, but the other little girl had seen some.  The family said that she didn't get to leave her orphanage on a regular basis, but they did take the kids on field trips.  So maybe she got to go to the zoo.  Jenna loved the zoo.   She rode around on Shane's shoulders for most of the visit, but she walked some and I carried her some.  She gets heavy after a while.  We have to take turns. The boys have been good to help us carry her too.  

Look at that tongue!
They had a lot of the same animals that we have at our zoos, but it seems that you could get closer to most of the animals and they were more active. The weather has been perfect, so that may be one reason they were up and about.  The panda was my favorite.  He was pacing about and I got some good pictures.  We got to feed the giraffes leaves.  That was really cool.  Jenna wanted to do it, you could tell, but she was just too frightened.  She did finally hold a longer stick out with one leaf on the end to let the giraffe eat.  He pulled that whole stick out of her hand and she laughed!!!  They also had a baby giraffe and we fed him a little.  That was sweet!
The "Panda" was the highlight of the zoo trip!
So I took this picture of her on the pig,
because we were told that she was born in the
year of the pig (2008).  But later we learn that she
is actually mouse.  Oh well, we tried!

Now we are back at the hotel chillaxlin'.  Jenna is playing on the "my home" app again.  She is getting really good at it.  Right now she is feeding the people popsicles.  I bet she wishes she could have one of those.  We are going to have to put this girl on a detox diet when we get home - she wants everything sugary (and she loves McDonald's french fries).  We went there today for lunch for the first time in China.  It was pretty good.  I think we are all ready for some steak and potatoes when we get home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 (Day 14 - Day 9 with Jenna)

We had our oath ceremony this morning at the US Consulate.  There were probably 10-12 other families there with their children.  They gathered us all in front of a window.  There was a woman from the US who led us in our "oath statement".  We did this as a group.  Then they called each family up to go through all of our paperwork.  They will now issue her a US visa.  We should get that along with her US Citizenship card tomorrow before we leave for Beijing.

Today was a fun day.  After the US Consulate we went to the wholesale market for some local shopping with our guide.  It was interesting and we all had a good time.

Jenna spent some time with Shane while I was shopping and he feels that she is beginning to learn what he expects of her (not hitting, kicking, arching her back, etc.) and she is beginning to trust him more.  Back at the hotel room we had some laughs from our new daughter.  I was trying to get Michael to do some school work and I had been repeating myself telling him to get to work.  Once after I said it Jenna looked up at Michael, pointed her finger and said "do your homework".  Michael and I just looked at each other in amazement and then around at everyone else to make sure they heard it.  Then we laughed and laughed.  She is repeating a lot more phrases.  Today she said;  "uh-oh", "Momma", "peek-a-boo", "washa washa" for washing hands and hair, (these words/phrases she is also saying spontaneously), "good job", "let's go", "Daddy", "shoes", "house keeping" (which sounds more like hous-a-keping - thanks to Michael).

We went outside and played around in the garden, waterfall area of our hotel this afternoon.  She is so easily delighted and joyful with most everything we do.  She loved looking at the fish and just ran around and around with those "squeaky" shoes on.  We went to the kiddie playground and she climbed the stairs, went down the slides and imitated Rachel going down backwards - feet first.  I was sitting off to the side taking pictures and after 10 minutes of her playing with Rachel, she started calling me "momma, momma!"  She has called me that once or twice before, but this was very intentional.  She wanted me to play on the playground with her.  She pulled on me, so I went down the slide with her a few times.  She thought that was really funny!

Tonight we went to dinner again with the Pastor and his wife from Wisconsin.  We went back to the Mexican restaurant "Tekilas" and had good food AND good service.  They were not as busy tonight as they were the first night we went.  It is so odd to see so many workers just standing around waiting and they just watch you eat!  Work ethic is very different here.  Well, I don't know if it is work ethic as much as it is that everybody has to have a job and there are an abundance of workers.  I'm not sure!?!?! Jenna sat very nicely and ate her rice and some of Rachel's quesadillas.  She still tries to get up and out of her highchair when she is done.  She doesn't have a lot of patience for our "grown-up" after dinner chatting.  But she is getting better and understanding the way we do things more and more.  The best part of the night for her, I think, was going to McDonald's and getting an ice cream cone.  I am sure that she has had an ice cream cone before, because she knew exactly what to do with it and how to eat right down the the cone.  Or maybe that is just an innate human trait that we all are born with.  No experience needed.  We were sitting outside, because the weather is so nice here, and two different people came up to us and asked us for food and /or money to the best we could understand with the hand motions they were using.  Shane bought the older lady a sandwich.  The "Pastor" bought the younger lady (she had 2 kids with her) some food.  We decided to leave after that, thinking that we were about to be swarmed.  They definitely had our number.

This is our last night here in Guangzhou.  We have really enjoyed this city.  We feel very safe and have seen very few homeless people.  Now, we are staying in a very nice hotel in a good part of the city, but still it is very clean and we have felt very safe.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but our guide told us that they outlawed scooters, motorcycles and honking!  It makes for a quieter and less crazy city.  As I mentioned before, in Kunming there were scooters everywhere, all the time.  One day we saw four young men on one scooter!  The weather has been perfect here.  It has been in the upper sixties to low seventies everyday.  The first day we got a little rain, but since then the sun has been shining everyday.  I am very thankful for that, as I hear we are having a winter storm back  in Wisconsin that has even shut down O'Hare airport.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 (Day 15 - Day 10 with Jenna)

Wow!  I truly can't believe Jenna has been with us for 10 days already.  Eight days ago, I was so homesick and ready to leave this place I could barely stand it.  But once we got to Guangzhou, it started to feel a little like a vacation.  Partly due to the nice hotel and the great weather, but mostly due to Jenna.  She really is doing so awesome and fitting into our family so well.   I am still ready to get home, but all the prayers being sent up that we could enjoy our time here are being answered daily.  Even Josh, the most homesick of us all, is enjoying himself!

This is our last day in Guangzhou.  We have to be ready to leave for the airport at 4:00 p.m.  We had a late breakfast and decided to get packed up, before heading back to Shaiman Island for some last minute shopping.  Shane took the girls out into the garden while they boys and I went up to the room to pack.  Well, really I packed while they played on their i-things and they were kind enough to weigh the bags for me when I asked for help.  Shane had a really nice time with the girls.  They were able to feed the fish some bread and run around freely.  Jenna is doing so much better with him.  It warms my heart.  He was having such a hard time with that!  He came back so excited to show me a picture that he had taken.  I was thinking that he was going to show me this super cute picture of the girls doing something super cute together.  I couldn't have been more wrong!  It was a picture of the maintenance guy waving and smiling, standing behind a RIDGID-Kollman sewer machine!  

So we got all our stuff packed up and hailed a taxi for the Island.  We crammed our now family of  6 into a compact 4-door car.  Shane was in the front with the driver.  The rest of us crammed ourselves into the back seat.  The bellman tried to get us to take two cars, be we are not having that!  Rachel was on my lap, Jenna of Josh's lap, and Michael on the other side.  Togetherness, I love it!  We went back to Jenny's for a few more gifts (but no more squeaky shoes were purchased).  We also found another store that had family friendly t-shirts.  We all got one and Jenna got two.  My favorite is Jenna's shirt that says "Made in China".  Some people may think it's tacky, but I thought it was so cute.  The rest of us got ma-ma, baa-baa, jee-jee, and ge-ge shirt with the Chinese characters and those the words on the front and the english (mother, father, sister, brother) on the back.  Oh, Jenna picked out a lot of things that she liked.  Everything she liked looked like something you could get back home at the dollar store.  A bouncy ball, silly bands, and my favorite an ugly little doll.  We said "no" to the doll, because it really was ugly, but the store owner took pity on her and gave her a little "free" doll.  She played and played with that little doll.  The first thing she did was take the braids out of her blond hair.  When we got back to the hotel she found a comb in the  bathroom and combed her hair.  Then she took a silly band, used it as a pony tail holder, and put her hair up in a pony tail.  I am not kidding you.  All on her own.  She took the dress and shoes off and on and is calling them "shoes".  YEAH!

Shaiman Island

Off to the airport we go, AGAIN!  One step closer to home.  Today we fly to Beijing.  Elsie has Jenna's US Visa and will give it to us at the airport.  We have all the paperwork we need to bring our little girl home!  Finally.

Everything went very smoothly at the airport.  Elsie got us checked in and through security without a hitch.  We boarded the plane very quickly, not much waiting this time.  Jenna did much better on this flight.  We were able to see the airplane through the walkway windows as we were boarding and she said something really fast and loud in Chinese as she pointed to the wing of the huge plane.  She got settled in her seat, pulled the tray down and I gave her some post-it notes, a pen, and some stickers.  She was happy.  She put stickers all over the plane and me and the post-it notes.  When it was time to close the tray table and buckle for take-off she did very good.  She did not want the buckle, but I pointed to mine and Rachel's and told her "we have to have it on".  She tried to unbuckle a few times, but then resigned herself to the fact that it was staying on.  Thank goodness they had the "Pleasant Goat and the Big-Bad Wolf" as a choice on the plane.  She watched that for a while, then she saw Phineas and Ferb on Rachel's screen and was pointing and doing her "uh, uh, uh" that she does when she wants something.  So I changed it to that (in Chinese).  Then Rachel finished that episode and turned on Sponge Bob and she did the same thing again.  So I changed it again for her.  This time she was happy with the choice.  It seemed as though she knew those shows, or maybe she just wanted what Rachel had, I don't know.  Either way she was happy and so was I.  I started watching Pride and Prejudice, which I have never seen or read the book, and only got about half way through.  I   hope I can finish it on the way home, but it may not be available.  I am realizing that I have not seen or read many classics.  I think I should do that in my free time when we get back and settled (hahahaha!)  That is after I read all the books I have on adoption and how to raise teenage boys and how to bring up a little girl in this culture of ours today.  I will get to it all, though, somehow - someday!

We landed in Beijing at 9:30, right on schedule.  Jenna again loved the moving sidewalks and laughed and laughed at each one (pulling her Hello Kitty bag the whole way).  We got our bags to find that one was missing!  This was interesting trying to explain and fill out all the paperwork.  Shane took care of that while Josh pushed Rachel and Jenna around on the cart full of our other luggage.  But the bag finding issue took a lot longer than the rides on the luggage cart.  Rachel eventually laid down on the floor using her coat and her carry-on as a pillow.  I held Jenna and the boys played on their i-things.

Our guide was waiting for us just outside of baggage claim.  His name is George.  He studied english in college as his major.  He also speaks spanish.  Sometimes he throws in a little spanish just to mess with us.  He looks like a kid, but he is 31 years old.  He is married, but has no children yet.  He lives in Beijing, but gets to travel all around with his job.  He does in-coming jobs (like us) and he does out-going (Chinese people traveling abroad) jobs.  He told us about a trip he did recently to Australia and next week he goes to Singapore. Anyway, he got us to our hotel.  We are back at a Marriott and we are all very happy.  We stayed at a Marriott our first night in Hong Kong and loved it.

We made plans to leave with George in the morning at 10:00 a.m.  He wanted to leave at 9:00, but Shane persuaded him to push it back to 10:00, for which I am very thankful.  Jenna fell asleep in the back seat next to Josh on the way to the hotel.  I carried her in, we waited for Shane to get us checked in.  I carried her to the room, laid her down on the bed, took off her coat (oh, did I mention it is 27 degrees here - so long perfect weather), waited for the baby bed, then picked her up again and put her in bed and she never made a peep.  That was one tired little girl!  She slept the night through.

Thursday, January 31, 2013 (Day 16 - Day 11 with Jenna)

Today we will tour Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City.  We were scheduled to see the great wall first, but George suggested that we switch it so we would have some historical knowledge to take with us to the wall.  That made sense to me.  

the "ice rink"
The haze and pollution here is terrible.  I took lots of pictures, but you can't see much because it just looks foggy.  It is very cold and it was raining/spitting snow on and off all day.  It was pretty yucky!  The Square wasn't much to see although the boys loved it because it was like an ice rink.  They were running and sliding around (and falling too).  No one else was enjoying the slick granite tiles the way our boys were.  As if we didn't stand out enough with the camoflauge coats, orange gloves and the boy in the pink hat.  Yes, Michael was wearing Jenna's hat because his was in the bag that was lost at the airport and Jenna was having nothing to do with that hat.  She had her hood up, I figured that was good enough.  Remember her province is warm year round, so she has more than likely never been in cold weather and never worn a winter hat.  Don't worry we got lots of pictures.  He also had Jenna in the backpack part of the time, but I took her so he could "skate" around.  The City was amazing.  It is called the Forbidden City because it is where the Emperor lived and it was forbidden for others to go there.  George has a lot of knowledge of his country and he did a great job of explaining everything to us.  I wish I would have done a little research before we left, but I was a little busy with other things.

I think this was one of the "resting places" for the emperor as he made his
way through the "city" for the days agenda.

Inside "Forbidden City"

We had to leave a little early because Miss Jenna was not feeling it.  We were loosing her quickly.  The smile was gone and she was checking out on us.  I took her out of the backpack and tried carrying her the rest of the way, but I wore out.  Thankfully she let Shane take her without a fuss.  She fell asleep in his arms, stayed asleep on the bus and all through lunch.

Outside the restaurant - Jenna is still sleeping!

She woke up when we got back on the bus - starving I'm sure.  We tried several times to wake her in the restaurant, but she was sacked out.  We took left overs with us and when we got back to the hotel she ate really good.  Unfortunately we forget utensils so she ate noodle with her fingers.  It was quite a sight.  I got some good pictures.

The best part of the day for me was taking her swimming.  First I put on her Tinkerbell swimsuit (from Evie Ford, thank you very much!) and she loved it.  She pushed the bathroom door open so she could look at herself in the mirror.  It has a little ruffled skirt and she kept running her hands over it and smiling and laughing.  By the time we got to the pool she was beside herself with excitement.  She laughed and laughed, and splashed and splashed.  We definitely have another little fish on our hands.  She loves the water!  She even jumped in from the side of the pool into my arms and then later she jumped in and let Shane catch her!  I think our first organized activity will be swimming lessons.

Blowing bubbles in the water!

She has really taken an interest in Josh in the past few days.  Tonight after dinner we were just hanging out in the lounge at the hotel and she climbed up Josh's back and got on his shoulders.  She was also playing waitress and put a water bottle on a coaster (like it was a tray) and took it to him.

Everyone is sleeping now except Mommy and Daddy and it is time for us to say good-night.  Today was a very good day (except for the nasty weather)!

Friday, February 1, 2013 (Day 17, Day 12 with Jenna)

Panoramic shot of the countryside and "The Wall"  - the flash wasn't working with the panoramic option :(

Jenna is under the "pink" with Michael.

These are the icy steps we walked
up AND down.
Well, we woke up this morning to a new Beijing.  The haze and fog are gone and the sun is  shining!  Apparently a cold front came through last night and blew all that junk away that was clouding up the sky yesterday.  We headed to The Great Wall  with arguably the worst driver in all of China.  He jerked us around so much that Jenna got car sick on the way there and the way back.  She was fine as soon as we got out of the van and back to  her happy, excited, energetic self.  The Wall is so amazingly extensive.  

It goes on, and on, and on and it was uphill from where we started.  Even though the weather is better, we still had to deal with the icy conditions because it is still cold.  The steps toward the bottom were ok because the sun was shining on them, but about 1/3 of the way up they were icy.  Josh carried Jenna in the backpack carrier part way up and Shane carried her the rest of the way.  We climbed up for almost an hour and that was enough for us.  We saw it, we touched it, and someone had to carry the JennaBean in that carrier so we opted to head back down.  Going down was even more treacherous than going up.  We were thankful to have our strong boys with us.  Michael carried her down those steep, long, and winding steps!  Rachel was quite a trooper and was a very big girl the whole time.  We were very proud of her.  She enjoyed it, but it was hard work going and scary in some parts coming down.  I just have to add that I saw at least 2 and possible 3 Chinese women climbing the wall in spiked heel boots!  I could not believe my eyes.  Crazy!!!

Michael (the pack-mule) Jenna (the pink blob)
 and Josh (the handsome).

Rachel and Julie making our way down.

Our guide, sorry to say, in the worst of the three that we have had.  He took us to yet another authentic Chinese restaurant that is part of a jade market.  He told us that it was where a lot of the olympians ate and that they had a good variety.  They had a good variety of Chinese food alright.  We were hoping for a variety of "types" of food.  He said it was clean and that was the MOST important.  How can you argue with that?  It was also expensive.  Chinese food again.!  We had a bit of a problem with the order.  We ordered a side of fried rice, when I asked how big it was George told me it was the size of a small serving bowl and pointed to it.  So I ordered three.  Apparently he thought I was talking about the steamed rice.  We got three large, heaping servings on a dinner plate of fried rice.  The server went and got George.  I explained the mix up and he proceeded to tell me that we could take it to go.  I said, "but we don't want it" and he said, "but you ordered it".  They did not take care of us as would be expected in America.  I guess the customer is not always right.  This was our last meal of such authenticity because tonight we will dine in the executive club at the Marriott.  It's not like home, but a little closer…  

On our drive back we saw the "Birds Nest" where the opening ceremonies took place for the 2008 Olympics.  George told us that they now have the world's largest indoor water park in the building where to Olympic pools were located.  He also gave us a little insight to the Chinese people's feelings about hosting the Olympics.  He explained how, before the Olympics there was a big earthquake in China and many people were killed, injured, and under duress.  A condition that would have been deemed a state of emergency in the US, I'm assuming.  He expressed that many young people, like himself, questioned the money spent to host the Olympics and that it could have been better spent to help the people of China after the earthquake.  Good point, I think!

We went to the pool again after we got back from our tour at the Wall.  We took our suits this time and changed in the locker room, so Jenna knew what was coming.  I have never seen a kid strip down so fast in all my life.  She was so excited.  She got her suit on pretty quick too, but the straps were all tangled.  She did a good job waiting for me to get changed, but she was very antsy, jumping and running around in her excitement.  She let Shane take her a little in the pool, but she seems to be pulling away from him again.  Part of me feels like she is just asserting her independence and throwing a fit to be with me.  She doesn't really seem scared, she acts mad!  At one point she got upset with him and he was able to calm her down by taking her in the hot tub with the boys to  help him distract her.  The funny thing is that as soon as she gets back to me she is just fine.  Almost smug!  She definitely has an attitude.  That determination will take her far in life, it is just going to make life a little difficult for a little while.  Shane is really good with her and is surprisingly patient.  She likes to play with him and she laughs at him and with him, but sometimes she wants nothing to do with him, especially if it involves leaving the vicinity of me.  

After swimming we went to dinner on the 16th floor.  It pays to be an executive member with Marriott.  Shane has been staying at Marriott's since his days as a Ridgid salesmen. That's a long time.  So he has racked up some points.  Anyway, all six of us ate breakfast and appetizer/dessert for dinner both nights for FREE!  And we will have breakfast in the morning before we board the plane for home!!!!

Off to bed we go.  Jenna is learning the routine before bed quite nicely.  She sits pretty good for prayer time (but not quietly) and she is giving real hugs to everybody before we put her to bed.  She knows everyone's name now and often calls to us spontaneously, especially the other kids.

Saturday, February 2, 2013 (Day 18, Day 13 with Jenna and Day 1 at Home)

Let's go HOME!

Praise the Lord!  I thought this day would never come.  I may never be this happy to board an airplane knowing that I will be on it for nearly 13 hours ever again.  This trip was totally worth all the sacrifice, but I am so happy to be coming home.  Everybody is tired and a little cranky, but we will make it!  We had that same driver on the way to the airport, but thank goodness Jenna did not get sick.  We had to wait and wait at check-in.  It didn't seem like the little girl quite knew what she was doing.  Checking in six people takes a little time for an experienced worker.   Finally we got our boarding passes.  The plane is full and we could not get seats in a row together.  We have 2 seats in 3 rows.  It worked out okay until Rachel wanted to sit with me.  So we strategically planned the swap.  I gave Shane the iPad and had him get it ready for Jenna.  She had been asking to play it and I had distracted her with other things knowing we were going to switch soon.  Jenna did not take the bait.  As soon as I put her in the seat next to Shane she started wailing.  This went on and on and on.  I kept thinking "she will stop soon", but she never did.  I felt bad for everyone around us and for Shane and myself too (and Jenna too, even though she was being a little stinker).  So against my better judgment I took her from him.  She instantly stopped crying.  The nice flight attendant found it humorous and encouraged me that when we get home, we can get it all worked out.  I held her, sitting next to Shane, until she fell asleep.  Whooooooo, that was difficult and stressful and maddening!  She is still sleeping as I type, but the rest of us are not.  So what will that mean for us when we get home?  I'm not sure how we are going to get our internal clocks re-wired!  

We left Beijing at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and arrive in Chicago at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.  So technically to our bodies (because we did finally adjust and have been sleeping good for the past week to week and a half) will think it is 11 p.m.  I don't know how people travel internationally all the time for business.  I guess it would be a little easier, though, if I didn't have kids with me to think about and try to plan for.  I think I will try napping now while Jenna is asleep.  I did snooze earlier while she was watching a DVD, but she kept tapping me.  I guess she was checking to make sure I was still alive.  Well, I just turned around to check on her and I see that those beautiful, mischevious brown eyes are open.  That was a short little nap for her and there goes my nap.  Oh well!  Maybe Michael can keep her happy for a while.  He is in the seat next to her watching a movie.

Shane and Josh watching a movie on the
flight home.

We should arrive in Chicago in 4 hours.  I can't wait.  We have literally flown around the world.  Our flight pattern to China was up and over the Arctic Ocean and back down to China.  On our way home we just kept going and flew over part of Russia and Siberia, over the Arctic Ocean, Alaska and we are approaching Canada now.  We are actually tracking to arrive 45 minutes early.  YIPPEE!!!

We will continue to pray for Jenna's adjustment as we help her to make our home, her home also.  We have been with her in her country where everything was familiar and the whole time she did not speak to anyone in English or Chinese except us and some Chinese babies that were being adopted.  I am not sure how she will do with other unfamiliar Americans, but I am so thankful that she is communicating with us (in her own little way).  We shall soon see.  The Savells are picking us up from the airport. This will be the first test.  It will also be her first experience with a carseat.  Welcome to America, sweet girl!
Michael trying to nap.  

I have to add this because something else interesting/funny just happened.  Remember, Jenna loves gum and candy and we have not been giving her much.  Slowly trying to wean her off before we totally detox her and attempt to get those teeth treated.  Anyway, when Shane saw that she was awake he took her a piece of gum and she refused to take it from him.  He put it in her hand and walked away, but he kept watching her.  She started to open it, but then looked up at Shane and saw that he was watching her.  She stopped.  He kept watching her and she unwrapped the gum under her blanket and waited until he looked away to put it in her mouth.  I'm telling you, she is smart and has learned some deceptive ways that will take some consistency, problem solving and planning ahead to break.  Oh yes, and a lot of prayers too!

The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful.  Jenna sat on my lap with Rachel in the seat next to us part of the way.  Then we switched up again.  Michael was able to sleep for a few hours under the soft, pink silk blanket that we bought for Jenna (something about that boy and pink this trip…).  Rachel also slept for a while on her Daddy's lap, but the rest of us just got a cat nap here and there.  Departure, customs, and immigration was easy.  All of our paperwork was in order and Jenna Grace Wyant is now a US Citizen.   Praise God!!!

It was an emotional greeting as we saw our friends getting out of the van the greet us.  Tears of joy and exhaustion flowed from our eyes.  Jenna was so tired, remember it was around 1:00 a.m. to her internal clock.  She tried to resist the carseat a bit, but I think she was so tired so just gave up and went to sleep.  Plus she couldn't reach the seat belt!  She slept all the way.  Rachel and her friend Macey could not stop talking to each other, it was very cute.  We talked a little about the trip, but I was so tired I really didn't know what to say.  When we got home we found our house warm and inviting with streamers and banners and verses and family drawings on our windows welcoming us home.  There was a basket of food and goodies as well as some classic games for us to play with and teach Jenna with.  Thanks to my Friday afternoon Bible study girls.  We also had a stocked fridge and pantry.  I sent my friend Amanda a list and she went grocery shopping for me as well as made us meals and put them in the freezer for whenever we need them.  We are so thankful for good friends who have supported us all along the way.

We got all our stuff in the house and I started a load of laundry because we all need clean underwear!  Jenna woke up for a minute, looked around, but was so tired and dazed looking I don't know if she was even really awake.  I took her in to show her the bedroom and she crawled right in bed and went back to sleep.  The rest of us decided to take  nap too and get up in 2 hours.  Well, when that alar went off two hours later, there was no getting us up out of that bed.  We slept until 5:00 pm.  

Jenna isn't acting like she feels too good.  She has a runny nose (which she has had almost since we got her) but now it is worse and she woke up at 1:00 a.m. with a cough.  We had a wrestling match to get some medicine down her because she had a fever and I wanted to try and help with that cough so she could sleep.  That was disaster.  I tried two doses and it would be wishful thinking to say that she may have swallowed 1/4 of a dose.  That little bit did seem to help her though and she went to sleep on my chest like a little baby.  It was pretty sweet.  She slept until about 6 a.m.  

Swhooo!  The longest day of my life is now over.  YEAH!  We are home!

It's been a loooooong day.  Somebody is worn out :)

A few days later… 

The kids have really had a tough time adjusting.  They all went back to school Monday - except for Jenna, of course.  Shane and I are both home this week with little Miss.  I feel really bad that the kids have to get up and go to school when we are not going to work.  But, it is like I tell them,  "Sorry, life is not always fair!"  They have been real troopers and actually really wanted to get back to school to see their friends, but the homework has been really difficult because they are so tired when they get home.

Jenna has been so good and this adjustment so far has really been easy, expect for getting her to take medicine, drink, and eat.  I am really trying to get liquids in her, but she just refuses and refuses.  We have had a few battles of the will and she is learning!  She is inconsistent (some days it's yes and somedays it's no with the same foods) with what she will eat, so I have to think part of the eating problems are her just asserting herself.  Which is ok, she is entitled.  I have been able to sneak some pureed veggies into her rice and scrambled eggs and she actually ate it good so that made me very happy, because she has not touched any vegetable presented to her thus far.  She even picked the peas out of the fried rice when we were in China.

Rachel has really been having a hard time with the transition of having a little sister in the house.  She has been the baby and only girl for 7 years.  She is very kind and loving to Jenna, she just doesn't quite know how to deal with all this change.  I wasn't going to add this to the journal, but as we are working through this God has shown himself in a mighty way, again, so I must share.  A few nights ago Rachel was upset at bedtime and expressed to us that she feels like we love Jenna more than her.  Well, of course, that broke my heart.  I tried talking and praying with her, but she was still so sad.  I cried with her and we went to sleep.  The next morning Shane took her in the bedroom and I didn't know  what he was doing.   This morning (Thursday) she told me.  She started by asking me if I felt like my mom and dad loved my little brother Rusty more than me, when he was born.  (I was close to the same age as she is now).  I told her that I really don't remember feeling that way, but things were very different for me.  I was an only child, at that point, and really wanted a baby brother.  We talked a little more and I asked her if she was still feeling like we love Jenna more.  She confidently said,  "No.  Daddy read me something from the Bible the other day and it talked about putting on the armor of God and about the lies that the devil tells us.  Daddy said what I was feeling was just one of the devil 's lies."  (Ephesians 6).  My mouth probably dropped open, I hope not!  So I asked her "You feel better and you know that it is a lie of the devil and it's not true?"  She said "Yes!"  Praise God.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

Some of the new things that Miss Jenna is doing are truly amazing.  She is understanding a lot of english.  Mainly routine phrases that we have been using with her.  We have been playing games, she loves Candyland, Strawberry shortcake memory, Red Rover game (you have to find the bone of the right color and put it in his mouth - I have to show her the color and then she puts it in, but she already consistently knows purple and likes to say it too).  I think the cutest thing she has said so far is flower (fa-lower).  She found Rachel's beads for making jewelry and she started her own necklace.  She is in the bedroom now, sitting at the table, beading!  

We went to the doctor today and she told us that Jenna has pneumonia1  YIKES!!!  We have an antibiotic and the doc says she should be better in a week or so.  We go back to see her in a week.  She is also making some calls to a group of neurosurgeons to try to see if they are a good fit for Jenna's back and she will try to get us in quickly.  She also suggested looking in to Shriner's, as she has had a few patients have very good care and success with them.  So things are rolling along medically.  Tomorrow we go to the dentist.  This should be interesting.  I am very anxious to hear what they have to say!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wow!  I can't believe we have been home for two weeks with Jenna.  Although in some ways in feels like two months.  The time change was really difficult for all of us and we still feel tired.  We all had our share of cold/flu-like sicknesses.  Everyone is almost back to normal.  Michael still has a cough and I have a seemingly-never ending runny nose.  Good news is everyone else is better and Jenna's pneumonia is gone!  She is doing wonderfully. 

We saw the dentist last week and he told us that all but seven teeth need to be pulled.  I am not surprised.  Several crowns too.  He suggested we talk with Shriner's when we are there to see if they will do any work on her teeth.  We have our initial appointment with them on 2/28/2013.  We are scheduled to see Dr. Gupta.  Shane will be out of town, which is a bummer, but my mom will be here visiting and helping me out so she can go with me!

Now, to report on Jenna.  She is doing incredible - with everything.  She continues to amaze us.  She has adjusted well into our family.  In some ways it seems like she has always been with us.  Although, it is different with a little one in the house again after having all the kids in school full-time for a year and a half.  She is eating a variety of food.  Sometimes she tries to refuse foods that I know she likes or has eaten before, but eventually she will eat most things that I give her.  She is sleeping good without any problems at all.  She loves for us to read books to her and she adds her own details (in Chinese, of course).  It's very cute.  She loves her baby dolls, polly pockets, Barbies, dress-up, making and wearing jewelry.  She loves to play games and imitates actions to songs.  I know you all think I am exaggerating, but I'm not!!!  She loves playing with the boys too.  I have to tell them to be careful with her, because of her back.  She loves for them to throw her up and toss her around.  

Last Sunday we took her out in the snow for the first time and she LOVED it!  She fell down a lot because the snow was pretty deep.  At one point she just started rolling around and laughing out loud!  We took her around back and she got on the swing and it seemed like she knew how to pump the swing with her legs, but it was a little difficult with the snow pants.  She didn't want to come in when I had had enough, so I took her for a ride on the Rhino (our little 4-wheel utility vehicle we play around on out here) and she thought that was great.  She laughed and squealed a lot!

I have taken her out to run errands several times.  We have been to Wal-Mart, Woodman's (big grocery store), Target, the bank, the post office, Gurnee Mills mall.  At the mall I took her to Children's Place to get her some new clothes.  I was surprised and amused to find that she has a definite opinion and style about the clothes that she likes and wants wear.  She told me "no" to several outfits that I picked out and she pulled me over to others that she liked (mainly frilly dresses in pink and purple)!  I also had to tell her "no" to several outfits and she took it very well.  She is very good when we are out, but she is just more quiet than when we are home and she won't talk to anyone other than me.  She is getting a little more comfortable at school when we go to drop off and pick up the kids.  When she sees Michael or Josh she goes running to them and lets them carry her around the school.  We have been to two basketball games.  This past Saturday she was much more comfortable at the game and didn't have to be on my lap at all.  She ran out onto the court after the game and played with the other kids who were out there playing and running around.  Today at church I stayed in Sunday school with her, but she went to Children's Church without me!  She sat with Rachel the whole time and I was able to go back to church!

Rachel has had a hard time adjusting to being a big sister.  There have been a few nights of tears and days without many smiles, which is so unlike her and very hard for me to handle.  But things are looking up.  We went out on a "Mommy date" today and had a great time.  Jenna stayed home with the boys and did well according to Shane.  She really loves her brothers and is getting more and more comfortable with Shane.  She likes to tease Shane and mess with him, but is still standoffish at times.  I am really proud of Rachel because even though she has been struggling with adjusting herself, she has been very kind to Jenna (not always to Michael and Josh, but that's ok, they can handle it)!  Jenna loves her big sister.  She is getting used to the fact that the kids go to school and doesn't ask for them as much, but that first week I heard "Lachel?  Michael?  Josssshhhh?" several times throughout the day.  

We had Shane's and Josh's birthdays this week.  Jenna enjoyed all the sweets and by Friday (Josh's birthday) she was going around the house saying "Happy to you!" and laughing at her cute self, of course!  Josh had a few boys over to celebrate and she did fine with having the extra kids in the house.  

We have been blessed with this precious little girl and so many wonderful friends around us encouraging and praying for us.  When I asked Shane what he wanted to add to the latest update, he said that the biggest thing for him now is just seeing how God is using this experience to touch so many people around us.  This adoption is so much bigger than just giving Jenna a forever family and it is really cool to see God working in the lives of so many people.  We thank you all for sharing your stories with us of encouragement and how this has affected you.  I am keeping this journal to share our story, but mostly to be able to share with Jenna as she grows up how God has and will continue to use her life to affect and bless others and draw them to Himself.  

We have received some really nice, thoughtful gifts.  Thanks to everyone!


  1. Wow, Congratulations to you all! Jenna is blessed to have such a loving family to come home to. But knowing the Wyant's they will be the one's that will feel more great-full with her presence. Jenna is such a beautiful little girl, I'm sure she will be a wonderful addition to the family!

    Love you all,

    PS; Shane I think I see some more gray, sorry I just had to go there.

  2. My dad shared your story on Facebook. I'm guessing it is because our daughters names are Jenna (7) and Grace (9) ;) We live in Trevor and some of the kids in our youth group go to Christian Life. My husband and I are open to adoption and have talked about it we are praying and waiting for Gods timing. We also have 3 kids of our own. Our youngest is our little boy Grant who is 3. I also feel a tug on my heart strings every time I see a little Chinese girl. I look forward to following your story and will be praying for your family as you continue to step out in faith on this journey. Have you read the book Steven Curtis Chapman's wife wrote about their three outlet girls from China?

    1. Wow - I would love to chat with you some time when we get home. Sounds like we have some things in common. I have not read the book. What is the name of it?