It all started when...
we opened our hearts in prayer. What is it that God has planned for our lives? What has He created for us long before we entered this world? It is only in prayer that we can hear Him, only in prayer that we have learned to see Him and the intrinsique plan that He has mapped out for us. "The plan" can certainly leave us with jaw dropping silence, not only on the faces of those who are in our presence, but on our own faces as well. Nevertheless, it is not our plan, it is God's plan. He sends the grace to endure, to sustain, to seek and find. God has planned for us to bring home a young daughter from the province of Yunnan, China.
This is our family. Our life is immersed in joy, laughter, chaos, giggles, craziness, fun, mercy, forgiveness, love and faith. We are blessed.
We made it to Kunming, China! It's a great feeling to finally arrive.
The Grand Park Hotel in Kunming. No air conditioning, but what a perfect breakfast!
We found an outdoor market around the corner from our hotel. This entire market was full of dried fruit.
As we prepare for our day tomorrow, we walked to Walmart to gather some necessities, i.e., water, cola and snacks. There is something about the Walmart in China, it is much different than the Walmart in the United States. Let's just say the aroma is "pungent" and the food is unique, open and unpackaged.
Live frogs and turtles...hmm...must be for soup. Yum.
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only Today. Let us begin.”
~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta ~
Our day began ... hand in hand by praying the Rosary. We were so overcome with emotion that we could hardly even speak as we alternated whispering the words of the prayer. Here we were, we had finally arrived at the moment that we knew God had planned for us. We have been "around the block", so we felt prepared. Would she scream? Would she throw a tantrum? Would she cry? Would she try and run away? Whatever we were about to confront, we felt prepared. Yet, it was only in praying that we felt an immense peace that calmed and sustained us.
As we entered the civil agency office, we were greeted by another American family who was adopting a six year old son. It was very comforting to be able to say "hello". A simple "hello" carries a silent bonding conversation without words when looking into the eyes of a fellow American who is adopting in China.
We arrived at the office before Philomena. The wait seemed extremely long, but then finally ... in she came. Her arms reached out to hand us the plastic container that was filled with Chinese candy. Her eyes sparkled, she let out a little giggle and then she looked into our eyes and said, "Mama ...Baba".
We made it through the first night. Really, it is quite miraculous. She speaks no English, we speak no Chinese. She speaks no Mandarin or Cantonese, her languange is a dialect that is specific to her village, so Google Translator is out. We are on our own! We figured we had four things we needed to initially communicate: 1) Hungry 2) Thirsty 3)Bathroom. 4)Love. We made it!
This picture shows Philomena eating her first morning breakfast. She eats more than Brad and I, she was starving ... in the literal sense.
After 24 hours you must return to the civil government office to sign more papers and promise to take care of and never abandon. It was difficult to return to the office, not only for us but especially for her. It is an experience that I pray to forget, I'll just leave it at that.
Each day in Kunming seems painfully long. Yet, as we talk about the good that comes from what feels like suffering, we know that each drawn out hour is a great opportunity for bonding. She is coming to know us, coming to trust us. Initially, there was only joy and giggles. Today we had a break through, she began to cry. It is important to cry in order to heal. Little Philomena has a great deal of healing that needs to occur. Healing from what she mourns, what she has never had and even what she doesn't understand. Human nature is quite astonishing, our soul yearns for love and affection, even if we have never known it to its fullest. Crying is good, she is healing.
This is what we refer to as our "living room". It is the lobby of the hotel. This is where we come to color, update the website, work. We are VERY grateful to have this peaceful space to spend time together.
We have decided that we have had our favorite Chinese meal EVER in Kunming. It is a noodles bowl! Delicious!
Music is a bridge to the heart
Today Philomena started to sing. The words were different but the melody was the same. All morning long we took turns singing to each other. At the very end of our morning she sang us a song we didn't know. It will surely touch your heart.
Today is our last day in Kunming! These steps remind us of the tremendous steps in the life of Philomena. A step out of poverty, a step out of loneliness, a step out of the orphanage in Gejiu. A step into her new family, a step into her new life, a step into love, faith and prayer.
six days until
THE CHINA HOTEL
Arriving in Guangzhou is an amazing feeling! One step closer to home. All international adoptions must pass through the American Consulate in Guangzhou. It's a warm and friendly feeling to see many American families in the lobby of the China Hotel. There are coffee shops, Burger King, McDonald's, a pool ... and AIR CONDITIONING! Most importantly, there is proper medication for Philomena.
This was inside the restaurant where we had dinner. She couldn't stop giggling at the lobsters. When we walked her closer, she shivered and shook her head. So we stopped, took her picture ...and she giggled again.
Her first ice cream cone! She giggled when she saw the picture on the wall, she giggled when we handed it to her and she giggled after every single lick!
five days until
Today we spent some time meeting new friends. The gift of a friend - someone who walks with you, loves and uplifts you, someone who takes your hand along the journey. We have been blessed with some new friends.
Philomena's first time swimming! She loved it! She NEVER stops giggling ... she is just a miracle of joy.
FOUR DAYS UNTIL DEPARTURE
Today we had our medical exams. This was a big day! There was a general practitioner physical exam, an ENT exam, eye exam, and a tuberculosis test.
Philomena was excellent! She has a way of captivating your heart, all the nurses and doctors loved her. She was an execellent patient.
At the end she was ready to be done.
THREE DAYS UNTIL DEPARTURE
It still blows our mind how we can even communicate. She has started to learn some words. When she recognizes someone that walks into a room she yells out "Hiiiiiii"! She knows how to say"thank you" and "bye bye". After breakfast we went back to the room and she brought us our flip flops. Communication without words... she wanted to go to the pool! Hilarious.
Philomena's new world of funness!
She had us laughing out loud when she picked up another set of chop sticks. We've never seen anyone use four chopsticks at the same time. VERY effective, and it was just what she needed.
joy joy JOY
two days until
U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China
Today we went to the U.S. Consulate for Philomena's Visa. We get her Visa on Friday at noon, we depart for the airport immediately after!
Little Miss Sunshine IS ready to meet her family and begin her new life.
It has been quite a whirlwind. Over thirty hours of travel and we finally made it home! The moment we landed in America, Philomena became an American citizen. We turned over our sealed brown enveloped to immigration in Los Angeles, and it all became irrovacably complete. There is an immense RELIEF and immeasurable THANKSGIVING when you land in the United States. To be able to drink the water, breathe clean air, eat familiar foods, hug and embrace our family and friends!
... and FREEDOM. Freedom to have a voice, freedom to share your heart, freedom to go to church, freedom to be with God.
Saying goodbye. Goodbye to Yunnan, goodbye to Guangzhou, goodbye to the orphanage. These are our new friends, Jocelyn our guide in China is in the middle and the little girls with Philomena are our new friends from Minnesota. The large group picture is of all the families from America that were adopting with us. May God bless them, today and always.
How can it be that is was only on July 9 that we first received Philomena in our arms? This deep sense of peace only comes when following the providential plan. Is it crazy busy? Absolutely. Are we sort of "older"? Some would say so. Is our life nonstop funness/chaos/craziness? Yes. So how is it that there is this immense blanket of peace? A deep internal joy from dawn to dusk? It is because this plan was not our plan, this plan was God's plan - therefore it is divine.
We are blessed.
Now we have the immense privilege of loving Philomena. Showing her all that is good, leading her to find her song as she dances through this beautiful life on earth. Leading her to find God's plan for her life
Have you heard the soft whisper of adoption in your heart? Does your mind push it away? The world can give us endless reasons to push this soft whisper away. To much this, not enough that ...endless reasons. It is only in prayer that the whisper can become more clear. It is only in prayer that we can come to know God's plan for our lives. He will give us all that we need and more than we could have ever dreamed. Everything is possible with Him.
Love IS the answer.